Pete Constant Throws Wrench in Mayor’s Pension Reform Plans

Just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in.

Pension reform has been an ugly political battle in San Jose for the last half-decade, but it seemed we had moved beyond the acrimony of Measure B after all of the city’s unions came to settlement agreements in the last year. The city’s plan was to put a measure on the November ballot ratifying these agreements.

And then Pete Constant walked back into the picture.

The former San Jose councilman and advisor to the mayor filed an application in court Wednesday with Steven Haug, treasurer of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association, to intervene in the quo warranto action. The challenge has the financial backing of GOP billionaire Charles Munger Jr.’s organization, Hold Politicians Accountable.

Essentially, Constant and company are arguing that only voters—not the city—have the right to change the terms of Measure B, since voters were the ones who passed pension reforms in 2012.

“I gave [the mayor] a heads-up on Monday, gave him 48 hours notice,” Constant told San Jose Inside. “My goal is not to blindside the city. They know I disagree with their actions.”

What was the mayor’s reaction?

“He, surprisingly, was not angry,” Constant said. “Disappointed, he did express his disappointment. He thinks this is going to hurt them in their attempts to hire more police officers and build up public safety. But I think the council gave up its right by going to the voters, and they promised they would return to the voters if making any changes to pension benefits. What I’m saying is: the process is not what we told the voters, and they deserve a say. I don’t think the council has the legal authority to do this, because the voters took that right away from them.”

In a brief phone call Thursday, Mayor Liccardo called the legal challenge a “bump in the road” that only stalls progress in implementing roughly 80 percent of Measure B’s savings—$3 billion over 30 years—and hundreds of millions more for retiree health benefits.

But it also stalls efforts to build up the police department, which is why Chief Eddie Garcia called a press conference yesterday demanding a swift ending of Measure B. The next academy has a reported seven recruits, and there are only 839 “street ready officers,” according to the department. Constant’s actions have reportedly scared off candidates from joining or returning to the force.

“It delays our ability to do a settlement for everyone,” Liccardo said of the intervention. “It delays new recruits, officers who want to return—we’re hearing from literally dozens of officers who want to return to San Jose.”

Constant now lives in Roseville and handles pension reform issues for the Reason Foundation, a conservative think tank. His investment in Measure B was substantial, as he and the mayor were two of the biggest City Council proponents of Mayor Chuck Reed’s pension reform push back in 2012. Since becoming mayor, however, Liccardo has distanced himself from the original language of the measure, and the city’s negotiated settlement agreements actually have the backing of Reed.

“The reality is this legal maneuver is being done by a couple folks who don’t live in San Jose, don’t count on emergency services for 9-1-1 calls and don’t pay taxes,” Liccardo said.

Here is the complaint to intervene filed by Pete Constant and Steven Haug.

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

33 Comments

  1. Its comical how Liccardo backed this entire Measure B fiasco 100% on the front end. He was told that a scorched earth policy of reform was not the route and that the people who would suffer would be the citizens quality of life and how it relates to crime. He didn’t listen and stayed on Reeds bandwagon along with Peter. Sam is in this for HIM. He now sees the destruction of a good PD and how citizens grew angry, flooding council members email and voice mails. Officers were ordered by command staff to not refer any more complaints to council persons or they would face discipline! Another morale booster, so now officers were faced with angry citizens but were ordered to not talk about the “real” reasons it took 4 hours to respond to a burglary report or assault. The last 2 chiefs played the cowardly game of hiding in their office and issuing memos which backed Reed, Liccardo and crew. Now Liccardo has a friend in the chiefs office. He will come out looking like the winner who negotiated a fair settlement (from the mess he helped create) Then Pete crawls out from under a rock at the 11th hour. This soap opera will play on for years. More long hours, mandatory holdovers from prior shifts and mandatory call back on days off. Further boost to morale. The mayor should be so proud of himself for creating the exigency that now exists and yet he can be the savior. San Jose is a sad little town indeed.

  2. It would be more accurate to say that Pete Constant waddled back into the picture.

  3. Sam since you’ve been free of these folks, I have to say I am very happy with how you’re trying to bring things back to the negotiating table. Never in a million years would I have seen this. Also, you’ve brought a bit of light to council meetings. Chuck was always so serious.

    Pete, you are the most detestable person I’ve ever met from the city. I’ve met and worked with cops with real injuries. My former company had an ex-officer that worked for G3 security. He fell off a cliff, broke his spine in several places. Last year they cut some nerves in his back to alleviate some of his pain. Your injuries are nowhere near this guys injuries, yet you still continue to triple dip.

    Makes me think that maybe we should focus on YOU for real pension reform. YOU should be that poster boy of what needs to be changed in the pension/disability system. You make me sick.

    • I remember two incidences where constant did things that anyone with a disability back injury would not do. He wrestled with a wrestler visiting from another country when he was a council person. Secondly, he schedule an arm wrestling match with a 75 year old former arm wrestling champion at a park picnic in and for his district. Fortunately he was a no show due to a family emergency.

      One has to ask, is this guy really disabled, or just or is he just ripping off the system? He makes me sick to my stomach.

  4. Amen,

    Pete with his alleged disability is still a cancer to this city. But like OJ he got away with it and there is nothing we can do. I hope Sam at least sent him a pink slip or is he still on the cities dime as a consultant.

    • I think the right thing to do would be look at Pete, and figure out a way he’ll no longer get a check from, “The city of San Jose.” I think both cops and pension reformers would be giddy about it. If Sam could pull that off…

      • Robert,

        Sam can’t and he know it, hopefully he will cut his checks to Pete as a consultant!

        Pete will always get two checks from the city. One for his alleged disability PD retirement. Do I need to remind you this is 50% tax free plus medical. The other is his council check with medical and PENSION perks. He knows the game and is the worst of the worst what our city is, but then the city council has set him up so shame on all of us and them.

        • You’re probably right, would be an extreme uphill battle to knock off both “consultant” and his disability. I’m sure the cops would be happy if Sam dropped Pete’s consultancy though right? Also, what kind of consultancy is Pete doing? Were his actions legal?

          Not that Pete is a lawyer and thereby bound by attorney/client privileged, but isn’t there something in lawyer law saying you can’t work against your client? Can’t Sam, or the city sue for some sort of overstep in the course of work?

          #PagingRichRobinson?

  5. Josh- Does Pete still work for the Mayor? If his double dipping self does, then he should be fired. He is nothing but a publicity seeking hypocrite who has HIS pension and is throwing our Officers under the bus. He really needs to be ashamed of himself for leaving the PD on a disability claim and going BACK to work for the City, not once but twice, after claiming he couldn’t work. He is a prime example of someone who played the system and won. Just sickening!

    On a more important note: I am deeply concerned about the Officer’s health and well being because mandatory overtime is putting them at risk of injury or even death. They are human beings like the rest of us and can only withstand so much. We are asking them to be superheros at crap pay and benefits. It is truly disheartening to watch.

    As for Sam, he ran on pension reform and now he is backing down because he realizes what a mistake Measure B was. I don’t know whether to be glad he has changed his position on this, or to feel disappointed in him for running on the promise to take a way promised pensions and benefits owed to our SJPD Officers to save our City money.

    The bottom line is that something needs to be done NOW, and promises to the SJPOA need to be honored WITHOUT anymore delays or shenanigans by Pete Constant and his cronies.

  6. Roaches are really hard to to keep away. They just keep coming back through the cracks.

  7. Be mindful of:
    * Then City Manager Deb Figoni refused to be pinned down on what constitutes a “crises” , but did admit during the Measure B arbitration hearing a SJPD force of 900 would be close. We’re now 50 below that number.

    * The SJPD Academy only has about 10% of its 60 enrollment capacity. Running multiple sessions per year has not materially helped. We continue to loose officers at a faster rate than they can be replaced.

    * Other cities have managed to hold the line on spiraling costs. San Jose officials declined to pursue means other than Measure B. And continue to do so.

    * The claim that Measure B will save $3 billion over 30 years ($100 million / year) is laughable. And has become more absurd. The Merc claimed (9/20/2015 http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_28848629/how-san-jose-san-diego-pension-measures-have ) $1.7 billion was forecast whereas San Diego has already achieved a $40 million annual savings through their pension reform. . The estimate fails to consider SJPD’s overtime costs, litigation costs, etc. The $1.7 billion savings estimate 6 months ago included an estimated $50 million / year haircut due to the Measure B ruling.

    * Measure B savings were lowered from $45M to $25M / year on or about Feb 11 2015. Roughly a year later, 4 times that is estimated. The $3 billion savings estimate is over twice what a proposed sales tax hike would generate.

    Liccardo’s claimed savings look less credible than the new City Hall promised savings. None could be identified when the Civil Grand Jury subsequently investigated.

    • Taxpayer,

      The city is paying over 20 million a year for police OT and is already forcing officers to work mandatory OT. That was before the grand standing news conference. And yes, a grand total of 6 recruits in the academy most of which will flee to other departments after the FTO Program.

      • Thanks TOBY1981. Didn’t know the $20M OT estimate, but seems about right. The City previously claimed each recruit costs $200K to on-board. Combining the cumulative FTO loss, OT& litigation expense, sure looks like Measure B has been an unmitigated disaster for everyone.

        Very disturbing that Sam is not forthright about the actual impact and continues to justify his Measure B championship. Damages his credibility.

      • Toby where do you come up with a $20 million estimate in police OT? I haven’t been able to find this information. I think you might be wrong. I think it is much higher. I located pay for all employees (San Jose) in 2014. After transferring the data to an spread sheet I came up with an estimate of $27 million for police and $43 million for the entire city. Again this was for 2014.

        • Sorry

          Was told by SJI “You (I) are posting comments to quickly. Slow down”. Sorry I guess facts are not good. Will again in a day or two.

          • JUST ANON FOR NOW

            This as an approximate number I received form a department member. And this was an approximate number just for the SJPD in 2015-16. There are officers making more in OT pay than the COP. Not because they can but many are already forced to work OT when they do not want to. Shifts are required to work their 10 hours shifts then are forced to work another 7 hours. You should look into the sick time officers are taking to stay healthy.

            All this before the conference on TV.

  8. One of the problems I have is that Measure B opponents told us that if Cortese lost in 2014, we would have, like, a crimewave. But criminology basically shows that a cities crime rate is much more complicated than the officer-police ratio, especially in a city like San Jose where we have a large “suburban” area.

    “Trend CT’s analysis of crime data shows that having more police officers doesn’t mean less crime, at least in suburban areas.

    But in densely populated urban areas, more officers seem to correlate with less crime — especially when it comes to violent crime, murders, robberies and aggravated assault. There were weaker correlations between the staffing numbers of municipal police departments and the rate of burglaries and rapes.”

    http://trendct.org/2015/04/22/police-in-connecticut-staffing-and-crime-per-capita/

    I think it was silly and counterproductive for Reed to “go hard” the way he did (but hey it got him national profile and he landed at a fine law firm so YOLO) rather than going for a negotiated solution that Liccardo has pivoted to after they saw that the hard approach was a loser.

    I’m bracing myself for the cops on the forum (who are just butthurt that they are losing $, all the “service” claims are just self serving pretext) who are now going to call me “the professor” and then give me anecdotes rather than data (while claiming that their experience gives them some sorta claim to have higher expertise in the area).

    Before you do that, read this http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/12/09/the-interview-7

    • You cite a study done on police staffing in Connecticut, which has different demographics, not only for the populations served, but also the officers employed.
      However if we consider data from San Jose ; http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-San-Jose-California.html

      we will see a different data flow. We are now comparing relative crime rates distinct to San Jose. In 2010, when the first signs appeared that Measure B was going to be implemented, the first wave of officers began to retire. When the full impact of Measure B took effect in 2012, the crime data shows a defined spike. By 2012, police staffing levels began to crater and there was a direct and corresponding increase in crime. The data shows that in an area with high employment, the crime numbers have not even returned to 2010 levels! This clearly shows that San Jose, with a decrease in police officers has seen a direct increase in crime. What isn’t measured is the number of citizens who have given up even filing police reports for property crimes because the police department doesn’t even investigate them. They have 2 officers in Fraud and 1.5 officers (yeah its a half) in Burglary. For a city over a million people this is outrageous. Your car gets stolen, call your insurance company. Your house gets burglarized, call your insurance company. Your car gets broken into, call your insurance company.

      So rather than give you anecdotes, I’ve provided you relative data, not some non-conforming study which you tried to utilize to support your contentions. These are the stats for San Jose, not Connecticut.

  9. Remember that “PLAN” Sam wrote, before he was elected, stating how he would be able to hire so many new officers? I don’t remember it, exactly, but what ever happened to that plan? Curious minds would like to know.

  10. Associates cocky much? Settle down with your self righteous attitude. No one says the ratio is what keeps crime down. Proactivity is what keeps crime down i.e. specialized units such as Metro, VCET undercover narcotics and vice units. When staffing is wiped out all those units go. When officers are pulled from the detective bureaus to fill beats then cases go unworked and unsolved which is the case with many burglary and assault crimes. What is so hard for you to grasp. Its quite obvious by your tone that you have a preconceived agenda and you are probably one of those guys that buys into FBI stats which are usually one year behind. Gangs go unchecked which results in more stabbings and shootings. RMC is a phenomenal trauma center which saves people at an extremely higher rate than any hospital in Oakland. This is not an IBM program with black and white numbers like you think it is or perhaps thats what you are used to in your cubicle under the fluorescent lights. The staffing level has a very direct correlation on crime. Right now there are very few gang officers to go out and do follow up, probation searches and proactive contacts. There is currently one, yes ONE, officer assigned to the thousands of burglary reports which are taken every year. The dept pays officers overtime to come in and do follow up on cases with solid leads which sometimes results in walking through arrest warrants to the DA. Currently there is almost ZERO traffic enforcement in SJ due to the elimination of nearly 45 motor units. Accident rates are up. Every time an officer has his lights on and is out writing a ticket the 50+ motorists that pass by may think twice about speeding, running a red light or tail gating in that area. Multiply that by all those motor officers writing tickets all day. They now have about 10 officers a week come in and write tickets on overtime 2 days a week in hotspots. So by your arrogant logic this has no effect on accidents or drives driving around SJ like the wild west. Im sure you will poopoo everything I have said as it makes too much sense when you are filled with an bias toward the public servants that put their life on the line. Similar to the officers that took .223 round through their windshield on Meridian Av last night. Stay safe in your cubicle.

    • I wouldn’t pay attention to “associates”. The vast majority of the citizens I speak with are on our side. We all know guys like associate. He does not care about actual facts you have pointed out – it will always be the fault of the greedy police no matter what. That is his narrative and he will stick with it. Don’t waste your breath. We will still give guys like him service when they call 911. They will then got on the blogs and write some more about the greedy cops. We will take the high road as we always do.

    • Mr. Reliable,

      Fewer cops writing fewer traffic citations is not just, or even primarily, about traffic enforcement by itself. It has a more “global” impact.

      A substantial percentage, possibly most, arrests that police officers make “on-view” begin with a simple traffic stop. During the course of such stops, officers often discover additional suspicious and criminal activity. The stopped individual may be DUI; he may have an outstanding warrant; or he may have a ski-mask and cash laying in plain view on the passenger side floorboard from a robbery he had just committed but that had not yet even had a chance to be broadcast. This happens more often than most people realize.

      The “Oklahoma City Bomber”, Timothy McVeigh, was stopped for having expired registration tags on his vehicle, a very minor traffic violation. The officer subsequently discovered who he had stopped and McVeigh was arrested.

      There was at least one case I know of in San Jose where an officer made a traffic stop on a person who ended up having an Arab-sounding last name (naturally the officer couldn’t tell what the name was when he made the stop; and lots of people have olive complexions and 3-day growth beards so, of course, how could it have been “profiling”). The officer also discovered a substantial amount of obvious “jihadi type literature” in the vehicle. The FBI was notified and in an unusual action, they came to SJPD and took custody of the individual. I have no idea what happened after that; All this because of a car stop.

      One of the supposed “master minds” of the 911 attacks, Mohammed Atta, was stopped by police in Florida some weeks before he participated in the worst terrorist attack in US history. Atta was stopped for a minor traffic violation and found to be driving without a driver’s license but was ticketed and not arrested. There was a time in San Jose when those circumstances would have resulted in the police arresting Atta and impounding his car. Atta would have been taken to the PD, fingerprinted, identified and would have had to find a person with a valid driver’s license before the car would have been released from impound. Who knows what officers would have found in Atta’s car when it was inventoried prior to impound? Think about it. It does not seem at all melodramatic to me that a single car stop could have stopped, or at least delayed, the 911 Attack (Atta was believed to be one of the leaders) and thereby even changed history. However, those are car stops that SJPD will probably never make now BECAUSE THERE ARE NO COPS AVAILABLE TO MAKE THE STOPS!

      Crisis staffing levels have killed proactive policing in San Jose. I hope that makes Fred Reed, mayor Liccardo, Pete Constant and people like “Associates” feel comfortable the next time they are running to catch a flight at San Jose Airport.

      By the way, the guy with the “jihadi” leaflets, literature, and posters in his car; he was in a rental car, headed to the SJ airport. I have unequivocal knowledge that this is absolutely true.

  11. Pete still seems pretty able bodied. Two full terms as a councilperson, adjunct professor, etc etc. Seems he should go back to work at SJPD in some capacity. Other officers with legitimate crippling disabilities waiting years to get basic treatment or a service connected disability who truly can’t work. Ironic how he wants to stab these other officers in the back. He has done so much damage already and wants to do more. He hates the SJPD as everyone knew he was a scammer when he was there and then when he got kicked out of the SJPOA a few years ago. This guy is blinded by vengeance and his actions will get a SJPD officer hurt or worse. I hope Pete reads SJI.

    • Nobody at the PD would willingly work with Pete. In fact, I suspect most would file complaints against Pete, the City and the PD since his very presence, based on his words and actions would create a hostile work environment.

  12. Out of curiosity, I just went to the City of San Jose Website to see if the City still pays Constant as a consultant to Sam Liccardo. Indeed in 2015, Pete Constant was paid $28,266.81 as a special “City Council Assistant”.

  13. Does anyone know if being terminally glutenous, greedy, spiteful, and hypocritical meets the qualifications under California’s upcoming right-to-die law? If so, I’m willing to start a GoFundMe site for Pete.

  14. Can SJI please warn the readers before publishing a picture of Pete ? I like to keep my lunch after I have digested it…..thank you for your understanding.

  15. Wow. A consultant to the city is suing the city he doesn’t live in anymore but still draws a paycheck from. Why is this so disgusting?

    • He not only still draws a paycheck from the city he is suing, but a disability retirement check from the police department, a pension check from his time on the city council, and medical benefits from this same city.

  16. Bottom line is this person is the worst…………………..well what San Jose voters deserve. You get what you wish and vote for. Be careful what you wish for when you do not research your candidates and don’t even show up to vote.