Choose San Jose

San Jose is currently looking to find a Director of Economic Development.  As The City embarks on this search, what qualities do you feel this person should have? Should they have a background of some particular flavor like commercial real estate, a housing developer, former elected official, lobbyist, economist, academic, small business, large business, tech background, etc? Should they be currently employed at another city? Should it be a local city or further away? Should it be a young person with a limited track record but strong potential or someone with a strong track record making San Jose their final stop?

All cities need planning. However, any plan, no matter what the plan, is subject to criticism, especially in San Jose. I think collectively there are a lot of ideas out there and not all of them new but sometimes the criticism rises higher then positive thoughts. Kim Walesh, our interim Director of Economic Development is certainly qualified. However, she is not interested in this permanent position. So the quest is on for this new unnamed person.

Does any particular person come to mind who would be good for this job? Would anyone high-caliber candidate want the job? The position pays approximately $200K in total compensation. (216 people made over $200K working for the City of San Jose in 2009.)

The City of San Jose has rolled out a new website showing our positive attributes for companies considering expansion or moving to San Jose. In past blogs I have mentioned a few companies relocating to San Jose such as Maxim, Atheros and other smaller VC-funded companies, which is good news for San Jose. Below is the new “Choose San Jose” website which is partially the work of the Office of Economic Development. What do you think of it?

I do not believe an economic director will be the salvation for any given city as much of the success or failure is dictated by the movement of capital and the free market. Yet having a strong communicator that makes sure each piston of the City’s engine is hitting when the free market brings San Jose an opportunity would be ideal.  In the meantime, if a strong economic director can convince elected leaders to not convert industrial land to housing that would be great start.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Comments will be approved sporadically today. Your patience is appreciated.]


  1. How about no one and you save the money for a change instead of spending it. I swear you city council people must have holes in your pockets! I suppose next you are going to say that it is “redevelopment funds” that can never be used for anything else but hiring a person for a couple hundred thousand.

  2. I think that two attributes are particularly important:

    1) The individual must embrace the fact that conversion of land to residential does not pay the bills.  Rather, the revenue stream pales against the added costs of infrastructure; and

    2) Downtown San Jose is a two billion dollar money pit and subsidizing any further development is pure insanity.

  3. How about somebody with a business background who might actually help the city figure out what it takes to attract driving industry, rather than another recycled political hack?

    • I think you’ve got the right idea, Jeeper, but unfortunately the problem is much bigger than San Jose.

      Nothing that San Jose does is going to make up for Governor Lunar Emanation’s dismantling of Prop 13 for business and for the narcissistic feel-good wackiness of Calilfornia’s “Global Warming Solutions Act”.

      It might as well be called the “Making Businesses and Employers Get the Hell Out of California Act”.

      Likewise, nothing San Jose does is going to make up for President Large Ears’ Obamacare “mandates” which make all businesses into health insurance providers.

      As a former General Motors executive said, GM is now really a union retirement fund and health insurance provider which just happens to make cars, including stupid electric cars that no one is going to buy.

      Hiring a Director of Economic Development for San Jose is like Colonel Sanders hiring a Director of Chicken Self Esteem.

      • Visualize, I absolutely agree. Maybe the city would be better off saving the $200K or so. But maybe it could be another voice driving home the point that the policy decisions being made in Sacramento are killing the business environment in California. As if that will make much difference.

  4. Please do not fill this position. Save the $200,000 a year. It is not a necessary postion. If San Jose has a pro business attitude, then a company can easily determine this for itself. The mayor and city council, including you,  continually make it harder for a business to function in San Jose with your feel good social projects. No hired mouthpiece is going to change that.

  5. May be quite a challenge to find the right person for this job. As long as City Manager and Police Chief Figone and Mayor Reed are dominating the political scene with the CSJ I suspect many will choose other opportunities where the policy and vision are their own and not Figone’s and/or Reed’s. At the very least that is the case with Chief of Police.

  6. Please do not staff this position.  If your consultants and policy advisers have not already advised you on what constitutes pro business policy, I doubt any “director of economic developement” would be able to do so.

  7. Agree,  don’t fill Economic Development, Police Chief or any other Department Head or Deputy jobs since city department are run out of City Manager’s office by her coven of $200,000 + Assistant City Managers  

    Eliminate 20-30 – $200,000 + high level city Director jobs with Titles but No Authority ( a bunch of admin clerks waiting for retirement ) saving $4 – 6 million or more since it is well known inside City Hall that all department recommendations, public statements and decisions are approved behind closed doors by vindictive dictatorial secretive city manager ignoring professional senior managers with years of experience

    • To Save Money,

      I am not sure where you get your information regarding how Department Heads operate, but as a former Department Head, City Manager Deb Figone is not anything like you reference.  In my case, Fire Department issues such as budget, deployment, staffing, policy etc. were made by me and my staff and recommendations were moved forward in an open process.  She always valued input, sought the facts to understand the issues and relied on the experience of myself and my staff.  Her decisions were never vindictive as you reference and she provides the leadership for each Department Head to manage their various responsibilities.  Staffing levels are extremely low in every Department including the management ranks which can lead to low morale.  While people would like to find a scapegoat and there is plenty of finger pointing, these are extraordinary financial times and even the City Managers staff, or coven as you call it, has had severe position and salary redcutions.  San Jose is lucky to have such a professional City Manager as Deb Figone to help guide the City through these difficult budget times.


      • Dearest Darryl,
        I am so happy to hear that you are doing well and enjoying your new $150,000 plus Italian Sports car.  I know that you’ve taken some heat regarding your ridiculously large payout when you left but rest assured that I will continue to defend you so you can keep speaking kindly about me.

        I also see that the strings that were surgically implanted to control you as my puppet are still working, that is most excellent.  As you know I used those strings to get you to cut staffing, close stations, lie to the public saying that dynamic deployment would work, and tear apart the fire dept. brick by brick ultimately doing more damage than anyone has in the previous 150 year history.  Thankfully no one saw through our ruse, could you imagine how embarrassing it would have been for me if people knew that I controlled your every action….. phew, luckily people were so caught off guard by my cuts (oops, I mean your cuts) that they were too distracted to see the strings. smile

        Well Darryl, Alas I must go make more cuts.  Sorry that I don’t have time for a longer chat but I will be certain to call upon you again when I need you to speak kindly of me or when somebody says you didn’t do a good job as the Fire Chief.  Don’t let it bother you that over 99% of the Fire Dept. voted to not have confidence in your leadership, you still have me and your car??!!

        Your Puppet Master,


        ***Disclaimer*** This of course is not a post by the real Deb Figone, this is only a satire.  Should this have been an actual post by Deb Figone it would have been full of half spun facts and doom and gloom scenarios to get the public to believe that there is no money in the city and that it’s all the fault of the city employee’s and not poor management that put the city in this financial mess.  However, All the stuff about the former Fire Chief would have remained the same.

      • Ha is the Darryl Von Rasfield-former fire chief, forgot how to spell your name. But anyways, of course you would say something like that, you and her were working together, and you left the fire department in a huge mess, there are more late response times now than there was 1 year ago. Maybe because you closed 5 fire companies, and implamented a dispatch systems that is proving to be a total cluster and does not work at all. I am willing to bet you are kissing her butt and backing her because of your payout and new Mazzarati eh? I cannot support any of our city leaders. And when I have numerous confirmed people say they saw Chuck Reed come into a police briefing and tell them all that “Their gravy train is over” and trying to bully the police into doing whatever Chuck wants. Ha, you serious, a mayor of a city would say and act like that!!! And a city manager(Debra Figone) that comes into another police brifing and tells them that she threatens them that she is going to lay off at least 90 police officers!! Or a city council man (Pierluigi Oliverio) that steals lawn signs acting like a total 2 year old,or another city council man(Pete Constant) is double dipping by collecting on his disabliity retirement and getting paid as a city council man. All this is happening when a city that is crying broke is buying millions of dollars in land for a freakin baseball team that no one wants here and will never be here!! Dam these are the type of people running this city? We are screwed. But thanks Darryl for your two cents. Not sad to see you gone.

      • To add to what Darryl has said and from a different perspective:  I am not a City of SJ employee, however I have to say that the few times I have worked with Ms. Figone as a community member(during community budget meetings and the like) I have found her to be extremely professional, polite and smart as anything.

        She displayed tremendous grace under pressure during the 10 council community budget meetings last year when she was verbally attacked and the departments she oversees were criticized. Then, I was very upset to read she had an off-hours incident when trying to eat her lunch at a local restaurant and some City employees decided to vent their frustration at her (Mercury News article).

        It can’t be easy being charged with figuring out what it will take to balance the City’s budget. I can understand how City employees are upset with salary/benefit reductions and layoffs. And as a resident I am upset with the ongoing service cuts. No one is happy. But I’ve found that verbally attacking people is probably the least productive way to deal with the mess the City is in. Finger pointing is probably second least productive. Meanwhile, I will look for other alternative ways to get involved.

        My .02.


  8. One thing is for sure. Education requirements don’t matter too much in SJ. The true “Biggest Little City in The World”.

    The last Police chief had an online degree, and there are several command staff (And I use that term loosely) who only have the minimum college units. About 60 units in a 5yr period.

    All of which are making about $200k

    Nobody is going to want to move here and be forced to buy a $700k shoebox of a home. The compensation package should be performance based.

    • The education requirement for a fire fighter in San Jose is a high school diploma or GED. Many fire fighters are in the $200,000 a year category.  Why go to college?

  9. Pier, in teh interest of open government and sunshine reform: (1) Is this Director of Economic a position enumermated in the City Charter? If not leave it vacant. (2) Where can a taxpayer see a complete list of contractors and paid advisors retained/employed by tthe City and what their salaries are? We all know we can find your salary and poice fire salaries on the Mercury Neww, but I think the taxpayers should know exactly what “Law Enforcement Liaison” Jose Salcido is making – who hired him and why, and how much he is making… Not to pick on Jose but there are HOW MANY other “advisors and liaisons” we are paying…?

    Since one of the benchmarks you, the Mayor, council and City Manager are using when determining what department’s budgets need to be cut (for instance: “The police department’s budget has become bloated because employee salaries and benefits make up 94% of it therefore we need to cut…..”) did yo know that there are several City Department Budgets that have “personnel costs” as a percentage of their budget higher than the Police department? 

    One of the Highest is: Independent Police Auditor at 98%!!! – The Auditor’s office has been proven to be redundant and should be eliminated – they provide nothing but “political cover” the City. None of the problems they say exist (because the NAACP/ACLU/LARAZA told them exist) have ever been brought to light – probably because they don’t actually exist…

    THE HIGHEST ( as far as I can tell – the “standard” line item titles listed in other department budgets are different in this budget/summary – perhaps deliberatly – so as to obscure the truth?)

    99.8%!!!!! Really? the City COuncil’s personnel costs are nearly 100% of their budget ??? I say there is some real room for cuts there….

    • PM,

      Director of Economic Development is not in the City Charter but neither is a Director of Information Technology.  City Manager by the Charter is given the authority to appoint a person as the head of a department. Those appointments are at will and not covered by civil service rules.

      The IPA was put in the City Charter by the voters back in Nov 1996. The office has 4 staff and purchases office supplies therefore nearly 100% is spent on staff. Council offices are the same and spend most of the money on staff and office supplies. All Council and each staff person took a 13.75% total compensation pay cut. Same total compensation pay cut with the Mayor and Mayor staff as well. Many Council staff are paid under $50K yet Chief of Staff can make over $75K. All salaries are online.


      • You recently proved that the Charter is subject to change when change is perceived to be necessary.  The IPA is arguably useless as they produce little that is tangible or even relevant. The IPA work product is make-work to justify our existence pablum.  A review of all IPA year end reports coupled with your own man-behind-the-bar observations regarding the myth of profiling and DIP discrimination at SJPD is the the alpha and omega for amending the charter to eliminate the IPA.

        As for salaries of council staff the average across the board is closer to $75k than it is to $50k – mainly due to the mayors bloated staff ofAdvisors and liaisons who make six-figures and all pull down more than councilmembers .

      • Why is a council assistant’s top salary step listed at $93K? Much above the $75K you have stated. I would think that the positions that have more life safety risk would be the positions making the higher salaries. Staff assistant at $93K is a little much to swallow. I think they are WAY overpaid.

  10. Why would anyone choose San Jose, a city with no downtown?  This is an incredible sinking city that’ll best Detroit of the last century by far.  No city will ever see the deterioration of a city like they will when see San Jose sinks due to 3 billion dollars waste of money on a failing downtown that has nothing to show for. The downtown is draining the whole city of its money because it’s a miserable failure.  A money so wasted on something that fails is a travesty!  The bill is due.

    • “Why would anyone choose San Jose, a city with no downtown?”

      So your solution is to completely abandon Downtown? If you really feel so negatively about San Jose, maybe you should find another place to live.

      There are plenty of people that have the opposite opinion on Downtown, people that are enjoying it currently and see tremendous potential in its future.

      • Well I think we would all agree that the potential is there but when city leaders spend all our money on their own pet projects or dont know how to run this city, our downtown will never be a fun place to go. I can’t wait till Chuck Reed and Debra Figone are gone and we can try and start fresh. Will be nice to have a leaders of a city that have a honest and genuine intrest in making this city great instead of furthering their own careers.

      • I agree Joshua, and I am one of those people who LOVE Downtown and all it has to offer, and I am anxious to be part of its future.


        • Thanks Joe and Tina, I live Downtown too and can’t imagine living in any other neighborhood. We walk everywhere, including Trader Joe’s and Zanotto’s, theaters, movies, drugstore, and more. Unfortunately, I also see the dark side, including the deterioration of St. James Park and the city’s neglect of that place and people in it who need help. Some of the “arts scene” here is so amateurish that I just have to laugh to survive it. But so much is terrific—including the Rep and other theater companies, great music at Le Petit Trianon and the gorgeous California. So much of the best is from another generation, though, so I don’t hold much hope for the current crop at City Hall and in Economic Development and Redevlopment. Joe is probably right; we need for this generation to die off.

        • Downtown wouldn’t be so bad if one didn’t have to dodge globs of spit as they walked down the sidewalk, or try to get the homeless to stop begging them for money and then calling you names if you don’t give it to them. Something needs to really be done about the thug congregation at the Santa Clara Light Rail station, where I have actually observed drug dealing, out in the open. They also stand around and smoke pot. For me, I do not like downtown for those reasons and therefore I stay away, until I have to be there for business. Maybe that is what is keeping so many others away, as well.

  11. Prior to this position being filled, please see to it that they are not against issuing alcohol licenses. It sure would be nice to have some upscale entertainment after those sold out A’s games. RIGHT!

    By the way, when you divide downtown by moving the desirable shopping, hotels and entertainment to Santana Row. What do you expect to happen to a crippled downtown?

  12. Annie, “Why go to college?”

    In SJ there is no need to. You can get a high paying civil position here and join the group of $200k employees who have succeeded in creating a fiscal disaster.

    A H.S. diploma and questionable JC units does not equate to $200k.

    Who decided it was ok for the former Police Chief to get an online degree to pad his resume? A former McDonalds manager has also pulled off a hat trick from what I hear.

    • Exactly how did the employees succeed in creating a fiscal disaster?? You mean because the city negotiated along with the employees in good faith for their respective pay scales to ensure that this city attracted the best of the best….??

      Or perhaps it was when the dot com boom in the city was occurring and it was alright that an average city employee was making far below what other city’s were paying their employees.  This resulted in a little thing called parity with the rest of the bay area and suddenly the employees are the bad guys, really?? 

      And now, the city council has scraped an iceberg and of course they, along with most of the passengers, want to throw all the crew overboard in an effort to to try to slow down the sinking when the solution is simply to get the captain to steer away from the iceberg. Problem is the captain wants a ball park and is willing to sink the ship to get it….. now that is fiscal responsibility.

      Realist, I think not.  You are a victim of Pepe Le Pew and the rest of his cronies who have succeeded in vilifying the employees……  This “fiscal disaster” was created by poor management, not the employee and to label it as simply as that is narrow minded and not “realistic”.

    • This is an interesting bit of intellectual elitism and snobbery. But what it fails to recognize is that numerous highly-regarded institutions of higher education offer distance-learning (online) degree programs. My own experience is that they are just as rigorous and demanding as if you were actually putting boots on the ground at the institution in question. The primary difference is that the programs are geared for employed adults who are interested in advancing their education (and probably careers) while simultaneously remaining gainfully employed and managing a family.

  13. To Joe and the Impersonator,

    I stand by my decisions as Fire Chief, knowing that the Department was left in the best position with the fiscal constraints it faced.  My decisions were based on factual information, over 30 years of experience and always made in the best interest of the Department and the City.  You can look up and down the coast of California and see the many Fire Departments that have suffered severe reductions to service levels.  I believe the “Dynamic Deployment” implemented in San Jose is working and is a viable solution that you will see in the future of the Fire Service.  With the closing of five companies in San Jose (which could have been averted by employee concessions that the Union did not see fit to support), the response times have stayed above the estimated level and have stayed very close to and at times above the 80% goal.

    You both reference my choice of vehicle which was an expense I saved up for and many retirees purchase a vehicle or other items for them and their families, I just chose Italian and the not German brands others have purchased.  I find it ironic that the impersonator makes reference in the poor attempt at satire to half spun facts and spin in the disclaimer.  The impersonator post is filled with inaccurate information from the cost of my vehicle purchase which is inflated by at least 25% to the higher percentage in the vote of no confidence (which was lead by the Union leadership with miss information) to the reference of tearing apart the Fire Department which is not true.  I am glad the State legislators passed SB 1411 the “e-personator” law making it illegal to impersonate someone online beginning January 1st.  I hope San Jose Inside enforces this new law.  I find the satire in the impersonation letter very offensive, demeaning and unprofessional.  I will state again, City Manager Figone is a woman of integrity and professionalism and San Jose is lucky to have her in the position as the City deals with these most difficult financial times.  Good luck to her, the City Council and the various City Department Heads as they work another extraordinary year of budget challenges.

    As I have offered others in the past, if you would like to meet over lunch I would be glad to answer any of your questions and provide the facts so you do not keep miss representing them.  I know we will not change each other’s minds, but conversation is always good.


    • “SB 1411 makes it unlawful to knowingly and without consent credibly impersonate another person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means with the intent to harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud another person. An impersonation is credible where another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated.”

      Get a clue, Darryl…. As usual, I believe you forgot to read the fine print and misrepresented the intent of the point that you were trying to get across.

      “In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.”

      I would have thought having “over 30 years of experience” in the fire service would have given you thicker skin…. apparently not.

      What scares me most is that you still believe that “the Department was left in the best position with the fiscal constraints it faced.”  Are you nuts…?? The Department staffing at all levels is far below the bare minimum for a city this size and they are NOT meeting their response times as you indicate.  Closing 5 companies was your decision Darryl and you should be ashamed to try to blame that on the backs of the people that you were supposed to protect and lead. Forgive me, you did lead us…. Right off a cliff !!!  Don’t believe me??  Let’s ask the 49 firefighters that YOU laid off…. 

      Since you threw it out there, you didn’t exactly save up for your car now did you??  You retired early because you knew that your sick leave payout was going to be capped and then used that payout to buy the car…. No??

      Your right on one thing, the satire above does quote an inaccurate number, the actual number of people who voted NO Confidence in you was 93% which was not brought forth by the Union leadership but by a member of the department, but then you already knew that… No??

      “I find the satire in the impersonation letter very offensive, demeaning and unprofessional.”  Huh ?? uh, ok…  Is that your attempt at being funny…?? If you haven’t noticed, Most posts on this site deal with hot topics with a wide degree of opinions… That in itself breeds offensive and demeaning posts.  As far as unprofessional…?? To what profession are referring? Last I checked you were fat and happy in retirement….. Thankfully.

      Lastly, You and I will NEVER see eye to eye on any of these issues.  So meeting for lunch is pointless unless you enjoy waisting time, I however do not.  I will however continue to post the truth in respect to your version of the “facts”.  It’s those very “facts” that has driven the Fire Department backwards by some 30 years. That fact is indisputable….

      Again Darryl, you’ve done your damage…. please stop trying to deny it and move along so that the department can heal. 

      You are lemon juice in an open wound…..

  14. When is the city council and mayor going to confront Pete Constant on his bogus disability retirement and collecting a council salary,? (ie double dipping)

    • > When is the city council and mayor going to confront Pete Constant on his bogus disability retirement and collecting a council salary,? (ie double dipping)

      Maybe when Democrats confront Governor Lunar Emanation on HIS double dipping, and likewise confront local government employees like the Santa Clara County Fire Chief in their double dipping.

      It ain’t resonating, Frank, because Democrats have their snouts deep in the double dipping trough.

      • Give it a rest, BB. Not everybody looks at the world as Reeps vs. Dems like you see to do.
        Constant is the one who has attacked public employees and blamed them for nearly everything that ails the city. He never mentions, though, that he is just as much to blame as any City employee. He talks out of both sides of his mouth and that is why the Mayor and Council should confront him. They won’t though, since the Mayor and some other Councilmembers have also used city employees as scapegoats in this budget disaster.
        Constant’s political affiliation has nothing to do with this. His use of a double-standard has a lot to do with it.
        (I am not now nor ever have been a city employee. I just believe people should be treated fairly).

        • > Give it a rest, BB. Not everybody looks at the world as Reeps vs. Dems like you see to do.

          Do Dem politicians have their snorkels in the double dipping trough in a big, big way?

          Um. Yes.

          I rest my case.

          Book ‘em, Danno.

        • > So do Reeps. Both parties have some work to do. What’s your point?

          Dems are wiser, smarter, kindlier, and more ethical than Repubs.  Plus California is a Dem monopoly from top to bottom, and from sea to shining sea.

          If Dems stopped double dipping, two things would happen:

          A. Ninety-seven percent of double dipping would end;
          B. It would set a good example for Repubs to follow.

    • My guess is that the waters off of Cabo are gridlocked with fishing boats charted by Cali’s public pensioners.

  15. Darryl, you lied about dynamic deployment.  You gave up your employees.  You lied to the 49 that got laid off.  You disregarded your Training staff and other personnel that advised you not to hire the 49 employees that laid off, there was no room for them.  On any given day your department was overstaffed with those employees.  You and “Deb” used them as leverage. Either you got the firefighters to cave in with the threats to lay-off, or you were able to villify them when they didn’t,which you did.  You went to the academy on 2 seperate occasions and promised those recruits that they would not be layed off. 
    Exactly how many line firefighters showed up to your retirement dinner???  You still do not get the message. You lied, you cheated, and you destroyed the fire department while you kissed up to the City Manager for a job that you obviously were not qualified for!
    I hope that the Maserati makes up for knowing that with 30 plus years on the job, you left as a disgrace and without the respect of any firefighters!

    • To Ernest Beginner and Jack,

      I will continue to write to correct the misstatements and inaccurate facts as you both seem to keep putting out bad information.  I understand we can all have our own opinions, but during these very difficult economic times we must all face the facts.

      As for Dynamic Deployment, I never lied and I stand by all my statements and information presented. It’s all available in written documentation and on video from the budget study sessions if you want the real facts.  I believe it is working; the statistics are available to review.  As for the staffing levels of the Fire Department, it was discussed with all staff before decisions were made.  The only time we were significantly overstaffed (by about 10 positions) was in early 2008 just prior to Station 34 opening with the newly funded staff.  We were never overstaffed by 49 positions and if all positions had been filled at the time of the implemented reductions over 80 positions would have been impacted.  We did work to hire the number of budgeted positions rather than relied on overtime to fill positions.  Again, there is a yearly vacancy report that was presented every year during my tenure as Fire Chief that will provide the documentation. 

      When I visited the recruits, the promise was to do our best to keep all the positions, not a guarantee.  As for your opinion of using them for leverage, that is not true and demeaning.  Whether these professional firefighters were on payroll or not, the reduction would still be the 5 companies and over 80 budgeted positions lost.  Fortunately, these individuals do have some job rights to get hired back, something they would not have had if they had never been hired.  What you refer to as leverage, was the brutal facts of this difficult budget process and concessions could have saved the positions and the reduced companies.  This is not to vilify anyone as you reference.  I have contributed to the fund to assist the 49 Firefighters; I hope you both have also.  The loss of the 5 companies is very regretful; I would be interested to hear how you two would come up with a $10 million reduction with the least impact on response time goals. 
      I also did not retire early, having almost 33 years of dedicated service to San Jose and six as an Executive Board member and four in the difficult position of Fire Chief, the longest tenure in that position since 1992.  With the new benefits derived by the last arbitration, we will not see many go past the 30 years mark, most choosing to retire around the 25 to 27 years range.  This “brain drain” will have an impact on the Department and is one more issue the Department will need to address.  I wish those getting the early retirement the best and I will be glad when the 49 firefighters are rehired.  It will still be sad that the Companies will not be reinstated until other solutions can be found. 

      As for the e personator legislation, I hope it will keep people from hiding behind technology; we must all be willing to stand up for our convictions in public.  To Ernest Beginner, the invitation to meet was for Joe and the impersonator as I know you had already declined the offer.  I’ll also extend the offer to Jack.

      As a property owner and taxpayer in San Jose, I will continue to choose San Jose.  I wish you both and the entire City staff a Happy and Healthy New Year.


  16. San Francisco is getting the America’s Cup, estimated to bring over a billion dollars into their economy along with 8,000 jobs. The San Jose City Council, on the other hand, keeps approving one affordable housing project after the next, draining our precious resources and chasing more business and jobs from San Jose and into neighboring cities. The city, for as long as I can remember, has spent billions downtown while neglecting neighborhoods, although those in nicer areas tend to get more city services, promising downtown will someday generate money for the rest of the city. The city’s first murder of the year, which occurred just after midnite on New Years, was a drive by shooting of a 15 year old boy. This was a minutes drive from Xmas in the Park. The violence is exactly why I don’t feel safe bringing my family downtown, despite some of the treasures which our downtown has to offer.

    We don’t need to spend a couple hundred thousand for an economic development person. What can they possibly offer a company that our neighboring cities can’t make a better off for, and in a safer city? I think it is evident from the other posters that nobody wants this money spent and would rather not fill this position. Pier, are you going to listen to us or are you just blowing smoke in asking our opinions on this? Is this something you are actually going to share with the city council, or are their minds already made up, which most of us probably think is the truth.

    • There were 20 homicides last year in San Jose, not one was in the Downtown core. You are no less safe Downtown than you are in Valley Fair or Santana Row. The “violence” is a crazy misconception that I hope will change over time.

  17. Darryl,

    I heard that the US national standard for fire and EMS response is 6 minutes at 90% city wide coverage

    Why did San Jose reduse response standard to 8 minutes ( 2 minutes later ) and only 80% ( 10% less coverage ) city wide coverage unique to San Jose standard when almost all other California cities use national standard 6 minutes at 90% coverage ?

    Doesn’t SJ’s unique slower and less coverage response standard cause local residents and business to believe that they are getting acceptable service when we are getting lower service standard than national response standard that other California cities and most residents don’t know we are getting lower response times? 

    Please explain how people are not dying because of slower responses and building are not burning down due to slower EMS ( especially SJ very low 5% stroke survival rate when many other cities are at 20-45% survival rates ) and fire response rates due to lower fire staffing, fewer fire stations and stations further apart than other cities for budget reasons not the adapted public safety national performance standard reasons ?

    Does Dynamic Deployment improve or decrease response rates? Please explain in terms that average resident can understand ? 

    Thanks SJ Neighbor

    • SJ Neighbor,

      The technical answer to this question should come from the current Fire Administration as I do not speak for them since I have retired last June.  I am sure if you submit this to them they will respond and I am sure the Department can provide the factual statistics and validate the information such as the stroke information you present.  Much of the response information can be found in the budget documents that provides the yearly Department statistics.  Below is a basic overview to your questions but I would recommend you follow-up with the Department for verification of the data.

      San Jose did not reduce their response times to 8 minutes as that has been the standard since they the Department response standards were developed.  The 8 minute 80% response times were developed as the Fire Department goals upon the adoption of the 2000 Strategic Plan back I believe in early 2001.  This was before the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 1710 Standards of 6 minutes 90% of the time you reference were put in place in about 2002.  The NFPA Standards are recommendations, not a law or federally mandated regulations.  NFPA 1710 is very clear that decisions about whether and how to implement the NFPA standards rest with the local elected officials.  The 8 minutes / 80% goal for San Jose includes 2 minute call taking time, (the time from the pickup of the 911 call at the dispatch center and the notification of the Station), 2 minutes turnout time, (the time the FF’s once alerted have to get the proper equipment on and on the road) and 4 minute travel time, (the time the apparatus is on the road).  The NFPA Standards call for 4 minute travel time, 1 minute call taking and 1 minute turnout time.  The Department was reviewing the turnout time when I retired to see if this area could be decreased.  Most Fire Departments have a one minute or one or half minute turnout time, San Jose was the only Department I was aware had two minutes.  Also, I am not aware of very many Departments, especially Metro size Fire Departments that meet the NFPA criteria and I do not believe your statement that ”when almost all other California cities use national standard 6 minutes at 90% coverage” is at all accurate.  There have been severe cuts to a majority of municipal Fire Department up and down the California coast.

      The response times were being reviewed the last couple of years as part of the 2000 Strategic Plan update.  This update had been ongoing during my tenure as Chief and was delayed due to the lack of Department Administrative resources to complete, but should be very close to being done.  During my last year as Fire Chief we did secure funding to have an outside consultant review the work on the update and get it very close to being completed.  This update will provide the roadmap for the next few years to ensure the Department can provide the best response with its limited resources.  It does come down to what the City can afford.  For example, the 2000 Strategic plan identified some gaps in coverage and with Measure O the addition of three newly staffed Stations from 2006 to 2008 were completed and funded.  Unfortunately, due to the budget reductions, that newly formed companies, extra staffing and a couple of other apparatus were reduced last July. 

      As for Dynamic Deployment, this system utilizes modern technology and is designed to monitor and dispatch the closest unit and to move units up to vacated locations when the need arises based on call volume on a real time basis.  Ambulance companies have used such a system called System Status Management since the 1980’s.  With 5 less Fire resources available due to the budget reductions and no employee concessions, I believe this system helps to best utilize the remaining resources for best coverage.  I know the Department has statistics to see the effectiveness of the management of the current resources and I believe the information will be presented during this upcoming budget process if not earlier.  My feeling is Dynamic Deployment does improve response rates, but does not fully compensate for not having more resources.  With more resources, Dynamic Deployment would work even better at utilizing the available resources most effectively.

      San Jose Fire has been recognized for being staffed below the national average for decades and it is tribute to the men and women of this great Department for the exceptional level of service they provide.  There is quite a bit that goes into developing and understanding the statistics and how they are used.  One example is when staffing level per thousand population are referenced, there is a difference between East coast and West coast, work schedule of the Department as well as small Departments and Metro size Departments (for example San Jose covers about 200 square miles while neighboring Santa Clara covers about 12 square miles).  Secondly, fractile measurements versus averages need to be understood, the number of personnel assembled for the tasks and other criteria are considered.  For example, San Jose Fire does staff four personnel on the Engines (an issue that I fully supported during my tenure) and assembles 22 personnel on the fire scene for initial attack, more than the NFPA 1710 standard recommendation of 15.  I hope this information is helpful to you as it covers a very complex issue made more difficult in these difficult financial times.  The link following will take you to an interesting article on staffing levels if you would like more information.


  18. San Jose is in trouble, clearly. A couple of months ago, Metro did an interview with Mayor Reed. The only substantial “economic development” initiative the interviewer and the mayor discussed was a baseball park. OK, this was an ass-licking interview. But whomever the city hires for economic development has to grab the city by the throat and say, “Get over it.”

    San Jose is in trouble because of its failure of imagination. Sometimes I look around at its planning and its strategies and I think I’m somewhere in the 1970s. I can’t understand why, because we are “the capital of the Silicon Valley, many of whose residents are living in the 21st century. Part of the problem is that so much of San Jose looks like the 1970s, so its leaders can’t get beyond that physical and cultural landscape and look into the present or the future.

    Whoever takes this job needs to have balls and smarts and enough courage to lay out the city’s economic situation honestly. When is San Jose going to do economic development that counts? Aggressively. Intelligently. Informatively.

    San Jose has a lot going for it, but it also has so many strikes against it, including anti-intellectualism that shows up in lousy schools and inadequate funding for the arts. Outside of Palo Alto, Los Gatos and a few other communities, so many of the leaders in SV send their kids to private schools, so we have a major income and educational disparities. Whatever happens in economic development has to narrow that gap. And believe me, a ballpark is the last item on that agenda. The city should use the money it gets from the new round of public funding for the ballpark from property sales should go to building sports and arts facilities for young people. These do not have to be big items. A black box theater or a baseball field for kids is relatively cheap. So is renovating Guadalupe River Park, which is showing many signs of wear and tear. The kind of people we want to bring to San Jose notice these types of amenities.

    Given San Jose’s current mentality, though, I don’t have much hope. They will hire another hack who will suck up to the Lew Wolffs of the world and make people think he brings economic development. Sorry, more sports bars and crappy food at a ballpark are not what economic development is about.

  19. Who do you think is going to want to come to this messed up city? The top people are leaving. How many have we lost so far? I knew it was coming. The best and brightest are going to other cities. Our administration is turning this once highly respected city into a second class city. What a shame.