San Jose Fire Chief Ruben Torres Leaves for Livermore

After 29 years with the San Jose Fire Department, interim Chief Ruben Torres will retire from his post at the end of the month.

According to interim City Manager Norberto Dueñas, Torres is leaving to become chief of the Livermore-Pleasanton Joint Fire Department.

Over the course of his tenure in San Jose, Torres has served as deputy chief and fire marshal, head of field operations and special projects, credentialed hazardous material technician and safety officer. The San Jose native spent his last decade at the agency in senior command roles.

Dueñas will spend the coming weeks recruiting a replacement and deciding who to appoint as interim chief.

“I am confident in our current fire department management team to lead the department during this transition,” Dueñas says.

A searchable database for the city says Torres received $174,666 in base pay in 2013. That means he will receive approximately $145,000 a year in pension payouts while working for another fire department located just 30 miles from San Jose.

43 Comments

  1. …let yet another “nationwide search” for a San Jose Department Head commence.

  2. Congratulations ex-Chief, on becoming the highest paid City of San Jose “employee”. When many of the highest paid personnel including #1 is a retiree that is when you know pension reform is a must!

    • Really, he worked 29 years, followed all the rules agreed to the city council contracts and now he is blamed. Chuck signed off on all these pensions, moved money out of the pension funding and now we are paying the price. There is no shame on a dedicated department head for leaving and taking another job. This is not double dipping. This is retiree and taking another job instead of sitting on a council chair like Pete getting a bogus police retirement, getting a council retirement and then getting a golden hand shake with Sam where I bet he gets a third city retirement.

    • Compensation for being the fire chief (and/or ) any other city employee is just that. Retirement payouts are something completely separate.

      I think with those facts in mind the.person you should be directing your frustration over is Pete Constant who was collecting a police pension while also collecting a salary as a Councilman AND credit towards another retirement from that position AND IS NOW STILL COLLECTING a salary as an aid on Sam Liccardo’s staff.

      Maybe José Salcido? A retired county employee collecting a pension who worked on Mayor Reed’s staff (may or may not have been earning a pension, I don’t know… and now continues as a staff member to Councilman Khamis?

      What about Constants rerred sidekick and resident mole from the PD Ken Willey? Who served on Constants council staff and may still be employed by the city a political staffer ?

      (No, Raul Peralez is NO LONGER ELIGIBLE to collect any thing from his police pension because he did not serve long enough -10 years minimum- to become vested).

  3. Really? You are calculating his new yearly wage along with his retirement earned to come up with that stupid comment?

    • Do your time, take your city approved retirement, and if you want to take another job what is your problem! You idiot’s are saying you cannot work after you retire or it is called double dipping. Blame Chuck on city retirement but do not blame an employee if he wants to work more of another retirement. Chuck went back to his buddies in giving city money to his law buddies.

  4. “That means he will receive approximately $145,000 a year in pension payouts while working for another fire department located just 30 miles from San Jose.”

    Whaaaa, whaaaa, is what you sound like. Just another “rag” trying to stir the pot. Chief Torres can actually collect his pension even if he was working for another fire department 5 miles from SJ. And guess what??? He can earn another pension from Livermore-Pleasanton, if he works long enough. How ’bout that? And guess what, again??? It is perfectly legal for anyone, anywhere to earn more than one pension. Now go and stew in that awhile.

    • AND……..They are talking about this fire chief retiring from SJ, getting his retirement and taking a job with another city. Isn’t that just what muck reed did, only he didn’t even leave SJ? Didn’t reed earn a retirement from CSJ and is now working elsewhere? The bias of this “rag” is absolutely unbelievable. I wonder who wrote this?

  5. How about IPA Judge LaDoris Cordell (Ret.). Double dipping, no difference. Nice that she swore in Sam and probably got a raise as well. Or and how about the Mayors “Gang Consultant” who worked next door at the SO and gets over 130K for saying we do not have a gang problem in SJ. I would like that job. I guess neither is double dipping on pensions. Heck if I take a job at Big Mac flipping burgers is that double dipping? So interesting isn’it?

  6. This is a man of Faith ,Ethics and Morals. Any member of the Fire Dept could and would vouch for him .Obviously he does not belong here in San Jose any longer

  7. “That means he will receive approximately $145,000 a year in pension payouts while working for another fire department located just 30 miles from San Jose.”

    Experience has shown it to be a waste of time looking for logic in the reporting of these issues so I will confine myself to examining the purpose of the above statement. Setting aside the weird inclusion of geographic proximity, I wonder if the Metro newsroom considers:

    1. the pension to be undeserved
    2. the dollar amount too high
    3. it objectionable that the pensioner is still able to work as an administrator
    4. it objectionable that the pensioner may be earning a salary on top of his pension

    If the complaint were about issue #1 it would imply the newsroom staff knows something about how this man fulfilled the job he signed on to do 29 years ago, something suggesting he did not provide the service required for the compensation offered in exchange for his labor (at time of hire and during subsequent negotiations). If so, let’s hear it.

    If the complaint were about issue #2 it would imply the newsroom staff knows better than the pension board how to determine how much of the pension fund this man earned by way of his 29 years of investing (in dollars deducted and compensated labor). If so, please provide the supporting documents.

    If the complaint were about issue #3 it would imply the newsroom staff finds it objectionable that a city employee could retire while still physically or mentally able to do a day’s work. If so, then that’s an endorsement of the work-to-the-death retirement reward program Stalin popularized in his gulags.

    If the complaint were about issue #4 it would imply the newsroom staff finds it objectionable that a city employee could retire and still earn money. If so, then one must assume there would’ve been no news story had the chief went to work as an unpaid volunteer (doing something such as helping illegal aliens “access” government services).

    Given the dearth of details, I’ll just have to consider this piece the equivalent of a bumper-sticker that reads, “I DO THIS BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT A**H***S DO.”

  8. > 1. the pension to be undeserved
    > 2. the dollar amount too high

    Yes, and yes.

    Which is why voters passed Measure B.

    Keep sticking you finger in our eyes, and we’ll pass Measures C, D, E, F,G, H, I, and J until gubmint employees get the message.

    • Bitter little man….do you put money into a 401K? Does it earn interest? Do you put 32% of your income into it over a 30 year period?
      If your answer is “yes” to all of the above, you dont deserve it. AND, we the people intend to take it from you by popular vote. AND we want our computers to cost less than $35 each, because thats what it costs to produce them. AND we want CEO and Executive pay reduced to what the average “Joe and Jane Sixpack” earn because we think its too high.
      Brilliant…..The bubble must be tight around your head, its definitely cutting off circulation.

        • The bubble is hanging his hat so smugly on Measure B and the scary threat of more measures coming soon. I wish I could laugh in your face when I retire bitter little 18th floor troll… You may want to look up the PERB ruling as well as the next ruling coming down the pipe, soon the courts will have a final say on the illegality on your massive voter approved measure! LMAO Bohica brings up good points little man, regarding CEO and executive wall street pay. C’mon little guy can we look up your wages on the Murk salary database so we can see why your an angry, bitter little hag? LMAO

  9. The problem here is not that any government employee takes pension benefits to which he/she is entitled, and then takes another job. The problem is the mayor and councilmembers who sold out the taxpayers of SJ by granting such pensions. Once given something, union members consider it a floor, and then ask for more. That’s called self-interest, and everybody except Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, and a few others act consistently and exclusively in their own self-interest. These excessive benefits were awarded primarily during the labor-dominated Gonzales-Chavez years. Union leaders and the rank and file negotiate up from what they already have, except in extraordinary circumstances. Some saw the trouble the city was in and made concessions, a rare event in the annals of organized labor.

    However, those previously granted benefits have become unsustainable in the long term. That does not diminish the fact that those who were employed under those rules have the right to expect the promises made to them by a mayor and council who effectively worked on their behalf, instead of on behalf of the entire population, must be kept; but for how long?.

    Where the courts have got it wrong is that a negotiated package of wages and benefits is not eternal. It should last as long as the particular labor contract is in effect, and no longer. If a labor contract is for three years, it should be held to expire in its entirety at the end of those three years; after which both sides start again at ground zero. The courts seem to hold that wages can be changed, but pensions are fully vested at the existing rate forever. That’s wrong. And of course, all of that works only for public employees, not private sector employees. That is wrong, as well. Virtually all private sector employees have had their defined benefit pensions changed going forward to defined contribution pensions; or to 401ks. That needs to happen to all public sector employees going forward. What they have earned remains vested, but the courts should allow all employees, not just “Tier 2” employees, to be shifted to defined contribution plans or 401ks.

    • > The problem here is not that any government employee takes pension benefits to which he/she is entitled, and then takes another job. The problem is the mayor and councilmembers who sold out the taxpayers of SJ by granting such pensions.

      Egg zack lee.

    • Union members only consider it a “floor” because more than 200 years of American Case law say it’s a floor starting with the actual decision in the case Marbury v Madison.

      People who can regurgitate facts can tell you that case established the role of the Supreme Court in the terms defines in the Constitution. Educated folks can tell you that the case defined for Americans what legal traditions in Europe had long held… That pay and pensions for us greedy “gubbmint” people are PROPERTY.

      Any idiot can figure out that property has value and that if you take property without compensating the owner you are stealing. Bring all the ballot measures you want any that “authorize” stealing will end up being overturned by the Court – just like the parts of Measure B that illegally changed pensions for employees alrsady hired and under contract were.

      • Wheedle:

        I mostly agree with you on PROPERTY.

        Pay and pensions SHOULD be property. But there are and must be limits.

        Please take note of the cogent and lucid analysis of the learned and erudite JOHNMICHAEL O’CONNER above:

        “Where the courts have got it wrong is that a negotiated package of wages and benefits is not eternal. It should last as long as the particular labor contract is in effect, and no longer.”

        Venal and corrupt politicians CANNOT repeal the law of gravity, and they CANNOT encumber UNREPRESENTED future generations of citizens and taxpayers with zany and unworkable labor contracts.

        Bottom line: politicians cannot create a “PROPERTY RIGHT” in the performance of someone’s future labor twenty years hence. I believe that would be called SLAVERY.

        It’s unfortunate that public employees were duped into believing the unwise and unfulfillable promises made to them by their eager, ambitious union selected politicians in years past. You were sold a bill of goods.

        Sorry. Make wiser choices next time.

        • So when you refi or sell your home (property) essentially ending an existing, contract you would essentially leave the terms of the loan or the sale price entirely up to the bank or the buyer?

          Maybe not the perfect analogy since you could continue with the terms of the existing loan or not sell …but then may be it is ther perfect analogy since as the home owner you have the choice to refi or sell.

          Public employees (party to a CONTRACT) were given NO CHOICE with the passage and enactment of Measure B which was passed by voters who were NOT party to the contract B was amending.

  10. Bubble and O’Connor you are both apparently unaware of the fact that the enactment of Measure B plus the imposition of the new second Tier pension plan have together effectively closed the Tier 1 pension plan. Anyone who reads the latest actuarial reports to the respective retirement boards would realize that this in no way saved the City any money. Indeed, it results in a need for the City to pay much more on an annual basis in order pay down the “unfunded actuarial liability” (UAL). Luckily, as the actuarial report notes, the funds have recovered from their 2008 era market losses, but the mass exodus that the enactment of Measure B resulted in has caused the City to now have a majority of the Tier 1 members in retirement. The ever shrinking pool of active employees will never be capable of paying off the UAL and thus it will fall to the employer to make these payments, no matter what new and innovative “reforms” somebody might suggest.

    The only conceivable way Measure B could have saved the City any money would be if the conversion of future year accruals would have been held legal, first under IRS rules, and then under the US and California Constitutions. Such a scenario was however simply wishful thinking on the part of the outside lawyers hired by the City who profited so handsomely and who did not ever tell the voters just how ludicrous their theories were. At this point, even if it were legally possible to convert the retirement rights of current employees to some other plan, there are so few of them left in Tier 1 proportional to the overall liability that must be paid, that there would be virtually no “savings.” In any event, any further reform targeted at Tier 1 employees would no doubt accelerate their exodus and destroy any opportunity for savings.

    I suggest that you both examine the numbers before spouting off any further on these issues. It is obvious that it makes you feel better to target public employees in your statements, but it is simply unjustifiable as some type of “savings” to taxpayers.

  11. Bubble,

    Why would you think “gubmit” employees haven’t got the message? Haven’t you noticed the exodus? Or taken note of the police department’s inability to refill vacated positions? There’s no need to put any more punitive measures on the ballot… the politically-convenient whipping boy has felt the lash and jumped ship.

    Today we live with the consequences of Measure B, which itself was the consequence of Mayor Reed’s dishonest blame game, which was in reaction to the mortgage crisis, which was the result of a series of stupid attempts to make homeowners out of irresponsible poor people (a scheme Obama will reintroduce tonight), a plan which was the product of class warfare (which Obama will inflame tonight) and Wall Street greed, which were both facilitated by politicians willing to act against the best interests of the country (which pretty much means every politician).

    Although I understand that you and many others believe that Measure B was a consequence of employee greed, that explanation has never been supported by anything other than the lies of politicians and the frustrations of unhappy voters. Make no mistake about it, I’m not claiming employee greed doesn’t exist, only that its role in the events leading up to Measure B was negligible.

    The impact of the mortgage crisis was of such magnitude that the employee pension enhancements of the Ron Gonzales era — made at a time when the pension was fully funded, were little more than a drop in the bucket. Something along the lines of 90% of pension recipients — the retirees withdrawing money from the fund, had retired long before the enhancement while the working employees were, with each raise received, paying more into the fund each year (and withdrawing nothing). I realize that this bit of reality will do nothing to change minds already washed clean by Reed propaganda, but I don’t mind the extra typing.

    As I opined long before it came to fruition, public safety made a big mistake when it signed on to the 90% pension. Not because of the financial impact on the fund (an argument that could not be made of a fund that was making money in excess of its obligations), but because of the political risk (becoming a target just waiting for an opportunistic politician). And, as things turned out, relatively few employees stuck around to earn 90%, even fewer will do so in the future, but, thanks to Chuck Reed’s good aim, every one of them got to feel the arrow in the back.

    So now a dwindling number of pension members are contributors and a great majority are recipients. This is exactly the opposite of the configuration upon which the plan was designed (and by which it earned billions in investment returns). It is, as described by BD, a death spiral that will cost the city dearly.

    • …haven’t looked at the numbers recently but the average retirement % for police was 72% at the time B was passed. Sure that 72% grows annually with the COLA but it wasn’t the 90 that Reed and Co have the sheep believing it was.

  12. > I suggest that you both examine the numbers before spouting off any further on these issues. It is obvious that it makes you feel better to target public employees in your statements, but it is simply unjustifiable as some type of “savings” to taxpayers.

    Wow! Sounds like a mess. Somebody effed up.

    I am reminded of a story told by former Soviet boss Nikita Krushchev.

    Krushchev and former Soviet Secret Police Chief Lavrenti Beria would get late night calls from Joseph Stalin to come to his apartment because Stalin didn’t like to drink alone. Both hated the job because Stalin was a jerk and wouldn’t hesitate to have someone shot if they said the wrong thing.

    On one occasion, when the call from Stalin came, Krushchev and Beria decided who should go.

    Beria’s words to Krushchev: “Someone has to suffer, so it might as well be you.”

    So, if the pension mess requires either the public employees or the taxpayers to suffer, I will have to side with Beria:

    “It might as well be you.”

    • You should tell that funny story to anyone who has been the victim of a crime in SJ while they wonder if/when the police will be coming to address the matter in a timely and/or meaningful way.

      • Silly me.

        I should have bowdlerized the story so that Krushchev and Beria were visiting Hitler.

        Presumably, that would not have been offensive to progressives.

        What does reality have to do with anything anymore?

  13. It’s a real bummer to hear these ignorant bloggers continually repeating uninformed cheap shots. This Fire Chief has been a dedicated and highly respected man as well as a Firefighters Firefighter in San Jose for just short of 30 years. He is gone up the chain of command to become the leader he is very capable of being. He has that rare attribute of being able to rise thru the ranks all, while keeping the respect and support from the line personnel. This city is losing a huge resource and all I hear you geniuses talking about is what he’ll receive in retirement. To hear any of you blogging about what he DESERVES from this city and future earnings should shut their mouths and just say, Thank you

    • He may be a warm and wonderful human being, but he is WAY, WAY over compensated compared to what the great majority of working Americans earn over their lifetimes.

      And the reason he is so over compensated is because the sweet heart, insider dealing of politicians and government employees, while those of us on the outside (“Outside The Bubble”) pay the bills and take it in the shorts.

      • There are many many professions which are ‘WAY WAY over compensated compared to what the great majority of working Americans earn over their lifetimes”. For example: engineers, physicists, physicians, professors, business executives, exceptional real estate agents, and (God help us) lawyers, to name just a few. With the possible exceptions of those who decry the compensation afforded business execs or the fact that lawyers exist in the first place, there is very little in the way of hue or cry over how these other professionals are compensated. Most people understand that these professionals have extensive education, skills, abilities, etc which are above the the ‘norm’ of ‘the great majority of working Americans’ and that it is these factors – together with, importantly, the comparative scarcity of these professionals – which influence their compensation.

        It is little different with various municipal employee classes. Ask yourself why the WPCP is largely operated by outside contractors. Ask yourself why public safety agencies throughout the nation are having such difficulty hiring firefighters and police officers. Then, too, consider in the cases of Chief Torres or, for that matter, Chief Esquivel. While it is true that both SJFD and SJPD are suffering with grossly diminished staffing, it is no less true that they are, in effect, ‘chief executives’ of their respective agencies, overseeing several hundred subordinates (or roughly 1000 and falling in the case of the PD), and the operations of extremely technical, extremely complex ‘industries’. Furthermore, both rose through the ranks of their respective agencies building impressive resumes of skills and experience and both were/are highly respected (despite the current disenchantment that many of the rank-and-file police officers express about Chief Esquivel) by virtually everyone whom they eventually were promoted to supervise. Very few people begrudge chief executives their compensation packages; how is it any different for the Chiefs of public safety agencies.

        It is no less different for the rank-and-file in the PD or FD – or their peers employed by other public safety agencies around the nation. Scarcity plays a huge role in their compensation, and there is an ever-diminishing number of Americans who are, at once, qualified, able, and – most importantly – willing to seek employment in the public safety professions. The other thing it is important to realize is that the days of being able to think of the public safety industries as exclusively resting in the arena of ‘blue collar’ professions are long since past – a reality which is only rarely communicated by a national media machine which is far more concerned with ratings, sensationalism and controversy than in communicating a broader set of facts and events. The truth of the matter is that both types of professionals develop skills, a knowledge base and body of experience which is nearly unfathomable to the ‘majority of working Americans’ who’ve never seen or done the things police officers or firefighters, who simply cannot imagine these things and who, if they experienced the things police officers and firefighters routinely do – would be so psychologically (or physically) damaged that they would find it impossible to function at the same level that they did prior to these experiences.

        • I wish teachers were “way, way overcompensated”. Too often, we must continue working past retirement in order to pay the bills. Me? I feel I will never be able to afford retirement in this Valley.

          • > feel I will never be able to afford retirement in this Valley.

            Sorry to hear that you’re not overcompensated.

            But look on the bright side. The money we could have used to pay teachers is going to be used to build the California High Speed rail.

            You do agree that the High Speed Rail is wonderful, don’t you?: You’re not against progress, are you?

            If you keep working after retirement, and don’t starve to death, you’ll be able to ride a sleek, shiny train from San Francisco to Los Angeles in only three, four, five, or six hours.

            AND, you’ll be able to ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco, too.

      • Are you in Public Safety ? Or do you just watch a lot of T.V. ? Its always funny when someone who has no idea of “public safety ” does on a daily basis , simply states “they’re overcompensated” . Look up the average life span after service. you’ll see that its right around 9 years. Not to mention the injuries and exposures .

  14. Tell us how it is you that knows what he is being paid is considered way, way over what working people across the country are paid. This is exactly where your argument falls off. The median house price is between 500-600,000. So you’re argument about people across the country is ridiculous. Secondly, it is common practice in any field of employment is to look at comparable wages for the same job and we are the lowest in the county which has stations that respond to more calls than whole cities. You’ve gotta ask yourself why this bothers you so bad. I’ve seen you’re posts and they reek of jealousy and anger. In an average 30 year career the number of emergent situations that you will make a difference in a persons existence would stagger you. On top of all this we are living in the wealthiest city that obviously has no appreciation for public safety. Like it or not this was a fair contract the city negotiated and decided to spend millions on reversing it, all to no avail as the courts have found it not even worth attempting to do. How bout this, if it hurts you so bad to see these earnings from PD AND FD check around in other cities and do research on how the salaries stack up in San Jose.

  15. ^^^ I truly would have thought your would take a shred of just something from what fin fan wrote above…. You are blinded by your master. Keep playing in your south side bubble. Oh and keep the doors locked, there were 6 burglaries in Almaden Valley Wednesday night alone in your “bubble”….. (-;

  16. Pensions aren’t the problem. Government short-sightedness and waste is.

  17. Ruben is been good to me role model I learns a lot highest respectfully sharp man and best character role I ever see. It amazing Impact me grew better man I thank him I sault him be honor and wish congrats fullest joy forever I love you Ruben my brother I so super proud! I’m hard of hearing I become want to be probation officer. San Diego for deaf community servce of reason ASL sign! First of all I need focus my recovery sober a year then processing beginning g my career .. Thank you Ruben remain me hold of you!

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