What does $915,000 buy you in the luxury housing market these days? Well, ask Joseph Di Salvo, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, who last week toured the 18th floor digs vacated by former county schools chief Charles Weis, who stuck the county with the condo now worth less than the board lent him to buy it.
The view from the corner condo was spectacular, Di Salvo said. But he was "underwhelmed" by the interior, where Weis said he spent $25,000 improving the then-new condo.
When asked about the flooring Weis reportedly had installed, Di Salvo replied, "It looks like a Pergo floor!" OK, faux-wood laminate flooring isn't so bad. But reflooring a 1,300-square-foot condo with it shouldn't come to $25,000. An online calculator we used put the price closer to $11,000.
Di Salvo added that maybe the electronic key fob was part of the upgrade. That's right: Weis sprung for an electronic thingamajiggy on his key chain that unlocks his condo at the push of a button like it was a car.
Weis, who retired June 30, left the fob with a secretary at the County Office of Education (without saying a word to his seven erstwhile bosses on the county school board) and retreated to his beachfront home in Oxnard. Now he wants to unload the condo onto the County Office of Education, which lent him the $915,000 for purchase, because he can't repay the loan or refinance the condo.
The board last week hinted it could move to foreclose, but would likely take a loss on the loan.
Di Salvo said the condo is now worth just $675,000 and called being stuck with the underwater loan painful.
Oh, and Di Salvo reported: Weis took the ceiling light fixtures with him. We couldn't get a response from Weis.
Santa Clara Valley Water District just can't seem
to get the details right
Wanted: Fact checker
Where: The Golden Spigot
Pay: $286 per consultation
Like the biblical plague of the locusts, the Santa Clara Valley Water District -- aka, the Golden Spigot -- has endured a remarkable run of bad facts lately.
First, district officials couldn't correctly count the number of words in their ballot statement for a parcel tax. They submitted 77 rather than the maximum 75. Then they were wrong on the date when the new measure would expire, saying 2029 instead of the correct 2028.
Both those inaccuracies had to be fixed at some cost to the district. But the errors keep on coming: On the website for the "Safe, Clean Water" parcel tax (http://yesonsafecleanwater.com/faqs), the Golden Spigot has the very first fact wrong. It says that voters first approved a parcel tax for water needs in 2001. The vote actually occurred in 2000. What's a year or two among safe and clean friends?
(Water officials did manage to get the right date further down, stating: "Since the passage of Clean, Safe Creeks in 2000, voter approved local funding has been critical ...").
Best-laid plans: Open
space board handoff
goes in another direction
Longtime Santa Clara County Open Space Authority Board member Garnetta Annable is passionate about her work representing District 4, which includes Campbell and Willow Glen.
Since her initial election to a two-year term on the board in 1994, followed by four additional four-year terms, she's happy to say that the district has acquired 15,000 acres of open space and another 800 in conservation easements.
In this case, she believes that longer term representation -- instead of frequent board turnovers -- helps the group implement major strategies.
So this summer, as she geared up to run for her fifth term on Nov. 6, and health issues threatened to derail her plans, she sought out Open Space Authority Citizen's Advisory Committee member Dorsey Moore to run if she could not -- and he agreed. Alas, their best-laid plans went awry after newcomer Benjamin Cogan threw his hat in the ring, his first ever bid for election to a board he admits he's not as thoroughly versed on as Annable.
Incumbents running for two other seats on the board, representing Districts 1 and 3, face no challengers, meaning their names will not appear on the ballot, sparing the district to have to pay at least $160,000 for each seat in ballot-related costs.
Hoping the same could somehow be maneuvered in her race, Annable, 66, asked to meet with Cogan in August and tried to talk him out of it.
"I want to make sure there are qualified candidates to run," Annable said. "And as far as I'm concerned Dorsey and I are the only two qualified individuals."
The 29-year-old auto mechanic, a Ron Paul supporter and former Eagle Scout, turned her down.
Cogan said he has no hard feelings. "It's fair to say there is going to be some cost to all of this, and she was trying to make sure I was really committed," he said. "It's her baby and she's spent her life doing it. But I think it's important to get new ideas and new blood into all the offices."
The ballot will include not only include Cogan's name, but Annable's and Moore's as well.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Sharon Noguchi, Scott Herhold, Tracy Seipel and Paul Rogers. Send tips to email@example.com, or call 408-975-9346.