Beattie and Figone Trade Words

Campaigning against Measures V&W last November, police union leader George Beattie issued numerous thinly-veiled warnings: If San Jose voters allowed the city to renegotiate contracts with cops and firefighters, he said, people might die. That strategy failed—V&W passed with an almost 80 percent majority—but Beattie is sticking to his guns.

In an Op Ed for the Merc last week, the somewhat reclusive lieutenant kept up the grim tone: “All I can say to the mayor, council majority and city manager is this: You were warned. Whatever ill befalls San Jose next is your doing.” The screed blamed the city’s top brass for the layoff of 70 officers, and while Beattie admitted that the action “will not result in immediate life-ending consequences,”  he stopped just short of predicting mayhem.

He reserved his sharpest criticism for City Manager Deb Figone, who, he said, “botched” the opportunity to save the jobs by applying for a federal grant. Figone responded by blasting off a memo, on the last day of the fiscal year, to Mayor Chuck Reed and the City Council, assuring everyone that they certainly weren’t at fault. (She writes that she “communicated [her] concerns separately to Mr. Beattie.”)

Taking offense in particular to the POA president’s failure to state all the facts, Figone points out that the city didn’t go after the grant money from the feds because San Jose would have been on the hook for $16 million worth of salries when the grant ran out. With a $78 million projected deficit for next year—the 11th straight year San Jose has been in the red—the city manager says the city had to know when to fold ’em. More than 2,000 public employee positions have been eliminated during the last decade of budget shortfalls, and this time 66 officers couldn’t avoid a similar fate.

But not everyone on the council has the city manager’s back.  At least three members—Pete Constant, Ash Kalra and Donald Rocha—had their own proposals on how to save police jobs, which were all shot down. In fact, the city manager’s office didn’t even bother to tell the council it was passing on the COPS grant because it felt some councilmembers couldn’t be trusted to walk away from money—even if it had strings attached after their terms’ end.

Most city officials will be taking their vacations this month, with negotiations regarding ongoing police pay cuts, pension reform and ballot measures to resume in August. Figone admits that no “decisions or conversations will be easy,” which it’s safe to assume is a point that she and Beattie can agree upon.

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

28 Comments

  1. Campos and Oliverio had a proposals to save police jobs as well. Pyle and Chu have also been supportive of public safety in the past, so it’s conceivable that there would have been more than a majority of the Council in support of figuring out how to pay for the city’s share of 43 officers that FIGONE—and FIGONE alone—chose to lay off by not applying for the full COPS grant.

    It’s interesting that none of this city’s so called “watch dogs” take any issue with an unelected administrator robbing the people’s elected representatives of an opportunity to vote on whether the city should have laid off 43 of the 66 officers who were discarded last week. Equally interesting is the fact that none of these so called “watch dogs” are calling BS on Figone’s claims that the city could not have afforded the full COPS grant; by the time most of the money Figone cites would have been due…four years from now…well over 50 cops will have retired (meaning the savings could have been used to pay for these jobs…in four years…and in the mean time the city would have had free money from the feds to pay for 43 officers).

    Oh and by the way, applying for funds isn’t the same as accepting funds. If FIGONE had applied for the full grant the City Council would still have had to vote on whether to take the funds…in August.

    Fly you can make the point that “the city manager’s office didn’t even bother to tell the council it was passing on the COPS grant because it felt some councilmembers couldn’t be trusted to walk away from money,” but you make it sound almost praise worthy. What are residents paying councilmembers and their staff for if the city manager is allowed, unilaterally and without question, to make such a huge decision? 43 officers laid off, when the city could have afforded to keep them and at a time when the homicide rate is nearing a thirty year high. And the press gives her a pass?

    • I’m surprised figone’s actions have once again gone unchecked. In my company the board of directors would be very angry had the CM done this. Next years elections are just around the corner. The fact that the council has allowed the CM free rein should prove costly next November. The CM is employed at the pleasure of the council. If she is allowed to act without consulting them on major issues effecting this city, then I see no problem replacing them next year. If a councilmember can’t even manage their employee how can they be expected to intelligently run this city? Failure at the highest levels. Very poor showing by the council. Word is Chuck Reed is a bully around the office. The fact that he continues is further reason to vote out the weakest members of the council.

      • “Word is Chuck Reed is a bully around the office.”

        I think it has been proven to go far beyond that. I think you mean PERIOD.

        Can you imagine having THAT for a father or a husband?

    • You’re reiterating what I wrote in an earlier blog (http://www.sanjoseinside.com/blog/entries/07_01_11_city_manager_police_officers_association_budget_layoffs/). Again, Figone’s words insult the intelligence of all involved and demonstrates her disdain for the City Council, (which needed no further demonstration after her decision to not even inform them of the possibility of applying for a grant for 53 positions), the Police Department as a whole, and for San Jose’s citizens, in general. Disingenuous, disdainful, even deceitful: these adjectives don’t even begin to describe her words and actions.

      For any who were in doubt, this ought to confirm that negotiations with the POA, the layoffs and paycuts in general are far more about politics and about setting aside money for murky personal agendas than about genuine fiscal responsibility.

  2. Does anyone know if the Independent Police Auditor had to take a 10% cut in pay like everyone else and if her staff was reduced? Rumor had it her office is actually hiring another person and they did not have to take any pay cut. Anybody shed some light on this?

    • Who cares? I am pulling for police too but she has more degrees than a thermometer to fall back on. I doubt 10% will impact her.

      restructure, restructure, restructure….

      To protect the sheep you have to eliminate the wolves and it takes a wolf to know a wolf.

  3. Is it possible the POA President will even hang around?  Quite a meeting yesterday.  A lone officer reading from a scripted piece of paper attempted to deliver a change in By-Laws.  The change would allow for a Non Board or POA executive level officer to be brought in at an executive level position.  Thank goodness the V.P. was able to explain what the officer was trying to say.  Funny how that works.  The membership voted that one down.  Thank God for hand votes!

    • Who cares what happens at POA meetings….if you don’t like what’s going on with the leadership or direction…put your money (minus 10%) where your mouth is and run for a spot.  Or better yet help out the chief by clearing the boots off the top of the lockers

  4. Chief Layoffs Figone did not layoff her staff, reduce their salaries, and raised salaries for her buddies while laying off 66 police officers and gave $4.1 million to Reed’s Transition Chair, political insiders and downtown losing business at June Council meeting

    Look at senior managers and directors who did not take 10% pay cut

    Some blame voters for police layoffs but voters make decisions based on information they had which was not 66 police layoffs  

    Many voters feel that city employees unions to including POA used their political power to increase reasonable pay and pensions to excessive levels which city could not afford

    Mayors and Councils each year giveaway millions taxes, sell or lease city property under market prices to political insiders and bailout money losing community groups and downtown businesses so there in not money for public safety

    Chief Layoffs Figone not taking federal grant was a “done deal” to Council like most of what happens in City Hall and shows who actually runs city government, not hapless Council or tone deaf Reed that do not understand city budget details or where taxes are going  

    If you think clueless Council understands budget details go ask and you will see Council doesn’t have a clue or only vague understanding from what Figone has or has not told Council since she does not trust Council

    Time for voters to recall Figone and give Council back control city government

      • Here is a copy of a public record document that might give you some insight if and when the City manager may leave service no later than December 31, 2011.

        It is said around city hall that all “sick-time buyouts” will cease January 1, 2012.

        March 3, 2011

        Mayor Reed and Members San José City Council
        200 East Santa Clara Street
        San José, California 95113-1905

        Re: CITY MANAGER EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT, note who signed it.

        “Sick time buy out”, “severance pay” and other “perks” signal a “Sweet gig”.

        Police Officers, Firefighters and other City employees vilified for “sick leave buy outs”. Why?

          Enclosed herein is the complete “CITY MANAGER EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SAN JOSÉ AND DEBRA FIGONE.”

          Of late, Mayor Reed and several city Councilmembers have threatened to halt “sick leave buy outs” of city employees who either leave the city for other employment or for those who are entering into retirement. The San José Mercury News has vilified and downright demonized city employees for receiving this “contract provision of employment”.
          Without rehashing the “contract provision of employment” aspects in which politicians seeking Union money and workers to assist their campaigns; so that they could (and did) get elected, agreed to all sorts of “perks’ given to city employees (union members). Now these same politicians want to renege and “distance themselves” from this issue by heralding a “duty to the taxpayers”. This is Bull Pucky.

          The Councilmembers who signed the aforementioned “employment agreement” also known as:
        [RESOLUTION NO. 73799] will raise some questions.
          I am bewildered and confused how an employee (Debra Figone) who apparently left City of San José employment on or about December 22, 2001; did have, according to [RESOLUTION NO. 73799, page 2, (H) “Sick Leave”: “Reinstatement of sick leave balance to the level accrued as of December 22, 2001 which is equal to 872.9870 hours.”] This “sick leave” was earned at a pay scale lower than that of a City Manager, then six years later after separation from City service, 872.9870 hours of sick leave is reinstated at the pay scale of the City Manager. This is a better rate of return than a regular bank savings account.
          The “Severance” pay equal to six months salary for involuntary termination of employment” [RESOLUTION NO. 73799, page 2, (G)] also is noteworthy for discussion.

        The [RESOLUTION NO. 73799, page 3] shows that Councilmembers: CONSTANT, LICCARDO, NGUYEN, OLIVERIO, PYLE AND MAYOR REED; authorized and voted for this aforementioned “employment agreement”.

        NOW…is this entire issue of, “demonizing city employee sick leave buyouts” really just “political pandering to the press and to the citizens by Councilmembers: CONSTANT, LICCARDO, NGUYEN, OLIVERIO, PYLE AND MAYOR REED?
        -OR-

        Is this the age old doctrines of; “the Pot callin’ the kettle black” and “Do as I say, but not as I do”?

        I think there are several “doctrines” going on here simultaneously and they all smell bad.

        David S. Wall

  5. Figone and gReed must go next. Eleven years without a balanced budget. Really?
    It’s time to stop playing Russian Roulette with people’s lives. Such as widows and orphans on COLA adjustments.
    We will never recover the money wasted by lay offs. All the money spend to hire, test, background, tain and equip personell down the drain.
    Shame, shame, shame..

    • Your first statement is not true, the budget has been balanced every year, it is in the City charter to have a blanced budget.  The method to get to a balanced budget is an issue.  This mayor has been very clear that he will address the structural budget deficit and he has done so wihtout the gimmicks and mirror games played by the State.  The choices are not easy or pretty and the impacts have costs. 
      I hope the current employees do work on solutions for the retirement beneftis so that those already retired are not negativley impacted as you reference, but the choices there are not easy either. The sloutions to the problems facing our City must inlcude retirement reform, the City can not continue to pay more to retirees than those working.

  6. Actually, I believe I read that Mayor Reed and others on the city council voted AGAINST cutting their pay. Keep in mind that LaDoris Cordell is a retired judge who is double dipping as a city employee.

      • Actually, if you re-read the article, the mayor and council did not voluntarily vote to cut their own salaries, it was recommended they do so by a commission chartered to set council pay every two years.

        • D-6ster: No matter how you read it the council voted 8-3 to cut their salaries, per the recommendation. They could have voted against the voluntary cuts (as Chu, Pyle and Campos did) but the majority of the council voted to cut their salaries.
          OD – Yes, it sucks the IPA got off the hook for cuts. I wonder how the city justifies this?

        • The reason I pointed out that the council followed a recommendation was to show that it was not done for altruistic intentions.  They weren’t going to get a raise, so they could either accept the recommendation from the council, or vote against it and look like selfish idiots.

      • Reader. Apologies. This is what I get for trying to write something coherent while being so sick I can hardly see straight. You are absolutely correct on the point about the Council: they did take cuts after is was recommended they do so. I did intend to mean that they voted against the Office of the IPA taking any cuts, and I believe the IPA is among the few – if not the only – office in the city which has not either accepted cuts or had them imposed.

  7. “Figone and gReed must go next.”

    People keep saying this, all across the blogs, but it is just talk. Everybody wants recall but no one is taking any steps forward to make that happen. Stop “talking” and make action if you want them out. Like I mentioned in the post, above, Figone is going to jump ship. You need to concentrate on Reed and any others you don’t want to see remain in office. Vote of no confidence?

  8. Lets start a motion to recall the bums. A vote of no confidence is in order! This budget shortfall will NOT end until
    Reed leaves…..

    • Reed won last year’s election with close to 77% of the vote.71% voted to support Reed’s pension reforms.

      Good luck with that recall!

      • Yep, he did win didn’t he…..with the other three “no name” candidates each pulling less than 10% of votes.  And he did get those reform measures passed didn’t he….hey, wait a second, didn’t he propose by passing those measures, layoffs of firefighters and police officers could be avoided? I would really like to hear the mayor talk about how those measures really are helping our community these days.
        As for the recall, unfortunately I think it would be a waste of taxpayer money at this point.  While I don’t agree with ANYTHING the mayor has done at this point, I cringe thinking of whom would take his place.  Maybe the mayor can just go to Milwaukee as he has mentioned, and sit at the foot of the Bud Selig statue holding his breath waiting for the MLB to grant him permission to build his “legacy”

      • “Reed won last year’s election with close to 77% of the vote.”

        and that was because there wasn’t anyone to run against him. People didn’t have much of a choice. I was just reading, last evening, an old article that was stating “we have to vote for Mayor Reed and that this new mayor would bring in transparency” and yada, yada. That was one of the mayor’s campaign promises…transparency and honesty.

        Transparent and honest my a$$. Typical politician who will promise the world to get elected.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        “71% voted to support Reed’s pension reforms.”

        That was because they believed all the BS he was feeding them. You see what happened, didn’t you? All BS. That 71% got made a fool of. It shouldn’t be something to be boasted. It’s shameful.

  9. > —the 11th straight year San Jose has been in the red—

    It’s not hard to see how the parasite classes can get accustomed to their free lunches when the gravy spigot keeps gushing year after year even though there’s a deficit.

    But I guess this is the year that the spigot ran dry and the parasites are really—if you’ll pardon the expression—ticked.

  10. Yea,  lots of SJI talk, talk, talkers but No action

    gets you more of same – bad Council votes, more mismanaged city government, more layoffs, less services , more crime, more city fee increases with many more millions city taxes going to ” Mr Sunshine” Reed’s political cronies and insider payoffs so he get his big payoffs after leaving office

  11. I can tell you because he told me and that is; Dave Cortese is going to run for Mayor in 2014. And he said if I was mayor you wouldn’t see any Public Safety reductions! Recall Reed and Chief Figone and get this guy in now! All it takes is 44,000 signatures to get it on the ballot!

    • How’s Dave going to write the check??????  Don’t you get it, the revenue stream is not keeping up with the promises made by those politicians bought by the public employee unions.  He is one of them, remember the fire engine driving around town two elections ago with banners for Cortese for mayor.