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Week of November 15th: Your Constitutional Convention Season Finale Guide 🗺️

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

🎙️Last night we attended KQED's Facing Eviction: SOLD OUT Podcastevent and heard from Tim Thomas PhD from the Urban Displacement Project that the City of San José from March 19, 2020 to July 31, 2021 ranks number one in the Bay Area for evictions 💔😭. Thomas stressed the importance of policies as the preventative measure, some of which the Charter Review Commission is in the process of finalizing this week.

A quick recap for the uninitiated:

  • The City Constitution (charter) is the HBIC, think of it as the skeletal system of city governance. This magical document belongs to the people of San José exclusively, as it cannot be changed without a vote of the people.

  • Next up, we have Council Policies and Municipal Codes, think of them as the meat on the bones, the muscle and flesh meant to implement the will of the people. Council Policies and the Code fall under the jurisdiction of Council, they through majority vote, can create and change them as they see fit.

This hierarchy of sorcery is highly coveted and this week we aim to break it down more because knowing and understanding your rights are everything in this world but first…

👀 Spotted last week… it seems that some Commissioners were more spellbound than others by the dark arts of procedural wizardry of who and what gets heard and when. However, Commissioner Christina Johnson casts her own transparency spell upon Chair Fred Ferrer and Lawrence Grodeska, but we'll have to wait until Monday to see how it'll be carried out by the powers that be.

👀 👀 But that's not all folks, this past Thursday, we received some hot goss via text from the House of Santa Clara County REALTORS, they are currently spending their magic coin$ to fight Commissioner Fuentes and Amador's Policy Recommendation for the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) in the name of property rights. Par for the course for the House of REALTORS to keep an open tab on all things property. It seems as Commissioner Monley of the House of Dev Davis's District 6 and Commissioner Zhao, House of Chappie Jone's District 1 both hold seats of power (Board of Directors) at the House of REALTORS and a visit through our youtube time capsule shows that they have both been very vocal opponents against COPA. A quick jaunt through the fine print uncovered that since this commission did not have a Conflict of Interest, nor a Code of Ethics within their terms and conditions, as long as a Commissioner is clearly participating as an individual representative, it's ok. It has always been business as usual for developers and realtors to be highly involved in civic participation, for example, our original 1965 Charter was also crafted by 13 private land owners/developers. FYI since it's season finale week you will be hearing from us twice this week if not three times the charm.

Season Finale Week Ahead 🔮… We are at the final leg of our epic saga for the San José Constitutional Convention, this week is action packed:

  • ‼️ TOMORROW, November 15, 2021 @ 5:30 pm (zoom link,agenda) Charter Review Commission Final Discussions: group therapy session on the final runway looks on social equity reforms for our City Constitution

  • 🍿 Thursday, November 18, 2021 @ 11:00 am (zoom link, agenda) Charter Review Commission Final Votes: which proposals will move forward in the season finale!?

  • 🌒 Friday, November 19, 2021 @ 12:57 am LONGEST PARTIAL ECLIPSE of the CENTURY! In this case, the partial eclipse phase will last 3 hours, 28 minutes and 24 seconds, and the full eclipse for 6 hours and 1 minute, making it the longest partial eclipse in 580 years, according to Indiana's Holcomb Observatory.

🎒 What to gather for your civic journey… water, snacks, highlighter, copy of Rosenberg's Rules of Order, and a good mic for public comment

📚 What to read and how to prepare… this week starting with Monday's Agenda, the Commission will discuss the following updates and revisions:

  • 🛠️ Article X Boards & Commission Reform… seeks to remove Citizenship requirements from all government Boards and Commissions per Senate Bill 225, expand reimbursements and stipends to remove socioeconomic barriers to civic participation, and maintain democratic best practices. (Recommendation 1)

  • 🦄 Using Gender Inclusive Language in the City Charter… following suit after Santa Clara County and the most recent 1st issued “X” gendered U.S. Passport, San José aims to move towards expanded gender identity (Recommendation 2)

  • 🙏 Land Acknowledgments… the City of San José could set a new precedent making land acknowledgments a new best practice (Recommendation 3)

  • 🚓 Policing and Municipal Law… San José could receive a big OS X update to their Public Safety Infrastructure with the creation of a Police Commission, Independent Investigations Department, and Office of the Inspector General. This recommendation could help alleviate the $26 Million Dollars of lawsuits that SJPD has settled since 2010. This change would align San José with San Francisco, Oakland, Davis, Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego County explained Commissioner Rick Callendar. However, final negotiations will include talks with SJPD, the Police Union, Council, the Reimagining Public Safety Advisory Committee and other community stakeholders before we put that 💍ring on it (Recommendation 4)

  • 👩‍⚖️ Article XI Legislation Reforms to include an equity lens…moving forward the City of San José could be guided by a racial and social equity framework and principles. This would impact decisions on policies, budgets and programs to ensure accountability to previous efforts to address racial and social equity in the decision making process (Recommendation 5)

  • 🧮 Department Audits Reform… who gets to decide what is audited and what is not? Once upon a time it was Council but in the future constituent-facing departments could get a department-wide performance audit at least every 6 years, while remaining departments get a department-wide performance audit at least every 12 years, presented at public meetings, with trackable correction action items and follow ups (Recommendation 6)

  • 💡Smart City Advisory Board and the Innovation & Technology Advisory Board metaverse reforms… Political Science Professor Dr. Garrick Percival gets meta on technology reform, an expert on Criminal Justice Reform, Public Policy, State & Local Government, Commissioner Percival asks why are we not tapping the local expertise and knowledge of Silicon Valley's finest, with the goal of strengthening community input on the effects and consequences of technological change (Policy Recommendation 7)

  • 🌎 COP26 Climate Summit comes to San José in the form of a Climate Action Commission… while the NYTimes reports that, “the opening day of a climate summit was heavy on dire warnings and light on substantive proposals as leaders in Glasgow met to discuss a warming world,” Commissioner Magnolia Segol comes in hot with a proposal to address our Climate Crisis through a community led coalition, inspired by longtime Climate Advocate and San Jose Resident Tessa Woodmansee (Recommendation 8)

  • 🪡 Reforming the powers that be… Article IV the Council, Article V the Mayor and Article VI the City Manager gets placed under a critical lens by Commissioner Maria Fuentes. This proposal adds more oversight and accountability measures to the stewarding body of our democracy that aims to thread together the Statement of Equity Values presented by Commissioner Rick Callendar in Recommendation 5 through the entire administration (Recommendation 9)

  • 🏘️ Home ownership pathways for low income residents of San José… could see its first set of 👶 baby teeth by next summer! This proposal aims to address the lack of affordable housing for low-income residents through policy, programs and renewed guidelines on “Area Median Income” standards and what types of home could be allocated as such (Recommendation 10)

  • 💸 Community to Purchase Act (COPA)… promotes the prevention of tenant displacement through creation and preservation of community-owned affordable housing. They City of San Jose adopted 12 displacement strategies to study, COPA was #3 and is currently be studied by the Housing Department and the Housing and Community Development Commission. It has currently been adopted by the City of San Francisco and Washington D.C. (Policy Recommendation 11)

*Disclaimer 🧐: all recommendations still need to go before Council discussion and vote on December 14th for approval before making its way onto the ballot for 2022.

💡Inspired by all of the badassery of this Commission? Change is in the air, winter is coming and you too can get in on the best part of our democracy, check out all the vacancies on Boards and Commissions at the City of San José and tune into our educational podcast for all the deets.

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