Join the Conspiracy

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December 11  |  Community, Environment  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Christmas – That time of year when we spend money on people we don’t like, for things they don’t need, with funds we cannot afford.

Let’s reset. Join me in a conspiracy – an Advent Conspiracy – by cutting out even one gift and giving to someone truly in need.

Here’s perspective:
• In the U.S. alone, Americans will spend $450 billion during the holiday season.
• For $10 billion, we could ensure fresh, clean drinking water for every person on the planet.

Why does fresh drinking water matter? Currently, one in nine people on the globe – 785 million people – lack access to fresh drinking water.

Fifty percent of the people on the planet have lower water quality than that enjoyed by citizens of Rome 2,000 years ago.

In Cambodia, three of every four deaths are the result of water-borne diseases.

Every 20 seconds a child dies due to lack of access to clean drinking water.

Just think – money saved on one less gift can save one additional life.

Join the conspiracy. Whether around the world or around your block, give to someone in need.

Happy Holidays!

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Partnerships and Progress

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June 5  |  Education, Environment, Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Someone once said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Last Friday, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group was honored to bring together more than 20 vital community partners for our 2nd Annual “Regional Economic Forum,” with nearly 400 diverse Valley leaders in interactive dialogue on Regional Competitiveness, California Competitiveness, and U.S. Competitiveness.

With our diversity, we found unity – around the need for meaningful California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) reform, comprehensive immigration reform, and bold education reforms that put kids – rather than adults – first.

Our Regional Economic Forum was one of 16 forums around the state, leading up to the November 7-8 Statewide Economic Summit to be held in Los Angeles, thanks to the leadership of California Forward and the California Stewardship Panel.

We often ask, do these forums ever move from rhetoric to results? At last year’s forum, we gathered momentum and allies in our efforts to secure a Regional Patent Office (success) and movement for CEQA Reform (progress).

To learn more about last week’s Forum, read the San Jose Mercury News article here. More important, contact me directly to engage on your priority issues in our work plan. At the Leadership Group, our Members set and direct our agenda, leading to powerful results and meaningful partnerships. Join us.

(Note: The Forum panels were all recorded and will be broadcast on 1590 AM KLIV. One panel will air each week on Friday at 8 pm and you’ll be able to find the podcasts at http://svlg.org/press/ceo-show)


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CEO Business Climate Survey: Celebrate our Strengths, Work on our Weaknesses

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March 6  |  Education, Environment, Government Relations, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

We recently released our tenth annual CEO Business Climate Survey – completed by 177 Silicon Valley CEOs and senior officers, who drive the earth’s innovation economy.

The message was clear – celebrate our strengths, while also acknowledging and addressing our weaknesses.

First, our strengths, which I call the “six “t’s” of Silicon Valley’s secret sauce:

* Access to skilled labor – talent
* Entrepreneurial mindset – temperament
* Proximity to customers and competitors – territory
* World class universities – training
* Access to venture capital – treasure
* The climate and weather – temperature

Second, our weaknesses:

* High housing costs
* High personal income tax rates for our workers and families
* Business regulations – especially the misuse of the California Environmental Quality Act
* Traffic congestion

The full survey results are available on our web site at svlg.org. Let’s make time to make a difference.

Abuse of a Great Environmental Law

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January 29  |  Environment, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Why is a great environmental law being used to stymie environmental protection?

CEQA – The California Environmental Quality Act – was signed into law by Republican Governor Ronald Reagan in 1970, intended to protect the environment and ensure a transparent process. Sadly, this great law is all too often greatly abused for non-environmental purposes.

The law firm of Holland and Knight recently completed a study of all 95 published court cases over the past 15 years, and the results are troubling:

* Nearly 60 percent of the projects sued were infill, often transit-oriented developments.

* Nearly four in ten were public agency projects like schools, hospitals, roads and colleges.

CEQA lawsuits shelter anonymous interests, with nearly 75 percent filed by organizations who won’t reveal their members or financial sources. This has led to economic competitors suing each other for anything but protecting the environment.

This year, for the first time in the law’s 43-year history, we may see real reform. Let’s protect the environment and prevent the abuse.

Measure B

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October 4  |  Environment, Federal Issues, Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

When we hear about a tech company being “under water,” it usually means that their stock is under-performing. Yet in Silicon Valley, it can also be literally “under water,” which is why I support Measure B on the November ballot.

Measure B would allow the Santa Clara Valley Water District to extend an existing parcel tax for “safe, clean water.” The bond would help fix Anderson Dam in Morgan Hill; numerous creeks in Palo Alto, Milpitas and San Jose; and provide flood protection along the Bay near Alviso and San Jose.

Measure B would also reduce toxins, hazards and contaminants, such as mercury and pharmaceuticals from our water ways. And restore fish, bird and wildlife habitat and provide open space access.

Years ago, my home in downtown San Jose flooded during a big storm, causing thousands of dollars of property damage. It is a life long lesson why Measure B is vital to all of us who call Silicon Valley home, but never want to see our homes – or businesses – “under water.”

Please join me and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group with a “Yes” vote on Measure B.

CEQA: A great law that’s been greatly abused

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August 28  |  Environment  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s Food for Thought . . . CEQA – the California Environmental Quality Act – is a great law that’s been greatly abused.  With thoughtful leadership in Sacramento this fall, it can be modernized to meet its original intent – protecting our environment.

Here’s context: CEQA became law in 1970, signed by Governor Ronald Reagan, to help protect the environment. Since then, 120 state, federal and local environmental laws have been passed, like the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

42 years later, the intent of CEQA, to mitigate a development’s environmental impact, has instead been used as a club to sue and stop projects, often for non-environmental purposes.

* Netflix proposed a new building in Los Gatos for 800 high-wage, high-skill, high-tech jobs, across from its current campus and approved by the Town Council. A CEQA lawsuit may very well prevent those jobs from ever happening here.

* The transit-oriented development next to the BART station being built in Milpitas risks added costs and fewer homes due to a CEQA lawsuit.

* A small gas station in east San Jose – Mo’s Gas – wanted to add one set of new pumps and was sued by the gas station across the street, using CEQA to stop a competitor, not to strengthen the environment.

Governor Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker John Perez, and state Senator Michael Rubio, have all called for reforms to save CEQA, while ending the abuses. Senate President Darrell Steinberg announced his intent to engage this fall. We can have a healthy environment and a strong economy. We can modernize CEQA and end the abuse. Email the Leadership Group to get involved.