Jim Unland had his leadership of San Jose’s police union questioned internally as well as in the press the last couple weeks. But when the Police Officers Association’s election—held over the course of several days—came to a close Tuesday morning, Unland easily retained his position as president of the POA, defeating officer Jon Baker by a wide margin, according to a POA source.
“Unland smoked him,” the source said.
Not everyone has been happy with Unland’s leadership, which included POA-funded defeats on Measure B, the re-election of Councilmember Rose Herrera, POA-endorsed candidate Robert Braunstein losing the District 10 race to Johnny Khamis, and even questionable spending on an East Side school board race that resulted in the election of Magdalena Carrasco—a Chuck Reed ally.
But in a phone call interview Tuesday with Unland, who will serve two more years along with John Robb returning as his vice president, the POA president said the internal fractures were overblown.
“I think people associated with that other group are great at making a lot of noise, but not a lot of substance,” Unland said.
He added that his election—Unland took over the president position in late 2011 after George Beattie resigned—“demonstrates to City Hall, the mayor’s office, the Mercury News or any other forces who think they’re getting involved in our process that the POA is united.”
Internal critics of Unland also cited the continued employment of political consultant Pete Mitchell, who focuses on state government relations, as a sign of mismanagement. The POA hired consultants Tom Saggau and Dustin DeRollo last year, and some POA members took it as a duplicative hire.
“We have a two-year contract with [Mitchell] that comes to an end next month, and unlike the city we honor our contracts,” Unland said. “At this point I don’t have plans on renewing his contract. It’s not a reflection on him.”
The top priorities for the police union will continue to be labor negotiations and fighting Measure B in court, Unland said.
A source close to the situation told San Jose Inside a few interesting details about the political calculus that has taken place over the past several months. The POA’s quest to unseat Herrera, apparently, was fueled by a meeting at the Moscone Center in San Francisco between three union’s officials, a POA actuary flown in for the meeting and Herrera.
The councilmember said she would give the unions’ actuary a chance to explain the unfunded liability math, but then Herrera gave him little time or attention to explain the numbers, the source says. Unions saw it as an act of bad faith.
“Part of the reason we were so aggressive with her is all elected officials have is their word,” the source said.
Regarding the late push against Carrasco’s school board run, the decision to fund mailers against her was to keep Carrasco out of the spotlight before another potential run against Councilmember Xavier Campos in two years.