The Podlight features a bi-monthly look at the top headlines and in-depth conversations with South Bay leaders, lawmakers and influencers about policy, politics and government, delving into critical issues such as housing, technology, business, homelessness, education and development.

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The fight to close Reid-Hillview Airport

The fight to close Reid-Hillview Airport

For decades, advocates have fought to close Reid-Hillview Airport in East San Jose while aviation experts argue it serves a critical purpose. Hear from both sides of the debate: Walt Gyger of the Community and Airport Partnership for Safe Operation, and Huascar Castro from Working Partnerships USA join host Nick Preciado to break it down.

An inside look at Silicon Valley’s housing market

An inside look at Silicon Valley’s housing market

Host Nick Preciado welcomes Will Chea, a longtime Silicon Valley realtor and president-elect of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, to dig into the region’s housing market. Is this the right time to buy? What is driving $9,000 monthly mortgages? And is the market cooling off amid forecasts of a recession?

San Jose’s new gun policies: Hear from both sides

San Jose’s new gun policies: Hear from both sides

This week, host Nick Preciado welcomes two guests to dive into San Jose’s new gun policies, which include requiring firearm owners to buy liability insurance and pay an annual fee to help reduce gun harm. San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones explains how the policy might save lives, while activist Kirk Vartan says it’s a half-baked plan with no teeth.

Why we’re suing San Jose, Liccardo, and how Bloom Energy helped write policy

Why we’re suing San Jose, Liccardo, and how Bloom Energy helped write policy

This week, editor Nick Preciado chats with San José Spotlight co-founder and CEO Ramona Giwargis about the organization’s joint lawsuit against San Jose and Mayor Sam Liccardo for skirting public transparency laws. Then reporter Tran Nguyen explains how newly-released emails show Liccardo’s friend, Carl Guardino, helped craft an exemption to the city’s natural gas ban that his company — Bloom Energy — benefitted from.

Emergency workers at VMC walk off job, a new jail approved

Emergency workers at VMC walk off job, a new jail approved

This week, host Nick Preciado and reporter Tran Nguyen discuss why emergency workers at Valley Medical Center walked off the job amid the biggest spike in COVID-19 cases. Later, Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe dives into the county’s decision to approve a new jail — despite strong opposition from the community.

Big plans for the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds

Big plans for the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds

This week, host Nick Preciado chats with Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe about a new plan to transform the county fairgrounds into a cricket stadium despite calls to use the site for homeless or affordable housing. Then freelance reporter Lorraine Gabbert recaps a fight to save a food pantry from closure because of a pricey city permit.

San Jose’s COVID booster mandate, a rise in homeless deaths

San Jose’s COVID booster mandate, a rise in homeless deaths

This week, host Nick Preciado talks to San Jose City Hall reporter Jana Kadah about the mayor’s proposal to require city employees to get a COVID-19 booster shot. Then reporter Tran Nguyen explains why homeless deaths in Santa Clara County have soared in recent years — and how activists are honoring the lives lost.

San Jose sweeps hundreds of homeless camps

San Jose sweeps hundreds of homeless camps

This week host Nick Preciado speaks with reporter Tran Nguyen about her new data reporting revealing how many homeless encampments San Jose has cleared since January.

Then, reporters Lloyd Alaban and Lorraine Gabbert discuss San José Spotlight’s new documentary series highlighting the plight of essential workers during the pandemic, Backbone of Silicon Valley.

San Jose mayor’s new PAC, license plate readers

San Jose mayor’s new PAC, license plate readers

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado talks to reporter Tran Nguyen about her exclusive reporting on San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s new PAC and its $400,000 fundraising haul. Later, Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe breaks down a controversial San Jose proposal to use license plate readers to deter crime.

Coyote Valley: Both sides of the preservation debate

Coyote Valley: Both sides of the preservation debate

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado speaks to environmentalists pushing to preserve Coyote Valley and those who say private landowners have a right to develop it. The discussion, which features Green Foothills Executive Director Megan Fluke and attorney and ex-San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, follows a historic City Council decision this week to preserve the open space.

Santa Clara County redistricting debate heats up

Santa Clara County redistricting debate heats up

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado and Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe dig into the county’s redistricting process which is sparking heated debate. Then, reporter Tran Nguyen details a fight to reopen The Dragon Mountain, a treasured park that’s been shuttered for two years.

San Jose employee blows whistle on city contracts

San Jose employee blows whistle on city contracts

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado dives into a report by reporter Tran Nguyen about a San Jose employee’s claims that lucrative contracts were given to a company because of its ties to Mayor Sam Liccardo. Then, freelance reporter Lorraine Gabbert explains how South Bay students are struggling with homelessness.

Redistricting raises ire in San Jose, mayor faces bullying in Los Gatos

Redistricting raises ire in San Jose, mayor faces bullying in Los Gatos

On this episode of The Podlight, editor Nick Preciado talks to reporter Lloyd Alaban about San Jose’s redistricting process and why some new maps are angering residents and businesses. Then, Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe digs into bullying and harassment faced by the Los Gatos mayor.

San Jose struggles to save mural, Liccardo email fight continues

San Jose struggles to save mural, Liccardo email fight continues

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado chats with Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe about the city’s push to save a beloved mural near downtown San Jose. Later, reporter Tran Nguyen details the latest developments in San José Spotlight’s fight for emails related to Mayor Sam Liccardo’s lobbying group.

Exclusive: Sheriff Laurie Smith opens up about jail scandals

Exclusive: Sheriff Laurie Smith opens up about jail scandals

On this episode of The Podlight, editor Nick Preciado exclusively speaks with Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith about alleged mismanagement of county jails, warehousing mentally ill people behind bars, severe understaffing issues, looming investigations into her leadership and calls for her to resign.

Masks required indoors, Liccardo’s PRA violation draws response

Masks required indoors, Liccardo’s PRA violation draws response

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado digs into the county’s decision to require masks indoors with reporter Lloyd Alaban. Later, reporter Tran Nguyen explains how a San Francisco law firm and a free speech advocacy group are responding to Mayor Sam Liccardo’s attempt to skirt public records law.

VTA faces workers’ comp claims, Viet Heritage Garden languishes

VTA faces workers’ comp claims, Viet Heritage Garden languishes

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado chats with Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe about the VTA facing workers’ comp claims — and possible lawsuits — from families of the mass shooting victims. Later, reporter Tran Nguyen hops on to explain why plans to build a Viet Heritage Garden have stalled.

A growing San Jose homeless camp

A growing San Jose homeless camp

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado is joined by reporter Lloyd Alaban to discuss a growing homeless encampment in San Jose — and federal demands to clear it. Later, he’s joined by reporter Vicente Vera who explains how special interests are already lining up to support candidates in the 2022 elections.

San Jose mayor’s advocacy group, gun control measures

San Jose mayor’s advocacy group, gun control measures

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado digs into Solutions San Jose, Mayor Sam Liccardo’s secretive advocacy group, with Senior Reporter Eli Wolfe who broke a story about its connection to a consulting group linked to a racist ad. Later, reporter Lloyd Alaban hops on to recap Liccardo’s new gun control measures — which are already being challenged.

Contentious vote on San Jose Flea Market delayed

Contentious vote on San Jose Flea Market delayed

On this episode of The Podlight, host Nick Preciado chats with San José Spotlight reporter Lloyd Alaban about why the City Council delayed a controversial vote to redevelop the historic San Jose Flea Market. Later, he’s joined by reporter Tran Nguyen to break down a new report that reveals racial discrimination and income inequality in Silicon Valley.

San Jose reeling from VTA mass shooting

San Jose reeling from VTA mass shooting

On this episode of The Podlight, host Bob Staedler talks to reporter Vicente Vera about a May 26 mass shooting at VTA’s rail yard in downtown San Jose that left ten people dead, including the shooter. Vera was on the ground in the aftermath of the deadly rampage as city leaders, VTA employees and heartbroken families struggled to cope, find answers and honor the victims.

San Jose casinos get stiffed, homeless encampments rejected

San Jose casinos get stiffed, homeless encampments rejected

On this episode of The Podlight, host Bob Staedler and editor Nick Preciado explain why San Jose casinos are paying higher taxes under a new voter-approved measure — but can’t increase the number of table games, as the measure promised. Plus: A look at why the San Jose City Council rejected a plan for homeless encampments and how city-owned golf courses thrived during the pandemic.

Berryessa Flea Market plan moves forward

Berryessa Flea Market plan moves forward

On this episode of The Podlight, host Bob Staedler and editor Nick Preciado dive into a decision this week by San Jose planning commissioners to greenlight a plan to develop the beloved Berryessa Flea Market — and how vendors fear it will leave them behind. Plus: A look at Valley Water’s rate hikes and a backlog in San Jose’s code enforcement division.

San Jose school closures, airport struggles and Thomas Fallon statue

The Podlight: San Jose school closures, airport struggles and Thomas Fallon statue

On this episode of The Podlight, host Bob Staedler recaps the week’s top headlines with San José Spotlight editor Nick Preciado. Learn more about an East San Jose school district’s plan to close two middle schools, the downtown airport’s decline in passengers and an important vote to remove the controversial Thomas Fallon statue from downtown San Jose.

How Derrick Seaver will rebuild embattled business group

The Podlight: How Derrick Seaver will rebuild embattled business group

In this edition of The Podlight, host Bob Staedler sits down with Derrick Seaver, the new CEO of the Silicon Valley Organization, to dig into how he will rebuild the business group after a racist campaign ad last fall led to widespread fallout and distrust in the community. Seaver outlines plans to rebrand the organization, focus on equity, better support small and medium-sized businesses and revamp campaign strategy.

How San Jose mayor’s ally helped Bloom Energy skirt a natural gas ban

The Podlight: How Carl Guardino helped Bloom Energy skirt a natural gas ban

In this edition of The Podlight, host Bob Staedler delves into an exclusive San José Spotlight investigative report about how a San Jose energy company skirted a natural gas ban after Mayor Sam Liccardo’s close friend, Carl Guardino, led a robust lobbying campaign. Staedler also discusses water rake hikes coming this summer.

Urban Catalyst’s Erik Hayden talks Opportunity Zones

The Podlight: Urban Catalyst’s Erik Hayden talks Opportunity Zones

In this edition of The Podlight, host Bob Staedler sits down with Urban Catalyst founder Erik Hayden to learn more about Silicon Valley’s landmark Opportunity Zone Fund which has garnered national attention for driving urban development by transforming and revitalizing downtown San Jose with six major redevelopment projects.

An exclusive sitdown with Scott Wiener

The Podlight: An exclusive sitdown with Scott Wiener

On the 7th episode of The Podlight, Bob Staedler and San José Spotlight senior reporter Janice Bitters recap highlights from an exclusive fireside chat with state Sen. Scott Wiener hosted in November by this news organization. During the event, the San Francisco legislator discussed his most controversial bills, including SB 50 and SB 35, the fight for local control versus state control, fees on developers and how big tech is getting involved with tackling the housing crisis.

The legendary Chuck Davidson

The Podlight: The legendary Chuck Davidson

On the 6th episode of The Podlight, Bob Staedler and San José Spotlight senior reporter Janice Bitters share insights from Bitters’ rare and revealing interview with Chuck Davidson, a legendary San Jose entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist. Davidson, who helped shape the city charter, shared stories from his remarkable life and career.

Digging into anti-displacement policies

The Podlight: Digging into anti-displacement policies

The 4th episode of The Podlight features the final of a three-part series focused on Silicon Valley’s crippling housing crisis. Host Bob Staedler and San José Spotlight City Hall reporter Nadia Lopez dig into preservation and anti-displacement measures, especially as Google looks to build a massive campus in downtown San Jose.

A look at San Jose’s new Section 8 discrimination policy

The Podlight: A look at San Jose’s new Section 8 discrimination policy

The 2nd episode of The Podlight kicks off the first of a three-part series focused on Silicon Valley’s crippling housing crisis. Host Bob Staedler sits down with San José Spotlight City Hall reporter Nadia Lopez to delve into a new city policy that aims to prohibit discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders.