State of the County 2016

Dave Cortese, Supervisor, District 3 and Joe Simitian, Supervisor, District 5 were both elected to a second term as President and Vice President of the Board of Supervisors. Those...
Hilbert Morales / EL OBSERVADOR
Hilbert Morales / EL OBSERVADOR

Hilbert Morales / EL OBSERVADOR

Dave Cortese, Supervisor, District 3 and Joe Simitian, Supervisor, District 5 were both elected to a second term as President and Vice President of the Board of Supervisors.

Those who wish to read the entire speech which BOS President Dave Cortese delivered, go to


In this opinion piece, I shall deal with those public policy matters which, in my opinion, impact this county’s Hispanic-Latino community disproportionately the most.

While 200,000+ jobs have been recovered, too many Latino families still languish in low paying jobs which do not provide for a ‘living wage’. Decision makers in this micro-economy of Silicon Valley rely on ‘bottom line’ profit indicators without responsible stewardship inclusion of what is good for our community’s low income labor force which needs more opportunity. A ‘hands-up’ effort needs formulation to assist those who need job training which contains a career ladder. In addition to creating jobs, more attention needs to be given to the ‘third world living standards’ extant in some districts of this county.

Affordable housing continues to be a major issue. With the influx of trained professionals, stable communities are being dismantled as those able to pay higher rents displace long term rental occupants having modest incomes Many retired elders and youthful individuals simply cannot cope with the matrix of issues created by decisions based only on the ‘bottom line’ profit motive. This is an important transition issue which has many variables…all of which need to be dealt with openly and fairly. The ‘profit oriented’ decision making model does not fairly deal with the stewardship issues required to be ‘my brother’s keeper’. The unintended outcome is the very large homeless cohort which is now evident in too many communities. Two groups need assessment: 1) the fixed income retired elderly who are living longer and 2) the next generation’s youth who, at this stage of their life journey, do not have the training and resources needed to cope with the fast pace of commercial global hi-tech job creation and market economies.

So, “the ladder of prosperity” is still missing a rung or two. We can see that, despite the massive job growth, the issues of homelessness and housing our workforce have never been more challenging. I have not seen an economy like this in my lifetime — where poverty grows despite increasing overall wealth. The questions about how we sustain ourselves as a County and a region continue to be profound.”

The BOS needs to ask the community to come together, to put aside differences and political ideologies, embrace ideas and face this biggest transitional challenge, especially if they have business or labor, Republican or Democrat and faith based paradigms to share. This community, its diverse society, and its economy need to examine the entire universe of things impacting our life styles so profoundly.

There are other issues which seem to distract our attention from this most important matter: 1) Dealing with xenophobic attitudes 2) Public health issues, e.g., diabetes Type 2 and HIV/SIDA; Children’s Health Assessment programs, etc.; 3) A County Jail wherein 64% of inmates are persons of color (50% are Hispanic); 4) The need to establish a ‘continuum’ of health care which has no gaps of service capability. 5) Corrective transitions in this County’s Jail Operations which require monitoring to ensure transparency; 6) Dealing with this drought effectively by assessment of desalination to augment the sweet water delivered by Mother Nature.

What concerns me most as Publisher Emeritus of EO is the silence of Latino leaders who have not effectively and publicly addressed the disparities in access to jobs and education for their youth. Who speaks up for those many issues which all Latinos encounter daily in this community?  MALDEF, NCLR, American GI Forum,  MAPA, MACSA, LULAC, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, etc. Who knows how these organizations are collectively addressing these challenges? Who speaks up publicly on public policy matters which highly impact the Latino community and permit it to perform as one of many equals? This Latino community, with the help of its civic organizations, needs to begin by voting in the greatest numbers possible during this election year 2016.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez and other civic elected officials need to be visibly supported by the Latino community for their advocacy efforts to really become more effective and productive. Latinos need to begin to speak up publicly in their own best interests….everyone else does it, why not you Latinos?