Negotiations Delay Emergency Declaration

Tuesday’s City Council meeting will feature a status report on the city’s general fund, but no action will be taken in regards to declaring a “fiscal and service level emergency.” Consideration of that item has been deferred until after Oct. 31.

An update on labor negotiations with public employee unions will occur Tuesday. The city sent a letter this week to the police and firefighters unions expressing an interest in meeting about sick leave payouts. Those discussions could begin as soon as Monday, Sept. 26

The council is also expected Tuesday to hold a public hearing, conduct a special election and adopt resolutions that will approve the formation of Community Facilities District (CFD) No. 14, “which will provide funding for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the enhanced improvements associated with the Hitachi Campus and Santa Teresa Transit Village project.”

Due to delays in projects slated to finish last fiscal year, the council will also be rebudgeting items. Additional money dedicated to these projects will cost more than $927,000. Projects include park maintenance, fixing a Koi Fish pond filtration system and increasing funding for the Seven Trees Branch library.

Click Here to Read the City Council Agenda for September 21, 2011.

Josh Koehn is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to josh@metronews.com or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

61 Comments

  1. What the City is proposing is not legal, as far as making employees responsible for paying 50% of the unfunded liabilities. It will not hold up in court. If any employee “Opts In” to the new tier, he/she will be giving up ALL of their rights to appeal. So when the City imposes the 50% liability on the employess who do not opt in, those employees will fight it in court and when they win the judgement (and they will), all employees who opted in to the new tier, will not be included. DO NOT OPT IN.

    • Don’t opt in and what is the alternative?  Contracting out of your job.  We are talking about a problem that is hundreds of millions of dollars, the only place to get that large amount of money is to fire all non essential employees to make up that gap.

      The scenario you pose is potentially real, the problem you fail to solve is if employees follow your recommendation what are the alternatives?  City alternative is this, “We tried to work with the employees (yes, I know that is mostly BS but that is what they will say) but were unable to come to any agreement, the deficit is another 100 plus million dollars this year and the projected costs of retirement funding will exceed 450 million dollars in FY 15, so we are left with no alternative but to fire everyone that is non-essential and contract out with cheaper private sector employees.”

      Heads up everybody, you may win in court on the unfunded liability play the city is making but in the end you lose and those that follow your lead will be out of a job.  Your “heads up” should be called “heads up and dust off your resume”.

      There will be alternatives to what the city is proposing, many bargaining units are working on opt-in proposals that are not nearly as draconian as what the city is proposing, wait until those are unveiled before jumping off a cliff.

      • Then we shall see what the bargaining units come up with. As you stated, what the City is proposing is draconian and I stand on my statement. Anyone would be nuts to opt in to that.

        • Grease up pal.  They have folded and re folded on every item the city has pushed on us.  Name one thing the public safety unions have won?  Now the retired associations are running in with the “Lets make a deal plate”  City hasn’t even gone to them.  No matter how much we offer it will not be enough.  The unions have been carrying this white flag for awhile.

        • Local 230 has a no layoff provision for 2-years due to their combined efforts with the city to secure a SAFER grant.  That’s a win.

          If you can show us the math as to how to sustain the current pension system and not gut virtually every service the city has to offer then put up already.

          90% pension with a 3% auto compounded COLA is history, so you could bend over and take what the city has offered or work toward a compromise that protects as much of what you have as possible.  Some unions are doing the latter.

          The proposal to the retirees is to cut their COLA to 1% forever.  Should they try and get something better than that, I think they should and some are trying.  But hey if you have an idea, please let everyone know, but if all you want to do is cry then go get a rattle to shake and a diaper change and be done with it.

        • Don’t be a mushroom all your life.  Research the pension system of San Jose.  The city has made tens of millions off the pension system. (They never once denied the report to keep cortex out) Everything over 8% made on the market the city doesn’t have to put in as much.  What the city did was when they didnt have to put in as much they spent.  Take a look at all the money given to non profits, art work, and other non essential services.  Why I bet if you really took a close look at the budget you might see close to 50 million a year going out the window.
            The list goes on and on.  The city was very good at a propaganda news.  Did you know that you can be caught up to 4 times in San Jose operating a vehicle with out a license and not get your car towed.  What has been the cost to peoples insurance and city staffing after an accident by an un licensed driver?

        • “The proposal to the retirees is to cut their COLA to 1% forever.”

          You mean illegally trying right?  2.5% of the employee contributions over the years went to paying that fixed 3% COLA.  The city cannot remove any part of an employees contribution.  They might bargain to reduce future COLA payments but only after they agree to reduce the percentage currently paid into that COLA fund by city employees.  And, they can’t take it away from current retirees without violating a written contract, which they will try to do anyway at the cost of millions in litigation.

        • Several courts have ruled it is not illegal and the COLA was not always 3% automatic so how could it have all been paid for?

          But the bigger issue is this…where do you propose the city find the money to pay for the growing pension costs.  Look, it is easy to Monday morning quarterback and tear apart any proposal but the fundamental question is how do you come up with the money to pay for escalating pension benefit costs?

          A COLA based on the consumer price index capped at 2% ain’t a bad deal if it protects city services.  Litigation has winners and losers and if the city wins it will be much, much worse for retirees.  But again, how would you balance the budget without some type of reduction to pensions?

        • I challenge you to show me where a court has ruled that a city can take away an employee contribution.  That is theft plain and simple.  There have been very few cases where the courts have allowed a city or county to reneg on a pension promise and where that has taken place is when the city or county is declaring bankruptcy or can prove that it is impossible to pay their portion.  I know of no case where a city has been allowed to take pension contributions from an employee and then refuse to pay that portion back.

          In San Jose’s case, much of the COLA money is contributed by the employee.  No different than a bank stating that they are hurting for money so they are going to drain your savings account to fix their ineptitude, it just isn’t going to happen.  In fact, the city isn’t arguing against paying the employee what they contributed, they are trying to back out of their promised percentage.  Problem is, they are trying to hide the fact that the COLA isn’t only a city contribution.  They want the public to believe that the COLA comes from the goodness of the city’s hearts. This is not the case and it will be proven in court.

        • Hey Diaper man! there is no 2year provision for “No lay-offs”! the only way this toilet of a city would take the Money was to remove all/or most of the requirements that go with that kind of money.so go change your diaper……………..cuz you stink!

      • Here’s the ballot draft:

        http://www.sanjoseca.gov/employeeRelations/retirementreform/ProposedBallotMeasuresProposals/RevisedDraftProposedBallotMeasuredated09.09.11.pdf

        In summary, for CSJ (Federated) workers:
        * minimum of 40 years of service or 65 years old (10 years vested) at 1.5 % rate versus the old formula of: 30 years of service or 55 years old (5 years vested) at 2.5 % rate.

        *for current employees who will not opt in to Tier 2 (…aka “Luke, do not got to the dark side”)will subsidize 50% of the unfunded retirement liability.
        Translation: another reduction in pay aside from the recent 10% cut and increase in health and dental premiums plus increased percent employee retirement contribution.

        I missed that cold gel the CSJ health services doctor applied into my …when I did my job medical exam so many years ago.

        • The poison pill at the end is the best. If proved illegal in a court of law,(which it will be), then the employee will pay 50% of his pension.

          Do you think Chuck knows this is illegal . I think he does.

  2. I hope they really take heed that the proposed fiscal reform they will be voting to put on the ballot is not legal. Knowing that and being informed by so many, if they vote to move it forward, that will make a huge statement about them, individually. If they will vote to move forward something they know is not legal, what else will they do or have they done?

  3. Why are we making the police dept take more cuts? I am so happy with our SJPD police dept.

    A couple years ago, I was out of town in Europe. I had a cat sitter here to watch my prize Himalayans whilst I was out of town.

    The catsitter brought in a relative with her, into my home.

    Her relative stole ALL of my jewelry. I suspected, but could not prove…

    All of my heirlooms, from my grandmother, she stole! Including a three and a half carat diamond.

    Amazingly, the SJPD interviewed her and got a conviction, at Branham HS. She confessed totally to them, after denying everything to me.

    A young officer went with another officer together to Branham HS and interviewed her.

    They got a confession in detail of what she did.

    Now, we are laying off the youngest and fittest officers? To go to other departments? This is simply foolish. This is penny wise and pound foolish.

    Without the SJPD, she would have walked away free!

    With no conviction. The crime would have been unsolved. She would have walked away with over 40k in jewelry.

    She would have no record and could keep doing her thing of stealing, for drugs.

    We need to cut all frills and keep public safety. Or, we will regret it. We will live like those in Argentina, afraid to walk to the store.

    Do you want to live in absolute fear, like people in Argentina? Do you want to be afraid that your kids are going to get kidnapped?? Very, very common in Argentina, to have children kidnapped for money.

    Extremely common for businessmen to be kidnapped for ransom.

    http://www.ferfal.blogspot.com for a view from Argentina

    Or get the book, SURVIVING IN ARGENTINA, if you want to know what it is like to live thru an economic collapse with no functioning police dept.

    You can also do a youtube search and type in Argentina collapse.

    Those people, mostly originally from Italy and Spain,  live in daily fear of muggings, carjackings, and abolute terror, especially the elderly, but everyone lives in fear. I think we do not want to live like that??

    As our economy continues to slide down, we are going to be faced with more and more crime…no “green shoots” anywhere, just more layoffs and more desperation.

    The guy from Argentina with the website above said we are so lucky to have a police dept like SJPD. He has so much respect for police in the USA. He is always saying how fortunate we are and that we take it for granted.

    We take it so for granted that we can go to an ATM and not be mugged. Not so in Argentina. They live in daily fear for their lives and for their children.

    Argentina went from being one of the most prosperous and civilized countries in the world, to chaos. We are asking for this if we continue to cut public safety.

    I want my taxes to go to public safety! Above all and everything.

    ps Just wait until you are a crime victim like me and then you will appreciate the SJPD!

    • Well, the wolves have come!
      Last Thursday, there were 9 armed robberies and 3 stabbings, and don’t forget the officer involved shooting.

      The following morning a armed robbery and attempted murder occurred in Willow Glen. A kidnapping and murder occurred later on with another officer involved shooting. All innocent victims!

      80 police officers on a swing shift, to cover 1 million people is not enough. 60 officers and the midnight shift is insulting.

      So tell us Chuck and Deb, with being down almost 350 officers, how are you going to hire officers to work for this fine city with a cut in pay and and ham sandwich for a retirement. Your not!

      Well the wolves have come, AND THEY ARE HUNGRY!!!

      • I think it’s time for another quote from LTC. Grossmen.  The sheeple are awaiting your ever words of doom. Or better yet.  “The sky is falling the sky is falling”
            Why not speak of the time spent by officers working 24/7 to rid the Willow Glen of this violent murderer who kept this area in terror. During this period what other crimes of violence were pending.  Give us a breakdown of officers assigned, calls waiting for police response etc. (Just ideas) Thanks and be safe.

        • Thats the information I need and use.  I’m not under a rock.  I really appreciate your information.  This is the stuff I tell my neighbors.  Just trying to get inoformation that is factual.  I say be safe because I too have seen things in life and abroad that isn’t pretty.  Even the toughest sometimes get hurt.  Again from me to you be safe.

        • What rock have you been hiding under the last two years? Have you not noticed the state of our country? You said the sky is falling not me.

          I think there were 59 calls pending at that time in the whole city, weapons calls, family disturbances, accidents, etc, etc, no cops to send. Don’t worry about me being safe, you take care.

        • I apologize ! It’s bad enough to go out everyday with a low staffed police department and fight crime. Now I also have to fight the politicians for a decent wage. What happened ?

        • So you want people that shoot first and ask question later. Hey sounds good to me.
          Bring them in, then we won’t need the Independent Police Auditor any more.

          Hey better yet, let’s bring the army in when they are done Iraq. Hopefully they will install a curfew.

  4. the employees already took a 10% pay cut, have to pay more for medical, and now are being attacked on sick leave payout and retirement reform. whats next if the proposed ballot measure does not pass? more pay cuts and layoffs- THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. please stop buying land for a supposed pro baseball team(thats never going to happen), quit hoarding money for litigation thats going to happen over these issues. The mayor already got his letter from the state attorney general saying the fiscal emergency would be illegal, he as an attorney should be able to understand basic english….

  5. Re “Heads up everybody” post.

    Perhaps john michael o’connor can answer this one. 

    Can San Jose employees active and retired file a class action suit against the City of SJ?

    If successful can City of San Jose be held responsible for court legal cost?  Can individual city Officials be sued?

    Thanks

    • I had a meeting with several people Saturday Night.  The answer to your question is YES. In the meeting were two attorneys one CPA Attorney and a expert on contracts. More to follow.  This will not be with the current public safety unions.  I do not trust them.
          My personal opinion is that we as public safety members need to leave the medical/dental and retirement plan offered by the city.  They will do what they can to bust it.  Cortex was an attempt to break our backs.  This failed so they have gone another path.
          Sorry if I offended anyone I do not trust the UNION, as stated above.

    • Orange County went through this process and lost at every step of the legal process. They’re now on the hook to pay the Deputy Sheriff’s Association millions of dollars in legal fees. Reed knows this, but he’s going forward anyway. He should pay for the lawsuit costs personally because of his poor decision making, but he won’t. You will. Know this before voting in favor of his unlawful ballot measure.

      Ballot measure notwithstanding, no one worth hiring will want to work for the City of San Jose. It is a miserable place to work and the good employees are bailing out on a daily basis. Citizens have not yet truly felt the impacts of the decisions made by the mayor and city manager, but they will. Crime is up, services are down, lawsuits are pending. This is your new reality. Thanks Chuck.

      http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2011/04/14/deputies-union-moorlachmainero-frivolous-lawsuit-is-dead/80543/

    • Just about anyone can file a lawsuit.  The problem will not be solved with litigation.  At the end of the day a budget deficit must be balanced.  The alternatives are only two:
      1. Negotiate a compromise that neither side will like and bridge the gap….or
      2. The city fires all non-essential employees to balance the budget.

      Litigate all day long but the city charter mandates a balanced budget and although employees and retirees may win in court on some items the alternative is contracting out city jobs to the private sector.  Win in court but join the unemployment line.  It is time for the posturing to stop and for everyone to get real and negotiate a legally allowable pension reform package.

    • JMO isn’t going to give it to you straight, he has an axe to grind.  I would venture a guess anybody can sue anybody else.  A judge may or may not allow it to proceed though.  One thing is for certain, the city is going to spend millions fighting the multitude of lawsuits that will be forthcoming as they try to do things that are most likely illegal, a violation of binding contracts, and quite frankly immoral.

      • Damn right I’ve got an axe to grind!  The 5000 or so current city retirees’ pensions account for 20% of the entire general fund budget for this city of 945,000 or so folks.  It’ll be close to 25% of the budget next year, and close to 30% the year after.  What is “moral” about that?  5000 people are bankrupting the entire city.

        I still don’t get the concept of an “emergency” that takes 8+ months to plan and declare.

        Easy for you to preach anonymously.  Grow a pair of balls big enough to post under your real name.  But given your point of view, you must be one of the 5000 feeding at the public trough, or you will be soon. If not, see Oliverio’s post today.  Are you going to write your check for $12,500-$16,000 to help make the system solvent?

        • The retirees who are supposedly draining the city coffers earned their retirements in agreements which the city made willingly. The elected officials whom were chosen by the majority entered into binding contracts with their workers.  Now it is just plain wrong for successive officials to come along and try and violate those contracts.

          As for my name, I could post any name here and it wouldn’t matter.  It is the content of each post that I am interested in, not who wrote it.  Just because you put your supposed real name down doesn’t guarantee the accuracy or honesty of anything you write.  In fact, remaining anonymous forces the reader to only concentrate on the actual writing, not the reputation or lack of by the writer.  Also, I wrote nearly 30 years of checks by my body resulting in numerous operations, scars, and limitations along with the countless sacrifices from my family to get the retirement I was promised. 

          Your crusade to take away what I believe I have rightfully earned is disgusting.  The markets rise and fall.  The economy sinks and floats.  All this will pass in time and the shortsighted attacks on public workers will become a thing of the past in a few short years.  But the damage that the jealous petty private industry people have done to public workers will take decades to repair.  And the public will ultimately pay the heaviest price for that.

        • “The retirees who are supposedly draining the city coffers earned their retirements in agreements which the city made willingly.”

          I agree with you that the city and the unions entered into negotiations that resulted in the current pension system.  It was “willingly” because the cabal headed by Gonzales, Chavez, and Guerra were in the hip pockets of the various unions. They were not looking out for all the people, just the unionistas who filled their campaign coffers and walked precincts to get them elected (except for Joe) and re-elected.

          It’s the classic case of a well-organized, well-funded special interest group getting the ears of politicians and their votes for a system that is grossly unfair to the taxpayers as a whole.

          Well, you don’t have all your lapdog politicians now as you did before, and you have 940,000 SJ residents pissed off about the screwing they are taking for the 5000 retirees like you who keep whining that we all have to work harder and pay more taxes to keep you fat and happy.

        • JMO , what have you ever done ??? seriously what?? have you ever done CPR on anybody? , how bout held a mothers hand as you told her her son/daughter were no more?How about broken into a car on a hot day because some citizen left their child in a carseat in a locked and overheated car?? have you ever had lunch @ 5pm or dinner @ 3am.how about go on a rescue , where a family member has been ejected? how about respond to a child who got trapped in a hottub for hours.ever been so tired , you cant stand it, but then the bell rings and there you go again??ever been in a completely involved structure fire, because reports say “people trapped”??ever had to climb 10-15 stories with 100lbs. of gear on,and then start work??Didnt think so. I think it never occurred to you,or you just didnt have it in you to serve others.what have you ever done that changed someones life.you seem like an angry resident who is lucky that we are here for you and the rest of this inconsiderate city…….so sleep tight knowing we are out there risking our lives ,while you are sleeping in your underoos

        • Your conspiracy theories make for good fiction but they are not true.  Yes, unions lobby politicians.  As do many other groups including those that convinced the city to put a giant dog turd statue in a park, sink millions into a slick city hall, provide state of the art libraries for kids to surf porn and be babysat, and a multitude of other special interests. 

          This is just a reality in the world that everyone has an agenda and it usually involves their own benefit.  However, what you repeatedly ignore, perhaps intentionally, is the fact that there is also a marketplace for various workers.  You should know that in every profession, be it legal, technical, labor, medical, service, etc. there are certain people who can demand higher pay due to their expertise.  If you need a lawyer that specializes in a certain unique kind of litigation and they have the hard earned credentials to provide that service, you will pay a premium.

          If you want a top notch education you go to a prestigious university with the most well known professors with a sterling Curriculum Vitae.  But, you pay top dollar for that education.  If you want the best looking home on the block, you pay for the best carpenters and painters who have earned their reputation through training and experience. 

          Are we seeing a pattern here?  If you want the best police and fire personnel serving your city, you compete with all the other cities and counties for the best people.  Despite many snivelers comments to the contrary, of the thousands who apply for a police position in San Jose, only a small handful end up with their file in front of a hiring board.  And, within that small group, the city only chooses another even smaller group that they believe are the best of the qualified few.

          Problem is, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Milpitas, Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Los Gatos, and the city list goes on, are competing for the same people.  Where will that police candidate go?  Will they go to the city that pays the lowest, has the worst benefits, constantly belittles their officers in public, initiates political actions against their bargaining units, defaults on their contracts and lays them off at the drop of a hat?

          No, they will do what private sector people with a good resume do and shop the highest bidder.  Back when times were good the SJPOA asked the city to be competitive with their pay and benefits in order to attract and retain the best candidates.  Ron Gonzales and all the rest agreed.  But, they didn’t want to raise pay, so they enhanced benefits in an attempt to kick the can down the road.  Nobody batted an eye back then as the private sector cash rolled in and everybody’s wallets grew fat.

          Now that times are bad, the city is going to take steps that will forever damage their ability to provide adequate public safety and attract future quality employees just to satisfy whiners like you JMO, who are so jealous of hard earned pay and benefits.  Mark my words, in 5 years you can dredge up these posts and people will wonder how the city and the citizens could be so ADD afflicted and short-sighted as San Jose is mired in rampant crime and blight.

  6. ” The retirees who are supposedly draining the city coffers earned their retirements in agreements which the city made willingly. The elected officials whom were chosen by the majority entered into binding contracts with their workers.  Now it is just plain wrong for successive officials to come along and try and violate those contracts.”

    Voters did not agree to inflated excessive pensions that city administration who had a gross conflict of interest since they also get inflated unsustainable pensions told Council and public when increased pension were being discussed that city could afford pensions both increased pension – WRONG and retroactive INCREASED pension – WRONG AGAIN

    How did city employees EARN retroactive pension at higher rates – They DID NOT, it was a Council political GIVEAWAY to unions

    So Council needs to grow a pair and go back to the old pension payouts or voters will vote out Council and change city pensions

    I am mad a hell and not going to be fooled again

    Vote NO on ANY San Jose Special Tax that would pay for Council’s political given excessive city pension and retroactive pensions

      • THE SOLUTION is to get an administration in there that knows how to manage the City’s finances and stop the spending. Instead of covering in the hole, they are taking dirt from one side and continue to dig a bigger whole, with incessant spending which is causing the hole to fall in on itself. If the city has a fiscal emergency, why are they still giving money away??? The problem is due to mismanagement of the money, not the pensions as they are trying to get the public to believe. There has been a whole slew of ideas put forth on this blog but do you think the City paid any attention on any one of them?????? Lots of brilliant minds, here, but the City is going to do what it wants to do. It has a focus and solutions really are not part of the equation. If they were, they would be trying to negotiate in good faith instead of showing up with the same proposal over and over, to make it look to the public like they are being responsive.

    • “Voters did not agree to inflated excessive pensions”

      Actually, yes you did.  Because at the time the vast majority of people were basking in the glow of a supposedly great economy and by comparison to the private sector, public pensions were simply trying to catch up to the private sector.  When politicians agreed to increase benefits, were you down at city hall with a sign marching?  Did you throw a hissy fit then?  Did you write you city council person and complain?

      No, I’d wager that you weren’t paying the slightest bit of attention because life was good for you.  Life was just peachy for most people and quite frankly, what a bunch of name tag wearers were getting from the city just wasn’t on your radar.  Now all of a sudden life has gotten tough for you Sparky.  Your company found out that there isn’t an endless supply of money, no more beer busts on Friday, your stock options tanked, no more travel junkets, maybe you got laid off, and life is rather painful.  Or perhaps you were in the labor or service field and you had more work than you could handle.  Now your company can’t find a contract to save their lives.

      So what do you do?  You find somebody else to blame.  Perhaps it is the Jews, or maybe the Palestinians. Maybe it’s the French, we always like blaming them. No, it is the terrorists.  The Islamic terrorists, or better yet maybe it is the white supremacy groups. Maybe it is the Wall Street bankers sleeping with lobbyists.  No wait!  I have it now, it is the politicians in cahoots with the unions.  Yes, the evil unions comprised of people who are hell bent on stealing your money and giving nothing in return.  The unions whose membership includes nothing but greedy, selfish, narcissistic bastards. Those aren’t people, they are union thugs.  Those aren’t your neighbors, football coaches, fellow church goers, Boy Scout leaders, blood donors, or PTA members, those evil unions are comprised of just faceless nameless pigs at the trough.

      What I find so ironic is that those who decry unions the loudest tend to be of the supposedly “conservative” or right leaning bent who have a historical hatred for all unions.  However, now that somebody else has it good, suddenly that good ol’ Socialism concept of taking from somebody else who earned it and giving it to somebody else who is without has become the battle cry.  Taking from the have’s and giving to the have not’s is en vogue.  Problem is, once after your redistribution of some of those have’s money that are critical to an orderly society are going to find it just isn’t worth the sacrifice anymore.

      So, you go ahead and vote no.  And keep vilifying the unions to make yourself feel good about your current situation.  When times get good again you can go back to your comfortable life and quickly forget about public sector workers as you had for so long before.  And, if you are lucky, you won’t ever need there services but God forbid if you do in the meantime.

  7. Well the vote was to go on Strike with the City! It will be out in a few days after the vote, but it will pass! Now what? Union members will rise and shut down the City! You heard it here first and the City will be brought to its knees!

        • There will never, ever be 4,000 employees that go on strike.  Remember there are close to 1,000 that are under contract and they would be fired outright.  Out of the 3,000 left, you would maybe get a couple of hundred and they could be fired. 

          Unions that still believe the pension funding crisis is “imaginary” are walking their members off a cliff.  Grow up, face the facts and negotiate.

        • “Grow up, face the facts and negotiate.”

          Easy for you to say. You write it in a blog and poof, it’s suppose to happen that way. It would be quite nice if the city would negotiate instead of going through the motions to make it look like they are negotiating. I am sure that if they *would* negotiate and negotiate, fairly, that there would be no need for a strike; however, it does not appear that they are doing a very good job of it….

        • Legally, they have a right to strike. You say face the facts and negotiate. How can there be negotiation when it is all one sided? Unions wanted the negotiations opened to the public. The City would not allow it. The unions are TRYING to negotiate. The city is not making that effort. Tell the City to open up the negotiations to the public. I doubt that there would only be 200 people striking. You have no idea what is going on. Unless the negotiations make some movement, I’m afraid that is what is going to happen across all unions, except for 3. When you look at it, you also have to look at all of those who will not cross the picket lines, who are not city employees. It doesn’t stop with the employees, it is also all of those who come to city hall who belong to unions and who also will not cross. I hope there is no strike, but if that is what it takes, then that is what it takes. Believe me, there will be wayyyyyyy more than 200 people. You have no idea.

    • City Employees Rise, if not:

      On behalf of the elected and appointed officials of San Jose and a ungrateful City, please accept this latex glove and tube of KY as a symbol of our appreciation for your years service to the people and City of San Jose.  Now bend over for retirement reform.

      • Latest from the Murky News:

        Seems like they have a news template every year regarging CSJ’s pension problems blaming on its workrs.

        Or WW2 Goebel’s ministry of propaganda and motto: Tell a lie many times and eventuaually becomes the truth.

        Mercury News editorial: San Jose has few options, none really good, for next budget

        Mercury News Editorial
        Posted: 09/21/2011 08:00:00 PM PDT
        Updated: 09/21/2011 08:57:37 PM PDT

        The juxtaposition of some local news reports this week has been heartbreaking.
        Over the weekend, the stellar, around-the-clock work by San Jose’s police force quickly resulted in the capture of the suspect in a horrific shooting, kidnap and murder spree Friday. It was the kind of professional excellence San Jose has come to expect from its police department, which rose to this challenge despite having lost 471 positions since 2001, including the layoff this summer of 66 young officers.
        Then, on Tuesday, the City Council heard grim financial projections that are likely to mean even deeper cuts next June—not only to the police force but also to other community services that contribute to public safety as well as the city’s quality of life. All branch libraries and all community centers could close, for example.
        The likelihood of another budget deficit between $78 million and $115 million reinforces the need for pension reform: Pension costs alone will go up $60 million in the next budget. But pension reforms—reducing benefits or raising employee contributions—in turn may increase the exodus of talented city employees, from police officers to top administrators, that already has begun as jobs with greater financial certainty open up elsewhere.
        It is a sad conundrum. But at no point in Tuesday’s meeting did anyone offer practical alternatives to pension reform that can make significant gains toward balancing the budget in the coming year.
        Council members reluctant to press serious reforms on city unions seemed most interested in pushing the pension payments into the future. This can be done by spreading the obligation over a longer period of time or by borrowing, perhaps using pension obligation bonds. These ideas might be reasonable if a major upsurge in revenue were absolutely assured. As it is, they’re the civic equivalent of running up credit card debt in hopes of getting a fabulous new job that may never materialize.
        These ideas have been explored at public meetings, but the city should plan a special study session to go through them again. Otherwise, the theories will linger as a mythical panacea. Council members who object to the city staff’s analysis need to document their own arguments. And if one turns out to be feasible after all, we’ll be pleased to be proven wrong.
        The best hope for pension reform is through the union negotiations going on now. Mayor Chuck Reed has proposed a ballot measure imposing reforms that would save $67 million in the next budget year, which could actually prevent more layoffs if the deficit stays at the low end of the expected range. But a consensus approach to reform supported by employees and labor leaders would be better for everyone.

  8. Ironic – the city now negotiates with police and fire unions on sick leave payout while the rest of the employees represented by 9 unions have been formally notified that there will be no sick leave payout as of January 2012. All staff earned their sick leave benefits equally, so why is it that police and fire can “negotiate” their way into a payout while the rest are unilaterally declared unworthy of payout? Where is the fairness in this? Perhaps all readers of this website should investigate the average salaries for the various job classes and determine for themselves which employees are the highest paid. Perhaps then there will be some discussion on spreading the pain on an equitable sliding scale. Note: police took a 4% cut in pay this fiscal year while the rest got a 10% cut imposed….

    • The answer to the issue of the sick leave payout is easy: minimum staffing. To my knowledge, only the PD and the FD have minimum staffing. The City knows that if they do away with the sick leave payout then officers and firefighters will actually start calling in sick when they are sick instead of coming in to work. If you have enough sick calls (and with how short-staffed we are, it won’t take many)the department will start trying to cancel vacations and scheduled time off – likely calling officers and firefighters back to work on a few hours notice. Those called back will probably tell whoever is doing the callback to pound salt – many will be on vacation, out of town, out of state, etc. Would you cut your vacation short under the same set of circumstances, especially considering how hard it is to get vacation and time off in the first place?

      To put how short-staffed the PD is in perspective, I present the following:

      1. Nearly every day of the week, day shift goes out with anywhere from 8-24 beat assignments cut. We have teams which often deploy with a third fewer officers than are typically assigned to the team, and sometimes more.

      2. We often run short-staffed not just to accommodate vacations and sick days, but to accommodate training.

      3. On the Saturday of the manhunt this last week, at about 10 A.M. we had 12 officers available to handle calls in the ENTIRE CITY. Nearly very other officer (not including those assigned to the Airport) was involved in some way with the manhunt of accused murderer Paul Ray Castillo. At that time, there were also 21 calls for service pending including 3 burglaries, 3 reports of stolen vehicles, a report of an incident involving brandishing a firearm at a school which had been pending for about 19 hours (the prior day) and a report of a possible child molestation which pended for 14 hours.

      4. It used to be unusual that a call for service would pend for an hour or two. Now, calls pending for multiple hours – even pending from the prior day – are becoming increasingly commonplace. A month or so ago, we had officers calling for Code 3 fills and there were no officers to send. That same night, a report of a rape in progress had to pend because there was not a single officer available to send. Every single one was attached to a stabbing or shooting of which there were several working at the same time.

      5. The department is on track to lose about 60 officers before the end of the year. Ideally, those officers would be replaced by officers who had been laid off back in July. However, many (if not most) of those officers have found employment elsewhere. We continue to lose officers to other agencies at an unprecedented rate and those officers who leave are embraced with enthusiasm by the communities they now serve. In many cases, those officers also take home more money since their agencies have better retirement programs and better health care packages. They also go to work in an environment which hasn’t been poisoned by the leadership of their employing municipalities (or counties).

      6. In the next couple of years, the department will likely lose more than 100 additional officers to retirements. This does not even take into account the hemorrhaging of officers to other agencies. There is no plan in place to hire new officers to account for this attrition. SJPD has not held an academy for 3 years.

      7. If Debra Figone had applied for the COPS grant and obtained the full funding, attrition and retirements alone would have offset the portion of wages and benefits for which the City would have been responsible. This is not the only aspect of the COPS grant issue in which she deceived the council or the city as a whole. Even without attrition, all she would have had to do is set aside a bit less than $2.5 million for four years and would have been able to fully fund those 53 positions. This could easily have been done by eliminating grants paid out of the General Fund to such organizations as:

      a. the Mexican Heritage Plaze,
      b. the Hayes Mansion,
      c. the Asian Law Alliance (this is like paying them to sue the city which the ALA routinely does)
      d. the Billy deFrank LGBT center
      e. every other organization which does not directly serve or enhance one of the City’s charter services.

      This city’s problems have vastly less to do with pensions and benefits and vastly more to do with irresponsible spending and a business environment which is so unfriendly that it routinely drives away businesses. Rather than making the hard – but responsible – choices to eliminate politically correct grant-giving, rather than choosing to spend responsibly, rather than changing the rules to encourage business, Mayor Reed and his allies have instead chosen to castigate and demonize the city’s employees, and Debra Figone is a key player at every stop of the way since every aspect of the City’s budget is ultimately her responsibility.

      • Officer D, thank you for that.  This is the type of information the citizens needs to hear.  I hope you keep telling us of these types of stories (stats) so that we can be reminded that the quality of safety is diminishing rapidly.  I would love to see response times verse a year ago and two years ago.  Fire included. 

        Also, the poster above mentioned police only taking a 4% cut this fiscal year.  I thought it was more.  Is this yet another ill-informed poster?

        Fire question:  I heard (but was unable to locate an article) about SJFD asked to help out with wild fires but had to decline because the department was not certified anymore.  Is this correct?  Certified in what?

        • Police Officers took a 10% paycut, not 4%. It is right on the City of San Jose website if hmmmmmm wants to get their facts straight.

      • Sick leave payouts can benefit the city financially. If the city implements a use it or lose it policy, people will begin to call to in sick, who wouldn’t. There is no incentive to not call in sick. This is not a financial problem for those jobs that can remain unfilled for the day. However, for those jobs that cannot remain unfilled, a FF or police officer needed to provide a basic level of safety, the city must pay overtime to the person who must fill the job. If the city would simply save a portion of the overtime money they are saving by not having people use their sick time, they would have a reserve from which to pay sick leave payouts for unused sick time.  This would be a win-win.  If the public pushes for a use it or lose it policy they will cause greater financial harm than they understand.

        • Why can’t they allow employees to take their sick hours and apply them to their time in service? This would allow the employee to retire a few months early and the City would have a few months of reduced pay for each retiree who took part. Win-win.

      • Officer D, absolutely on the mark!Now if only the residents of San Jose would wake up to the Cancer that is Mayor Reed ,City Manager Debra Figone,Alex Gurza & the rest of the City Council. This City is definetly circling the drain.

  9. Officer D,

    I find your post most enlightening and look forward to reading them.  I’m not in public service and have great difficulty understanding how or why San Jose officers continue to risk their well being knowing damn well they do not have support from City leaders, majority of voters, or have sufficient number of Officers to provide backup.

    I also fail to understand why anyone in their right mind would remain a San Jose Police Officer knowing if your career is cut short by a disabling injury, illness or death, you and or your family will not be adequately provided for due to reduced retirement and survivor benefits.  I have dissuaded my children from public service using San Jose as a prime example.

    • Interested Resident, you bring up some good points.  One that struck me was:

      “why San Jose officers continue to risk their well being knowing damn well they do not have support from City leaders, majority of voters, or have sufficient number of Officers to provide backup.”

      I’m thinking that San Jose Police Officers will continue to “Serve and Protect” when called upon to do so.  Still risking their lives when called to do so.  However, because of the climate and the items mentioned above; we will find that officers will diminish the risk factor in their jobs by being less proactive.  I would love to see stats on the subject, but I would bet that proactive police work is way down in this department.  Do we as citizens really think that an officer (or any employee) is going to perform at the same level when asked to do more with less for less?  Well sure it could be done, but not a snowballs chance in hell if you don’t have leadership from the top.  It will be a failed venture.

      I believe you will see (are seeing) that the City employees will ask the same question you asked in your posting.  Some sooner then later, will come to realize this is not a job worth risking their well being for.

      My solution: Complete management change.  Pension reform going forward (not retroactive, new employees) and re-coop funds loaned to the RDA immediately (this means no stadium).

  10. To Interested Resident, Just Anon and Not All:

    The POA voted to accept a 10% pay cut this year. However, at least one department in the city did not either accept or have imposed on them a pay cut or benefit concessions: the office of the IPA. Furthermore, if my sources are correct, they have actually had their budget increased recently.

    With respect to Interested’s post about why we remain on the job, I can’t and wouldn’t presume to speak for all officers with the department, but I can offer some possible explanations for why officers have stayed with the PD.

    There are a number of officers who have enough seniority to be able to retire in the fairly near future. Despite retirement reciprocity, going to a new agency as a junior officer represents a major lifestyle change that might be too challenging to accept. It’d be hard to go back to working the graveyard shift in your 50’s.

    Other officers may have certain personal reasons, as I do, for remaining employed with the city. However, for myself, if the situation with the city continues to deteriorate, there is a very real possibility that that I will apply to other agencies as well.

    Other officers may only be staying with the PD long enough to get hired with other agencies. This has happened with a number of officers already. In fact, I know of at least one officer who was re-hired by the city only to leave for a different agency after a couple of weeks. He was pretty smart; he never pulled his applications from other agencies.

    Finally, I would say this: the city is going to have an horrific time hiring officers in the next couple of years. The actions of the mayor, the council and, by extension, San Jose’s citizens, are known throughout the nation. In fact, I myself has told people interested in becoming officers to never every apply to San Jose. Barring any radical changes in the leadership of the city and its attitudes, I can’t imagine doing anything other than discourage candidates from applying to work for SJPD unless they understood that it wasn’t smart to think of it as a long-term career move.

    Lastly, I would like to offer this thought for consideration: Mayor Reed and his allies have usurped the mantle of fiscal conservatives despite ample evidence to the contrary and have played the class warfare card to great success with San Jose’s citizens. However, he has made numerous decisions, cast countless votes, which belie his true beliefs.

    If Mayor Reed cared about the health of the city he’d have voted against countless commercial-to-residential zoning conversions, he’d have voted against continuing with low income housing construction, he’d have convinced Debra Figone to discontinue giving grant monies paid out of the general fund, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of his hypocrisy. Every one of those decisions has done fiscal harm to the city, has made the job of public safety all the more difficult, has lowered property values – and therefore property tax revenues – by creating a surplus of housing in the city. Finally, he has stubbornly ignored a basic rule of supply and demand: when a resource is increasingly scarce – as qualified public safety candidates certainly are – the value of that resource is defined by what competing agencies are willing to pay, rather than what he attempts to assert as our value. He can say all he wants about how pensions are bankrupting the city and tacitly point the main finger of blame at public safety since we are the best-compensated in the city. But other agencies can and do offer superior pay/benefit packages – and do so gladly. Mayor Reed knows this and knows the reason why – they have more revenue per capita than does San Jose. He’s admitted this to me – personally and in one of his radio round table discussions. Unfortunately, taking steps to remedy this issue would mean accepting responsibility for a raft of decisions – and their consequences – far more serious and deleterious than his affirmative votes for enhanced retirement benefits.

    • I will post this knowing that the cop haters here will ridicule it.  However, beyond the practical reasons for staying with a police agency, there are some philosophical reasons as well.  When a police candidate goes through the hiring process, they take a multitude of tests.  Some of these tests are psychological in nature including the MMPI and other written tests, an interview with the police psychologist, a lie detector test, etc.  All of these psych tests, coupled with the written, physical and background investigation, are designed to find a certain profile.

      Yes, the police department profiles its candidates.  They are looking for a certain mindset that over the years has proven to be more successful at handling the rigors of law enforcement.  I won’t go into a long explanation of those qualities but suffice it to say loyalty, integrity, patience, the ability to follow orders strictly, intolerance for crime coupled with compassion for suffering, and the list goes on.  If you could see the ideal profile for a cop you would think it was an interview to be God’s right hand helper.

      This doesn’t mean every candidate achieves the perfect score as humans are imperfect.  Nevertheless, those that are hired do possess certain philosophies that make it much harder for them to simply abandon an agency, community, or career.  There is a much higher level of commitment and dedication to an organization than perhaps another civilian.  This doesn’t necessarily mean the cops are better than civilians, just different.

      As such, walking away from an agency isn’t taken lightly.  I can tell you emphatically that leaving a police department after decades of service is very difficult. Those that have served in the military may understand the bond that is created between a member, their comrades, and their organization.  This is why the cops feel the cut of political mudslinging and the vicious comments from the citizens so deeply.  It is one thing to part ways with a company when your main goal is simply to make a good living.  It is quite another to leave when you have a deep philosophical commitment to your career and community.

      Now, some of you will laugh and say “how touching” going on your way holding on to the belief that cops and firefighters are greedy pigs but for those of you with a more open mind, consider that police and firefighters are not always just in it of the money.  Yes they want to provide well for their families like you do.  But, they also believe very sincerely in the work that they do and will not part with it easily. And, when you devalue their service just because our are going through tough financial times yourself, you are really just cutting your own throats as the pool of candidates willing to endure such ingratitude is rapidly dwindling.  Everyone has their limits.

  11. In 2008, Figone writes in her General Fund Structural Deficit Elimination Plan: “Beginning in 2001-2002, the City recognized that revenues were not keeping pace with expenditures and began taking steps to cut costs.”  One of her solutions—have the SJ RDA, support the General Fund to the tune of $1M/year. (see page 10).  Here is a link to the City’s budget website where this can be found.  http://www.sanjoseca.gov/budget/

    Rather than have the RDA help the general fund, the Mayor has seen fit to implement the reverse. The GF recently gave land to satify RDA debt. Now in the 2012-2013 General Fund Status Report, Figone indicates that the GF may be liable for up to $42M in RDA obligations—this is part of the deficit projections.

    Thus, one must ask why it was proper or prudent for the RDA (run by the Mayor and council) to transfer RDA properties to a new entity without first making sure its obligations were paid.  Why not transfer them to the GF? The Mayor intentionally has left the GF on the hook for RDA debt while sheltering millions worth of property. 

    How can this make fiscal sense? 

    Moreover, Figone’s status report is short on facts.  For example, She identifies $120M in “One-Time includes contingency reserve, encumbrance reserve, earmarked reserves, one-time grants, and expenditure rebudgets” – but nothing more specific.  Without specifics how can the Council ever know if this an area that has room to be cut.  She also identifies non-discretionary payments. In that is included the cost of council appointees. This is completely discretionary. Don’t appoint them. The Mayor has 5 advisors all making well over 100k/year and all appointees. He need not fill those positions. That staff was not reduced. 

    There is still bloat and extreme mismanagement.  Before the public votes on extreme pension reform which will not only cause the city to lose virtually all of its employees as they will go elsewhere and cost millions in legal bills no matter who wins, they should take a hard look at the fiscal activities of this Council and see where the real bloat and mismanagement lies.