CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | A Santa Clara County activist’s praise for Ro Khanna’s help in avoiding a newly built public library from becoming an embarrassing white elephant, may represent the campaign utilizing a bit of sleight of hand to attract Republican voters in November.
For some, the story of the Northside Library in Santa Clara is essentially rooted in anti-government rhetoric. Almost one year ago, the completed library sat idle as bureaucrats in Sacramento figured out how to fund its future operation. The library had previously used redevelopment funds for its construction, but that method of financing public projects had since gone by the wayside as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s bid to reorganize the state budget.
Kathy Watanabe, a local activist who pushed for the library’s construction and its opening, wrote on Khanna’s campaign site on Friday, “We were using redevelopment funds to help pay for the library’s construction, but the state was cinching down on their use as part of overreaching budget cuts. We stopped construction as requested, but the Foundation went into advocacy mode on behalf of the library,” she wrote. “Our goal was to cut through the red tape that was holding our library hostage. After all, construction was already nearly completed. If we didn’t fight for it, the building would go to waste instead of being a resource for our community.” According to Watanabe, Honda did not lend much support to aid the library-backers cause, but Khanna’s campaign did.
It’s important to note, the Northside Library issue nearly emboldened Republican Peter Kuo, a Santa Clara resident who lives near the library, to challenge Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District. He, instead, chose to run for the 10th State Senate District and will face Democrat Bob Wieckowski in the fall.
Although many Democrats would lament any library sitting unused, there is a political dog whistle being blown here. The Northside Library issue not only implies an affront to children and their education, but screams government–locally or nationally–is broken. That typically isn’t a progressive mantra. It may be a moderate’s cry, but it is certainly emblazoned on every t-shirt being sold at your local conservative powwow.
Following Khanna’s 21-point drubbing on June 3, the campaign desperately needs to figure out a new calculus for winning in November. Conservatives made up almost one-quarter of the voters earlier this month. However, accusations by Republican Vanila Singh and the Alameda County GOP that Khanna tried to manipulate the composition of the primary race with conservative ringers, bred deep dislike for his campaign. He has to be betting GOP voters will not view him as the interloper in conservative affairs that Singh continually asserted. Whether Khanna is the more palatable Democrat over the progressive Honda for Republicans might ignite by reminding them about the brand new library that local elected officials representing the status quo couldn’t quite open for business.
Ro khana had absolutely NOTHING to do with getting Santa Clara's Northside Library completed. The City of Santa Clara finally realized that they needed to keep their commitment and spend CITY money to finish it.
As another person posted, SC City Council tried to use redevelopment funds and got sued and LOST!
Khanna is trying to catch straws in the wind … He has nothing to point to so he is taking credit where he deserves none.
Residents should take all the credit. not some carpet bagger
You said it. The city did face “political pressure” to finish the library, and Kathy, Ro, and others rallied, marched, spoke out, collected petitions, and pushed hard behind the scenes to make sure it happened. Had there been no pressure at all, the library would continue sitting empty.
Ro Khanna had absolutely nothing to do with getting the north side library fixed. Absolutely nothing.
The city faced political pressure from residents who wanted their library finished. It's a city-owned facility, on city land. The city had no legal right to use redevelopment money to finish the library (the bonds didn't provide enough money for library furnishings/books/etc.) So the city had to either spend its own money to finish its own library, or let the library building sit, empty and unused. The city didn't have a leg to stand on in seeking RDA money to finish the library. All of the noise made in front of the Oversight Board didn't make any difference.
Ultimately, the city did the right thing and finished its own facility with its own money.
I fail to understand why Ro Khanna's campaign thinks that he had anything to do with the city's decision to spend its own money on its own library.
and Kathy Watanabe too ..what seats does she have?
So what seats does Lisa Gilmor gonna have at Levi's Stadium? Box seats? or 50 yard line seats?
Nice company you have there Ro
Sometimes, endorsements can come back to bite you. People will vote against you if you've been endorsed by a particular person or people.
Many people have had a negative reaction to Ro Khanna putting Santa Clara City Council Member Lisa Gillmor's face on his campaign materials, as well as associating himself with Kathy Watanabe (he has told people that she's one of his advisers). Does Ro Khanna not realize that he has associated himself with people who are real lightening rods in Santa Clara? They are both associated with the rabidly extreme pro-stadium group in Santa Clara – the group which discounts the opinions of anyone who does not believe in corporate welfare (does not believe that public dollars should be handed over to billionaire sports team owners.)
Read about what people associated with Yes on J (stadium ballot measure), like Lisa Gillmor (spokesperson for the Yes on J group) and Kathy Watanabe, who allowed her face and that of her family to be plastered on Yes on J advertising, did to the City of Santa Clara. $5 million buys a lot of votes. The entire game plan to mislead the public has been exposed:
Is this the kind of behavior we can expect from Ro Khanna if he's elected? That he listens to only one extreme side of an issue, and discounts anything said by anyone else?
There are many people here who will vote against anyone endorsed by Lisa Gillmor.
I thought that conservatives were really in favor of state's rights. Why should an elected official at the federal level get involved in telling an Oversight Board formed at the local level through state legislation sponsored by the Governor what to do, especially when telling the Oversight Board to hand redevelopment money to a specific project outside of the purview of the Oversight Board is attempting to override the authority of a locally appointed Oversight Board?
Does Ro Khanna support federal interference in state, county, and city matters? If he were elected to Congress, would he really spend his time trying to thwart the intentions of legislation brought forward by Governor Brown, and passed into law by our state assembly and state senate?
Nice to see a factual summary of,what really happened with Santa Clara's Northside library project. Khanna had absolutely NOTHING to do with getting it finished. Neither did Ms, Watanabe nor the Library Foundation. The whole mess was manufactured by Santa Clara city councils attempt to act above the law. They got caught with their hands in the cookie,jar … And were forced to stop spending money that wasn't theirs to spend.
Khanna taking credit for this is ridiculous … Is this an example of his honesty and integrity? Looks like it is … So time to vote for Honda who rightly kept his nose out of business that wasn't his at all. Khanna's attention to the law needs to be questioned … Or does he think he's above the law too??
Khanna is an attorney? Guess he didn't bother to read the law … Not someone who should represent us!!!
Years ago: Santa Clara's RDA sold bonds for building a library on the north side. The City couldn't afford the $800K it would cost per year to operate the library, so the land sat idle.
1/ 2011: Gov. Brown announced that RDAs were going to be dissolved.
3/ 2011: Santa Clara moved all RDA assets to the City (close to $400 million.)
6/ 2011: The RDA dissolution legislation took effect. The legislation stated that 3rd party contracts with redevelopment agencies would be honored if they were signed before the end of June 2011, that all RDA assets had to be transferred to an RDA Successor Agency (not the City), and that each RDA Successor Agency had to have an Oversight Board composed of 7 members (2 from the City, and the remaining Oversight Board members represent other taxing entities, such as the County, water and fire districts, Community College, and County Office of Education.
12/ 2011: The CA Supreme Court upheld the RDA dissolution legislation.
2/ 2012: The City contracts with the Santa Clara Library Friends and Foundation to build the north side library. Note that this timeframe is well past the RDA legislation requirement for honoring 3rd party contracts.
The Library Friends and Foundation received $11.7 Million in RDA bond monies and $8 million in RDA cash and began construction on the north side library, after contracting back with the City as the project manager.
4/ 2012: The State Controller wrote a letter: “If your city, county or agency, directly or indirectly, received any assets from a redevelopment agency after January 1, 2011, your city, county, or agency is hereby ordered to immediately reverse the transfer and return the applicable assets to the successor agency….”
7/2012 The building permit for the north side library is issued. Construction commences. The City of SC continues to spend millions in RDA monies on various projects.
8/2013 The County of Santa Clara is granted an injunction to force the City of Santa Clara to stop spending RDA monies. The City halts the finishing of the north side library. North side residents are understandably upset.
8/2013 North side residents attend the Oversight Board meeting, and ask the Board to give RDA funds to the library. But, the Oversight Board doesn't have the jurisdiction to provide RDA funds to the north side library, because 1) the library is on City land (not RDA land), and 2) the contract with the Library Friends and Foundation was signed 7 months after the RDA was dissolved – recall that 3rd party contracts with RDAs could only be honored if they were signed by June, 2011. Despite the outcry from protesters (including Ro Khanna), the Oversight Board said the issue is out of their hands. Oversight Board “Members said the money spent to build the library wasn't the city's to spend.” http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Santa-Clara-Library-Built-Stuck-in-Legal-Limbo-219986151.html
9/2013: The State Controller stated that the City of Santa Clara has to hand over $279 million in RDA assets to the RDA Successor Agency: “Controller John Chiang said Santa Clara had committed “inappropriate property and cash transfers” from its former redevelopment agency.” http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_24064524/state-wants-city-santa-clara-return-279-million
Ultimately, because the bonds were sold with language which stated that the bond proceeds were for a library, the $11.7 million in bond funds could be put toward library construction. But, the remaining $8 million in RDA funds is still part of the County's lawsuit against the City of SC, and the $279 million the Controller said the City has to give to the Successor Agency.
The City decided finished the library with City funds, and put $8 million in a holding account until the RDA lawsuit is finished. The City-owned library is now scheduled to open soon, on City land, paid for with RDA bonds which were slated for a library, and using City funds to finish the library.