City Hall Land Swap and Jobs

A couple of weeks ago, the San Jose city government sent out hundreds of layoff notices to city employees. KRON 4 News reported that 25 percent of the city’s librarians received notices that their positions could be eliminated. The Mercury News reported that the San Jose police officers’ union has offered to cut their salaries by 10 percent in an effort to reduce the number of layoffs. Even with this last-minute concession, San Jose’s police force may still be reduced by 106 officers.

These figures demonstrate just how bad the city’s budget situation really is. There’s no more fat to cut….from here on out, it’s all muscle and bone. Over the next six to nine months, the citizens of San Jose will see and experience significant, and perhaps even dangerous cuts to city services.

One wonders how many city positions could be reinstated if the $10 million assigned to the old city hall property site would go to the city’s general fund, rather than transfered to the Santa Clara County government as part of a negotiated debt settlelment with the redevelopment agency.  (See “The City Hall Land Swap.”)

Once again, 1996 Measure I stipulated that the new city hall was to be paid, in part, “by using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and other land…” But, according to San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle, the land swap is OK because the “full wording of the measure,” includes the word, “or” (“using the proceeds from the sale or lease of the old civic complex and/or other land”).

Who represents the interests of San Jose citizens on this matter? The Office of City Attorney also serves as General Counsel for the San Jose Redevelopment Agency. How can the City Attorney’s Office represent the interests of both the city and the redevelopment agency at the same time? Isn’t this a clear conflict of interests? Who (if anyone) is arguing that the proceeds from the old city hall site ($10 million) should go to the city’s general fund?

21 Comments

  1. Well put but as the homicide rate has already breached last years levels officials do not seem to care.  Concerned citizens need to contact their elected officials and express their opinions.  Playing politics with public safety is not in the communities interest.  It makes headlines but not safer streets!

  2. The assertion that monies cannot be transferred between the General, Capitol or Special funds is patently false. If you read the city’s own memos between the finance department and the city managers office you will see that the funds are often moved around. Why nobody has actually brought this up baffles me. Yes the land swap is recent and doesn’t require us to make the effort to sift through the pages to discover it, but doing so would expose even more dishonesty in the city managers office than has been previously discussed.
    The time has come to educate ourselves on the facts. The mayor has proven we Cannot trust him nor most of the council members. These are sad times indeed. But tocontinue to lie to the residents of SJ and claim revenues do not exists with which core services can be funded is plain dishonesty. The truth is that many revenues do exist, many in large quantity. The mayor just wants to use them to continue funding projects that will get him a job after he runs the city into the ground and his term limit expires.

  3. In the big picture, what this all adds up to is that ballot propositions are a sham.

    The ballot initiative in California is dead.

    California voters passed an initiative to deny state benefits to illegal aliens.  The usual leftist activist groups went to a friendly leftist judge and got defeated the vote of the people through legal shammery.  And then the governor NEGOTIATED with the complainers to accept the shammery.

    Voters passed Proposition 8 by a substantial margin, and then in an astonishgly arrogant, illegal, and in-your-face act, the state’s attorney general and governor REFUSED to defend the vote of the people.

    Ballot intiatives and the vote of the people don’t count for squat in California.  We really live in a post-rule-of-law society.

      • > The people can’t vote for an unconstitutional law and expect it to be upheld. That is why we have a constitution.

        What unconstitutional law?

        Obamacare has nothing to do with California ballot initiatives.

    • Using your “logic”,  if the people voted overwhelmingly to ban black people from living in certain neighborhoods, the courts should not interfere to overturn that initiative.

      From Obama & Dubya on down, people who should know better keep talking about democracy.  The USA is not a democracy.  It is a constitutional republic.  In fact, there are ZERO democracies on this planet.

  4. Yes the city gave out 106 pink slips to young officers a few weeks ago. Even with concessions offered by the POA, the SJPD will STILL lose those 106 officers. After SJPD offered to give concessions, the city said no, and this week there will be another 156 pink slips issued to young officers. The total now stands at 262. If there is no headway through mediation that begins between the city and the POA today, as of July 1, this city will be less 256 officers. Oh yea, did I mention that those officers have from 2-9 years experience??

    I hope the Chief releases the service cuts to the public soon. We all need to brace ourselves for what is to come. There is no doubt that the service delivery model the citizens of SJ have come to expect will be altered. There will be a slew of calls the PD just will not respond to anymore. I hope you know the way to the police station, so you can fill out those reports yourself. While you are at it, have Google maps, route you by city hall on your way to or from so you can tell your Mayor and Council member just how you feel about their grand plan to emasculate the PD and FD and how it has affected you personally.

    • Well said, but people also need to realize the PD is already down about 200 officers so this should take them down to about the 900’s for a city of a million. Reed, drunk on power, is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the POA, which has offerred a 10% cut, albeit for one year. What Reed and Figone fail to realize is that once you let those cops go, good luck replacing them. San Jose arguably has the most educated, big-city police department in the country and is, despite the Mercury’s smear campaign, squeaky-clean and highly professional. The PD goes through 100 applicants for every 3 hired (background check and psych eval standards are very high)so while you might easily hire laborers for Public Works or have thousand’s of firefighter applicants, good luck maintaining standards and hiring large numbers of cops when things get better. By then the city will be lost, as the decimated and understaffed PD is already losing its grip on the criminal element. In an effort to obtain more bilingual officers in the early 80’s the department temporarily dropped the college requirement and nearly all the officers hired either washed out or were fired and some were even criminally charged. It was large scale hiring with loosened standards that brought you scandals at LAPD and Miami. This isn’t scare tactics or sensationalism, it’s the truth. If the cops can’t control this city, if you don’t have public safety, nothing else works. People sure as hell won’t want to live her and businesses won’t come here or stay here.

    • Cops and firefighters should be the last to be cut, even if you have to close down parks and libraries, etc.

      However, the pensions are killing us, and will continue to do so, unless current pensioners’ benefits are cut.

      On a companion note, we know the total, but not individual pensions.  The Sacramento Bee just won a lawsuit requiring that individual pensioner’s pension amounts of public employees must be disclosed to the public.  Will our Murky news follow suit and seek this information now that the precedent has been set?  A portion of that opinion is set forth below:
      IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
      THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT
      (Sacramento)
      ——
      SACRAMENTO COUNTY EMPLOYEES‟ RETIREMENT SYSTEM,
      Petitioner,
      v.
      THE SUPERIOR COURT OF SACRAMENTO COUNTY,
      Respondent;
      SACRAMENTO BEE et al.,
      Real Parties in Interest.
      C065730
      (Super. Ct. No. 34201080000514)

      In this original writ proceeding we discuss the California
      Public Records Act (Public Records Act) and the County Employees
      Retirement Law of 1937 (Retirement Law). (Gov. Code, §§ 6251,
      et seq., 31450, et seq.)1
      The Public Records Act generally requires public agencies
      to disclose public records, subject to exemptions.
      After much public outcry about government pensions, The Sacramento Bee and the First Amendment Coalition (collectively, the Bee) filed a petition for writ of mandate to compel the Sacramento County Employees‟ Retirement System (SCERS) to reveal the pension benefits of named retirees. The trial court concluded the amounts of pension benefits were not part of the “individual records of members” (§ 31532) and ordered SCERS to disclose the requested information.
      SCERS promptly petitioned this court for a writ of mandate to overturn the disclosure order. (See § 6259, subd. (c).) We stayed that order, and issued an order to show cause. For the reasons detailed below, we shall deny the writ petition.
      The California Supreme Court has held that the public has a general right to know the names and salaries of public officials and employees under the Public Records Act. (See International Federation, supra, 42 Cal.4th at pp. 328-340.) The Attorney General, in an opinion cited with approval by the California Supreme Court, has reached a similar conclusion regarding the Retirement Law, finding that the phrase “individual records of members” protected by section 31532 does not embrace the pension amounts of named county retirees. (County Payroll Records as
      Next, addressing the merits, because exemptions from the general rule of disclosure are construed narrowly, we conclude that pension amounts are not part of the “individual records of members” protected by section 31532. Based on the legislative history of section 31532 and analogous retirement board statutes, we construe that phrase narrowly to mean data filed with SCERS by a member or on a member‟s behalf, not broadly to encompass all data held by SCERS that pertains to a member. We also conclude that SCERS has not shown the privacy interest served by nondisclosure “clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure[.]” (§ 6255, subd. (a).) Nor, for reasons we shall explain, is there cause to remand to the trial court for a hearing on whether each individual‟s pension benefits should be kept confidential, as suggested by some amici curiae.
      Therefore, SCERS must disclose names and corresponding pension benefit amounts of its members. This does not include
      the members‟ home or e-mail addresses, telephone numbers or social security numbers.
      Because the trial court properly ordered disclosure of the requested records, we deny SCERS‟s writ petition in this court, and vacate the stay we previously issued.

  5. Pete and “Even more important”,

    City Hall is old news but where

    – city taxes go,
    – where taxes are hidden and how much,
    – who gets taxes not spent on essential city services
    – what public good does public receive for taxes spent on non essential services or are taxes a ” to illegal “gift of public funds some groups, corporations or individuals

    are important information that public and taxpayers would like to know

    ” Even more important” – ” If you read the city’s own memos between the finance department and the city managers office you will see that the funds are often moved around. Why nobody has actually brought this up baffles me. ” 

    – because WE DO NOT KNOW and have not seen the documents you mention in #2 comment

    Can you publish documents or provide links on city web site so we can see city documents?

    If you can not publish tell us and we will suggest how to get information to public so you will not have problems with city

  6. Look where I did, sanjoseca.gov

    Look at the “budget in brief 2010/2011” for instance. Some things jump out at you such as…if the city is soooo broke how are they still in a position to give away $541,285,000 as “loans, funds and transfers”

    Start there. Then begin sifting through the countless budget documents at your leisure. Not fun reading but you will see many disturbing things.

    • >  The truth is that many revenues do exist, many in large quantity.

      > …if the city is soooo broke how are they still in a position to give away $541,285,000 as “loans, funds and transfers”

      Oh.

      I don’t think this comes anywhere near proving that the city has money sitting around to balance its budget and avoid employee layoffs.

      You probably need to brush up on the concept of “double entry bookkeeping”.

  7. And you need to flush out your head gear new guy. If you don’t think they’re keeping two sets of books you are more foolish than your post implys.

  8. ‘Bronco’ here’s more fer ya…
    During a ‘fiscal crisis’ would in not be wise to reallocate monies? If you go to the city website you will find an alphabetical listing of funds. Now don’t be exhibits but, not ALL of the funds are listed. Just most. But even inthose you will see that few funds are bound to prop 218 or are federal grant monies meaning either SJ muni code (which council can amend or change) or NO laws exist to force the funds to be spent in certain ways. Read The Info Yourselves.

  9. The Mayor is trying to maintain a functioning city. And, functioning cities require more than police and fire. However, the impact of these cuts could lead to horrible unintended consequences.
    The picture of pension obligations in future years is so desperate that I believe the mayor must go into full crisis mode now. Even bankruptcy should be on the table. Cities that get through this crisis fast instead of dragging it out, will be infinitely better off by 2020.