IPA Controversy Won’t Go Away

Even Mayor Chuck Reed himself seems to believe he might have miscalculated community concerns in San Jose’s most recent controversy—the selection of the newly hired, just-resigned Independent Police Auditor.

Over the weekend, Reed finally confessed that maybe he was wrong about hiring Chris Constantin as the new IPA, knowing full well that his older brother is a San Jose homicide detective. “I didn’t think it was a fatal flaw,” Reed told Fly, adding that he is surprised it turned into such a big deal. “After the public controversy exploded, it was fairly clear that it was [a mistake].”

Reed says he still believes that the potential conflict of interest created by the appointment could have been mitigated fairly, which is why he may have glossed over this big detail when announcing Constantin’s appointment two weeks ago. Constantin resigned from the position less than a week after the council hired him unanimously. True to form, Councilwoman Nora Campos went on the attack, with memos and words in the press, accusing the mayor of not telling her about Constantin’s brother before the vote. Reed emphatically insists he did his part in disclosing the tidbit about Constantin’s brother before the council took the vote.

“My councilmembers usually have pretty good ears,” the mayor says with uncharacteristic sarcasm. So far, Fly has been unable to unravel the he-saids from the she-saids in this matter. If the mayor gets his wish, the minutes from the closed-door meeting will be released, and we’ll know for sure whether the whole council is tone-deaf to controversy, or just the mayor.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. It is a well known fact that Furman and Gomez have been sources of several leaks involving Reed.

    Watch your back, Chuck. 

    A friend who knows what they say over BLTs at noon.

  2. The Peace Officer credo is usually to defend their actions and conceal when necessary. Its a brotherhood. Over the top violent acts which are nothing less then legalized assault is always defended by “the officer reacted according to procedure”. I have witnessed unquestionable brutality first hand on a mentally diminished man who committed no crime, who had just stood too close to an officer taking down a beligerant jay walker downtown. The beat lieutenant gave me the same line. An auditor who thinks like a cop cannot be independent. Would you enlist a developer to perform an EIR for another developer. Chuck also saw no conflict in obtaining his Madison defense funds from housing developers.

  3. Actually, it might be worse. He might be smart and arrogant and thought he could get away with this. He apparently believes if you tell people enough times they have an open and transparent government they will believe it.
    He was wrong.

  4. #5 said:” Chuck Reed is just not very smart.”

    That depends upon how you define “smart”.  I’m sure he did well in school and in The Air Force Academy, which requires that one be “smart”.

    I’d suggest another word—clueless.  How one gets to be a succesful lawyer and a”big city” mayor without being “smart” doesn’t compute for me.  But, you can be smart, and not have sense enough to come in out of the rain.  How a long time practicing lawyer like Chuck can say he didn’t perceive a conflict problem with Mr. Constantin and his brother working for SJPD absolutely astounds me.  That’s clueless!

    I know a few magna cum laudae who fit that description—REALLY test-smart folks who couldn’t find their butts with two hands and a guide.

    Is Chuck one?  I’m still not sure.  But he has had two HUGE gaffes that point to political/common sense cluelessness—Little Saigon and SJ IPA.

    Sad, for me.  I held out high hope that Chuck could bring SJ to fiscal reality and a balanced approach to solving the inevitable problems that arise in a changing demographic.

    He could be a one term mayor.  If Cindy’s out there trolling for labor dollars and the massive support of precinct walkers that labor can bring, she could beat him next time.  And that would be a real step backwards for SJ.

    Chuck needs someone really savvy like Jude Barry to set him straight and advise him well.  But I’d expect Jude can easily command more dollars than Chuck can afford to spend.

    Oh, well; I guess I can move to Santa Clara where chaos has reigned in local politics for decades.

  5. “I didn’t think it was a fatal flaw,” Reed told Fly, adding that he is surprised it turned into such a big deal. “

    Sound familiar—like Madison and Chuck re Little Saigon.

    Chuck continued:“My councilmembers usually have pretty good ears,”  Gee, and here I naively thought they were supposed to be our councilmembers.

    Dale—for the ignorant among us like myself, what’s reed’s Murky News brother-in-laws name?

  6. Reed knows very well the value of a brother as one climbs the slippery pole of political success.  Reed had a big benefit from his relationship (brother-in-law) to one of the top two Mercury News executives during the years he was going through the chairs of the city planning commission and the county planning commission.  None of Reed’s “mistakes” were mentioned in the Mercury News—very valuable to him later on in his Council and Mayoral campaigns.

  7. #9 wrote:“Reed has acted dishonestly, in bad faith and behind closed doors to engineer his personally selected outcome. He continues to deny every issue involved in this controversy, waits till the facts become so obvious that he is forced to recant his original position and then claims he is working to address the issue.”

    Surely it’s not that bad.  That is downright Nixonian. IPAgate????

  8. Incendiary politics in San Jose.  Reminds me of when everyone wanted to jump on the anti-Gonzales bandwagon after they road it for a good 6 years of lucrative personal success.

    I never like the imported politician concept and worked for one of Gonzales’ opponents because I’d rather have real San Jose leadership that was mediocre than grandiose leadership that was out of touch.

    When this Mayor ran, I had a gut feeling it was time for a change and walked a few precincts but never really got involved much (because even though I was San Jose born and raised, I settled on the Peninsula after the Army and only felt like a part-time San Jose person after that with school a few days a week.)

    The gaffs of politicians are good for engaging the electorate (success has many fathers and failure has….)but I’m still hopeful that people are interesting in a more positive kind of civic engagement beyond simply disecting character flaws.  That’s the classic ad hominem attack where you discredit the messenger so you don’t have to discuss the issues.

    Let’s talk about how to improve the process and what went wrong so we do better with the business in front of us as a community and save the name calling and posturing for the next batch of politicians waiting to “save us” in the election just around the corner (2010).

    PS – Sometimes circumstances align to carry people into office regardless of their own merits (Perot->Clinton, McKinley->TR, Iraq/Economy->Obama, Watergate->Carter, etc.)

  9. #11 “Surely it’s not that bad.  That is downright Nixonian.”

    I think a major difference between Nixon and Reed is the later is graying and has a much smaller nose. But in all seriousness, this kind of backroom dealing by Reed is exactly what he campaigned against Ron Gonzalez for. Reed said he going to be a mayor of accountability and transparency, but in playing denial over the issues, making backroom deals, and refusing to release police records he hasn’t shown an iota of transparency and only seems accountable to his supporters in the police department.

  10. While the council as a whole has largely continued to trip over its own shoes in addressing the issue of San Jose’s out of control police force, Reed’s moves around the IPA are beginning to take on all the hallmarks of a career going down the tubes or at least a reputation severely tarnished.

    Reading the story below, if we are to believe it (though it certainly sounds highly plausible), Reed has acted dishonestly, in bad faith and behind closed doors to engineer his personally selected outcome. He continues to deny every issue involved in this controversy, waits till the facts become so obvious that he is forced to recant his original position and then claims he is working to address the issue.

    Reed had no intention of bringing reform or transparency of any sort to city hall. As the saying goes “When sh*t gets old, its time to flush.”

    Reed’s “transparent” Process:


    “A private headhunting company called Bob Murray and Associates initiated the search for the potential IPA applicants. They received roughly 50-100 applications in the form of resumes and online questionnaires. Regan Williams, an employee of the company, and former Sunnyvale police officer, supervised the next narrowing down process. The group was distilled to sixteen candidates that Williams conducted personal interviews with, which reduced the candidate pool to eight.

    That group of eight finalists were then screened and interviewed by the Mayor’s staff – Armando Gomez and Pete Furman. The undisclosed interviews were conducted on the second floor of City Hall on March 20, 2009 in the hours of 12pm to 4pm. According to the source, the Mayor’s staff, in hindsight, were “weeding out” candidates that appeared independent, and might challenge the views of the Mayor and the San Jose Police Chief.

    This vetting process than produced four candidates pre-screened by the Mayor’s staff, which were then presented to the Community Panel for interviews. Chris Constantin, despite the disapproval of several community panel members, was then chosen as the new San Jose Independent Police Auditor.”

  11. Yet another mock controversy for a mock city. The problem isn’t the IPA; it’s the chief of police. We need to slash the department’s budget by 10% so that it ends the practice of pursuing imaginary crimes like jaywalking and loitering. We need 24 booze and 24 hour gambling. Watch our tax base skyrocket. We need to bring back proper policing and get smarter cops; they are paid well enough. No advancements have been made thwarting identity or property theft. If it happens to you, you are out of luck. But at least they know how to ride horses….