Tax and Save Lives

More than a few eyebrows lifted last week when Councilmember Sam Liccardo proposed raising the city’s sales tax to help fund police and firefighter jobs. With 73 officers expected to lose their jobs on July 1, according to police union VP Jim Unland, Liccardo showed the kind of political savvy that was conspicuously absent this spring, when he voted against approving union concessions because he said they didn’t go far enough.

Even though sales taxes generally affect less-affluent citizens disproportionately, it will be hard for union yodelers like Yolanda Cruz to crucify Liccardo for focusing on “imaginary” issues when her union sisters and brothers are being fired—and the city’s murder rate is running more than double what it was last year. Similarly, pro-police folks and anti-tax types often attend the same tea parties, minimizing the possibility of opposition from the right.

But this last-second maneuver might be a case of too little, too late, despite having the support of Mayor Chuck Reed and others on the council. Liccardo was hoping to piggyback the vote on a statewide ballot scheduled for November, but Gov. Jerry Brown couldn’t gain enough Republican support to stage a special election. The city could call its own special election if polling suggests strong support of the taxes, but it seems more likely the soonest San Jose will have a chance to decide if SJPD Chief Chris Moore can get boots back on the ground will be March 2012.

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. Sammy.

    We have been down this road before.  Attack the unions, then put your clown face on and say now you want to save public safety jobs.  I get it, increase taxes again then use the money to fund another pet project, do I hear downtown ball park?  Chucky, of all of your clones on the council hates the police the most.  I’m sure Pete Constant and PO are laughing as well.

    Save your hot air because no one believes anything that you or your cronies say anymore.

    100 officers will turn in their equipment Friday and seek other jobs.  Even officers not on the hit list are actively seeking new jobs to get off this sinking ship.

  2. A grand standing desperate political move to win back votes for upcoming Mayor’s race after he has shown his true anti union, pro business, anti taxpayer and $1 & $6 million payoffs votes for his political mentor

    Disgusting, desperate, unethical politician who has shown he doesn’t care about San Jose and moved here as stepping stone to higher political office

  3. There is something very wrong with why Council approved City Manager’s recommendation to layoff 73 officers when it was totally predicable that crime and murders would go up just like last time Council cut police officers in city budget crime increased

    1) 73 officers X $ 180,000 = $13 million cost out of $ 3 billion city budget If the city requires both regular pension contribution AND make up contribution for pension losses contributions for 73 offices rather than postponing makeup and some or all pension contributions or $ 8-9 million for 1 year from $3 billion city budget

    2) Money could have come from 3 year federal police grant that only required 1 year salary match by city

    Council and City Manager are not being honest and fully disclosing to public what are real reasons for layoff and where tax money is going in $3 billion city budget

    Why could not money be found to retain 73 officers from $3 billion city budget ?

      • such BS! C Greed on the news gave the statement-“we had to lay off the police officers so we could keep the libraries open”. What an idiot! Deja-vu watching PD turning in their badges, reminds me of a year ago, watching my brothers and sisters turning in their badges. It’s another sad day in the dark history of San Jose.

  4. “…Councilmember Sam Liccardo proposed raising the city’s sales tax to help fund police and firefighter jobs.”  But this isn’t what he proposed in his 6/24/11 memo.  The City slips and slides around issues, facts, and proposals, but we shouldn’t.

    He proposed these steps:

    1)  Ask the City Manger to convene an informational meeting with all bargaining unit leaders & actuaries in a public setting.  Review assumptions, cost estimates, and calculations for not more than two days.  Said meeting not to be governed by the Brown Act.

    2)  City negotiators continue posting information requests from bargaining units.

    3)  Add questions in its summer polling (who knew the city spent taxpayer money every summer on polling?) to assess voter support for a revenue generating measure, whether it should be a specific or general tax, and determine whether it would be more successful if targeted on public safety or just police or just fire.

    As much as I have learned to disrespect Liccardo, his proposal was less than a specific tax proposal.  It was cowardly dancing around the possibility, however.

  5. Let me get this straight: Liccardo proposes imposing a TAX, and he gets accused of sucking up for votes and “grandstanding”?  Are you serious?  Since when do politicians who propose taxes think that it will be a good strategy to “get votes” or “grandstand”?  Come on, union folk—you have to come up with better criticisms than that to cover up your disdain for anyone who’s actually gives a crap about trying to address the financial crisis in City Hall.  We get it: every time that Liccardo’s, Oliverio’s, or Reed’s names pop up on SJI, the “cranky floodgates” open, and out pours out venom from everyone who is either on the union payroll, or who is represented by somebody on the union payroll.  The 99% of SJ residents who are neither, meanwhile, have to foot the bill for all of this. It’s one thing to criticize the proposal by saying, “we don’t need new taxes,” or “we should see real pension reform first.”  It’s another to invent laughable criticisms of politicians who have the courage to admit that there’s no more money to pay for your six-figure pensions.

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