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Reed, Unions Headed for Showdown Over Binding Arbitration Clause

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed seems to be headed for a showdown with the city’s unions over the way union pay negotiations are settled. In a May 5 San Jose Rotary Club speech, Reed called publicly for a revision of the City Charter in an audacious move to wrest power away from the unions representing the city’s firefighters and police force. Harking back to his days as a labor lawyer, Reed pointed to a clause in the Charter that forces the city into binding arbitration if and when negotiations with the unions break down.

Your 4th of July Cheat Sheet

After six years without a single spark, the Rotary Club will bring the fireworks back to downtown San Jose’s annual Independence Day celebration. If that doesn't sound enticing, we've compiled 15 other 4th of July events.

Karyn Sinunu-Towery Ends Career on Top

Very few people go out on their own terms, but there’s no doubt that Karyn Sinunu-Towery finished on top. The prosecutor wrapped up a 30-year career in the District Attorney’s office by successfully sending former county supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. to jail in her final case, and she handed off what seems to be a strong case involving Shirakawa and political mail fraud. Last week, colleagues honored her accomplishments with a cash bar fiesta at the De Anza Hotel, where junior and senior attorneys clinked cocktails as equals for minutes at a time.

County Hospital Workers Allegedly Stage Sick Out; Strike Looming?

Almost two weeks before she won the election for Santa Clara County Supervisor’s District 2 seat, ex-labor leader Cindy Chavez said she would not cross a picket line. That promise may get tested early since SEIU 521, the 8,000-employee county union whose contract is up for renewal, strategically postponed negotiations until Aug. 11, after the special election, in hopes of gaining a more favorable outcome. About 6,400 of those union members work at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. The day after Chavez was voted in, some technicians in the hospital’s radiology department staged a “sick out,” which is not quite a strike but a coordinated effort to call in sick to work to make a statement. Enough participated that it left the hospital scrambling to schedule replacements.

Peter S. Carter, 1943-2013

Influential local photographer and advertising executive Peter S. Carter died last night after a fall on the stairs of his Victorian home. A gifted strategist, he advised valley political and business leaders and operated a successful advertising agency for many years, reinventing himself as a photographer of social events as the industry changed.

Columnist Leigh Weimers Dies

We’re sad to announce that Leigh Weimers has passed away at the age of 76. Warm and easygoing, Leigh was a much beloved figure in San Jose who wrote a column for the San Jose Mercury News for 47 years. Leigh went into the hospital a month ago for congestive heart failure and was scheduled for heart surgery this week.

Unions, Rose Herrera Declare War

Less than a month until the June 5 primary, labor unions fired off several accusations Tuesday that Councilmember Rose Herrera lied to voters during her 2008 campaign and may have even committed perjury in the mid-1990s. Herrera responded by calling the unions “bullies” using “misrepresentations and lies.”

Larry Pegram: New Financial Revelations

Eighteen months after leading the local battle against gay marriage—and shortly after an aborted plan to move to Tracy and run for U.S. Congress—Larry Pegram promised that his campaign for San Jose City Council would be about fixing the city’s pressing money troubles, not social issues. Since that time, Pegram has emphasized his commitment to balanced budgets and cited his own credentials as a professional financial planner.

Goodbye to the Red Racks?

Abetted by the Adobe Systems-funded group 1stACT Silicon Valley, San Jose’s Office of Economic Development and Redevelopment attempted last month to introduce an ordinance to regulate newsracks in the downtown area—without talking to a number of local newspaper publishers. Although the advocates of uniform news boxes spent time with the publishers of daily papers, they failed to contact free newspaper publishers.

The Billion Dollar Lie: Part 3

What did city officials not know, and when did they not know it?

The 1996 Measure I Initiative called for the “relocation and consolidation of civic offices in the downtown.”  But the new City Hall complex at Fourth and E. Santa Clara St. was not built large enough to provide the consolidation of city offices called for in the ballot measure.

The Next Mayor

When I think of the qualifications that I will look for in our next mayor, it is much different than what I would have looked for eight years ago.  I believe that ethics will be at the top of everyone’s list this time. Moral character and ethics are absolutely critical to the person that is going to lead this city for the next eight years.