Monthly Archives: February 2010

Government Reform

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February 16  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

This past Friday, the Bay Area Council announced it was suspending its efforts for two November ballot initiatives calling for a Constitutional Convention. The reason was straightforward – in this economy, the funds necessary to qualify the measures for the ballot were too difficult to develop.

While I have previously expressed my concerns about the Convention concept, it is vitally important that the leaders at the Bay Area Council not lose heart on their goal – which is to enact major budget and governance reforms to repair California.

The Bay Area Council, through its “Repair California” initiatives, has played a critical role as an outside, respected voice for reform. They have galvanized citizens throughout the state to get engaged – rather than enraged – in a meaningful way to strengthen our state. For their efforts, they deserve much more than our applause. They also deserve our encouragement to continue the discussions they have been having throughout the past year with other reform movements outside and inside the state Capitol.

Specifically, I hope the leaders at the Bay Area Council, under the direction of CEO Jim Wunderman and past Board Chairman Lenny Mendonca, will continue their conversations with California Forward, the effort funded by venerable foundations like Silicon Valley’s Hewlett Foundation and Packard Foundation.

California Forward’s efforts have focused on a specific set of important budget and governance reforms that they believe add up to comprehensive proposal: Protect local tax dollars; Demand an identified funding source for any new state program; Enact a two-year budget cycle, to name a few. They have invested the past few years researching the other 49 states to determine what each state is doing in the areas of budget and governance reform, what is actually working, and what might be transferable to California. With roughly 15 individual recommendations, each component part packaged together adds up to a comprehensive plan. I may not agree with all 15 individual parts, but I strongly support about 13 of the 15 – a great start.

So how do these two important efforts fit together?

From its inception, the Council’s “Repair California” provided a clear voice and a positive vision for everyday Californians frustrated with our broken governance system. It has provided the heart that any grass-roots effort needs in order to endure. The Council kept the call for reform on the front burner, with front-page newspaper coverage, blogs, TV and radio up and down the state. This sophisticated citizen outreach should not be set aside. While California Forward has studiously researched what is broken and specific ways to fix it, it has not been nearly as successful in getting everyday citizens to engage in its efforts.

Imagine these two important forces working as one. Head and Heart. Grassroots and Grass-Tops. Precise reforms with Passionate outreach. Californians, we have a rare moment in time to act. If these two groups pull together, with support from you, me and 38 million Californians, we can Repair California. We can move California Forward.

Women & Girls Summit

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February 10  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

Nine months ago next Tuesday, my life changed forever. An attorney called from Ogden, Utah and said, “If you can fly here tomorrow, we have a newborn baby you can adopt. Excited & euphoric, Leslee & I jumped on expedia, hopped on an airplane & flew to Salt Lake. The next morning, just 36 hours old, our 5 pound newborn adopted baby girl Siena Alexandra left the hospital in our arms.

Born to a wonderful teenage mother, our daughter is 100 % Latina. We are proud of her rich ethnic heritage. We are also concerned by what we have learned about the lack of educational achievement of too many Latino young people not only in Ogden, but also here in Silicon Valley.

Right here In Santa Clara County, three out of four Hispanic girls do not pass the minimum requirements to be eligible for college. For Hispanic boys, it is even more alarming – with more than four out of five not meeting those basic college eligibility requirements.

Right here In Santa Clara County, only three of every ten sixth grade Hispanic students were proficient in mathematics.

Right here in Santa Clara County, nearly 60 percent of the High School Drop-outs in 2009 were Hispanic, even though they account for less than 35 percent of the High School student population.

That is why this Friday, right here in Santa Clara County, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is partnering with NASA and numerous high-tech companies to host our Inaugural “Women & Girls Leadership Summit” at an ethnically rich, but economically poor, middle school in downtown San Jose. Peter Burnett Academy, with a student population that is 96 percent non-white and 86 percent Latino – is a great school with wonderful children, but who also face challenges that many of us will never know. More than 76 percent of these kids qualify for the Federal Governments “Free & Reduced Lunch Program” and nearly 50 percent are English Language Learners.

This Friday, we hope to take a positive step to reverse the current educational trends. The reason is simple – these are wonderful, hopeful kids, not hopeless statistics. That is why we are bringing on campus to directly dialogue and interact with nearly 450 middle school girls, more than 150 women tech executives and public official leaders. Congressmember Jackie Speier, NBC Bay Area Morning Anchor Laura Garcia-Canon, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Metric Stream CEO Shellye Archambeau and dozens of others.

Free this Friday? Join us. Visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group web site and click on the “Women & Girls Summit” icon on our home page. Come to inspire young girls. Leave inspired by them.

Care to comment? You can comment on this or my past “Food for Thought” Commentaries by clicking on “The CEO Show” icon on the Leadership Group Web Site.

And now, back to my colleague Dennis Cima to wrap-up tonight’s show.

Higher Education

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February 3  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

This week, I was asked to testify in our state Capitol before the Joint Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education.

Seated before a dozen Senators and Assemblymembers, I focused on a simple truth – California’s historically outstanding higher education system – both public and private schools – has fostered our global high-tech leadership. Silicon Valley would not be the world’s innovation capital if not for the excellence of our UC, CSU and Community College systems.

Each year, The Economist magazine rates the top 15 Universities in the world. Silicon Valley and the Bay Area are home to three of the top 15 – Stanford, UC Berkeley and UCSF. Locally, San Jose State University produces more of our engineers, and more of our classroom teachers, than any other university in the region. Our community colleges offer an outstanding education at an affordable price.

And, it is a little known fact that roughly 30 percent of middle-and upper-middle income jobs – both in high-tech and bio-tech – only require a community college degree or a certificate.

As our state looks at another round of budget cuts exceeding $20 billion over the next 18 months, let’s keep in mind the importance of a world-class higher education system. Silicon Valley’s success depends on attracting top talent from around the globe – and that top talent often starts here by coming to our universities to earn their education. Our strength has been in attracting top talent here, educating those talented young people here, and then allowing them to work, innovate and create right here.

Leaders in Sacramento, continue to invest in our future. It is vital to our economy, good for our state budget and important to our citizens, present and future.

That is my view. What do you think? Write them here and contact your state legislators to share your views. Let’s build a future for California even brighter than the one we inherited. Never forget, democracy is a participation sport. Join me. Get into the game.