Ridesharing: Facts Over Fear

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June 24  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Facts over fear.

The innovation economy took a tumble before the San Jose City Council on June 23, because an unworkable “pilot program” was set up for rideshare companies that want to be able to pick up passengers at the Mineta San Jose International Airport. The problem? Innovative economy companies such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar made it clear that the rules are unworkable and respectfully signaled in advance that if adopted, they wouldn’t be able to participate. Those pleas were ignored.

Nine months of negotiations between the airport and Transportation Network Companies (TNC) produced an agreement to ensure ridesharing drivers picking up passengers at the airport would be in full compliance with California law and that TNC would pay their fair share in fees to the airport. California law requires that all TNC drivers receive professionally administered background checks. The agreement was a win for consumers and our cash strapped airport.

That agreement was undone and renegotiated by the City Council less than 48 hours before the vote was held. Simply put, the City Council changed the rules at the last minute.

A “pilot program” in which no one participates is not a pilot program.

Who loses? You and I. People who want ride choices will not have them because San Jose demanded more regulations than any other airport in the country, all in the guise of public safety. A key demand that background checks be conducted in a narrowly specific way – by fingerprints, valued bureaucracy over innovation. Everyone agrees that background checks are a necessity and that is settled law. But many experts and policy makers disagree that a background check can only be conducted in one specific way, as now required by the city.

Let’s consider facts over fear:

  • Fingerprinting has been evaluated and rejected by the Greenlining Institute and other respected civil rights organizations.
  • It has been evaluated and rejected as the only appropriate method for background checks after numerous public hearings at the state Public Utilities Commission.
  • It has been evaluated and rejected after numerous public hearings in the state Legislature as the only appropriate method for background checks.
  • Across the country, dozens of states and cities have evaluated and rejected fingerprint background checks as the only appropriate method for background checks.

There are other ways to ensure background checks that are accurate, efficient and effective. Yet even the consideration of such options was ignored in San Jose.

Hundreds of thousands of rides have been lawfully and safely provided by San Jose neighbors who drive for Lyft, Sidecar and Uber for other San Jose neighbors. Tens of millions of safe rides have been provided around the country.

But when you fly into San Jose International Airport, don’t expect a ride home by a rideshare company. The City Council just left you at the curb.

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There’s No Place Like Home, Unless You’re Homeless

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June 16  |  Housing  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for Thought . . . There’s no place like home.

Unless you’re homeless – living, more likely subsisting, along a creek, under an overpass, or on a rare night, in a shelter.

Yet that’s how roughly 7,600 people spend their days – and nights – on any given day in Santa Clara County alone.  Add another 2,500 in San Mateo County.

Thanks to the ground-breaking work of Destination: Home, we now know “the cost” of homelessness, from a dollars and cents perspective: $520 million in taxpayer dollars each year – just in Santa Clara County:

  • 53 percent is for health care – think emergency room visits, ambulance rides, et cetera.
  • 13 percent is for social services – like mental health services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation
  • 34 percent is for the criminal justice system (mostly jail costs)

Instead of the expense involved in treating the symptoms, Destination: Home challenges us to consider a cure – permanent housing with specific services for those needing long-term care.

Would such an approach work?  One thing is clear, in spite of our best intentions and big investments, our current efforts to “treat the symptoms” are incredibly expensive and sadly less effective.

Because the “true cost of homelessness” isn’t just the $520 million spent each year.  It is the broken lives, and hearts, in 7,600 human beings living in the streets, in the shadows, all alone.

 

Reducing Water Use One Household at a Time

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June 10  |  Environment  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Stanislaw Lec once said, “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”

When it comes to coming to terms with year-four of an intense drought plaguing the Golden State, it is easy to feel overwhelmed as one individual or organization.

After all, in a state of nearly 39 million people, will what you or I do as individuals matter? The answer is yes, as our individual action or inaction adds up to the collective response we need.

Governor Brown has called for an average statewide water-use reduction of 30 percent. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has pushed for 30 percent within his city, even though their official requirement based on past performance is only 20 percent. They are both leading by example.

I was recently asked by 1590 KLIV whether I am leading by personal example. What is going on in the Guardino household that will make a difference?

It’s a fair question that deserves a thoughtful response:

  • First, since about one-third of home water use is for our lawns, we are down to watering our slightly brown lawn twice a week, 10 minutes per time, in the middle of the night when water-loss through evaporation is less.
  • Second, whether it’s dishes or laundry, only full loads are run.
  • Third, baths are almost non-existent, with short showers now the norm.
  • Fourth, our cars run just as well without looking clean and cared for on the outside.
  • Fifth, our toilets are no longer flushed with every use. “Nuf said.”

While there is undoubtedly more that we can be doing, the key is we have taken several steps that lead up to measurable reductions in water use.

Alone, the mountain in front of us seems insurmountable. Collectively, the efforts of each snowflake add up to an avalanche of answers to this latest challenge Californians face.

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Free Trade is Vital for America’s Economy

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June 3  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . 95 percent of the consumer base for tech products is outside of the United States.

Without free trade, our companies and workers lack access to the foreign markets on which American workers depend in order to sell American goods and services.

How important is free trade to America and Silicon Valley’s economy? Today, nearly 40 million U.S. jobs depend on trade, meaning more than 1 of every 5 American workers has a job linked to the export and import of goods and services.

American manufacturing employees in the “most trade-intensive industries” earn on average 56 percent more than those in manufacturing companies that were less engaged in trade.

That’s why President Obama has staked as one of his highest priorities the passage of Trade Promotion Authority, to help him complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership involving the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Combined, those 12 countries represent 40 percent of the world’s GDP and one-third of global trade.

For more than 20 years, American presidents have been granted “fast-track authority” by Congress. It is critical to the success of Silicon Valley that President Obama be granted this same level of authority.

Without Trade Promotion Authority, manufacturers and American workers risk being locked out and left behind as other countries negotiate dozens of trade agreements that exclude the United States.

That’s why the vote on Trade Promotion Authority passed overwhelmingly in the United States Senate, with a bi-partisan vote of 62-37. If Trade Promotion Authority stalls in the House, it will hurt almost every household in America. Urge your member of Congress to stand with Silicon Valley and America’s innovation economy. Urge them to vote yes for free trade.

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Raise Yourself Up Without Tearing Others Down

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May 27  |  Community, Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … You can raise yourself up without tearing others down.

On the same day, I recently found in my mailbox two separate letters. One from a prominent Democrat member of Congress and one from a top-tier Republican presidential candidate.

Along with the expected appeal for money, both envelopes contained rather lengthy letters that seemed to spend as much ink tearing down the other political party as it invested in praising their own.

From the Republican presidential candidate, I read such red meat as the following:

“I know what the liberal Democrats are capable of, because I understand how desperately they crave power.”

And “Content with the status quo and willing to accept mediocrity, the Liberal Democrats are running our country into the ground.”

From the congressional Democrat, I read such lines as:

“We face a radical Republican Party with … a willingness to do or say whatever it takes to advance their far right-wing agenda and obstruct any and all of our progress.”

Oh my.

Instead of ripping into the purported evils of the other party, why not focus on the solutions your own party has to offer?

I seem to recall our Founders writing eloquently about the “United” States of America, not the divided and divisive parties that would burn bridges down rather than build them.

A note to leaders of both our major political parties: Give the American people credit. We are smarter than you might think. We crave solutions to our nation’s problems, not personal attacks and political ambition.

Candidates, please – run on your ideals and ideas. Lift us up, without tearing others down.

 

Whine or Win; It’s our Choice

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May 21  |  Education, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Whine or win; it’s our choice.

Are we here to whine about our problems, or work together for solutions?

On Friday, May 29, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and 24 incredibly diverse community partners will co-host our 4th Annual Regional Economic Forum, bringing together leaders from throughout the region.

The purpose of the forum will be to truly tackle what we call THEE issues.

The “T” is for Transportation & Traffic.

The “H” is for Housing & Homelessness.

The “E” is for Education & Workforce.

The second “E” is for Equity & Economic Opportunity.

Yes, we all know those issues are among the top challenges we face in Silicon Valley. But here’s the catch: No one at our Regional Economic Forum is allowed to whine about the problem, or re-state the challenge. Panelists and participants will only be allowed to discuss solutions – and preferably solutions that they will either personally lead or support.

When it comes to real solutions for transportation, housing, education and economic opportunity, it is past time we stopped whining, and focused on winning solutions to these seemingly intractable problems. We can continue to wring our hands together in discouragement, or join our hands together with encouragement.

If you agree, then come join us. Find out more at svlg.org/regional-economic-forum-2015.

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CEO Survey: When the Economy is Hot, the Quality of Life is Not

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May 13  |  Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Often, when our economy is hot, our quality of life is not.

This is certainly the case in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, where our regional unemployment rate is near an historic low of 4.2 percent.

In the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s just released “CEO Biz Climate Survey” of nearly 220 CEOs, nearly 2 of every 3 plan to add jobs – in the region – this year.

Amazingly, only 2 percent of the CEOs surveyed – or just five companies – anticipate making lay-offs here in the region in 2015.

That is a hot economy.

But with growth come growing pains, which we see every day on our highways and local streets and roads. Traffic congestion is the second highest concern of CEOs in the boardroom and of working families in their living rooms.

And speaking of living rooms, the high cost of housing is the highest concern – both of CEOs and our workers and their families.

So let’s celebrate the success of Silicon Valley’s innovation economy, but not for a moment must we stop working on the challenges that come with our success.

To learn more about this year’s CEO Survey, visit the Leadership Group at svlg.org/press/library.

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When Policy Gets Personal

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April 29  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino
YWLS2015

Women leaders and middle school girls at our 2015 Young Women’s Leadership Summit

Here’s food for thought . . . Often, the best policies are driven from personal experience.

On May 16, 2009, the call came. A brave 17-year-old Latina from a small town in Utah had given birth to a 5-pound, 6-ounce baby girl — her second child in two years. Without a job or high school diploma, she made the gut-wrenching decision to entrust her newborn into the hands of strangers …my wife, Leslee, and me.

As we look at the trajectory of Latinas in Silicon Valley who graduate from high school, go to college, graduate with a STEM degree and work for one of our Valley’s innovation economy companies, the odds decrease to single digits.

This must change. Silicon Valley’s population is 27 percent Latino, a number that will grow to 40 percent by 2050. Already, kindergarten-aged students are close to 50 percent Latino, yet we are collectively not equipping those kids with the tools needed for 21st Century success.

It’s why yesterday, as one step in a long STEM pipeline, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group hosted its 14th “Young Women’s Leadership Summit” in just the past six years. More than 3,500 middle school girls have been inspired – and inspired us – with their dreams and determination for a life better lived with a diploma in hand.

For the Leadership Group’s workplan, the pipeline for education success is long – early childhood education; transitional kindergarten; tutoring in reading, science and math; healthy school meals, summer fellowships for teachers in tech-companies and scholarships for Latino students studying STEM in college. Yet we know that making meaningful change in the life of a child is not limited to one day of inspiration. Rather, it is a lifetime of validation.

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Past Time to Reduce Water Use

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April 22  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Stand strong, Governor, and Silicon Valley will stand for you.

Recently, Governor Brown made the hard but necessary step to call for an average of 25 percent water use reduction throughout our state.

Numerous communities, and clusters of the economy, have expressed concern and have called for exemptions. I appreciate the concern, but candidly, our Governor is correct.

We are in the 4th year of a historic drought, and no one knows when or if Mother Nature will turn the spigot back on to make the Golden State green. In fact, many scientists believe our more recent weather conditions will be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.

It is past time for bold and necessary steps, such as the steps our Governor has called for, to greatly reduce water use.

It is also a unique opportunity for Silicon Valley to step forward with creative and innovative ways where we can apply technological advancements to enhance the efficient use of water.

What we cannot do is ignore the seriousness of the conditions we face. For water-wise tips, contact the Santa Clara Valley Water District today. Silicon Valley can lead by example, and we can and should stand with the Governor to greatly reduce water use.

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Practice What You Preach

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April 15  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Practice what you preach.

More and more, we read and hear about the need for more ethnic and gender diversity in Silicon Valley.

And rightly so. Our companies are global, and it is in our own self-interest to foster a world-class workforce that reflects the diversity of our planet. This is smart for all employers, whether high-tech, low-tech or no-tech.

Yet it is a goal that I would liken to a unicorn . . . often discussed but rarely seen. We can do better.

I was recently challenged, in a positive way, to look internally before I speak externally. Is my own organization diverse? My workforce, my executive team, my Board of Directors, my foundation Board of Directors. Fair enough.

While far from perfect, today, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has a positive story to tell, but could still do better:

  • Of our 24 member staff, 14 are female and 10 are male. Of those 24 professionals, 14 are Caucasian, and 10 are non-white.
  • Of my executive staff, three are female and five are male, with five Caucasian and three non-white.
  • Our foundation Board, which is responsible for such community-based efforts as the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, Santa Run Silicon Valley, Heart & Soles 5K, and our “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” tutoring initiative, seven board members are female and seven are male, with our ethnic diversity currently with 11 Caucasian and three non-white.
  • Our Leadership Group Board of Directors needs more work, with seven female and 40 male, and our ethnic diversity showing 36 Caucasian and 11 non-white.

Our reasons for promoting diversity are simple. We know we will be more successful if we hear more points of view, and benefit from a wider range of experiences. There is a reason the term “Yes Men” is an insult . . . it is what you get when you only seek one point of view from one type of person. Growing a more diverse workforce here in Silicon Valley is not a box that we check, it is a business imperative that will only make our success more assured.

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