With some juggling, yo-yo tricks, and a big dash of humor, Mayor Mark Santoro declared that the state of Cupertino is, “Good!”
“That pretty much is my talk,” Santoro quipped on Wednesday at the start of his State of the City address, to much laughter from about 100 people at the annual luncheon co-hosted by the city, Cupertino Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.
Besides many Cupertino volunteers, the crowd at the Quinlan Community Center included a wide array of local elected officials, like Santoro’s former Sun Microsystems coworker and friend, 5th District Supervisor Liz Kniss.
Soon after his to-the-point proclamation, Santoro produced three multicolored juggling balls and skillfully tossed them in the air, his four fellow council members—Barry Chang, Orrin Mahoney, Gilbert Wong and Rod Sinks—standing behind him.
“Now, juggling is a reasonable skill for a mayor to have,” he said maneuvering the balls. “You have to keep certain things in the air while keeping an eye on something else.”
Then tossing a ball over his shoulder to the council he said, “One of the most important things about juggling as a mayor is making sure someone’s got your back.” And with that Vice Mayor Mahoney caught the ball.
A few minutes later he was spinning a yo-yo, using tricks to illustrate his message.
“In Cupertino we have people from all around the world (shows off Around the World move), but we’re not just sleeping (The Sleeper trick), we’re actively busy. We’re centered here in the cradle (Rock the Cradle) of Silicon Valley, we’re a real shooting star (Shooting Star), we’re not just sleeping. We do have minor issues, like what to do with our dogs (Walk the Dog), but at the end of the day even through our residents travel all around the world, and do business, and do good and better things we all know we go home to Cupertino.”
Despite all the tricks, there was no sleight of hand in Santoro's speech, and as he pointed out, he is a big proponent of transparency in government.
“I believe government needs to be for its people,” Santoro said. “We’ve put a lot of effort into making things more transparent.”
He pointed to the new Ready 95014 app for iPhones and iPads that facilitates communication with City Hall during an emergency, a page on the city’s website to find out about the conditions of city streets, and he explained how the city’s data rate bandwidth was increased 10 times to allow for easier downloading and streaming of information and videos from the city’s website.
Santoro also outlined three new programs on the immediate horizon. As he had promised in December after being sworn in, he announced his “Meet Mayor Mark” sessions which will be held on Wednesdays after the first council meeting each month from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
Finally he announced the creation of a Leveraging Ethnic Diversity (LED) workshop to be held later this year. Santoro asked volunteers from the city’s Sister City organizations to organize and lead the event.
During his speech, which touted Cupertino as a great place to live and do business, Santoro assessed how city government is doing on certain projects near and dear to residents’ hearts.
He gave the city high marks for balancing budgets and keeping service levels high during the recession, adding library hours, getting the library fountains turned back on after a brief shutdown, the Blackberry Farm renovation, restoration of the Stevens Creek Corridor, the Scenic Circle access bridge, and work on repairing the city’s roadways.
Santoro said the city could always do better, however. For example, while he pointed to improvements to school traffic congestion, like the adding of crossing guards and programs to increase walking and biking, he said more still needed to be done.
In his address the mayor also applauded law enforcement agencies for their handling of the Oct. 5 shooting at the Lehigh Southwest Cement plant, and paid tribute to Steve Jobs, who passed away from cancer the same day.