Forget Meg Whitman…San Jose’s police and fire unions were the biggest losers in this past election. Meg Whitman can take another $140 million out of petty cash, but San Jose’s police and fire departments may not soon be able to recover from the damage that they have done to their reputations. Frankly, I’m not sure that the rank and file have any idea how much damage they have done to their trust relationship with the San Jose public. The rhetoric employed to try and defeat Measures V and W will likely not be forgotten for quite some time.
Arguments against Measure V and Measure W were based on the false and misleading logic that passage of both measures would have diminished the level of public safety. “Measure V puts your family in harm’s way by cutting fire, police, and paramedic services,” read a campaign mailer funded by the San Jose firefighters and police officer’s association. Another one read, “Measure V is a smokescreen that puts you and your family’s lives in danger.” The citizens of San Jose saw through these lies and passed both measures by healthy margins in an effort to restore some balance (and sanity) to public sector wages and benefits.
The argument was advanced that, “cuts to police will mean fewer cops patrolling our streets…” But of course, that’s completely false. If salaries are frozen and/or everyone contributes more to their pension plans, the cost savings could be used to hire more employees, or at the least, prevent additional layoffs.
There was also the very troubling case of the “councilman and the missing lawn signs.” It was reported that three unmarked police cars showed up at Councilmember Oliverio’s home after he was seen removing “No On V” lawn signs. (Oliverio was not cited, and maintained that he had lawfully removed the signs.) But let’s just assume for a moment that the councilman had violated the law by removing the signs. Does that “offense” warrant sending three unmarked police cars to his home? Does anyone believe that this was an appropriate action by the police? The entire incident reminded one of a scene from a movie, you know, one of those bleak movies about rampant corruption in some large, non-descript American city.