Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 8:05 pm
I have to say that I am extremely disappointed with the way that you have been covering my campaign. I have provided you with written as well as verbal replies to your inquiries and yet you continue to misquote me and provide misleading information about what I say. The way you wrote this story, you are giving people the impression that I am homeless and living on the street with my children (either that, or I am a former father). You also stated:
Despite his libertarian positions, Neal says "I am not endorsed by any special interest group and therefore do not owe anybody anything, so I will be free to represent the best interests of the people of Mountain View. "
What does one have to do with the other? You may as well have asked "Are you now or have you ever been a Libertarian?". I am proud that I am independent and primarily self funded; and have refused to accept endorsements from special interest groups because if I am elected to City Council, I will be free to represent the best interests of the people that live here. This is the primary reason that I am running now instead of waiting two years as I had originally planned. There are too many important issues that will soon be before the Council that will affect all the residents of Mountain View and somebody needs to be on the Council that will protect people's rights.
I became involved in politics because of the City's ill-conceived ban that exposes MORE PEOPLE to second hand smoke because smokers are now in the city's parking lots and forces walking up and down Castro street instead of being in a secluded patio that is off limits to children and where no food is served.
However, I have also told you on several occasions that that has never been my primary reason for running for office. I attended almost every single City Council meeting since then and have spoken on many topics from the City budget, to drive-throughs, to the bag ban, to High Speed Rail and as you well know, it is the budget and High Speed Rail that are the greatest concern to me because they are the two biggest items likely to have a significant impact on ALL the residents of Mountain View.
You also attributed many of my ideas to Chris Clark. I was the one who first stated that the drive-throughs are also used for pharmacies. Here is the question that you asked me and the written reply that I gave you:
How should El Camino Real redevelop in the future? Should there be a moratorium on drive-throughs?
There should be no ban on drive-throughs. The marketplace can much more efficiently and effectively determine how many drive-throughs El Camino Real can support. The current proposal would ban all drive-throughs including those for places such as Walgreens that have 24 Hour pharmacies that provide an invaluable service to the community by allowing people to pick up medications for themselves or a sick child in the middle of the night, without having to go to a hospital emergency room or waiting until the next day. People that are disabled, elderly, have small children, or are time constrained would be at a tremendous disadvantage if they have to leave their vehicles and go into a store or restaurant. It would also force the stores to choose between losing revenue by terminating their late night services, or keeping their employees safe. These are but a few of the obvious “unintended consequences” of yet another ban.
I was also the first to address the City Council regarding making changes to benefit structures for future City employees, while ensuring that current employees get to keep every single benefit that that their contract calls for. As a matter of fact, you also blew it on my position on the budget. You said I blamed it on employee salaries. Here is your question and my written response to you:
How should the city balance its books when expenses outpace revenue growth? What expenses should be cut? What revenues should be raised?
No revenues should be raised. Mountain View’s problem is like most other cities in California in that it has an unsustainable salary and pension program that currently consumes 83% of the general fund and consumes an increasing percentage every year. I would look at a plan to restructure the benefits and pension plan only for any NEW employees in a way that would reduce the costs to the city over time. Current employees would be able to keep their current pension plan and benefits.
You also go out of your way to point out that Chris Clark would be the first openly gay person on the City Council (although I have never heard him mention this fact), yet you conveniently overlooked the fact that if I am elected, I would be the first Black person EVER on the City Council. Why is that? As a matter of fact, your paper endorsed all four white, male candidates that are all already working for the City in some capacity and who coincidentally have also placed ads in your publication.
With regard to my position on the Shoreline District, I have made it very clear that I fully support schools and education, but I believe the schools should not be forced to rely on a funding source that can vary from year to year and therefore could result in shortfalls that could reduce funding for schools when they need it the most. In addition, the funds for the Shoreline District are specified for very specific uses and I do not think that it should be treated like a slush fund or "extra" money that is used for pet projects. We have seen this from the example of New Orleans, where money for strengthening the levies there was "repurposed". There are several vital systems that may need to be rebuilt in the case of a major seismic event and that could potentially cost several million dollars to replace. Thus far, no money from the fund has been set aside for this purpose.
I also never called for voter approved parcel taxes to pay for schools. I merely stated that that is the normal way that funds are provided for the schools. Again, here is your question and the written reply that I gave you:
Parents say schools should receive a larger share of Shoreline property taxes, paid by companies like Google. Should the unusual Shoreline tax district there be done away with? Or is the city's "joint powers agreement" with schools adequate?
How many parents? All of them? Most of them? Some of them? Or a very vocal minority? I will not go through the iterations of responses for each scenario. I will merely state my belief that the schools should not be put in a position where their funding is dependent upon the highly variable revenues generated by a tax district where the priorities can change on an annual basis. This is why schools are primarily funded by bonds. The bonds provide a steady and reliable stream of income that is far less subject to economic ups and downs.
Anyone can clearly see that there is a huge difference between the written replies that I gave you and what you wrote. I do not know why you could not have simply provided the answers that I gave you verbatim instead of changing them and in doing so, completely changing the context and the meaning of my words.
I had even sent you an email previously telling you that what you wrote regarding the OMVNA forum was inaccurate and provided you with correct information and yet you provided some of the same incorrect information in THIS article.
I demand an apology, and I demand that you correct the record. This election is too important to the people of Mountain View for you to make these kind of ridiculous errors. I am already a huge underdog in this contest because most of my opponents are backed by special interest groups and/or can outspend me by at least 5 to 1. Having articles written about me that are full of erroneous information certainly does not help.
Candidate, Mountain View City Council