The Councilmember as an Observer

As a councilmember, I interact with many different people on a regular basis and have a chance to observe the different stages of life.

One day I might meet a newly engaged couple and, behold, they are married with kids who attend the local elementary school. Or it could be a young family and the next thing I know I am shaking their son or daughter’s hand at a high school graduation ceremony.

It is sad to witness divorce. I see divorcees out and about individually in the community, helping with their child’s education but carrying the stress on their face. Sometimes people ask me why we build apartments in San Jose and who would actually live there. Well, in many instances it is divorced spouses who have to start over and are looking for a place nearby.

Monitoring the plight of a small business can be a pensive process, as the owner takes the risk to open a retail store only to close the doors after another bad year. I am amazed how people want “cute” little stores to visit but then will go to a chain store when the small business charges 10 cents more. Even more problematic are those people who buy online to save on sales tax and yet still wish for more retail stores. Personally, I like to walk into a store, which is why I don’t purchase items online.

Other observations come from hearing people speak candidly about San Jose—things they would never say in public. Some of these thoughts are good and some are bad, but they’re mostly positive because the people acknowledge they have the freedom to move elsewhere if they choose.

A final observation is when good people you know from the community pass on in this life. Some live a full life surrounded by family and friends, while others leave too quickly like a resident in my district who died last week at 43 from cancer. Not the youngest person I’ve known but the most recent. He was generous with his time both in little league and PTA, and all he touched will miss him.

From my observations, I’ve come to realize that we have a good city. Although it is not perfect, it is still a place we call home.

Pierluigi Oliverio is a San Jose Councilmember for District 6.


  1. Other than the idea that divorcees are a majority of apartment renters… this piece isnt too bad. I’m sort of shocked that this can come from you, thoroughly shocked. Keep up this and San Jose might not be headed down such a bad path…

  2. Kind of like Timmy of the SF Giants, lets not judge on one ok blog.  Your history is like the SJMN, you hate law enforement and want to see them go.  Yet by attacking PD pensions, you attack all city employees with measure B. However, the city seems to find grants for the fire department.  What’s up?

    • The city had nothing to do with this grant, its been something that the union has been working on for a long time, along with some very dedicated people in fire admin. The city deserves zero credit, they could have had this grant a long time ago. It doesnt matter, people are testing with every department thats hiring now, finishing degrees to change careers, and going back to old ones. PLO and his cronies have done damage that no SAFER grant will fix.

      • The Grant application process requires extensive work.  First the Department must research the grant, complete the detailed application form ensuring all financial details are correct, and then the Grant is submitted for the formal review process.  The process also requires City Council permission which is done at a Council meeting.  If the grant is approved, it must then be accepted by the Department, which again requires City Council approval.  Nowhere in the process is the union involved or submitted to any of the requirements of the grant, that financial responsibility falls solely on the City.  I would agree that the union, the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) as well as the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) both work hard at the Federal level to ensure the Federal Government provides the funding to keep these grants viable which are extremely important.  They should be applauded for their efforts in this area.  The idea that the union got this grant is just not true.  As for the firefighters who are looking to leave, I understand some of those who did not choose to come back to San Jose at the last SAFER Grant process may now be reconsidering with this grant since their Departments may be facing layoffs.  While we may not always agree with the City Council, your painting them as anti public safety is just not true.  Let’s all wake up and deal with the financial issues with the real facts.  There needs to be give and take on each side to be successful.

        • You are “High as a Kite” if you Honestly believe that this Mayor and Council are not Anti-Public Safety. They have have much to malign the FD and PD . from all the lies that the Mayor told on KLIV , to not even Looking at the proposal that would have saved $500 million inside of 5years GUARANTEED!! it has always been his agenda to push for ILLEGAL PENSION REFORM!

          you are correct when you say that there has to be “take and give” by both sides. but I dont think it meant Take 10% total comp and then give an additional 4% per year for 5 years , on top of that lets take some of your earned pension benefits.

          Yes the very benefits that Mayor REED voted for ! So now , many PD officers are jumping ship( good for them) for greener more appreciative pastures. word on the street is PD is having a horrible time trying to recruit candidates, turns out candidates have been keeping up with the dismanteling of our public safety , and would rather work for Oakland. get ready for the wave of FD to leave. leaving san jose with the least experienced and second best qualified candidates.

        • Look, before measure B the PD and the FD were the ones doing all the taking. Imagine retiring at 50 and your pension is based on your best year. So with a 3 percent increase every year, you would be making more money by the age of 54 than you ever did in your entire life. Plus the fact that the vast majority of these people retire on fake disability pensions, which are not taxed, and you have a situation where they make more than they ever did by the time they are 50. Look as we all agree, there will be more police and fire in three years than there is today. Does anyone out there doubt this?

        • The $500 million proposal was looked at by the City.  There is lots of correspondence on the City web site.  It involved transfering to CALPERS which the City said would not provide the savings the unions stated (guarenteed).  Just look at the latest CALPERS news, a 1% return which will require particpants to pay more. The San Jose system is slavagable but both sides need to deal with the facts.  You can also keep saying the union mantra that Mayor Reed voted for all these benefits, but that does not do justice to how some of these were political backroom dealings outside his purview, such as when the previous mayor gave away the store.  (24% over three years, 4% for 1 year, 3% COLA, 5% specialty pay for PD etc.) There were also arbitration rulings that were not Mayor Reeds choice but the only way to deal with unruly unions.  Give Mayor Reed credit for trying to address the issue of unsustainable pensions and trying to find a solution.  Not an easy task. 
          The grass is not always greener to where some officers may choose to go.  With the Fire Department, some members who had been laid off in SJ are now returning because the agency they went to are facing layoffs.  Both sides need to roll up theri sleeves and find a solution.  Using the courts is not the solution.

        • @PERSPECTIVE: “Let’s all wake up and deal with the financial issues with the real facts.”

          OK lets: The City of San Jose is on the hook for $4Billion (with a “B”) in old RDA debt. 4billion is 6 times more than Reed’s continued exageration that the Pension Systems possible unfunded liability in 2015!

          It makes all the other financial problems the Mayor cites loook like chump change.

    • The” City” DIDNT find the Grant , The Fire Dept. Did . Be serious , you honestly think after scapegoating all of public safety , they are going to to do anything for them?

      As far as PLO goes , he’s a politician , so anything that comes out of his mouth cold either be a lie or the truth…………… decide

    • Has anyone out there ever seen or heard of anyone retiring on a bogus disability from the city. Come on, I know someone has. Just let us know the particulars. This is your chance to do the right thing instead of looking the other way like everyone else does.

        • If you seriously think anyone is going to help you with your anti public safety agenda from within, you are out of your freaking mind. If Pete Constant isnt a good enough example for you, NOBODY will be. And for the record, I DONT know anybody who has retired on a “fake” disability. Why do you find it so hard to believe that people get hurt doing a physical job like police or fire? Isnt the truth simple enough for you to grasp?

        • Ok, maybe your right, let me know. I myself am a Democrat. I think everyone on the city council supported Obama and Jerry Brown just like I did, except Pete Constant. If you can just give some evidence about him, that would be great. But how about another example that no one has heard of. Just one please.

  3. I can’t attribute this sentiment to you but I know many of your constituents and your colleagues on the council become outraged at this:

    The fact that fewer than 45% of SJPD officers live IN San Jose. The percentage among all City Employees may be higher still.

    The reason so few emplyees live in town is that there are Cities that surround SJ and communities far away that cost less to live in and are safer environments to raise families. They also have far better schools to educate children in.

    SJPD officers were willing to commute and work extra jobs to make up for what the CITY DOES NOT PROVIDE: Competative Pay and an affordable/safe environment to live and raise a family in.


    You gave San Jose Measures V and W and told us that they would “save jobs and preserve essential City services…” When they passed, you concurred with layoffs and service cuts anyway – this, coupled with the 10% voluntary pay cuts is the REAL reason for this years budget surplus!

    That hasn’t stopped you from attempting to take credit though has it? No, everything in San Jose is just peachey! No, actually it’s “rosey!” You didn’t even mention “your” award winning cost saving “Rose Garden Volunteers” – the PLO working model for library volunteers, pothole filling volunteers, park mowing volunteers, police and fire volunteers…

    Then you helped give us Measure B after employees came to you in good faith with viable options to save serious money. You – a term-limited politician -stood by as career employees voluntarily cut their own pay. Then you dismissed real pension reform and campained for Mayor Reed’s FICTIONAL Measure B “opt-in” plan – JUST LIKE the as-yet equally non-existent/fictional Tier2 plan from YOUR Measure W!!!

    You have helped to ruin the morale of every employee in the City. You have helped make it less affordable for the few City Employees who still live in SJ to remain. You have helped make San Jose less safe for all residents as officers flee to agencies WHO ARE HIRING and WHO HAVE BETTER PAY and BETTER RETIREMENT PLANS!!!  …and may even be closer to their homes.

    That IS your legacy Oliverio!!!

    “…From my [PLO’s] observations, I’ve come to realize that we have a good city…”

    – you are either arrogant beyond belief or simply delusional!!! “HAD a good” is more accurate!

    • Why do I have the hunch that Councilmember Oliverio could have simply posted “The sky is blue” and doing such would have yielded a reply identical to the post above? Just saying…

    • I would be posting at 3 in the morning myself, but I have to go to work so I can pay taxes so some cop can get a sick leave payout of $100,000. You’ll note that my posts are all in the pm. I love sanjoseinside.

      • “…got to work…” We will just have to take your word on that.

        But, lets say that you do work and do pay your taxes. What you rather pay for?

        1) an officer who earns sick leave and as soon as he or she accrues 10 hours calls in sick to get a day off WITH PAY? Whether or not that officer is truly sick. (that is the earn it and burn it /use it or loose it model)

        -AND THEN-

        2) Pay another officer time-and-a-half to work in the place of the one who called in sick just to get the day off WITH PAY.

        I call this the “call in sick and charge the taxpayer 2 and 1/2 times the going rate.” (Pay the fake sick at straight time plus the overtime guy at 1 1/2 time 1+ 1 1/2= 2 1/2 time)


        3) Just pay the guy who saved his sick leave and didn’t call in sick 9.6 days a year at straight time?

        Keep in mind that your “$100k” figure is about 2000 hours worth which means the person getting that $100k DID NOT CALL IN SICK ONCE IN MORE THAN 20YEARS (and 20 years is THE MINIMUM amount of time a person MUST work to earn the contract right to have his/her sick leave bought out). Sick Leave is also paid in one lump sum which means that the state and federal taxes are taken right off the top kicking the officer into the stratosphere of tax brackets – meaning the net is probably about $45k. 

        Of course you would know this if you worked…

        • Are you saying that if the police and fire didn’t get these huge sums of money for unused sick time then they would call in sick every chance they could until they’ve used all their allotted “sick time”? Doesn’t seem honest to me. By the way, considering the money they make I think they’re already in that tax bracket which means the taxes are a wash. But if you want to defend “spiking” and so forth, go ahead. I know all this of course because I work for a living.

        • The City made a conscious decision many years ago to keep staffing at SJPD at low levels 1.1 officers per 1000 residents – less than 50% of the national average 2.5-2.7officers per 1000 residents.

          It was a great cost saving plan – fewer employees meant lower personel costs (benefits), (not to mention that overtime was paid in “compensatory time off” (Comptime)  for any overtime worked in excess of 3 hours and sometimes during the good years 6 hours),  lower material costs single police station at one time housing more than 1400 officers fewer patrol cars and associated fuel/maintnenance costs…

          The problem was that with fewer employees it is harder to adequately staff the streets and even harder to give employees contractually earned vactions and next to impossible to use accrued hours in the employees COMP time bank. When employees cant take vacations or use the comptime they earned because the department is willfully understaffed they call in sick – whether they are sick or not.

          Employees whether they are union or not have the inherent right to time off they have rightfully earned.

          Officers used sick leave as a last resort to get time off they had coming to them. There were times when so many officers called in sick that the streets were staffed well below what was considered a safe norm – (safe back then was like 90 on days, 110 on swings and maybe 85-90 on grave).  To end calling in sick just to get a needed day off the City offered the “buyout plan.” Some took the City at its word and reserved sick leave use for what its name implies – others continued to use it as a way to get time off. It is what it is.

          If you think that the current system should be changed to conform to whatever the private sector “use it or loose it” model is then so be it. Just realize that we will use it rather than loose it if there is no incentive to save it.

      • Again, you fail to recognize that there are people who work throughout the dark scary night while you’re warm in your bed “preparing” for your vigorous workday at the cubicle.
        Now change your name to something more honest.
        I love San Jose Inside.. Yeaaaaaye.
        Simpleton is available

  4. Councilman Olviero I recently came across this article about the ambush of a CHP officer in Kern County.

    I invite you to read the article and watch the video. Based on personal experience, I know that this level of professionalism is extraordinary and fairly rare. It has been, traditionally, fairly common at SJPD. However, with what is presently an unmanageable level of attrition and considering San Jose’s unenviable national reputation for how it treats its employees in general and public safety in particular, how likely do you think it is that San Jose will continue to enjoy the same level of safety and professionalism which existed in the past?

    • He wont care at all, he lives in willow glen and could care less what happens to the rest of the city. All he cares about is going as far as he can in politics so he never has to go back to bartending. Go work for SFPD, Im sure they will appreciate your training and service. At least you will be able to pay your mortgage.

    • “National reputation for how it treats it’s employees”? I think Topeka KS and Fresno CA think retiring at the age of 50 is pretty darn nice.