Mountain View Voice

News - March 16, 2012

Community brief

Roundtable on undocumented workers

After successfully hosting a roundtable discussion about Google's impacts on the city, the human relations commission will host its second such talk next Thursday, and the subject is undocumented workers in Mountain View.

On March 22, Mountain View residents are asked to join an "active demonstration of civility" with five speakers, including Jose Antonio Vargas, the former Mountain View High School Student and Pulitzer-prize winner who revealed his story of being an undocumented immigrant in The New York Times magazine.

The discussion will also be led by Maria Marroquin, director of the Mountain View Day Worker Center, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Mountain View Chamber of Commerce CEO Oscar Garcia and Dan Barich, former Congressional candidate and Tea Party member.

If the event goes as the previous one did, the five speakers will sit in a circle and discus the topic for an hour and then break out into groups with residents for further discussion.

Organizers hope to have an interesting discussion about a divisive national issue, and say they couldn't have put together a better group of participants.

The event runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Mountain View Senior center, 266 Escuela Avenue.

—Daniel DeBolt

El Camino Hospital holding community forums

El Camino Hospital will hold two community forums next week — one at each of its campuses — that aim to familiarize the public with the health care organization's plans to expand its board of directors and committees.

The meetings are set for 6:30 p.m. on March 19 in Los Gatos and March 21 in Mountain View.

Over the past few years, the hospital has been criticized for a number of its decisions and policies. Layoffs, financial troubles, the firing of a CEO, challenges to its executive pay scale, and a grand jury report questioning the hospital's handling of taxpayer dollars have all worked to tarnish El Camino's reputation in the community.

While the hospital has had its share of troubles, it is also the victim of misunderstanding, said spokeswoman Chris Ernst.

"There are a lot of misperceptions out there," Ernst said.

For example, Ernst said she often hears people ask how the hospital will afford the board expansion. "All of our board members are unpaid," she said.

According to Ernst, she was approached outside of the Nob Hill market on Grant Road by a petitioner who told her that the administrators from the hospital were being paid with money collected from taxpayers living within the hospital district.

On the contrary, Ernst said, all taxes collected by the hospital district goes to the hospital's capital improvement fund and the community benefit fund, which funds a grant that pays for school nurses in the Mountain View Whisman School District, a children's dental center in Sunnyvale and Rotacare — the free healthcare service for low-income people.

She and other hospital administrators hope that the upcoming community forums will help "clarify any misunderstandings and misperceptions."

Hospital officials hope to hold three or four similar meetings every year in the future, said Ernst. The idea is to work toward having a more open dialogue with the surrounding community.

The first community forum will be held March 19, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at El Camino Hospital's Los Gatos campus, 815 Pollard Road, Los Gatos, in conference rooms 1, 2 and 3.

The second will be held March 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at the Mountain View campus, 2500 Grant Road, in conference rooms E and F.

Foothill-De Anza refinancing bonds

Mountain View property owners will soon be paying lower taxes, thanks to a recent action taken by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District's board.

The board voted March 5 to refinance portions of two of its general obligation bonds — Measure E and Measure C. The move will save property owners who live within the district about $690,000 each year, or $13 million through 2030, according to district spokeswoman Becky Bartindale.

Rates for tax-exempt bonds, such as Measure E and Measure C, are currently at or near all-time lows, Bartindale wrote in a press release.

"While these savings do not come to the district, they will benefit property owners who support Foothill-De Anza's bond program," board President Joan Barram said in the release. "We are delighted to have this opportunity to return money to our local taxpayers."

The $248 million Measure E was approved in 1999 and the $490.8 million Measure C was passed in 2006.

A second Measure E — which was a parcel tax, not a general obligation bond — and which asked for $7 million over six years on the November 2010 ballot, fell short of the votes needed to pass.

—Nick Veronin

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