Monthly Archives: June 2015

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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