Pose Questions to Mayor Chuck Reed

EDITOR’S NOTE: The time to submit questions has now passed. We appreciate everyone getting involved in the first part of this ongoing series. While there were many good questions, we have selected 10 that we think cover a wide range of city issues. The mayor’s answers to your questions will be published Thursday, and the next public official to answer your questions will be named Friday.

In an effort to keep readers better informed about and involved with community issues, San Jose Inside will unveil several new features in the coming weeks. Some might be a hit. Others… well, you will let us know.

The first new weekly feature will allow readers to become reporters and ask questions.If you’ve ever wondered why a certain question wasn’t posed, this will be your opportunity to step forward and ask. Each Friday, SJI will announce a person who has agreed to be interviewed, and we will leave it to readers to come up with the questions in the comments section. The cutoff to submit questions will be 5pm Monday. Not every question will be included.

We will post questions and the public figure’s answers in a Q&A format each Thursday. If an answer seems incomplete or unsatisfactory, SJI will do its best to follow up.

To begin the Q&A series, Mayor Chuck Reed has agreed to answer your questions.

The ball’s now in your court. What would you like to know? Post your questions here.

100 Comments

  1. Since our lovely city of San Jose is missing out on millions of dollars from not having the A’s here.  Why dont you call out the Giants for holding our city hostage?  I mean if they actually cared about San Jose, its people, and baseball as a whole wouldnt they want the best for San Jose, its people, and baseball?  It upsets me to know that San Jose is missing out on jobs, and money all because one team thinks too highly of them selves.

    • So let me understand this your unfavor of a broke city giving almost $200,000,000 to a wealthy man to own a ball park that might bring in a few dollars for the local bar owners but will cost tax payers much more than it brings in?  Why don’t you ask the mayor why he if stashing millions away to find a ball park and not using it to pay the bills he and his friends have caused the city.

    • Vince has given himself away as he speaks. And we naively thought it was about baseball and quality of life? Ha! Yes, as stated, as with all RDA/Mayor inspired projects, its about money and political prestige. The jobs suck, and the wealthy luxury box and season ticket holders will love it.

      As for me, I do care about San Jose. I feel compassion for the ongoing terror attacks against the Saint Leo, Sunol Midtown, and surrounding neighborhoods benefiting only those coming in from outside San Jose. Not the voters or their children.

  2. What about the revitalization of Downtown SJ?  It looks like downtown is once again being abandoned by your administration.  Can you please explain why you have allowed downtown to decline?

  3. “Human caused global warming” has reached a tipping point, but not one which its advocates and supporters had hoped for.

    A majority of lucid, intelligent, and informed citizens now believe that mankind’s contribution to global warming is insignificant, and that the planet is NOT in any danger of overheating or any other calamitous consequence of human activity.

    ALL of the political intitiatives, programs, projects, “education campaigns”, and government spending directed at “stopping global warming” are therefore utterly unnecessary and TOTALLY wasted.

    Question:

    How much of the city’s budget spending is justified and obligated on the basis that it has some or ANY connection whatsover to combatting “global warming”?

    If the California Global Warming Solutions Act were repealed, what would be the savings to San Jose?

    If the California Air Resources Board were shut down, what would be the savings to San Jose?

    What Federal or State regulations exist that have been justified on the basis of fighting global warming and that have on effect San Jose’s economy and budget?

    How much would the city of San Jose save if such regulations were wiped of the books and San Jose no longer had to comply with them?

    Bottom line:  What is the total cost to the economy of San Jose and explicitly to the city’s budget of ALL of the global warming laws, regulations, and voluntary practices that have been imposed or instituted?

    What is the economic burden imposed on San Jose taxpayers?

    What is the realizable budget savings to the City?

  4. Q1: Structural debts have been discussed ranging from unfunded pension liabilities to differed road maintenance.  How are we proactively working toward a better long-term future for our community rather than just muddling through from year-to-year with compromises and budget cuts?

    Q2: Have the current term limits at the city level (two 4 year terms for a total of 8 on council) been helpful or harmful in producing good governance and public policy from City Hall?

    Q3: Does “reform” include rethinking what and how municipal services are delivered?  Specifically, would it be better to merge and partner on some services to achieve economies of scale (road maintenance, fire service) versus muddling through with poor performance done independently. 

    Q4: A follow up, we seem to do a little of everything (housing, economic development, etc), but perhaps because of budget cuts and limitations it doesn’t look like we’re doing that great a job in some of these many service area.  Maybe we could benefit from quiting some service areas and focusing scarce resources on others, any thoughts?

    Q5: Sunshine reforms and transparency were major campaign themes from your first mayoral campaign.  Have the changes made a difference in how city business is conducted, and what more could be done.

    Q6: Growing up in SJ, I enjoyed city sponsored events ranging from the 4th of July fireworks to parades (like veterans day) and concerts (music in the park, christmas in the park, etc.)  It feels like these things were the first casualty of the budget crisis and that community comes last in terms of budget priorities when there’s pensions to fund and major capital projects to push through the pipeline.  Even independently produced events are unworkable with huge cost recovery charges for “Security, traffic control”.  Can’t we do better than that?

  5. Mr mayor sir can you explain what employee bonus pay you and the rest of the top management have the ability to collect?
    Why are these payouts never published?
    What is a cost recovery bonus?
    What bonus pay checks have you received during your entire city service?
    Can you make available all of the bonus or cost recovery pay checks for the last ten years?
     
    Will anyone receive any type of bonus check for the airport going to the S/O for police services?

    To explain bonus pay I’m sure you know what it is as I may not be using the correct name but you are a smart man and no doubt can figure out what is a form of bonus pay no matter what silly name is used.

  6. I would like to know if we are in a “Fiscal Emergency” then why do we have a “AAA” bond rating which is higher than the US Government? If Public safety is such a priority to you as you say it is, then why have you not done more to protect us SJ Residents?

  7. Does Mayor Reed support Chief Moore’s decision to dismiss the ICE officers?

    If Chief Moore’s gang suppression strategy really stopped all the gangster murders, why did the city wait until 14 murders occurred before seriously addressing the problem?

    Were ICE officers only assigned to investigate murders?  Why not keep the ICE officers to investigate other serious crimes?

    How many police officers will be laid off next July as the city faces a massive $80 million deficit?

    How does the mayor and city council monitor the impact of the police layoffs?  Does SJPD provide the council with weekly/monthly response time data along with a breakdown of the number of calls for assistance (especially those calls that were not handled due to lack of officers)?

    Why is Chief Moore holding closed door meetings with anti-police activists?  Shouldn’t all San Jose residents have the opportunity to participate?

    What plans does the Mayor have for increasing economic activity in our city?

  8. Dear Mr. Mayor:
    Few months ago you said the city was in deep Fiscal Crisis and we needed to cut firemen from the budget to save money. But this month the city is rehiring some of the ones you fired. 

    Can you make sense out of this? It does not appear that the city knows how much money there is if they fire people and then put them back to work a month later?

  9. Mayor Reed:

    What are the direct and indirect costs to the City of the High Speed Rail project?

    What are the savings for NOT doing the HSR?

    If the High Speed Rail System were canceled, expeditiously shut down, and all the planners, bureaucrats, environmental impact witch doctors, and lobbyists were sent home, what would be the savings to the City’s budget?

  10. Some of the conflict between the City Manager and City Council and its employees, is the lack of disclosure to the public that the City cannot legally impose the pension changes that you have proposed and that the City Manager has proposed.  Employees are understandably upset that the City Council and City Manager do not respect nor reasonably acknowledge the constitutional rights of City employees or the legal obligation of the City. In the thousands of pages of memos produced by City staff and City Council, and during the hours of meetings, neither you nor the City Manager’s negotiators have highlighted for the public that:

    a.  The City is legally obligated to honor the pension benefits promised to City employees and that those benefits are constitutionally protected rights of City employees. Pete Constant of all people, admitted that the City could not change pensions for existing employees or retirees at a public meeting last fall, and he was quickly hushed by the City Manager. Why have you not made this part of your presentation to the public, especially if you are asking them to vote on your proposals?
    b.  City Council has received detailed memos from representatives of various bargaining units and from the attorney representing retired former City employees, which clearly explain the unlawful nature of various aspects of your pension proposals and the City Manager’s pension proposals.  Several bargaining units have requested that City Council and the City Manager provide the legal support that you and the City Manager are relying upon in your proposals. 

    Even though City Council has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on outside legal advisors on these labor issues, not a single legal opinion has been made public by the City since an early opinion by Jones Day, which concluded that the City was limited in changes that it could make to retiree healthcare, due to the rights of City employees.  The City has rejected all requests to date to provide the legal basis in support of the recent proposals to reduce the pension benefits for current or past employees. 

    PS. The article from a legal periodical by Myers Nave that you once cited as support for your ballot measure language, was not on point and did not even discuss the heart of the issue – the legality or illegality of the City’s proposed pension takeaways. 

    c.  Trying to force pension reductions and other pension changes upon City employees and retirees is only going to benefit the expensive legal counsel that the City and the unions will have to hire to haggle with each other – one might even say that your pension proposals are not legally “sustainable”. The significant legal costs of this folly will be funded by those same taxpayers of San Jose that you claim to be trying to protect.  Orange County recently wasted millions of dollars losing litigation over similar attempts to renege upon pension benefits promised to their sheriffs. 

    You are a lawyer and the taxpayers expect you to be prudent and to make rational and prudent proposals on their behalf.  Ash Kalra has clearly articulated the legal risks that he sees in trying to force employees to give up their pension rights and he has called for a more cooperative approach with the employees, to no avail.
    Why have you persisted without either (a)  providing the public with a legal opinion outlining the legal support for your ballot measure and other proposals to involuntarily change pension benefits, or (b ) informing the public that your pension proposals (like those articulated in your budget message or the original ballot measure language), are likely to cost the City substantial amounts in legal costs and are not considered likely to succeed- so that the public can make more informed decisions about this issue?

    • > The City is legally obligated to honor the pension benefits promised to City employees . . ..

      Legally obligated?

      What does “legally obligated” mean?

      This is “post rule of law” America..

      Foreigners are legally obligated to ask our permission before crossing our borders and entering our country.

      The President of the United States is legally obligated to enforce the law.

      Courts are legally obligated to uphold the Constitution and not allow states to take private property just to raise property taxes.

      Congress is legally obligated to uphold the Constitution and not pass laws that mandate that citizens buy products or services they don’t want.

      Why should anyone give a squat about what public employee unions are “legally obligated” to receive?

      Government unions will get what the government of the people and by the people chooses to give them.

      Government unions are not going to be able to put voters in jail for not paying the “legally obligated” extortion that unions got out of yesterdays foolish politicians who are dead and gone.

      • Not all of them are dead and gone.  Some are currently on the council, and one of them is mayor.  And many of the “extorted” benefits were actually proposed by the City, not the bargaining units.

        • > And many of the “extorted” benefits were actually proposed by the City, not the bargaining units.

          Yeah.  And, so what?

          Did the unions say:

          A. “That’s a preposterous, economically unsustainable proposal, and we know you’re just pandering to us.” Or,

          B. “You’re a fool, but we’ll take it.  And screw the poor bastards who have to pay it.”?

          Just because a child offers you the chance to sleep with his sister, it doesn’t mean you have to accept the offer.

        • Interesting analogy, Bronco.  That may be a tempting offer to some…  Personally, I prefer adult women.

          And to which poor bastards are you referring?  Public employees pay taxes too. 

          Being a young officer in the eighties and nineties, when many of these bennies were offered, I was interested in wage increases.  SJ always lagged behind it’s neighboring agencies in wages.  And because we contribute substantially more to our retirement than those agencies, there was (and still is) a large disparity in take-home pay.  Therefore, I was disappointed that we were offered some deferred benefit which I might reap decades down the road.  In the case of sick leave buy-out, for instance, due to my personal circumstances, I’ve used the lion’s share of my sick leave over the years (which, I’m sure, is what the City was betting on.)

          I’m not saying the bargaining units were blameless.  But I put the majority of the blame on the City for making such proposals.

      • The legal obligation comes from the Contract Clause of the Constitution.  It is the same legal obligation that protects all the developers who have gotten millions and millions of tax dollars from the City of San Jose over the past twenty years.  The contract clause not only prevents the City from reversing the promises to developers (not that the City ever would—since all the Council members know how to do is amend development agreements to give developers MORE money), the contract clause also protects the bond holders. Those are the people that the City borrowed the money to build all the buildings that they now can’t afford to staff.  (Mr. Mayor how come you never talk about the $20 million that the General Fund is now spending to pay agency bonds?)

        So Mr. Bronco why is that you hate the city workers who spent the years of their lives working for the taxpayers while the elected officials did their best to give away your tax money to rich landowners who contribute to their campaigns?

        • > So Mr. Bronco why is that you hate the city workers who spent the years of their lives working for the taxpayers . . . .

          So, there you go.  Arguing with the Bronco sock-puppet on your had.  Do you find that you win the arguments most of the time?

  11. How the City went broke. It certainly was not from pensions, as you have claimed. I would like to know why the City took a pension holiday when everybody else continued to pay into the system. I would like to know why the council gave themselves a 20% raise in 2007, if you knew the City was in the red for 7 years prior to that? The mayor of Santa Clara gets $7,000 a year in pay. I think their council gets a really small stipend or is voluntary. I would like to know why our council serves part time but gets a full time salary plus car allowance. I would like to know why their chief assistants make $93,000/year. I would like to know why the City Manager promoted Alex and Gina into higher positions, just as everyone’s salaries were being reduced. Was it to make up for the 10% they were about to lose? I would like to know why there is so much favoritism and “good ole boyism” running through all of the departments within the City. Lastly, I would like to know why the City Manager is still employed with the City of San Jose.

  12. I hope we’re not all holding our breaths for a true and honest answer from the Mayor. Well Mr Mayor will you answer any of these questions in an honest fashion? Or will you be spewing the same tired rhetoric once again? The citizens and YOUR city employees see your corrupt agenda.

  13. As I suggested in open forum,.

    Are there any plans to hold pot clubs to the same code of conduct as other, similiar narcotics dispensing business?  (Bars, pharmacies)

    Expanding on the above further, do you think we could apply the alcohol board of california laws verbatim to San Jose? 

    Sorry for any spelling errors, typing from my phone.

      • San Jose sets the pace and the Nation (nay the World!)follows – or haven’t you been keeping up?

        We are meeting with the Afgans and explaining how to collect money! President Obama is just doing what we do! Say one thing to get elected then say another ….. just, uhm, uhhhh????? just …. because! Yes , just because. 

        C’mon Robert how long has your family been around these parts?

        • >>C’mon Robert how long has your family been around these parts?

          Since 1914 I believe (either that or it’s the year my great grandfather Vincente came through Ellis Island)

          We don’t set the pace.  Current officials would like to think we do but we don’t. I’m guessing your post is a combination of sarcasm mixed in with satire smile

          Funny, I was talking to the wife today over stuff..  Why did we let FMC slip through our fingers?

  14. Dear Mr. Mayor,

    Thank you for taking our questions.  I have, if I may:

    1. The City of San Jose spends approximately 47% of it’s general fund on public safety.  Of the large number of major cities I researched, this is the lowest.  Most spend upwards of 60%, some as high as 70%.  Oakland, for instance, spends 50% on police alone.  Additionally, SJPD has the lowest (bay far) number of officers per capita of any city in the country with a population of over 500 thousand.  We could double the number of officers and still have one of the lowest numbers.  Many fiscal conservatives believe that public safety must be a top priority if a community hopes to attract investment and commerce.  Why is public safety such a low priority in San Jose?

    2. I counted 65 not-for-profit organizations that CSJ supports.  Why aren’t non-essential costs such as these eliminated from the budget?  I would much prefer choose which charities I fund rather than have my government do it for me.

    3. I remember, in the early 90’s I believe, when the City proposed the sick leave buy-out.  Why are the public employees blamed for such negotiated benefits (among many others) when the City was just as much a party to these decisions?  It would go a long way toward building (long lost) trust among the City employees to present the situation more honestly than to say that the labor organizations created such fiscal problems due to greed.  Benefits as well as concessions were negotiated in good faith.

    Thank you for your time.

  15. Mayor: You say SJ is a all about sunshine and open government, then why did the Citizens not be given the chance to “Sunshine” on your Measure V and W? Could it be that Sunshine only works when YOU want it to?

  16. No questions, just an observation at this point 3:37pm on 8/27/2011:

    So many questions (and so many questioning Captain America’s integrity/ethical compass) Chuck you might have an image problem!

    So far, no answers.  I really hope that Chuck’s crack staff of $150k+/year advisors aren’t billing the City for time connected to researching the answers to these questions. (hint: the answer’s initials are C.R.)

  17. What are the odds the mayor would actually answer questions.

    I got one mr mayor what do you do with that almost a million dollars a year given to you in donations? Do you want us to believe your staffers are not spending 90% of their time fund raising?  You have been asked over the years these very questions and not answered them why now.  I bet at some point you submit your own questions about a ball park or pension reform and turn this thread into another way to lie to the public.

    We all are aware that the attack on unions and the middle class is mostly directed by the GOP to defund Obama in 2012. Your just using a bad situation as a way to funnel millions of city funds into a project that will be a huge personal payoff for you personally.

    How about changing the city rules to prevent elected city officials from accepting anything of value while in office from anyone doing business with the city. How about a city government that works for the people and does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do?

  18. Actually, I have alot of questions.

    I would like for Mayor Reed to take a look at my post from here: http://www.sanjoseinside.com/news/entries/08_22_11_pension_crisis_budget_mayor_chuck_reed_stanford/, and address each of those points, explaining how his votes over the past decade or so have reflected an adherence to principles of responsible and transparent governance.

    I would also like for him to address the issue of attrition described in the following article: http://protectsanjose.com/content/san-joses-vanishing-police-department-calling-all-councilmembers and explain how he intends to ensure this city remains as safe as possible in light of up to (or perhaps at least) 60 additional resignations or retirements between now and the end of the year. And I would like for him to explain how essentially gifting nearly $20 million to other agencies in San Jose training dollars is a responsible use of taxpayer dollars, especially since San Jose would have lost that number of officers in the next couple of years to attrition anyway.

    Does this mean that the 60 +  laid-off officers will be offered their jobs back? And, will Mayor Reed be sufficiently transparent as to disclose how many of those officers previously laid off have already taken positions elsewhere. Will he further be so transparent as to disclose how far below our authorized strength (1106 sworn positions, I believe) SJPD will likely be at the end of the year?

    With an additional homicide today, does Mayor Reed still adhere to the notion that the increase in homicides is an aberration, or that this overall increase in crime is an anomaly? Has the city suffered an increase in violent crime overall? (I am pretty sure that it has, but what are the statistics so far?

    Since Mayor Reed acknowledged a few months ago that other cities in the county have a higher revenue per capita than does San Jose, I wondered if Mayor Reed has any plans for increasing the city’s revenue that do not involve increasing taxes and fees (since we can see how well that’s worked for San Jose so far)or is his primary concern limited to spearheading via ballot measure a series of pension reforms which are illegal (as determined recently in the suit that the Orange County DSA won against their county) and immoral (as, surely, reneging on a contract must also be deemed to be immoral).

  19. Dear Mayor,

    Why do you and the rest of the city council make so much money plus benefits and retirement, while mayors and city council members of surrounding cities serve for only a stipend?

  20. I was speaking to a friend of mine the other day and he asked me why no has asked this question about the supposed budget issue? He lives in San Jose. He asked, why is the Mayor saying we have a fiscal emergency when the CAFR (Comprensive Annual Financial Report) says that in 2010 we (the City) are financially secure and billions in the black? Figures from 2010 CAFR (12-7-10): total 6.6 bil in liabilities and total net assest 9.9 bil.

  21. Why don’t you try “Discover Downtown Weekends” – by turning off the parking meters on Saturdays and Sundays?  It would give the hard-working Parking Control Officers their weekends off.  And just might encourage people to visit downtown restaurants, parks, and museums at their leisure – without the cost and worry of getting parking citations!

  22. Mr Mayor: 

      If it is true, how can any council member justify medical for LIFE.  From what I understand when a council member serves 2 consecutive terms, they are entitled to medical for life.  That’s only 8 years worth of work.  Yet you say that police officer’s ride the “gravy train.”  We may get medical for life but that is after 20 years of service.  20 years of fighting, running, injuries, dealing with deaths, seeing people die right in front of you.  Interviewing child and adult rape victims, sexual assault victims, cild abuse, elderly abuse and domestic violence victim’s.  Divorce, depression, suicide and alcoholism.  Unfortunately the list could go on. 

    So my question is, what entitles any city council member medical for life? 

    Also, you never answered the question in the Police Department briefing room that one day you were there.  Those brave fallen officer’s that have their picture on the wall,,,what gravy train are they riding right now?

    • Actually most legislative bodies from school board to congress vest members with benefits.  I think 5 years is kind of a norm in that it means you were elected at least twice to a public body with 4 year terms.

      In my own life, I discovered that I had “earned” VA medical care with just a 1 year deployment, subject to co-pays and insurance charges based upon my ability to pay.  While I’m grateful, I also see that there are many others struggling without access to affordable medical care and understand the angst that led in part to some sort of national health care program that I think is being implemented (whatever happened to that BTW?, folks seem so obsessed about the economy, I haven’t read a lot about how the role out of national health care is going.)

      As far as poking fun at people you are angry and disappointed with because of political decisions, I don’t think SJ is an outlier in terms of benefits for elected officials.

  23. Mr. Mayor

    Have you been on a recent ride along with a uniformed beat officer to witness firsthand how lack of manpower has comprised their safety and that of the community?  I don’t mean driving around monitoring calls for service with your police bodyguard or with a handpicked police supervisor or Command Officer.

    Have you attended a retired Police and fire association or other retiree group meeting and asked how reducing their COLA and medical benefits will affect long time retirees many in their 70’s and 80’s plus living on fixed income.  This is not the same as allowing a hand full of speakers one minute at the podium during a council meeting.

    Reading “Live up to your promises” post how many tax dollars do you anticipate it will it take to fight these lawsuits?

  24. While most of the questions above are unnecessarily confrontational, I think all would agree that some confrontation of the political leaders of the city is merited.

    What I would like to know, as a San Jose expat, is two things:

    1)  Why should I, as a former resident of the city, return to live and raise my family in San Jose?

    2)  Why should I, as a prospective small businessperson, found and locate a small business in San Jose?

    • The questions are not confrontational. They are questions that need answering. They are questions that we can never get answered, for some reason. They are questions that have a true basis of “need to know” by the public and employees, alike. Let’s see if we can get truthful answers to all of them. If not, I will say “I told you so.”

  25. Several questions:

    Q1) For a Mayor claiming to have a “Green” Agenda, why did he get rid of the City’s EcoPass Program, this was used by hundreds of City Employees for taking mass transit to work. Now they will all likely drive their own vehicles to work. How is this promoting the “Green” Agenda?

    Q2) Why are SJ/SC WPCP Enterprise Funds paying for the City’s Climate Action Plan, Solar Power Initiatives, and other “Green” schemes? What does this have to do with the Wastewater Treatment Plant? I see no solar panels out there. Are the Trib Agencies aware of Plant Funds paying for non-Plant uses?

    • “Q1) For a Mayor claiming to have a “Green” Agenda, why did he get rid of the City’s EcoPass Program, this was used by hundreds of City Employees for taking mass transit to work. Now they will all likely drive their own vehicles to work. How is this promoting the “Green” Agenda?”

      Where are they going to park? The garage will be too small to hold everyone’s vehicles. I THOUGHT that as a condition of building the smaller garage, the employees were to be given means of alternate transportation…which is the ECO pass. Is that correct, or not. If it is correct, then that is just one other thing that they have gone back on. Contract says one thing…they do what they want, contract or not.

    • It’s probably fair to say that “Green Agenda” stuff can be lumped into the category of money spent to fight human caused global warming.

      So, how much money could the city save if it stopped spending money on goofball things like “EcoPasses”, Climate Action Plans, Solar Power Intitiatives, and all the other eco-flapdoodle that Al Gore and James Hanson have used to frighten the children?

      • “So, how much money could the city save if it stopped spending money on goofball things like “EcoPasses”, Climate Action Plans, Solar Power Intitiatives, and all the other eco-flapdoodle that Al Gore and James Hanson have used to frighten the children?”

        Ding Ding Ding!  We have a winner.

        If we can’t fund adequate police and fire in San Jose then we sure as hell can’t afford the costs associated with boutique green energy and other such environmental nonsense.

        Mayor Reed,
        Can we have an honest accounting of all the costs associated with San Jose’s green programs, regulations, codes, enforcements, etc?

  26. I have some questions, as I have seen the mess from the bottom up.  You never answer any of the questions asked during City Council meetings. 

    You have the balls to say to the constituency during the meetings asking you questions, and you keep saying “this is not a question and answer period”  and tell them their two minutes are up! 

    Let me tell you that a Council meeting is a question and answer period for the citizens.  Why else would people attend?  They sure aren’t there to look at your stone face and watch you dismantle the City. 

    By the way, What happened to all the millions of dollars Team San Jose blew? 

    For a City that has a massive tax base either from business and residents, what happens to those millions of dollars from that tax base? 

    I’m pretty sure I know where the money is going.

    it ain’t going to the Cops, Firefighters, or City Employees….

    Of course myself and others on this blog will never have our questions answered…

    Old Frank

  27. I read this on another thread in this forum.  A poster claiming to be a City employee said he checked his retirement account and found the following:

    “…I checked my account and found that I have contributed $163k over 20 years as an employee – that amount earned $18k in interest for a total of $182k.

    The account “SAYS” that the City contributed $326k over teh 20 years I have worked for the City BUT IS SHOWS THAT AMOUNT EARNED $0.00 (zero!) in interest!

    The total balance is $507k.

    How can that be? If the City actually deposited its contribution into the account then shouldn’t it have earned interest just like my contibutions did? (about $36k)  Why didnt the City’s money earne any interest? (should have earned about 11%???)…”

    Mayor Reed If what this poster said is true then it seems like the “underfunding of the pension system” is partly due to the City failing to make its contribution. HAs the City contributed its share? IF so why has the City’s contribution not earned any interest? and if the City has not made the contributions it budgeted for Why did it not deposit the money in the system and where did that money go?

    • He will not answer any question except how great a ball park is. How in debt … Wonder why his retirement is in pers. Maybe so they can steal from pension funds and not worry about their pension.

      • You may get an answer but it will most likely not be the complete truth.  When the Fund was set up it was designed that the City had the ultimate responsibility for the health of the Fund.  What this meant was that the employee would always contribute their portion each and every paycheck.  The City, since it was their fund, could use any interest made by deposits in the Fund as part of their “normal” obligation.  So the City can be said to have contributed their portion if the sum of the interest and their actual deposit equaled their portion.  Again the City was responsible for the fund if it went down due to poor investments or bad returns (with the added employees contributions, you can see how well that promise was kept).  So during some years in the 1980’s, as an example, the City was only putting in about 1/2 and the other 1/2 was coming from the interest.  But if the question is “did they contribute their portion that year?”, since they used the interest, the answer is “yes they did”.

        Now the City did not save this money elsewhere, sick time buy outs etc. and I believe they began to actually budget for this reduced contribution rates and spend that other 1/2 on permanent budget items.  Again any responsible government entity should have known that bad times always follow good times and would have planned for this.  But as “Silly” has explained that will never happen.  So when it came time for the City to pay the Piper there was no money left and none coming in.  Again I believe the City is broke (in the General Fund – there is other money – “that cannot be spent”) but it is the City’s fault and now the employees and more importantly the citizens problem….

  28. 2 months of ICE, melted with the heat. What? 2 FBI guys come to san Jose and in two months, Walla!
      Wait till the Chinese Bacero program begins.
      Reed, you don’t have all the answers. NO, YOU ARE NOT CAPTAIN AMERICA,
      ICE/FIRE

  29. Mr. Mayor,

    Please answer the following questions:

    Q1) How much 513 Funds go to pay for employee positions who actually work at City Hall as opposed to working at the Plant?

    Q2) How much 513 Funds pay for the City of San Jose’s Green Vision, including the staff to support it?

    Q3) Will you please lead the effort to remove the Public Art requirement for capital projects at the Plant? it is a big waste of money. Please redirect these millions to other more beneficial uses like improving infrastructure. Can you make the Plant exempt from the Public Art funding requirement?

  30. If retiree associations choose not to be emasculated thus acquiescing to this blatant attack on their existing benefits and do in fact file lawsuits.
    What is the estimated legal cost to the city and can the city under any circumstances be liable for plaintiffs legal fees?

    I am not a city employee, just a senior citizen who sees this as a case of the city wasting tax dollars by beating up on the elderly not because they have too but because they can.

  31. Mr. Mayor:

    The San Jose Redevelopment Agency (SJRDA) has given millions of dollars to Former Mayor McEnery and Barry Swenson for many pet projects (i.e. San Pedro Square and low-income housing).

    Question: How do you justify allowing city owned property to be sold (i.e. Old City Hall) to pay for SJRDA debt while the SJRDA continues to pay for “stadium” land and the “City” continues to jeopardize public safety? 

    Question: Is it true that the SJRDA had it’s bond rating decreased from A2 to Baal my Moody’s? Does the SJRDA have $671 millions in debt?

    Question: Why wasn’t the city owned property across the street from San Pedro Square sold at auction (highest bidder) rather than sold to McEnery for cheap? 

    Question: Do you think that it is morally right to take political contributions from real estate companies, construction companies and other companies when these same companies are receiving money from the SJRDA?

    • Mayor Reed has stated time and time again:

      “Just because I voted for it doesn’t make it right.”

      When you operate from this perspective everything you do is A-OK!

  32. An attempt for a simple question fundamental to the decline decline in morale and exodus of staff out. Why has the Mayor and City Manager chosen a one size fits all formula for compensation cuts as opposed to directing those classifications most responsible for the drain on the General Fund? The non-sworn worker has suffered a decade of frozen COLA’s, Step increases, along with a huge increase in pension contribution.

    Public Safety officers have seen huge increases in all areas across the board. With your answer please provide the average TOTAL compensation of a Police Sergeant and an Associate Engineer in 1990, and the current figure as a point of reference. My thanks for this opportunity.

    • Also, a chart or graph indicating how many times the engineer got into a physical fight with his “paperwork”, physically touched homeless and disease ridden “reports”, rescued victim “paperclips”, saw dead or dying “staplers” worked midnight shift on Christmas, carried 30 lbs of office supplies on his waist, got into a vehicle collision responding to a fire… oopsd I mean “meeting”.

    • John W: please provide us with the 1990 and Current figures for a “Non-sworn” position comparable to a Police Sergeant and Associate Engineer so that if and when Captain America gives us the figures you ask for we have something to compare?

  33. SJFD staffed leaner than all major bay area departments and pay more into pensions.  Why is SJ in a worse or same position as these other cities.

    • This same question is just as applicable to the police department. Additionally, why is it that officers who have lateral transfered to other agencies and gross approximately the same income end up netting so much more in their take-home pay – anywhere from several hundred to a couple thousand more? Why is it that this level and type of compensation – generally including a true 3% at 50 formula – is considered sustainable by these cities, but not San Jose?

  34. The FAQs on the City’s website are inaccrute and misleading. I requested that they be updated but they were not. The FAQ’s about retirment benefits state:
    “An employee earning $50,000 per year would make the following contributions over a 20 year career:
    $50,000 X 10.3%** X 20 = $103,000
    After collecting a pension for 4.12 years, an employee’s retirement income would exceed the amount of their contributions into the retirement system.
    * Does not reflect 3% annual COLA increase in future years and does not take into consideration interest posted to employee contributions.
    ** This reflects only the Fiscal Year 2010-2011 rate of employee contributions.”

    What you do not state is that the calculation also does not account for any rate of return that the pension fund would have earned on the employee’s contribution over the 20 years. Thus your 4.12 years to exceed contributions is not accurate.  The money is not being put under a mattress. It is earning some interest. Thus, you can at least be nominally upfront and include an asterisk that states: “Does not reflect any returns earned on the employee’s contributions over the 20 year investment period.” 

    So much for transparency and fully educating the public on the true state of affairs.

  35. You and your 5 “executive officer unclassified” employees are paid almost $750,000 combined—just for the Mayor and five of his many staff members.
    1. Why such excessive salaries
    2. How were these 5 people hired?
    3. What exactly does each one do? 
    4. Why do you need 5 advisors? 
    5. Do they earn a pension?
    6. In 2009 you had five advisers but one was making about 57K. Why did you increase the salary of one position by 50K when cutting everyone else.  I
    7. Why do 9 council members and a mayor need 110 employees.

  36. Jose Salcido is a former Santa Clara County Sheriff P.O.A president and worked for PROAC, a state level P.O.A. that represents police officers. He was hired to work on the mayors gang task force and as liaison ( I thought that is why we have a chief of police) to the mayor. He was hired in the spring of 2010 right before the illegal measure V ballot.

    Is it true that he helped write the illegal measure V ballot?
    Is it true since he was hired as the part of mayors gang take force that gang homicides have doubled? And that we are over a 100 attempted murders (stabbings and shootings that did not result in death ) in the city of San Jose since he has taking charge? 
    Should he still have a job collecting six figures and a second pension on top of his S.O. pension or is he working on the illegal pension reform ballot?
    His brother would be very disappointed!

    Does the Mercury news lease the space at the council chambers and how much do the pay? As a tax paying citizen of San Jose I want that information, based upon the
    sunshine and transparency that you implemented.

    Without a good police department, you have nothing!

    • Actually Opium production is, was and is likely to remain the largest cash crop in Afghanistan as foreign armies come and go (British, Soviets, Americans, etc.)  They could probably teach us a thing or two about how to really run the marijuana racket for profit and influence.  The closest American know-how comes to Afghan expertise is the rum runners and prohibition era gangsters that built empires on illicit trade before becoming so wealthy they became legitimate and part of the wealthy establishment.

  37. Here is a quote from you in the Mercury News:
    “After 10 straight years of budget deficits, it’s critical for the public to get engaged and help us find long-term solutions to our city’s fiscal problems,” Reed said in a statement.

    Why, in some of the best economic times our country has seen and especially in Silicon Valley, was San Jose running a deficit?

    What did you, as you were on the council all or most of this time, do with the money in the boom years?

  38. 50 questions so far and not one response by Reed! Unless your name is Barry Swenson, Sobrato or Tom McEnry, you won’t get a response!

  39. I emailed you and the council members the following questions about the August 2 Agenda, item 3.5 which was to discuss in part the “Ballot Measure Polling Results.” 
    1) how much money did the City spend on the poll(s)?
    2) what were the exact questions posed?
    3) who came up with the questions—i.e. was it all City input or did the unions have input?
    4) how many people were polled?
    5) how were they polled?
    6) will you post the complete results (questions and responses thereto) on your website after the meeting?
    I received responses from three council members offices, but not from your office.  One of the offices informed me that: “Regarding the survey costs, the City has not yet been billed, however, under the City’s contract with Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3), survey costs generally run between $40,000 and $50,000.  The questions for the survey were developed initially based on direction from the City Council and similar past surveys conducted by FM3 on behalf of the City.  As directed by the City Council, these questions were then vetted by the South Bay Labor Council, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and the San Jose-Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce.”

    This raises the questions of
    1) why the City is spending $50,000 a pop to survey its residents and
    2) if outside City hall organizations are invited to participate in developing survey questions, why not invite labor/union groups too—why only invite anti-union groups to participate. 

    That does not seem very transparent and open.

  40. On March 16, 2011, the Mercury News reported that the City transferred property ($10M) to the County to repay an RDA debt that the RDA owed to the County. The RDA financials reflect that it has plenty of assets to repay its own debt. 

    1. Why did you allow City assets that could have been sold and used for general fund purposes, such as saving police, keeping libraries open etc., to be used to pay an RDA debt?

  41. It has been urged that SJFD reduce fire engine staffing from four men to three to save money. The justification—other Bay Area agencies have such reduced staffing.  Because other agencies have reduced staffing does not make it right. Do you follow your friend off a bridge?  In 2007, two Contra Costa County firefighters died, in part, because they only had three-man engines. One of the recommendations of the panel investigating the tragedy to avoid future deaths was to increase staffing from three to four firefighters. San Jose should be proud it meets this basic safety standard. Exposing firefighters to greater risk instead of mitigating it where possible cannot take priority over additional savings to the vast cuts already made to SJFD.

    With this backdrop:
    Why would you, as you did, think it is appropriate to ask the citizens about firetruck or fire engine staffing. The general public cannot possibly know all of the details and safety issues relating to proper staffing. Yet, at your urging the Department did reduce its trucks to four men.  Do you want to be the cause of another Contra Costa disaster because you allowed the public to make your decision for you instead of ensuring the safety of your employees?

  42. You are forging ahead with your pet project to complete a plan for an A’s ballpark. Yet, it makes no financial sense. A Contra Costa Times column noted “And please don’t tell us about how sports teams boost the economy. The Cato Institute. . . debunked that notion in 2004, . . . `Our conclusion, and that of nearly all academic economists studying this issue, is that professional sports generally have little, if any, positive effect on a city’s economy . . . The net economic impact of professional sports in . . . cities that hosted professional sports teams over nearly 30 years was a reduction in real per capita income over the entire metropolitan area.’”

    The Cato Institute report has additional negative information about the alleged benefits of a ball park.  Thus, in these tough times, why are you investing so many resources into an investment that will likely produce no or at best nominal returns?

    • There will never be a major league ballpark in DTSJ. Our greasy, self-serving politicians and their developer friends will fail miserably in this endeavor.

  43. Hon Lien. 

    Victor Ajlouny

    38 grand of city money

    Money for community liaison work from a guy in Omaha.

    The question is why do we have Chuch Reed a’s a mayor, who hands city money over to his political dirty tricks man.

    Question is why the civil grand jury not looking at Reed?

  44. Sj Fire has 0.59 firefighters per 1000 capita. The National average is 1.25 Firefighters per 1000 capita. SJ Fire gets to a call on average 8 minutes 78% of the time. The National average is 6 minutes 90% of the time. Are you aware the Fire Dept. is not saving anyone? You are brain dead in 4-5 minutes! Who came up with an 8 minute response time? How stupid is that? Santa Clara and San Francisco Fire have 2.5 firefighters per 1000 capita. For SJ to match this, we would have to build over 100 Fire Stations and staff it fully and add nearly 5 times the firefighters we have now! Are you aware that SJ resident are paying more for fire insurance due to the high fire loss in this City? Why is Public Safety at the bottom of your priority when you say it is not? The facts prove you lie!

  45. 1) Can you please look at your photograph or take a long honest look in a mirror and explain to us again your stance that you want police and fire working until age 62?

    2)The City never put aside any money for retired employees health insurance, sick time buyout, vacation buyout, or comp time buyout.  These were all negotiated payments, some put forth by the City, and yet these very clear costs were not funded.  These were in many cases given instead of pay raises to save money at that time and spend it elsewhere.  In my mind this means that the City has never complied with the law that requires a balanced budget.  You have been around for 10 years, did you know of these unfunded liabilities?  If so why did you do nothing about them and if not, then why not?

    3)Is the City now funding these obligations as part of the budget, or are you still hoping they go away or your complete plan involves getting out of these obligations with your ballot measure.  Where will the City be if you lose that measure?

    4)Most of the enhanced retirement benefits to police were given in place of pay raises.  Why was the retirement fund never brought up to date using the salary savings, since it is obvious these benefits were never paid for.  Again you have been there for 10 years, are you that incompetent or did you have “better” uses for the money?

    5)Same issue when Fire obtained 3% @ 50 in binding arbitration.  First off how bad were your negotiators to lose that without having them pay some into the fund and after you lost it, what did you do to make the fund whole (I believe you did nothing). 

    Not a very good track record as I look at it, but I would love to hear your explanations.

    • Those items were never funded because putting money into a bank account to fund retirement for career employees who do not hold fundraisers and give you money is not what an elected liar does.  Steering new found money to your friends who will in turn give you a cut is what a greedy politician does.
        In a way though Reed should be in part be thanked. Who knew all these years the City manager and retirement department were in on this hoax together. None of them were willing to expose the other and risk loosing their perks. Their city phones, cars,credit cards, hotels, trips,  free dinners…ect.
          Unless you can stop the profit it will continue.

  46. 1) Do you think San Jose’s LACK of adopting a Building Height Restriction Policy in the Airline’s OEI Zone, has anything to do with Airlines NOT choosing San Jose as a place to do business? (the fact that the City doesn’t have a strong commitment to “protect” the different Airlines OEI restrictions)

    2) Did you really see the 2009 independent RDA Incubator Report, and choose not to “share it” with the rest of the Council – or, did you not consider it “worthy” of consideration?

    3) Will the billions of RDA debt need to be paid from our General Fund, if the RDA goes under for good?

    4) Why isn’t RDA debt counted as “debt to the City”, if the City has to sell (or give away assets) to pay for RDA debt?

    • Is it about protecting airlines, really?  Or is it about protecting NIMBY neighborhoods who don’t want “those people” moving into the big bad tall buildings?  Why don’t you like tall buildings anyway?  Afraid they’ll fall on you?

    • 5) Why doesnt the RDA sell its assets to pay its own debt?

      6)or did you transfer the RDA assets to a new agency to avoid that and to put the general fund on the hook for RDA debit it cannot afford.

  47. The VIP and his Staff are preoccupied. They are intently monitoring the situation on the East Coast in the aftermath of two natural disasters – the earthquakes and hurricane. Be assured that they are assessing the situation with up to the minute information. They are awaiting calls for assistance from the affected areas and will determine what response of personel or resources we can fill. 

    Please be patient, your questions are of great importance and we will get to them ust as soon as the situation allows.

    MLB update: Bud Selig still hasn’t gotten back to us on our stadium deal!  He has no idea who he is blowing off here.  We have laid off polce and firefighters for much less!  Beware Bud!

      • Thursday? last Thursday, this Thursday, Next Thursday?  Open ended Thursday?  No date was listed.  We will never hear from this clown.  Another FAILED attempt to disrespect Old Frank…

  48. For all the hooting about pensions during San Jose’s last budget cycle, you’d never have guessed that it was actually the Redevelopment Agency that really torpedoed the budget.  Because of the Redevelopment’s insolvency, the City had to pick up $20 million in debt service.  That’s about on fifth of the entire budget deficit and would translate into many, many cops and firefighters.

    My questions for the Mayor:

    For eight years on the Council and four years as Mayor, you were one of Redevelopment’s biggest supporters and have a long history of supporting its projects and bond issues.  Wouldn’t it be fair to say that you are in large part responsible for its insolvency, and therefore responsible for adding $20 million to our deficit this year?

    If the answer to the above question is “yes” (and really, I don’t see how it can be anything but) isn’t it remarkable that for all the blame dished out in the Mercury for the pension mess, no blame has been dished out for the Mayor’s complete mismanagement and lack of oversight of redevelopment?  Wouldn’t it be fair to say that this is indicative of the Mercury being a political organ (a la Fox News), not a journalistic organ?  Wouldn’t it also be fair to say that your reputation as “fiscally responsible” is a joke and a fraud perpetrated by that rag of a paper?

    There you go!  Answer those!

  49. Seriously, the Mayor cannot give the citizens the courtesey of answering all of their questions.  They are limited to 10.  If he won’t allow questions at council meetings, he should at least answer them in this forum when he agreed to.  Mayor Reed—you are a joke and have no sunshine and no transparency. If you did, you and your five 750K/year advisers could at least answer your consitutents’ questions.

    • If he took the time to answer every question, people would be criticizing the Mayor for not focusing on more important work. We will do our best to pick good questions. Thanks for contributing, but these are the rules of the game.

      Josh Koehn

  50. I’ve been watching and waiting. Now you have my interest piqued. The whole RDA scam closes all of the budgetary gaps in the puzzle. Isn’t it just amazing that if Reed were a CEO and did this, the shareholders would have his head on a plate and the FTC and FBI would be involved. But, since he holds office, it’s just ignored. Ron Gonzalez was prosecuted. Why isn’t the DA looking into Reed? Because Reed is the mouthpiece. The true culprit, the one who actually makes the decisions and signs the checks is the City Manager. Look it up. I just want to know why the Council, her boss, allows her to do whatever she wants and then insults their intelligence in the press. Were I on the council, I’d have given her a pink slip last year.

  51. Since only 10 of these questions are going to be “answered”, maybe we can have another council member answer the rest of the questions. (i.e. Oliverio, Liccardo)  Most of these questions apply to the rest of the council as they do Reed.  They just about all vote the same.