Friday, September 22, 2006

Financial Accountability

Wednesday night, Cindy Chavez sent the following letter to Chuck Reed:

Dear Councilmember Reed,
In light of the need to give San Jose citizens complete confidence in our openness, I am releasing my tax returns for the past six years along with receipts for all items for which I have received reimbursement from the City's taxpayers.
I will make these documents available to the press for review on Thursday afternoon, September 21st from noon to 4 pm at my San Jose headquarters office.
As you have made accountability a centerpiece of your campaign also, I ask that you join me in sharing your own tax returns and items for which taxpayers have reimbursed you.
Transparency is critical to healthy government operations. Respect for taxpayer dollars can be demonstarted in many ways. One way is to let them see exactly how their dollars are spent.
Cindy Chavez

The press conference was held yesterday and covered here in today's Mercury News article. The purpose of the request is somewhat ambiguous at this point. Reed claims repeatedly that he tries not to mooch off the city. He is not a freeloader, in his words. However, Reed was reimbursed $15,300 from 2001 to 2004 for admissions to events and parking. On its face, these contentions sound contradictory. However, it is unclear where this amount ranks with other officials' reimbursement. Reed is correct in pointing out that participation and attendance at events is important. What remains to be seen is when reimbursements become too much.

Reed does not want to turn over his financial records because of the "larger policy considerations". Reed is worried that such a precedent would deter particularly rich or particularly poor candidates from entering local elections. I'm not entirely sure if there are many voters who are going to prejudice candidates just because they're rich or poor. Besides, I don't doubt that most voters are able to draw their own conclusions based upon what the candidates include in their stump speeches: we all can make general estimations at the relative wealth of a managing partner of a law firm and someone who has spent her professional career in politics.

I think Reed has a pretty good point in resisting the request. It makes me think that Cindy has something else on her mind in asking for his financial records. Perhaps she is aiming at a much larger fish to fry. One possible theory? Maybe she's trying to get the public more information on Chuck's clients. With the negative press Chuck received from the FPPC filings made by Mohinder Mann, Cindy may be trying to find some dirt on her own. Only time will tell!


At 3:54 PM, Anonymous larry hughes said...

Someone on this site should investigate the individual contributions made to both candidates. Show me da money... and I'll talk to you about ethics.

At 4:21 PM, Anonymous L. Fitzey said...

I'm sure he's hiding something. That's the only reason Cindy's doing this. If he has nothing fishy in his reimbursements, she will have wasted her time.

At 5:01 PM, Anonymous OpenTheBooks said...

All candidates should be required to show their financial records, it is just good, open government.

Reed will do the ethical thing and open up his books, especially since he has stated he is running for office because he wants an ethical government.

Reform starts at home.

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Bobby said...

Why can't we talk about the really important issues in San Jose? Don't waste our time with this stuff.

Talk about how we are going to reduce gang violence in San Jose.

Talk about how we are going to get 12 graders to be at least 10th grade level to get their diplomas.

Talk about how we are going to preserve Coyote Valley for job growth.

These campaign 101 tactics are getting tiresome.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous concerned dem said...

bobby, i agree completely. but chuck has made ethics the center of this election.

you can't expect chavez to not challenge reed when she has been battered by his lackeys for months.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Bobby said...

Ethics has nothing to do with Tax returns. The privacy of my family is more important. Where does it stop? Spouses’ records? College transcripts? Kid’s College Fund? 401K amount?

We need to start talking about solving San Jose's budget crisis, the closing of the community centers.

If I had to open all my family financial records, I would never run for office. It would have nothing to do with my qualifications for the job.

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous sj voter said...

bobby i agree.

chavez hasn't offer solutions to the gang problem. she only has the support of police because of her labor backing. anyone know how much money has chavez has received from labor groups?

i also don't think she has the answer to our schools. the schools in chavez's district have the lowest api scores in the county. one reason the schools are so bad in san jose, is that redevelopment is stealing tax money from our schools, particularly in chavez's district.

chavez's spending habits have also not been great. how many community centers could we keep open for the $4 mil spent on the grand prix?

concerned dem has it wrong. if chavez was comfortable with her platform and her record, she wouldn't need to go on the offensive like she did with cortese.

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Local Dem said...

Bobby, ethics have everything to do with ones tax returns, and that is why most candidates make their records public, so it shows they aren't hiding anything.

I agree with you about the issues, and there are serious things we need our next mayor to do. Both campaigns should move on to these issues.

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous d.h.k. said...

Bobby - maybe taxes don't have anything to do with ethics for most. You may be right generally. But Chuck Reed voted to allow the sale of alcohol and groceries at gas stations. In doing so, he substantially benefited his client Los Esteros. His vote was bought and sold. The city of San Jose has a right to know what other financial interests Chuck is beholden to. We have an absolute right to know what other votes of his have been influenced by his clients.


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