Figone to Uncle Sam: ‘No Thanks’

It’s not that Debra Figone doesn’t trust the city council to spend money—it’s just that she doesn’t trust the city council to spend money wisely. Rather than let the council decide whether San Jose should accept a federal grant that could have saved 53 police officer jobs—and potentially put the city on the hook for millions it doesn’t have—the city manager chose to protect the council from itself. She unilaterally chose to apply for only a fraction of the grant, essentially telling the council that “it’s important to know when to say when.” (And some councilmembers need to be reminded of that helpful pro-moderation campaign—ahem! Ash Kalra.) With almost 300 cops potentially out of a job due to the budget catastrof#*%, the already angry members of the police union reacted predictably to news of the city manager’s move. Then they were shocked to find out that their boss, Chief Chris Moore, had signed off on Figone’s decision. The cops had apparently forgotten that Figone signs Moore’s paycheck. Meanwhile, Councilmember Pete Constant, who had just released a detailed plan he said could save 97 officers’ jobs, was left holding a memo resembling Swiss cheese—his plan required that the city apply for the full grant. Constant followed up by asking Figone to apply for an extension so the council could consider the matter. She decided to ignore that request entirely. The POA is now in contact with U.S. Congressman Mike Honda’s office, which should result in the kind of decisive action people have come to expect out of Washington.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

38 Comments

  1. Figone does not want to hire or retain cops.  She, and Chuck Reed, want to reduce the total police department staffing to 900 members.  This has been discussed ad nauseum in a variety of forums with internal correspondence to back it up.  Dropping the PD to 900 instead of the current 1200 or so, and far below the former 1400 members, will save the city money for one, and for second allow the city to hire officers on a second tier system later.  This should come as no surprise to anyone.  Now, the fact that there will be only 900 offices to police a city of one million people or more really doesn’t matter to the current administration.  Crime will rise but they will blame it on everything but staffing.

  2. The irony of this is that about a hundred officers are scheduled to retire next year and probably about the same amount the year after. Even if no further hiring occurred, those 53 officers would still have a job. And, if there was any doubt about the availability of funds, the City Manager’s office could come up with an incentive package to retire out the most senior officers so that their wages can be used to pay more junior officers who are lower on the pay scale and roll the wage difference into the pension fund in order to offset the unfunded liability.

    Realistically, despite my overall low opinion of Reed and most of the rest of the council, much of the blame for the mess rests on the shoulders of Debra Figone. It is she who is feeding the council all this bad information, it is she who’s playing fast and loose with the retirement figures and, really, manufacturing a crisis where manageable problems once existed. It is HER agenda, HER policies, HER politics largely at work here.

  3. So Chief Figone turned down 53 officers, paid for in full for 3 years by a federal grants, because she did not want the city to be on the hook for the required 4th year. What a fool. This is a decision, due to its magnitude,should have gone in front of the mayor and city council. What a slap in the face to them. What a bigger slap in the face to the officers who transferred to this police department from other departments because San Jose PD was the best, the biggest slap in the face, is to the everyday normal hard working citizens who are going to be punished.

  4. Not having Council make the decision on Federal public safety grant shows who is running City government – Not Council and residents are being badly mislead about true causes of city deficit

    How can other California cities with more city and public safety employees per residents than San Jose’s not have budget deficits while their employees get better pay, pensions and have less payroll deductions from employees take home pay to pay for medial and pensions costs ?

    It is because city is grossly mismanaged, not collecting tax revenues it could and spending $80-120 million per year taxes on non essential service and political payback and wasted tax subsidies rather than city essential services

    City Manager Figone like past City Managers will retire soon large city pension package ( $250- 300,000 yearly) while going to do consulting jobs with former City Managers and senior management leaving San Jose grossly mismanaged, with large debts, unsafe with years of budget deficits ahead since true causes of city’s budget deficit have been hidden, not addressed or solved

  5. WHAT I FOUND INTERESTING IS THE MERC. FINALLY SLIPPING IN A COUNCILMAN COMPOS PHOTO ALONG SIDE OF MAYOR SUNSHINE.
      BOTH WEARING US STARS AND STRIPS, BOW TIES. OR WAS THAT PHOTO SHOPPED
      PRICELESS.
        HUGG PATROL

    • You mean No-Name Campos the former gang specialist from the eastside who had over a million dollars “vanish” on his watch as COO of MACSA?  The same No-Name Campos who is still under investigation for that embezzelment (tick-tock statute of limitations)?  The same No-Name Campos who has had nearly a half dozen gang related MURDERS in his district this year and still has yet to poke his head above water to address the public in his district or offer a plan for safety?  You’d think with his 20+ years as a self proclaimed gang intervention specialist he’d be all over that.

      Oh wait, he’s a joke.  Yeah THAT no-Name XAVIER CAMPOS

  6. Mr. Mayor,
    As a five year police officer who has worked midnights on holidays and weekends while you and the other citizens of San Jose sleep soundly in your beds at night, I find it a complete lack of vision on your part as to what the future holds.  I went to college, earned my degree, and then fought for a job in the best police department in California. I risked my life every night chasing criminals into dark backyards or alleys while you slept at home knowing your family was safe.  I don’t expect you to know this, but police officers with less than five years on the job do a majority of the self-initiated work and are directly responsible for crime rates.  How quickly things change in just five years.  The once proud SJPD is no more as a direct result of your actions.  Self-initiated work has come to a standstill and the talk of closing the prisoner processing center is now a reality.

    I expect to be laid off come July 1, 2011 and have decided that I will never come back here.  I expect there are a lot more like me who are angry and will refuse to play your dangerous game.  The ones that do come back will just be doing the bare minimum to collect a paycheck.  Put yourself in their shoes, would you put in the extra effort each night risking your life for a city that does not care about you or the service you provide?  I think not. 

    It will hurt being laid off from a city I once really cared about.  But I will get over it and win a job in an agency where the political leaders understand how important some core services are.  It saddens me that all the work I have done in the last five years was wasted as crime seems to be dramatically increasing and no one seems to care.  There are going to be some dark days ahead for the poor citizens of San Jose.
                   
    A Neighborhood Beat Officer

    • I’m not sure what’s going on exactly but from my perspective the police work in San Jose has gotten BETTER over the last several weeks, not worse. Finally officers are enforcing traffic and speeding laws in my neighborhood. I actually see cops! I’m seeing cops actually writing tickets. It’s a miracle! I’ve been asking for this for years and for years was rejected with the ,“Oh we have far more important things to do than to play traffic cop.” line.
      Well, whether it’s Chuck Reed putting the fear of God in ‘em or if it’s the directive of the new police chief, Chris Moore, I’m not sure. But SOMETHING’S different. Finally they’re doing something that’s important to the average taxpaying citizen.
      This limited budget stuff is starting to look pretty good. Maybe less IS moore!

      • Writing tickets to correct bad driving = good.  Writing tickets instead of finding gangsters, burglars, rapists, child molesters, robbers, etc. = bad.  Secondly the only person Chris Moore is scaring is himself.  The officers don’t work harder when the Chief threatens.  Like any organization good leadership motivates, not threatens.  Third, when the looming layoffs take place writing tickets will be just about the only thing you see the cops doing because they certainly won’t be stopping crooks who need to go straight to jail.  There won’t be the motivation nor the confidence in a fill officer for that.

        • “The natural result of electing politicians who have no interest in enforcing our immigration laws.”

          A newly minted, permanent bottom rung on the societal ladder and gang violence are but a pittance when compared to the cheap lettuce and nicely mowed yards we got in exchange.

        • “The natural result of electing politicians who have no interest in enforcing our immigration laws.”

          Yep, I remember as a rookie officer being able to actually ask somebody I arrested and was booking into jail if they were a citizen.  If they were not, I would fill out a form and here comes INS to deport them after they serve their sentence.  Now we have to call their consulate so they can rush in an “protect their rights” as a violator of our sovereignty and a breaker of our statutes.

        • 24 murders so far and I’ve no doubt you’re right there’ll be many many more.
          The future will tell, you say? No. The future is here. The future I and others have been warning of for the last 10-20 years. The natural result of electing politicians who have no interest in enforcing our immigration laws.
          Comeuppance is what we’re experiencing. We are now receiving our comeuppance for being so casual and so derelict in our duty to preserve our country.

      • JG the tickets are a twice yearly program that coincide with the start and finish of the school year it’s called ‘safe passage.’ however it ends soon.
        The department is down 200+ officers from where we used to be which incidentally is about 500 under where we should be. The economy had a trickle down effect. So too are the service cuts. In the coming months you will really see the cuts come to life. Even with no layoffs of officers it will get bad. Attrition and lack of hiring alone has put us about 3 years backlogged. If the council actually does layoffs it will take 5-7 years depending on when they begin to fix it, to recover and possibly resume normal operations. When we warned you last year you all laughed. This spring you all scoffed. Next year you will be in tears. Local government is always behind the times. SJPD has not yet bottomed out. However we are falling fast into the basement. Yes homicides are up but beyond that, violent crime and residential burglaries are skyrocketing. Worse still, nobody investigates auto theft or most burglaries any longer. As the service reductions continue to increase you will see the quality of line decline. Twelve to eighteen months from now we have the potential to become another Oakland. Hopefully the council has the foresight to not layoff and actually negotiate. Or better yet, the city’s budget is over $3.5 Billion dollars for next year. The ‘structural deficit’ is only pennies on the dollar. I would think if we were truly in a “fiscal crisis” the council could immediately shuffle funds around and no court would fault them unless it’s all a Big Lie.

      • John let’s remember for a second I work with the most anus of society sometimes at 7 Bamboo.  We’re not DT, but with the Salvation Army shelter, Jail, and airport just a few blocks away, we end up with a nice “litmus” as to the degree of thuggery wandering around our streets.

        Last few months, more thuggish goons.  Type of guys that when I say, “Excuse me sir, can I see your ID” I wind up having to get in their face and say, “EITHER SHOW ID OR YOU CAN’T COME IN”

        I try and be nice to the cops when I see them park at Franks Station.  I’ll walk over and offer them a diet Rockstar energy drink (they always refuse it) and let them know things are quiet, or it’s a crowded but good folks, or that I’ve seen a few knuckle heads roll in. 

        The point is though, lately, I’ve seen the knuckle heads roll in.

    • You have a bad attitude. the city of san jose has trained and paid you well. I’m sure you are going to get a good reference from the city. go find another job you baby. every one is having job stress why should you be different. if the city hires you back you say you wont do your job your a looser and deserved to be canned

  7. FigoneReed administration has changing city government culture from collaborate inclusive cooperative open to different view points where everyone was politely listened to and valued

    Now city government is rude, angry, bullying, our way for highway attitude that restricts public speech and has no interest in compromise or listening to different viewpoints or solutions while crime rates increase, services decrease and people and businesses are leaving San Jose for where they are welcome and treated well  

    Sad really sad

  8. While San Jose’s parents, educators, community workers, and police officers fight the good fight to keep the lid on this city’s growing gang problem, the mayor and city manager—through their shortsighted, politicized exploitation of the budget crisis—are well on their way to undoing all the good work that’s been done. Chuck Reed, vocal and unabashed supporter of the illegal immigration that has at once polarized the community and filled our neighborhoods with the disaffected, out-of-place youths favored by gang recruiters, is so deficient in his understanding of gang dynamics that he actually believes that well-intentioned outreach can replace hard-ass enforcement in suppressing these most violent and unthinking of criminals. What he knows he knows from those in the outreach professions, people who talk and plead and forgive for a living, people who haven’t a chance against the gun-toting imbeciles responsible for the real terror.

    For a city such as San Jose, where the reduction of its police department’s crime-fighting ability has been a budget reality for several decades, watching criminal cases go un-investigated due to lack of manpower is the status quo. Citizens screwed out of their cash, credit, even their good names will seldom enjoy even the illusion of feeling the wheels of justice move for them. In recognition of their loss they will get a case number, maybe a little advice, perhaps even a kind word. But they ain’t getting a cop.

    As bad as that is, un-investigated fraud cases do not result in exponential increases of violent crime, do not doom entire neighborhoods to a siege lifestyle, do not force kids live in fear in their parks, schools, on their own blocks. For that a department needs to cut its gang enforcement or deplete its patrol force, which is exactly what is happening at SJPD. Reducing the department’s ability to know who’s who in local thuggery, to track their activities, to put the stress and strain on them before they can put it on their neighbors, only makes the gangs stronger. And being stronger is what it is all about: stronger than the rival gang, stronger than the neighborhood’s will, stronger than the authorities’ influence. It is a simple and ugly equation: someone is going to rule, force is going to decide it, our city government has made its choice.

    Gangs win. We lose.

      • I guess it all depends on the neighborhood getting the “Reality Check.”

        “Children and parents are terrified by the violence gripping their streets, according to Michele Lew, community member of this editorial board and CEO of Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI). People are sleeping on the floor for fear of stray bullets coming through windows, she says. Memorials for Le have been damaged by gang members, and the family is fearful of violence at the funeral. AACI is considering closing the youth program it runs in El Rancho because it’s too dangerous for kids to leave their homes.”

        http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_18194692

  9. If there was any doubt that Figone runs City Hall, tells City Council what to think, do while ignoring elected Council’s direction and authoritarian rules City Hall from the Dark Side: 

    – She unilaterally chose to apply for only a fraction of the grant, essentially telling the council that “it’s important to know when to say when. ( Translation:  I’m better paid than you, know more than you and run City Hall, you’re only here for a few years – so behave ) 

    – Constant followed up by asking Figone to apply for an extension so the council could consider the matter. She decided to ignore that request entirely. ( Pete how does that make you feel – ignored Lame Duck – Quack, Quack )

    – (And some councilmembers need to be reminded of that helpful pro-moderation campaign—ahem! Ash Kalra.)

    – Chief Chris Moore, had signed off on Figone’s decision. The cops had ( but not Chris ) apparently forgotten that Figone signs Moore’s paycheck. ( and layoff notices for everyone at City Hall except for troublesome long winded Council who needs to be reminded to do ( ops recommended by staff ) what they are told to do )

    Authoritarianism is a form of organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy.

    In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political POWER IS CONCENTRATED IN A LEADER OR LEADERS, TYPICALLY UNELECTED BY THE PEOPLE, WHO POSSESS EXCLUSIVE, UNACCOUNTABLE, AND ARBITRARY POWER.

    Authoritarianism differs from totalitarianism in that social and economic institutions exist that are not under the government’s control.

      • Yes a very sound decision, dont take the Federal money to keep the citizens safe!  Don’t you wonder how the City can operate golf courses but can’t seem to pay for core services?

        • Don’t take the Federal money that comes with a $17 million dollar kick in from the city when we’re already hundreds of millions in disarrears.

    • Once again you see how FigoneReed (they really should be considered as one entity right?) overstate things but hedge their bet by saying ‘here’s what it will cost…’ but then add,” oh yeah that’s the absolute worst case scenario by the way.”
      Since the market is running full steam ahead why doesn’t FigoneReed ever list the more realistic forecast as well? The stock market (Dow) is up almost 4000 points since the big dump of 2008. Let’s be smart but let’s also drop the hyperbole.

    • We can’t apply for any grant money to save police jobs until we complete my ongoing plan of laying off police officers. We are laying off cops because mayor reed and the council has been fiscally irresponsible for many years. It would be fiscally irresponsible to obtain funding for any police jobs until we layoff as many cops as it takes to ensure that their pension system is guaranteed to be underfunded to point where it exhausts itself forcing the few cops that remain to just go away.  At that point either me or whoever succeeds me can go door to door and solicit donations or look for loose change in the resident’s sofa to hire a private security company to police our great city! We might also consider a PSL similar to what the Raiders Charge on all A’s tickets sold at the soon to be built stadium in order to pay for the City’s obligations towards my pension and the pensions of your dearly beloved Mayor and council persons. 

      That is all for now!

      Deb

  10. > Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery’s order against the Medina Valley Independent School District also forbids students from using specific religious words including “prayer” and “amen.”

    > The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Christa and Danny Schultz. Their son is among those scheduled to participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony. The judge declared that the Schultz family and their son would “suffer irreparable harm” if anyone prayed at the ceremony.

    Another reason why Debra Figone was probably wise NOT to cadge for federal money.

    • >  The judge declared that the Schultz family and their son would “suffer irreparable harm” if anyone prayed at the ceremony.

      You mean that every time I pray, a liberal suffers?

      I pray that this is true.

      COULD I HAVE AN AMEN!!!