An Interview with Mayor Chuck Reed

It’s been reported that the City of San Jose may lay off hundreds of police officers in order to balance the budget. Survey after survey has indicated that public safety is the highest priority for the San Jose citizenry. Given that fact, shouldn’t the city lay off park workers, planners, and Cultural Affairs employees before any one police officer is fired?

Public safety is our highest priority and we spend a majority of our general fund dollars on police and fire. However, it is clear to me from our budget surveys and hearing directly from our residents that public safety is not our only priority. The people believe, and for good reasons, that libraries and community centers are important to our quality of life and contribute to San Jose being one of the country’s safest big cities. 

The public safety budget for this year is the same as it was last year ($451 million) but we have fewer officers because the cost per person has climbed dramatically. The budget for the police department has grown by $108 million over the past 10 years but we have fewer officers than we had 10 years ago because the average cost jumped by about 100 percent. The biggest factor in the cost increases has been, and remains, skyrocketing retirement costs, which continue to escalate. Next fiscal year, the retirement costs for police and fire will jump by about $45 million.

Closing more libraries and community centers to pay for those cost increases is not what the community wants to see. The community wants to see fiscal reforms, including concessions from police officers, to control costs in those departments. Right now it looks like we will have layoffs in every department, except maybe those that are paid for by cost recovery fees, like Planning and Building.
 
A few years back, a number of San Jose City Councilmembers went on a fact finding trip to Chicago where they learned that America’s “Second City” allows for one-fourth of city services to be performed by the private sector. Why can’t San Jose follow Chicago’s example, and put one-fourth of its city services out to bid to the private sector?

We have a Council policy that sets up a difficult and lengthy process to consider contracting out. We went through that process last year to contract out janitorial services and saved about $ 4 million. We are going through it now to consider contracting out for police and fire services at the airport because it appears we could save about $10 million. If our costs per employee continue to grow rapidly, the dollar value of contracting out will increase.
 
The City of San Jose recently announced that the city’s police helicopter will be grounded in order to save money. But isn’t he police helicopter an important law enforcement tool? Aren’t “eyes in the sky” crucial to officer safety?

The helicopter is important but not quite as important as officers who respond to 911 calls. The Chief plans to ground the chopper on a trial basis to assess the impact on effectiveness and safety.
 
As you know, the condition of San Jose’s streets and roads are very poor. For many years, street repair and maintenance has been deferred. What plan (if any) does the city have to address the problem? Should San Jose residents expect a parcel tax in their near future?

We are in the 10th year of budget shortfalls and paving streets has not been as important to the community as public safety, libraries, community centers and parks. We have polled on the potential for voter approval of a parcel tax for street maintenance. It would not pass.

Some say that the citizens of San Jose are too apathetic and uninformed. Do you agree with that assessment? What can the average citizen do to help solve some of the city’s problems?

No. San Jose citizens understand and have been very engaged in the need for fiscal reforms to control costs. I think the huge approval for Measures V and W, despite the aggressive and well funded campaign against Measure V by the police and fire unions, proves the point. The average citizen can help by communcating with Councilmembers in person, on the phone or by email whenever a fiscal reform is on the council agenda. Councilmembers would appreciate knowing the public supports fiscal reforms, especially when the Council chambers are packed by the unions in opposition, which is often the case.

50 Comments

  1. Kudos to Mr. Campbell for contributing some interesting new content to the discussions here.

    The interview details are informative, but I have a few suggestions.

    On contracting out verus cuts verus status quo – this is often a false dilemna.  There are other options including regionalism where you spin off and combine with other compatible agencies to fulfill a basic need without having all the talent in house.

    Let’s apply this to street maintenance.  Every city in the south bay has streets and a need for maintenance (paving, repaving, spot repairs, etc.)  I’m pretty sure the county also does this with unincorporated sections and expressways.  What about figuring how to combine talent, expertise and capital equipment across jurisdictions and creating a street maintenance agency.  Seems like there would be a savings in the metics like cost per mile of paving and pot hole filling due to economies of scale.

    Participating jurisdictions would contract with the agency (maybe in a three year cycle) and set performance standards and then fund it at the established rates.)  The agency would handle the work, payroll for line workers and management, operation/upkeep and replacement of capital equipment and most of the rest.  This is subtly different than outsourcing in that you are recognizing that this is fundamentally a public works / public sector business and creating a new agency that would be a hybrid of public/private models to achieve this end. Each jurisdiction could retain some experts for inspection and setting priorities as well as planning, but the whole operation could be handled at a lower cost with higher output using this model.

    Ditto for police copter – share it between a few jurisdiction and you could have it in the air more often, letting Santa Clara, Campbell, and others share access to this resource.

    • Great idea but it’s all about “rice bowls.”  You knock one of them over and the dominoes begin to fall.  Pretty soon, none of our politicians or city management personnel have rice bowls.  Can you imagine these people without their rice bowls?!

  2. Past Councils, Mayors and City Managers created the budget mess by wasteful spending, excessive city payrolls and giving taxes to community groups housing developers and insider economic development projects when taxes should of gone to city services

    San Jose has lowest number of businesses, retail stores and jobs per resident which means city does not have tax revenues to pay for needed required services or city employees at market rates like other cites without laying off more city employees to balance budget

    Mayor Reed who is a decent man got stuck with cleaning up decades of Council’s political budget mess that he did not create and will get much unfair criticism from his former political opponents, those would without knowledge believe his opponents, the unrealistic and those who don’t take time to understand city budget

    Mayor Reed’s critics and opponents have not proposed alternative budget solutions other than

    1) more taxes which voters will not approve since it would be throwing good money at past bad budgets votes and unsustainable employee costs

    2) pushing budget problems into future with more borrowing or debt

    Good work Mayor Reed keep working to solve budget problems – ” Don’t let the budget ( ba*t**ds ) jerks get you down ”

    • Councilmember Chuck Reed!  As a Councilmember, Chuck Reed voted for every employee contract that is in place and has been in place going back to his first days on the City Council.

      So, if there is blame, he shares it.  Instead of identifying the same problem over and over, what are his solutions?  Reed wants Two-Tier Retirement, OK, what are the components?  Reed wants take-aways from currently vested retirement benefits from current employees and current retirees…OK, what are the take-aways, and be specific?  Reed wants to reform retiree health care, OK…how, be specific?

      It is easy to Monday morning quarterback and/or be the guy that identifies the obvious, it is much more difficult to say what you want and how you want it.  Generalities do not equate to leadership.

    • Not a clue. I was layed off in 1992 with a severe budget crisis as were many positions. Never did we feel as humiliated by a grandstanding Mayor. We never felt acrimony to the City Manager or Mayor at that time. Charles has done the most damage to City worker morale than any in the History of San Jose. He has proven indifferent to the difference between a City Account Clerk with small disposable income and wages below COLA for a decade and those who have exceeded that with their overtime and training payouts providing a two fold increase over the last two decades.

      Cadillac pensions? An engineer retiring with 20 years service will get 50k annually but if he dies, his spouse will receive a whopping $25k. Private contribution plans in the private sector ensure the money that is there stays with the family.

      But of course, he is feeling his oats with all the acclaim. And will continue to press the ranks down to a farm team City workforce.

    • are getting comical. Comical because when the employees are gone, the “taxpayers” are going to be screaming because the level of services are diminished. They have no idea how all of the screaming about take this from the employee and take that from the employee is going to affect them. The TAXPAYERS are the bottom line and the bottom line is THEY are going to lose from the result of city taking from employees to the point that the employees are layed off, leave on their own or just don’t give a da-n. Talk about biting your own foot. You can make all of the routine silly responses you choose. You believed Chuck’s big lie and all I can say is wait to see what is coming. When you start writing in this blog about how bad things are for you and what’s not happening or services you no longer receive, I’m going to be LMAO.

  3. Just LAY OFF the entire Council and ALL the City Administrators.  We don’t need them anyway…. Just add up all those $200k Plus Paychecks for all the City Admins and Council.  Thanks Pete for the great new relevant topic. 

    Old Frank

  4. Mr Mayor, in the swing shift briefing a month or so ago, you stated to over 100 officers that you respected us, the job that we do and that we were both understaffed and earned every dollar we were paid for the job that we do. At that time, I asserted to you that SJPD’s pay/benefit package was, just barely, competitive with packages provided by many other cities around the Bay Area. At that time, I had done research to support this assertion and had the basic details (wages, uniform allowance, retirement package and employee contributions to pension fund) available should you dispute that claim. You did not dispute my assertion, so I think it is safe to say that I did not speak inaccurately. At that time, I further asserted that the practical outcome of the passage of Measures V and W was to allow City Hall to create less competitive pay and benefit packages more easily. I then asked you what plan you had in mind for continuing to attract the very best public safety candidates to work for the City of San Jose. Your answer to me was that you would be willing to revisit San Jose’s hiring standards if the city was unable to continue to attract the same caliber of candidates as San Jose has in the past.

    I realize you will be termed out in three years and that you will have little, if any, practical experience of the responsibility for the decisions and courses of action you’ve made so far. Being termed out, realistically speaking, it will likely not be you who ‘revisits hiring standards’. However, I wondered if you might share your thoughts on how these standards might be revised so that your successor(s) might have some notion of your plan for the city.

    I also stated to you that I was a 2nd generation police officer and that my dad had retired a couple of years ago from SJPD. I informed you that he had blown out both his knees in the course and scope of his duties, had five surgeries on them, ruptured the bursa in one of his shoulders, and, in the last year before his retirement, had collapsed suddenly while trying to get a drug dealer into custody, sustained a concussion, and had to be off work for several days while recovering. I expressed to you that his story is more typical of the police officers in San Jose than atypical. He retired when he was just shy of 60, rather close to the social security retirement age you’ve proposed. Furthermore, I meet regularly with a retired officer and retire sergeant and another active-duty sergeant. We realized that, all told, we’ve got over 20 surgeries to repair work-related injuries. Just shy of 36 years of age, I’ve had three on my arm and am looking at needing a fourth surgery.

    With these facts in mind, I would like you to explain how you think it is ethical to expect that people doing the most rigorous, intellectually, psychologically, emotionally and ethically demanding job it is possible to do for the city should work until their 60’s, until they collapse, or worse.

    Finally, I would like to know from you why $18 million was transferred from the General Fund to the RDA last year.

    I would like to know why the city is paying tens of millions of dollars in debt service for City Hall.

    I would like to know why you and others on the city council continue to approve new residential construction at a breathtaking rate. How is it ethical for you to reduce the ranks of the PD, reduce our pay and benefits (as we have seen the last couple of years) while simultaneously increasing our work load by adding tens of thousands of new housing units. Why is it so important for you and others to slavishly try to follow the General Plan for housing construction, but not for public safety (remember, we were supposed to have somewhere in the range of 1800 officers by now)?

    Why is it that you are willing to try to entice builders to build, but not businesses, large and small, to set up shop. And here, don’t give me the tired RDA answer; it’s not seed money businesses need, but a simple, straightforward regulatory environment and manageable,equitable system of taxation.

    Finally, how is it that San Jose is so unbalanced in it’s method of doing business that it is unable to sustain a public safety force that is well under the national per capita average (about 1/3 smaller) when our next largest neighbor to the north with 80% of our population crammed into less than half the geographic area can maintain a police force that is twice the size and paid roughly what SJPD is currently paid. You can’t point to unions as the root of the problem. SF has to be one of the most union-friendly cities in the state. So, what are the real answers?

    • Officer D,

      Wonderful questions, all of them.  Reed is probably choking on his lunch right now, wondering how in the hell he can answer even one of them, without looking like a fool!

      • Thanks Greg. I don’t know if Mayor Reed considers these issues significant enough that he’ll bother trying to answer, but the rest of us (and I’m a San Jose resident too) should demand answers.

        Mayor Reed and others on the City Council have done a pretty good job of taking the ‘not my fault’ stance when it comes to acknowledging responsibility for the mess that San Jose is in. I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t cut it for me and it shouldn’t for anyone else. Nobody forced them to run for office. That they did, and that they got elected confers a collective and accumulative responsibility for the situation in which the city finds itself.

        They have within their power the ability to change San Jose’s regulatory environment so that businesses genuinely WANT to set up shop here, rather than being bribed to do so.

        They have within their power to control population growth in such a way that it is responsive to the income to the general fund and link public safety growth in the same way. 

        They have within their power the ability to make meaningful changes in the day-to-day operations of the city so that it runs more efficiently, simply and transparently. I guess that’s one of the things I’m most disappointed in with respect to they mayor’s tenure – the lack of transparency and open meaningful dialogue from both sides (and believe me, the POA does NOT get a pass on this one either).

        And, as far as the Mayor re-evaluating the hiring standards for the PD when wages and benefits (especially in a 2nd tier) become non-competitive, here’s a dirty secret that betrays either his ignorance of the process or lack of honesty: the state sets the training standards which police recruits must meet in order to be POST certified as peace officers in the state of California. It costs $129000 to train a person from raw recruit to solo beat officer (and, if they lay off 349 officers, that’s a loss of $45 million, just in training investment). One of the really great things about San Jose’s traditionally high hiring standards is that very few recruits actually drop out or are failed from the academy. This makes the process of training recruits fairly efficient – very few dollars are lost trying to train unsuitable candidates who ultimately don’t make the cut. But, and this is important so get ready, CITY HALL HAS ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER HOW MANY CANDIDATES MAKE IT THROUGH THE TRAINING PROCESS. EITHER THEY MEET THE STATE STANDARDS, OR THEY DON’T. End of Story. He can change hiring standards all he wants. All it means is that there is more likely to be fiscal waste in the training process. Sure, you might not have officers trained to the same level that the rest of us were, but there’s a lower limit as to how bad they, in theory, ought to be. Also, he’s not looked at what has happened with agencies which don’t have the same high standards as San Jose traditionally has. Usually, there are more law suits, for which the city pays out.

        It’s been said before on other posts on SJI and in various ways: San Jose gets a screamin’ deal on its public safety services and enjoys a degree of safety which they purely don’t deserve on the basis of their willingness to invest and staff public safety. Sadly, all that will, inevitably, decline.

    • Good questions! Good luck getting any answer from the Mayor or his office.
      My experience has been neither he or his office answer any correspondence—whether it is in support or opposition to a particular issue.
      Reed’s response about citizen input since, at least to his office, any citizen input appears to fall into a black hole.

      • Guess what? I’m a D6 resident and I’ve had the same problem with Pierluigi. I ask him time and again hard questions like these and confront him with verifiable research. He never answers in a meaningful way.

    • And another thing (thanks Steve Jobs): Mayor Reed, I would like for you to articulate in a logically sustainable manner (free of demonstrable flaws in logic or fallacious reasoning) how exactly it is that libraries and community centers enhance or contribute to the safety of the city. I don’t argue that they provide valuable and meaningful services to the citizens, but it sounds to me like you are giving them equivalence to the PD or FD with respect to keeping everyone safe.

      • Well, the upshot of the Mayor’s message on his interview on KLIV is that San Jose’s pay and benefits for public safety is barely competitive around the bay area and that San Jose’s issue is one of income. He admitted that other cities pay their public safety employees as well or better than San Jose does. He acknowledged that most other cities around the bay have more revenue per capita than San Jose does. Sadly he has no answer for fixing the income issue and no answer for how to retain public safety when San Jose is no longer competitive or attract qualified candidates to make up for attrition with pay and benefits that are no longer competitive.

        Bottom line: he wants top-not public safety service at bargain basement prices.

        But here’s a fact: as much as he says he doesn’t want to kick the (issue) can down the street, the reality is that he doesn’t have to resovle the pension issue this year or next. The reality is that it can be resolved incrementally over many years and, in the meantime, City Hall could expend radically more energy resolving the income issue by making San Jose a more business-friendly environment.

  5. It’s the same gobble gobble from that turkey! Hey chuck, where did the finance come from to vote yes on measures V and W? Oh that’s right, from your developer friends whom you gave millions to in redevelopment funds and your good ole friend Tom McEnry whom you gave 6 million to. I guess you forgot to mention that being the open government sunshine reform type of honest mayor, right!

  6. Same old political rhetoric Reed has been spewing for over a year.
    Chuck Reed, your breath smells from the bull**** spewing out.
    Congratulations, your one size fits all method of covering your collective fiscal screw-ups by pinning them on the workforce has taken its’ toll.
    The once proud to work in SJ workforce you inherited has now turned its’ back on you.
    How nice that SJFD gave you less in concessions than SJPD has given you over the last 5 years.
    WE are at the breaking point. Most of us are poised to lose our homes, and when you start playing with my family, well. The gloves come off.
    I trained most of the 300 officers your propose to lay-off. I feel for them. In some odd way I envy them. They will have a chance to move on to a city that appreciates them.
    I want to personally make sure there is no miscommunication.

    I WILL NOT VOTE TO GIVE YOU ANYTHING!

    Maybe if you had asked nicely, but you didn’t. Instead you decided it would be better to marginalize and belittle my profession, my pain, and my family.

    Good Job Donkey.

    • I don’t think that was Reed. Somebody is trying to make Reed look nicer than he really is!!! Nice try!!!

  7. Nice comprehensive job here. Campbell for Mayor (after recall of the one we have who’s simpleton one size fits all method is minor league). This approach sounds so familiar, I think its the same as a Governor we are familiar with, who never allowed acclaim go his head like Newsom and Reed.

    Remember however, we outsource our review of upgrades to unreinforced buildings a few years back with a result of many substandard retrofits. We outsourced inspector while they were on strike, with a surprising outcry from the construction industry to bring back our professional group. And our custodians? They are mostly Green Card workers. Is that what our citizens should be rooting for?

    In the private sector when a company is failing not due to lack of demand for their product but due to management problems, they start first by replacing the CEO’s and Managers. I am all for subcontracting. That is to hire out some private sector professionals to run the Mayors and City Manager’s Office!

    Note how Brown’s emphasis is on the revenue side. With thousands of new housing units in the pipeline, on the long term, the City is just sending the expenditure/revenue scenario further down the sewer, no treatment plant to clean it up. Council does not want to talk about that, with the excuse, they are pre-approved entitlements.

    • I hope you are kidding about “Campbell for Mayor.” He is Reed’s “mini-ME.” Campbell is Reed’s daughter’s husband’s “family surname.”  Pete serve on Reeds “transition team” when Reed was elected Mayor and replaced Gonzalez.

      An interesting read is a document (availible on the web) is the “transition teams” recommendations to Reed as to what “his” agenda as mayor should be.  AMong other things (odd?) is a change to the city administered “oath of office” given to all employees. One of the recommended changes was to include a loyalty oath to the “City Charter.”  Odd? didn’t every City employee just have to “retake” the oath because of “some clerical record keeping mistake” where administration of the original oath was not recorded in some instances?

      There are more interesting items in the Transition teams memo that merit discussion in hind-sight of Reeds elections. Pete CAmpbell is a Reed synchophant (sp?) just read the other puff pieces he posts on this blog…

        • Let us save “pimp” for that guy who can’t even manage his office budget as County Supervisor. But once again, the voters have proved there ability to evaluate the candidates.

  8. Voters of San Jose elected Chuck Reed Mayor twice and he is highly popular compared to past Mayors who got city into budget mess or recent Mayor candidates who were clueless and have nbeen silent as to budget solutions or maybe they agree with Chuck’s solutions

    He was elected by voters to fix city budget and specific that is what he is doing even some of you don’t like how he is doing it and “bitch and moan” everyday

    Get over it Chuck win the Mayor job twice and no Mayor will make everyone happy but Chuck has more support than recent Mayors and is getting job done

    To the daily “bitch and moan” crowd where are your specific solutions with dollar amounts to balance the upcoming budget

    What would you cut to make up for $ 110 million budget shortfall that Council and public would support

    Awaiting your budget solutions but not excepting any worthwhile solutions based on SJI past “bitch and moan” crowd ” No Solutions ” blog comments

    • Not only do they bitch and moan, they bitch and moan that Reed wants to cut BACK their gigantic pay packages, then they bitch and moan that he gave them to them in the first place. They’re really quite irrational.
      I’m starting to get the feeling that the POA doesn’t like Chuck Reed. (the man who got their official endorsement.)

      • Make no mistake JOHN GALT. There is not a working cop that likes MAYOR GREED. So you really are capable of seeing the big picture.

        Politicians are popular now that attack public employees.  I find it strange that anyone would attack the librarians, police, fire, city workers, that REED calls UNION. These people are your neighbors, coaches, and go to church with you on Sunday. No Mayor in my 33 years in City Government has ever alienated the entire work force.

        Watch this MSNBC Video:

        Professor Dorian Warren from Columbia University will explain to you the problem.
        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/40902120#40902120

        • “No Mayor in my 33 years in City Government has ever alienated the entire work force.”

          I’ve never seen anything like it in my life and I’m not a police officer. I have been in City Government nearing 40 years, different agencies/states. I know of a person who has worked in a few governmental agencies (high positions), who left his position with our City. That person said that in all of the agencies he has ever worked, he has never seen a city treat its employees so bad as San Jose does. I felt embarrassed.

      • What is irrational about the assertion?  Reed is quoted above saying: “We are in the 10th year of budget shortfalls…”
        Please correct the record if you can, but Reed WAS elected to the City Council in 2000 and re-elected 2004. Then he was elected Mayor in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.  I think it is accurate to say that he has been on the Council as a councilman or Mayor for the last 10 years so he probably had a hand in voting in at least 9 of the last 10 budgets.  The same budgets that have had “shortfalls?”

        I may be wrong but Councilman Reed and Mayor Reed has voted with the majority to approve most if not all the “gigantic pay packages” that are being blamed for the budget shortfalls past present and future.

        As a councilman Mayor Reed came to the POA and asked for their endorsement which was granted. He reciprocated by following through on promises he made to support through his votes the “gigantic pay packages.” 

        Reed came to the POA again and asked for their endorsement again when he ran for mayor. The membership decided that he earned the endorsement for mayor based on the positive support he showed as a councilman for the SJPD and for the POA membership by both his words and his deeds (votes in favor of “gigantic pay packages”).

        So what is irrational about the POA’s disappointment in the man who consistently supported their efforts to obtain “gigantic pay packages” and now says he made a mistake by voting for them?  It is not too big a stretch to state that he lobbied other councilpersons to also mistakenly vote for the “gigantic pay packages.”

        If I am mistaken and Reed did not attempt to influence anyone else’s vote, then it is reasonable to state that HE himself must have been swayed by others on the council to vote in favor for the”gigantic pay packages” that he obviously voted for.

        If he neither influenced or was influenced to vote for the “gigantic pay packages” then he must have acted alone and wholly owns the position that lead him to his votes. In any case what is clear is that Chuck Reed voted for “gigantic pay packages” that caused at least 9 of the last 10 budget shortfalls.

        Chuck Reed helped create the problem. To claim that Chuck Reed is trying to fix a mess left to him by some past mayors or some past council members is ludacris. He owns every vote he cast to fulfill every promise he made to every city employee union he received and endorsement from. That is just the cost of being a politician who willingly prostitutes himself while seeking, maintaining and aspiring to political office.

        Way to go San Jose! We’ve been “Chucked!”

    • Not only that, you’ve gotta wonder just WHY the POA gave their endorsement to Reed considering they’re now, in hindsight, so critical of his past record on City Council. Why on Earth would they endorse such an irresponsible guy who was so willing to waste money on questionable schemes?
      An astute observer might conclude that the San Jose Police Officer’s Association and, by proxy, every single one of it’s dues paying members, endorsed Chuck Reed for the office of Mayor of the City of San Jose for the sole reason that they believed HE would be the one most likely to give THEM the most money. Did they care a whit about the taxpayers? No. Did it bother them at all the damage that some of his decisions as a Councilmember would inflict on the City’s finances? No. The ONLY thing that mattered to them was that they thought his election would mean more money for THEM.
      So much for Officer D’s credibility. So much for Officer X’s credibility. So much for Frank’s credibility. They are all members of THE most powerful special interest in San Jose- members of the government of the City of San Jose.

      • JG,

        Guess what? I didn’t vote for him. Yes, the POA may give an endorsement by proxy, but that wasn’t my decision or preference.

        Nonetheless, I find it interesting that you cherry pick your facts and ignore the inconvenient ones. You must be a graduate of the Al Gore School of Logic.

        Way to ignore the fact that Mayor Reed himself stated that $250k/annually was an upper working class income for the Bay Area just two years ago. Way to ignore the fact that most other agencies around the bay area offer pay and benefit packages that are comparable to, or better than, San Jose’s. Way to ignore the fact that San Jose officers contribute more to their pensions than at any other agency in the Bay Area. Way to ignore the fact that San Jose is only just barely competitive with virtually every other agency in the Bay Area.

        These are facts. They aren’t cherry picked. They are easily verifiable. It’s there on the internet for pretty much anyone to verify. Or, are you too lazy or too much of an ideologue to allow yourself to be confronted by objective reality and accept these facts?

        San Jose’s financial woes aren’t solely – or even primarily – the cause of out-of-control employee costs. They are the result of gross mismanagement, avarice, widespread irresponsibility and pervasive ineptitude.

        Rather than resort to an ad hominem attack (as you apparently do by referring to public safety as ‘THE most powerful special interest in San Jose’) why don’t you try examining the facts? Why don’t you research the questions I posed to the Mayor? Can you refute my assertions? Was my research incorrect?

        Without that, you come across just as the mayor does: basically saying that you want your quality of life in San Jose. You want to continue feeling exactly as safe as you do and expect the high degree of professionalism that SJPD and SJFD provides every day…but you don’t want to pay the market rate for it. There is a market rate. You can verify that. There’s a reason that wages and benefits for public safety are what they are in the Bay Area.

    • Yeah, Chuck had to run against the guy in the cowboy hat.  Real tough competition for that 2nd term.  Only 15% of this city votes anyway.  Imagine if people were really informed and ACTUALLY voted? Ah, only in a fantasy world…..

  9. Put Reed and Constant out to Sea in a Small Dingy during this Tsunami emergency. 

    I wonder which one will come back to shore with the tide and which one would the sharks spit out???

  10. Yeah. We’ve got solutions and ideas. Trouble is that no one in City Hall is really interested in listening. How about if we start by transferring that $18 million back from the RDA. That’s just shy of 20% of the budget shortfall. How about ending all payments for affordable housing? That’s your tax dollars going toward something other than a core service. There are other ideas as well.

    The main reason that the budget is unbalanced – the pension issue – is a manufactured one. Someone in City Hall has decided that the ‘pension shortfalls’ have to be resolved right freakin now. They don’t. The stock market ebbs and flows. The police and fire retirement system has, on average, earned about 8%/year. Even at its worst (the last 5 years) it has earned 4%. The market will recover, is recovering. The so-called pension shortfall will diminish and the budget deficit with it.

    However, the aftermath will remain. The ranks of public safety will have been decimated. Trust in city leadership will be non-existent. San Jose will have a much harder time competing for the best candidates for public safety. Worst of all, City Hall will likely still be doing all the same shady stuff they have been doing all along and there will still be no transparency or accountability. Mayor
    Reed’s campaign promise of transparency will have been a lie.

    Mayor Reed want’s the most professional police force he can get, protecting one of the safest cities, large or small, in the nation. But he doesn’t want to pay for it – doesn’t want to pay the market rate for it. Many citizens have been duped into thinking that public safety isn’t an open market. It is. Agencies all over California would love to recruit SJPD officers away from San Jose. Vancover, WA jumped at the opportunity. We’ve already had officers hired away to Palo Alto and other agencies.

    For some reason, a good many of San Jose’s citizens have bought this big lie: that you can have top notch public safety at bargain basement prices. San Jose’s leadership, while not explicitly stating it, has done an awful lot to perpetuate this lie. But, please, do a little research around the bay. You will see what I mean about San Jose being only just barely competitive. What do you think will happen when San Jose no longer is competitive?

    • Some of the new officers will complete the academy and probation then move on to a better job.  Standards might be further lowered to encourage recruitment in the face of high turnover.

      Efforts to recruit and retain officers will center around efforts to increase minority representation from the community and include incentives like home ownership assistance, and other such tools. 

      Some of it will work, because who really wants to work in Oakland or SF, even if the pay and benefits are better?  And how many spots on small departments like Milpitas and Palo Alto are there really?

      In the past the flow was from small departments to the SJPD because it was a better department with more opportunities.  This might reverse as the smaller communities benefit from SJ’s fiscal circumstance and can cherry pick in recruitments.

      • It will be a lot like the people who go to work at Stanford, just to get the name on their resume, and then they move on. New officers will hire on and work a couple years, just to say they worked at SJPD, then they will be able to choose any PD in the country, who will snap them up. San Jose will spend the thousands to train them, and then they will leave.

      • First of all, there are not going to be any academies for an indefinite future.  If the city lays off say 200 officer, they have first rights to come back if the city is able to hire.  And guess what, the city has to offer them the pay and benefits they had when they were laid off.  The city doesn’t get to lay off cops and then hire them back months later on the two-tier retirement system at half the pay.  There are actually laws that prevent this born out of unscrupulous companies that would lay off employees just prior to vesting, locking in medical benefits, or before pay raises and then hiring them back restarting the clock. Some companies would routinely lay off pregnant women and when they tried to come back post delivery, the companies would start them back at the bottom.  So, there will be no need to lower any standards for some time to come as there will be some former officers that will want to come back.

        Second, the department already expends tremendous effort to recruit and hire minorities.  Although there will not be any hiring, when the time comes again to do so the tactics will remain the same.  Also, on your home ownership I want some of what you are smoking.  For years SJPD members have suggested to the city to find a way to lure San Jose residents to apply as well as encourage officers to live in the city.  The city has never pursued it and never will.  Also, most officers don’t want to live in the area they work.  Standing in line at the grocery store and seeing someone you arrested last week mad dogging you and your wife, following you to your car, and even confronting you isn’t fun.  You are living in fantasyland.

        Yes, officers will follow the jobs even in Oakland and elsewhere.  Just a few short years ago I knew several officers that went to small departments on the peninsula and even received $10k hiring bonuses.  Now that they are being laid off, no officer is going to be foolish enough to turn down an opportunity to continue to be a cop.  And, California’s Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) only allows a former officer a limited amount of time before they rescind their certification.  No officer is going to turn down a cop job for any reason.  As for smaller departments, yes they are hiring and in some cases are even holding open positions waiting for the SJPD payoffs to start.  Why pay $150k to recruit, hire, and train a new officer when you can get an outstanding officer ready to hit the streets running from SJPD with excellent experience?

        Your last paragraph is accurate.  Surrounding communities will benefit from San Jose’s loss.  It isn’t just the fiscal situation however.  SJPD is no longer a very desirable place to work.  Internally it is rife with problems.  Externally the city leaders and its citizens are ungrateful, spiteful, jealous, and unsupportive.  The combination of the two is going to drive SJPD into the public safety cellar, even more than Davis already did.

        • Well…let’s see how we can work on and fix some of this.

          Recruiting from the community:  Every jurisdiction in the county benefits from home grown applicants who are prepared and fit to serve.  Most applications fail, however, based on psych, background or other issues.  So how about nurturing and sharing the pool of high quality local applicants.  Create an ROTC like program with scholarships that reaches down into local high schools and up through community colleges and local universities.  Reward good conduct and grades with scholarship money then jointly fund an academy class that would grant POST certification and allow participating jurisdictions to split the graduates from the academy like an NFL draft. 

          Moral/Retention:  If the department is as bad as described and officers feel that its not going to get any better, than even without layoffs there should be an exodus to other departments.  Could be, however, that even with the “problems”, working at SJ beats some of opportunities out there right now.  How about partnerships on fun/interesting stuff with other departments that would allow for talent exchanges, cross training and bigger projects than any one department could afford.

          Promotional Opportunities:  Consider adding a Corporal rank to allow field training of junior supervisors and shorten the big jump from patrol to SGT.

          Home Ownership: Great incentive that works with teachers and others.  Answers complaints about high cost of housing.  The arguement that you don’t want to see folks at the local supermarket you just arrested last week sounds like and issue, so how about a rule that in return for living in the city, cops will “Not be assigned to patrol in the same council district in which they reside.”  Fair enough as a compromise?  I think everyone benefits when city employees actually live in and spend their wages in the city. 

          BTW – sometimes home ownership can be a mistake as it limits your career mobility (can’t sell the home fast enough in a down market.)  School Districts also offer special rentals for new teachers, and I could see the same kind of incentive being offered here.

          Also – I’m looking 10-20 years down the road and not just 18 months.  What’s the big picture and real goal if we step outside the heat of the moment with union negotiations and perpetual budget crisis.

  11. The BIG LIE that labor unions and government employees are victims rather that primary cause of state and local budget and pension deficits or that they deserve the early age excessive benefits and pensions is exposed in

    The Beholden State: How public-sector unions broke California

    - points the blame for California, county and city’s budget and pension deficits to unions control of CalPERS Board and elected state and local politician’s who owed their election to unions and violated the public trust when they voted to raise government employee pensions to unsustainable levels and taxpayers will be paying increased taxes and lower services for union’s political manipulation of government pensions for decades

    ” “Perhaps the most costly was far-reaching 1999 legislation that wildly increased pension benefits for state employees. It included an unprecedented retroactive cost-of-living adjustment for the already retired and a phaseout of a cheaper pension plan that Governor Wilson had instituted in 1991. The deal also granted public-safety workers the right to retire at 50 with 90 percent of their salaries. To justify the incredible enhancements, Davis and the legislature turned to CalPERS, whose board was stocked with members who were either union reps or appointed by state officials who themselves were elected with union help. The CalPERS board, which had lobbied for the pension bill, issued a preposterous opinion that the state could provide the new benefits mostly out of the pension systems’ existing surplus and future stock-market gains. Most California municipalities soon followed the state enhancements for their own pension deals.

    When the stock market slid in 2000, state and local governments got slammed with enormous bills for pension benefits. The state’s annual share, estimated by CalPERS back in 1999 to be only a few hundred million dollars, reached $3 billion by 2010. Counties and municipalities were no better off. ”

  12. The Beholden State
    How public-sector unions broke California

    http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_2_california-unions.html

    ” The camera focuses on an official of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California’s largest public-employee union, sitting in a legislative chamber and speaking into a microphone. “We helped to get you into office, and we got a good memory,” she says matter-of-factly to the elected officials outside the shot. “Come November, if you don’t back our program, we’ll get you out of office.’ “

    “How public employees became members of the elite class in a declining California offers a cautionary tale to the rest of the country, where the same process is happening in slower motion. The story starts half a century ago, when California public workers won bargaining rights and quickly learned how to elect their own bosses—that is, sympathetic politicians who would grant them outsize pay and benefits in exchange for their support. Over time, the unions have turned the state’s politics completely in their favor. The result: unaffordable benefits for civil servants; fiscal chaos in Sacramento and in cities and towns across the state; and angry taxpayers finally confronting the unionized masters of California’s unsustainable government.”

    “The symbiotic relationship between the CCPOA and former governor Gray Davis provides a remarkable example of the union’s power. In 1998, when Davis first ran for governor, the union threw him its endorsement. Along with those much-needed law-and-order credentials, it also gave Davis $1.5 million in campaign contributions and another $1 million in independent ads supporting him. Four years later, as Davis geared up for reelection, he awarded the CCPOA a stunning 34 percent pay hike over five years, increasing the average base salary of a California prison guard from about $50,000 a year to $65,000—and this at a time when the unemployment rate in the state had been rising for nearly a year and a half and government revenues had been falling. The deal cost the state budget an additional $2 billion over the life of the contract. A union official described it admiringly as “the best labor contract in the history of California.” Eight weeks after the offer, the union donated $1 million to Davis’s reelection campaign.”

    “Perhaps the most costly was far-reaching 1999 legislation that wildly increased pension benefits for state employees. It included an unprecedented retroactive cost-of-living adjustment for the already retired and a phaseout of a cheaper pension plan that Governor Wilson had instituted in 1991. The deal also granted public-safety workers the right to retire at 50 with 90 percent of their salaries. To justify the incredible enhancements, Davis and the legislature turned to CalPERS, whose board was stocked with members who were either union reps or appointed by state officials who themselves were elected with union help. The CalPERS board, which had lobbied for the pension bill, issued a preposterous opinion that the state could provide the new benefits mostly out of the pension systems’ existing surplus and future stock-market gains. Most California municipalities soon followed the state enhancements for their own pension deals.

    When the stock market slid in 2000, state and local governments got slammed with enormous bills for pension benefits. The state’s annual share, estimated by CalPERS back in 1999 to be only a few hundred million dollars, reached $3 billion by 2010. Counties and municipalities were no better off. Orange County’s retirement system saw its payouts to retirees jump to $410 million a year by 2009, from $140 million a decade ago. Many legislators who had voted for the pension legislation (including all but seven Republicans) later claimed that they’d had no idea that its fiscal impact would be so devastating. They had swallowed the rosy CalPERS projections even though they knew very well that the board was, as one county budget chief put it, “the fox in the henhouse.”

  13. Interesting statement:

    Council Member Kalra asserted that he could not support the motion, stressing that the solutions should be collaborative and should eliminate an “us versus-them” dynamic.

  14. Way to softball the interview there Pete. Perhaps the next time you might take the time to research and confront the Mayor with some facts, instead of merely asking his opinion about the situation? The truth is that San Jose has far less of a problem with its employees and their wages and benefits than it does with gross mismanagement, rampant waste, backroom scheming, a regulatory environment that is toxic to business and a labrynthine municipal code which many entrepreneurs and new businesses likely find too daunting to navigate.

    In this respect, San Jose is much like California, and, indeed the rest of the nation. A simpler, more streamlined system of city administration without all the kickbacks and shady dealings would enable the city to flourish and allow for core city services to be fully funded.

  15. The following comments are from an article by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, posted in the Huffington Post in January, 2011.

    “In 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to support them. That was where he lost his life. Eventually Memphis heard the grievances of its sanitation workers. And in subsequent years millions of public employees across the nation have benefited from the job protections they’ve earned.

    But now the right is going after public employees.

    Public servants are convenient scapegoats. Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don’t want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. And they’d like to avoid a spotlight on the billions raked in by hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose income is treated as capital gains and subject to only a 15 percent tax, due to a loophole in the tax laws designed specifically for them.

    It’s far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public’s work—sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees—to call them “faceless bureaucrats” and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republican’s Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that’s too big.

    Above all, Republicans don’t want to have to justify continued tax cuts for the rich. As quietly as possible, they want to make them permanent.

    But the right’s argument is shot-through with bad data, twisted evidence, and unsupported assertions.

    They say public employees earn far more than private-sector workers. That’s untrue when you take account of level of education. Matched by education, public sector workers actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

    The Republican trick is to compare apples with oranges—the average wage of public employees with the average wage of all private-sector employees. But only 23 percent of private-sector employees have college degrees; 48 percent of government workers do. Teachers, social workers, public lawyers who bring companies to justice, government accountants who try to make sure money is spent as it should be—all need at least four years of college.

    Compare apples to apples and and you’d see that over the last fifteen years the pay of public sector workers has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education. Public sector workers now earn 11 percent less than comparable workers in the private sector, and local workers 12 percent less. (Even if you include health and retirement benefits, government employees still earn less than their private-sector counterparts with similar educations.)

    Here’s another whopper. Republicans say public-sector pensions are crippling the nation. They say politicians have given in to the demands of public unions who want only to fatten their members’ retirement benefits without the public noticing. They charge that public-employee pensions obligations are out of control.

    Some reforms do need to be made. Loopholes that allow public sector workers to “spike” their final salaries in order to get higher annuities must be closed. And no retired public employee should be allowed to “double dip,” collecting more than one public pension.

    But these are the exceptions. Most public employees don’t have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year. Few would call that overly generous.

    And most of that $19,000 isn’t even on taxpayers’ shoulders. While they’re working, most public employees contribute a portion of their salaries into their pension plans. Taxpayers are directly responsible for only about 14 percent of public retirement benefits. Remember also that many public workers aren’t covered by Social Security, so the government isn’t contributing 6.25 of their pay into the Social Security fund as private employers would.”

    Yes, there’s cause for concern about unfunded pension liabilities in future years. They’re way too big. But it’s much the same in the private sector. The main reason for underfunded pensions in both public and private sectors is investment losses that occurred during the Great Recession. Before then, public pension funds had an average of 86 percent of all the assets they needed to pay future benefits—better than many private pension plans.

    The solution is no less to slash public pensions than it is to slash private ones. It’s for all employers to fully fund their pension plans.

    The final Republican canard is that bargaining rights for public employees have caused state deficits to explode. In fact there’s no relationship between states whose employees have bargaining rights and states with big deficits. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights—Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, for example, are running giant deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many that give employees bargaining rights—Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana—have small deficits of less than 10 percent.”

    Public employees should have the right to bargain for better wages and working conditions, just like all employees do. They shouldn’t have the right to strike if striking would imperil the public, but they should at least have a voice. They often know more about whether public programs are working, or how to make them work better, than political appointees who hold their offices for only a few years.”

  16. ” Mayor Mallory’s election marks the first time in over 70 years that Cincinnati has elected a Mayor who was not previously a member of City Council.

    Mallory is also the first directly elected African American Mayor in Cincinnati’s history. 

    The Mayor took office focused on changing the way that business is done at City Hall to make it more accessible and citizen-friendly. “

    Past and current San Jose Mayors and City Councils owe too many political debts and many times give millions taxes to special interests over public interest

    San Jose should follow Cincinnati example and elected a Mayor who was not previously a member of City Council rather elect the same good old boys and gals and get the same special interest budget deficit waste taxes city government San Jose has had for years .

  17. I’ve heard about 45 million pension deficits because of police and fire pensions

    I’ve heard of the rest of the union pensions running up a 15 million dollar deficit.

    Why is it that the 30 million dollars that goes to pay off the new city hall that was supposed to be built for “free” is never never mentioned?

    Remember 1996 prop I ???

    City Civic Center Relocation: Without imposing additional taxes or taking money from other city programs, shall Ordinance No. 14224.1 be amended to permit the relocation and consolication of civic offices in the downtown so long as the costs are paid by using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and other land, savings from the elimination lf leased office space, and consolication of city faciliies and services?”

    Now I know Mayor Reed wasn’t in favor of it but in fairness the taxpayers should be reminded they voted for it and the Mercury News and past city council members pushed that proposition.

    30 million dollars is a lot of money to forget about.