Civil Service Rules

The City of San Jose has adopted Civil Service Rules that state what is and what is not allowed in regards to employment. The City Charter allows for changes to Civil Service Rules by a Council vote, and does not necessarily require a city-wide election.

SECTION 1103. Civil Service Rules; Manner of Adoption.

Civil Service Rules for the Classified Service shall be adopted, and may from time to time be repealed or amended, by ordinance of the Council. Upon adoption, Civil Service Rules shall have the force and effect of law.

The Council may adopt, repeal or amend any Civil Service Rule for the Classified Service, provided it first receives from the Civil Service Commission a report or recommendation with respect to the proposed new Rule, if a new Rule is proposed to be adopted, or with respect to the proposed repeal or amendment of an existing Rule if an existing Rule is proposed to be repealed or amended; provided, however, that if the Civil Service Commission refuses or fails to submit to the Council a report or recommendation on any proposed new Rule, or proposed repeal or amendment of any existing Rule, within ninety (90) days from and after the date the Council requests such a report or recommendation, the Council may adopt such new Rule or repeal or amend such existing Rule, without first receiving a report or recommendation thereon from the Civil Service Commission.

The years ahead for local government will be tough, as property tax revenues will continue to be low and the true costs of pensions are revealed.  If layoffs are inevitable, then let’s examine the current system of layoffs by seniority.

The current method means we lose some of the most productive people and create a large age gap if/when we are in the position to hire down the road. Instead, perhaps we should look to see if there is an alternative that might involve employee performance as well as seniority. Maybe only lay off employees who are evaluated as “needing improvement” before laying off productive employees with less seniority. Or if two employees have nearly equal seniority, leave some allowance for merit—such as education, training, evaluations and certifications—to be used in the final determination.

Also, we should explore allowing those that are closer to retirement the ability to choose on their own accord to retire early in a way that would still provide the savings to balance the budget. Employees with more seniority are paid more than those with less seniority, so a change may allow fewer layoffs of city employees that provide services to residents.

I believe the Civil Service Commission, chaired by Bill Brill, business representative for IBEW union Local 425, should review and give their recommendation to the City Council in 90 days per the City Charter.

Thanks to Friends of the San Jose Rose Garden who hosted a great volunteer event on Saturday. Many unpaid volunteers braved the cold to help keep the park looking great. Special thanks to Terry Reilly, Beverly Rose Hopper and Myles Tobin for the heavy lifting.

Click this link for a short video of Saturday’s volunteer event at the San Jose Rose Garden.


  1. Makes sense. Seniority layoffs means there is no incentive to perform, and also requires more layoffs to achieve the same budget savings. Offering retirement packages is also a common practice in the corporate world to meet budget requirements.
    Implementation will be another matter, but any merit system will likely be more fair and better for the city overall than a seniority based system could be.
    Besides, most of the citizens of the city operate in this kind of environment, working for a corporation or some other business, and elected officials can be voted out, so why should city employees be held to a different standard?

  2. So you propose to alter the rules to meet your desires, instead of getting your hand out of my wallet? Wow! Did it ever occur to you that the amount of money potentially saved will be over shadowed by the money the city will pay out to defend itself in lawsuits for a variety of complaints related to “performance” related lay-offs?
    P.O.- I used to think you were just naive, but you have really out done yourself this time. Now I just have the personal opinion that you have zero listening skills and will not extricate yourself from the rear of the mayor. You remind me of many parents who are unable to say “no” and have a narrow view that your personal responsibility is dwarfed by everybody else’s faults. Maybe the council can hold a special vote to disband itself and let a smarter group of people take the reins. The type of people who believe the safety of the community comes first and all the fuzzy feel good things come second in economically tough times.

    • Projecting much are we, Officer Z?

      Why do I suspect that you feel your “performance” would come up lacking when stacked up against some of your peers with fewer years on the force?

      And it’s not like PLO is suggesting any change to how the Civil Service Rules work – he merely stated that those rules are subject to amendment by a vote of the City Council…you know, the elected representatives of the people that you purport to Protect and Serve.

      Or has that little factoid escaped your notice?

      • Projecting? No. I would be surprised if someone did not think that because I have an issue with performance related employment that I must be one of the “lazy” ones.
        The simple fact is such an idea is wrought with problems that any average citizen could figure out in a few seconds. See BS’s post farther down for some insight.
        The people represented deserve honest, fair and educated leadership. They deserve to be told the truth. They deserve to know that they stand to lose much more than what P.O. is suggesting would be saved.
        here is a small little factoid for you in return, “Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”

        • “Sometimes the popular employees with the best reviews who’ve promoted up aren’t actually good workers (ie – doing good) but rather specialize in being liked and recognized (ie – looking good).”

          Blair you have hit the nail on the head.  I’ve been a city employee for nearly three decades.  Here are some of my observations.  First, evaluations many times don’t reflect the performance of the employee but the popularity of said employee with the evaluation writer.  Second, many times the evaluation is more indicative of the supervisors writing skills rather than the employees performance.  I’ve seen excellent employees receive poorly documented evaluations simply because the supervisor is incompetent or lazy.  Third, many supervisors have believed for years that the evaluations are a waste of time.  Hence many evaluations are sketchy on details and submitted only because they are required.  Fourth, typically a supervisor hasn’t really had to fully document poor or stellar performance in the past other than citing a couple of cases the subordinate might have been involved in.  Once a layoff has been accomplished based upon an evaluation, the lawsuits will abound.  I am certain laid off senior employees will find willing lawyers to submit public records acts requests or subpoenas for other employees evaluations to compare.  Pretty soon documents once deemed confidential will be open to scrutiny and privacy lawsuits will then also follow.

          The funny thing about this suggestion is that it would actually accomplish the same thing that using only seniority would.  Most supervisors recognize that young officers are lacking in most areas on their evaluation based upon their lack of experience and training.  In other words, the longer a person is in the job, the higher likelyhood that those performance elements rise.  I would bet that a simple study of all performance evaluations across the city would show that the more senior employees receive higher ratings overall.  Therefore they would also be retained and the younger less experienced personnel would be let go anyway.

          PLO this is simply another suggestion thrown out to make it look as if you are an idea person.  Clearly the only benefit to your plan is to allow department leaders to hand pick their favorites as well as cut the higher paying employees to save a few bucks.  I would suggest that the next time you need an operation you be prohibited from seeking the experienced surgeon with a long resume and tenure in the business for a young intern who has only hacked on a few cadavers, then come back and report on your experience.

        • Sometimes the popular employees with the best reviews who’ve promoted up aren’t actually good workers (ie – doing good) but rather specialize in being liked and recognized (ie – looking good).

          Pay for performance flies in the face of the established status quo of public sector practices where metrics that actually relate to the job the public needs done are used in the performance evaluation and can result in not only a good review but some sort of bonus.

          In terms of using performance evaluations as a factor in non-seniority layoffs, it is indeed dangerous ground if the system is basically broke and the performance evaluations aren’t real and accurate but rather a measure of how well liked by supervisors you are.

        • Dear Mr. Brill,
          Thank you for your opinion in the Mercury News Daily, January 11, 2011 edition in conveying an understanding of the subjectivity and very biased standard in City of San Jose Performance evaluation.
          I have worked for the City for over 21 years and have not found a year I can truly assert my performance evaluation, when it was grudgingly given for no other reason than to “disgrace him”or”rattle his cage”, reflected the quality of work I did.
          I have just about given up hope that there is any check and balances existing within the City Labor and Management until I read your opinion in the Mercury News daily
          It was refreshing to hear that Civil Service Commission is aware of how Management of City of San Jose deploys Annual Performance Evaluation for purposes other than what it was designed.
          PLO,look elsewhere for a solution and leave those of us who have served the City because we love to serve credit or no credit period.

          Yours in service

        • Our department is wrought with favoritism, where the manager’s friends are put in the cush positions and have much less work than others. Really poor performers are not dealt with and vindictiveness is rampant, so you don’t want to be on your boss’s bad side. You can believe that the people who are less liked or popular would be the first to go.

  3. Pier, a noble pursuit to be sure.  But in doing so, you violate the most holy Union covenant of “He who has been around the longest must be the most valuable.” 

    One hears about the folks in park maintenance and public works who stand around (or sit around) all day and do nothing but shoot the breeze and drink coffee.  Altering the senority rule would most certainly result in shitcannus operandi for them.

  4. How would Pierluigi know whether or not the current method has cost the city some of its most productive people? Helpful tidbits from the mouths of those kissing his butt? Checking employee evaluations without authorization? If a credible study has been done, by all means, let’s hope he shares. Otherwise, just chalk this up to Mr. Oliverio doing what he does best, blowing smoke in the ears and up the rears of a gullible public.

    There is one prevailing reason for his nefarious plot and that’s to undermine the sense of security and solidarity of the various employee unions as they prepare to sit down for the next round of collective bargaining, a process that is certain to put employee groups between the rock of maintaining compensation and the hard place of enduring layoffs. As things now stand, a threat from the city to layoff 50 employees would put the jobs of the 50 employees with the least seniority in jeopardy, a disheartening prospect to be sure, but one whose impact at the individual level is comprehendible. Fifty people preparing for the worst, the rest with a decision to make. Not so with his new, alternative approach, one that would involve enough subjective variables to put virtually everyone’s job at risk, thus all but guaranteeing the acceptance of the pay and benefit cuts the city seeks.

    Of course, other things, some not so attractive, would also be all but guaranteed. Evaluations would suddenly face serious challenges, the kind that history has demonstrated government agencies, even when trying to rid themselves of horrible employees, have no stomach for meeting. So lacking in courage has been this city that, on numerous occasions when it had the goods on a disability cheat—complete with incriminating video, the decision was always against pursuing charges. This city has instilled in its supervisors and commanders zero faith in its support; how many of them do you think will be willing to go out on a limb to help with this layoff selection process? Can you imagine a single black or female cop or firefighter being identified for layoff? Dream on. Training, of the kind the city loves to avoid and delay to cut costs, would be rightfully demanded by every employee, a demand which, with budgets cut and staffing already reduced, will be impossible to meet. And every single layoff, stripped of the layer of objective protection the seniority system provided, would be challenged for the criteria employed, the credibility of the evidenced used, and the fairness administered. In short, it will be a nightmare for the employees, city management, the public, and a powerball win for labor lawyers.

    Once again, Mr. Oliverio demonstrates his overconfidence and profound ignorance of the city workplace and the law. First of all, education, training, and certifications constitute credentials, not merit. An employee’s merit is a measure of how he or she has done the job, a measure often loaded with subjectivity and prime for debate. Second, the very fact that he has now made public, even before any rule change, his recognition that the city can benefit by selecting higher-paid and more senior employees for layoff, will certainly cast doubt on the objectivity of any future decision involving a senior employee.

    What Mr. Oliverio really wants is to use thoughtful ideas and creative approaches to wage a reign of terror against the men and women who work for us, and what is really dangerous for us is that he is nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is.

    • So in a representative form of government, aren’t the elected folks supposed to, you know, talk about ideas and issues?

      Seems like he’s doing that.  You may not like where this kind of talk might lead, but I suspect self(ish)-interest trumps tolerance for democratic debate on ideas and issues.

      • “… aren’t the elected folks supposed to talk abut ideas and issues?”—

        The answer to that is yes, provided the ideas are sound. What Mr. Oliverio has floated here is not sound, not doable, and, disturbingly, damaging to a workforce that has already been unfairly scapegoated and left to struggle with some very harsh economic realities. All that will be accomplished with this idiotic idea is to further insult a workforce that he, Mayor Reed, and the third member of the Axis of Evil, city manager Figone, have already angered and insulted, not to mention invite those citizens already aroused by their own economic woes to spout more vitriol at their public servants.

        It appears a near certainty that some city jobs are going to be lost, at least in those departments not involved in the mayor’s efforts to provide public assistance to a billionaire baseball team owner. The seniority system, imperfect as it may be in many ways, is perfect in one regard: it is the one employee-related measure that hasn’t been corrupted by our city’s leaders. Hiring standards, civil service rules, training records, personnel evaluations, rewards programs, promotions—none has gone unmolested by the our elected and appointed high priests of diversity. Standards fell decades ago to the embrace of the ill-suited; civil service rules to the passions of the race merchants; training records to supervisors forced to meet quotas; evaluations to the looming sickle of the EEOC; employee rewards to photo ops for diversity; promotions to the lust for affirmative action.

        The only surviving measure, the only one they haven’t figured out how to rig, is the calendar.

        Yet the reckless councilman, a man I’ve rated as a clown using my own, color-blind system of evaluation, proposes using merit to frighten his enemies, then goes on to prove that he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word.

        Take a good look at how well San Jose has done thus far in 2011. In less than 10 days our homicide tally reached 20% of last years total, teetering on 25% depending on the fate of a fifth shooting victim. Who the hell do you think responded to those dangerous, chaotic scenes? Who is it we expect to solve those crimes and prevent others? Let me tell you, the very same police officers upon whom Mr. Oliverio has declared open season with his asinine proposal. Good police work requires good cops who take risks, push the envelope, and stand-up to challenges. The situation is much the same in firefighting. God help us if the Axis of Evil does so much damage to the moral of our public safety employees that the heroes among their ranks shift their focus away from their service to us and onto the contents of their personnel files.

        • If only sound ideas were allowed to be discussed or debated in public policy, very little would ever actually change in government.  Sometimes you need to challenge complacency with some new ideas, and even if the notions seem crazy, in the process of arguing it out, you come up with something better than what you are doing right now.  That’s sorta how I see democracy.  Even the lunatic fringe that advocate repealing the income tax and going with a flat tax add something to the debate on public policy.

        • Public discourse is a good thing.  Throwing out poor ideas and then encouraging lapdogs to support them for purely political reasons is not.  If our city leaders were unbiased, competent, truly seeking the good of the average citizen, and had no hidden agenda, then every idea should be put on the table.  However, most of PLO’s ideas are simply his quest to receive attention, fool his constituents into thinking that he is a well of bright ideas, and to get re-elected.  Hitler had novel ideas too and was able to coerce an entire nation into following his schemes for a time. 

          Sometimes an idea on its face should be discounted immediately.  There are also a percentage of people who needlessly try and re-invent the wheel on a regular basis.  We should always seek improvement on the status quo but there are some tried and proven concepts that stand the test of time.  Would you make the same argument if PLO’s suggestion was to completely dissolve the Municipal Code inclusive of zoning laws, fire codes, etc.? Would you argue that making the suggestion is something that we should debate the merits of or is it a waste of time from the outset?  There are those who consistently try and raise the issue of adult-child sexual relations.  Do we give them a platform to try and convince everyone that adults should be able to have sex with pre-teens or do we decide early on that the topic has already been decided for good reason and not allow the idea to get any traction amongst the small minority of depraved individuals.

      • This will be my second attempt to post this…

        “… aren’t the elected folks supposed to talk abut ideas and issues?”—

        The answer to that is yes, provided the ideas are sound. What Mr. Oliverio has floated here is not sound, not doable, and, disturbingly, damaging to a workforce that has already been unfairly scapegoated and left to struggle with some very harsh economic realities. All that will be accomplished with this idiotic idea is to further insult a workforce that he, Mayor Reed, and the third member of the Axis of Evil, city manager Figone, have already angered and insulted, as well as invite those citizens already aroused by their own economic woes to spout more vitriol at their public servants.

        It appears a near certainty that some city jobs are going to be lost, at least in those departments not involved in the mayor’s efforts to provide public assistance to a billionaire baseball team owner. The seniority system, imperfect as it may be in many ways, is perfect in one regard: it is the one employee-related measure that hasn’t been corrupted by our city’s leaders. Hiring standards, civil service rules, training records, personnel evaluations, rewards programs, promotions—none has gone unmolested by our elected and appointed high priests of diversity. Standards fell decades ago to the embrace of the ill-suited; civil service rules to the passions of the race merchants; training records to supervisors forced to meet quotas; evaluations to the looming sickle of the EEOC; employee rewards to photo ops for diversity; promotions to the lust for affirmative action.

        The only surviving measure, the only one they haven’t figured out how to rig, is the calendar.

        Yet the reckless councilman, a man I’ve rated as a clown using my own, color-blind system of evaluation, proposes using merit to frighten his enemies, then goes on to prove in his post that he doesn’t even know the meaning of the word.

        Take a good look at how well San Jose has done thus far in 2011. In less than 10 days our homicide tally reached 20% of last years total, teetering on 25% depending on the fate of a fifth shooting victim. Who the hell do you think responded to those dangerous, chaotic scenes? Who is it we expect to solve those crimes and prevent others? Let me tell you, the very same police officers upon whom Mr. Oliverio has declared open season with his asinine proposal. Good police work requires good cops who take risks, push the envelope, and stand-up to challenges. The situation is much the same in firefighting. God help us if the Axis of Evil does so much damage to the moral of our public safety employees that the heroes among their ranks shift their focus away from their service to us and onto the contents of their personnel files.

        • We know that the economy cycles and it seems logical that crime would cycle in sync with the economy. The situation now seems counter-intuitive. One would think that in a lousy economy crime would go up. The “subject matter experts” have been telling us for a couple of years now that they cannot explain this apparent nationwide anomaly (low crime in a bad economy).

          The term-limited fools running this City and their at-will/appointee City Manager are using this opportunity to diminish the value of a police force that is world renowned for being woefully understaffed yet very capable of suppressing crime and keeping public order. They say, “Crime is down, therefore we don’t need as many police as we have. We have no money /lets save by cutting police.”

          If crime is cyclical then wouldn’t the best hedge against a future rise be at least keeping the number of police officers static? If you reduce the number of cops and then the crime rate goes up then wouldn’t you have to hire more cops?  It seems to me that the “appropriate” number of police would always be lagging what ever the crime rate was at a given time.To few when crime is on the rise and to many when it falls.

          Is it possible that the low crime rate in SJ is due (as Mayor Reed recently stated) to HIS crime fighting strategy and the reduction of “gang crimes” are due to the efforts of his “Mayors Gang Task Force?”

          Maybe the low crime rate in San Jose is due more in part to the way crime stats are tabulated. Citizens report things to the police who then must conduct an investigation to determine whether or not a crime was actually committed. Investigations require resources – police officers and time. Fewer police officers means that fewer “incidents” can be investigated which in turn lowers the number of incidents that can actually be classified as “crimes.” Fewer crimes in this scenario would give the false impression that the “crime rate” was lower.

          Do you know that under the current Mayor/Council/Manager Regime the staffing at SJPD has gone from about 1450 sworn to around 1260 now?  The number of reported incidents remained constant? The the current “regime” is planning on cutting another 60 by July 1 and is threatening cuts up to 200?  Did yo know that there are thousands of “incidents” that are not being investigated due to “lack of manpower?”
          Perhaps the current low crime rate is more a factor of crimes that we don’t even know were committed because we don’t have anyone to investigate them.

        • So in terms of crime and such, isn’t this cyclical, with some periods of time when crime is higher than other times, just like the economy where there’s some periods of high growth and some of recession?

          Hmmm…I almost wonder if there might be some correlation between economic conditions and crime rates?  What do you think?

        • In this discussion, it is also relevant and important to acknowledge the consistency with which Mayor Reed and the majority of the city council (and here, in fairness, PLO does get a pass) have gone out of their way to make public safety’s job more difficult, having approved tens of thousands of new housing units. So, while dramatically increasing the population of San Jose, police departement’s work force has diminished by 13% for a net income that is dramatically less than it used to be. And, in a second slap to the other cheek, Mayor Reed has the gall to come in to the various briefings at the police department, acknowledge that we are a very professional, yet understaffed, work force which earns our income and benefits which the city claims it cannot afford, and all this just weeks after he voted to transform more industrial zoning to residential zoning.

          I am no apologist for the POA in its present form. And, I have been vocal about my disgust at the way they ran their campaign against Measures V and W. But, one thing VP Unland got right was his comment about the hypocrisy that exists at the top. San Jose’s leadership lately has excelled at just one thing: doing more harm than good for the well-being of San Jose.

        • One must also realize that for years the SJPD,in cahoots with the City Manager, have been twisting and parsing the crime statistics in order to maintain that vaunted #1 slot for big cities and crime.  The ability of the city to borrow money hinges on a variety of factors and crime rates are one of them.  Now that San Jose has fallen from the top, you really don’t hear the ranking mentioned much any more.  The statistics are still being twisted to try and stop the free fall but by a quirk of fate, crime overall hasn’t dropped yet.  However, those in power are gambling that they can balance the budget by slashing public safety and that it won’t catch up to them before they move on to higher public office.  By then they will just blame it on whoever is in office when crimes begin to go up.

  5. PO,,,,you might want to concentrate on the marijuana situation. It seems to be spiraling out of control here in San Jose. Aren’t you spearheading this situation?

    Also, being on the Public Safety Committee, you need to focus attention the 4 killings in the first week of the year. The first involved a 15 year old gang member. The last 3 sure have the makings of a drug hit just reading about it in the paper.

    How do you possibly have time to work a full time job at a private company and give these issues the attention they deserve? You are getting a nice salary from the city, plus benefits and a retirement. Maybe you and the rest of the city council should take a leave of absence from your private employers so you all can give your full attention to city issues. Maybe this is something the civil service commission should take up.

    ps….please do something about Pete Constant’s bogus disability retirement.

    • Marijuana? That is so yesterday! We are taxing it now problem solved! OI thought that he was working on a cost cutting software solution for the. City’s IT section. Never mind that was last week.  What is with this generation A.D.D.? When he isn’t patting himself on the back for keeping the pools open he is finding a way to burden the infrastructure with high density housing. When he has nothing to do he performs selective community volunteer service by driving around “cleaning up” trash – on gas paid for by his $600/month vehicle stipend funded by taxpayers.

  6. I completely agree with Mr. Oliverio’s auggestions. I beleieve that seniority should never be the sole factor in deciding layoffs. I also think it is a mistake to only keep personnel who have been employed the longest because this prevents fresh and new ideas and perspective from entering an environment.

    Chair of the Disability Advisory Commission
    City of San Jose
    Employment Specialist/Job Developer

      • > Dan are you looking for a job that pays?

        Dear Mr. wow!

        The citizens of San Jose are looking to pay employees what the citizens of San Jose think those employees are worth.

        If the union thinks the employees are worth more than the citizens of of San Jose pay them, the union is wrong.

        Got it?

    • Sorry Mr.Newell, I totally disagree. It is bad thinking to suggest that is a ‘mistake’ to keep ‘personnel who have been employed the longest’ because this prevents ‘fresh and new ideas’…
      Well, I am here to tell you that I know MANY employees in all City Depts who are foward thinkers who have been here longer than their newer (not necessarily younger)counterparts. To say WE (yes, us older seniority people)do not have fresh and new ideas is just plain ignorant. Maybe SOME young new people have had good, new and fresh ideas, but overall, that is NOT the case. Oh by the way, I will use me as an example and I am not even worried about being layed off along with other ‘senior’ people. I am 48yrs old with 25years. My last rating was ‘excellent’ in all categories, I contributed many ‘fresh and new’ ideas that younger, junior people acknowledged that without experience, they wouldnt have come close to thinking of what I brought to the table. If you don’t keep a balance of senior and junior, the organiztion will run into lots of trouble. I know Mr. Councilman Pete doesnt forward think and to me his agenda of course is perhaps retaliation and who else knows what. Oh, I forgot to mention, I am an employee with a disability.

  7. Since the Mayor and city manager and the city council are so quick to lay off public employees, and these employees have not mismanaged the city. I propose that we lay off Chuck Reed and Debra Figone and city council for failure to perform, and needs improvement. But I am sure they are all more quick to blame and layoff everyone else before they look at them self.

    • Actually Jim we have almost rid ourselves of the Gonzales budget killing gang responsible for prostituting themselves to Housing Developers without commensurate job and revenue creating industry. We do this by term limits. The problem is the voters just voted 3 of them to Country Supervisor!  Problem is the with San Pedro Square and multiple infill entitlements in the queue, the new squad has proven it will continue the obsession. No new beds without an equal number of new jobs should be the demand. Yes, moratorium.

    • I have never seen an administration so anti-employee in my 40+ years of working. It is a shame to see a “boss” and his administration put down their employees so bad that it turns the public against them. I think it was all smoke and mirrors to cover up the fact the tax payers money has been mismanaged and has thus caused much of this debt problem. If the citizens were to go back and scrutinize the records, they would find the truth. It’s all a cover up folks. A cover up for all the mismanagement they have done over the years and they are putting it all on the employee’s backs for the problems they, themselves caused. Ideas are being thrown around, willy, nilly, in a desperate attempt. Appears that they do not care anything about what it is doing to the employee who has worked so hard for them. What a shame. All I can say is karma is a b—-ch. What goes around, comes around.

      • You hit on a major part of the “PROBLEM.”  The MAYOR, the COUNCIL, the CITY MANAGER ARE NOT THE BOSSES. WE ARE NOT “THEIR” EMPLOYEES.  They are Term Limited elected “officials” and thye CM is an “At-Will” political apointee.

        They work for the public just like the rest of the city’s employees. They should be squirming right now because they are playing with the safeety of the citizens who employee them.

        • They are definitely the “bosses” while they are in office. Try not doing something they tell you to do and see how long you last. They are our “bosses”, for now. We just need new ones.

    • I agree with you. They should also get rid of Alex Gurza and Gina Donnelly in Employee Relations as they are corrupted and biased. Employee Relations says they are for city employees, but they just take information from an employee and use it against you or they tell you that they can not find any substantiated evidence. There are so many corrupted departments within the city, epically Environmental Services, The director John Stufflebean ignores all of the employees and never meets with any of them one on one. Also the assistant director Kerrie Romanow is discriminatory towards single parents and has her hand picked favorites such as Valerie Osmond and Monica Perras, Carolina Camerena in position to make false accusations. The upper management just backs all of these types of wrong doings and goes straight to a suspension to termination without implementing proper procedure

      • Diamond4040,

        Sounds like you have been to see the folks down at OER,if you didn’t know once you have complained to them you have just put a “huge target” on your back from their office.  They will in-turn contact your bosses and have them turn up the heat on you.  Gina is a very evil young woman.  Alex, well let me put it this way, he’s massive liability to the City.  Have you ever noticed that ALL of the OER staff are young very attractive women, hmmmmmm wonder how that happens? The unit also has the right out of College Man-Boys.  You know the kind of kids that are still living at home with mom and will remind you of Shaggy from Scooby Doo with their unkept appearance.  Did they give you the Children of The Corn look (aka) Blank Stare at OER?  In my two plus decades with the City I have seen that stare from the “Children of The Corn” many times.  OER and the State’s version of OER are both inept in doing investigations, as they ask for witnesses to events but never contact any of the witnesses given.  They will close your case stating as you said they were not able to find any substantiated evidence to support going any further.  But your problems will continue as long as your employed by the city after reporting wrong doings.  As you stated Upper City Management “condones” this type of management or should I say harassment,discrimination,nepotism,favoritism, breaking every rule in the City Policy Manual.  This book is useless as the city does not go by any of the policies in the manual.  No one will help you at all.  Good for you in outing the corrupt city administrators.  They forgot about the federal labor laws and the rule of progressive discipline which the City of San Jose never follows.  Good job Diamond.

        • Yes I have. I was with the city for 10yrs and on Friday March 18, 2011 they just terminated me. They might have taken my job for now, but they did not take my will and determination. I will make sure that the internal corruption changes.  The city can not keep on harassing and subjecting city employees to hostile working environments. What I want to see is change. Everyone tells me how can 1 person make a difference. It just takes 1 person to get tired of the harassing and bullying and the corruption and not to be afraid to stand for what is right. A lot of city employees are scared to loose their jobs. Well I have nothing to loose now, but I do have something to gain and that is my dignity, my job back and to make sure that now else has to suffer what I did in the last 2 years. I am seeking legal counsel. Does anyone know of agency or employment lawyer that has stood against the city. Also thanks to the internet age, I know I can reach millions in a matter of seconds with Face book, Twitter, etc.  In all of the years that I have worked for the City, I have never felt so discriminated and ashamed of where I worked. In the last 2yrs the city administrators have become so negative and biased towards all city employees. Debra Figone said that they would not start the process of terminating employees for their Performance evaluations, this is not true. THEY HAVE STARTED!It was an honor at one time to work for the City which respected it’s employees and the public. Now upper management is just looking out for themselves making sure that they play the role on the outside in the public’s eye. Upper management wastes so much money on their private luncheons, where they say they are have training all day off site and when there are retirement parties during regular work hours a lot of upper management and pampered pet employees get to go to these functions on city time and do not have to use vacation time. There is so much more than this going on,it is ridiculous. Upper Management does not train their supervisor’s properly and therefore those supervisors do not implement the policies and guideline properly and they do not give performance evaluations as they should. Also when they do give performance evaluations it is for the cities benefit because the supervisor/Analysts can write anything they want even allegations that are not true, so they can use the performance evaluation against a city employee. The public has no idea what we as city employees are going through and being subjected to. The reason the city wants to get rid of the employees with tenure is because they do not want us talking about all of the internal corruption that is going on. For all of the new employees, well they just want a job and that is why they act like puppets and upper management pets, they will bend over backwards for them. Well I have had enough and I want the city to know, that if I am not telling the truth than they have nothing to worry about, right? The city does not even follow their own code of ethics about being truthful. I was raised to always stand up for what is right and I know in my hearts of hearts that I am telling the truth and in the end the truth will prevail!

        • Keep posting here as you have lots of us on here and a few Council people that need to hear you.  I know exactly what you are going through and am sorry to hear they kicked you to the curb. 

          The City is in really bad shape.  The Mayor’s one and only goal is to get rid of ALL of the City employees and replace us with contract labor.  You are better off away from the City as all of us will soon be behind you in the unemployment line.  No one at the City cares about you, they just care about themselves.  Lots of young drones that don’t talk back to upper management.  Is your entire unit getting eliminated? 

          I knew they were going to start cutting the heads off long term City Employees because they brought back the “Dragon Lady” Kay Winer out of retirement.  She is now the interim HR Director since Marc Danaj Left for Fremont.

  8. Mio caro Amico PierLuigi! Per Piacere, You get elected and run around like a big man? There are police and firefighters who have degrees. When will you finish yours?

    You want to outsource city services to private contractors? OK, remember della vostra zii (remember your uncles!

    You want to withhold the seven-figure licensing fees from Don Bill Gates for use of his product and go with these upstarts? The Google Family? Please there is no history there and what kind of name is that, but whatever eh! Quale che sia…

    You want to tax the dopers? Very Nice! Sono stupidi. E solo marijuana…

    MA CAZZO con my TENURE and we are no longer related! Ti ascolta me?

    Ciao for now!

    Il Professore.

    • They aren’t going to have to worry much about that. Just wait until they see how many of their senior people bail, this March. They are going to lose a lot of talent. We are losing a number of people in our department. Good, senior talent, just gone. Look how many top people have bailed, already, going to other cities. Down, down, down into the deep dark hole this administration is sending the city. No longer a first class city.

  9. If there’s one thing that public employees excel at it’s knowing how to exert their ‘employment rights’. With their lawyered-up, moneyed-up, aggressive union representation, it’s hard to imagine any sort of workable merit based plan that wouldn’t soon be swimming in litigation red ink.
    No, public employees have got us over a barrel. No matter which way we try to save some money they’ll figure out a way to portray themselves as scapegoats.

    As for the Rosegarden. The volunteers successfully chopped the tops off of hundreds of bushes. Swell. Now if we could only figure out how to convince the parks employees to quit making ruts in the wet turf with their trucks. Stay on the paths or get your lazy ass out of the truck and WALK over to the trash can to replace the liner.

  10. PLO,
    Are you smoking the Marijuana to get it off the street. This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of!! You absolutely are clueless on what our public servants do.  So you would get rid of the most trained, most educated the most experienced officers first. Are you kidding me?  Know one can be this dumb. Who will train the new officers. In police and fire work, experience is a key. The 30 year veteran can train the new two year vet on how to stay alive and survive stupid, idiot politicians like you.

    Why not fire people that get in trouble with the law? Like stealing signs would that not be something to fire someone for?

    Corruption at its finest when the MAYOR covers up for you.

    William R. Smoke

    • > Why not fire people that get in trouble with the law? Like stealing signs would that not be something to fire someone for?

      We need to fire, arrest, and try those police officers who take their tactical direction from the police union instead of from the constituted civil authority.

      When the police arrests whoever the union tells them to arrest, it’s called a police state.

  11. > With their lawyered-up, moneyed-up, aggressive union representation, it’s hard to imagine any sort of workable merit based plan that wouldn’t soon be swimming in litigation red ink.

    We need to get rid of public employee unions.  It’s a violation of “equal protection under the law”.

    Union members have dual representation in local government affairs—their Council Member and their union rep.

    Ordinary working class citizens have only one representative—their Council Member.  And often that Council Member is owned by the union.  So Joe, the ordinary working class citizern, really doesn’t have any representation.

    Either we get rid of public employee unions, or we allow ALL voters to vote in union elections.

    • Um. News flash. The City Council does a piss poor job of representing their constituents. Even worse when it comes to their employees. Considering how many city employees don’t actually live in San Jose, it’s asinine to suggest that employees are represented by council members. Lastly, considering the adversarial nature of the relationships between City Hall and city employees, the employees can hardly be expected to trust their council members’ representation. That’s why the unions are necessary.

      • > The City Council does a piss poor job of representing their constituents.

        In other words, since democracy doesn’t work, we should let the police union and SBLC run the city.

        >  Lastly, considering the adversarial nature of the relationships between City Hall and city employees,

        So, the citizens of San Jose elect the city government, but the relationship between the city government and city employees is adversarial.

        Sounds like the relationship between the citizens of San Jose and city employees is adversarial.

        If you don’t like working here and complying with the policies the citizens want, why don’t you just take your precious union card and go to work someplace where they want sullen, disgruntled, malcontent employees with a bad attitude.

        • Joe I have been wandering the land trying to find an “Engineer and Architect Memorial.” One dedicated to the brave and heroic engineers and architects who have so valiantly served the public designing at the drafting table , donning the hard hat, carried the blueprints to the job-site only to die in the line of duty falling into an open pit some such tragic death serving ???? Please a photo wall to those who have given all??? somewhere there has to be something to honor the fallen…

        • After 20+ years of frozen step increases and COLA’s denied, the “malcontent” engineers and architects unwillingly unionized to get what private professionals and union bargain groups were getting. Reed has succeeded in lumping the Gravy Train of the uniformed with the rest of City staff, and inexplicably implementing more cuts on the ones already with mediocre pay. You obviously have no idea what it is like to work in a job for 20 years with a high demand for your service, only to scapegoated for the problems primarily the result of Voter and Council who have given the uniformed the outrageous compensation structure.

        • Exactly. Non public safety employees do not risk their lives like us in the Fire Department.  San Jose should make public safety the first priority rather than firing fire fighters that protect our residents.  For all the talk about libraries and community centers they are less important.

        • OK, with that logic, our armed services should be paid much more than police and fire. You continually over the last 30 years have gotten benefits accelerated on that premise. Where does it stop? Those not devoted to scholastic continue to line up to apply for compensation of physicians. Lets compare that to the relative scale in other developed countries. Face of it, your bankrupting Cities, just look at O.T. portion. Just look at Debra’s PDF of base pay listing. 750 Fire Captains?

  12. How about we apply this idea to you and your noble cohorts on the city council who have mismanaged, poorly planned, and stolen election signs on the way to where we find ourselves as a city. How about we furlough you one week a month to save cash and cause you to be a better councilman? Let’s be creative.

  13. It is so sad to see all these negative postings from union members on the topic of “actual employee performance” Performance is how the majority of Americans are judged at work. Using only seniority for the city of San Jose is a joke.
    Pierluigi, Keep on Truckin’

  14. By all means, it’s so much better to reward somebody for 1 year of experience 15 times than for 10 years of experience.

    Is it any wonder that government budgets are bloated beyond all reason?

  15. Where is the public / Council budget discussion about where city spends our tax dollars

    1) core / essential / legally required ( pick your definition ) city services ( police, fire, street repair, libraries etc ) that cities are responsible to provide at a reasonable service / performance level

    2) non essential / no/t city required services questionable city tax spending – baseball / sports stadiums / facilities, theaters, bailouts mismanaged community organizations. low or not existent payback economic development projects   ( San Pedro market, SJ Convention Center , Hayes Mansion , Golf Courses, most corporate and housing tax subsidies etc )

    and why hasn’t there been a public / Council discussion about why San Jose has less jobs / business and business tax revenue than other SV cities mostly because of higher business costs and unreasonable city approval process driving business out of San Jose

    Voters / public is tired of political excuses,  insider tax subsidy deals, high employee costs and lack of information about where San Jose is actually spending our taxes and why we have low tax revenues but higher business and resident taxes / fees for lower services than other cities

  16. I would love to see you run your household finances this way P.O. How about just being more creative about not wasting money on non-essentials such as MLB. That example is the most glaring. Being that public safety is the budget villain today I can only assume you are directing this at police and fire. I think this is a bad idea. ANd it is not because I have any concerns as to my performance. I have plenty of seniority and fantastic evaluations, but, it really sounds as if you are proposing to cut veterans and fill their shoes with rookies because they are simply more productive? OK, so why don’t you just trade in your wife for the gorgeous 24 yeard old girl? It’s funny but those obvious answers apply here too. 

    You really should try sifting your ideas through a real-life filter and balancing it with some degree of common sense. Implementing such a system is far too problematic. Feel free to elaborate instead of such being a dreamer. BTW,…do you enjoy medicinal marijuana and would you admit to it if you did?? Thanks.

    • Actually, I think in this case, ‘more productive’ means cheaper to employ. And, again, this is from a cop who is in no danger of losing his job by either standard of retention. I, too, have consistently great evals and enough seniority to not worry either way. On the other hand, PLO’s judgment in this matter – or the judgment of any person he’d set in place over the process – is deeply suspicious given his anti-public safety stance and shady behavior with the No on V signs. I’m pretty sure PLO has shot his credibility in the foot…with an automatic rifle.

  17. Seniority based advancement systems are almost always a problem for bureaucracies, governments in particular.

    The “Peter Principle” recognized that in organizations people rise to their level of incompetence. Seniority systems enshrine incompetent people in jobs beyond their abilities.  And worse, keeps them around to be promoted to jobs even further beyond their competency.

    Having highly paid incompetent people in mid-level and senior positions in an organization is a double whammy:

    1. The organization overpays for the skills it needs to conduct it’s business;

    2. The overall efficiency and effectiveness of the organization is diminished because of incompetence and misallocation of resources, and the organization has to employ even more people to get it’s work done.

    Plus, there is the burden of increased on the job training and increased communication in bloated organizations.

    I recall a conversation between a project manager and an executive:

    EXECUTIVE:  How long will it take to get the project done with three people?

    PROJECT MANAGER:  Three months.

    EXECUTIVE:  How long will it take if you put ten people on the project”

    PROJECT MANAGER: Three months.

  18. Oliverio demonstrates a complete lack of understanding and appreciation of why seniority is the cornerstone to worker’s rights.  Without the objective standard of seniority, subjective and discriminatory judgements are allowed to prevail.  Particularly disturbing are his comments, according to the San Jose Mercury, stating that the “system is causing the city to lose its youngest, most energetic employees, leaving an aging and higher-salaried workforce to carry on the job.”  This demonstrates that Councilman Oliverio lacks respect for experienced workers and their contributions, and promotes discrimination on the basis of age.  To offer the comment that younger workers are ‘more energetic’ is ridiculous and he should be admonished for promoting this stereotyping.  As Bill Brill states, “If management did their job, they could get rid of people in a union environment,” Brill said. “They’re not very good at doing annual reviews.”

    I hope that Councilman Oliverio’s collegues have a better understanding of the issues and soundly reject his proposal to make any changes to the Union seniority rules.

    • How does a union behave when the member in trouble clearly did do something wrong?  Do they admit it and thus weaken the power and role of the union as a partner in the workplace?  Seems like they fight each and every action that hurts a union member, including declaring a rightful seperation a “wrongful termination” for the purpose of showing power and building loyalty among other members.

      What’s especially sad is when the grounds for discipline or termination are indefensible so the union will switch tactics and personally attack the managers issuing the action using character attacks to discredit them (and this undo the undesirable personnel action.)  In critical thinking, this is called the ad hominem attack, where you personally attack an opponent rather than refute their arguement with logic and reason (ie – that’s ridiculous, you’ve never done an honest days work in your life with a fat belly like that, how can you dare to layoff this ditch digger (who was caught drunk and sleeping on the job.))

  19. So, if you were promoted in let’s say the SJPD. Promotions should be based on work performance? Kind of subjective I’d say since a standardized test is the theory behind “fair” advancement.

  20. As Bill Brill says…I am a 18 yr city employee that has only had 4 annual reviews.  So do we lay off all of the Office of Employee Relations starting with Alex Gurza since they have not done their job in ensuring that all employees are not having their annual reviews?

  21. Over a decade in private professional employ I initially found my City superiors worthy of respect for integrity and knowledge. They were terrible at getting deadbeats off their butts though. Soon I found myself denied promotion as I ran circles around my peers, with seniority and loyalty to the Chief the primary basis. After 2 decades there is no doubt Pierluigi’s take is how the private sector hums. But as mentioned above, in govt. employ one finds oneself too often assessed by a supervising fool who has dedicated his mind to the etiquette of making superiors look good rather than performing with excellence. In my Division all 4 of 4 senior managers have no management experience and 2 have no knowledge of what they oversee. IMPORTANTLY, the brain drain is already occurring, the best are leaving or retiring earlier than planned thanks to Reed/Figone/Gurza . They will get what they pay for.  A workforce moving from mediocrity to incompetence. Congratulations.

  22. COUNCILMEN PIERLUIGI said a few months ago that police and fire should run into burning buildings till they are in their 60’s and not retire in their 50’s like some do now. However now he seems to be saying you to old and need to leave. PIERLUIGI which way is the wind blowing and you there.

    PIERLUIGI as you continue to attack all employees of the city by saying it is cost saving. And you have a few even on this forum who even say they back the idea. But as Council person you should have more of a grip on the situation. You work sometimes with these same people. You call them Unions, but Unions are people. Calling people a Union confuses the issue. These people are my neighbors and my kids coaches.  These people that work for the City most all longer then you, actually care about the city well being.

    I call your integrity in to question, and the city leaders as a whole when a crime is committed and there is a cover up from the top. When a person is caught lying then everything else said should be questioned.

    William R. Smoke
    Almaden Valley

    • Well Spoken Mr. Smoke.  Every time I post PLO Deletes it.  The blog should be called You have my full support Wil.

      • Frank—have you read this thread? Do you see a lot of evidence that opinions are being stifled?

        And FYI: Pierluigi has no more access to this site than any commenter, and has definitely not deleted any posts. It is SJI’s policy that off-topic comments and/or comments that cross the line separating political argument from personal attack are not approved.

        • @FRSr. , Eric Johnson is telling me and i believe him that Mr. Oliverio is not deleting the Post. He does not want and name calling. I believe you can still post about his sign stealing however some think that is old news. But no name calling.  Apparently every time Mr. Oliverio post there are numerous comments about his stealing. And the editors are trying to stay with the issue and not his past conduct. Past conduct shows future conduct and I think San Jose Inside gets that. But so many attacks are personal.

          “Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.” Robert Louis Stevenson

        • My mistake,as I have seen him(PLO)post here many times before over the years.

          But over the years it seems that the policy / rules have a tendency to change.  Like leaves on a tree outside my window on a windy day in regards to the important persons status or political subject matter they are representing.  The important people seem to be more protected than others. 

          When it comes to the little people or taxpayers voicing an opinion they are stifled or censored just like the at the “REED Council Meetings” that I attend every Tuesday.  As Reed says this is not a question and answer period.  I beg to differ on that.  The same happens when some folks expose the bad guys here.  Please ask or poll others who have had their posts removed also. 

          I am an old man and know when I see people forcing an agenda for others. 

          My integrity is beyond reproach, But it seems they didn’t teach the meaning of integrity to today’s youth in school.  Meaning kids 40 and younger. 

          This is too much of a touchy, feel good generation that live by very bizarre set of rules making it okay to have one sided debates. 

          But keep in mind it’s the older folks who got you youngsters where your at today.

          Time for my meds, they are turning the lights off here at the nursing home and they don’t like us using computers too late, so I have to go now. 
          Have a good night everyone.

          Eric, Thanks for your concern, I’ll try and keep the rules in mind.

          Old Frank

        • Frank – I agree. Thanks for pointing this out. I don’t post often, but I have had a few comments that were not posted, and I have no idea why. It seems that the mods protect a few of their favorites here. Maybe that’s why the same people keep posting over and over.

        • @ Lee& Frank.  I had the same degree of being upset that some of my post were not there. But The Editors want I believe a more professional blog. So lets all Keep it above board. As I for one would like to hear what both you say on the issues. Actually this is the longest Ive followed any blog. Mr. Oliverio seems to be a writer for San Jose Inside so its only fair that he may be protected a little more. The Mercury News went through the same thing. They changed their comment page from a blog forum to now you have to be a facebook member to make a comment. They thought that people would not be so hostile if using a real name. They were wrong people just made fake Facebook pages and still hostile in comments.

          Hoping that San Jose Inside make take on issue on why so many people hostile towards Mr. Oliverio? Does he deserve it. Mr. Oliverio knows my feelings going back 1 or 2 years.

          I think the editor here is trying to be fair.

        • Wil – All my posts have been civil and above board. I have never attacked anyone personally, never been hostile, and have been on topic. I see other posts that are certainly more hostility than anything I have ever written, especially from the regular posters who have about 95% of the posts on this site. I also see all of these off topic posts that are not censored, including the spam posts in the neverending thread about San Jose Magazine. It makes me wonder how the moderators choose who they censor and when they censor.

          A couple of months ago, I was having a lengthy back and forth debate with one of the regulars(one of the most prolific posters on this site). In the regular’s last post to me, I was called a liar, blah, blah, blah. I responded back very civilly, with facts and figures and no hostility. My post never made it onto this site. I haven’t posted since, until now. I have been wondering why was the regular’s post where I was called a liar not censored, but mine was.

          The least the moderator could have done was to send me an e-mail and let me know why only MY post was censored(This is why we are required to supply our e-mail with our posts, right?). If you notice, 95% of the posts are by the same 20 or so people. Maybe there would be a greater diversity of posters if the mods didn’t play favorites. Just sayin’.

        • Lee Pac – Obviously the moderator is letting this message come through?  So I just don’t have an answer for you… The moderate did just what you asked to me.. and told me why he did not post one of my blogs…  so cannot speak for them….The Mercury has changed it blog to a facebook blog and it is way not as interesting as it use to be when people were joking on each other…

          i would say if they dont post your blog then dont read anymore…

  23. Blair Whitney,

    Allow me to respond here to a number of points you’ve recently raised…

    Unions –
    While on the job a city worker should be viewed as both an employee AND a union member, not one or the other, as a significant percentage of his/her working conditions, job responsibilities, AND protections are the result of agreements between the two entities. Both the city and the union are highly motivated to protect standards of employee conduct and production (the city, to provide the public with the best service; the union, to maintain professional standards and protect its members from unfit coworkers), though in practice there are major differences in how they can do this.

    The city has the authority to use discipline (suspension, retraining, reassignment, demotion, termination) to enforce its rules and standards, restrained only by its obligation to make its case (legal standards) and, in come cases, demonstrate that good faith, corrective measures had been tried. With a good case, the only thing standing between the city and administering the desired discipline is proper motivation and political intrusion.

    The union’s role in disciplinary cases must revolve around a simple question: was the behavior related to the course and scope of the member’s official duties? Anything more—any consideration of the person, the conduct, or the politics involved, would ultimately sacrifice the objectivity critical to retaining the protective benefits of the collective. Anything less—say, publicly condemning a member for his outrageous conduct, would be a breech of the union’s obligation to its own member. The important point is this: a member awarded representation receives nothing magical, just professional help in maximizing the protections afforded by the law. For the member denied representation the union provides nothing.

    The commonly-accepted notion that government unions are responsible for keeping the lazy and incompetent employed is not only untrue in practice, it is impossible in theory. The most that a union can do for a member is to do what taxpayers do for even the most despicable of criminals: pay for legal representation. The truth is, were city management one-half as competent in their responsibilities as are county prosecutors in theirs, had they the professional commitment reflected in their salaries, no one would be happier than union members to see half the duds canned and the other half scared straight.

    Regarding Crime Cycles –
    The problem with crime analysis is that it’s been politicized. Poverty equals crime was the mantra for decades here in the US, though what was ignored was the considerable evidence to the contrary (such as the near non-existent crime rates in devastated and starving post-war Japan and Germany). The link between race and crime is beyond argument, but not beyond ignoring (as evidenced by its treatment by the media and academia). In politically-correct America, the only place where you can get a real read on crime is by following the real estate market: even in the diversity-celebrating Bay Area you can reliably follow the money to find relative safety.

    In San Jose, regardless of the murder rate (less telling a violence meter than tallying victims shot + victims stabbed), every day cops go on dangerous calls, negotiate hazardous crime scenes, and deal with people to whom prison is a part of life. The very best police work is done by those who act on dedication, not obligation. No police officer is obliged to utilize the whole of his authority in the public’s interest, but the best ones do, using discretion born of experience to seize every opportunity to put themselves between the criminal element and the public it preys upon. They stay on top of their strength, stamina, and skills to meet the considerable challenges of dealing with society’s most dangerous predators. No citizen is made safe because his beat cop embraces multiculturalism, snuggles up to the brass, or raves about community policing. It’s just the opposite: real cops make up for the dangerous work avoided by those who lack the dedication and/or ability to do it, those most often found inside licking boots, parroting the official line, and parlaying their passivity into commands.

    No amount of insult or indignity coming from the scumbags at city hall will ever dissuade this second group from continuing their efforts within the harrowing halls of headquarters; it’s not possible to hurt pride that was never earned. But the first group, the officers out there taking risks around the clock, well they’ve earned their pride, and if you disrespect their pride enough you just might convince them their kind of dedication is foolish, a fate that few comprehend and this city cannot afford.

    Oliverio’s Reckless Idea –
    Put aside your idealism and take heed of the real world: you don’t step into large organizations made complex by unique challenges and decades of shifting priorities, failed reforms, broken promises, blatant favoritism, and real sacrifice, then suddenly announce a new paradigm of virtue, one based on an existing system known to have zero credibility. Terminating longtime employees—or even suggesting to—based on a flawed and widely disrespected evaluation system is grossly unfair and counterproductive; but to suggest or do it for purposes that reek of cold-hearted, power politics is something else: it’s downright dangerous.

    I don’t know if you noticed, but the online news article reporting the councilman’s bold idea was quickly buried, not showing up under any of the section headings. I wouldn’t be surprised if the clown prince of the council has gone into hiding.

    • There’s another angle to this as well: the overall absurdity of the evaluation system as is currently stands, at least in the Police Department. It is absolutely preposterous that cops or firefighters should be evaluated using the same boilerplate as a clerk, librarian, janitor, etc. And yet, year after year, we go through the same ridiculous, generic process as every other city employee. Unless you have a supervisor who is both incredibly dedicated and creative, it’s hard to get a meaningful, relevant evaluation under the current system.

      Furthermore, as things presently stand, evaluations are really only meaningful for identifying the highest and lowest performers, or if the person under evaluation intends to either promote or transfer out of patrol to some specialized unit. For those of us who do not fall into one of those categories, evaluations have little to no value.

      So, now, one has to wonder if Mr. Oliverio will first take it upon himself (or better yet, find someone with actual credibility) to oversee the transformation of the evaluation system into something that is meaningful and relevant for all city employees and then, pursue the reforms he’s suggesting? Otherwise, it’s just another arbitrary change for the sake of change or so that he can point to himself as a guy with fresh ideas, regardless of whether or not they are practical or valuable or improve the workplace.

  24. It’s not a completely dumb idea on the surface. There are a few city employees with very unsatisfactory performances that should get the boot.  The problem is that some supervisors rate easier on a given employee than others. An excellent employee is sometimes rated as good and a good employee is sometimes rated as excellent for the same work.

    Performance ratings for the most part are very subjective. Even the tests getting in to the city have become far more subjective than they were 30 years ago.

    Only when an employee is given a substandard do you find a real red flag. If Olivero and the unions had any sense they would negotiate this.  Unfortunately Olivero is a kid that grew up with everything (and a cocky attitude to go with it) which turns people off and the MEF union is run by clowns who can’t read the public mood.

    Olivero’s suggestion will go nowhere because the lawyers will determine the liability isn’t worth the small gain.

    It was clear years ago the new city hall and the increased police and fire pensions were going to be budget busters.  Now the city council is “shocked”  to find out that their phony projections about the new city hall being essentially “free to build” turned out the be erroneous.

    I think the current mayor was part of that cheerleading crowd since nearly all of the council sold a line of b.s. to the public to get the approval to build it.  They were supposed to sell or lease out the old building ………….. oops.

    • “It’s not a completely dumb idea on the surface. There are a few city employees with very unsatisfactory performances that should get the boot.  The problem is that some supervisors rate easier on a given employee than others. An excellent employee is sometimes rated as good and a good employee is sometimes rated as excellent for the same work.”

      That is so true. In my department, you can be an extremely poor performer, but if you are a favorite, you can come to work everyday and get the same salary as those who are worked like dogs, and not get admonished. If you are not liked, you are picked on, beneath the radar. A LOT of favoritism.

  25. John Galt,

    I don’t think anyone in or out of government objects to the use of merit; the objection is to the councilman’s seizing upon a system that’s been corrupted by city management in order to terrorize union members into accepting whatever is proposed at the bargaining table—effectively putting their wages and benefits into a free-fall mitigated only by a city manager they view as neither competent nor credible.

    But I ask you, in a city several years deep into a budget crisis that mandates increased efficiency, why is it that the city did not immediately turn to the win-win solution of terminating poor performers? How come the city didn’t take the most obvious action at the first sign of the crunch and trim its roster of employees “not meeting standards?” After all, isn’t that what you would’ve done in your own business? The comparisons between the public and private sector have been unrelenting on this site, so I’m going to assume that some member of the “it’s good enough for the private sector” chorus will take this opportunity to explain why city management has neglected to make use of existing job standards as a method of trimming the fat.

    Let me make this clear: right now, without a peep coming out of the council chambers, there is absolutely nothing stopping the manager of a department from initiating termination proceedings against an employee for failing to meet job standards. A manager who puts together a solid case (credible evaluations, counseling records, etc.) need only obtain the support of those up the chain to do his/her part to meet budget demands AND uphold those all-important performance standards. But in reality the trip up the chain would require the case surviving a gauntlet of special interests and political considerations, most revolving around the race, creed, color, national origin, gender, and sexual orientation of everyone involved: the unfit worker, manager, and supervisor, as well as the demographics of the department and the city workforce. 

    My guess is that if polled, a sizable majority of city workers would today support the city’s use of termination for cause as a way of increasing workplace efficiency (even without the budgetary benefits), as would their predecessors have done ten, twenty, or forty years ago. Because termination for cause requires justification based on fair and clearly stated job standards its fear factor in the workplace is confined to those unacceptable and marginal performers. As I’ve stated previously, the only thing that has ever got in the way of city hall using merit to increase efficiency is city hall. San Jose once had a merit system that could stand on its own but our city leaders opted for diversity, and you can’t prop up the unqualified and incapable without knocking merit right on its ass.

    Lastly, regarding the issue of unfair firings or, in Pierluigi’s little political ruse, layoffs, let me clue you in on a little secret about terminations in the private sector. The big growth sector in the local security field during the last twenty-five years has been in providing Silicon Valley managers and executives with around-the-clock protection from terminated employees who, for one reason or another, believe they were treated unfairly. Most of these guys—and they all seem to be males, are middle-aged, already dealing with challenges and failures in their personal lives and, significantly, view their terminations from a particularly ominous perspective.

    The most important consideration in any disciplinary process is to make it as fair as possible. Clearly defined expectations, rules, and procedures are the first line of defense a manager/employer has in imposing discipline of any kind, as they can be powerful psychological forces in assuaging the anger and resentment that is typically experienced by the disciplined employee. What Mr. Oliverio has proposed is to deny the city that first line of defense, and deny the laid-off employee a critical tool in coping with a devastating hardship. This clueless suggestion, when dealing not with engineers and computer programmers but cops and firefighters who have risked life and limb while on the job, is so reckless as to call into question the the councilman’s sanity. I would hope that at least one of the police chief candidates clued him in on this, but I don’t believe it possible that anyone who has made it that far in Ms. Figone’s selection process would have both the required brains and balls to do so.

    • BSM,
      Extremely articulate and factual statement. The very elements that make for a proactive and hard-charging police officer are those the mayor, city manager, and council members find intolerable and comtemptible. What is especially repugnant, is that some of their same ilk are in positions of writing evaluations at the police department, and figuratively castrating the officers who dare do their job. God forbid you have a trip or two to internal affairs because you pissed off a parolee. You don’t, after all, want to be marked down in customer service, which is actually now one of the rating categories on police officer evaluations. There use to be a category for proactivity (ie self initiated activity and arrests), but that was removed in favor of the much more politically correct and feel-good category, customer service.

      There isn’t room in this column for describing just how idiotic Pierluigi’s suggestion is when it comes to using police evaluations as a metric for laying off an officer or not. Where in Pier’s equation, does he figuge in the 20-30 year veteran, with a body that has been ravaged by the physical demands of the job, and a mind that seen the worst of humanity indelibly etched on the forefront of his memory? This is the same veteran who could very well work for a 5 year wonder who has done nothing in his career aside from test well, and is now responsible for doing this veteran officer’s evaluation. This is the same veteran who, although possessing a wealth of experience and investigative skills, might very well be a tad grouchy and not very well suffer his supervisor whose only practical experience was drinking the company kool-aid. Gee, I wonder what kind of evaluation this veteran officer would get.

      I know who I would keep and who I would lay-off, but in Pier’s world this would be completely juxtaposed.

      Please keep writing your great responses, BSM.

    • BS Monitor,
      Boy am I ever on your side regarding the inefficiency, the unfairness, the waste, and the compromising of traditional standards that accompany this robotic compulsion to shoehorn ‘multicuralism’ into our civil service. ‘Affirmative action’ is a deterrent to workplace productivity and we should get rid of it.  Oops. Did I just say that on MLK day? No doubt my ‘rhetoric’ will cause some kook to go shoot somebody. I’m sorry. My bad.

      But it’s hard for me to understand how formulaically laying off less senior employees first isn’t just as much of a deterrent to good job performance. Aren’t the department managers and supervisors who would be evaluating the performance of the workers under them also union members? And shouldn’t these dedicated public sevants be interested in maximizing the performance in their department? Isn’t that what we taxpayers expect? What authority do supervisors have to get some productivity out of their guys if the most senior, most jaded guys who are sick of it, just going through the motions, hanging in there to get that big pension know that as long as they don’t do anything too egregious there’s nothing their supervisor can do to them?
      I should think that, rather than obstructing efforts to offset the mediocrity that’s been introduced by the ‘race merchants’, you would sieze the opportunity to weed out the ones who are only hanging on not by virtue of their ability and their performance, but by their membership in a protected ‘minority’ class.
      It’s the union guys that actually do have the power to wrest control from Ms. Figone, take matters into their own hands, and straighten out their own departments.

      • Galt,
        It seems you think seniority should be damned, while the “most jaded guys who are sick of it, just going through the motions, hanging in there” should be considered for lay-off. Even the most jaded 30 year veteran who is “sick of it”, can still do his job very well. You obviously don’t understand the psychological trauma of what a 30 year career as a police officer does to an individual. Ironically, you make the point of why seniority is so important; you have just as little understanding of this phenomenom as does the brand new Sgt writing evaluations.

  26. For some of those who seem so dumbstruck that anyone would have the audacity to suggest that the City look at a merit based system, they should understand that most workers in this country actually work in a merit based system. Its not perfect. Mistakes are often made. Bad managers do exist. Sometimes people get fired unfairly. Sometimes lousy workers get paid too much. Or good workers aren’t appreciated. But overall, market forces tend to reward hard work and talent and productivity is good. It’s this merit based system, as it’s applied in private industry, that is responsible for practically all our material wealth. We like to call it ‘the real world’.
    I just thought some of you ought to be informed of it’s existence.

    • @John Galt.  For you in private sector that think the private model should be how it is for everyone. Maybe your model sucks. The country in one heck of mess do to the leaders of the work force.

      Most in Public jobs took their jobs not to get rich but to help others and have a job that may not pay as much but has stability, benefits that would help their families in the long haul.

      Sort of like the tortoise and hare story.  While the Private went after the get rich quick stock options and jump from job to job on who paying more.  The Public went after long time health care and retirement. 

      Now that the private sector has been run into the ground it seems those get rich quick people want to make sure everyone comes down with them.

      Life is about choices and some in private made bad choices. By seeing green and lets get rich quick today. 

      I say the private sector should look at the public sector model and bring back the gold watch for 30 years of work and 401Ks and retirements. Anyone that works the same company for 30 years should be taken care of by that same company.  Look at your own CEO’s who make way to much money.  For what cutting all the private sector benefits. Maybe it time for the private sector companies to organize their own unions again. What if a company like google had an organized union and said we want retirement packages like the public sector. If not we strike. They could get anything they want. But most workers are happy with the nice work environments and great lunch rooms.  Keep them happy while they work here and they wont complain or think about retirement. The wool was pulled over the eyes of the private sector and they let those benefits slip away when they told you the company not doing well. But the Managers all got 100K bonus during the year.

      If you worked 20 years at a company like HP why should you have to fear of being laid off.  Because there a young brightest out there that has new ideas. BS. 20 years ago you were the brightest. Now they want to fire you (lay you Off) call it merit (like Mr. Oliverio) when actually it has nothing to do with merit. You been doing your job just fine for 20 years and Mr. Oliverio comes in and says you not good for HP anymore.  Actually you at top of pay scale and company can save money bringing younger person in. Is that really fair to the worker of any company? Private or Public.

      Treat others as you would like to be treated. If you were working anywhere for 20 years would you want Mr. Oliverio as a boss?

      Maybe time for the Teamsters to return to protect the rights and pay of all workers. Time to organize. Roll the Union on!

      I say do not bring the others down John but lets bring you up.

      • I appreciate your evident good will toward me. I truly do. But you progressives are mistaken in your belief that your ideas must naturally succeed because after all, they are so well intentioned. In reality, the world you describe would soon devolve into one in which businesses exist, not to provide a needed product or service, but for the primary benefit of their employees and their former employees. Providing the service or building the product becomes an afterthought and pretty soon the dysfunctionality that we now witness in the public sector would spread throughout the economy. As more and more people surrender personal responsibility to manage their own careers, their own health, and their own retirement, opting instead to become dependent upon their company (and upon the government to compel their company), the nation as a whole will become dependent on perpetually keeping these corporations alive- not because they actually do anything useful any more, but because we need them to stay alive so they can keep giving money to their ex-employees. The Big Government/Big Corporation alliance that you probably pretend to deplore would be the natural result of your well intentioned wishes. 
        No. I urge you to reconsider your ideas. The utopian world you describe CAN exist, but only so long as you remain in the dream state. When you awake to reality, the laws af nature will instantly reassert themselves, your dream will evaporate, and soon will be but a hazy memory.

  27. “San Jose once had a merit system that could stand on its own but our city leaders opted for diversity, and you can’t prop up the unqualified and incapable without knocking merit right on its ass”

    Bingo, we have a winner!  Should PLO actually have done any homework at all, he would have found that in many city departments the supposed civil service testing process is routinely usurped by those at the top who will over ride test results and evaluation rankings in order to fill the promotional platform with the rainbow coalition.  In one respect I would love to see PLO’s idea of going strictly by testubg and evaluation performance take hold, at least with the promotional process. 

    As a city employee I have watched over and over again in the Police Department where the chief abuses the rule of ten and hops, skips, and jumps over candidates who have performed at the very top of the testing process dropping down to candidates who barely passed the 70% minimum score just so they can get that certain “look” in the list of employees they recommend to Debra Figone for promotion and to make that ceremony look like a picture of racial integration. 

    I would wholeheartedly support PLO going to several of the city departments and mandating that whoever ends up at the top of the testing process is the ones promoted and those who performed poorly in that rather unbiased civil service testing until the star chamber come back another day.

    But alas, PLO is choosing to selectively use his “best and brightest” red herring as a ruse to simply pick and choose those that he likes, trusts, served drinks to as a bartender, who donated to his campaign, or who in other way scratched his back.  Merit my ass, that concept hasn’t been used in city government for decades.

  28. PLO, how about offering a decent Golden Handshake? You can believe the top people, making the most money would fly out of the door. Then you can hire younger, energetic people in at a lower salary.

    • Yes. Per my blog above:

      “Also, we should explore allowing those that are closer to retirement the ability to choose on their own accord to retire early in a way that would still provide the savings to balance the budget.”

      • Yes, but there would have to be enough incentive to make them want to retire early. For example, say an employee has 13 years with the City. What would be the incentive to make that employee choose to retire? At 13 years, they would more than likely be at top step; however, it would be very difficult to retire on 32.5% of their salary and be able to survive (2.5 x 13 = 32.5%). The incentive (the golden handshake) would be to bridge them two years on their time, to bring them to 15 years, so they can get their medical benefits and give them 10pts on their retirement formula (2.5 x 13 = 32.5 + 10 totals 42.5% retirement pay). The City would save quite a bit, per employee. Then the City can hire a new employee at a lower salary. Something to think about.

  29. I watched the online version of the Rules and Open Government Committee with great amusement. Pier’s biggest cheerleader for his latest chest-puffing and brilliant idea is Pete Constant. This is just so rich considering what a mediocre reputation Pete had at the police department. That Pete is now such a fan of using perfomance as the basis for layoffs is laughable, almost so as his disability retirement. He would have been one of the first to be let go.

    Please Pier, fix one problem at a time, be it the screwed up parking downtown, the lack of any standards for medicinal marijuana sales, the half empty airport, 3 city owned golf courses that are hardly used, the escalation of gang violence which is masked by the emergency rooms saving shooting/stabbing victims on a daily basis, graffiti all over the city, traffic lights which are not synchronized causing gridlock and pollution, and a police department using a very antiquated system of hand writing reports and a computer system which is falling apart.

    • I forgot to mention, as I was watching the online version of the Rules and Open Government Committee meeting, the expression on the faces of city attorney Rick Doyle and the city manager were priceless. I really dislike the city manager, but as Pier was spewing forth his latest revelation and demanding a staff report ASAP from the city mananger, you can easily read between the lines of her reaction, and also that of the city attorney who was weighing in with his opinion. That reaction was something like, “Pier, please get a clue. Although we too are anti-labor, you can’t simply ignore legal contracts with impunity and you are going to bring about many unintended consequences. Please, please just be quiet for once and quit being a blowhard”.

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