Articles

A sample of articles that span topics such as San Jose/Silicon Valley history, cities, and 20th Century Irish History as well as some personal family history.

Political Lights Go Out

Editorial Page: 7B By TOM MCENERY Tom McEnery is a former San Jose mayor.   IN THE early morning hours of August 1914, the British foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, stood on the balcony at Whitehall contemplating the cataclysmic outbreak of World War I. Observing the lamps being extinguished, one by one, below on the streets, he said fatalistically: “The lights are going out all over Europe, and they will not be relit in our lifetime.” An observer of today’s California political firmament might utter the same refrain. It has been the ugliest and least instructive election campaign since the Know … Continue reading

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The Tallest Tree in Chavez Plaza

Editorial Page: 9B By Tom McEnery   Tom McEnery was mayor of San Jose from 1983 to 1990. ONE BRISK morning in 1989, a construction worker in San Jose’s downtown made an unusual find. Curt Elrod was working hard, busily completing the renovation of Plaza Park in front of the Fairmont Hotel. As he prepared to uproot a scrawny and nondescript tree at the north end of the park, a glint of metal caught his eye. He could easily have destroyed the spindly tree in accordance with his instructions. Construction workers had a checkered history with such renovations. A few years … Continue reading

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Divided L.A. Needs Mayor Who Can Lead

Editorial Page: 7C By Tom McEnery Tom McEnery, Mayor of San Jose from 1983 to 1990, is a Presidential Fellow at Santa Clara University and is writing a book on the future of urban America.   IT was once the city of the angels: Los Angeles. All knew that here was a place of endless opportunity and boundless optimism. The second largest city in America, four times the size of San Jose or San Francisco, it is sometimes called the capital of the Pacific Rim, but today the boosters are silent. Sometimes, this land of palm trees and dreams reminds me … Continue reading

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U.S. and a New Ireland

  By Tom McEnery San Jose America’s ties with Ireland are poised for a historic advance beyond sentimental St. Patrick’s Day links with “the old country” to a new stage of economic and social development. For the most part, the stage is set. The independent Republic of Ireland, which includes all but the six Northern Ireland counties still part of Great Britain, is undergoing a period of self-examination and renewal. President Mar Robinson, elected two years ago to what once was a ceremonial position, now personifies the energy of the new Ireland and its willingness to question elements of the Irish … Continue reading

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Saving Our Cities

summer 1992 America’s future lies in their success   By Tom McEnery Hell is truth discovered too late, a wise man once said. South Central Los Angeles’ truth was revealed only by the recent riots. It reached City Hall and the White House and even engulfed Fredericks of Hollywood. While the president and other officials reacted, the Fredericks’ store manager reported that “[the riots] stole Madonna’s bra.” She went on tearfully, “Madonna’s bras is replaceable, but Ava Gardner’s isn’t. It was worth a lot.” Clearly, in America we need to replace something beyond a piece of lingerie. We need to replace … Continue reading

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Rediscovering San Jose’s River of Dreams

Opinion By Tom McEnery I often think of our river. It is a very critical part of what made San Jose and this valley unique. In a very true sense it defined us. This river, before it carried its current name, was for centuries critical to the first inhabitants of this valley. They lived, fished and hunted along its banks and, in certain times, would build large fires in the balmy California evenings, gaze at an azure sky and dance, knowing that they were on the rim of the world, knowing that this place was very special. It was their place, … Continue reading

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The Seven Faces of Jerry Brown

  By Tom McEnery Almost as certain as California’s swallows returning to Capistrano, the quadrennial yearning of Jerry Brown for attention has come again to the American political scene. To those of us in the Golden State, living with his legacy, we find other’s flirtation with this phoenix-like chameleon difficult to fathom. Quite frankly, it confuses us. His once promising career in public life has been reduced to a cynical caricature, as the charge of the lemmings continues westward to the cliff. I understand that much of Brown’s appeal reflects the powerful current licking at the encrusted oligarchies of incumbent power … Continue reading

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The Faces of Mr Brown

Editorial Page: 7B By Tom McEnery Tom McEnery is a Presidential Fellow at Santa Clara University. He served as mayor of San Jose from 1983 to 1990.   JERRY BROWN’S quadrennial yearning for attention has come again to the American political scene. It is too much to hope that it ended with his third place finish in New York. No such luck! To those of us in the Golden State, living with his legacy, we find others’ flirtation with this phoenix-like chameleon quite difficult to fathom. Quite frankly, it confuses us. His once promising career in public life has been reduced … Continue reading

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Out of the Office

Out of the office and into the classroom Tom McEnery teaches urban survival at SCU By Jennifer Cohen With all the problems confronting America’s urban areas, talk about solutions may be merely academic. That’s precisely the arena selected for a new series of courses and lectures developed by Santa Clara University’s newly appointed presidential fellow, Tom McEnery. McEnery is the primary lecturer for the first third of the class. For the second part of the course, guest speakers, including San Jose Police Chief Lou Cobarruviaz, journalist Phil Trounstine, playwright Luis Valdez and football star Ronnie Lott, will discuss how each of … Continue reading

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Obituary – McEnery deserves the honor

Margaret McEnery, who presided S.J. political family, dies at 83 Local Page: 1B By Philip J Trounstine, Mercury News Political Editor Margaret McEnery was the family’s ‘steady rock’   Margaret McEnery, the matriarchal backbone of one of San Jose’s most prominent political families, died Friday at her home in Santa Cruz after a two-month bout with cancer. She was 83. The daughter of Benjamin “Honest Ben” Sellers, a city councilman and mayor between 1914 and 1918, she was the wife of the late John P. McEnery, owner of Farmer’s Union Corp. and San Jose’s leading Democratic politician in the 1940s and … Continue reading

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