Synchronized Swimming

Last year, the council was faced with cutting the aquatics program down from ten pools to two due to the budget deficit. Stuck between a rock and a hard place the council invoked the “Unique Service Purchase” clause.

4.12.235 Unique services purchases.
The procurement authority may initiate a procurement for unique professional or other services where the procurement authority determines that an unusual or unique situation exists that make the application of the requirements for competitive procurement of a services agreement contrary to the public interest. Any special procurement under this section shall be made with such competition as is practicable under the circumstance. A written determination of the basis for the procurement and for the selection of the particular contractor shall be included by the Procurement authority in the department files.

Simply stated, this allows city staff the flexibility to outsource. In this case, the aquatics program was outsourced to both non-profit and for-profit groups. This simple action allowed the city to open seven additional pools for a total of nine pools instead of two that were budgeted.

At the Dec. 14 council meeting, staff reported back to the council on the results of the aquatics program. Residents gave the program high marks, with 91 percent rating the service as positive. In addition 1,000 more swimmers used the pools this summer over last summer. Staff said that outsourcing of the pools was “seamless.”

I think it is great we were able to give residents services they enjoy but without the traditional cost.

The City continues to cover maintenance and utility costs, however with multi-year contracts I believe we can get most of these costs covered as well, and even extend the swim season.  This is a positive example that outsourcing can provide services to residents. This is a positive example that outsourcing can provide services to residents.

Congratulations to Maxim Semiconductor for purchasing a building in North San Jose. They will soon be relocating their 1,200 employees and corporate headquarters to San Jose. The City of San Jose through the Office of Economic Development offered $500,000 in business assistance programs. Luckily the City of San Jose was prudent and has a little money put aside for economic development.


  1. Mr. Oliverio,
    Please explain why the city has spent or budgeted 72 Million Dollars for a new Baseball stadium? This is per a memo to Bud Selig Commissioner of Baseball dated Feb 1, 2010 from Mayor Reed.
    This in the midst of cutting city jobs and services and blaming all our financial woes on the very workers you employ. I submit that if you did not spend or allocate that money the budget deficit this year would be 18 million and not 90 million as you now predict.
    Please address this issue.
    Thank you,
    A concerned citizen.

    • Another anti-baseball rant.  Your writing about Redevelopment Agency dollars and not General Fund dollars.  The general fund is the budget deficit that results in less neighborhood services so it would not change the deficit as you suggest.

      • A and O,
        No need to respond to the anti-baseball/ballpark ranting of the strawmen.  They’re dead set in their views, no matter how wrong they are.  Forget that the $72 million in REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY DOLLARS can only be used BY LAW for land acquistions and roadway/infrastructure improvements (improvements that would be happening regardless if a ballpark is built or not).  And forget the FACT that the sales tax revenue (and employment) generated by the ballpark AND ancillary development will help put money into San Jose’s general fund.  Again A and O, just let them be miserable if they please (it’s their right).

        • The City’s return on the investment of $72 million in TAXPAYER money is estimated at a whopping $3million/year*.  It isn’t going to be as profitable you would think. Kind of like the Grand Prix??? How long after a stadium is built will the City run away from it? 

          *figure repeated by Chuck Reed at every opp he has to shill for the stadium.

      • HMMMM. It is amazing how much money Redevelopment comes up with. 72 Mil for Baseball. 50 plus Mil for Happy Hollow that no one goes to, etc, etc. Plenty of money for all that and a 3 or so Bil dollar budget and yet everyone is saying the city is broke.AAA Bond Rating!  Makes you wonder who is really telling the truth?

        • Happy Hollow was funded by voter approved bonds funds for parks. Bond funds are restricted by State law on how they can be spent. RDA funds are also different than General Fund.

          How about those pools!

  2. This is before your time Pier but you and your council colleagues should probably spend som time looking into this :

    How much of the money budgeted by the City to pay the City’s contribution to their employees retirement funds was set aside during the multiple years from the ‘90s prior to the 2007 worldwide economic collapse in any kind of rainy day fund?

    I’m talking about the contributions the City did not have to make because the City’s contributions were covered ( and then some) by Market Gains on investment and the pension funds increases in value due to market gains. Even though the City avoided payment , employees continued thier bi-monthly contributions while the City did WHAT (???) with the money they obviously had as they budgeted it to spend on pensions?

    I am in no way knocking the details of the agreement between the unions and the City. It is more than fair to the City as they pay the bulk of employees pesnion costs.  If Market Gains exceed city contributions then its a good thing. My problem is that the CIty was obligated to budget that expenditure regardless of the market so when they avoided payment the money ( or even a portion of it ) should have been set aside for a time when those payments were necessary.

    $500k is nice but where is the $10’s or $100’s of millions that the City did not contribute? Where did it go?

  3. The community pools are way better now that they’re outsourced.
    It’s much nicer not having to swim in red ink!

    Now. Any chance of using the “Unique Services Purchase” on the entire Parks Department? A band of trained monkeys would have more of a clue about raking up leaves than this sullen band of slothful reprobates.

      • Direct observation, Officer X.
        I visit the parks fairly regularly. On the rare occassions when there are parks workers about, I watch what they do. I can tell the difference between someone who is interested in completing a task and someone who’s just going through the motions and fulfilling the barest minimum of their duties.
        I know that it doesn’t have to be this way because I also visit parks in Campbell, where it’s obvious that the workers are interested in DOING a job, not just in HAVING a job. And their parks show it.

        • I don’t expect you or anyone else to take my word for anything. But I WOULD encourage you to be observant and to trust the evidence of your own eyes and ears. Like Yogi Berra said, “You can observe alot by watching!”

  4. Muy Bueno Pierluigi!
    One thousand extra swimmers in 9 pools over three months equals 37 swimmers per pool per month or about 1 plus swimmers per day. How much did this wonderful program cost? Congratulations to you and the City Staff for this brilliant idea. I suggest that we outsource you and the City Staff.
    I am happy that Don Quixote is my leader and not the San Jose City Council and Staff.

    • I can’t speak for all pools, but I can for Rotary Ryland Pool:

      The Mayor and City Council deserve a hearty round of applause for keeping the pool open by outsourcing the aquatics operations.

      During the 2010 Aquatics Season, the program was run by a for-profit entity: California Sports Center. They kept the recreation swim prices a bit lower than last year, and raised the price of swim lessons. Despite the increase in lesson prices, CA Sports Center received very high marks for the quality of their daily pool operations and their outstanding customer service. The swim season was extended through September and they easily accommodated public requests for special hours during some of the warmer summer days.

      In all, it was a stellar experience.  Thanks again to forward thinkers like Pierluigi who care about the services the community receives.

      Tina Morrill
      Chair, Friends of Ryland Pool

  5. In countless instances over the years, outsourcing has hurt our society. As unions have diminshed in strength community life has suffered. And in most cases the beneficiaries have been big corporations and the wealthiest among us. As a result the US could wind up with a permanent underclass and a permanent ultrawealthy overclass. That is not a democracy.

    But in San Jose the public employees unions are not concerned with such matters, only with lining their own pockets. Rather than give up their generous benefits they’d happily see parks close and pools close.

    So go ahead and outsource. The unions don’t care about us, why should we care about them?

    The worst of it is that the local unions themselves have turned San Jose into an anti-union city and that hurts everybody.

    • Downtown Worker,
      The Unions did not cause the financial collapse they are victims of this just like everyone else. No one said boo about this until just recently when the economy tanked because up until that point we were just part of the workforce like everyone else. Now when some are unfortunately unemployed the ones with jobs and good benefits are the hated ones because they planned and negotiated contracts? Unions in San Jose have and will take pay cuts, some have already taken 20-30% cuts, some have been laid off, and some have been willing to take cuts but the city won’t negotiate so they can score political points and engage in union busting. We all understand the situation and have been willing to do our part but when you have a Mayor (our supposed Leader) on TV calling the workers “LIars, Cheats and Thieves” what kind of trust do you think that fosters in the workforce? Do you think the CEO of Apple would say that about his workers? If he did, then I would ask, what does that say about him since he is their Leader? How about the City take some responsibility for their lack of planning and stop playing the blame game! We all have responsibility for this mess of an economy and until both the city and the Unions start acting like adults we will continue to have these problems.

    • > As a result the US could wind up with a permanent underclass and a permanent ultrawealthy overclass. That is not a democracy.

      Whatever has this got to do with the city outsourcing of services?

      I don’t get it.

      • I think he’s trying to say that America can’t be a democracy unless the government does everything.

        He’s probably referring to Abe Lincoln’s remarks about “government of the government, by the government, and for the government”.

        It’s what they learn in public school.

    • Union Worker.  Eat Cake!  Its your just dessert for making it impossible to open a busienss because of your union city staff.

      So stuff yourself with some cake!

  6. When citizens wait for police, fire and city core services like code enforcement, permits, or the like, you can all tell them to have a quick swim while they wait. I mean since we have these wonderful pool programs in such dire financial times we should put them to use. The fact you were able to put so much money to such good use I can see why you council persons are so good at this budget thingy! I totally want to fork over more of my pay and cut more of my pension now!

    • Read the article again. Your missing the point Officer Z. By outsourcing the summer swim program it leaves some money for things like cops but still provides the service.

      • How much you pay is up to you. Just wait until one of our precious loved ones is injured or is drowned under the watchful eye of one of Pier’s “full service lowest bid” contractors. Watch how quickly the contractor folds up the tent and vanishes leaving the taxpayers to fork over big dollars to settle the lawsuits.  This council is playing a game with our safety!

        • “you can pay now or pay later” – OK. We get it already. You union guys want us to believe that everything is fine and dandy with the services you provide, no matter the cost. We, the public, ain’t buying it. Stop it already, we already know that the emperor has no clothes.

    • Officer Z,

      I wish we could afford more police officers, fire fighters and code enforcement folks.

      However, in addition to these types of reactive public safety services, residents also benefit greatly from proactive public safety services such as libraries, parks, pools, community centers; places the public can go to learn and grow instead of “hanging out” and letting trouble find them.

      I’m glad you agree that council folks put our precious few tax dollars to good use with these valuable programs.


      • This exactly the pop-psycho-babble gobbledy-gook line of BS the City is using to buffalo you saps! 

        “well different people have different definitions and ideas about just what ‘public safety’ is.”

        Let me tell you about libraries, parks pools community centers and the like: they are exactly the type of places that the criminal element in the city likes to “Hangout.”  The trouble makers usually last about 5 minutes before they wear out their welcome and leave the do-gooder head-in-the-sand types like you cowering!  THEN you call the traditional practicioners of “public safety” to bail you out and restore order to your little corner of the world.

        • Wow…. Thanks for telling us what about you think it’s like at our libraries, parks and community centers. It’s a good thing we have actually been to those places, and have actually experienced that they are not the dark, scary, evil places you describe. I’ve never had to cower at any of those places, never once have I had to call 911 to bail me out, and actually enjoy my time there.

          Maybe you and your union brethren would get more sympathy from us schmucks who are paying your benefits and salary if you would quit with the useless scare tactics. Your post is one more reason to be thankful that Measure V and W passed resoundingly.

        • Pier and Chuck and Pete LIED to you when they asked you to vote for V and W. They told you your vote and the measure’s passage would preserve jobs AND services.
          The police and fire told you passage was part of the mayor, council,  and city managers plan to cut public safety and put your lives and security at risk.

          V and W passed overwhelmingly.  Due to good people like you believing that they were telling you the truth. Now Chuck and the rest have announced they want to demote and lay off to achieve a 100-200 person reduction in staff at the police department alone.  Meanwhile they provide you with a pool to swim in staffed by the lowest bidder and you can’t thank them enough?

          You read the scoreboard , but it isn’t telling you the whole story.

      • Tina,
        How is a pool a “proactive public safety service”? Pools are wonderful places. The public pools should be sold off to neighborhood associations where they can be run on a neighborhood level and have nothing to do with city government.

        You are unfortunately right that our once great police department is totally reactive. They use to be very proactive, actively looking for hardened criminals and predators to arrest and put in prison. Now, our police department is totally reactive, and will soon be coming out with a list of calls they are no longer going to either respond to or investigate.

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