Rocha: Fiscal Reforms Invite Lawsuits

Mayor Chuck Reed’s fiscal reforms, which would declare a fiscal emergency that allows the city charter to be changed in an effort to slash soaring retirement costs, will be discussed at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. While it seems likely Reed will get the necessary votes to begin the process—he already has the support of Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and councilmembers Rose Herrera and Sam Liccardo—Councilmember Donald Rocha is suggesting the city stop, take a deep breath and consider the possible litigation that could ensue.

Public-employee unions have come out strongly against Reed’s proposal, and a memo Rocha submitted Wednesday says he would like a greater discussion on the costs that could incur if lawsuits are filed.

“I understand that the legal costs, even in the worst case scenario, would pale in comparison to the annual retirement costs and unfunded pension liability as projected by our City Manager and Retirement Director,” the memo says. “However, I feel the above analysis will provide important data points that should be available to the Mayor and City Council, as well as the public, as they consider,comment, or vote on the proposed recommendations.”

Rocha suggests that any decision on Reed’s proposal be deferred if city staff cannot come up with a complete analysis.

In addition to altering the city charter, Reed’s proposal suggests creating ballot measures that—if approved by voters—would allow the city to take bolder steps in curbing pension costs. Councilmember Herrera said this was critical in gaining her support.

In City Manger Debra Figone’s fiscal reforms plan, which is expected to be accepted Tuesday, four options are laid out to increase revenue. They include: a sales tax increase of 1/4 cent for an estimated revenue of $34 million; a municipal water system tax on gross receipts for an estimated revenue of $2.5 million; a business tax increase for an estimated revenue of $5 million; and a disposal facility tax increase for an estimated revenue of $5 million.

Along with decisions regarding public employee retirement benefits, the council will also discuss amendments to its agreement with Team San Jose as well as San Jose Environmental Innovation Center project.

Click Here to Read the City Council Agenda for May 24, 2011.

Click Here to Read City Councilmember Donald Rocha’s Memo Regarding Mayor Reed’s Fiscal Reforms.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

100 Comments

  1. Somebody needs to check case law. You just can’t up and eliminate or reduce a vested right. Not only will this end up in court…the City will lose. As a legal person, I put my money on the unions.

    • I agree.  You can’t negotiate with a union and then say sorry, turns out we mismanaged funds so you can stay out in the rain directing traffic and help someone choking but we want to balance our budget with your retirement.

      I am now from out of state, but haven’t seen the article where City Council has taken a pay cut yet?

      What also haven’t seen is the citizens fired up yet.  Are they asleep?

      The police and firefighter unions need to refuse to respond unless the call is life-threatning—-no cold burglaries, no non-injury accidents, let an empty vehicle burn to the ground—to keep themselves available to repond to help each other…if the City doesn’t care—-they have to!

      • L. Vasquez,

        Below is the Mercury News headline and an excerpt which discusses the SJ City Council pay cuts and how, since 2007, Mayor Reed has not accepted a salary increase:

        WEIGH IN ON ELECTED OFFICIALS’ COMPENSATION – PUBLIC INVITED TO TAKE ONLINE SURVEY AND ATTEND FUTURE MEETINGS TO SHARE COMMENTS
        San Jose Mercury News (CA) – Saturday, April 2, 2011

        Excerpt:
        “In 2010, the council and mayor agreed to a 10 percent reduction in salary and benefits, including their car allowances. Each council member’s annual base salary is $82,510. Since 2007, Mayor Chuck Reed has waived both a car allowance and a salary increase. His annual base salary is $105,000.”

        I hope this helps provide the council salary info you were wondering about.

        Tina

        • Fire-d up,

          No, I only looked up and provided the council (and Mayor) salary reduction info as that is what L. Vasquez was publicly inquiring about.  I thought it might be helpful for L. Vasquez to know that yes in fact the Council and Mayor have walked the talk.

          Tina

        • Tina: perhaps when you were looking up all this information, you also noted that our city manager, even AFTER the 10% pay decrease STILL makes more than ANY city manager ever has and in fact, makes more that any other employee yearly-guess that wasn’t too much of a sacrifice for her, I wonder if she is loosing her house too. Believe me, a 10% decrease on their level is a lot different than a 10% decrease on our level.

        • Wow, LOL! No, I can assure you I am NOT a City Council member, nor have I been.  I do like to provide info if I see an opportunity to do so, AND I have a great deal of respect for our Mayor, City Council, City Manager and the good, hard working employees of the City of SJ.

          Cheers,

          Tina

      • So you suggest that the police and firefighters hold the CITIZENS HOSTAGE as their ploy?  Oh yeah, thats going to endear you to the public even more.  I can see the people running to the polls to support you now. 

        Seriously don’t you see how much easier YOU make it for Mayor Reed to get his agenda passed.  You are your own worst enemy.

        They have to you say?  Well maybe WE say YOU have to.  You have to take the cuts and shut up about it already.  There are plenty of other folks waiting in the wings to take your jobs since you think they’re so crappy and the people you “serve” are so expendable.

        • I am not a police officer or firefighter—-I simply care about them and their families.  So, the paycut isn’t mine to take.

          You get what you pay for.  Let the “plenty of other folks” you speak of to come in.  My guess is if you are okay with a “B Team” response to your emergency you don’t deserve the current “A Team” that you have and don’t deserve their dedication to the City.

        • The point had nothing to do with holding anyone hostage. The point was for the police officers to take care of each other’s backs in a life threatening situation, and there will no longer be enough officers to respond to mere property crimes.

    • How happy the taxpayers will be with this administration if the administration votes this illegal reform to move forward and it ends up costing the City $millions$ in lawsuits…because the City KNOWINGLY duped the taxpayers into voting this illegal reform in? I think the taxpayers will be furious and I think there will be hell to pay.

      • We taxpayers will be no less happy than we are with the hundreds of millions it costs us now by these outrageous payouts that the unions KNOWINGLY duped us into funding when they knew they were unsustainable.

        Sure you negotiated in good faith with the union bought and paid for councils of years past and stuck us with the bill.  I am already furious and now you have hell to pay at the ballot.

        • The pensions “were sustainable” until they lost $1bil due to all you private sector people refinanced your houses and pulled out all the equity to fund your hobbies not to mention all you unemployed techies who bought on the false promise of long careers with inflated value stock options…. not to mention all you wise private sector financial wizards who schemeed paycheck for yourselves by funding loans for people who clearly never had and never will have the means to repay…

          See, there is plent of blame to go around here. I’m just reversing the anti-public employee logic that abound here.  You think that there are a few pub’s holding the masses hostage for penions?  THere are way more of you private sector know-it-alls who f’d up the economy in ways that have yet to be realized!

        • The unions didn’t DUPE you into anything The MAYOR AND COUNCIL approved everything and voted for it. Did the unions buy the mayor, too? He’s been there for more than 10 years and voted for all of it. No. I don’t think we’ll have hell to pay. The City is going to cost you millions in lawsuits. It’s going to come out of YOUR pocket. Go ahead and vote it in. I’m shivering. Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

        • Up until this mayor over the last 10 years the Public Unions in San Jose owned the City Council.  They lost qiute a bit with the Ron Gonzales scandel in his second term and never recovered, dropping him like a hot potato and without the State elected position he was hoping for.  You all keep saying Mayor Reed and the Council voted for all the contracts which is not entirely true.  There were some arbitrations in there and the approval of the contracts does not get into the arm twisting and funny politics and direct dealing used by the labor groups with the politicians they bought and owned, which is not Mayor Reed or several other members of the current Council.

        • He admitted it in public. He has been there all of these years. He has voted all of these years. He has made decisions all of these years. I think there was one arbitration by PD and a couple with fire…but this is not all about police and fire. It is about ALL of the unions and All of the employees. As you know, only police and fire have arbitration rights.

        • Mayor Reed was a council man for 8 years before he was elected to his first four year term as mayor. He can to the Police Officers Association and pledged his support for wage and benefit increases in exchange for the POA’s endorsement of his candidacy.

          He got that endorsement and he held up his end of teh agreement by voting FOR EVERY CONTRACT that came before the Council in the last 12 years.

          Reed also voted for EVERY SINGLE CITY BUDGET and EVERY SINGLE INCLUDED DEFICIT for the last 12 YEARS including the LAST 10 BUDGETS WHICH ALL HAD DEFICITS.

          WHAT PART OF “REED IS PARTLY TO BLAME FOR EVERY RATIFIED UNION CONTRACT” and “EVERY BUDGET AND DEFICIT” do you “WONDER” about???

    • “As a legal person”

      What does that mean?  That you’re here legally in this country?  If you’re a lawyer, say that.  If you’re a paralegal say that.  If you’re just some crackpot union lackey that wants to pretend you know case law from pillow cases, well say that… oh never mind, I guess we can tell by your non-specific or non-case citing comment that you’re not really someone other than what you appear to be.

      “Legal person”  That is so non-descriptive, I’d expect nothing less from the first union crony to chime in.

      • Double speak: you com across as ignorant when you just make a narrow minded assumption that it is a “union crony”. I guess maybe others will make the same assumption about you…stupied.

      • double speak: you come across as ignorant when you just make narrow minded assumptions that is a “union crony”. I guess maybe others will make the same assumption about you…stupied.

  2. A petition to remove the mayor would require 44,480 signatures of registered voters.  The target number is based on computing 12% of the last registration report sent to the Secretary of State from the County Registrar.  While this is a slightly moving target, the last report was sent on February 10, 2011, when the number of voters registered in San Jose was 370,666.

    And let’s distinguish between mayoral proposals about retirement rules and mayoral proposals about layoffs of public safety workers.  Both sets of proposals are problematic, but each one has separate impacts on all parties, and it appears to me that commenters in some instances are purposely mixing them up to confuse readers.

    Keep in mind that city hall specializes in “retail politics.”  One example is community meetings where the three or four supporters of the mayor are identified by city employees who then motivate those supporters to disrupt neighborhood associations that have opposed the proposals. Retail politics is built into every community event the city schedules.

    • I would think it’d really suck trying to go door to door to get recall petition signatures.  Folks just aren’t that mad at the mayor.  Even the paid petition gatherers would be hard put to get valid voters with the arguement “Shouldn’t the voters have a chance to decide?”

      Getting people to sign a petition for an intiative or recall is implicit buy in for your view.  There is some unhappiness with city government at this point and an awareness that we’re off track, but the blame is not clearly pinned to the mayor.

      Good luck, I’d suggest a $5 bounty per signature to get your petition qualified, and even then, it’s gonna be rough.  It might be easier to qualify a deceptively worded charter ammendment to confuse the voters and undo whatever the reformers propose.

    • They are boneheads and do not listen. They THINK they can bully the employees into doing what they want, knowing what they propose is not legal. The employees they hire are educated. They are by no means stupid and will fight this to the end and then further than that. The fight is on. We WILL have this mayor removed. Once the citizen see through all of the BS, it will be that much easier. It will be our job to make them realize what he is doing to this city; declares fiscal emergency and in the same breath tries to spend millions on a ballpark that we do not need in this time of trouble. That letter to Bud was the last slap in the face. We will have this mayor recalled.

    • The mayor has learned over his years on the city planning commission, the county planning commission, the city council, and now as mayor, that there is relatively little that binds them to obey the law.

      Just one episode of taking a cheating city council to court (Al Ruffo on illegal use of RDA money to build the new city hall), ran to almost $1M to prosecute and appeal.  The good guys won, but at a huge cost, first to them, and then to the taxpayers.

      Putting up $250K – $500K just to question one illegal act of the mayor and city council is way beyond the reach of most of us.  People with that kind of money to gamble on judicial impartiality live in Las Vegas, not San Jose.

      So you have to pick your battles as you seek to make the mayor and city council conform to the law, because for the past two decades they have not really had an interest in it.  Doyle doesn’t really write legal opinions, the ones I have seen are more in the nature of essays that provide pretty skimpy legal cover for the mayor and council to do what they want to do.

      It would help if voters were more aware of scoff-law attitudes, but campaigns here have become little more than slander of the most puerile variety.

  3. The debate is not over whether the city can change vested rights. It’s a discussion about whether unearned rights can be changed. Existing case law says no (Kern v. The City of Long Beach), but it hasn’t been tested in higher level courts.

  4. Anyone notice that when you read the city agenda for May 24th that the city wants to increase compensation for different pointless and non-critical projects and analysis. This city lost my vote for having compentent leaders. I guess the mayor and councils’ own agenda is more important than peoples jobs. How pathetic!!! I ask a council member to at least respond to my request for some answers!!!

  5. After demonstrating, with insults and lies, his complete disrespect for this city’s public employees, Mayor Reed has moved on to show a similar disrespect for the law. His motives in waging this legal challenge, whether designed to extract a sympathetic ruling from a malleable judge or simply exhaust the union’s war chest, matter much less than the message he’s sent to the men and women who police this city.

    Most police officers understand the underlying terms of their deal with their employer: absorb the risk of serving the public in exchange for an agreed upon level of compensation, one that takes into account the physical wear and tear endured, the psychological trauma absorbed, the undeniable limits of an aging body. Policing affords it workers fewer guarantees than any other profession: there is no guarantee of a safe and civil working environment; no protection against vile and racist insult, threat and assault, or public slander of the worst kind. Outside of each other, cops can count on no one coming to their defense, as every political office and legal institution designed to provide them the objective support they deserve has been politically compromised. The only guarantees they’ve been able to count on have been those secured by legal instruments of the kind essential to our very way of life—contracts.

    By scoffing at the sanctity of those legal instruments Chuck Reed has dismissed not only at the value of the effort, commitment, and sacrifice made by this city’s police officers, but the sanctity of everything established and protected by the law. This is a reckless move for a man whose power and position are derived from only the law, a man whose right to occupy his office evaporates the moment the law loses its meaning. By his actions the mayor has already damaged the credibility this city requires to negotiate and forge the new agreements it seeks, and should he somehow prevail in overturning the agreements he’s targeted—agreements to which he once signed his name, he will have sent to the police officers of this city a message understood by every cop in the Third World: you’re on your own.

    This is idiocy of highest order. Policing San Jose is serious business, and for the last few decades the credit for seeing it done has been wholly deserved by the men and women doing it, not the spineless, wind-testing politicians occupying the highest ranks. Take the vigor and hardheaded commitment, or what’s left of it, from the line officers and this city’s downward spiral will accelerate to terminal velocity.

    Four decades ago local politicians took the vigor and hardheaded commitment out of the business community that had long provided this city a thriving downtown. It still hasn’t recovered. Thirty-five years ago local politicians reduced the law enforcement posture at the county fair, then a still-vibrant, much anticipated two-week long affair. Today the fair has all the vibrance of the county board of supervisors and lasts about as long as one of their meetings. What Chuck Reed is doing right now to our police department will seal the deal on this city and turn it into an overgrown Salinas, with a trendy downtown to provide parolees and the daring alike with all their tattoo, window-tinting, and bail-bonds needs.

    • What a bunch of crap posted by “BS Monitor” …. oh boo hoo physical wear and tear on the body … what a bunch of crap!  What about the physcial wear and tear on people who really work like roofers, steel workers, construction crews … all of which have a higher fatality rate then cops, get paid crap, and have even crappier retirement benefits.
      http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2009/09/04/americas-most-dangerous-jobs/

      Bottom line is cops make too much, their pensions are absolutely unsustainable, THEY ARE HURTING THE CITY, the city signed a bad deal …. probably for political reasons rather then for sound financial reasons … and now we need to stop this insanity!

      Instead of negotiating something sensible … unions would rather see the city lay off cops and weaken the force … THE UNIONS ARE TO BLAME!

      • Hmmm lets recall my experience with the “trades”

        Uneducated, alcohol/drug use problems and other assorted criminal behavior that lead to lost time and out of control insurance premiums.

        Like many contractors we pay dearly for the clowns that “fell” of the roof because he was drunk/stoned or hung-over , or pulverized the thumb with his own hammer while trying to drive a nail cross-eyed, or crashed the company truck , or ran over or buried a co-worker with the loader.

        I know all about your “mortality rates” and the fact is that Darwins theory drives those rates far more in the “trades” than it does in the police and fire service. 

        ps: You forgot the brain trust that IS the crab fishing and logging industries!

        • Ok Bob
          How about we compare cops to the men and women of the military.  The military is far more dangerous and important to the security of the nation and the men and women who serve us well make 1/2 the salary as bay area cops and have a 30% pension at most …. or how about the Homeland security officers who live and work in san jose … they make 1/2 as much as cops and the same 30% pension at most.

          The salary and pensions of cops is not sustainable … it will be changed!

        • So Bob … what profession do you think the psycho who posted my street name and profession as “12th st engineer” is?  what profession is that psycho who took the time to google my name and read about me?

        • I’ve also heard (but could be wrong) that the reason cops are also compensated so well is to avoid the temptation of bribery, which is also why their personal financial history is scrutinized prior to being hired.

        • If I’m reading correctly, YOU are the one that’s been “sounding” like a psycho. If you don’t want people knowing about you, then don’t post your name for all of the world to see.

        • I am a veteran. Whoever told Brett that the pension is 30% lied. It’s 50% after 20 years of service. Also, I received free housing on base and free medical care for my family. Add that up. I’m retired now and still have free medical for the wife n I.
          Who in the government only makes a 30% pension for 30 years of service? Nobody that’s who.
          And let’s be honest, we’ve all been to SFO. Those homeland security mouth breathers probably couldn’t get a better paying job because they lack the dynamic ability and intellect required to make sound decisions under true stress.

        • Military pay and government worker pay are all about the same depents on rank in the military or years of experience/job classification in non military.

          Average age in the military is what ? about 28? most don’t make it a career and most are youinger than 28 and lack the education that typically commands more pay. Is is dangerous? yes, but it is also all volunteer and not every single military member will ever see combat or be remotely close to harms way.

          Maybe all the reasons I cited are reasons why the military doesn’t rate in the top 10 in either category in the article that you posted!

          Wait, the job with the 4th highest number of fatalities in the article you posted is WHAT?  ANSWER: Law Enforcement!!!

        • Well, Brett, I finally decided to chime in here, because I’ve heard your argument from a lot of other people—comparing cop and fire salaries to that of the military.  Perhaps we SHOULD pay the military folks a lot more.  Think your taxes are high now?  We might have to triple your Fed taxes to pay those salaries!  And I have heard that argument that a cop or firefighter job isn’t that dangerous; that not all cops are involved in shootouts everyday or work in dangerous neighborhoods, so they shouldn’t get that much money.  Same for firefighters—some stations don’t have that many fires or rescues, so they should get less pay, right?  Okay.  So using your logic, I say the military guys should get LESS money.  Why?  Take a look around.  Only a fraction of the active military is on the ground in Afghanistan or Iraq, and only a fraction of those guys are actually exchanging gunfire with the Taliban.  Thousands of active duty military are NOT in that danger zone, but are stationed right here in the U.S., like in Florida (Spring Break), Alaska (salmon fishing and hunting) or Hawaii (surfing).  Hell, my high school buddy was stationed at Vandenberg AFB near Santa Barbara, and he crowed about getting to surf that whole coastline that was restricted to military only.  He did that for four years!!  And hey, free medical and dental for the military and the family.  Low cost housing is available, too. Cops and FFs don’t have that.  And remember, some guys start at 18 and retire after 20 years with a government pension and do another job at the old age of 38!!  And still keep the medical/dental bennies!!  So if we use your argument, only the cops in Oakland or South Central LA or Richmond should get the good pay; all others should get much less.  Likewise, only the Marines actively engaging the Taliban and Seal Team Six members should get good salaries; all other military should get much less, too. Right?

          I agree with Bob the Builder about Darwin’s theory.  I definitely have seen enough of the Alaskan fishermen TV shows to determine that this isn’t a highly technical skill trade.  Are they brave and work hard?  Yes. Risking their lives for others and society?  No. Should they be paid a lot more?  Maybe. Maybe you’d like to pay 250 bucks a pound for crab and tuna, to compensate those guys.  Not me.

          Oh, by the way, a lot of roofers, steel workers and construction crews are union also.  Not all, but a lot.

      • So at 1am if her car broke down and she had no cell phone signal would you want that same roofer and his buddies to stumble out of the bar and see your 16 year old daughter, scared and lane? Or a professional, mature, honest police officer?

    • BS Monitor:  I wonder if you have heard of “ad hominem” attacks?

      It’s a nice rhetorical trick where if you feel like you are loosing a debate because of weak arguements or unfavorable facts you switch it up and start attacking the person debating you.  “you’re too fat” or “your just greedy” or “you never worked an honest day in your life.”  It’s an old trick, but it works again and again in American politics.

      Even though Reed’s probably not on here debating you directly, your character attacks on him reflect this kind of panic response to someone really desperate to win a point in a debate when the facts and arguements on your side just aren’t good enough.

      • You might want to check your reading comprehension or brush up on your Latin; my post contained next to nothing that qualifies as ad hominem. It is instead chockfull of opinions, facts, and perspectives ripe for rebuttal, but you rebutted not a single one.

        • Okay, you got me, I just skimmed your post and got the “Reed bashing” vibe, which is common among city employees posting to this blog.

          In terms of your content, I get that the institution is in trouble, and has been for a number of years as policing this city is a tough job and everyone wants to be a critic from the sidelines.  When it comes to trouble, neither the city administration or political leadeship are known for morally and legally backing up their “troops” but rather making a big show of how they need to be “policed themselves” like with an independent police auditor or whatever.

          I get your angst.  I disagree, however, with the name calling and finger pointing.  Most politicians are inherintly populist cowards who shift allegiance with the wind (and poll numbers.)  Since moving from council to mayor, Reed has been pretty consistent about needing to treat city business like grown ups now and stopping the kindergarden money games that got us in this mess.  Feel good politicians screwed us and then got promoted for being so empathetic.

          In terms of the police department and its role in the community and being better appreciated, it can return over time.  There is a problem though with the numbers and we just can’t afford the system we have.  LA is farther along than us down this road, and had 90% of their budget tied up in public safety leaving a pittance for everything else.  Human Capital has always been the majority of public budgets, but public safety became a huge big ticket item that starts high and ends really high and goes on costing with unfunded pension liabilities.  New York and other towns accept the situation better with a lower starting wage and more years to vest and understand that many will leave for better pay and pension at suburban towns, but they will retain enough of the best to do a good job.  That’s the future for San Jose, lower pay, longer to vest, and high turnover in the 2-9 year range for young officers so it’s going to be a training ground for a lot of adjacent jurisdictions.  There’s still ways to recruit and retain good public safety workers, and we can work on that.  We don’t, however, have the dollars to compete on the salary and pension front anymore.

          So maybe we can take another look at morale, support and other incentives that make it attractive to work in this town versus someplace like Palo Alto.

  6. The City will do as it always does. Rush into the unknown blind at the expense of tax payers money. All of the this to lower the Cities liability so Reed can have a ballpark in his name!

    • When the City is taken to court, employees should file for interest and damages, especially those who lose their homes.

    • Interesting private sector class action lawsuit outcome.  The company promised that the new pension plan was an “improvement” when in fact it screwed older vested workers.  The fact that the company misrepresented the plan made the situation actionable.

      “So just to be clear, second-tier pensionswill not be an improvement for anyone in the current pension plan, however, those that volunarily elect to switch to the new retirement system with increased employee costs and reduced employer contributions/liability may or may not be able to reduce the impact of the fiscal emergency and prevent layoffs for some.”

  7. Rick Doyle’s record of correctly advising City Council and winning legal disputes ( Tropicana, County Fairgrounds, County vs RDA, North San Jose etc ) looks to be very bad

    Did Doyle give Council good legal advice and Council voted against Doyle’s advise and later courts found Council did illegal action ?

    Does anyone know if it was Doyle’s Bad Legal Advise or Council bad decisions that cost city $60-80 million in damages ?

  8. Interestng reading.. Will this affect any decisions in Mayor Reeds attempt to change pensions? One could say that a change in pension benefits especially those with five years or less to retire, could be determined detremental to that employee. Seems like lots of law suits coming our way from bargaining units and employees!

    • Long term sustainable reforms?  Ms. Yee fails to acknowledge that San Jose has been in a financial crisis for a decade. Why have no viable reforms come forward as our financial crisis worsens every year? Questions Ms. Yee failed to include: How will San Jose survive when police and fire services are being curtailed, roads are disintegrating,  libraries are closed more than they are open, and brand new buildings are being mothballed?

      If the unions do not like Mr. Reed’s plan they should hold a press conference to present their own.  San Jose residents need a solution now.

    • Ms Yee’s assessment of teh situation might be 100% correct, but the Mayor in this down does what he wants with littel or no regard for the “law” or even ethics or morals. 

      THE Mayor of this town does what he damn well pleases and doesn’t count the cost. For instance, the City which is headed by the Mayor and the RDA which is headed by the mayor just settle another lawsuit with the county. Ya the county sued teh City /RDA iver the RDA’s failure to pay the county its share of taxes collected by the RDA – YES the RDA just said, “We know we are supposed to pay yo ubut we aren’t going to.” 

      The county sued and the RDA settled for $68Million dollars!!! That is is more 59% of the current estimated budget deficit!!!

      RAtehr than pay what the city owed when they owed it, Reed and Company filched on their obligations which has now cost the taxpayers $68million Dollars!!!  Nice Going Reed!!!

  9. Brett Z
    I read the article on most dangerous jobs and I’m amazed how people don’t think through what they read. You are right, police and firemen are at the bottom in Business Insider. Police and sheriff patrol officers are 10th and firefighters are 13th and yes the most dangerous jobs are the Fishers and related fishing workers.
    However, anyone that would give their life to save someone else like police, sheriff, firefighters and the military, deserved what they have. The amount of disrespect we are showing them is not right.
    I expect them to go training from the start of their careers until the end. I want them to be the best in what they do because when the day comes that I call on them, I expect them to give their life to save my daughter or my wife.  God bless them and their families in their loss.
    They deserved their pension and pay!!
    There is one bloger that states “you fit in the above category” if you want to know what means-look it up.

    • Fungas N
      Working 20 years and then receiving nearly and in some cases more than 100% pension IS NOT SUSTAINABLE! There is no getting around it.

      Engineers and technicians designing and building stents save far more lives than cops do and they don’t get any pension. Everyone is important … shouldn’t we all get 100% pension?

      The city screwed up when they signed up to cops ridiculously high salaries and this F’d up pension system …. it needs to be corrected now.

      • Brett,

        You sound BITTER and very ANGRY. 1.) Is you’re actual name Charles Rufus Reed or, 2.) Is he your uncle, 3.) Are you a laid off “Engineers and technicians designing and building stents” who did not feel he was properly represented?

        Your BITTERNESS and IRRATIONAL HATRED begs some explanation.

        • Officer X,
          Hahahaha nope not laid off and never designed nor manufactured a stent.  I’m not bitter about the profession I’ve chosen at all.  I am very successful in it and have no problem finding work and it’s not my only source of income … that’s why bitterness has nothing to do with it.  I don’t have hatred but I am angry … I am angry about the oversized pay of officers and their unsustainable pensions.  I am angry about being over taxed and not getting my money’s worth.

          It’s basic book keeping … so if it’s more important to the union for half the force to keep their unsustainable pay and weaken the city then there will be more layoffs … very simply math.

        • Being able to live in one of the safest, cleanest cities in the nation is not getting your money’s worth. You REALLY need to move…again. Go somewhere where the city employees pay is low. Try Gary, Indiana. See how you make it in that environment.

        • OK, everyone in this blog can ignore this guy Brett. He is obviously jealous of the pensions that public safety workers have earned. My guess is that he applied for these positions but did not pass the test. He mentions above that public safety workers earn over 100% pensions in some cases. REALLY? Who? He then tries to provide figures of 2.5% for “20” years (does not add up to 90% not less 100%) then 4% a year after. He seems to be OK with his tax money going to Grand Prix races, Convention Centers. Mexican Heritage Plazas, Golf Courses, Cultural Affairs Offices….ect, as he does not mention any of these above.

      • Brett, You don’t know what you are talking about. You have been hoodwinked by the Mayor and council into believing the 20 year/100% pension MYTH. 

        I do have a bridge in SF that I would like to sell, you seem like the perfect buyer

        • -2.5% per year for the first 20 years of service
          -4% per year for every year after 20 years of service
          -max payout: 90% of final compensation for regular cops.

          What other profession has those benefits … not even the military.

        • Brett,

          While you reference teh PD retirement formula, the Fire Department gets 3% @ 20 years.  Everything turns to 3% when you hit the 20 year mark making it very lucrative to retire early.  You will find this formula no where else, it is extremely costly and was awarded by an arbitrator.  This is part of waht Measure V will fix.

        • PERS has a better retirement. It’s 3% a year starting day one. If you’re going to attempt to quote things get it correct. San Jose cops also have the record for the entire country. 21.74% of their gross income is mandatory into retirement. Brett you pay nowhere near 21% into your 401k so stop whining. The only one who never paid their obligated amount was the city during that 6 years when the pension investments ROI was so high they skated. So the employees paid for their retirement.
          Also San Jose cops only average 26 years of service. Only 1% ever see 90%.

    • The article by Councilmembers Nguyen and Herrera contain the real facts of the situation and must also be read.  Ms. Yee makes many assumptions like “this type of action can reverberate…”, not will reverberate and she asks questions like how will it do this or what does it mean for that.  I can understand her fear when she is not willing to look at or acknowledge the facts of the situation in San Jose, much like the public union leadership.  I do agree with her last paragraph, “Strucutral reform is no easy taks…sustainable reforms to manage economic risk for all require calm leadership and sound fiscal management.”  That is exactly what Mayor Reed is providing regardless of all the false attacks on him and the Unions spinning miss information with no real solutions.

  10. 44,000 signatures and the recall is on! Show me where to go i would be happy to help out! As a SJ resident I voted for Measure V,W because I was told there would be no more layoffs or reductions in Public Safety! Boy was I Misled! To maintain Fiscal Responsibility sure sounded good. I just heared 215 more cops got Pink slips! What a disgrace. Thanks Rufus Reed for the bait and switch!

    • Cops being laid off?  Mayor Reed , Pete Constant and Pierluigi said no cops would be laid off if V and W passed!!!

      Pier said that W would allow the City to pay cops more than they earn now becasue the City would have more money to spend if they didn’t have to spend so much on pensions!

      V and W passed the CIty wants to cut pay and pensions and lay off?  Did they lie to us???

  11. If the mayor is successful in this, it will not be long until social security benefits are slashed, and public and private pensions previously earned will be slashed. Be careful what you wish for.

    • Tom,
      How do you extrapolate from cutting cop pensions and pay to a sensible level to cutting social security … are you trying to create fear in the community?

      We pay ~9% into social security and it will only pay me back 25% of my highest year.  I would be extatic if that were the case for cop pensions … instead, they contribute 9% into their own pension for min 20 years and yet they get out almost 100% for 20 to 25 years of retirement … please tell me how on earth this is sustainable?  Please justify this other than the argument that “oh well that is the deal the city signed up for”.  The city official screwed us and now Chuck is gonna fix this nightmare …. go Chuck!

      • San Jose cops are currently paying 22% into their pension plan – the most in this state and probably the country. To draw a pension after 20 years requires a minimum age of 55 and results in a 50% pension. The police pension plan is 2.5% for service years 1-20 and 4% for years 20-30. To retire at age 50-54 requires a minimum of 25 years of service. And BTW, I read your earlier post – next time there’s a tweeked-out prowler in your backyard at 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning why don’t you call a roofer and see if they’ll come out?

      • Brett: Dude, where do you keep coming up with this “100% for 20-25 years retirement”?  I vote for you to be our next mayor!  Get your facts straight-there is NO 100% and even the 90% for 30 years (correct #) is not reached by the MAJORITY of us. Comparing us to military salaries is not accurate either-military get free medical/dental while in and after retirement, discounted food from the commissary,  plus they live in base housing and do not have to pay for the expensive mortgages here in California. That is just a few of the benefits they get (and deserve). The union employees understand the city’s situation and are willing to work out solutions to help BUT Gurza and C Greed (despite all the fluff you read in the Merc) are not willing to negotiate in good faith. So, get your head out of the sand, get your facts straight and then you won’t sound like such an idiot when you post here. (Dude, I’m just trying to help.)

      • Currently San Jose officers pay 21.74% into their pensions. Exept in cases where they are 55 they are not permitted to retire at 20 years and in that case it’s only a 50% pension. Last time i checked 50% is not almost 100%

        • They hear all of the info from misinformed others and they jump on the “let’s tear down the city employee” bandwagon, without researching facts. Sheeples are hilarious and so stupid sounding. In a couple months they will find somebody else to follow and some other cause they can get agitated about. Let’s see…it was the banks, Obama, CEOs…. Now it’s the public employees turn.

      • Brett,
        You are an uninformed boob. I pay about 23% of my gross salary into my own pension plan, and if I retired at age 57 with 20 years of service that would equate to 50% of my salary for a pension. Also, I would like a refund on the thousands of dollars I paid into social security in private industry but will never collect since I am covered by a police pension. I really don’t want to fund your social security.

      • You are SO off base. Almost 100% for 20-25 years???? How do you figure that? I dare you to break it down for me.

      • @Brett:  “…cop pensions … instead, they contribute 9% into their own pension for min 20 years and yet they get out almost 100% for 20 to 25 years of retirement…” 

        YOU LIE!

  12. we should start in on social security. I think that since we can’t get it, it should be slashed. I think the amount they get is too high. We should start a campaign against social security payouts. Tom, you are correct. They REALLY need to be careful what they wish for.

    • Social Security is an “earned” entitlement in that it was created to give elderly a basic allowance to live off of after it became clear during the Great Depression that the extended family and all the other stuff wouldn’t work anymore.

      While congress keeps screwing with it and pushing retirement farther out for those of us who are relatively young, its still the most basic and important of all the federal entitlement programs. 

      And seniors vote.  Mess with it, Republican or Democrat and it doesn’t matter, you are toast in the next election.  And yes, they’ve robbed the Social Security trust fund and double bankrupted the country, but they still have to send out the checks even if they do it by printing money because the world financial markets can’t handle any more US treasury notes.

      And think that’s Political Science 101 – don’t fuck with the seniors, they’ll vote you out in a heart beat.  It’s much easier to screw the young…

      • “Social Security is an “earned” entitlement”

        Ours was earned, too and also promised to us. I feel just like the seniors do; don’t “eff” with us, either. We will work hard to get you voted out. Don’t believe it????

      • All of the thousands I paid in to social security is going to line others pockets, because once you become a public employee, you forfeit just about all of it. Now they are trying to reduce our pay and pensions and we don’t even have SS to help us. We HAD to give it away. What goes around comes around.

        • Please contact your local social security office.  While the city pension plan enrollment, by default, opts you out of social security, you as an inidivual can elect to opt back in.  It will require paying a substantial annual contribution, but you can in fact have a social security retirement on top of any other pension or investments.

          What becomes interesting, however. os cruning the numbers on what a few thousand a year out of a paycheck will buy you in terms of social security versus other investment vehicles.  Sometimes it makes sense to invest in revenue generating investments like rental properties as a hedge against inflation rather than tradtional 401k or social security type of plans.  Risks and benefits vary, but you can have ownership over your own retirement if you are willing to put some of your take home pay aside towards it (even in the current pension system, nothing stops someone from starting a 401k or other retirement supplement.)

        • “…but you can have ownership over your own retirement if you are willing to put some of your take home pay aside towards it….”

          When they cut my salary, I will not be able to put aside one dime. Not one. I will be trying to keep a roof over our heads and trying to feed my family. Saving any amount is out, as of July 1, 2011.

  13. If the editor of SJI “Eric” catches wind of a political recall, he will ban your posts and report his info directly to his boss “Mayor Reed” who controls the local blogs and the Mercury News, he tells them what can be posted or written. 

    Good Luck on the Recall

  14. FYI~

    From Civil Rights to Workers’ Rights

    An Interfaith Community Celebration

    Monday, May 23, noon

    First Christian Church

    80 South 5th Street

    (Behind City Hall Rotunda)

    San Jose

    MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND TELL YOUR CONGREGATIONS!

    The Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice and AFSCME [City of San Jose workers] are hosting a Interfaith Service to renew our dreams for civil rights and workers rights.

    We will hear stories from two retired AFSCME sanitation workers from Memphis

    —with whom Martin Luther King, JR. stood just before his assassination.

    We will pray.  We will sing. We will renew this legacy for our City and our time in History.

    Please tell your congregations – most importantly your young people.

    Join us in common witness to support working people; the poor hit hardest by budget cuts.

    Join us to hope for a new day and a new hope for San Jose.

    —Pastor Rebecca

  15. To eliminate the need to pay out unused sick leave, why not let the employee take those hours and put them toward their retirement hours? For example, if I have 800 unused sick leave hours, why not let me apply those hours to my time in service, so that I can retire earlier? That way, you do not have to pay it, I can retire at a percentage of my salary and City can rehire someone under reformed structure. People are saying employees are not offering solutions, but these blogs are full of solutions. Nobody is listening, so here is yet ANOTHER solution that is win-win, instead of the City’s take-take. I would bet that many, many employees would agree to this.

  16. We should invite Michael Moore to do a short documentary on this administration such as the one he did on Bush. It was hilarious. Background music should be from the Three Stooges theme song.