Story of the Week: Mayor Reed’s Traffic Ticket Goes Viral

San Jose Inside introduces a new feature called “Story of the Week.” Each week, we’ll pick out a news story that caught our eye, for better or worse.—Editor

Honestly, this could be the story of the year. It’s just so ridiculous on multiple levels. In case you didn’t know, Mayor Chuck Reed received a traffic ticket Tuesday morning. He was stopped for not using his right turn signal at the corner of North White and Mabury roads. Making matters worse, someone in the San Jose Police Department took a photo of the ticket and passed it to an NBC Bay Area reporter, who then tossed it up on Twitter. Police Chief Chris Moore was none too happy, and he’s apparently scouring his department to find the perpetrator(s).

Let’s break this thing down.

First things first: Did Mayor Chuck Reed get a traffic ticket for not using his turn signal or because he’s the same guy who pushed to cut police pay and pensions? Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold wrote today that, according to the “cops I trust,” the officer who pulled Reed’s Toyota Prius over didn’t know it was the mayor when he initiated the stop. It’s possible he thought it was Ash Kalra. Kidding. (On a side note, we would love to hear more about the cops Herhold doesn’t trust.)

But what kind of quota garbage is pulling someone over for not using a turn signal? Running a red light—book ‘em, Danno. Texting while driving—absolutely. A turn signal while driving in a lane designated for turning? C’mon!

A spokesman for the mayor says he hasn’t decided if he will contest the $35 citation, but if the news gods are kind, Charles Rufus Reed will fight it to the bitter end.

The reporter who posted the photo of the ticket, NBC’s Damian Trujillo, tweeted a picture of the ticket with the following note: “EXCLUSIVE!! Amidst layoffs and pension reform, SJPD gives SJ Mayor a ticket this morning.” Possibly the least surprising aspect of all of this is that NBC Bay Area had the “EXCLUSIVE.”

I’m not saying the Police Officers Association had anything to do with this, but it’s no secret that the news station has a cozy relationship with the police union, and often trots out public safety stories that might as well have come straight off a POA press release. (And in case this sounds like I have something against NBC, trust me, I don’t. The reason I got into journalism was so that one day I could walk around City Hall making serious faces.)

In the end, no one comes out looking good in this deal, except maybe Mayor Reed. His office released a statement to the Merc saying, “I am a cautious driver, and this was my first ticket in decades.” Sure sounds like a guy who just wanted to get to work.

Now, though, the chief of police is using resources, when the SJPD is already stretched thin, trying to find out who leaked the ticket to the media. There’s an interesting angle. How much time and money will be spent on this issue, over a traffic ticket that probably should have never even been handed out in the first place?

Ladies and gentlemen, your story of the week.

UPDATE: Mayor Reed’s office said the mayor plans to pay the fine, although it is expected to cost “much more” than $35.

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

14 Comments

  1. I believe most cops are good upstanding men & women who chose the profession to make a difference and not to exploit a position of power in the community but they should do some policing of their own because stunts like this do nothing to convince the public that the cops don’t take personal vendettas against people and abuse their status and power to do it. 

    I hope the haha we got ‘em chuckle in the police lockerroom was worth all the integrity it cost in the public eye. 

    Come on guys, you have more important things to do than take pictures and leak them to little man Trujillo.  It is so far beneath your profession.  Come up with a viable alternative to the Mayor’s proposed pension cuts and leak those to the public.  We want to be on your side, so give us something to back not something to shake our heads in disgust at.

  2. Not so fast Josh! As a mediator and arbitrator of 30 years, I can tell you that this situation is NOT about getting back at the Mayor. This is just a side effect of a bigger issue that isn’t being dealt with properly. 

    The real issue here is that public servants and City employees are hurt, feel betrayed, and unappreciated because our City leaders didn’t handle the pension reform issue properly.

    On the other hand, our City Manager, Mayor, and Council are burdened with keeping our City from going bankrupt, and are dealing with the fallout of past City overspending by former City leaders, and a once thriving economy. EVERYONE involved is being closed minded and stubborn! 

    This ticket scandal is only ONE of many abuses on ALL sides that I have seen. It’s like a terrible B movie with bad actors in it, and it is only getting worse!

    Having said that, Police work is and continues to be one of the noblest professions in the country.  Look at how many cities have successful negotiated pension reform with public safety AND employee unions without all this childish, mean spirited behavior.

    I’ve seen city employees demonized in the media, and I’ve seen them retaliate by harassing our City Manager at the Flames during lunch, and Occupy San José invading her home with protests, simply because she is doing her job!

    I’ve seen our Mayor and some Council Members make insensitive comments about City employees in the media, and hurt morale. Police Officers retaliate by de-policing, or getting depressed and leaving to other cities. 

    They do not realize that they are committing, “institutionalized suicide!” Pension reform is happening all across our country because our leaders, banks, and businesses have failed us, and now our economy is in the toilet!  These folks don’t realize that no matter where they go, they will face the SAME problems regarding pension reform there.

    Secondly, I have to say that watching folks use crime statistics, and homicide victims as a means to push their personal agendas is really quite disturbing! When I saw this column on Protect San Jose, http://www.protectsanjose.com/content/tragic-death-highway-patrolman-and-disdain-law-enforcement-shown-some-sj-leaders, I was outraged and posted the following response:

    Jim,
    While I understand your frustration by Council Member Liccardo’s comments, and while I am
    deeply sorry that our community has lost such an incredible hero/Officer, I do not believe this kind of post honors this Officer’s memory, sacrifice, or service in a positive way.

    This Officer died in the line of duty, and has left a beautiful family behind to grieve his loss. They are suffering and need our support. What they don’t need right now is for the loss of their family member to be used to further a political agenda over pension reform.

    Having said that, I am deeply concerned by the way everyone involved is finger pointing,and hurting one another. Too many Officers and citizens are dying, getting injured, or becoming victims of violent crime, while everyone involved is pushing their own political agendas on us.

    It is time for everyone to come together, and start collaborating on how to make things better for our City, our Police Officers, our Firefighters, and the public. By doing this, we would be showing the families who have lost loved ones the kind of support they so badly need, and deserve right now.
     
    I don’t know if they will post it, but they should because things have really gotten out of hand on ALL sides.
     
    As to your article Josh, if the Mayor broke the law, then he should be cited. If he disagrees with the citation, he can take it to court like the rest of us do.

    If the Unions and the City want to make lawyers and political consultants richer then let them, but there won’t be any winners in the end.

    What is needed here is for everyone to fall on the sword and start showing good will, and strong leadership. They should go to mediation and stay there until they come to an agreement that benefits EVERYONE because enough is enough already!

  3. Slow news day… zzzzzzz.  But allow me to ask a question.  Why are there citations that cost only $35?  Given the PD overhead, a ticket should run at least double that to make it worthwhile.

  4. Look I am DEFINETLY NOT a Fan of   the Mayor , but this truely is no big deal .  So what he made a minor mistake . His destruction of this City & City services have nothing to do with this ticket . The ONLY story here is How Chief Moore can pull people from an insanely understaffed Police Dept. to Investigate a A ticket ! With all the crime and violence going on the City , The ” Ticket Investigation” is what takes Priority??? Chief Moore needs to stop Kissing up and start doing his job! He along with The Mayor and Council have let the residents of San Jose Down .

  5. “The reporter who posted the photo of the ticket, NBC’s Damian Trujillo, tweeted a picture of the ticket with the following note: “EXCLUSIVE!! Amidst layoffs and pension reform, SJPD gives SJ Mayor a ticket this morning.”

    It’s a hard candy Christmas having to pick which character in this little drama is more loathsome…Reed or Trujillo.

    Reed is a total tool for developers, the chamber, and the Merc.

    Trujillo is a total tool for those like Reed wishing to implement defamatory campaigns with dramatic and embellished claims.

    Trujillo has long served the interests of Reed to such an extent that they really deserve each other.  Kind of a yin-yang thing going on there, each tickling the sweet spot of the other.

  6. From “Kathleen” – “Officers retaliate by de-policing, or getting depressed and leaving to other cities”.
      Yes, depressed, but making the difficult decision to leave a City they had all intention of staying with in order to be able to earn enough money to support their families would depress me too.  Secondly, are you accusing Police Officers of intentionally not policing, or slowing down their responses?  That is a very serious accusation, punishable by prosecution.  Maybe you should publish some facts, or perhaps have share some of your knowledge with the rest of us.  If not, then you might want to retract that accusation.

    • BOHICA,

      Officers leaving San Jose to go to other cities to improve their salary and benefits is understandable. But in reality, eventually, they will encounter the same budgetary problems our City is facing wherever they go. It is already happening to many who have already left.

      You said “Secondly, are you accusing Police Officers of intentionally not policing, or slowing down their responses?  That is a very serious accusation, punishable by prosecution.  Maybe you should publish some facts, or perhaps have share some of your knowledge with the rest of us.  If not, then you might want to retract that accusation.”

      I am not accusing any Officer of slowing down their response time. As a matter of fact, nowhere in my post did I say that. 

      As to my “accusation” that SOME Officers are not policing, I have already spoken to Police Chief Moore about this. I guess I’ll have to wait and see if he decides to prosecute me for having an opinion about something I’ve seen with my own eyes.

      And NO I will not retract my statement. Your threat of prosecution for voicing my opinion doesn’t scare me, it only serves to prove my point about how bad things have become between the Police, the community, and the City thanks to the pension reform issue. (BTW-I voted NO on Measure B.) I think you know full well that I am a strong supporter of the SJPD, but like it or not, you DO have some bad apples in your organization.

      The truth of the matter is that Officers are overworked, short staffed, putting in a lot of overtime, and getting injured at a higher rate than before, due to staff shortages. No one in their right mind would run into a highly dangerous situation ALONE. So if I want to tell the Police Chief that we need more Police Officers to ensure their safety, and that there is a need for MORE community involvement to assist Police Officers in solving crime, well then that is exactly what I’m going to do, and have done.

      Secondly, I know FIRST hand that SOME Officers, who are applying outside of San Jose, do NOT want to take the risk of screwing up on the job, so they are being, shall we say, much more careful while doing their job, as a disciplinary action put in their file would keep them from being promoted, or from being hired elsewhere.

      The reality of the situation is this BOHICA, our public safety departments, and our dispatchers desperately need help. Everyone is getting burned out, and are overworked because of the shortage. If I want to voice my concerns about what I see and hear, that is exactly what I’m going to do, regardless of the threat of prosecution by you. So wake up and don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I’m on your side all the way!

      Thank you for your service and please, stay safe out there!

      • Cool your jets sister.  Never said that YOU would be prosecuted, its the SWORN OFFICER who would be investigated.  Read it.

        The term “biting the hand that feeds you” is a derogatory term meant to compare a human being to a dog. I dont really appreciate it.

        I really dont care WHAT you do, and your whiplash response to any answer back to your statements is counter productive at best. I never directed anything personally, I only asked for references to your accusations.  At this request, you got defensive….why?

        Why is the problem all of the sudden new?  Its not.  The Police Department and Fire Departments have been traditionally short-staffed for many years.  Its the incredible pay cuts and retirement contribution increases, the cutting of police units, and the dismantling of our Public Safety which has decimated morale. The pure hatred of public safety coming from the Mercury News, City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, and Developers is fueling this.  Help all you want, it doesnt change the fact that Fire and Police personnel feel betrayed, unappreciated, persecuted and generally abandoned.

        • BOHICA,
          Thank you for clarifying your statement. Next time, it would be helpful if you simply said, “It’s the SWORN OFFICER who would be investigated,” instead of saying, “That is a very serious accusation, punishable by prosecution.  Maybe you should publish some facts, or perhaps have share some of your knowledge with the rest of us.  If not, then you might want to retract that accusation.”

          Secondly, my statement “So wake up and don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” is NOT a derogatory term meant to compare a human being to a dog.”

          I am an animal rescuer/rights advocate, and have been for some 20 years now. (Sometimes, I LOVE dogs more than human beings because they understand the meaning of loyalty, and kindness! wink)  This expression is the way those of us in the rescue profession refer to someone who attacks us out of fear. It was in no way said to demean or belittle you, any more than your statement about prosecution was aimed at me.

          You said, “I really dont care WHAT you do, and your whiplash response to any answer back to your statements is counter productive at best. I never directed anything personally, I only asked for references to your accusations.  At this request, you got defensive….why?”

          I disagree; responding to someone’s post with a different point of view is NOT counterproductive. It is healthy, and it is called communication. It allows two people to understand and consider differing viewpoints, and yes, it even allows us to educate ourselves on the issue being discussed.

          Even though you deny it, I think you do care and appreciate that someone like me is defending public safety. I think you misinterpreted my original statement, and came back at me in a defensive way, which resulted in my response.

          So now that we have hopefully moved passed our miscommunication issues, let me provide you with some solid proof of what I am seeing:

          Here is the link to the Chief’s report:
          http://www.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/Agenda/20120918/20120918_ss1.pdf

          You will want to focus on the violent crime rates, property crime rates the calls for service rates vs. self initiated activity. It would have been nice if the Chief had given us the average of officers on patrol over the years, so we could see what staffing actually is over the years.

          Obviously a 46% drop in self initiated activity is de-policing, at least in my book any way.

          Next, you conclude your post by saying, “Why is the problem all of the sudden new?  Its not.  The Police Department and Fire Departments have been traditionally short-staffed for many years.  Its the incredible pay cuts and retirement contribution increases, the cutting of police units, and the dismantling of our Public Safety which has decimated morale. The pure hatred of public safety coming from the Mercury News, City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, and Developers is fueling this.  Help all you want, it doesnt change the fact that Fire and Police personnel feel betrayed, unappreciated, persecuted and generally abandoned.”

          You are 100% correct when you say that under staffing is NOT new and that between the media attacks on public safety, and the campaign message put out by City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and others on pension reform, employees now feel villianized, they feel unappreciated, and they feel hated. 

          These practices have led to a decline in morale, employees leaving in droves, job burnout, and an increase in crime. Unfortunately, due to these factors, it has only now become an issue that can no longer be ignored.

          Look BOHICA, I cannot control what others have done to our City employees, or what a tanked economy has done to ALL of our cities. I cannot defend bad behavior on all sides of this issue either. All I and others I am partnering with can do is to try to bring everyone together to heal and move forward. That is more than most people involved in this mess are doing.

          Rebuilding trust and repairing harm takes time, and commitment. It starts with a willingness to change our attitudes, good will/faith, cooperation, and forgiveness.

          May be holding educational forums to engage the public in helping Police to solve crime, and get their at risk family members help, coupled with showing the movie “Courageous,” to the public, so they can see Police Officers as human beings, holding the prayer vigils we’ve been doing all over the City, and the up and coming BBQs honoring public safety isn’t your cup of tea, but I think it is a step in the right direction.

          Please give some serious consideration to joining us Sunday, September 23rd, from 2-5:00pm, at Houge Park for our first BBQ to honor public safety.

          I honestly think it just might change your mind about how citizens/officials view public safety servants. Hey you never know, you might even have some fun! 

          Again, please stay safe out here.

        • Meyer Weed,

          I need to disclose that apparently that number in the report is incorrect. It is not 46% it is 10%. The correction to the figures was made at last night’s Study Session.

          You make an excellent point that because we have less Officers to serve more citizens it is understandable that self-initiating activity has gone down. However, I still maintain that “some” not All Officers are de-policing. I have seen it happen with my own eyes.

          Having said that, I still believe that we have the best Police Department in the country. Our men and women have served us with true professionalism, and dedication even though they have gotten the crappy end of the stick. I’m proud of them for doing such a fantastic job with so few resources, and so little back up.

          I know in my heart that in the end, we’ll all get through this if we pull together.

          Thank you for your service, and please, stay safe out there!

        • “..a 46% drop in self initiated activity is de-policing…” 

          This is not ‘de-policing” in the sense that officers are intentionally “NOT” self-initiating activity. It is a direct result of having fewer officers working patrol and having to answer about the same number of dispatched calls for service. When busy Districts like Charles used to have 9 officers(4-5 years ago)  working swing shift it was pretty easy to self-initiate. Infact there were some hard chargers who would rather take a SIF (Self initiated felony) stat and stay out of servie to process the case than answer a dispatched call.  Now that there are only 5-6 officers in DC on swings it is pretty hard to get a dinner break between the calls pending.

  7. Rich Robinson said it best:
    “The core of politics comes down to trust.  A leader who establishes that trust would never get a traffic ticket from his employees.  You can complain that is a perk of office, but it is well-established.  The exception, of course, is drunk driving or felony behavior. 

    But Mayor’s of big cities don’t get traffic tickets from their cops.  It is sign of how little respect is shown the Mayor by city employees and vice versa.”

  8. Selective enforcement of the law *is* a big thing.  It doesn’t matter that it’s only a $35 ticket, it’s an abuse of power.

    I thought the cops that did what they had to do to protect Figone’s house did a lot for the image of the SJPD.  In that case, it was doing what you’re supposed to do, regardless of your personal feelings.  In this case, even though it was petty, it gives people the impression that cops do what they want.