Silicon Valley Year in Review 2013

October 2013

TechCrunch Chuck Reed

Pension reform

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has decided to spend his penultimate year in office chipping away at the pension benefits of every public employee in California. Never mind that citywide Measure B reforms met with a litany of lawsuits and shattered San Jose Police Department morale. Reed's polarizing state ballot move was made even more controversial when he enlisted help from scandal-plagued former Enron exec and Texas billionaire John Arnold to sponsor the statewide ballot measure, dubbed the Pension Reform Act of 2014. If voters somehow voted the initiative into law, it would renege on contracts for thousands of government workers by dialing down benefits.

Trillion-dollar debt

While Congressional inaction doubled the interest rate on federal college loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a dubious milestone. For the first time, federal college loan debt topped $1 trillion, a crisis-level problem according to advocacy groups. Amplifying the quandary, the unemployment rate for Millennials climbed to more than 16 percent, the highest sustained jobless rate for 18- to 29-year-olds since World War II. Meanwhile, companies struggled to fill blue-collar jobs because of a generational dearth of trade school graduates. And schools? They kept up a years-long spending spree of building more amenities to lure students in while chipping away at academic budgets and increasing class sizes. And then the Tea Party shut down the government, making this the least effective Congress ever. The Aristocrats!

Sheriff Gives Star Treatment to 49er?

Sheriff Laurie Smith gave a head-smacking interview after it was revealed that her office invited San Francisco 49ers star Aldon Smith (no relation) to a gun range while he was being investigated on gun charges. Aldon Smith, who lives in the east foothills, threw a party last year that apparently got a wee bit out of hand—he was stabbed and shots were fired into the air like happy hour in Tombstone. Investigators later came back to his house and found illegal assault weapons and ammo strewn about his bedroom. The District Attorney's office decided to charge him against the sheriff's recommendations, leading to questions about the sheriff giving preferential treatment.

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