Last year, there was a bit of a kerfuffle in San José over the timing of elections. The local labor movement had invested a bunch of money gathering signatures to put a measure before voters to shift mayoral races in the city from gubernatorial election years to coincide instead with presidential elections. Due to circumstances that are still in dispute, the signature gathering effort came up short, as did a push for the City Council to put the measure before voters themselves. …


Photo by Element5Digital

Running for office is hard. It is mentally and physically exhausting. It alienates loved ones and ends marriages. It is an isolating, demoralizing, and vulnerable space that leaves one with a healthy dose of post-traumatic stress from which they are not likely to recover without an even healthier dose of professional therapy.

Running for office is hard. And it’s even harder when you don’t have money. Cold hard cash is the single most defining factor in any political campaign, and that hasn’t changed since the days of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. It doesn’t matter if you’re running for District…


smartboy10/Getty Images

Us Democrats and progressives are a generally optimistic bunch. We drink the Kool-Aid of America. We down it like a frat pledge doing a keg stand. And we believe that every day is a new opportunity to make a more perfect union. That’s why when we wake up and see this, we tend to get a little giddy. And it gets even better. And better still. But as much as I love me some Nate Silver sabermetrics, we all know that polls don’t tell the full story. They’re a snapshot in time, a page in a Russian novel. …


Recently, I’ve been asked by multiple well-meaning friends when I would be resigning from the planning commission. Not if. When. Because I’m not known for tossing cats, the suggestion seems a bit odd on its face. But my friends aren’t implying that I’m not qualified to serve. They’re saying I should step aside as a white man from the west side so that my seat can be filled by a person of color from the east side. And maybe they’re right.

Before we dig into that, a little background…

The San José Planning Commission has 7 members, all of whom…


Image courtesy of the leaf.

We have this neighbor who loves his lawn.

In and of itself, this is not uncommon, nor cause for concern. Most of the California suburban dream is embodied by that perfect patch of manicured green grass in front of a single-family, ranch-style home on a block of single-family, ranch-style homes, and we collectively spend a hearty portion of our limited water capital maintaining this grand illusion, not to mention Sunday morning mows and rakes.

And let’s be honest here: It is an illusion. California boasts one of the most temperate climates on Earth and lush soil that would make any…


A recent mixed-use proposal for the Bascom Gateway Project

Let’s make one thing clear right off the top: San José has a long history of systemic racism that has marginalized black and brown communities east of Highway 87 (the successor to U.S. 101 as the dividing line in our local socioeconomics) to the benefit of whiter neighborhoods like the Rose Garden, Willow Glen, Cambrian, and Almaden.

This system of discrimination and negligence has spread throughout the bureaucratic beast of City Hall like a cancer, infecting every department, every task force, every commission. …


Photo: Scott Strazzante, San Francisco Chronicle

If your buddy tells you they knew in March that there would be this many questions swirling around the future of the San Francisco Giants as we enter the last week of July, you should immediately take them for a cognitive evaluation by a medical professional. It’s called being a good friend.

Okay, in all seriousness, this is not sustainable, right? I don’t mean to demean my team, but even I thought this was a .500 squad at best. Lo and behold, they are, at least for one more day. …


“The glass dome is only half full.” - Vulcan Proverb

Call it an occupational hazard for political consultants. A key component of the job description is reconciling the competing mindsets of strategist and target market. This is a delicate balance for the type of folks drawn to this type of work, who tend to be too close to the fire to smell the smoke. It’s no surprise that many of us struggle with depression and burnout, usually borne in stony silence because we’ve been conditioned to treat any weakness as a state secret.

We’ve also been conditioned to believe that voters are stupid, yet we make decisions based entirely off…


The author (far right) with his brother and grandfather in Lodi, CA, c. 1980s

There’s been a lot of talk about equity lately in San José, and it seems like everyone has their own definition. Some of our city leaders seem to think that equity has to do with koi ponds and movie nights at community centers. This belies the need for us to engage in a meaningful dialogue about what “equity” truly means, particularly in the context of public policy.

But before we go there, we need to take a step back and recognize the privilege and perspective we each bring to this dialogue and how it shades every position and belief we…


Photo by Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

I love sports. I love a good story. By the transitive property of equality, I love a good sports story.

A good sports story is a microcosm of the human condition. It incorporates equal doses of heartache and joy, confusion and clarity, pain and ecstasy. It speaks to the core of our self-doubt and in the same moment sparks our ego to believe that anything truly is possible. To paraphrase the late John Wooden, a good sports story doesn’t build character — it reveals it.

Last night’s Game 7 overtime throwdown between my hometown Sharks and the upstart Vegas squad…

Peter Allen

Planning Commissioner, Communications Specialist, Arts Advocate, Husband, Dogfather

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