D.C. by the Numbers

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March 25  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “D.C.” may actually stand for “Different Culture.”

Comparing Silicon Valley, the world’s “innovation capitol” with Washington, D.C., our “nation’s capitol” is like comparing the sun and the moon . . . both important, interesting, even intriguing, but very different.

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Silicon Valley Leadership Group Board Chair and Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker and new San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo meeting with Rep. Anna Eshoo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Zoe Lofgren during our Spring D.C. Advocacy Trip.

Last week, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo led a delegation of 55 CEOs, senior officers and local elected officials to our nation’s capitol.

Here are the results, by the numbers: The executives invested 48 hours in meetings with 85 House members, 19 Senators and 10 Administration officials, on seven core issues of importance to our innovation economy:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Immigration reform
  • Patent litigation reform
  • Funding for BART to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara
  • Funding to further improve Caltrain Commuter Rail Service
  • Tax reform
  • Competitiveness

We have some traits in common – often smart, committed, passionate people working to make a difference. However, the pace of change is eons apart. In Silicon Valley, a product life cycle is as brief as six months. In D.C., even a minor piece of legislation can take years, decades, from inception to completion.

Democracy, especially in our nation’s capitol, is not for the faint of heart. Progress is measured in years, not days or weeks, so we will continue to build the bridges needed to bring together innovators with policy makers.

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Building Community by Building Bridges

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March 17  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . We can build community by building bridges.

It was at Independence High School in the heart of East San Jose that new San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo held his inaugural State of the City address.

Whether it was his comments about building all four BART Stations in San Jose, bringing all sides to the bargaining table to refine Measure B’s pension reforms, seeking summer jobs for at-risk youth or engaging caring adults in our “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds” tutoring initiative, the Mayor’s messages were spot-on. We are best when we build – our Valley, our City, our communities and our neighbors.

No issue looms larger for San Jose than public safety. Even though the objective FBI data clearly show crime is down, we all know we are best served with more police officers patrolling our streets. That means thoughtful adjustments to pension reform. The most important step the Mayor and city unions can take is the step toward each other, at the negotiating table.

Yet reducing crime isn’t all about police protection, it is also, as the Mayor eloquently stated, about “replacing a rap sheet with a resume.” That’s why his summer jobs for at-risk youth program is an imperative, and why our “1,000 Hearts” tutoring initiative for K-8 students is essential.

We have a Mayor who is moving San Jose in a positive and productive direction. Engage with him. Great cities are made from the ground up – by good people taking the time to get involved. To build bridges that build a community.

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$2 Trillion for D.C. to Act On

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March 11  |  Tax Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . $2 trillion.

Now that is a lot of money, even by Washington, D.C. standards.

Yet that is what might be available, thanks to innovative, creative, globally-competitive American employers who have successfully won in overseas markets around the world.

Here’s where Washington comes in – two Senators, one perceived to be on the far left; California’s own Barbara Boxer, and one perceived to be on the far right; Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, have forged a bipartisan proposal that would encourage employers to bring those hard-won dollars back to the United States, by offering a temporary tax rate of 6 percent and investing those tax dollars to rebuild America’s crumbling transportation system.

This could be a triple-win:

  • American workers, families, employers and our economy win by re-investing in our roads, highways, transit and bridges, which are currently crumbled and congested.
  • American employers and workers win by billions of dollars, earned overseas, coming back to the United States for investments in employees, facilities, equipment, Research & Development and shareholders.
  • Our federal government wins by proving it can work together in bi-partisan fashion to secure funds that would otherwise never come back to the United States, due to a broken tax system that penalizes American employers with the least-competitive tax rate in the world.

Are there sound reasons for our federal government to act? Yes, I can think of two trillion of them.

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How Old Are You – Really?

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February 25  |  Health Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I recently read an article in a major magazine proclaiming that kids born today could have a life expectancy up to 140 years old.

It reminded me of a wonderful quote, paraphrased as follows: Our existence isn’t just measured in the years of our life, but the life in our years.

One of the men I admire most is the founder and CEO of Empire Broadcasting, Bob Kieve, with radio stations KLIV and KRTY. Bob turned 93 years last December. 93.

Yet every day, Bob Kieve is one of the first to arrive and the last to leave his job at Empire Broadcasting. He is a key leader in the San Jose Rotary Club; serves on the Board of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and on our Foundation Board here at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Besides taking great care of himself, and obviously fantastic DNA, I have more than once wondered how Bob has maintained such amazing health. My theory? He is curious. Bob loves to learn. He will often listen to my radio talk show, especially when I have a guest on the air with whom he might not particularly agree. Rather than shut that divergent voice out, Bob leans in. He listens, learns and continues to grow.

There are other people I know who are young in years but old in outlook. They are angry, upset, bitter rather than better; and it reflects in both their appearance and attitude. They are old at heart, in body and in their minds. Even if they live a long time, the joy is gone from their eyes.

So I ask again – How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? There is a web site worth visiting: RealAge.com. Check it out. How old are you – really?

Remember, life is not about “growing old” or even “growing up.” Life, simply put, is about growing.

Food for Thought . . . Hope or Hustle?

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February 17  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino
Bena Chang, Vice President of Transportation, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Bena Chang, Vice President of Transportation, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Here’s food for thought . . . “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

Abraham Lincoln’s words are as true today as they were when he wrote them a century-and-a-half ago.

Lincoln’s logic also applies to the hard work and creativity of our Silicon Valley Leadership Group “CEO Airport Task Force,” created five years ago in partnership with then San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and new Mayor Sam Liccardo. The goal, then and now: To add more direct international and domestic flights into and out of San Jose International Airport.

Today, we celebrate Hainan Airlines’ announcement of a direct flight between San Jose and Beijing. Service will begin on June 15, with five direct weekly flights on the 787 Dreamliner, the most comfortable commercial plane in the skies.

Two years ago – January 11, 2013 – we successfully landed direct air service between San Jose and Tokyo, on All Nippon Airlines, which now has service seven days a week, also on a 787 Dreamliner.

Our next international target – direct service between San Jose and Seoul – is a vital link for the semiconductor and telecommunications industries.

Yet, as Lincoln intoned, these successes didn’t happen because we simply waited and hoped they would. They happened because our Airport Task Force and two successive Mayors worked to secure the flights, and continue to work to ensure the planes are filled.

Hope or hustle? It is the difference between dreaming and doing. And that hard work has landed another direct flight out of San Jose International.

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Storm of the Century

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February 4  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Heart_Soles5KHere’s food for thought . . . “Storm of the century!”

How many times have we heard well-meaning weather reports with that headline?

In drought-ridden California, any time a single raindrop might fall, we are warned of a major storm on the horizon.

Well, don’t let the latest weather report dampen your enthusiasm to join us – rain or shine – this Saturday morning at Hellyer Park in San Jose for the Second Annual Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” run or walk for healthy school lunches.

With your help, we will raise enough to achieve our goal – funding 64 more salad bars in local public schools, serving nearly 42,000 students. Combined with the results from last year’s effort, this brings our two-year total to 120 salad bars serving 78,000 school kids throughout Silicon Valley.

Yes, there may be a drop or two of rain – but that is only a drop in the bucket compared to what we will accomplish together for local schools. Come. Join us. Register at heartandsoles5k.com.

If you need to . . . bring an umbrella.

See you Saturday morning at Hellyer Park.

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I Hate Taxes. But I Hate Traffic More.

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January 28  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . I hate taxes. But I hate traffic more.

The gas tax, the primary source of state and federal transportation funds for the past century, may not long survive this century. More fuel-efficient cars, all-electric cars and fully autonomous cars are here or on the horizon, and they are gaining market share.

Because of this, the California Transportation Commission, which I Chair, recently appointed a Road Charge Task Force, consisting of 17 Californians with the task to recommend a pilot program to ultimately replace the gas tax. The Task Force will look for a more stable, long-term source of funds as an alternative to the gas tax.

In 1994, when the gas tax was increased to 18 cents a gallon, no one would have known that just two decades later the buying power on that tax would have been cut in half. That’s why Governor Brown wisely called for solutions to fill the $59 billion hole in our deteriorating system of roads, highways and bridges.

This task also will need all Californians to engage in this conversation, so we can collectively determine our path forward. It may sound like a rocky road – but it cannot be any rockier than the pothole-infested roads on which we currently drive.

Join us. Go to the CTC website and provide your questions and potential solutions to re-build our roads in a not-too-distant future when we will need to wean ourselves away from the gas tax.

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BART: Time to Make the Dream Reality

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January 14  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . It’s time to bring BART to Downtown San Jose.

In his inaugural speech, new San José Mayor Sam Liccardo struck a chord when he said that it is time to finish the BART extension to Downtown San Jose.

It was, in fact, the biggest applause line of the night, before a crowd of 2,300 people.

I bet you feel the same way. So how do we take this vital vision from rhetoric to reality?

First, the extension from Fremont to Berryessa is on-track. The 10-mile segment is a full year ahead of schedule and $70 million under budget. Service should begin in the summer of 2017.

Second, there is more than $1 billion set aside from voter-approved funding measures in 2000, and the on-going operations costs from a 2008 voter-approved measure.

Third, the firm commitment of a new Mayor, who co-led both the 2000 and 2008 campaigns, working with his predecessors Ron Gonzales and Chuck Reed.

Next, we need additional funding from local, state and federal sources to finish the job.

The final 6-mile extension – with all four stations (Alum Rock, Downtown, Diridon and Santa Clara) – produce ridership numbers for all 16-miles above 90,000 daily passenger trips.

That’s why, with Mayor Liccardo, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group heads to D.C. on March 17-19 to make the case to our federal partners. It’s why we often meet with state leaders, and why we will continue to champion local funds.

Big dreams don’t happen when we’re asleep. No, dreams come true when we are awake – and working to fulfill them – like BART all the way to Downtown San Jose.

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What have you done for me lately?

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January 7  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . “What have you done for me lately?”

The calendar has flipped from 2014 to 2015. At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we closed out 2014 with several solid successes:

  • BART funding from the California Transportation Commission, which I Chair, was completed, for a total of $760 million. The extension is under-budget and a year ahead of schedule.
  • Our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, sponsored by Applied Materials, brought together 26,000 neighbors to celebrate Thanksgiving morning together – generating more than $900,000 to help needy local families.
  • The state water bond, Proposition 1, passed in November with the help of the Leadership Group, and incredible leadership by Governor Brown.

But life is about looking forward, not back.

This year, our goals are equally ambitious, and will be presented in a comprehensive way in the days ahead. But hear is a glimpse of what’s to come:

  • Housing and homelessness – the Leadership Group will step up its historic role.
  • Traffic relief – BART and Caltrain, along with other road improvements, are key.
  • Immigration, cyber, tax and patent reform – all federal priorities that must be tackled head-on.

Silicon Valley is an ambitious place, and we have many ambitious goals on our plate. Get on-board and join us. We have work to do.

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Traffic Woes: Solutions that Unite Us

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December 11  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … While there’s some value in columns that divide us, it’s much more satisfying to work on solutions that can unite us.

San Jose Mercury News’ recent column from Michelle Quinn about “The Commute That Divides Us” is a great example. The region’s traffic woes and lack of transit options have led many proactive employers to personally fund shuttle buses for employees. Those shuttle buses daily remove thousands of cars off our roads and tens of thousands of Greenhouse Gases from our atmosphere. Instead of applauding those efforts, they’re often attacked.

Let’s all acknowledge the more holistic solution is for true transportation solutions in our region. That’s why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has personally led four successful transportation funding measures in the past three decades, providing $10 billion in locally funded improvements that we all pay for and all benefit from. It’s also why we’ve indicated our willingness to help lead a new measure in 2016, to benefit all residents. Traffic relief, cleaner air, construction jobs, stronger economy. It adds up to transportation solutions that unite us. Now that’s worth writing about.

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