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March 15, 2016 > Cortese proposes new initiatives for 2016: The year of transformation

Cortese proposes new initiatives for 2016: The year of transformation

By Supervisor Dave Cortese

I am honored to serve a second year as president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and I know the community will come together, as it did last year, to face our most pressing challenges of 2016.

At the State of the County event on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, I declared 2016 as the Year of Transformation. We can build on the progress we made last year on homelessness, health and immigration, environment, services for youth, and also take on new initiatives that will make our County a better place to live, work and play.

I believe we should make transforming our jails as our first priority, while continuing to tackle homelessness and our work on other core areas.

Jail reform: After the death of inmate Michael Tyree in our Main Jail last year, we created a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Custody Operations to conduct an independent review of our jail system. I look forward to their recommendations to the Board at our meeting on April 12. Dramatic changes need to be made, and IÕm hoping we can start by providing treatment for mentally ill offenders instead of jailing them. I support a permanent Oversight Commission to make sure that our jails will be safe for inmates, corrections officers and visitors.

Homelessness: The Housing Task Force that last year to came up with new ideas to help our homeless population set us on a course to expand services and shelter, with a focus on homeless veterans. No man or woman who fought for his country should sleep under a bridge at night.

I am challenging all of us to start looking at homelessness not as a problem to be solved by a moral obligation to be filled Ð by all of us. I ask you to start by keeping an open mind when a site is proposed for temporary shelter, rent apartments to homeless veterans and support nonprofits that serve the homeless.

Here are some other initiatives I propose for 2016. I will keep you updated with how to get involved.

Immigrant relations: Working with our new Office of Immigrant Relations, I advocate that we set up an Immigrant Programs Task Force with the goal of creating a one-stop shop for immigration services. We recently celebrated our future Vietnamese American Service Center, which also is a hub for services.

Alviso Marina: Last year, we started educational boat tours at Alviso Marina County Park, using the navigable waterway to the Bay. IÕm proposing that the Alviso Marina be designated regionally as an access port for emergencies and rescue services.

National Heritage Area: We are embarking on a mission to have the U.S. Congress designate the County as a National Heritage Area. The designation not only celebrates our history, traditions and culture, but can open the door to federal grants. IÕm proposing a Task Force to guide the process along and involve the community.

Outreach Strike Team: LetÕs create an Outreach Strike Team, a unit of employees who can mobilize face-to-face when it is crucial that information be received and understood by all the residents in our County.

To read the State of the County Speech or view it, visit And you can contact me at (408) 299-5030 or email me at

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