Leadership Starts with Trust

The current conundrum at City Hall has been exacerbated by the inability of personalities to work together on Measure B and pension reform. The more the issue is raised, the tighter the Gordian knot becomes, leaving the city less equipped to move forward on critical issues. Morale declines, frustration persists and attitudes harden.

The late Sen. Alan Cranston used to try a different approach. When faced with an intractable disagreement with a colleague, constituent or political adversary, he tried to find one issue on which they could agree. Peace activists were outraged over the senator’s support for the B-1 bomber, but they could agree to work with him on a nuclear freeze.

This approach builds trust between individuals of differing views. There would still be disagreement, but it would not become personal in the future. The late Ted Kennedy and Orin Hatch had a famous friendship as they worked with each other, despite plenty of disagreements.

Mayor Sam Liccardo and his opponents, public safety unions in particular, should try to find one issue on which they agree. Leaving the battles of Measure B aside, they should identify a single issue on which they can work together and share credit. Labor’s working families agenda is full of promise.

The new mayor has been an advocate for affordable housing. Working Partnerships is a community-labor organization working on the root causes of inequality in our society. They both have solutions regarding affordable housing policies. This is a natural fit for both sides to come together on something they both passionately support. It’s easier to gain trust in a project when both sides agree on the goals.

Another possibility for collaboration is transportation and transit-oriented development. It has nothing to do with pension reform, but it’s a subject on which many people can agree.

The key to working on common initiatives will be bringing in people from both sides of the current divide. The issue must be inclusive, separate from the pension angst. Building trust between these individuals—when none exists today—would go a long way toward working on other issues.

While pension reform and the lack of police officers in our city remains a primary issue, the simple fact of the matter is that there can be no solution when there is no trust. In the best scenario it will take a minimum of five years to rebuild San Jose’s emergency services.

It could take longer than that to build trust between different leaders in San Jose. But we need to take those steps now to bring the city together. In my personal experience, there has never been a time where I couldn’t agree on at least one topic with someone to begin forging a friendship around that issue.

The late Ron Smith ran a campaign against Sen. Cranston in 1986. There was no one considered more “evil” than Ron during that campaign. He died last year and by that time he had become very good friends. We still disagreed on many things, but we had common goals on certain issues: political ethics, gay rights and civil discourse. We continued to disagree on many things, but I learned you could trust Ron Smith, even when I thought he was wrong.

It is time for San Jose’s leaders to learn to trust again.

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.

40 Comments

  1. The Measure B situation is very simple, and solving it isn’t a matter of “building trust.” When it comes to SJPD, The City of San Jose has to become a competetive employer. What it would take to do that is very clear: increase take home pay, improve disability protection and make San Jose’s Tier 2 competetive with the PERS Tier 2. Liccardo has to be willing to do all of these things and he hasn’t suggested anything close. He hasn’t even agreed that all 3 of these things have to be solved together. He’s offered nothing. It has nothing to do with trust; it has everything to do with action.

    • > When it comes to SJPD, The City of San Jose has to become a competetive employer.

      YESSS!!!

      You are correct.

      But you are likely MORE CORRECT than you are willing to admit.

      The SJPD situation is probably just a consequence of ignorant policy makers creating a “boom and bust” cycle in the market for municipal police officer services.

      Back when the economy was booming, Mayor Ron Gonzales and his political claque, in collusion with the SJPOA,, tied SJPD pay and benefits to the temporary boom cycle.

      The consequence was that police officer and retirees salaries and benefits were locked into UNCOMPETITIVE “above market” levels.

      When the boom was predictably followed by a bust cycle, SJPD pay and benefits became UNSUSTAINABLE. Politicians solved the immediate problem of unsustainability with an infeasible plan to pay senior and retired officers at ABOVE market levels and newer officers at uncompetitive BELOW market levels.

      It never works to try to fool mother nature, and it never works to try to fool the marketplace.

      SJPOA created the problem when it sold police officers on the promise that it could obtain “above market” pay and benefits for them. And when it did so, it created the situation that resulted in the two tier “above market/below market” divide.

      Bottom line, the SJPOA’s brilliant “negotiating strategy” ended up getting SJPD officers uncompetitive, below market wages, which the SJPOA acknowledged by ENCOURAGING police officers to go to other cities in order to get competitive market level pay and benefits.

      BRILLIANT! SJPD officers pay dues money to the SJPOA that got them below market wages and encourages them to go elsewhere.

      The solution is for the city of San Jose to offer competitive, market level wages and benefits to every officer it wants to hire and retain. A lower than market rate tier is never going to work.

      The problem is that the “above market” pay to senior officers and retirees is an enormous cost to the city and a consequence of bad decisions made by voters and the feckless politicians they put in office. Put another way, you can say that the bad decisions were a result of “democracy”.

      The SJPOA can dig their heels in and say they “won” their above market pensions fair and square. Or, they can recognize that disgruntled votes don’t have to live with their bad decisions like other people do, and SJPOA might be wise to consider making some concessions that will get San Jose back onto a fully competitive, market rate system.

      • The problem with your argument is that SJPD’s pay and benefits have never been above market. They were, however, close enough and working conditions were good enough that many officers from other departments wanted to work here and few SJPD officers ever left. Nice try, though.

        • > The problem with your argument is that SJPD’s pay and benefits have never been above market.

          They were OBVIOUSLY at market or above before SJPOA stuck it’s nose in, otherwise, San Jose would not have been able to hire a police force.

          Nice try.

          But next time, brush up on your market economics and spend less time with community organizers.

          • I don’t spend any time with community organizers, but I have spent over 20 years at SJPD, so I might have a slightly better idea than you about where SJPD stood with regard to pay and benefits. What I stated, and what is the truth, is that until Measure B and the events which led up to it, our pay was about mid-range for local agencies and our retirement was competetive. What you said, and what has never been true, is that SJPD was “above market.”

            Among the other things you are wrong about is the claim that the POA ever promised officers above market pay and benefits. You are also incorrect in asserting that the POA created the below market Tier 2 retirement. You must be confusing the POA with Chuck Reed, which isn’t easy to do.

            It isn’t surprising that you are so wrong, because you apparently conducted zero research before spouting off. But although researching the issues have shown you that you’re incorrect, it would’ve also required getting up off the couch. You’re obviously don’t feel constrained by need for any facts before stating an opinion. I’m sure you’ll once again reply without any factual support, but with plenty of capital letters.

        • PETE:

          > Among the other things you are wrong about is the claim that the POA ever promised officers above market pay and benefits.

          POA probably didn’t SAY they were demanding “above market” pay and benefits. They merely told you that YOU were more wonderful than the city realized, and you deserved to be paid wonderfully.

          Sometimes, you have to put two and two together.

          It’s obvious that you have twenty years worth of knowledge about union politics, but zero years of knowledge about markets.

          • SJOTB it is obvious that you don’t know anything about negotiations for, acceptance and ratification of contracts.

            When the POA accepts and ratifies a contract after negotiatons for pay and benifits…. they are accepting the last best negotiated terms.

            So when the POA and it’s membership votes to accept a wage or benifit even if that wage or benifit is below “market rate” it is after exhaustive financial research has been done and determined that the City’s offer is reasonably the best it is able to offer. It would be very unwise for th e POA and it’s members to reject a raise that it knows the City finances can afford but that may be lower than some other city pays it’s emoloyees.

            That doesn’t require any knowlwdge of union politics or markets. It just requires common sense.

          • As someone that attended the arbitration hearings, I distinctly remember Figone state, and backed up by Finance staff data, that SJ’s policy is remain at the average of area PD compensation. Also, that it would cost an extra $22M / year to meet the POA’s demands.*

            I don’t recall if stated at the hearing or in a separate conversation, but Figone said that SJ would never get into a salary arms race – “we will never be able to compete with wealthier communities”.

            Now “average” sets off alarm bells for me. The average human has one testicle and one ovary – so “average” isn’t necessarily helpful as a suitable descriptive statistics measure.

            I believe new officer salaries are substantially below prevailing area PD wages for similar experience. I was surprised when I friend told me how little his newly minted SJPD officer son was earning. And how it compared to Oakland & SF PDs. Don’t know the reason, but believe we have a significant compensation disparity with other cities.

            NetNet: believe SJOSTB & Officer Malloy’s points are not orthogonal , but give different perspectives.

            What baffles and frustrates me is that both sides seem reluctant to back up claims with (public records) data, The matter screams for investigative journalism, but neither the Merc, Metro, or SJ State profs seem willing to so so.

            *Out of curiosity I found an updated, ongoing “Cost of Crime” study by the RAND Corporation & funded by DOJ. Plugging in our numbers and the $22M incremental cost is rapidly eclipsed by estimated crime cost savings (including value of life as actuaries do). Things like lower insurance premiums, lower deductibles, lower need to hire security staff, etc. RAND seemed to do a thorough job of examining crime economics.

            But those savings don’t directly impact SJ’s tax base, so city officials are indifferent about the total social costs. The more I look into this, the more I understand Guy Fawkes’ attempted remedy.

          • Meyer Reed, You mean negotiations like in I believe 2003 when the POA settled for a three year 18% raise then got an additional 5% pay increase (Terrorism pay) after their negotiations were done because Fire had negotiated a larger pay raise, I believe in the area of about 24% for three years for Fire. And those early 2000 negotiations with Fire were done directly with the mayor according to documents provided by the union in their 2007 arbitration brief. That’s the type of negotiations they had back then and one of the main reasons things need to and are changing. Change is difficult especially when it had been so one sided for so long.

      • You left out the part where the city takes an extended “Holiday “from making obligated payments to the pension system, in the good times

  2. Good Luck with that . Unfortunately , Liccardo has proven that he can NOT be trusted time and time again .

  3. Liccardo is a liar plain and simple. He lies about crime rates being lower , by relying on FBI stats that don’t paint the whole picture. He has lied by saying that Measure B has saved money so far. If he means by savings that 400+ cops are gone then yes, there is a boat load of money being saved by running short staffed. Liccardo does not want to lose face in admitting that it was wrong of Reed to run to the voters before the ink dried on the 10% voluntary give back. That was almost 5 years ago and the cops are still trying to get back the entire 10% as it has been given back in 3% increments. No Sam and Chuck went for the jugular and crafted Measures V W and B all of which has led to hundreds of cops to flee other cities where pension reform was understood and negotiated. The POA wants Liccardo to admit that B was a huge mistake and that we need a global fix in 2015, so far Sam wants to kick the can further down the road by extending the stay order for the first 4% pay cut that Measure B imposes in a 4 part 16% pay cut. everyone agrees we need pension reform, including the cops!! But for this administration to impose a scorched earth nuclear approach to reform was absolutely bad for the employees and the citizens of this city. Unfortunately the minority of voters that show up to the polls inflicted this punishment on the entire city. Now here we are and were all looking for an olive branch. Employees with NEVER trust SAM or even his smug pal AC Garcia ever again. They have screwed everyone for their own gain. SAM needs to learn that action speak louder than words. After watching the Almaden Crime meeting it is painfully apparent that this mayor is in way over his head when it comes to understanding the community needs and what keeps public safety strong. Nothing is on the horizon and I suspect that the Asian gang and gambling homicides along with the Norteno Sureno war will continue to new levels. Its not a bout a cop on every corner. The basics are the basics i.e. having the proper number of detectives in each unit to handle the case load of a city of 1.1 million. The detective bureau has been decimated so that 911 calls for service can be answered. How long can a city sustain safety under these conditions without detective follow up and proactive patrol enforcement, like we used to have? Slick Sam lies about everything and he continues. Measure B was the worst approach to pension reform anywhere in the country. Be proud San jose your leaders have sold you out for their own greed and wealth of their friends in powerful places. To be a big name building contractor in san jose right now the top of the money hill. This place shovels money out to every project that pops up…..

    • Don’t just say Liccardo lied. Give me concrete examples, data, metrics that demonstrate collusion!!!! If you say the FBI numbers are bad, prove it! If you know for certain that SJPD uses different metrics – show us. If the answer isn’t as black and white as you say, explain the numbers and how their being manipulated.

      This site is chalk full of 1st graders throwing temper tantrums. But honest to god facts, you can’t argue with that.

      • Bully, thanks. Glad others agree that arguing with facts is important.

        On the other hand, if Sam Liccardo and Chuck Reed were held to the standards of their legal profession, I believe they would be sanctioned, if not disbarred.

        Both men have been highly selective in their facts. Not a little, but massively.

        And while it not meet a narrow definition of “lying”, their behaviors meet the ethical one.

        Here’s my reality. The unions were accused of failing to make a good faith effort or reasonable offer that could have avoided B. This claim was made before B was put on the ballot and repeated during the first phase of its litigation. I accepted the City’s claim initially, but subsequently began to have doubts.

        I contacted the heads of fire & police unions to ask for a copy of the offer they made as alternative to B; contacted them around the early stage of the court case. Both promptly responded although they didn’t know me. The union offer included a detailed financial analysis by a respected public account / actuarial.

        Although a bit rusty, some of my MBA education helped me to dissect the union proposal. Also compared it to SF (which was in a similar situation & avoided SJ’s Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) response).

        Conclusion: we’d have been much better off accepting the union proposal. This isn’t 20/20 hindsight, it was quite clear when the concession was offered. And now proven by experience.

        Disclosure: I’m hardly sympathetic toward most unions and support right-to-work legislation.

        But my viewpoint doesn’t blind me to facts or dwell in a reality distortion field. And fact-checking seriously eroded my trust and respect for Sam Liccardo and Chuck Reed.

        Actually, it’s worse. This experience and a few similar ones significantly lowered my esteem for most SJ elected officials. Don’t see a lot of fact-checking or questioning either – but a lot ignorant group-think.

        Thanks again for advocating facts rather than name calling.

        • Taxpayer , Thank you for being diligent in doing your won research AND NOT , blindly believing one side or the other . San Jose needs more concerned residents that are not afraid/too lazy to do any kind of research.

          • Thanks. And in case anyone’s wondering, I initially submitted a public records request for the union proposal. Surprisingly, it was MIA, so I then contacted the unions.

            Thankfully, they provided the documents including a copy of the formal submittal letter to the City. I remain baffled as to why something so important could not be located.

        • Thanks Taxpayer.

          I think the jury is still out on Liccardo. Sure, he’s met with all the Union leaders, but to Rich’s point, he’ll need to do more than have “a” meeting with them. The only way they’re going to trust him is if he actually shows he cares about them. Liccardo has to move beyond the transactional relationship and actually have real relationships with those guys.

          I like your comments about “the definition of lying.” I think both sides play that game. During the campaign, crime was actually going down, and was trending down for the past two year (or three) years. I know, the devil is in the numbers, but it was going down none the less. If all you did was listen to the POA you would have thought San Jose was burning and “the end was near.” Even Corteses got on that bandwagon.

          So, yes, at a minimum they both pulled out the stats that favored their argument. But as you and I said, simply calling someone a liar is pretty petulant, anyone can do that. Prove it

          • I would submit to you that we are never going to know the truth about crime going down. Some metrics of crime are easier to measure than others: homicides, assaults with a deadly weapon, robberies, for instance. Others are far more difficult to measure anymore since pretty much everyone in the city knows that burglaries aren’t being investigated. With that knowledge, what is the ration of burglaries which are reported vs. not reported? There’s no graffiti unit and graffiti abatement is being handled by a non-enforcement entity on contract with the city. This begs the question: how many fewer crimes of vandalism/graffiti are being reported? Reporting of drug-related crimes is almost certain to be under-reported because that requires sufficient police officers to have enough free patrol time to be proactively arresting people for crimes of drug possession or sales. And, How about traffic collisions? Non-injury collisions don’t get reported either. On Saturday morning, I was driving through the intersection of Santa Teresa and Snell and saw the traffic signals flashing red in all four directions while a crashed vehicle was being loaded onto a flatbed tow truck under the supervision of SJPD. I was told by a friend of mine who lives nearby that this car had been sitting there since Friday. This was unprecedented when I was working patrol.

            And, as far as statistical analysis goes, FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) is the easiest means of gathering crime statistics, but it’s only valid to the extent that police officers are actually writing reports on crimes as they occur. Arguably, the ratio of crimes committed to crimes reported is nowhere close to 1:1. And so, this becomes the question of the tree falling in the forest. As far as statistics-gathering is concerned, an unreported crime is a non-existent crime. But tell that to all the victim’s of burglaries who are losing thousands upon thousands of dollars in possessions and property damage and suffering the violation of the sanctity of their home and peace of mind.

            The reality is that if a pundit, politician, wonk, or administrator (i.e. chief of police) attempts to assert that crime is on the decline, it is very important to pin them down as to the specific crimes in question. It’s one thing to say there’s a decline in homicides. Or in ADW’s. Or traffic fatalities. The commission:reporting ratios for those crimes are going to basically be 1:1. Any other type of crime – simple assault, drug crimes, non-injury collisions, vandalism, burglaries etc – are virtually guaranteed to be under-reported. Politicians don’t care about this so long as they can point to UCR stats and say that crime is on the decline. Politicians say a lot of things which often have very little connection to reality and do so with very little fear of appreciable consequences. But, just as pretty much everyone expects a patrol officer to be held to a ‘higher standard’, so should the Chief of Police be held to a higher standard and be expected to acknowledge who grossly deficient the PD’s statistics-gathering actually is. Because THAT is a reflection of how grossly under-served San Jose’s citizens are by San Jose’s obscenely and irresponsibly under-staffed Police Department.

  4. LIccardo is already a proven liar. He ran on a platform of implementing Measure B, no exceptions. A couple months later, after getting elected, he comes up with a half-ass proposal to put off implementing Measure B until 2017, and/or adjusting the 4% wage REDUCTION to police salaries Measure B calls for implementing starting in July of 2015,

    • thats 4% per year for the next four years for a total of an additional 16% on top of the 21 to 26 % already being paid plus the 10% paycut . In NO way , shape , or form is San Jose competitive

  5. This post brings to mind the allegory of Plato’s cave. Because Mr. Robinson resides where every shadow appears of political origin he has come to believe that the world contains only politicians; where every word and action is choreographed for effect and understood to be little more than a means to an end. Small wonder he think this city’s police officers can set-aside their differences with the mayor and get on to new business.

    Just as is the case with the soldier on the battlefield, the cop under the command of political operatives never sees himself as anything but a cop. He can’t afford to. He lives in a world where grave consequences lie in wait in every direction. He can get injured or killed due to reflexes dulled by too little sleep or too much overtime, help delayed by a beat unfilled, the blunders of a bottom-of-the-barrel hire, the breakdown of old or poorly-maintained equipment, or the effect of a hundred other seemingly innocuous causes. His is a world where duty is the product of honor and courage, not mutual deceit. One in which the words and actions of others are intertwined with peril, where his own survival and that of his fellow officers dictates he assess them carefully and take them seriously.

    Thus, every publicized insult, pay cut, layoff, threat, lie, cut beat, contribution increase, reluctant exodus, skipped pay raise, cancelled promotion, and vacated unit has been physically and psychologically noted, processed, and burned into memory banks already bruised and battered by on-the-job experiences. To him, Sam Liccardo is a festering emotional wound, one that, along with Chuck Reed, Pete Constant, Rose Herrera, and a few others, there is no socially-acceptable cure.

    There is only one wise course of action available and that is to remedy the compensatory and staffing issues and give these cops the chance to close their minds to city hall and turn their attention back to the important work they do. Just as they can never be made to look impartially upon the low-life criminals that walk our streets, so too is it impossible to make them look impartially upon the low-life politicians that occupy city hall. That’s a reality that might not sit well politically, but that is the reality left in the wake of the most destructive mayor in this city’s history, Chuck Reed.

  6. Finfan, I’m not the one who needs to get out of the cave. The problem with always rehashing the past is the inability to move forward. Recognizing that there are long-held grievances is the point. But every war should end and in the wake of tragedy, new beginnings must emerge. If we continue tight solely based on the past, there are no solutions.

    An eye for an eye simply begets a blind world.

    • All wars should end or maybe never even start. This war never should have started . For wars to end one side or the other must either be defeated or surrender. A truce or detent rarely if ever works due to the fragility of manufactured trust.

      Anyone who thinks police or fire fighters are going to accept defeat or agree to surrender have no idea of the psychogical make-up of those men and women. Police or fire fighters who are not willing to fight will either die or cause death or injury to others. those who can’t or won’t fight don’t last long because they either realize that they aren’t willing risk injury or death to themselves for another or they are washed out by those who are.

      Who is on the other side of this war? Couple of REMF’s (Reed & Herrera) who led some panty waste career politicians for greedy robber baron land developers to hood wink the voters who by-and-largw get all “wee-wee’d” up when a breeze rustles the branches of untied bushes against the side of their house?

      If you don’t get this then you probably do live under a rock.

    • And….those who forget the past, are doomed to repeat it. The Fire and Police departments should NEVER again trust these current political hacks.

    • Let me begin with some disclaimers: I worked for SJFD for 30 years; I was on the Executive Board of the Firefighters Union for 16 years, President for 8: I was the Retiree Representative on the Retirement Board for 8 years; and I was on the Firefighters negotiations teams for the entire time I was on the Executive Board of the Firefighters Union. That may be enough for many of you to just scroll down. I have read most of what has been posted and just want to make a few comments. I do agree with the premise that relationships are built on trust and can be repaired when mutual interests are addressed first. But, I disagree that the past should be put behind us and just move forward. Its pretty hard to slow dance with someone with the dancefloor is littered with broken glass. Many people think that these “pension wars” started in 2010-the reality is that they started back in the mid 1980’s, with a “promise” made to the Firefighters Union and the POA regarding what is mistakenly referred to as “pension surplus”. An agreement was made (unfortunately an oral agreement) that the Firefighters and the POA would agree to a different methodology by which the actuary valued the assets and liabilities of our plan (much too complicated for this space). The City would realize a decrease in their pension contribution of about 5%-about half of those savings were to be used to increase the survivorship allowance of surving spouses, open a police substation, and take care of a significant amount of deferred maintenance on our libraires and firestations. There was a press conference at the rose garden library and we all looked each other in the eye with an agreement that we thought was good for the city, good for the citizens, and good for cops and firefighters, and our spouses. But, it was not to be, the pension agreement resulted in a decrease of the Citys contribution rate, but that was it, none of the issues that the two employee groups had put forward were completed. So, that, in my view, started the distrust. I realize that is only one side of the story, but I encourage debate from others who feel differently. I do agree with you Rich, that to continue down those roads doesn’t lead us anywhere to a solution. But to ask employees (and after all, those are the folks who are the UNION) to find commonality on city issues is difficult. There are many issues that City Administration can take up that are a benefit to employees that can start the process. Work schedules that do not change compensation and selection of vacation are a couple of examples (just examples, I’m sure many of you will find fault with that as well). Finally, for City Administration to claim that a reduction of the cost savings they expect has decreased by 50%, and to couch that as a meeting halfway on the bridge, that really is folly. If I tried to take $50 from you, and asked you not to protest if I just took $25, would you find me credible? I think not.

  7. The trust that Mr. Liccardo needs to build has nothing to do with Working Partnerships or anybody else other than the present and future employees of the City of San Jose. Lost in all the hoopla of Measure B rhetoric is the the attempt to destroy the vested nature of City workers’ rights. The nature of a career in public employment is that is not the type of job that easily transfers back and forth to the private sector. Those that do return to the private sector and trade on their public sector experience are branded as “revolving door” violators; and most laws on the subject are being tightened to prevent such practices.

    When you make the choice to become a public servant you recognize that an ethical career means giving up the opportunity of the potentially greater economic reward of higher salaries, bonuses, stock options, etc. in exchange for the less risky benefits of the public sector. Although many are now feeling that the public compensation structure has become “too much,” the defined benefits structure has provided the public with a workforce that is dedicated, experienced, less political and less inclined to cater to the whim of whatever financial interest that may be seeking to play the system through campaign contributions.

    By concocting Measure B, Chuck Reed attempted to up-end this basic contract. Measure B assaulted the vested nature of public benefits of both the current and future workforces of San Jose. The attack on the rights of current employees ended in the courtroom. There is virtually nothing Mr. Liccardo can now do to change this because no higher court will come up with the magic that Chuck Reed had hoped to conger up. The most expeditious course of action for Mayor Liccardo is to negotiate fairly with City employees about their compensation and pension rights and move on. So far, his “halfway” offer is seen as half-hearted by the people he attempting to convince. I think deep down he knows he needs a deal, and unlike Chuck Reed, he will eventually sit down and figure out a way forward.

    The other rarely mentioned aspect of Measure B is its statement that the new Tier 2 pension system is not vested. Besides the fact that the pension benefits themselves are not competitive with most other California public entities, their legal character is fundamentally out of step. Why would anyone place their career into the hands of a public employer who, unlike any other public employer in the state, reserves the right to unilaterally change their pensions?

    Rebuilding trust is far more complicated than Mr. Robinson suggests. It involves at least implicitly admitting that the political attack on San Jose employees was a step in the wrong direction; but perhaps more importantly for the prospect of rebuilding San Jose public safety and civilian workforce, it demands a recognition of the fact that a career in the public sector requires an abiding level of trust.

  8. Major League Baseball does not trust Sam et al, or appreciate their take it or leave, scorched earth policies. This from the new Major League Baseball Commisioner, “Regarding the A’s situation in Oakland, two points: One, it’s important to note the long history of franchise stability that has served this institution well. Communities make huge commitments to teams — in the case of the A’s, we’re talking about 47 years in Oakland — and baseball has had a natural reluctance to leave cities with that kind of history. Two, San Jose is complicated by ongoing litigation that was commenced by the city (the city of San Jose is suing baseball under anti-trust laws). Most good lawyers will tell you that litigation has a natural effect of slowing the process down, but that was their choice, not ours.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/exclusive-mlb-commish-rob-manfred-chats-bill-madden-article-1.2123911

  9. Mr. Robinson, excellent point. Cranston, etc. were able to focus on ‘greater good’ rather than parochial interests. A precondition for building trust is recognizing that certain behaviors are inimical toward that end. Stop repeating them and begin to work on shared goals as you write.

    I don’t see that awareness in Sam Liccardo.

    Sam’s a bright man, gregarious and well-spoken. And that makes the situation even more like a Greek tragedy about hubris.

    Instead, I’ve observed, over years of knowing and observing him, a distinct absence of percipience. I’ve never observed Sam admit that he made a mistake – other than humble brag: “my trust was misplaced” type of admission. Sam is dismissive of ideas unless he’s credited with their thought leadership.

    Above all else, Sam must be in the spotlight. He surrounds himself with those that agree, rather than a trusted advisor that might argue against unsound views.

    I don’t have much optimism until Sam has an epiphany – that he doesn’t have all the answers. In Sam’s case, I’m not confident that he even has the right questions.

    • > Instead, I’ve observed, over years of knowing and observing him, a distinct absence of percipience. I’ve never observed Sam admit that he made a mistake – …..

      Just a general observation: this describes ninety-nine percent of humanity.

      People who have serious opinions on anything almost always believe their opinions are well-founded and resist changing them.

      My mother was fond of saying:

      “Convince a man against his will, he’s of the same opinions still.”
      “Convince a woman against her will, she’s neither convinced nor is she still.”

      Sorry, My mother was of the pre-feminist era.

      • Mr. Robinson’s original point was about change. Yes, agree that change is tough. And though several decades ago, I vividly remember a response by a senior executive, “Don’t confuse me with facts. My mind is made up.”

        On the other hand, there probably wouldn’t be much human progress without changes in beliefs. Nor the multi-billion segment that practices persuasion: advertisers, mental health practitioners, political consultants, attorneys, drug & alcohol treatment, etc.

        Our current situation seems like:
        Q: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”
        A: “Only one, but the bulb has to be willing to change.”

        I don’t see that willingness in Sam.

        And to torture the assessment further, our Mayor seems to be stumbling around in the dark.

  10. So Rich. Say someone steals $1,000 from me. I take them to court. The thief says, “Let’s meet in the middle and I’ll give you $500 back?” Would I do it? Of course not! Because stealing of the $1,000 was illegal! Just like Measure B! Why would we take 1/2 of an illegal ballot measure!? Also, as a firefighter, my take home pay is 60% of my gross pay, due to all the mandatory increased contributions the city has implemented. If Measure B actually goes through, my take home pay will be down to 44%. It baffles me that ANYONE can think that is OK.

  11. Leadership starts with more than trust. It starts with honesty. That is something the City leaders are still lacking. Unfortunately this includes our Mayor and our Interim City Manager. The “meet in the middle” letter that was sent to all unions reminds us of the $650 million number that Reed was always spouting off. The number that the retirement director admitted he pulled out of thin air. This new offer from the City has as many made up numbers with no backup as to how they were created. They claim to need $83 million in ongoing funding needs. $37 million to restore to 2011 levels, $2 for police staffing, and $44 for street maintenance. The $2 million for pd staffing is comical. As of last week PD only had 959 net sworn staff out of 1,109 budgeted. They can’t even staff what they have budgeted for and yet the City needs $2 million more cut from employees to pay for staff that they can’t even begin to hire. Who knows how they created the $37 million for restoration or the $44 for streets. There will never be trust when they continue to make up numbers to suit their needs.

    Then you can take a look at their proposed solutions to get their supposed $83 million needed. They actually have the nerve to state they only want to save $2 million from police tier 2 and state “discounted from estimated $3 million”. Thanks for the discount. As the conservative City they are, they underestimate the tax and VTA revenue. Let’s not forget that the polls showed most residents favored a tax increase that would have passed in the Nov 2014 election…money we could have been collecting right now. Also look at the $5 million they want from Retiree healthcare savings. Federated unions have been meeting with the City discussing retiree healthcare for almost 2 years. Never has that number even been mentioned. Yet the City sends that number in a letter? How did that get made up?City’s letter: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/40082

    You should read the Merc’s article that for once shows some of the truth: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_27573398/at-center-silicon-valley-boom-2-0-san

    While this article mostly reiterated information from the January 20th Council study session presented by Kim Walesh, it goes in depth explaining why San Jose is still going broke. It is decades of past poor management and decisions to change commercial to residential in this City. Instead of telling employees they want another $35 million in savings from them, perhaps they should look at how they are going to get the 20 more Santana Rows and 30 more Costcos. How are they going to change SJ so it’s population doesn’t decrease during the work day? We have just 18 percent of the land in San Jose set aside for workplaces and yet we continue to convert to residential and supplement more low income housing. San Jose needs to focus on creating jobs, not demoralizing their employees. Maybe then we can begin to trust them.

    When our Mayor can begin to publicly state that these are the reasons SJ is in such bad shape and stop blaming it on employees, maybe then we can begin to trust him. Employees want to solve this mess now, in 2015. We don’t want to wait until January of 2017. It makes us wonder if he’s just waiting for the statewide ballot that Reed keeps threatening in the fall of 2016. Why would we wait for that? It’s his actions like this that will continue the distrust. Until he can show some action there will be nothing happening. Unions have always been willing to talk and come up with a solution. But it must be now and it must not continue to place blame on us. We want a real, honest solution to a very real problem.

  12. Mr. Robinson,

    “The problem with always rehashing the past is the inability to move forward.”

    That you could even think to place the rift in the “past” proves my point regarding your perspective. For the men and women of SJPD there is nothing in the past tense about the rows of empty chairs at roll call, the unanswered phones in investigative bureaus, the decrease in working safety, the brutal butchering of paychecks, etc. Chuck Reed’s nasty, ignorant words continue to be resented with every terrifying experience or revolting duty; treasured relationships lost in the exodus are still mourned; lost expertise is still missed; the anxiety of having one’s future in never-ending litigation still makes the stomach rumble.

    It is not too much to ask San Jose cops to dutifully serve under a mayor whose character defects and poor decision-making are a matter of public record — that’s what most of America’s cops do anyway, but expectations about their cooperation with him should stop there. His job is to fix a system he helped break, and for that he needs only the cooperation of those who serve under him at city hall and a business relationship with the leadership of the POA.

  13. The SJPOA (and all City employee bargaining groups) did not start the “pension war”. Reed and Liccardo’s majority did; the bargaining units defended their rights and have so far prevailed in Court.

    The “refugee” employees of Liccardo’s assaults have no obligation or frankly any desire to meet the politicians halfway. They should simply continue to win legally and hold out while Sam fiddles and San Jose burns… So to speak.

  14. As my post didn’t get posted earlier….I’ll try again

    Leadership starts with more than trust. It starts with honesty. That is something the City leaders are still lacking. Unfortunately this includes our Mayor and our Interim City Manager. The “meet in the middle” letter that was sent to all unions reminds us of the $650 million number that Reed was always spouting off. The number that the retirement director admitted he pulled out of thin air. This new offer from the City has as many made up numbers with no backup as to how they were created. They claim to need $83 million in ongoing funding needs. $37 million to restore to 2011 levels, $2 for police staffing, and $44 for street maintenance. The $2 million for pd staffing is comical. As of last week PD only had 959 net sworn staff out of 1,109 budgeted. They can’t even staff what they have budgeted for and yet the City needs $2 million more cut from employees to pay for staff that they can’t even begin to hire. Who knows how they created the $37 million for restoration or the $44 for streets. There will never be trust when they continue to make up numbers to suit their needs.

    Then you can take a look at their proposed solutions to get their supposed $83 million needed. They actually have the nerve to state they only want to save $2 million from police tier 2 and state “discounted from estimated $3 million”. Thanks for the discount. As the conservative City they are, they underestimate the tax and VTA revenue. Let’s not forget that the polls showed most residents favored a tax increase that would have passed in the Nov 2014 election…money we could have been collecting right now. Also look at the $5 million they want from Retiree healthcare savings. Federated unions have been meeting with the City discussing retiree healthcare for almost 2 years. Never has that number even been mentioned. Yet the City sends that number in a letter? How did that get made up?City’s letter: http://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/40082

    You should read the Merc’s article that for once shows some of the truth: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_27573398/at-center-silicon-valley-boom-2-0-san

    While this article mostly reiterated information from the January 20th Council study session presented by Kim Walesh, it goes in depth explaining why San Jose is still going broke. It is decades of past poor management and decisions to change commercial to residential in this City. Instead of telling employees they want another $35 million in savings from them, perhaps they should look at how they are going to get the 20 more Santana Rows and 30 more Costcos. How are they going to change SJ so it’s population doesn’t decrease during the work day? We have just 18 percent of the land in San Jose set aside for workplaces and yet we continue to convert to residential and supplement more low income housing. San Jose needs to focus on creating jobs, not demoralizing their employees. Maybe then we can begin to trust them.

    When our Mayor can begin to publicly state that these are the reasons SJ is in such bad shape and stop blaming it on employees, maybe then we can begin to trust him. Employees want to solve this mess now, in 2015. We don’t want to wait until January of 2017. It makes us wonder if he’s just waiting for the statewide ballot that Reed keeps threatening in the fall of 2016. Why would we wait for that? It’s his actions like this that will continue the distrust. Until he can show some action there will be nothing happening. Unions have always been willing to talk and come up with a solution. But it must be now and it must not continue to place blame on us. We want a real, honest solution to a very real problem.

  15. LTE, thank you for your insights and your service. I can only imagine how trapped you and others must feel in CSJ’s dysfunctional environment.

    Kim’s presentation was almost a carbon copy of one presented a year or so ago. We’ve been at that the .8 jobs / resident for well over two decades and nothing has moved the needle. Perhaps it’s because we continue to build housing at the same rate that jobs are created.

    Missing is job compensation. Retail employees are typically at the lower end of the wage spectrum. Adding 20 Santa Rows would add $80M in tax revenue (if the $4M figure from 2 years ago is still accurate), but require significant outlays in infrastructure costs and not significantly add to disposable incomes. Anyway, it’s probably not viable – doubt the entire county could support 20 additional Santa Rows.

    Completely agree that we need more higher wage jobs, but ABAG’s Bay Area plan (which CSJ & SCC officials support) call for SJ to remain a big bedroom community.

    Probably worthwhile to recall that Reed had IBM conduct a series of cost saving recommendations. Few if any were adopted. And I don’t believe IBM’s study advocated employee compensation reductions.

    Very sad for all of us.

  16. As an SJPD officer who has been directly and negative affected by certain provisions of Measure B, I can assure anyone who asks that there is no way that the aftermath of Chuck Reed’s campaign of lies or the willing – I daresay enthusiastic – and unrepentant (with the notable exception of Don Rocha) collusion of the majority of the City Council can be laid to rest in the past. That Mr. Robinson could even suggest this as though these issues are somehow ancient history shows that he is exceptionally tone deaf and ignorant of the ongoing damage being done to the police department, along with virtually every other city department with the conspicuous exceptions of the City Manager’s office and, obscenely, the office of the IPA, which has been insulated and pampered as.though it was some kind of nobility. (Which, of course, every police officer knows couldn’t be further from the truth.) In fact, not related to its alleged oversight functions and rather because of Ladoris Cordell’s blatant partisanship, racism, active meddling in disciplinary matters well outside her prescribed oversight duties and her ongoing conflicts of interest, I suspect the vast majority of officers would agree that it is well past time for the sacred cow that is the office of the IPA be led to its slaughter and replaced with some new oversight unit that doesn’t carry the stench of corrupt ethics with it quite so proudly as Ladoris has relentlessly and enthusiastically introduced to the office of the IPA during her tenure.

    Liccardo and his allies (and, here, we might as well lump in Ladoris Cordell and the office of the IPA) rightfully have my deep and abiding enmity and that of every other officer who works – or once worked – at what once was the finest, most respected and most effective police departments in the nation for their part in bringing about that department’s downfall. And the saddest thing is this: the situation may already be beyond repair. Certainly it cannot be repaired if City Hall continues to act as it historically. What’s more, given current social trends, even if major concessions were forthcoming from City Hall and even if Measure B is repealed or thrown out in court, restoration of the PD may yet be impossible. Time will tell, but I am utterly without optimism at this point.

    http://calibrepress.com/2015/02/end-legacy/

    • Officer A,
      Thank you for your service, observations, and recommendations.

      Ladoris Cordell is one of the most articulate and impressive speakers I’ve heard. I was dazzled the first time I heard her.

      However, Cordell’s exhibited many disturbing behaviors too:
      * Handing out green wristbands with the suggestion that they will result in better treatment by SJPD and perhaps beating a ticket if displayed on the dash – I was present at that talk.
      * Her office says complaints have dropped by 70%, yet IPA’s budget hasn’t.
      * She fails to survey customer satisfaction of her office or SJPD. A drop in complaints is a poor measure of IPA effectiveness or efficiency or public attitudes toward police.
      * Some of her pronouncements were just silly. Criticisms of “gifts” – having no commercial value, when no complaints are filed; criticism of SJPD safely seeing a young girl home because she was in the back of a squad car and how it might appear to [nosey] neighbors. The list goes on.

      IPA changes are well overdue.

      • Mr. Taxpayer,

        I appreciate your perspective on the Office of the IPA and of Ladoris Cordell, herself. They closely mirror my own, and to them, I would like to add the following food for thought:

        – The decline in complaints must certainly be laid at the feet of staffing reductions. PD staffing has declined by about 30%. And, while I can’t provide the specific numbers to back this up, the decline in staffing necessarily means a decline in free patrol time for officers to engage in proactive policing which often generates more complaints as arrestees often file specious complaints against officers as a means of sabotaging the arresting officer’s case against them.

        – Just as important as ‘customer satisfaction’ should be to the office of the IPA, so should the nature of the working relationship between that office and SJPD. An environment that is respectfully adversarial is to be expected – even required. But Ladoris has proven herself to be openly hostile to police officers in general and male police officers in particular. Frankly, I think it’s just a matter of time before enough officers get fed up with her bias, prejudice and lack of professionalism and file a class action suit against the city, naming her, specifically, for creating a hostile work environment. I’m surprised this hasn’t happened already, given how often her actions cross the line from oversight to antagonism, blatant bias and open hostility towards police officers.

        Ladoris should never have been confirmed as the IPA. Her membership in organizations which have a proven and consistent track record of open hostility to law enforcement in general and of being hip deep in ginning up racial tensions (the ACLU and the NAACP, respectively) should have established her inability to be genuinely ‘Independent’ as required in her very job title. As you say: IPA changes are well overdue, beginning with terminating Ladoris’ contract and finding a replacement who won’t be as entrenched in prejudice and bias as Ladoris clearly is.

  17. Here’s a very practical way to improve police accountability. The FBI does it. Get the cops to buy their own professional malpractice insurance, so they each have an incentive not to beat people up (which would raise their rates), and the city isn’t on the hook for brutality lawsuits. So the unions don’t scream bloody murder, give the cops an increase equivalent to a bit more than the average cost of said insurance.
    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/force-police-accountability-city/