Arbitrator: Retired Judge or Out-of-Town Labor Lawyer?

At first glance, modifying binding arbitration back in July was not my first choice over new pensions for new employees. I support the Mayor on fiscal issues, so voting in favor of Measure V and giving residents the opportunity to support this measure is consistent with my line of thinking.

You can read more about the San Jose fiscal reforms measure here.

In a nutshell, Measure V would put limits on outside arbitrators. During the course of the campaign I have become more and more supportive of this measure.  There are two primary reasons why it is important, neither of which are getting much publicity. One, the passage of Measure V will mandate that binding arbitration for public safety unions would be held as public meetings.  Public meetings that the taxpayer could attend and see how tax dollars are allocated.

As it stands today, even Councilmembers that you elect are not allowed to attend these meetings.

Second, Measure V would require that the current out-of-town labor lawyer acting as arbitrator be replaced with a retired judge. Most people share the belief that a judge is more fair than a lawyer. Not every judge is perfect, however, I would pick a retired judge instead of an out-of-town labor lawyer to make a final financial decision under binding arbitration.

I have known many of our public safety professionals for more than 30 years. They are good people who do good work. However, the status quo of pay and benefits increasing faster then revenue actually results in less police and less firefighters for residents. The City has a legal obligation to pay pensions and does not have money left over to hire more police or firefighters. 

I would suggest moving forward that the critics of Measure V explain the value of how the current closed-door binding arbitration process overseen by an out-of-town labor lawyer is better than Mayor Reed’s suggestions that would control costs and let taxpayers in the room. Instead, those against Measure V are attempting to mislead the voting public by sending out materials that are incorrect and contradictory as reported in a Mercury News article on Sept. 12 and again on Oct. 22.

As a side note, it was announced at the council meeting last week that the city paid out $14.6 million in accrued sick leave to retirees in July. It is a record breaking year that beat last year’s all time record of $11.7 million. Next year the potential sick leave pay out could be as high as $21 million which is equal to this years entire city wide library budget.

Also expected property tax revenues next fiscal year will be approximately $194 million while payments for pensions will be approximately $250 million!  Perhaps we all write “reform pensions to hire cops” on our check this year to the Tax Collector or better yet: Vote yes on Measures V & W.

97 Comments

  1. Councilman Oliverio-

    You fail to mention that the Fire Union has repeatedly asked that the negotiations be open to the public and the Office of Employee Relations(lead by Alex Gurza) has repeatedly refused to do so. 

    Mayor Reed has consistently asked for transparency in our city government, then why has the city refused to have our negotiations public?  Because the city DOES NOT negotiate in good faith.

  2. Mr. Oliverio:

    This is not your campaign.  You might have moral beliefs on the way it should be decided but that is not for you to decide.  It is for the voters of San Jose to decide.  You cannot act like a teenager and run around stealing signs. (spin it how you will, that is what it is)  Your credibility has been reduced even farther yet.  I hate to tell you but you are now at Raj level.

    I believe one reason why the city is seeing a high number for sick pay out is because we have a high number of employees retiring in fear that their pensions and wages will be attacked.

    Also, I would like to bring attention to a Berkely study that debunks the myth of the overpaid public employee.  ( http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/cwed/wp/2010-03.pdf )

  3. Be on the lookout for Councilmember Oliverio, it is Halloween soon and that means he may be stealing pumpkins off front porches along with legally placed lawn signs—-Nice Diversion Pier.

  4. LOL,…your arrogant disregard of your actions on Saturday is really eye opening. You really should be most concerned at this point this with a pending legal matter and your EXPULSION from the city council. Or have you already called the DA whom you also have on speed dial. You are a whining pathetic thief. You demonstrated that for all the world to see this weekend. Your credibility is ZERO, your arguments have become null and void. Sorry Charlie. There is no debate here anymore.

    • Give me a break Officer X.  You and the firefighters have have been on a retirement “gravy train” for too long.  Your benefits far far exceed the retirement benefits of our military who are shedding their blood in Iraq and Afganistan.  Besides, there is nothing wrong with Oliverio taking signs off public property, it is NOT stealing.  I will do the same.

      • PhantomPilot:

        I contribute over $2,000.00/month towards my retirement. How about you? We can show concerned citizens our paychecks. Come to the SJPD POA. We police officers have nothing to hide. Go try the same with the CSJ books. The POA required the services of a Forensic CPA to get actual numbers from the City Hall.

          If you receive a subpar military retirement, I’m sorry to hear that. I respect and honor the sacrifice of our men and women in the Armed Forces. I have shed my blood for this city and thankfully am alive to tell the story. With re to retirement it sounds to me like your issue is with Uncle Sam.

        BTW, go ahead and take signs. But you better do so in accordance with the law. If your breaking the law you will not receive the preferential treatment our bratty little councilman received.

    • That video is funny but doesn’t really add anything useful to a serious conversation, it’s hyperbole.

  5. PO you amaze me, first you complain about City streets and urban sprawl.  The grunt City employees did not decide to be unfriendly to businesses and reward housing developers, while our neighboring cities became Silicon Valley, City “leaders” did.  Which was the better tax base neighborhoods or business and which cost less to serve?  You continue this practice while grabbing County properties (most of them in not the best shape) while not increasing any City agencies to serve these areas.  Then you will complain that due to employee costs you can’t properly serve the residents of the City.

    You blame this all on pension costs constantly stating that the City pays an undue amount towards the pensions.  You leave out the fact that the City receives all the benefits of the investment returns and for many many years, go back to the 1980’s and the 90’s and early 2000’s has paid in only about 60% of the total that they were obligated to.  BS Monitor has asked you numerous times where this excess went and why was there no fund established to account for “down years”?  You have never answered this question.  Additionally San Jose Police Officers have made less (by anywhere from 5% – 10%) than officers from this area.  Also most cities in Calif that are in PERS pay the officer’s portion into retirement, San Jose Officers have always paid at least 10%.  So the City that has the most calls for service, more violent areas, and low staffing pays its officers 20% less than the surrounding cities and still says they pay too much.  If it is such a great place to be is that why, when they had an academy and were hiring, they could not find enough people to fill them?

    In the 1980’s SJPD traded away raises for Health Insurance.  So the City knows that it will have to bear some of the costs of employees when they retire.  Did the City establish a fund to pay for these costs – nope, in fact several years ago they went to court to try and take a way the retirees benefit because they could not afford it.  Now the current employees are paying into a fund to help pay these costs.  Why was this cost not funded? Who in charge decided to play fast and loose with the money and not keep a balanced budget, which by law aren’t cities supposed to do?  Could not the money that was not being paid into the retirement fund have been used for this?  I guess not because then you could not fund “special projects” to get re-elected.

    Now you complain about sick time, comp time, and vacation time buy-outs.  Wow another accounting error?  Most City employees have these in their contracts, it is simple, an employee earns sick time you take the money out – do not spend it, do not hide it, place it in an investment fund and now you have it.  Again, to my knowledge, the City has never funded this liability.  So the fact that the City spends more than it brings in due to slight of hand accounting is the employees fault? 

    As to these two measures, I know that the PD has offered to talk about pensions, sick time buy out, and a two tiered system.  My understanding is that Reed has refused and instead just shoved these ballot measures through quickly, with little discussion, and with some council members not even reading the complete texts.  I personally do not object to a review of these topics (Even though my belief is the City has caused this mess, but it is still a mess and must be fixed) but the method of Reeds “reform” makes me a tad sick.

    Can you be a leader and answer BS’S question and tell him why the City never funded their liabilities and in fact seemed to double spend money that was not there?

    • This post discusses the issue of unfunded liability, but does not reach the core issue that our prior mayors and councils were out-negotiated by the union reps, resulting in ridiculously high pensions, collectible at an early age.

      • “out-negotiated” really?  So you’re pissed that the union reps were able to prove the city has the ability to pay (that is what’s requires for an arbitrator to award any compensation benefits)?

      • So what I think the guy with two first names o’connor believes is that individuals should not be paid according to where they work.  So what he is saying is that San Jose employees should make much less than their counterparts at other local cities.

  6. A stunning post; one that suggests Mr. Oliverio has either never read Measure V, or read it and didn’t understand it.

    The motivation behind getting Measure V on the ballot had nothing to do with making meetings public. I am unaware of our public safety unions ever objecting to keeping the taxpayer informed; keeping them in the dark has long been the City’s modus operandi.

    Measure V is not about lawyers versus retired judges. The change referenced will allow either side the OPTION of having the chair of the three-person arbitration board, the so-called neutral arbiter, selected from a list of retired judges rather than a pool of available arbitrators. The change has nothing to do with Mr. Oliverio’ unsupported, and I think, absurd notion, about what “most people” believe. By the way, retired judges, unlike out-of-town arbiters, have all faced the electorate, and are thus encumbered by kinds of local political connections that impair neutrality.

    To brand these clauses the “two primary reasons” of Measure V’s importance is idiotic. I suggest the councilman take a reading comprehension class, or maybe get some more free advice from the city attorney.

    The meat of the measure’s matter lies in the addition of factors to be considered, a change that, in essence, relieves the City of the risk of objective assessment and awards it the right to define its ability to pay. In other words, Measure V will cure binding arbitration the same way that jumping off the Golden Gate bridge cures depression.

    Measure V will not alter sick time payouts (which, by the way, are not due to the arbitration process) and not change the cost of pensions (which are also not the work of arbiters). The reason that Mr. Oliverio did not list any ills actually associated with arbitration is because there aren’t any.

    • > The reason that Mr. Oliverio did not list any ills actually associated with arbitration is because there aren’t any.

      Mr. Monitor:

      Your posting just adds to the impression I have that this pension/arbitation/sign-poaching brouhaha is very much “inside baseball”.  The poor, overhwhelmed average taxpayer and voter struggling to pay for the unions’ underappreciated salary and benefits is mostly left clueless by the arcane processes of how the city’s obligation to pay all the unions perks came to be and why it needs to continue.

      The problem with arbitration, as I understand it, is that it appears to be a very blunt instrument.

      After endless hours of pointless posturing and wrangling, the two sides declare their “best and final” positions.  Very likely, these positions are light-years apart, and also “light-years” away from any fiscal, economic, or common sense reality.

      The arbitrator than does his best blind-folded “pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey”, chooses one of the “positions”, and poof, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent and transferred to sullen, ungrateful, and under-performing “work-to-rule” union slugs.

      No rational matching of city requirements to available resources in the context of market pricing.  Just a battle of sophistries between, insanely overpaid, alpha-male, gun-slinger-for-hire consultants.  Total insanity.

      Bottom line, the biggest problem I see with arbitration is that the process makes me puke.

      • Here is a straightforward synopsis of the system under attack, one that has been vilified by the mayor and his cronies, but one for which there exists no evidence of wrongdoing or irresponsibility.

        —————————

        From Section 1111, San Jose City Charter:

        Binding arbitration—“adopted for peacefully and equitably resolving disputes… “

        those “involved in the dispute, controversy or grievance shall each select one arbitrator to the Board of Arbitrators…”

        The third arbitrator chosen by “agreement between the two arbitrators selected by the City and the employee organization, and shall serve as the neutral arbitrator and Chairman of the Board.”

        “The Arbitration Board shall decide each issue by majority vote…”

        “… selecting whichever last offer of settlement on that issue it finds most nearly conforms with those factors traditionally taken into consideration in the determination of wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of public and private employment… “

        “including, but not limited to, changes in the average consumer price index for goods and services, the wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment of other employees performing similar services, and the financial condition of the City and its ability to meet the cost of the award.”

        —————————

        Binding arbitration, though seldom invoked, has provided thirty years of balance. There’s been no gunslinging, no outrageous decisions. Measure V is intended to remove the leg of a patient without a limp, the purpose being not to heal, but to cripple.

        • > Binding arbitration, though seldom invoked, has provided thirty years of balance. There’s been no gunslinging, no outrageous decisions. Measure V is intended to remove the leg of a patient without a limp, the purpose being not to heal, but to cripple.

          Earnest and hopeful, but at the end of the day, unpersuasive.

          Binding arbitration is a bureaucratic procedure. But worse, it is a bureaucratic procedure purposely tied up in a straightjacket.

          In the absence of market signals and knowledge of the full range of achievable outcomes, there is no way to know if binding arbitration has resulted in “balance”.  Common sense says: “No effing way”.

          The constitutionally elected city government is the expression of the will of the people.

          The will of the people is not a bargaining chip or a subject of arbitration with any private, exclusive, self-interested group.

        • – Police and Fire endorsements are political gold.  The most coveted endorsements a politician can get.
          – Unions own this state – at all levels.

          So to claim that Reed and Oliverio are doing this just for political gain doesn’t add up.

          You can practically name on one hand the number of politicians in this state that have taken on unions and Reed and Oliverio should be commended for having the guts to do what is right vs what is politically expedient.

          More battle and less diplomacy with unions is exactly what is needed – after all, Cali politicians diplomacy with unions is exactly what has put this state in the ditch.

        • Police and fire endorsements had next to no value prior to thirty years ago, when, after being pushed into unity by the heavy-handed tactics of city administrators, employees fought back and became politicized. Of course, once politicized and influential, the quid pro quo bonanza eventually spiraled out of control and screwed the taxpayer.

          Mayor Reed began his “reform” campaign by blaming the employees for the fiscal crisis. He had to know they wouldn’t stand for it, for the simple reason that the crisis is the City’s making. Diplomacy, fueled by inescapable fiscal realities, would’ve worked, but the timeline required was a threat to Mr. Reed’s ability to fund his baby, the ballpark for the imaginary team.

          Go ahead and enjoy your political pound of flesh, but don’t be so naive as to suggest that this city has a single politician who is doing what’s best for the taxpayer.

        • Bummah,

          Your mind is obviously made up, I suspect based more on political perspective and/or emotion than the facts, but that is your right. As I have stated repeatedly, Measure V is a political device, packaged as reform but targeting a process that has influenced, but almost never settled, a pay dispute or pension issue. Everything I’ve seen posted here expressing taxpayer frustration has been over processes that were misrepresented by the mayor, or wage and pension agreements that came about through quid pro quo deals struck with elected officials. Binding arbitration has not been the problem, politicians—and labor leaders getting down and dirty with them, has been the problem.

          I am not happy with our unions; I think their leaders should’ve been able to sniff out the City’s roll the dice approach to funding its obligations. Someone should’ve realized, especially given the City’s track record of allowing huge overtime and sick leave debts to accumulate, that the future of the pension fund might be endangered. I also think their “me too” reaction to Gray Davis’s pension giveaway—the 90% retirement carrot, was foolish and irresponsible—no matter the robust state of the fund.

          Reform is not impossible, it’s just not possible following Mayor Reed’s lead. He’s chosen battle gear over diplomacy, not out of necessity, but because a victory in battle will give him the political power his stiff personality and dull style never could. Diplomacy would’ve worked, because pension fund concerns would’ve kept both sides talking. Measure V, on the other hand, will result in serious labor problems for years to come, it will profoundly impact the effectiveness of the police department, yet do nothing to relieve the City of the fiscal problems it today suffers.

          From the start I have confidently challenged Mr. Oliverio to defend the language of his reform measures and provide the evidence to support the attack on binding arbitration. There’s a reason he’s failed to respond. You’re a smart guy, you figure it out.

        • >  Diplomacy would’ve worked, because pension fund concerns would’ve kept both sides talking.

          I am skeptical about “diplomacy”.  It fundamentally seems to be the art of denying that the game is lost.

          Winners never resort to “diplomacy” when they are kicking butt.

          Losers plead for “diplomacy” when they are getting their butts kicked.

          Diplomacy may work temporarily when neither side is sure how strong the other side is; but when one side figures out that the other side is weak, diplomacy ends, and the stronger side dictates terms.

        • “… selecting whichever last offer of settlement on that issue it finds most nearly conforms with those factors traditionally taken into consideration in the determination of wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of public and private employment… “

          This confirms Bronco Bummah’s analysis; that is, the arbitrators can only choose between the two opposing offers.  This pushes the parties apart as a tactic.  The arbitrators should have the option to award what is reasonable in their view, unfettered by the requirement that they chose either position of the parties.

        • Mr. O’Connor,

          If you take “last best offer” out of a negotiation, be if for a labor contract, used car purchase, or the price of a pound of tomatoes, how might it continue to be deemed a negotiation? This city is full of houses for sale by owners holding firm to a 2006 price, houses that aren’t selling, listed by real estate agents who complain that their seller refuses to negotiate.

          Rather than push apart, as you suggest, a last best offer that is to be judged by an impartial board pushes both sides to make their offer justifiable, in this case from the perspective of the going rate for labor, the City’s fiscal position, etc.

          The bottom line here is that the Mayor can’t indict binding arbitration on its record; there is no smoking gun, no outrageous award, so he’s demonized it with half-truths and outright lies.

      • Binding arbitration has been around for 30 years…police have never used it….the CITY has used it twice.  Pensions are to be blamed for this…yea right.

        What we need to ask ourselves is why the city paid 1 million to put these measures on the ballot in such a short amount of time.  And why it’s such a big deal when they, the city, are the only ones to invoke binding arbitration in those 30 years.

        What a joke

    • “By the way, retired judges, unlike out-of-town arbiters, have all faced the electorate, and are thus encumbered by kinds of local political connections that impair neutrality.”

      WOW!  Judges, who have been neutral arbiters while in office, suddenly become biased once they retire???

    • How?  These are deferred benefits paid out when an employee retires.  They didn’t call in sick while working.  It’s the same as paying out PTO when you get laid off from Cisco.  The city knows these accounts are growing, they know exactly what the balance due is; it’s on all the paystubs. Now if you want to talk about capping these benefits, that’s a different story.  But don’t blame employees for collecting their paychecks.

        • Tony,

          There are numerous companies in the Valley that allow there employees the option to cash in there PTO/sick/vacation time. This is nothing new…

          Most companies pay there employees PAID overtime. Did you know that SJ police officers DO NOT receive paid overtime beyond 6 hours; the rest goes into a comp time fund which can only be used to take time off when the City allows the time off.

          Would you work mandatory overtime and only be paid cash for part of it? I doubt it. I wouldn’t

        • Most employers do not allow their employees to amass an unlimited amount of PTO or vacation time. And most employers have an annual use it or lose it policy on sick time.

          I have personal friends on the police force who have told me that they learn early on that their sick time is a retirement piggy bank.

        • As you can see, it is becoming a standard to have Personal Time Off (PTO) instead of sick leave/personal leave being divided.  Many companies put a cap on it.  I am one of the few who, as a manager, when laid off, was told I was going to lose my accrued PTO.  I successfully showed that company policy prevented me from using it and won in arbitration.  Private company, not a public employee.

        • I know one retired cop who had almost $250k in his comp time account.  His accountant advised him to cash it in over several years to reduce his tax obligation.

          I am sure there a dozens of cops near retirement who have similar tax “problems”.

    • People seem to forget that the sick leave payouts were negotiated in-lieu of raises and paid overtime many years ago. There have been several contracts. These were negotiated but city leaders approved by city leadership.

      By the way smooth move on the taking of “No on V” signs. I guess you (Mr. Olivera) have anointed yourself as a code enforcement officer.

      The sound bite you keep referring is a muni-code that should be enforced by code enforcement or police officers.

      Just because you are an elected official, does not give you the authority to enforce the law, you are to represent the people and make laws that you see fit.

      There is a process and that process should be respected. If you are not satisfied with the code enforcement division process or response, fix it. You were elected to address those issues in the proper format. Allocate funds for the staffing and set some priorities.

      The removing of signs was childish and disgraceful to the democratic process. I hope this is addressed in the appropriate manner (formal censure). My feeling is if you caught any city off-duty employee removing “yes on V” signs you would demand their job.

      I will be sure to call you when the next fire, car accident or domestic violence incident since you have seem to have promoted yourself as a member of public safety.

    • Carol,
      Council Member Constant is collecting disability, owns a business, and misses Council Meetings to go on fishing trips, and to a weight management class. He still collects a pay check.

      City employees who aren’t in the Uinion get paid time off, and so do private employees so what is the point of blaming Unions?

      • …and one last thought…when you lay off dozens of people, time after time, month after month and year after year, you have to expect that you’re going to have payouts that get higher each year.

    • In case you did not know, the sick leave buyout was something the city wanted some years back, not something forced on them by the unions.  The city used to follow the “use it or lose it” method mentioned by Tony.  Guess what would happen though?  On any given night there would be enough officers home sick that staffing levels were dangerously low.  Officers knew that if they did not use up their sick time, it went away.  Given the difficulty of getting a day off by submitting a request through normal channels due to chronic short staffing, it was much easier to just call in sick.  Morally questionable perhaps to some but common in private industry as well.

      For the officers it was a win-win.  They did not have to give any sick time back at the end of the year and they got time off that they could not get by submitting a vacation or compensatory time off request ahead of time.  The city did not want to hire additional officers, hence the still low citizen to officer ratio, and therefore came up with the idea of a sick leave buyout.  The city realized that if the officers were motivated enough to save their sick time, they would not call in sick nearly as much and staffing would improve.  Again, this was a city tactic to avoid hiring more cops and deferring the cost until later. 

      This is another example of former city officials kicking the can down the road.  Now that the current crop has to pay for those kicked cans. Instead of owning up to bad decisions but keeping their obligations, city officials want to demonize their own employees as greedy.  Remember, the cops who did not call in sick worked those hours.  And, officers who have large overtime balances have those hours on the books because there is a staffing shortage but not a work shortage.  Somebody has to complete mandatory tasks.  In some cases, it is court ordered.  If an officer is called into court on their day off and they fail to show, they can be prosecuted.  So, do you then have them adjust their shift?  What happens to that unfilled beat when you force an officer home because they have overtime?

      Clearly the principal fault lies in poor decision making by the city bigwigs.  To continue to berate the employees who were not in on the decision making process may feel good but is ultimately futile.

  7. Q: Now that you have demonstrated you are capable of theft, how many of these signs have previously stolen?

    Were you planing on dumping this signs in a dumpster behind the deli before you were caught red-handed?

    Is this where you typically dump signs?

    If this is what you are capable of “in public” what have you done behind closed doors in brokering deals?

    You see Mr Oliverio, your actions and subsequent rationalizations have so damaged your credibility as to raise the last question, which, in my humble opinion, hereby DISQUALIFIES you for service in the position you currently hold.

  8. Eric,
    My post seems to have been lost. I am re-posting,

    Pierluigi,
    Until such time that you apologize for your actions of taking lawn signs, and encouraging citizens to follow your lead, I am boycotting your column. I hope other SJI readers will follow MY lead and boycott your column too.

  9. At first glance it appears that you are an advocate for all people, but Pierluigi Oliveiro, the more you talk the less we think of you.

    Stop the rhetoric and tell the truth.

    Measure V simply eliminates binding arbitration.  After spending some time looking for the actual measure V language, I was able to find it deep in the City Website. 

    (l)  The voters declare that the provisions of this Section are not severable, and none would have been enacted without the others.  Should any portion of this Section 1111 be enjoined or
    declared invalid, all provisions shall be deemed invalid and inoperative and there shall be no
    compulsory arbitration for fire and police department employee disputes.

    Measure V language is not easy to find.

    In a nut shell, you are blaming all of the fiscal problems on Police and Fire employees and are taking advantage of your position everywhere you go.

    Shame on you and all your dirty friends.

    I hope the City Ethics Policy applies to you too!

  10. My observations are as follows:

      – The city has mis-managed finances for years but the trends are clear (expenses growing faster than revenues) and “kicking the can down the road” is irresponsible.  I applaud the mayor and P.O. for starting to address this issue.
      – If P.O. took a sign off of private property then that is clearly wrong and he should be sanctioned.  If he took it off public property (where it is not allowed) then I’m o.k. w/that and those who placed it there should be sanctioned.  Everyone man-up on this please.
      – Not sure about the claims that the city did not fully fund its obligations but I would not be surprised to find it’s true (ala the “kick the can down the road” reference above).  If true,and they had funded these obligations, then I suspect we’d have reached this budget crisis even sooner….still leaves us with the expenses growing faster than revenues problem which needs to be addressed.
      – Golf courses, Hayes Mansion, downtown subsidies, RDA, …all poorly managed and largely a waste of taxpayer money.  Fixing these alone (and they do need to be fixed) still doesn’t totally fix the expenses growing faster than revenues problem.
      – Here’s the part of my message that will likely get me flamed, oh well.  I think the police and firefighters (ff) are not well served by their union leaders positions re: V and W.  I play in a weekly poker game and not one person in this group feels the police and ff are being reasonable.  EVERYBODY is for V and W and feel that the police and ff think THEY are the customers and that their sense of entitlement is very offensive.  Listen to the customer, guys (and gals), your stident, name-calling, “we’ll never surrender” tactics are not what we want.  Calm down, negotiate, be part of the solution.

    And remember, we are the customers and you work for us, not the other way around.

    Thanks.

    A frustrated customer.

    • A frustrated customer.

      Thanks for your thoughtful post, I can understand that you are frustrated. As a Firefighter and a union member who supports my negotiating team, I get it.  We are too, we are tired of the name calling and what we view as unfair tactics by the city.  Rest assured that we have been attempting to negotiate in good faith however we get stonewalled at every turn by the city.

      You will never get flamed by most of us as a “customer” who is willing to do the research and get informed.  I don’t have a problem with folks voting for Measure V as long as they have done their due diligence and not just jumping on the band wagon because they hate fire or police, think we make too much money, or any other hang up they may have. 

      I will say that as a Firefighter, Measure V will allow the city to cut our staffing more than they already have (80 positions so far) which will result in more station closures (5 Stations so far) which ultimately delays our response to you, the customer.  We entered this profession because we want to help people, it’s torture for us to know that we already are running late to calls because of our current staffing and it will potentially worsen.  Bigger Fires, Sicker people, and more danger for us.

      Long story short, we don’t like it either…. But we are trying and you are not being told the whole truth.  Thanks for attempting to better educate yourself on the issues and good luck deciding which way to vote, it’s not an easy choice with the information your being sold. (had to get my little dig in there someplace smile

    • Frustrated customer, just a couple of thoughts.  Has it occurred to you that many cops and firefighters are also City of San Jose residents and therefore also taxpayers and customers of city services?  Also, here are some frustrations of ours.  The union presidents serve as elected officials.  We voted for them, we vote for their actions, and we vote for all major decisions made by them.  This constant divide and conquer tactic of Fuhrer Reed and his henchmen is getting old.  We support our union leaders because they know the true nature of Reed’s agenda and the consequences of his success.

      Reed would have you believe that all the cops and firefighters are somehow clueless as to what is going on with their leadership and would rather place their trust in Reed and his cronies if they just knew the truth.  This is absolutely not the case.  We are willing to place blame where blame is due and credit where credit is due.  It seems though that you and your poker friends have been drinking the Reed Kool-Aid so much that you have become exactly what the Reed propoganda intended.  You now have negative feelings towards your police and fire members and have placed misguided faith in the BS Reed is feeding you.

      Here is a big dose of reality.  Reed and his ilk will be long gone some day.  The police and fire fighters will still be here providing San Jose services and recognize the legacy of ill will and lack of appreciation embedded in the populace by Reed.  Reed will bask in the glory of being a “fiscal reformer” for a few short years until the true damage that he has irreparably caused slowly comes to light.  He is poisoning the community well with a vile toxin that is slow acting but fatal in the long run.

      Your call for negotiating was also heard long ago.  That is what we do every contract.  We also have tried to consistently bargain in good faith.  Here is a news flash, the City of San Jose management has never come to the bargaining table in good faith.  I’ve been around long enough to see that for almost three decades the city shows up with nothing but a list of take aways and reductions.  Even when the economy was booming by leaps and bounds, the city was raking in money hand over fist, and the citizenry was happy as can be the city would start with a long laundry list of negatives.

      Never did the city recognize that their employees are a valuable resource, just a necessary evil to be paid the minimum possible.  I have dealt with other cities and their employees and have heard many stories of the employees and city management working as a team.  When a city takes good care of its employees, their most valuable asset, in the good times, the employees are willing to tighten the belt in the hard times to help out.  Had the city willingly shared in the bounty when it was available, it would not have been forgotten. 

      Sadly, this city has always treated its employees extremely poorly. This isn’t a case of biting the hand that feeds you.  This is a case of a stingy city reaping what they sow. Now the citizens expect us to somehow put all that in the past and make sacrifices so the city can buy ballparks, maintain non-essential pet projects, and buy votes while villifying, threatening, and abusing their workers?  Let me tell you, that is true frustration.

  11. Pierluigi called the city attorney because he knows he and the CITY are in deep trouble. He was going to an event acting as a council person. He is an elected member of government and violated 1st Amendement free speech rights. Not only is he going to have to answer minor theft charges, he and the city will now have to pay out millions for Civil Rights Violation! Good goin’ Peirluigi!

  12. PLO, you are:

    -a liar
    -a thief
    -incapable of avoiding fallacious reasoning
    -deficient at the task of reading comprehension
    -a deceiver
    -a shirker of responsibility
    -a coward

    Please. Go away and let San Jose start to find some statesmen to lead our city instead of politicians.

  13. Pier, can I call you next time we are backed up with ten or so calls pending in District Sam which includes WG? We are short on police resources, as you well know, and maybe you could handle a domestic violence call? How about an injury collision at Meridian/Willow? Since you fancy yourself a Jack of all city trades which no training required.

    • Yet the PD can send multiple on duty police cars to search for yard sign? Maybe we are not short staffed after all?

    • Really? SJPD had no shortage of officers when you sent THREE cop cars to Oliverio’s house over an alleged petty theft!

      To me this suggests that two of those Keystone Cops patrolling Willow Glen are unneeded and can be laid off. Let’s see, two cops at about $100k per year in eventual retirement pay,plus lifetime medical benefits for two cops and their spouses)…that aint’ chump change!

      • Ok XYZ why don’t you get beat up or have some need for an officer and find that they don’t show up for you.  Perhaps you would have a different perspective then.  Just cause they showed up at PO’s doesn’t mean there wasn’t a need somewhere else in the city.  Why don’t you step up and take their jobs.  I don’t think you have enough sac!

  14. “….so voting in favor of Measure V and giving residents the opportunity to support this measure is consistent with my line of thinking.”  Yes, like thinking that stealing lawn signs is a good idea and encouraging your constituents to do the same illegal and ethically wrong action.  Hopefully, nobody is killed or injured listening to your arrogant stammering about running into traffic to “clean” off the medians of signs.

    Pierluigi, you are way off the mark.  Your understanding of the measures, or lack thereof, should be a warning to the people of San Jose.  You sir, are completely over your head and should return to spoons as a bartender where you might actually do some good.  Getting a drink mixed just right is important and a difficult skill to master, however, getting this measure passed for the wrong reasons will have disastrous results on public safety in this city.

    It’s simple, If measure V passes, it will allow the city to cut staffing to fire and police and close more than the 5 fire companies that they already have.  Do not be fooled, this is not about fiscal reform but about power. They want the power to do what they want, when they want, and to whom they want to do it to without opposition.  This is not reform, this is gutting the charter section entirely.

    I agree with fiscal reform and that the pension system needs to be addressed. However, these measure were so hastily drafted that they miss the mark entirely and are not a good thing for the City of San Jose. Take the time to actually read the measures from the clerks office and not that silly wording on the ballot that does nothing but hide the truth.  Do the research folks, this time it actually matters.

    Lastly, say what you want Pier, you still got caught STEALING lawn signs.  Your a councilman for the 10th largest city in the nation, an elected official, and a man….. Act like it.

  15. So, the President of the United States admits to fraternizing with Marxists, uses cocaine, and tolerates the non-enforcement of the Voting Rights Act on a racially selective basis.

    Our Secretary of the Treasury doesn’t pay his income taxes.

    The White House staff leaks financial information on a private citizen taken illegally from income tax returns.

    Our senior senator from California chairs a Senate military procurement committee while her husband’s businesses benefit from profitible military contracts.

    Our junior senator kited checks on the House Bank and seemed surprised to learn that the money had to be paid back.

    And you morons have your undies in a bunch because of a stupid yard sign?

    You are not serious people.

    • This isn’t about street signs. The street signs are a symptom of an attitude that implicitly states that one person’s perspective is so much better than that of the other side that he is entitled to trample on the other side’s civil rights and deprive them of their voice.

      That’s the real issue…and it’s far more significant than even the question of whether or not he committed a crime.

      • > trample on . . . civil rights and deprive them of their voice.

        Oh, right.

        I assume you were similarly upset when Obama’s Attorney General refused to uphold the Voting Rights Act and prosecute the New Black Panthers, or when Obama’s appointee to the FCC tried to suppress talk radio using the “Fairness Doctrine”.

        What name did you use to post your outrage at these “tramplings of civil rights”?

        • Actually, yes. I was, and continue to be, livid over that NBP incident. Based on what I have read, that situation, and others like it, are an obscene trampling of civil rights. Of course, Obama won the the presidency largely on the basis of race politics and I and friends of mine frequently commented on the fact as well as the notion that the inauguration of Obama would likely also be the inauguration of a new low in race/class warfare/politics. Turns out we were right.

          As for the fairness doctrine, I am dead against that as well. I believe that media ought to live/die on the sword of the free market. I believe that we are seeing the results of that which is why outlets like conservative talk radio continue to thrive, but outlets like Air America and various print media – to include the Murky News are all in decline.

          I also recognize the effect of the free market system with respect to this issue – public safety is a semi-free market as well. No one is obligated to remain working for San Jose. Take away pension/benefits/wages wholesale, and pretty soon San Jose’s public safety agencies will gut themselves and will simply become a training ground/clearinghouse for young officers and firefighters on their way to other better positions. And, other agencies will jump at the chance of hiring them because, yes, there is a shortage of qualified candidates – regardless of what detractors will tell you.

          Lastly, your final comment about the name I used to post my earlier comment is absurd – a red herring if I ever heard it. Way to be credible, thoughtful and relevant.

        • Anon!:

          Well, it sounds as if your immortal soul is mostly on its way to being saved.

          There are others on this forum who are in more desparate need of intervention.

          My work here is done.

  16. Many of our police officers – and their union reps – behave like bullies. Not all, of course, but many. The behavior around this campaign and even the tone of many of the posted comments is just the latest example of a powerful group that is out of control.  I believe that they are used to getting what they want, and when they don’t get it, or often just because they know they can get away with it, they act like bullies. 

    I don’t know if the councilmember removed the sign from private or public property but I would believe him any day over a cop.  I’ve been witness to so many lies and set-ups and cover-ups by cops that I get sick to my stomach just seeing a cop.  Most people naturally are too afraid to speak up and the abuse, bullying and lies continue.  If these measures pass, and I hope they do, the most significant benefit may not be about saving money, but rather the return of a more polite and just police culture based on the new understanding that is a privilege – not a right – to serve the public.

    • Tired of Bullies. So, you say you have been witness to so many lies, set-ups and cover ups? Where is your evidence, and why did you not report it to the Police Auditor….What crack are you smoking!! SJPD is not the NYPD…we don’t have graft and corruption….get real…

  17. Sign Stealer Dude, You remind me of that “Don’t Taze Me Bro” idiot that interrupted John Kerry during a Q&A a couple of years ago. 

    He the “Bro” dude was the only one in the incident that looked like a FOOL!  And YES, he deserved to be tazed as he was wrong. 

    With any luck and that same kind of flippant arrogant attitude towards us regular people who put you in office and authority, you could feel the sting of the tazer yourself. 

    I’d pay good money to see that.

    Oh yeah, get a real man’s haircut or at least admit your going BALD…

  18. Having an out-of-town labor lawyer on the arbitration board is like having an immigration lawyer (Zoe Lofgren) be your Congressional “representative”.

    YES ON V!
    YES ON W!

    Also, my hat’s off to city employees. It seems it’s not possible to devise a sick leave program that they can’t figure out a way to take advantage of and bilk taxpayers out of every dollar possible. You guys are the best!
    Oh yeah, I forgot. “Well that’s what they do over at Cisco.”
    Unbelievable. It’s like talking to six year olds.

    • Drew you are so right. To bad the police have to spend time trying to catch small time hoodlums….If PLO was not stealing the cops could have spent their time better.  Maybe the CITY should bill him for the expense.

    • @John The sick leave buy out came about years ago. A city council voted to give the police and fire that. It was incentive to not call in sick as police and fire has always lacked people. Plus they took no raise that year to get this… So should they go back years ago and have gotten a bigger raise.  Just because private does not have it does not mean that no one should have good benefits and pensions.

      Ask yourself why other cities have twice the amount of police and fire and those cities pay for them. Why can ours not afford them. The Mayor waste money. 

      THE MAYOR endorse a guy that filed for bankruptcy and then tried to cover it up by changing his name.

      THE MAYOR took over a city that was the safest in the country. His wasteful spending has run it into the ground.  Do you see a problem with spending a half million on pictures of a waste control plant?

      Do you actually see nothing wrong in anyone stealing campaign signs????  It just a sign. But this really shows a judgment issue.

      The MAYOR does not even condemn this.  He turns the tide.  I trust fire fighter and the police officers they risk their lives to protect you and I. The mayor will be gone and these people will still be here protecting the city.

      • Wil,
        You say the sick leave buyout came about years ago. I’ll take your word for that. You say it was incentive not to call in sick. I’m afraid you’re right.
        So the bottom line is, rank and file police and fire personnel abused the sick leave system- that had been set up FOR THEIR BENEFIT mind you- to the point that the City had to offer them a bribe just to get them to come to work on days when they were feeling just fine. And I’m supposed to respect these people? These people who evidently don’t have the integrity and the honesty to obey not just the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law. And today’s officers righteously demand this tainted sick leave payout as if it’s a God given entitlement. 
        Well it’s NOT an entitlement. It’s a shakedown.

  19. Arbitration is fair and reasonable since the cops and firefighters are prohibited from striking.  But then again, the air traffic controllers were also and they still went out on strike.

    All bay area cities pay about the same in wages and benefits.  If someone was unhappy, couldn’t they just vote with their feet and take a job in Oakland, SF, Sunnyvale, Cupertino or whereever…

    How’d we get into the public union conundrum with highly adversarial negotiations….is it this bad in every state or is California just special….

    I wonder what to believe…there’s so many empassioned people and opinions…is anyone telling the whole truth or are both sides gaming the electorate…

    • And those air traffic controllers were fired as a result.  You won’t see cops and fire fighters go on strike, but there will certainly be a chilling effect on performance.  Cops and fire fighters are not robots, they are humans like everyone else.  Every human being has a limit they will reach where they stop performing to their full potential and simply circle the wagons until conditions change.  True leaders motivate their subordinates to perform through a variety of means, none of which should include disparaging character, threatening retaliation, or turning customers against their service providers.  Reed has managed to do all of these things to public safety in San Jose.

      As for other cities and states, they vary dependent on their tax base.  Some cities still take very good care of their employees and in turn, those employees work very hard to repay that kindness.  Other cities have established a good working relationship between management and line personnel so that they have banded together as a team to get through the tough times.  In San Jose the city has long held an adversarial relationship with their employees based upon consistent bad faith bargaining.  Add to this the constant hypocrisy of city management and it should come as no surprise that few city employees are willing to sacrifice for leaders they do not respect.

      When it comes to the truth, of course it will be nearly impossible to judge.  Few politicians will ever reveal their true motives.  City employees long abused are certainly jaded and have a biased perspective.  What is clear from these boards is that every person who ever failed to get hired as a cop, got a ticket, didn’t have a 30 second response time to their 911 call or were arrested is taking the opportunity to pay back the police department by joining Reed and his cronies in their smear campaign. 

      This is my biggest concern.  Reed and his ilk do not care about the irreparable damage they are causing between public safety and the citizens they serve.  They are completely out for the short-term political power gain that will propel them into other arenas.  When they leave in a few short years the few dollars they saved will be far outweighed by the huge divide created between public safety and the public, the diminished service levels now effecting citizens, the exodus of talent and the reduced quality of public safety applicants coming to San Jose.

  20. I am a Code Inspector for the City of San Jose and wanted to add my 2 cents.  Morale s at an all time low. Anytime a Council Member, City Manager Office or Mayor’s Office calls Code Management; we have to drop all other work to address their concern’s no matter how mundane! It is actually pretty sickening.  Oh the Council Office called, go out to that property and make sure they cut the weeds, write a Warning for a Sign etc.

    I came to the City of San Jose from the private sector by taking less pay I was currently making at my former job. The retirement benefits were one of the main reasons I left the private sector.  But no it’s our fault, never mind we already gave back raises last year, management can still cash out vacation time at the end of each year, line workers can not. There ia a Code Manager never in the office currently running for Mayor in Santa Clara but have over 300hrs of their allotted maximum accrual of 400hrs of vacation.  I could go on and on.

    • Code Inspector,

      Jamie Mathews gets a good pay check and shouldn’t be shurking his job for politics and neither should the Council but they do it all the time. I think everything you said should be investigated.

      BTW-Could you explain the sign removal policy? I an expert explaination would help a lot since everyone thinks they can just run out and take signs. Thanks.

      • Signs in the public right of way i.e poles, median strips etc. can be removed by volunteers of the city. If the sign has a value of less than 50; it can be hrown away.  If more; the offending party is notified if posible to pick up the sign and it will be returned-usually expensive looking real estate signs.  The first 6 inches of a front yard from the edge of the sidewal is considered city property-easement.  Prior to this incident; code did not remove any election signs regardless if they were posted in the public right of way-offender was called to remove the signs and not palce them anymore on public property.  A week before this incident; signs were being removed by code if a complaint was received.  If PLO was so concerned with blight; why didn’t other signs posted in the public right of way were not found in his trunk?

        • Thank you Code Inspector. That is my question exactly. Why didn’t he take all the illegally posted signs instead of just No on V and W? I worked for the City for almost 10 years as a Council staffer. I know all he had to do was make a call to your office to get it done the right way.

          I have another question, is there a procedure that requires citizens to notify campaigns of illegal signage before they take them or can citizens just take them? I live in D9 and Pegram has illegally placed signs all over the place so do other campaigns. I don’t feel right about taking them. Do you guys fine them for doing this?

          On another topic, why doesn’t the Metro write a story about Code Inspector’s comments about Mathews and others campaigning on city time, and his or her other complaints? That is a waste of taxpayer money too. We deserve to hear about this.

  21. Awesome that over 4,500 views of Pierluigi being placed under citizen’s arrest have been seen on you tube. Maybe he will think twice about trampling on the constitutional rights of others that he is suppose to stand for. He is a thief.


  22. LIAR and THIEF

    BUT good friends, MAYOR didn’t even scold you for stealing those signs.

    Can you get the garage sale sign off the pole by my house. Or a 49ers playbook.

  23. Very cool that almost 6,000 viewers have gone to YouTube to see first hand instruction on the fine art of *cleaning up* your opponents political signs hosted by Pier.

    • Also expected property tax revenues next fiscal year will be approximately $194 million while payments for pensions will be approximately $250 million!

      This number is staggering.

  24. Besides the fact that neither V or W will relieve the staggering debt (whatever the true figure), the bulk of the City’s obligation is due to its obligation to pay for its big gamble, for its guessing wrong on the stability of the stock market and the reliability of professional predictions. No firefighter or cop collecting a pension, now or in the future, had anything to do with the City’s decision-making, and neither V or W will compel the City to stop playing craps with our city’s future.

  25. Pier,
    Thanks for deleting my comments on your public FB site and banning my name from further comments. All comments were in good taste, just disagreeing with what you did. You are behaving like a little dictator, trying to squash any oppostion by taking away free speech rights any way you see fit. It is very disturbing to see an elected official who does not wish to honor constitutional rights. I have also talked with others whose comments you have removed from your pubic FB site. I didn’t realize you had that site as a propaganda tool. At least you are not able to remove the youtube video of what you did.

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