San Jose City Councilman Pete Constant isn’t happy with the Police Officers Association for trying to ruin his weekend barbecue. According to Constant, the POA, frustrated by the lack of a union contract, attempted to “pressure” the San Jose Police and Firefighters Retirees Association to back out of their commitment to barbecue at his District 1 event this past weekend.
The idea was that the retirees’ group should be standing in solidarity with the POA until they get a contract signed. But Constant, a former cop and a Republican, considered it a cheap shot from his fellow law enforcers.
“I think that, personally, that crossed the line,” said Constant, who has recently been on the outs with the police officers’ group. Bobby Lopez, president of the POA, says he hardly hammered the association to back out of Constant’s event. What really happened, Lopez explained, is that he asked the organization—which said it couldn’t bail on Constant 10 days before his event—to no longer participate in councilmembers’ events until they get a contract in place. (They’ve been without one since July 1.)
“I just asked them,” Lopez said. “To say that I forbid them is going way beyond. I was just telling them in these times we are the underdog in this fight.”
But Constant believes he is being targeted by the POA because someone is leaking statements he made regarding the union contract in a closed council session, which are private meetings among councilmembers.
“I have had people on POA board give me exact quotes of things I said in closed session,” Constant said. “One of the 11 people [councilmembers] in that room is giving them information.”
The POA says that’s not the case, though Lopez admits they’re frustrated that Constant, being a former cop, hasn’t come out and been a stronger leader for the POA, which is looking to score enhanced retirement packages and higher wages to recruit top-notch police officers.
“We need to resolve this,” he said. “We need some real leadership.”