There’s More That Unites Us Than Could Ever Divide Us

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June 16  |  Environment  |   Carl Guardino

Pictured: Honorees Green For All Director Vien Truong, Dolores Huerta and Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . There is more that unites us than could ever divide us.

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group – when it comes to improving the quality of life for all of our citizens – we work to build bridges, not burn them down.

On June 9th, the Leadership Group was honored with the Environmental Leadership Award by the California League of Conservation Voters – a committed and respected environmental organization. Why did they honor a business organization of 400 Silicon Valley CEOs? Quite simply, common ground. As CEOs who care about the quality of life in our communities throughout California, we know the importance of clean air, clean water, urban parks, open space, affordable homes near transit, renewable energy and a healthy environment.

As engineers and entrepreneurs, we recognize we can have it all – a strong economy and a clean environment – which is why we co-led the campaign that established the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority. It’s why we co-led numerous transportation measures that emphasize transit options that ease traffic congestion. It’s why we recently led the 9-County Bay Restoration Campaign, Measure AA, which passed region-wide with 70 percent of the vote.

These initiatives were not about “tax and spend.” When it comes to our quality of life and a clean environment, we know we must “invest and prosper.”

In our country today, there are too many voices that seek to divide us. In Silicon Valley and throughout California, the Leadership Group will continue to do its level best to champion issues that will unite us.

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The Power of “AND”

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June 8  |  Environment  |   Carl Guardino

The Power of “And.”

Tuesday’s election witnessed the passage of an historic nine-County parcel tax to preserve and protect the San Francisco Bay – Measure AA.

It demonstrated, once again, the Power of and. For five-plus years, two business groups and two environmental groups forged a powerful coalition throughout the 9-County Bay Area. We agreed to the uncommon approach of taxing ourselves for the common good – the restoration of an asset truly worthy of our support, the beauty we call the San Francisco Bay.

The $500 million that Measure AA will generate is – of course – the important front-page story. The back-story, however, is the delightful demonstration of and. You see, it is not, nor has it ever been, the false choice between the environment or the economy. It is not the false struggle between employers and environmentalists.

And unites us to a common purpose. Or divides us and leads to defeat.

Thank you – Bay Area Council, Resources Legacy Fund and Save the Bay. Measure AA is only “act one” in this on-going saga to Save our Bay. As we stay united, we can now work to secure State funds and Federal funds to protect, preserve and enhance this treasure that rests between the nine-counties, cherished by residents throughout our region. All because of the power of and.

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Time for telephone regulations to keep up with technological realities

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June 1  |  Tech & Innovation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . It’s time our telephone regulations kept up with our technological realities.

If you use an iPhone, Skype with friends or family, or stream movies, you know the way we communicate has come a long way from the days of the rotary phone with a chord in our kitchen.

But California’s telecommunications policy hasn’t kept pace. Silicon Valley Assemblyman Evan Low wants to change that. He’s proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 2395, that will modernize state policies for the first time since the 1950s. That will give all of us more options and more access to new technologies to live and work better. Assemblyman Low’s bill encourages the deployment of advanced technology including better mobile and internet technologies – to strengthen emergency services, telemedicine and long-distance learning. AB 2395 is not about taking anything away; it’s about transitioning to new and better technologies, just as we as consumers are doing right now.

That’s why a broad coalition of groups, from the San Jose Police Officers Association to the NAACP to the Congress of California Seniors – and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group – support this legislation.

If you agree with what Assemblyman Low is working to accomplish on AB 2395, it is time to make your voice heard. Contact the Leadership Group, or Assemblyman Low directly, to call in your support. It’s time California regulatory policy dialed in to the 21st Century.

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Silicon Valley’s Economy Depends on Trade

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May 25  |  Tech & Innovation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Silicon Valley’s robust economy depends on trade

In a recent survey of 600 Santa Clara County voters, commissioned by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, President Obama’s 7-year effort to expand the trade of American goods and services to eleven countries in the Asia-Pacific is supported by a two-to-one margin.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – or TPP – is a Trade Agreement between the United States and 11 countries along the Pacific Rim, with nearly 800 million people, accounting for 40 percent of global trade. Along with the United States, the countries engaged in the Trans-Pacific Partnership include Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

President Obama deserves praise for successfully negotiating with the other 11 countries for the strongest environmental standards of any U.S. Trade Agreement in history.

The President also successfully negotiated with the other 11 countries for the highest labor standards of any U.S. Trade Agreement in history, including the rights of workers in other countries to form Unions and to establish minimum wages for workers.

In Santa Clara County alone, there are 105,000 local jobs that are dependent on Trade with other countries. Those local jobs support tens of thousands of local families who drive our region’s economy.

And jobs tied to trade pay better than jobs that do not depend on trade. In fact, American jobs that are tied to trade pay – on average – 18 percent higher salaries and benefits than the same type of job that is not tied to trade.

When Santa Clara County voters were asked if they support or oppose President Obama’s efforts to have Congress pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership before he leaves office in January of 2017, the results were clear:

* 57 percent support the President on trade
* Only 29 percent oppose the President on trade
* With 14 percent offering no opinion

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – a Trade Agreement carefully crafted by President Obama – is good for working families throughout Silicon Valley; and deserves the support of Congress before he leaves office next year.

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Two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionally.

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April 20  |  Government Relations  |   admin

Here’s food for thought … Two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionally.

In nearly three decades in public policy, I’ve learned that the best time to speak with elected officials is when they are still candidates. They still listen more than speak, and are often wonderfully candid in sharing their positions and views.

Two weeks ago, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group openly posted City Council Candidate responses to five key policy issues impacting San Jose and Silicon Valley. Nineteen of the 21 candidates responded. We recently received another response from District 8 Candidate Pat Waite.

To read the completed questionnaire from Mr. Waite and the 19 other candidates, please visit the Silicon Valley Leadership Group website at All 20 responses are thoughtful, enlightening and clear. Democracy works best when we as citizens are well-informed, and when candidates are listening to those who’s votes they are seeking.


Fight for Flights

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April 6  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought … San Jose Airport is taking off.


In the past three years, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has actively championed several international flights out of San Jose International Airport:

  • ANA to Tokyo began January 11, 2013
  • Hainan Airlines to Beijing began June 15, 2015
  • British Airways to London starts May 4, 2016
  • Air Canada to Vancouver starts May 9, 2016
  • Lufthansa to Frankfurt starts July 1, 2016

It’s time to look within the U.S. rather than just abroad. Our recent survey of 120 executives identified some of the top domestic destinations:

  • New York City
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Chicago
  • Boston
  • Seattle

If given a preference based on convenience or cost, 89 percent would prefer flights from San Jose Airport, 3 percent from San Francisco Airport. Now the hard part: trying to convince airlines to care about the choices and concerns of their customers – and making the business case for multi-billion dollar decisions.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group will fight for flights. Please join us.

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San Jose City Council Candidate Questionnaires

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March 30  |  Government Relations  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Kudos to candidates for revealing responses.

Each year, candidates for elected office are flooded with questionnaires. Interest groups subject would-be elected leaders with questions ranging from politics to policy to the incredibly personal, as they try to ascertain how each candidate will vote on important issues.

The candidate questionnaire to San Jose City Council candidates sent from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group is different than most questionnaires in three ways:

First, “less is more.” The Leadership Group questionnaire contains only five questions. Our questions focus on issues of importance not only to executives in their board rooms, but also workers and their families in their living rooms. We call them “THEE Issues” – Traffic, Housing, Education and the Environment.

Second, we want to learn about the “horse,” not the “horse race.” The Leadership Group doesn’t ask candidates political questions, like how much money have you raised? Who’s your political consultant? How are you doing in the polls? There are enough folks who focus solely on the “horse race.” We believe San Jose voters would like to learn more about each candidate’s views on the policy issues that impact each of our lives and livelihoods.

Third, a little sunshine please. The Leadership Group questionnaire is made public. Both our questions, and each candidate’s unfiltered responses, are available on-line to anyone who would like to learn more. All too many candidate questionnaires are kept secret, jealously guarded by both the interest groups sending out the questionnaire and the candidates completing them. Transparency should trump secrecy. If a candidate is proud of their position on an issue, make it public. If an interest group wants to judge a candidate on a particular stance, let all of us know about it.

To read where 19 San Jose City Council candidates stand on “THEE Issues” facing San Jose and Silicon Valley, please visit our web site at Together, let’s make informed choices on June 7.


Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project

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March 9  |  Education, Housing, Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . There are two ways to weather a storm – buy umbrellas or build boats.

In Silicon Valley, to battle the economic storms of international competition, the better way – the most successful way – is to build boats that lift everyone in our Valley when the inevitable rainstorms occur.

That’s why we commission the “Silicon Valley Competitiveness & Innovation Project,” in partnership with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, comparing Silicon Valley with the other top five tech regions in the United States, as well as international regions like London, Seoul, Berlin and Beijing.

The findings – like our Valley – show that we have “high-highs” and some “low-lows.”

Our strengths are to be celebrated:
* Talent, risk-capitol and R&D, idea generation, commercialization and business innovation, labor productivity and jobs in innovation industries.

Our challenges are to be assessed and addressed:
* Cost of doing business, home and rental rates, traffic congestion, math proficiency in 8th grade, reading proficiency in 3rd grade and pre-school enrollment.

Take traffic – The average Silicon Valley commuter loses 75 minutes each week due to traffic congestion, above their normal commute time. As a region, we lose $5.4 billion annually due to congestion – in lost productivity, vehicle wear and tear and increased gas usage. During commute hours, our economy – literally – comes to a stand-still.

Concerned? Read more at Silicon Valley is still the innovation engine of the world, but resting on our laurels will move us from the driver’s seat to the back seat, which we cannot allow to happen.

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Deep Fried Fat

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March 2  |  Education, Health Policy  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . Deep Fried Fat.

When I was a kid, the three words I heard most often from my mom were “eat your veggies.” I was fortunate to grow up in a middle-class home that focused on healthy foods and had the income to provide them.

Sadly, in many of our poorest neighborhoods, healthy food choices are less common, and foods often offered in our school cafeterias emphasize less healthy fare. “Eat your veggies” is all too often replaced with “deep fried fat.”

With your help, we are changing the game.

Our Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation, in partnership with Lam Research, is providing our schools and students with better options, through our “Salad Bars for Schools” initiative, funded through our Lam Research “Heart & Soles 5K” run or walk.

On Saturday morning, March 12th, at beautiful Lake Cunningham Park in East San Jose, please join me, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, State Assemblywoman Nora Campos, County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, Vice Mayor Rose Herrera, City Councilman Ash Kalra, Lam Research CEO Martin Anstice, and County Office of Education Superintendent Jon Gundry for our 5K run or walk. Registration is easy here.

Context: In just the past two years, thanks to the generosity of our title sponsor Lam Research, The Health Trust and dozens of Leadership Group member company CEOs, we have already funded salad bars in 120 Silicon Valley schools, providing fresh fruits and vegetables every school day to 97,000 local students. This year, our ambitious goal is to provide salad bars to another 70 local schools, serving nearly 50,000 more kids.

Please join us. Bring family and friends. To meet our goal, we need at least 2,000 paid registrations for our 5K run or walk. Please register here today. If you cannot come, but want to contribute, you can do so at our “Heart & Soles 5K” website at

Thanks for your support. I look forward to seeing you Saturday morning, March 12.

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I am now “High” on High-Speed Rail

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February 19  |  Transportation  |   Carl Guardino

Here’s food for thought . . . I’m now “high” on High-Speed Rail.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is poised to pivot, adjusting their work-plan to come first to San Jose and Silicon Valley, rather than building first toward Los Angeles.

Why does this matter? For Silicon Valley commuters, this is a convergence of commute alternatives in-tune with the innovation economy:

First, High-Speed Rail between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley, linking Fresno in 1 hour, Merced in 45 minutes and Gilroy in just 15.

Second, with our efforts to electrify Caltrain where High-Speed Rail and Caltrain will converge in Downtown San Jose, we will double the number of people who can use Caltrain on a daily basis, from 60,000 to 120,000 daily trips.

Third, the BART extension to downtown San Jose, connecting with High-Speed Rail and Caltrain, means rapid rail throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

For those balancing housing costs with horrific commutes, High-Speed Rail to San Jose is also a game changer. For that teacher, fire fighter or police officer working in an expensive Silicon Valley city, a home in Gilroy is suddenly a 15-minute commute. Merced? Just 45 minutes.

Silicon Valley is a land of opportunity for many. High-Speed Rail, linked with electrified Caltrain and BART to downtown San Jose, expands that opportunity for tens of thousands of citizens for quicker commutes and more affordable homes.

Let’s build.

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