Chuck Reed: Our Republican Mayor

Mayor Reed should come out of the closet. No, not that closet. I’m talking about the closet inhabited by local politicos who call themselves Democrats, because it suits their electoral ambitions despite plainly conservative fiscal—and social—values. This is a subject we visited last month, and in the time since, it’s taken on an added dimension.

Last week, the City of San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee rejected a proposal from councilmembers Sam Liccardo, Xavier Campos, and Don Rocha for the Council to adopt a resolution opposing the notorious Supreme Court decision in the 2010 Citizens United case. That decision basically holds that money equals free speech and corporations are the same as individuals like you and me—at least when it comes to elections.

President Obama admonished the Court over its ruling in his State of the Union Address that year. His 2008 presidential election opponent, John McCain, as well as every other crusader for campaign finance reform, joined in that criticism. Resolutions opposing the decision are commonplace among Democratic and progressive organizations, including both the California and Santa Clara County Democratic Party. There is even a national grassroots movement to overturn the decision with a Constitutional Amendment.

On paper, San Jose is arguably one of the most Democratic big cities in the nation. And on paper, the resolution rejected by the Rules Committee last week would seem to fall in line with the politics of our residents. So why did it fail to move out of committee? According to Mayor Reed, the proposal was “pretty far out there.” That’s a pretty far out there statement from a man who calls himself a Democrat on the dotted line. And it doesn’t stop there.

The Mayor recently issued a referral to the City’s Elections Commission, asking it to look into the elimination of contribution limits in City Council races. His argument is fairly straightforward: because independent expenditure committees already dominate the electoral landscape, we shouldn’t hamstring candidates by regulating the amount of money they can spend on their own campaigns. Of course, the democratic (small “d”) response would be to overturn Citizens United and reduce the amount of money flooding into independent committees, and not to undermine successful campaign finance reforms that have been in place for years. Can the Mayor use his Reed Reforms to justify this move?

It’s enough to make you wonder if the de-facto figurehead of San Jose’s government has his finger on the pulse of his residents. From his opposition to gay marriage and the Measure D minimum wage hike to his “gravy train” rebuke of our police officers and attempts to undercut the voice of city boards and commissions in the name of fiscal responsibility, Mayor Reed looks, sounds, and votes no different from conservative Republican Councilmembers Pete Constant and Johnny Khamis. And as the saying goes, if it looks like a Republican, sounds like a Republican, and votes like a Republican, you call it what it is.

To his credit, Mayor Reed doesn’t make himself out to be a die-hard, bleeding heart, Democratic activist. But if actions speak louder than words, he’s screaming his political allegiances from the proverbial mountaintop. He avoids Party functions like the annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner and doesn’t give money to Democratic candidates or causes. He even goes so far as to endorse hardline Republicans running against fellow Democrats (see Pegram, Larry; Khamis, Johnny), provided they’ll be solid votes for securing his legacy.

This is not to let Mr. Reed’s partners in subterfuge off the hook. Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio, a fellow Democrat and Rules Committee member, also voted against the Citizens United resolution. That was surprising, because Mr. Oliverio is a two-term member of the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee. Perhaps he, more than any other local “Democrat,” truly understands one of the underlying political principles of our region: Nobody’s paying attention, so what does it matter anyway?

Well, there will be more than a few people paying attention on Tuesday, when the Council considers joining an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case against Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage in California. I’m getting my popcorn ready.

Peter Allen is an independent communications consultant and a proud native of San Jose.

Peter Allen was born and raised in San Jose and lives in Willow Glen. He is a board member of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association and vice chair of the city of San Jose Arts Commission. Follow him on Twitter at @pjallen2.

8 Comments

  1. I’d have to disagree that Mayor Reed doesn’t have the pulse of the community he serves.  California voters overwhelmingly supported Prop 8 as well as all three of the Mayor’s local measures for pension reform. Maybe its the Democrats who are out of touch with the actual values of the communities they’re serving. 

    The what they say and what they vote for seems to apply to the citizens too.  CA might be a very blue state but we tend to vote against some of the big Dem sponsored measures and props of late.  Could it be a shift in the electorate that Reed actually has his finger on?

    Standing behind measures and votes that reflect his values doesn’t make him a bad Dem or a closet Rep, it makes him a good politician.  Love him or hate him, Reed is a very strong and very shrewd politician.  His own landslide, unopposed victory is further proof that the people of San Jose largely agree with him.  Would that mean they disagree with you Mr Allen?

    Sour grapes make better vinegar than wine.

    • D5,

      You need to look close at the posted picture of Chuck!  He thought is screw you public safety, and all public employees.  Take your pensions and sshove it, I don’t care how much it affects your lives and that of the citizens of San Jose.

      Again it’s my way or the highway.  And you on the city council that don’t vote my way, then screw you too. don’t even bother to bring up good ideas that will help this once great city because I run the Rules Committee and my clowns and I will throw your Ideas in the sewer plant that we plan to waste time and money on to rename it.

      Hope all of you reply to Chucks Merky News article to send in ideas to rename a crap plant.

      Still think it is appropriate to name it after the mayor.  “Chuck Reeds public Safety and employee Appreciation Company”.

    • Aware D5,

      If the same thing happened to the African American Community (it has), or the Asian Community, or any other non-lgbt community, where a proposition to take away rights away from their community passed in California, would your views change?

      LGBT community is no different than anyone else! I don’t give a DAMN that Californians voted for Prop 8, I don’t think it was legal or constitutional.

      and it won by 2 percentage points, unless you don’t know math, 2 percentage points is not an “overwhelming” support

  2. Aware D5 ,

    You are correct that both Prop 8 and Measure V, W , ,& B passed . but do not be delusional . Measure B passed with a majority vote in one of the LOWEST voter turnouts in San Jose’s history . doesnt really sound overwelming does it ? As Far as Those measures go , They will be tied up in the courts for years costing San Jose residents Millions in wasted monies . They will be defeated quite simply because those measures are illegal. Sad part is , The Mayor ignored warnings by the city attorney as well as other contracted attorneys ( regarding illegal measures) still the Mayors extreme arrogance is what got this city to where we are now………….in litigation. the City is fighting off 13 different lawsuits regarding these illegal measures and to date has already spent 1 million dollars and the real fight hasnt even begun yet. Did I mention that the courts have already ruled that the City will bear all costs (plaintiff AND Defendant) .

    he is Not a bad Democrat or a Bad Republican , He is just a Bad Person . I say this because I voted for him . ( one of my biggest regrets). It is always his way or no way . his absolute unwillingness to work with city workers to come to an agreement. his many lies and distortions , his many underhanded and behind the scene actions . he has lied , cheated and stolen ( yes he repaid)

    remember this ” The Wisdom of a FOOL ……….Will Not set you Free ” !

  3. Reed is Obama.

    Funny how “progressives” mostly turn a blind eye to Republican defense and economic policies that for all intents and purposes have changed very, very little from when Bush was President.

  4. Chuck Reed a conservative? Really?
    This myopia that afflicts progressives is really becoming a serious problem.
    We once tried a progressive manager on the baseball team I used to play on. Seemed like a sharp guy but when he set the outfield he put the right fielder Roberto in center but shading to left. He put the center fielder in straightaway left and the left fielder on the left foul line. When we asked him, “well who’s got right?” he answered “Roberto”. And we said “no, you’ve got Roberto in center. Nobody’s in right.” Then he just went quiet and kind of gazed vacantly at us with an uncomprehending look. This went on for a while. Finally we realized that he simply did not possess the cognitive ability to understand the existence of “right field”. Upon further questioning we found out that he imagined the right field foul pole stood in dead center field.
    Right field was a concept that, in his world, simply didn’t exist.
    Don’t get me wrong. Barack was a great guy. He just wasn’t suited to be a manager. I wonder what ever happened to that guy.

  5. Reed is neither Democrat nor Republican. Reed is a mercenary whose career has been defined by giving people what they want to get what he wants which is: a big payoff!

    Reed shows just enough social conservatism to add a few insurance votes from the right. Constant and Khamis will garner a few “progressive” votes if/when they trot out Khamis current Chief of Staff and Constant’s former Budget Director…

    Why would the #1 guy in his Air Force Academy Class not make a career out of military service?

    Why would a supposedly successful real estate/environmental law attorney   take a seat on the San Jose Planning Commission? On the Berryessa School Board? City Council/RDA Board? Mayor/RDA Chair? To get things done for his clients who make lots of money on real estate development? Nobody in their right mind takes 16 years off from a successful career to do small town politics without the promise of a big payday for all the sacrifice…

    Why would Reed feverishly seek the support of “labor” (City Employee Unions) to get their endorsement by promising (and delivering to them) pay and benefit increases? Why after 2 terms as a councilman and half a term as mayor would he suddenly turn on those same unions who helped get him elected and take up the cause of pension reform? The pet project of the Koch Brothers?

    • > The pet project of the Koch Brothers?

      Mr. Weed:

      What the hell do the Koch Brothers have to do with any of this.

      I suppose this has some profound, esoteric significance within the progressive hive. 

      But I don’t know any regular Americans who waste any of their brain power fretting about what the Koch Brother’s are up to or what’s on their list of pet projects.