Police Union Gets Poetic

It’s come to this: Labor blasting city of San Jose officials via poetry. Bad poetry. Like really, really awful poetry. The missive at hand is a 12-line poem written in couplets by police union head Jim Unland.

Unland, head of the Police Officers Association (POA), has slammed every public safety plan brandished by mayoral candidates who supported Measure B pension reforms, which he blames for eviscerating San Jose’s police force.

Councilmembers/mayoral candidates Sam Liccardo and Madison Nguyen both offered proposals to stave off the exodus of police academy grads. Later, they each came up with more public safety proposals, including adding back the burglary unit and hiring more officers. But Pierluigi Oliverio’s idea to allocate a bigger slice of the city’s general fund budget to the San Jose Police Department inspired Unland to wax poetic. Let's go line by line, shall we.

“Dear Mayor and City Council,” he wrote under the POA letterhead. “I will be blunt, Item 3.6 is a disastrous political stunt.”

OK. Simple rhymes to begin. Surprisingly polite.

“The main proponent must be delirious, if he believes this proposal should be taken serious.”

Unland told San Jose Inside that he’s repeated his arguments so many times to no effect that he thought this might crack the shell. Might want to re-read that part about being “taken serious.”

“No more grandstanding and no more tricks, more safety in San Jose is a Measure B fix.”

Agreed. Grandstanding just looks foolish.

“So stop this banter, this farce, this charade, clearly this idea does not make the grade.”

This poem’s grade looks like a foregone conclusion, but there’s more.

“14,000 words, bringing back PD units cut, and budget set-asides are all in the mix, but it’s Measure B that’s the culprit and in need of a fix.”

Apparently, that’s a burn on Liccardo, who’s known for lengthy memos when a few pithy verses could suffice.

“Vote no on Item 3.6 as we tire of the latest public safety game, when we all know that it’s Measure B that is really to blame.”

Eat your heart out, Shakespeare.


Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. The POA doesn’t “blame” Measure B for eviscerating SJPD; its a simple fact. Poetry aside, it’s laughable that those who worked so hard to bring about the destruction are now trying to portray themselves as being concerned with public safety. They are concerned solely with their own political aspirations.

  2. Measure B was a sane attempt to rein in the spending, unsupported by tax revenues, that is endangering the finances of all levels of government. Those who supported Measure B, misguided or not, were trying to save the city, not endanger public safety. And, in reality, the other option, raising taxes on waitresses and car salesmen to pay for $100,000 pensions for public safety and other retirees, wasn’t going to fly with the voters anyway.

    • Your comment assumes that the only two options were Measure B or nothing. Actually, the POA proposed reasonable and legal pension reform which would have saved the city hundreds of millions. Reed, with the eager support of mayoral candidates Liccardo, Nguyen, Oliverio and Herrera, rejected negotiated pension reform in favor of the extreme and illegal Measure B. They chose this course despite established legal precedent which placed its provisions on shaky legal ground and repeated warnings from the POA that passage of Measure B would cause hundreds of officers to flee the department.

      The actions of Reed, Liccardo, Nguyen, Oliverio, Herrera and the rest directly brought about the devastation of SJPD and the alarming rise in crime that has followed. Their actions demonstrated reckless disregard for the safety of those who live and work in San Jose, as well as a complete lack of understanding that police officers are well trained and marketable professionals who would naturally seek better opportunities, working for far more appreciative employers, once this attack began. It didn’t have to be this way, but this is the path they chose.

    • Let’s say you are correct and “those who supported Measure B …(were not trying to ) endanger public safety.”

      Since Measure B has not “endangered” but has constructively destroyed public safety I have to ask: Why have “those” failed to do anything to restore public safety?

    • Mr. Hood, I agree it was an attempt but “sane”….no. Not at all. The nearly 96,000 voters (probably less than 10% of San Jose) failed to consider the options and the ramifications. One option was, as JoJo stated, the proposal by the unions to save nearly $500,000,000. Instead this City has waisted millions in training costs to hire new employees and even more millions in legal fees.

      The few that voted might have thought this would help but they failed to do their homework. How can you say the same for Reed, Liccardo, Oliverio or Nguyen? They knew the ramifications. So for those voters who vote for these “wannabe Mayors”….well you get what you get. No more excuses.

      Vote for change.

  3. Really trying to save the city ? What the city council did was destroy one of the best Depts in the country. Funny how other big cities were able to sit down and come up with solutions to keep officers from leaving

  4. Pension reform aside, for more than 30 years San Jose pd policed the city with fewer officers than any other large city. In many cases 1000 less officers policed the city of San Jose. These police officer’s who worked for a pay packaged which included a pension. They kept the city as the safest large city in the country or the second safest city. How many hundreds of millions would it cost the city of San Jose to double the size of its police force to regain the position once held. How many millions of dollars are lost while the public is victimized. I would bet the cost is more than double the cost of funding the pension system. Let’s not forget each officer of that once lean but functional police force had 23% of their pay deducted to fund their pension while for over 30 years men like Reed and Licardo voted to avoid paying the city’s portion of each employees pension. It’s the same miss management that allowed an elected body to waste 4 billion dollars now owed to the state as a debt from the RDA. Much of the debt is for a baseball park that those elected to govern San Jose avoided obtaining permission from voters or MLB. A baseball park that will cost over 200 million dollars to improve one of the several streets that will need improvement to facilitate this baseball park. For a baseball park Reed and Licardo claim will bring in 1.2 million in taxes. The simple math without servicing loans would suggest it will take well over 200 years to break even on the road improvements needed to just the one street. Ask yourself where was this country 200 years ago who was playing baseball? Cowboys and Indians maybe? Will baseball be here in 200 years?
    Most ignored fact that Reed also changed the disability requirements to make it near impossible for even a seriously injured police officer to obtained a disability pension even when disabled while protecting the public. How fast will a police officer rush to save you knowing if he is hurt he will likely be fired and left with no income. The reality is the most employable will leave San Jose for better paying and more secure employment in other Cities.
    This is the kind of Government you get from a mayor caught taking $30,000 but supported by those who can call in favors to ensure there is no criminal investigation. A City government accepting millions from those who stole from every citizen in California during the Enron scandal.
    A city gov who supports and funds items like an Irish incubator that is nothing more than a club, paid for with City taxes, that rents an office from an ex mayor with an Irish name and while the City’s elected and management take trips to Ireland????????

  5. How about we go line by line how Chuck and all his want to be council members who voted for measure B are now claiming public safety is their main priority to be the next mayor. Why were they not speaking up when they distroyed this city. How many more officers have left this city for job security so far this year. Now that would be worth reporting.

  6. Jen,

    I have always enjoyed your take on different local political issues but it seems lately you have become more and more the mouth piece of the current San Jose City Council especially in the area of Measure B. Yes, I am a police retiree and I should point out that my gross retirement pay is only 30K per year. Most retirees do not make the 6 digit retirement ts you hear about and the vast majority like myself receive far less. Regardless of what Mayor Reed and the other city council members spout, Measure B affects retirees and active personnel. Because of Measure B I have seen my retirement check slashed 10% due to changes called for in Measure B and the health care plans that are available to retirees. While Jim Unland’s poetic letter to the mayor and city council may seem sophomoric to you, perhaps its what this city council, who are acting like a bunch of juveniles, need to hear.

  7. (A poor poetic response ;-)

    Sometimes the police don’t get it
    Especially when waxing poetic

    Lest we forget what you’re here for
    Your burgeoning pensions do soar

    So without much ado please keep this in mind
    Our taxes increase and your poetics a crime

    So with my heart full and my hat in my hand
    I send this poem to Officer Up-Land

  8. So much for PO’s 40% grandstanding how he wants to help the police. Seems his was the only yes vote. Even Ash said no. What next PO?

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