Paint Over Walls Or Paradigms?

I attended the District 5 (D5) community budget meeting last week—it was the third D5 community budget meeting I’ve attended. Approximately 50 people were there, with the majority being city employees.  Many of the speakers shared emotional testimonials.

One speaker stood out to me. She shared how cutting of library hours from 4.5 days to three days a week would cause a large burden to her neighborhood. She teaches music at the Hillview Library and is close to the youth who rely on the existing library. She said keeping library hours open in her neighborhood was important since she feels her neighborhood has a higher need than other areas.

This theme was prevalent. Another woman brought up that since D5 has a higher crime rate, then why not keep D5 libraries open and close District 10 (D10) libraries since crime is low there? I have asked the same question before. Should library hours be based on need? How do we determine the need? Crime stats? Census date by race and income?

Another person was concerned about the police layoffs and how they need more police in D5. Truth is we do allocate more police to D5 than D10, for example.  Since there are more calls for service in D5 than D10 our police force plans accordingly.

Another felt D5 had not gotten its fair share of capital projects compared to other districts. This one would take some research but I think it is fair to say between the Redevelopment Agency spending through the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative ($105 million for a third of San Jose), Fire Station 2, Mayfair Community Center, Alum Rock Library, Hillview Library, Mexican Heritage Plaza, to name some projects, the last 10-15 years was better for D5 than the previous period of historical neglect.

The other major issue of the night was the option of outsourcing to save money and retain a city service. The one that got the most discussion was outsourcing the anti-graffiti painting currently performed by city employees.  It was felt that the painting of walls was too important to outsource and instead should only be done city employees. Currently it costs $1.7 million to do this service and the Parks Recreation Neighborhood Services (PRNS) Department (which runs this program) estimates it could be done for $1.1 million which equates to $600,000 in savings by keeping the service but providing it a different way.

The employees who perform this work have shown up at each budget meeting to speak against the outsourcing. This service is really needed in D5; I witnessed to and from the meeting that there was substantial tagging. The sheer amount of tagging I witnessed gave the appearance that the City does not offer this service today. Speakers at the meeting felt that city staff would work harder than a private contractor. One option might be to outsource half of the city to a private contractor and the other half to city employees and judge it in a year. However, this would not generate the total savings needed to balance the department budget and thus provide this service.

The savings in outsourcing park maintenance looks even higher. The current cost for only maintaining small parks under two acres and park bathrooms is $4.1 million where if it was outsourced it is estimated to be only $1.3 million for a savings of $2.8 million.

I understand that some people will lose their current job through outsourcing and may go to work for the private contractor earning less, but the City’s responsibility is to provide services for 950,000 residents. The employees who may lose their job did nothing wrong, it’s just a sign of the times that the City needs to re-look how it can continue services and save money. The City saved $4 million last year outsourcing janitorial at the Airport and City Hall and everything is just as clean.

Last week, at the District 7 (D7) budget meeting, a career Navy veteran advocated for opening the Seven Trees library, which is completed but not yet open. However he went on to say that there should be immediate changes to the pension system. He mentioned how he receives a 30 percent pension for 25 years serving our country in the military.

56 Comments

  1. First of all I would like to thank the son of San Jose for serving his country.  I would also ask the esteemed council person to please check his information prior to print.
        If you log into military pensions you will see quite a different formula for members who served the military full time.  I think you will also see the medical benefit is second to none in the country.  The only pension change the military has had was in 1985.
        Now if we look at the pension format for reserve personnel (Military)we get a different outlook.  Mr. Oliverio should look into the difference between the two.
        I would like to add that the San Jose Police department reserves provide a city service at the rate of 1.00 per hour. (No cash! Equipment exchange only) Upon retirement from said organization you will win a certificate of appreciation from the city with No benefits.
        This was just another cheap shot at the pension program provided by council. 
        I would also like Mr. Oliverio to respond to the 8% rule.  Everything over 8% that is made on the pension program due to good years, the city doesn’t have to put as much money into the pension system.  What happens to the money the city doesn’t have to put in?  I would suggest to the council person that money not required to be put in, be set aside and not spent but invested for a rainy day.
        This half hearted attempt to pit our military against the hard workers of San Jose speaks volumes on how far the city will go.  Currently some unions are up to 23% of their paycheck going into the ret. fund.  If the military was required to place this amount into a fund we would not have a military.  Next Time ask a Vet prior to print!
        Sorry for the grammar speaking from the heart.

      • The stock market history shows expected total returns of around 8% annually. But this return is not guaranteed. As we have seen recently, markets go up and markets go down. Therefore, it is folly to reduce or cancel deposits to the pension funds simply because investment returns exceed the 8% target. Nor should “excess” returns be paid out to retirees. The “excess” returns are needed to offset the years where returns fail to meet the target.

        Had the city managed the pension payments appropriately, there would not be such a huge unfunded liability.

  2. ” I attended the District 5 (D5) community budget meeting last week….. Approximately 50 people were there, with the MAJORITY being city employees. “

    The other major issue of the night was the option of outsourcing to save money and retain a city service. The one that got the most discussion was outsourcing the anti-graffiti painting currently performed by city employees.  “

    “It was felt that the painting of walls was too important to outsource and instead should only be done city employees. ”    NOT

    Currently it costs $1.7 million to do this service and the Parks Recreation Neighborhood Services (PRNS) Department (which runs this program) estimates it could be done for $1.1 million which equates to $600,000 in savings by keeping the service but providing it a different way.

    “The savings in outsourcing park maintenance looks even higher. The current cost for only maintaining small parks under two acres and park bathrooms is $4.1 million where if it was outsourced it is estimated to be only $1.3 million for a savings of $2.8 million. “

    Council should Outsource anti-graffiti painting & parks maintenance to pay for critical city services

  3. Mr. Oliverio:

    I respect the fact that the city needs to find ways to conduct business more efficiently. I get it.  However, the way you dismiss peoples jobs and livelihood is really concerning to me.  Maybe you can just pretend that city employees are not dispensable and you value the work they do.  In my opinion you come off as callous. Thanks.

    • Companies may cut a division or product line since it is not core competency. The result is layoffs and perhaps adding same people or other people to the another division. Mowing lawns and painting walls is not the same as a cop.

    • I thought that maybe it was just me, but you picked up on that, too. He was born into money and you know how those type of people are. Cold, callous, non-caring. He probably never had to scrape by a day in his life or wonder how he was going to provide for his family. He doesn’t know what it’s like not to have…so he could give a rat’s a$$ about anybody but himself, let alone any city employee.

      • I was thinking the same thing,

        Not sure where you come up with the “born into money” idea.
        This is not my story however my family is rich in love and laughter.

        Pierluigi

      • It really doesn’t matter where Mr Oliverio came from or whether or not the spoon was indeed a silver one at his birth, what matters is the city of San Jose cannot sustain its over inflated budget for one more year.

        Outsourcing those two divisions will allow the city to meet its other obligations to residents including fire and police security.  Painting of graffiti is important to crime prevention.  That is not lost on me and many other residents of San Jose, however if it can be done for a fraction of the cost and the same job then it should be. 

        Last week Cisco announced it was scuttering its Flip camera and with that nearly 500 jobs.  No one said “oh my they have to keep that division even though smartphones have taken the place of single function cameras!”  those people will be out jobs but thats what the market dictates and ultimately its the bottom line.  The bottom line for San Jose is that we spend much more than we bring in in revenue.  Someone’s got to go and the hard choice is the maintenance people at the parks and the graffiti painters. 

        You don’t have to like where Mr Oliverio comes from but he’s still making sense.

        My money’s on you being a city worker.  Disgruntled no less.

    • Just Anon 4 now,

      In the end the result is the same.  To my post last week in private sector you get a tap on the shoulder and your out the door. In Government the writing can be on the wall for as long as year which creates anxiety but at least gives people time to plan.  I first spoke about outsourcing in April 2007 and have been consistent. It is painful but it is the direction I believe we are headed.  Having being laid off twice myself and feeling hollow inside I can say it disheartening, however the same happened to millions of people in the USA.  My sympathies are there for those people both public and private that lose their job but I feel it is better to express on a personal level & share those feelings rather than here tonight.

      Pierluigi

  4. For the second week in a row, PL opines that City employees have shown up to budget meetings.  Firstly, some City employees still live in SJ and have an absolute right to attend.  This is changing as concessions are made and employees move out of the area due to foreclosures.
    Second, The employees certainly have a stake in what decisions are being made by their employee- especially as millions are set aside for ultra low-income housing, hundreds of millions for baseball stadiums etc.
    The *structural* deficit created by our City leaders needs to be solved, and it should not be upon the backs of teachers, cops and firefighters.  SJC should be shuttered. Libraries are duplicates of County and school libraries… come on, if the budget is THAT bad then services should be cut to the core!  PL and his political cronies won’t admit to their mismanagement not their desire to have clear budget priorieties.

    • Sorry for the typos, should be:

      For the second week in a row, PL opines that City employees have shown up to budget meetings.  Firstly, some City employees still live in SJ and have an absolute right to attend.  This is changing as concessions are made and employees move out of the area due to foreclosures. I’d imagine that most Sj employees will live elsewhere soon enough as crime rises and services are cut.

      Second, The employees certainly have a stake in what decisions are being made by their employer- especially as millions are set aside for ultra low-income housing, hundreds of millions for baseball stadiums, etc. Such discretionary budget spending is shameful when City leaders at the same time speak of public safety layoffs.

      The *structural* deficit created by our City leaders needs to be solved, and it should not be upon the backs of teachers, cops and firefighters.  SJC should be shuttered. Libraries are duplicates of County and school libraries… come on, if the budget is THAT bad then non-essential services should be cut to the core!  PL and his political cronies won’t admit to their mismanagement nor their desire to have clear budget priorities.

    • “..some City employees still live in SJ and have an absolute right to attend”

      How telling that only some of them live in San Jose.  So willing to dictate how tax dollars are spent that aren’t their tax dollars. 

      Of course all city workers have an option to attend the meetings, why so sensitive when its made public that they’re packing the meetings?  The elected council memeber has an absolute right (and obligation) to serve the people of San Jose and that means despite the city workers “right” to attend the meetings and voice opposition that the council still has to balance the budget. 

      The voting residents of San Jose gave a clear and decisive directive to the elected officials with the landslide victories of Measure V and W.  The council has the mandate of the people.  Cut the budget even if it means looking at the sacred cows of years gone by.  Police and fire services are on the table, why shouldn’t graffiti clean up and bathroom cleaners?

      • What is most telling is that employees cannot afford to live in the City they serve. City employees are guaranteed Federal/State taxpayers, as the deduction is taken from payroll.  The City should recognize that having employees live within their jurisdiction would also provide parcel tax revenue, wheras pandering to Section 8 residents COSTS redevelopment and public safety money.

        Loyal workers are an assett to any organization and the lack of respect and consideration by San Jose’s leaders is obvious.  Becoming more obvious is the same attitude by the public being served.  Rest assured that you will rethink your philosphy soon enough, when your services are decimated without hope that “outsourcing” will fill the gap.

  5. “Last week, at the District 7 (D7) budget meeting, a career Navy veteran advocated for opening the Seven Trees library, which is completed but not yet open. However he went on to say that there should be immediate changes to the pension system. He mentioned how he receives a 30 percent pension for 25 years serving our country in the military.”

    This Navy veteran misspoke or has spent his entire life in the reserves. The fact is what you wrote is wrong.

    http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/generalpay/a/retirementpay.htm

      • So, because he shared it with the entire audience and it is apparently untrue, it is OK for you to repeat it and use it against city workers?
        Kind of like Sen. Kyl attacking Planned Parenthood with false information and then saying his comments were not intended as factual statements.
        Not a very impressive way to argue your point.
        (No, I am not a city employee or retiree).

  6. Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio,

    You are an elected official representing the residents that reside in your district. With this responsibility you have been given the power to make financial decisions on behalf of the taxpayer to improve the quality of life and provide city services. In regards to the retirement fund it is our understanding that the city gave itself pension holidays in times of great returns and had placed funds from the retirement system into high risk endeavors that became very toxic. During this time police officers continued to pay into the fund without receiving a pension holiday. The city appears to have assumed no responsibility its actions and has placed this financial blunder on the backs of its employees. 

    San Jose Police Officers are currently paying up to 22% of their salary back to the city to make up for the unfunded liability placed on the fund by the decisions of the city council. It is also very clear that the city wants 10% from every union including the police department to assist in closing the shortfall in the general fund. This would make the police officers giving up 32% of their pay back to the city. This is also not including any federal or state taxes, deferred compensation, union dues or any other deductions from a paycheck. The taxes alone make up for approximately 20% of a police officer’s salary.  So, if you have figured it out the San Jose Police Officers will be giving back approximately 52% of their salary (Does not sound like they are boarding the gravy train or are the cancer of the financial crisis). The city has also made it clear that with the officers giving back 10% there will also be layoffs.

    My question for Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio:
    When is the city going to start accepting responsibility for its financial blunders and start placing its focus on public safety?  I believe the police officers have given their fair share to assist in fixing the problem.

      • Police is the number one item in the budget. One way to allocate more money for the police is to outsource non core services.
        Pierluigi

        Do you mean the most important or police/public safety requiring the most budget dollars? In fact, both are true. While other cities are beginning to hire (e.g. SFPD 14 laterals yesterday with many more anticipated) we are preparing to layoff. No news there so,………………………….WHEN will this city start keeping pace with other major cities, like SF, that understand the importance of PUBLIC SAFETY, fiscal rain or shine?

        • Officer X,

          SF is unique being a city and county. They benefit from compact development versus more costly suburban sprawl. In addition there tax base is massive compared to San Jose however they have a time bomb with their retirement system.  I fret as well about the looming layoffs as notices go out this week. In the meantime Happy Easter and we will chat next week.

          Pierluigi

  7. With all these talks about deficits, reforms and city services, I’d like to make the following observations:

    It’s hard to take the city council seriously when they talk about deficits while simultaneously going into further debt to renovate the convention center, the dogmatic pursuit of a baseball stadium/MLB in SJ, affordable/low income housing and zoning conversions. To PLO’s credit, he seems to be fairly consistent and reasonable on these topics – with the exception of the convention center.

    It’s also hard to to take them seriously when they continue to provide services which fall outside the city charter. If the city is in such dire straights, then the government itself needs to contract: eliminate all departments which are not Charter Services, determine how many employees can be transferred to facilitate Charter Services at fully staffed levels and lay off the rest. Difficult as this may be, it is the only logically consistent course of action

    The city’s management also destroys its credibility with the egalitarian manner in which they seem to treat all city employees. There’s no way that you can tell me that park rangers, janitors, librarians, clerks, the folks working for Our City Forest etc. have jobs which are as strenuous, demanding or have as high requirements to even get hired for the position. Therefore, they ought not be compensated or pensioned in the same way.

    The city manager and council would have far more credibility with city employees (and therefore far more negotiation currency) had they not engaged in their scorched earth methods of negotiation as well as back-dooring the PD by pushing Measures V and W in the way that they did. They’ve shown little if any inclination to negotiate in good faith.

    If City Hall wants the its employees to negotiate and be amenable to reforms, then city hall needs to show a willingness to negotiate in good faith as well as change their current business model. In particular, they need to spend far more time making San Jose a better business environment because, absent that, San Jose will be doomed to continue in a state of perpetual deficit and service contraction.

  8. Just know that the General Fund account is only about one-third of the total budget.  There’s another $2.5 to 3.0 billion in the Capital and Maintenance accounts. 

    Our “honest Abe” politicians would tell you that it’s against the law to move money among the three accounts.  They would like for you to believe that but it’s just not true.

    Until and unless they level with SJ residents, I classify anything they say as BS.

    • Greg Howe,

      The number of funds cites have and how they are restricted by Federal and State law can be difficult to explain. If not understood doubt will arise.  Sometimes I picture taking money from capital funds or sewer funds to pay for general fund services but inevitably that would send up a red flag.  This is similar to what was going on in Bell, California.  So the answer is funds are restricted as much as we would like to allocate them elsewhere.

      Pierluigi

      • The reason things are the way they are is because our Charter, along with ordnances, are written in a manner designed to allocate and classify funding. 

        Were the Council and voters to work towards changing allocations and classfications for future budget years (the key being FUTURE, not present), funding would be available for projects and services that we, as residents, need and want. 

        But why would a group of fat cats – politicians, lobbyists and developers – want to change anything?!  You, Pier, are insightful and reasonable, yet you will not lift a finger to guide SJ in that direction.

        • Greg,

          On the city side Construction and Conveyance tax (tax when selling property) as well as TOT (Hotel Tax)are in the municipal code on how the money is allocated. These can be changed but require voter approval. However voter approval has its limits as it cannot change bond dollars to then be allocated to ongoing costs like salaries. Another example is in public schools who receive categorical funding for special education which is restricted to only be spent on special education.  To your point though the City did stretch RDA funding to the limit but now the ship is sunk.

  9. In line with other thoughts, I’d like to offer this perspective:

    Keeping libraries open at the expense of anti-gang programs, graffiti abatement, having school liaison officers and public safety forces which are as fully staffed as possible is just lame especially when you have Mayor Reed and other like-minded individuals trying to make the feel-good-but-entirely-BS claim that libraries somehow contribute to public safety or keeping kids out of gangs.

    In that respect, libraries are like those chastity clubs that crop up in high schools. Just as those clubs don’t actually attract anyone other than people who were most likely to be chaste in their teens anyhow, so, too are libraries unlikely to attract teens who were on the bubble or problem kids. Libraries are pretty much going to just attract good kids and responsible teens who already like to read.

    Your average delinquent, gang member, or slacker isn’t really going to be that attracted to a library – except, perhaps, to vandalize it.

    The bottom line is that, while it may be inconvenient, the MLK library is large enough (and underutilized) enough that it could probably handle the needs of the entire city on its own, supplemented by the libraries already on the campuses of schools throughout the city.

    Finally, I have this to add: the sooner the city realizes that traditional libraries are an increasingly antiquated municipal service the better. Print media is rapidly becoming a boutique industry – a reality that traditional publishers, newspapers, and magazines have largely failed to accommodate. At some point, a ‘library’ will simply be a server with time-limited DRM access. And, the sooner, the better.

    • Even without checking out a book, the library provides a service for me.  When I visit a branch and spend some relaxing time browsing, or even set up a laptop to do some school work, I find myself falling into “homework mode” and able to concentrate better than at home or a random starbucks.  Add to that the fact that when I do need either research resources or recreational distractions, the library has both the materials and staff to help to locate and use it.  I suppose I could get this same kind of thing at a Barnes and Noble like the one at Pruneyard, but do I really have to buy coffee to pay my loitering tax?  And do the folks that don’t have a good home situation and really need a study spot have easy access to big box outlets like this?

      But stepping back for a second from my pro-Library stuff, I do think there’s options for opening the facility for more hours at less cost.  Clustering services from police to permits makes sense and I think decentralizing at little so that satellite service centers (North, South, East, West) could actually improved service delivery.  The clustering would add enough staff that you could be open without a full staff, handling some things like reference questions with remote access to a ref desk at MLK.  Circulation is already mainly by self-check out so a skeleton staff plus the presence of other city workers could justify keeping open a city magnet library/service center 6 days a week.  Also, could we modify some of our monumental city architecture to add some rental spaces to house compatible tenants that could help subsidize operating costs?

    • Speaking of the city library, we are seeing two fundamental things happening. 

      First is the exposure of the unwisdom of Library Director Jane Light’s fanciful merger of the city library with SJSU’s library.  There is now tension between the city and the university because the two library systems, under the pressure of the economy, are vastly unequal in terms of revenues, and money that should be allocated to the branch libraries is now being diverted to the main city library simply to try to keep the city library and the university library somewhat equally yoked.  Jane Light’s vision is being sorely tested, and can only be sustained by pulling funds from city branches.

      Second is initiatives (without consultation with stakeholders) like the collapse of the English-language books at Berryessa into one undifferentiated collection which no longer allows browsing.  And this collapse is not accompanied by any kind of informational plan for using branch library services if you are seeking English-language books.

      The latter idea is closely linked with Jane Light’s willingness to destroy thousands of English-language books since her appearance as Library Director.

  10. The savings that can be obtained through outsourcing are obviously pretty significant. This is a clear indication that San Jose’s been overpaying for underperformance- but then what else would you expect when dealing with unions?
    I’m not going to lose too much sleep over a few city workers being dismissed from jobs that they were only pretending to do anyway. I mean think about it. $1.7 million for graffiti abatement? That just doesn’t smell right. It takes 17 full time 100K/yr. parks workers to deal with San Jose’s graffiti problem? Only if they’re all working at about 30% capacity. Turn the task over to a realworld contractor who understands sweat, callouses, long hours and getting the job done, and the job would be done at a fraction of the cost.
    Thanks Pierluigi for having your priorities in order and understanding that our government exists to serve the people, not the other way around.

  11. I don’t buy that grafitti is a victimless crime.  Ironically the community where it sprouts up actually suffers the most from the blight, gang violence attached to territorial fights and all the rest.  How about using “big brother cameras” pointed at graffiti hot spots to catch and prosecute repeat offenders? 

    Probably wouldn’t work, but its frustrating. Ce la vi.  Whatever compromised remedy is arrived at, could it be supplemented with a community action day with supplies and assistance from the city to help at least once a year for residents to band together to take back their own neighborhoods.  Sometimes creating a sense of ownership over blighted public spaces works where other solutions don’t.  It’d be nice to combine with a free trash hauling “amnesty week” where anything and everything placed on the curb on the designated day will get hauled away/recycled/etc.

  12. Can SJ copy the Philadelphia anti-graffiti program?I was in Philly 3 weeks ago and am always amazed their art scene.  Besides on cracking down on gang-related tagging, Philly also uses anti-graffiti money to support a mural arts program.  Mural artists and the graffiterati attract street kids to teach them real art.  Over the next 23 years, mural arts eventually become a stand alone non-profit organization has put up over 2,800 murals all over the city.  It has a large pool artists it has trained, and a long list of art patrons that help support it financially.  The project overlaps work from the public safety, public art, education and work force development agencies.  This will allow the SJ graffiti program to qualify and thus tap into more sources of revenue. 

    2.  I just reviewed the anti-graffiti work flow chart (http://www.sanjoseca.gov/mayor/goals/pubsafety/mgptf/2-22-08/Graffiti Update.pdf). 

    It looks like PRNS staff has 4 basic roles in the program:

    a. Data entry.  PRNS staff enters the information received from the hotline into the database. SJ should steer people away from the help-desk and to directly entering information into the database. SJ already has a graffiti upload form, in its website.  Does the form update the database itself? 

    b. Work order routing.  The staffer then routes the work order to different interal and external partners.  PRNS does not clean any walls themselves.  The work is divided between SJ conservation corp, Juvenile offenders, CalTrans, VTA, the SC Water District, the UP, RDA, etc…  Different jurisdictions are responsible for different structures.  We have automated workflow routing within manufacturing.  Can this be done with graffiti eradication?

    c.  Enforcement.  Owners must ask PRNS permission to keep wall art.  If the owner refuses, the graffiti staff can send notices, affidavits then finally cite the owner for code infractions if they do not remove the graffiti.  How succesful is this program?  If the owners see graffiti as a problem, then they would remove it themselves.  If they did not want it removed, then why should the city spend its resources to fight private owners using their private properties as they see fit.

    d.  Organizing the volunteers.  This is something that can not be replaced by private contractors.  People will volunteer if no-one is making money off their efforts.

  13. “I’m not going to lose too much sleep over a few city workers being dismissed from jobs that they were only pretending to do anyway.”

    You wouldn’t lose sleep if it was a member of your Own family. Mom, you lost your job? Oh, that’s to bad. Sorry to hear it. You cooking Sunday?

  14. Mr. Stufflebean’s denials to the contrary, it seems that we are going to have a gold-plated sewage treatment plant.  Did they hire a bunch of folks from the water district, or what?

    With the city reeling from unbalanced budgets, the Environmental Services Department pays $65,000.00 to an “artist in residence” (of a sewage treatment plant?  (C’mon Man!) to take
    scenic (C’mon Man!) photos of the sewage plant.  Public employees just live in another world when it comes to our money.

    But what’s worse, they are spending $6million for public art. Art at a sewage treatment plant?  C’mon Man!

    It is this cavalier attitude toward public funds by public employees that helped to get us in the fiscal mess we have been in for the last ten years.

    Take that $6,065,000.00 off the proposed rate increases, please.

  15. Pier
    Dont forget to mention how close the City Auditor works with (and for) the city manager so the people can determine how legitamite the Auditors report really is!

    • To City Hall Insider,

      You are wrong.  The City Auditor is one of the positions in the City that is directly appointed by the City Council and works independently of the City Manager. Also all the reports from the auditor meet the professional standards for audits and are fully public.  The unfounded attacks on City Management from miss informed people in these posts are truly amazing.  Research the facts.

  16. A week or two ago some taggers recently made a mess of the railroad overpass that crosses 280 near Bird. This morning 280 was backed up as work crews painting over this celebration of cultural diversity had to block most lanes of the freeway for a few hours.
    I would suggest to the SJPD that they form a ‘special ops’ division and from dusk til dawn for the next several months position a sniper with a clear shot and orders to shoot to kill the next jackass with an aerosol can that shows up in their crosshairs.

    • “I would suggest to the SJPD that they form a ‘special ops’ division and from dusk til dawn for the next several months position a sniper with a clear shot and orders to shoot to kill the next jackass with an aerosol can that shows up in their crosshairs.”

      Why don’t you STFU??? Your statements are so idiotic and so lacking in meaning that they are getting to the point of being not worth the effort of reading. What if your son were a tagger and you just didn’t know it? Is that what you would want for your child??? Don’t wish stuff like that on others. It will come back on you and it’s just wrong.

      • I think John meant “Non Lethal Peppershot Rounds”  Lead is too harsh, but it would be hilarious to have a sniper shoot pepper rounds a foot or two upwind from a tagger.

        Justin Frankel, guy that wrote winamp has an interesting approach.  In SF if you don’t clean up your graffiti, the city fines you. Justin’s approach was beyond cool.

        http://boingboing.net/2009/03/10/all-are-welcome-to-e.html

        He made a box on his door, and wrote this below it.

        All are welcome to express themselves in the box below.

        Printing within the above box is hereby expressly permitted and shall not be considered “graffiti” in accordance with article #23 of the San Francico Municipal Code.

        As a result, most of the tagging has stayed within his box.

        San Jose could do this on a wider scale.  Just build a big “Tagging Wall” somewhere.  Treble damages and penalties if you get caught doing it anywhere else in the city.

        I’ve had enough of the tagging in Japantown.  Most of the buildings are owned by senior citizens, who dutifully go out and paint over the tagging the next day.

    • PRNS-(Anti-Graffiti), have been pounding on the doors of Cal-Trans, Cal-Train, CHP, and the County for over 9-months to get permission and funding to help abate a bridge that isn’t even San Jose property. However, San Jose finally broke the barrier, and was able to abate the wonderful tagging on the (Green Giant), 280 bridge.

      Anti-Graffiti isn’t responsible for abating graffiti that is located on freeways and county roads, but they do anyways to try and help out its neighbors.

      I credit 12 workers, and volunteers, for taking care of a whole city with population of over one million residents.

      Let us contract them out, and get some scab to come work for the city who cares nothing about its residents or what the city looks like, because they’re in the business of saving the city money, right?  And contrary to popular belief, the average “Maintenance Worker”, makes under 61k/year, and even that might be a stretch.

      Oh, and “I’m not going to lose much sleep” when taggers come and destroy (YOUR) property, neighborhood and crime goes through the roof.

      Go do some research before you choose to make stupid comments about things you obviously know nothing about…

  17. The graffiti on the railroad bridges has been there so long…I am getting used to the eyesore.  I think they should just terminate all the city anti-graffiti employees and forget about outsourcing the problem…Let us revel in the decay of the shiftless citizens or non citizens if the shoe fits…and enjoy the abyss that we are forced to live in. Capital of Silicon Valley..NOT more like a hellish small version of Los Angeles…Thank you Mayor Reed and thank you Sam Licardo…for your inaction….

    • Trying to come up with San Jose taglines is hard…
      – Insolvency capital of Silicon Valley?
      – Graffiti capital of Silicon Valley? 
      – Low Income housing capital of Silicon Valley?
      – Marijuana capital of Silicon Valley?

      So many choices… wait I got it.

      “San Jose. The Sick Man of Silicon Valley.”

  18. Pierluigi,

    I’m always one to lean towards tech solutions.  What is the job function of the graffiti unit?  If they ever pick up a paint brush, I’m slightly annoyed.

    That type of work should be relegated 100% to community service folks.

    The enforcement end, I’d lean towards some simple tech solutions.

    It’s a no brainer to get flash media encoder on one of those new smartphones.  You can stuff a cell phone, streaming video in a box.  Most of the cell phone cameras are of the pinhole type, so hiding them is pretty easy.

    http://www.robotshop.com/seeedstudio-usb-charger-power-booster-lipo-rider.html

    You’ll need one of those for every box to keep the cell phone charged. You’ll also need a suitable combination of LiPo batteries to keep the phone running during the night, and enough solar to charge/run it during the day.  I don’t see any of that costing any more than another $200.

    So for $500 or so (plus monthly data plan fees) you can setup a sentry using pretty off the shelf parts.  Stream and DVR video to a central location, and it’s good to roll.

    City still has a machine shop doesn’t it?  They can still build boxes?

    Oh and on another note, I can’t watch the city hall meetings from my Linux based PC.  Any chance you could talk the rest of the council into switching to youtube live or some other multiplatform flash based service?

  19. Come on.  Forget it!
    We know you lost the money to the banks, who “claim it was high risk loans”.

    We all know who made of with your cash.  The foreclosed homeowners did.

  20. People in this room really need to do some research on what City Employees really do, and not base all their opinion’s on false facts and ignorance.
    God I’m going to laugh when this city falls apart because all the employees are laid-off or replaced by outsourcing, and it’s going to cost twice as much to get them back to clean up the mess.