CA's top mayors, CEOs meet in San Jose

February 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
For a lot of Californians, this state does not seem quite so golden anymore. Financial problems, high unemployment, water worries, are among the issues that sometimes seem unsolvable. On Monday night in San Jose, the leaders of major cities and large companies came together to look for answers to those problems.

Skateboarding in San Jose has become a rough ride.

"There's a lot of bumps and potholes in the streets and stuff like that, and it's hard for us to get over and not fall," said Matthew Sarubba from San Jose.

The potholes are also tough on limo drivers.

"They're terrible and there are so many of them," said one limo driver.

However, San Jose officials said they cannot fix basic problems like potholes because the state of California keeps taking money from the city.

"The state has taken a lot of our money. San Jose has lost $500 million over the last 12 years to the state of California's raids on our treasury," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

The 20 people in the room Monday night say they have had enough. They have joined forces to somewhat gang-up on the state and fight for changes.

"If that's what it takes, that's what we're going to have to do. I think that everyone agrees, even those in Sacramento right now, that things are simply not working, it is time for upheaval," said Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

Mayors from the 10 largest California cities met with 12 CEOs at Morton's Steakhouse in San Jose to listen to each other's concerns and come up with a plan.

"We can change some things. We can't fix the entire state by ourselves, but we're working on it piece by piece," said Reed.

They covered a lot of ground from tax issues to infrastructure.

"Each of us took away what are we going to do and how we're going to get together. So there's a series of actions that came out of this," said Brocade Communications CEO Michael Klayko.

One big one is support for an initiative that would forbid the state from taking money from cities.

"The CEOs understand the total craziness of trying to do a budget when the state comes in and takes money every few months," said Reed.

Citizens are skeptical that this brainstorming session can bring about real change.

"If they don't have any money, that's the big issue as to where they're going to get the money from," said Harold Jones from San Jose.

Regardless, many like the idea that this group is trying for change, especially if it can help create a smoother ride.