Monthly Archives: July 2015

Hearts 4 Minds

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July 29  |  Education  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . the ability to learn depends on the ability to read.

Up until 3rd grade, our kids learn to read. After 3rd grade, our kids read to learn.

That’s why reading at grade level by 3rd grade is considered a gateway skill – and why so much is known by 3rd grade as to whether a child will eventually graduate from high school or drop out of high school. Reading is essential.

It is also why my heart breaks that nearly 5 of every 10 3rd graders throughout Silicon Valley are not reading at grade level.

The good news . . . is that there is good news. Enter “1,000 Hearts for 1,000 Minds,” a tutoring initiative initially launched by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, which links caring adults with children – grades K-10 – for one-on-one tutoring in reading, science and math.

For as little as 45 minutes a week, for as short of a time duration of 10 weeks, each of us can change the life of a student.

School starts in just a few weeks. Will you join us in answering the bell? For more details, go to Hearts4Minds.org.

If our kids can read, then they can succeed. The best part – YOU can help.

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There’s No Place Like Home

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July 15  |  Housing  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought: Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, said it best: There’s no place like home . . . Assuming you can afford one.

Silicon Valley housing costs are back to a tipping point – with 3 of every 4 workers unable to afford the average price of a home. Such is a recent finding from our “Silicon Valley Competitiveness & Innovation Project,” full data released here.

Our region’s unaffordable housing costs are not limited to lower-wage workers. Employees with a STEM-based degree, those in Computer and Mathematical occupations, earn a median salary of $121,000 a year. That makes a rental home possible, but still places more than half of the Silicon Valley’s workforce outside of the range to afford a for-sale home.

Do our high housing costs truly impact our economy? On Tuesday, I met with a Leadership Group member company CEO and he mentioned a recent difficult decision to add jobs in another state rather than here in Silicon Valley, and the biggest factor was the high cost of housing for his workers. On the same day, another top company executive shared a similar story – that due to the high cost of homes, it is less expensive for his company to have many of his employees live in another state. Two different companies, in two different sectors of our economy, with the same suboptimal solution to our high housing costs . . . are deciding to locate employees and jobs in other states.

Long-term, this is not good for the future of Silicon Valley. We need thoughtful solutions for workers to live in the same communities in which they work. Future blog posts will focus on specific ways in which we can ensure that Silicon Valley isn’t just the home of cutting-edge technology; but that it also remains the home of our workers and their families driving that technology.

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Past Time to Fix our Roads

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July 8  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Depressed. Distressed. Determined.

When it comes to fixing California’s crumbling state highways and local streets and roads, it is easy to feel discouraged.

Care to be depressed? Consider the numbers:

  • California has a $59 billion hole just in deferred maintenance on our state highway system alone.

Want to be distressed?

  • The gas tax, California’s traditional funding source since 1923, now has the lowest purchasing power, when adjusted for inflation, in history.
  • Ironically, with more Californian’s driving fuel-efficient cars – a good thing – there are even fewer gas tax funds to fix our roads.

So how can we be determined? Opportunities to move forward now abound. Thanks to Governor Brown, a special session of the Legislature has been called to fund the gap to fix potholes throughout the state.

  • Solutions include restoring the truck-weight fee – nearly $1 billion annually – to its intended use in fixing our highways.
  • Extending the ability of Caltrans to enter into public-private partnerships, saving time and treasure on transportation improvements.
  • Ensuring that new revenues for transportation fund both our state highways and local roads over the next decade.

Weigh in today. Contact the Leadership Group for more details, including how you can contact your own state legislator to fix our roads and fill those potholes. Let’s get California moving again.

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Unlock the Gridlock

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July 1  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . taxpayers are ready for traffic relief.

In our recent Silicon Valley Leadership Group annual poll, our fellow voters and taxpayers made one point clear: We are tired of traffic gridlock, and are willing to take steps to fix it.

When we asked voters if they would once again invest local dollars for local transportation improvements with local accountability, the results were resounding. A specific list of improvements, which could be funded by a half-cent sales tax increase, garnered support from 68 percent, with only 27 percent against and 5 percent undecided.

The specific improvements polled are as follows:

  • Finish the BART extension to Downtown San Jose and Santa Clara – 86 percent support
  • Repair streets, fix potholes in all 15 cities and towns – 88 percent support
  • Electrify, modernize Caltrain Commuter Rail Service from Gilroy to Palo Alto – 73 percent support
  • Relieve traffic on all eight county expressways – 80 percent support
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements, especially near schools – 84 percent support
  • Improve transit service for seniors, the poor and disabled – 85 percent support

Befitting the visionary spirit of Silicon Valley, our voters and taxpayers are once again willing to place their money where their mouths are – for specific transportation improvements that will strengthen our economy, keep and create jobs and improve our quality of life.

When it comes to traffic, we may have the keys to unlock the gridlock.

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