Author Archives: Carl Guardino

Politics. The ultimate team sport.

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May 24  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

This week, Silicon Valley, the Bay Area and California had a tremendous win.

In baseball parlance, it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs, with our team fighting for the electrification of Caltrain Commuter Rail Service, which looked to be in serious trouble.

But that’s when our sluggers came to the plate, and our entire region will benefit because of their collective efforts.

First, our senior Senator Dianne Feinstein. From start to finish, her tenacity in securing our $647 million in matching funds from the Federal Government never waned. Reasoned, reasonable but resolute, our well-respected Senator delivered with timely outreach to the President’s Secretary of Transportation, and bi-partisan outreach with her peers.

Second, our Governor Jerry Brown. Articulate and erudite, his political timing remains the best in the business. Weighing in with key leaders in D.C., both publicly and privately, he proves daily the skills developed over decades in honing the craft of compromise, consensus and common-ground.

Third, House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi. Tenacious, persistent and smart, Leader Pelosi knows how to negotiate in such a way that her principles never waver, while winning over others time and time again.

So for you and I living and working in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area, why does a 153-year old train, which started operations when Abraham Lincoln was President, even matter? Simple; the old diesel train of our past and present is not the train propelling us into the future. With electrification, we can add more train-cars per train, and more frequency to the system, allowing us to nearly double the ridership from 62,000 weekday passenger trips to more than 110,000. Replacing diesel with electric makes the system smoother, quieter, 97 percent cleaner and 15 percent faster.

Why did a commuter train in one section of the State become such a priority for our statewide leaders like Dianne Feinstein, Jerry Brown and Nancy Pelosi? Consider the corridor. That small strip of just 45 miles between downtown San Jose and downtown San Francisco is golden for our Golden State:

  • 1.6 million jobs
  • 53 percent of all California Patents filed
  • 20 percent of all sales taxes collected in our state
  • 14 percent of California’s Gross Domestic Product

To be certain, there were numerous other players in the starting line-up that will bring the electrification of Caltrain to the finish line. In the public sector, Senator Kamala Harris and our regional congressional delegation of Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier and Zoe Lofgren were spectacular. Mayors Liccardo and Lee, along with State, County and City officials, all engaged. Caltrain, VTA, MTC, SFMTA and SFCTA rallied riders and passengers to the cause. On the private side, our partners at the Bay Area Council, SAMCEDA and SPUR played pivotal roles. As for the Leadership Group, this has been a 21-year labor of love, always placing our wallets where our words are:

  • Our 1996 Sales Tax Initiative raised nearly $50 million for Caltrain
  • Our 2000 Initiative raised more than $100 million
  • Our 2016 Initiative raised more than $1 billion to modernize the line

Politics has been called the ultimate contact sport. For Caltrain, and the tens of thousands of daily customers it will serve, we’ve proven again that politics is also the ultimate team sport. If we keep this team together, there’s no limiting the future successes we can champion for our region.

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Caltrain Electrification & Modernization: 21 Years of Leadership

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April 24  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

For 21 years, when it comes to the electrification & modernization of Caltrain, the 400 members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group have placed their wallets where their words are.

• In 1996, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group led “Measures A & B” on the November ballot. The nine-year, half-cent sales tax included $44 million in local funds to benefit Caltrain modernization improvements necessary for future electrification.

• In 2000, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group led “Measure A” on the November ballot, which passed with 70.4 percent of the vote. The 30-year, half cent sales tax (which didn’t begin until 2006 and runs through 2036), includes $$131.5 million in local funds to benefit modernization improvements needed for future electrification.

• In 2016, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group led “Measure B” on the November 8 ballot, which passed with 71.74 percent of the vote. The 30-year, half cent sales tax (which started revenue collection on April 1), includes more than $1 billion ($1,014,000,000) for modernization, safety and service improvements needed for the future electrification of Caltrain.

• In 2012, as one of only nine Gubernatorial Appointees to the California Transportation Commission, Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino led the effort to secure $106 million in state funds for the electrification of Caltrain.

• Why is an employer organization consisting of nearly 400 Silicon Valley Innovation Economy CEOs continuing to lead efforts to tax themselves to modernize and electrify Caltrain? Because it is vital to our employees, their families and others who call our Bay Area home.

• The Caltrain Corridor between San Jose and San Francisco is home to 1.6 million jobs.

• The Caltrain Corridor is an economic juggernaut, important to ALL of California,
– It produces 20 percent of the sales tax revenue generated in the entire state;
– It produces 13 percent of our State’s Gross Domestic Product;
– It produces 53 percent of all the patents filed from California.

• Caltrain electrification & modernization nearly doubles Caltrain ridership from almost 65,000 weekday passenger trips to more than 110,000 weekday passenger trips.
• Three of every five Caltrain passengers is a “Choice Rider,” which means they are choosing to get out of their own cars and onto Caltrain railcars, easing traffic on Highways 101 and 280, and our local streets and roads.

We have come far in our efforts to modernize and electrify Caltrain.  Let’s keep it on-track for completion by 2020.

Health Care Accessible and Affordable to All

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March 17  |  Uncategorized  |   Carl Guardino

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group is deeply committed to making health care more accessible and affordable to all. Employers, along with the government, are the largest payers of health care costs and are critical stakeholders in the process of negotiating health care reform. While we remain committed to providing health insurance to employees, employers in the Silicon Valley and across the country cannot sustain current levels of premium increases without cost shifting to employees or making their business
​es​ significantly less competitive and unprofitable. 

Health insurance expenses are the fastest growing cost for employers and are expected to grow 6.5 percent in 2017. In 2015, the private business share of health spending accounted for nearly 20 percent of total health care spending in the U.S. 

We recognize that expanding coverage to millions of Americans is a significant achievement and hope to see popular employee benefits continue including no co-pays for preventative services, no annual or lifetime limits on coverage, and expanded coverage for children up to age 26, including foster youth.​

Finally, we hope that the federal government can set standard regulations to simplify the current system of both federal and state-by-state requirements. There should also be a review to eliminate costly and complex regulations that add barriers to business operations, but do not add value, and improve current ones to reduce enormous operating costs for employers, providers and insurers.

Immigration & Innovation Go Hand-In-Hand

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February 9  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Immigration and innovation go hand-in-hand. From the founding of our country, the United States was built on the backs and with the brains of immigrants. This is only illuminated further in Silicon Valley, and throughout America’s innovation economy.

Today, 58 percent of the engineers fueling Silicon Valley’s innovation economy were not blessed to be born in the United States, according to our 2016 “Silicon Valley Competitiveness Project,” researched in partnership with our Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Half of our technology companies being created today have an immigrant as a founder or CEO. Across our country, four of every ten Fortune 500 companies was created by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.

It’s discouraging that some will assert or imply that immigrants are quote “taking away American jobs.” Let’s be clear, and place facts over fear. Fact – The United States economy needs 125,000 graduates each year with Computer Science degrees. Our U.S. colleges and universities only produce 50,000 each year. Ironically, roughly half of those 50,000 graduates are foreign-born. Yes, we only graduate 25,000 American born Computer Science graduates each year, leaving a shortfall of 100,000.

When American employers hire talent from around the globe, the reasons are clear. We are 5 percent of the world’s population. How ignorant and arrogant it would be for us to assume that there are not smart, capable people among the other 95 percent of the world’s population born outside our shores. We will continue to hire the best and brightest born as American citizens, while also hiring the courageous and creative who came here – often at great personal peril – to study here, work here, create and innovate here.

Immigration is the American story, and the secret sauce of Silicon Valley’s robust economy. We will stand up, and speak up, for our rich immigrant tradition.

Statement on Immigration and Innovation

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January 31  |  Federal Issues  |   Carl Guardino

“The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an organization of 400 employers with facilities in all 50 states and almost every Congressional District, urges the Trump Administration, House and Senate to unite around the freedoms upon which our nation was founded. Our country’s greatest ideals embrace and respect people of all ethnicities, national backgrounds and faiths. Let’s build upon that tradition now and always.”

“The Leadership Group respects that our national security must remain a paramount concern of our Federal Government. We also believe our actions must be tempered by thoughtful, measured decisions that will strengthen our economy, security and moral authority.”

“Silicon Valley and much of America’s Innovation Economy has been built through the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of courageous immigrants and refugees. In fact, 40 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. Whether iconic global brands or struggling entrepreneurial start-ups, innovation economy companies are created disproportionately by immigrants. In Silicon Valley, 58 percent of our engineers – the lifeblood of Silicon Valley – are foreign-born. Whether it is Intel Co-Founder Andy Grove, Yahoo! Co-Founder Jerry Yang or Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin, we are proud that so many leaders born outside of the United States moved here – often at great risk – to call our Country home.”

“Through this lens, we urge the Administration and Congress to never forget that we are a nation of immigrants, often refugees, whose diversity is the backbone of our unity. Our economy and quality of life are enhanced by waves of immigrants who continue to help build our Country.”

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The Death of TPP Impacts You and Me

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January 25  |  Tech & Innovation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Does the death of TPP matter to you and me?

TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – was President Obama’s seven-year effort for an international trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries, representing 40 percent of global GDP.

I say “was” because, as promised, one of President Trump’s first actions in office was to end America’s participation in TPP. His stated reason, pulling out of TPP is “good for American workers.”

I guess that is true, unless you are one of 45 million American workers who’s jobs are dependent on international trade. In fact, American jobs tied to trade pay, on average, 18 percent higher wages than the same American job that is not tied to international trade.

In Silicon Valley alone, just looking at the three Congressional Districts that take in San Jose – the 17th (Ro Khanna), 18th (Anna Eshoo) and 19th (Zoe Lofgren) – 105,000 local workers, and by extension their families, have jobs dependent on international trade.

Pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negatively impacts the lives and livelihoods of those 105,000 local workers, and their families.

Thanks to President Obama’s seven-year effort, TPP also had the highest labor standards and the highest environmental standards of any trade deal in the history of the world. And those standards were enforceable.

In addition, TPP protected individuals and employers, in terms of our personal data privacy, and our companies’ intellectual property.

Some think that international trade only impacts tech-workers. Not true. Jobs depending on international trade range from financial services to farming, agriculture to entertainment, to name but a few.

Here in Silicon Valley, where 26 of every 100 jobs are with a tech company, it matters even more. Without a robust tech-driven economy, there are fewer dollars in disposable income to spend in restaurants and retail, dry cleaners and department stores, auto dealerships and home purchases.

So who’s smiling because of the President’s Executive Order killing U.S. participation in TPP? Primarily the Chinese Government, who are already stepping in to negotiate trade deals with the remaining TPP countries. You can bet those deals will not benefit American workers, employers or our economy.

The death of TPP negatively impacts you and me, and the strength of Silicon Valley’s economy.

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Which Words Describe You?

December 7  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . What words best describe you?

For many of us, the holidays can be a time for reflection, rest and renewal. For others, it’s a hectic hustle and hassle.

As 2016 becomes something to glance at in our rearview mirror, and we look forward with either delight or dread at 2017, take stock in yourself. Are you the person you hope to be?

Take pen to paper and write down five words you believe best describe you.

Then ask five friends, family members or co-workers to do the same. Pick people that will write five words about you that truly reflect your character; people who care enough about you to be truthful with you.

What words did you pick to describe yourself? What words did others select for you and about you? Do any of the words match up? Are they words that soothe or sting?

For me, the first five words that come to mind are caring, compassionate, obsessive, messy and driven. I plan to seek some changes in 2017, to be less obsessed, a bit more organized and find more balance in my life.

My kids need to see their daddy more often. My wife could use a helping hand more consistently. My colleagues at work would probably prefer to see me less intense and smiling more.

How about you? Who do you want to be? Equally important, who do you want to become? The New Year starts soon. A New You can start even sooner.

Let’s Talk Turkey. Turkey Trot, That Is.

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November 17  |  Community  |   Carl Guardino

ttrotcarlHere’s food for thought . . . Let’s talk turkey.  Turkey Trot, that is.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving.  If you have a roof over your head, food on the table and a steady job or income, then let’s face it . . . you are blessed.

Sadly, there are several hundred thousand people in Silicon Valley – often our own neighbors – who are not so blessed.

We live in a Valley in which any given night nearly 10,000 people – including women and children – live on the streets or in our creeks.

We live in a Valley in which seniors, parents and kids make the awful choice on whether to pay their rent or afford food on any given day.

We live in a Valley in which health care is deferred or coverage is denied, as a luxury rather than the necessity that it is.

That’s why this Thanksgiving morning, I am asking you to join the Guardino family for our 12th Annual Applied Materials “Silicon Valley Turkey Trot” in downtown San Jose.

For some it’s a race, a run or a walk.  For others, like me, it’s about building community and helping those in need. Whatever your motivation, sign up today.  Together, if we meet our goals, we will contribute $1 million to local families in need.  Go to to register and know you have taken a step forward in helping others.

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When Voting, Don’t Stop at the Top

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November 2  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Don’t Stop at the Top . . . Much has been written and said about a “crowded ballot” facing California voters this election season. With 17 statewide initiatives, two countywide ballot measures and – depending on the City or Town you call home – more local measures as well.

So here’s my advice to my fellow voters here in Santa Clara County – “don’t stop at the top.” You may be angry and anxious about one or both of your choices for our next president. I understand. But numerous state and local choices deserve your discerning decision-making. Let me name two.

In Silicon Valley, two of our greatest concerns are the flip side of the same coin; too much traffic and a lack of homes our families can afford. That warrants a close look at Measures A and B.

Measure A is an affordable housing bond, with a principal focus on homeless housing for the estimated 7,500 people without shelter on any given night. Currently, the cost of services, shelter and public safety associated with the band-aid approach we have taken to address our homeless crisis is $500 million annually. Measure A, with a “Housing First” model, could provide safe housing and services for as many as 5,000 people currently on the streets and near our creeks.

Measure B is our traffic relief & road repair initiative, carefully crafted over years of effort with thousands of everyday citizens’ actively engaged in 48 public hearings. Built by traffic engineers and transportation directors, Measure B would provide meaningful countywide congestion relief, cost-effective transit options and a significant focus on the crumbling conditions of our local streets and roads. It’s positive impact on our economy, including local employers small and large, has earned the unanimous endorsement of all 13 Chambers of Commerce, from Palo Alto in the north to Gilroy in the south, representing tens of thousands of small and mid-sized businesses. Learn more at

In many ways, this election season’s ugliness at the “top of the ticket” seems more like a “race to the bottom.” But when voting, make your voice heard. Join me; don’t stop at the top.

Traffic Jams

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October 26  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Traffic Jams: they can sour every trip we take in Santa Clara County.

That’s why we support Measure B. Like a jigsaw puzzle, Measure B puts all the pieces together for a sweeter commute:

* First, we finish the job on BART, bringing it to East San Jose, San Jose State, the SAP Center and all the way to Santa Clara University.

* Second, we link BART with an electrified Caltrain, at the SAP Center and across the street from Santa Clara University, for rapid rail around the entire Bay Area.

* Third, we ensure seniors, the disabled, students and working families have the lifeline and core transit service they deserve.

* Fourth, we build bicycle and pedestrian improvements, especially near our schools, including our 10 universities and colleges.

* Fifth, we improve highway interchanges and all 10 County Expressways.

* Finally, one of every five dollars fills potholes in all 15 cities and towns.

Traffic jams have turned our commute sour. Measure B makes them sweet again.

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