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January 21, 2011 > 2010: The Beginning of Change

2010: The Beginning of Change

By Supervisor Dave Cortese

Reflecting on the first decade of the 21st century, we can see the ups and downs and a tumultuous economy. But we can also look to the future and see the path towards recovery. Despite the tumultuousness, families pulled together and did more with less. Likewise, here at the county, we were still able to accomplish a lot, despite diminished resources. I wanted to take a minute and reflect on some of the great things we put in place in 2010 to benefit residents of Santa Clara County, thanks to your support.

Highway 101 Corridor Improvements

I hope you got my email from last month, announcing the pending construction of Highway 101 at Tully Road. If you travel Highway 101, you may have seen the construction equipment appearing around Tully interchange. I am very excited to see this as it is the realization of almost a decade of hard work and perseverance. Since I was first elected in 2001, I have fought tooth and nail to upgrade this interchange. This project will dramatically increase motorist and pedestrian safety. Also, it will begin to ease the traffic congestion on this vital road. But the fight isn't over. Just before Christmas I met with state leaders to develop a strategy for securing the remaining funds to update the Yerba Buena and Capitol Expressway interchanges. The projects are already designed; all that is needed now is about $31 million to complete the construction. This is my number one transportation goal and hopefully I'll have good news for you in late spring 2011 on securing the funds. I am also working to plan a celebration of the groundbreaking of the construction work. For more information on the project or the celebration, please contact my office at 299-5030 or

District 3 out in the community

I strongly believe in the power of communities. In 2010, my office and I participated in dozens of local events put on by neighborhood associations and community organizations to show support and help connect residents to county services. Also last year I co-sponsored the First Annual Day on the Bay: A Multicultural Festival in Alviso with the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department. This festival allowed residents from across the county to learn about services and resources available to them as well as enjoy free live entertainment, free food, free kayak rides at the Alviso Marina and free pumpkins. My staff and I are already planning this year's events and I hope to see you at one of them.

A greener Santa Clara County

In order to ensure our community's survival, we must make it sustainable. With that in mind, I've focused a great deal of time on greening and making sustainable not only county operations but the community, too, including supporting the creation of a County Office of Sustainability. This office will further the goals of the environment, economic stimulus and equity. To put it simply, the office will help the county ensure that all its residents have a healthy place to live and a chance for good jobs.

No more young minors in Juvenile Hall

Last year was a significant year for social justice in Santa Clara County. After studying the issue and taking public testimony, I asked the Board of Supervisors to approve a resolution to no longer place any child 12 years old or younger in Juvenile Hall - and the Board unanimously agreed. Children this young need one-on-one, highly intensive intervention - and Juvenile Hall is not setup to do this. Young offenders are now being placed in highly trained parental care-like settings, where they can receive the attention and care needed to rehabilitate and re-enter the world. Studies show that 97% of these kids will not re-offend.

A cost efficient and rehabilitative criminal justice system

In an effort to make the criminal justice system fairer, while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars by easing the burden on the courts, my office has been working with county staff on how to divert certain low level offenses away from the judicial process. Such "diversion" programs have been successful in many other jurisdictions because they allow non-violent offenders to correct their offense while not taking up valuable time in the courts. Last December, the Board approved the first diversion method - giving infractions (as opposed to misdemeanors) for certain low level vehicle offenses.

These are just a few of the changes that I worked on last year. I have more ideas for this coming year, but I know you have many other great ideas. To that end, I led in the creation of a whistleblower hotline for county employees and residents to make anonymous tips and suggestions to help us create a more efficient and accountable county government. Suggestions can be made online at or by calling 888-302-7743. All information will be kept private.

I look forward to serving you as the President of the Board of Supervisors this year. My office is always available to you to answer questions or connect you with services. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 408-299-5030 or

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