Herrera Pulls Page from Wrong Playbook

Two rules in this political life: 1. Never fight a land war in Asia; and 2. Never send out an attack ad saying police aren’t doing their jobs. San Jose Councilmember Rose Herrera apparently missed the memo on the latter maxim. In a mailer her campaign sent out last week, which depicted the police union’s playbook to unseat Herrera in District 8, “Play No. 3” says police unions have encouraged officers to slowly respond to calls and not make arrests. As expected, the backlash was as soft as an anvil. The Police Officers Association disputed the claim at a Sunday press conference, with outraged San Jose councilmembers Ash Kalra and Xavier Campos, and Sandy Fontana, the mother of slain SJPD officer Jeffrey Fontana, among those in attendance. (Note: The nastiness has officially gone nuclear when a murdered cop’s mom is trotted out at a press conference.) Another speaker in attendance was Kevin Smith, a prosecutor for the county District Attorney’s Office. Smith said Herrera, who is being targeted for supporting Mayor Chuck Reed‘s pension cuts, is out of line about police work ethic and cited one of his cases. To some the statement was innocuous; to others it sounded like an official position from a member of the DA’s Office—which, of course, doesn’t want anything to do with this hot mess and declined comment. Smith later told Fly he didn’t specifically identify which office he works for and he was off the clock, so he seems to meet the county’s standards for protected free speech. His opinions aren’t surprising, though, considering he’s treasurer of the county attorneys’ Political Action Committee (PAC), which has spent more than $24,000 on Herrera slam pieces just this month. All things considered, that’s peanuts compared to the money being spent by both sides in this race—low estimates have total expenditures exceeding $600,000. But to understand why Herrera’s campaign would put out the playbook mailer, which one political consultant not involved in the race called “insane,” it’s important to remember Mayor Reed’s consigliore, Vic Ajlouny, is running Herrera’s campaign. It seems possible that the animosity between Ajlouny and police union leadership led to the ad, which fails to mention why she is a better candidate than Jimmy Nguyen, her forgotten foe in the race.

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. Sadly this is how the majority of her co workers feel about the police department…..good news is that more and more agencies/cities are coming forward to hire these “lazy” officers.  Those of you staying…please stay safe, your city leaders continue to show their true colors about your sacrafices for the citizens of San Jose

  2. The opposition to Rose Herrera is rooted in her irresponsible votes to gut public safety.  To lash out at police officers and accuse them of not responding as fast as they can to emergencies and when they get on scene to not make arrests shows Ms. Herrera is in need of an intervention of some sorts.

    In other words, she is one hop and a skip to a guest appearance in the re-boot of ‘One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest’.

    Under Herrera’s watch there are 345 fewer cops on the street, no violent crime enforcement team, no burglary investigations unit, no auto theft unit, no street crimes unit, and response times for priority 2 calls (attempted rape, suspect on scene, burglaries, assaults, etc) are at record highs…nearly 18 minutes.

    Pensions will get ironed out in the courts, we need solutions now to the ever growing violence in San Jose.  Rose should be ashamed of herself, as was reported in the other paper in San Jose, Sandy Fontana, mother of slain police officer Jeffrey Fontana said it best: “Rose Herrera telling the public that police officers are laying down on the job shows she has no grasp of reality and is ethically bankrupt…As a mother who lost a son in the line of duty, it makes me sick.”

    It makes me sick too.

  3. Her comments just show how truely out of touch she is. Her’s is cry of desperation! Cant wait till Reed,Constant,Liccardo Nguyen, Plo ,And Last but not least Doug Figone are all gone. Then and only then can this city start healing and rebuilding itself

  4. We know the problems with Rose Herrera.  What about her challenger Jimmy Nguyen?  He claimed in a recent Mercury News article he is going to solve all of San Jose’s financial problems by consolidating city departments.  How could so many overlook such a simple solution? 

    The San Jose city council demonstrates on an almost daily basis it is incapable of managing the city. Is it time for San Jose to sign a contract with the Sheriff’s Office to start providing police protection for parts of San Jose such as the southern district?

  5. Intelligent people will see through that and will see her for the true person that she is. I think she made a BIG mistake with this one. Who ever advised her to do it made a HUGE mistake. I think this will be her downfall.

  6. I’m really shocked by this. Wow. We have Police Officers being injured, and citizens being robbed, raped, and murdered. My God, I will really be glad when this election is over…

  7. This District 8 race reminds me of the Vietnam war.  The Commies have one side and the US has the other.  It doesn’t matter if the North has faults, the Commies will still support them, and it doesn’t matter if the South has faults, we will support them.

    I’m going to guess that in the end, the winning side isn’t going to be happy with their puppet, but they will have won the war.

  8. This has been a troubled district for years and I’ve seen a lot of low-ball mud-slinging, race baiting and other shenanigans over the decades.

    Apparently, feeling a little heat about having to go for a run-off as an incumbent, Herrera’s political advisers have talked her into a stupid play.  The buck stops at the top, so she’s got to accept responsibility even though it was probably some political hack talking trash that got her into this dumb move.

    While the pension debate was/is heated and there are hurt feelings all over the place, I don’t fault her for her votes on that issue and think she is still probably the better candidate.  The voters of the district will decide…but expect more political hit pieces (both sides) and nasty stuff in the last few days before the election.

  9. I wonder if Rose Herrera would like to answer the question of how on earth it’s a good idea to see about increasing the salaries of the Assistant Chiefs of the PD and FD along with the Deputy Chiefs?


    In fact, I think I would like for every member on the council to answer that question. Exactly how is this a priority when the city continues to hemorrhage public safety personnel at unprecedented levels? I don’t think the city is in any greater danger of losing various chiefs to other agencies than losing officers, sergeants and, to a somewhat lesser degree, lieutenants.

    Furthermore, Chiefs are administrators. They aren’t putting out fires, resuscitating patients, handling calls for service, investigating crimes. They. Push. Paper. Whether or not the PD or FD lose a chief or two has absolutely NO impact on the quality of life for San Jose’s citizens.

    So, what is the Council going to do to actually deal with the real issue of attrition of public safety personnel who actually DO make an impact on quality of life for San Jose’s citizens?

    • The council must have raised the compensation package for assistant and deputy chiefs, so that when they retire and cash out 6-figure vacation sellback and sick leave payouts, and obscene retirement packages, the Merc will rail about it in a front page story. 

      Then citizens will object, and council will demand additional pay and compensation cuts and increased contributions from all employees. 

      Brilliant!  Make the problem worse.

      I wonder if Reed and the City Manager can check back with citizens and employees to let us know how the three-pronged approach is going.  Cut salaries, reduce services, and increase revenues.  Tell us about the last one.

  10. Josh,
    I’m a bit confused. I just went to Rose’s website and read the entire flier she sent out. I do not see anywhere that she is saying that Police aren’t doing their job.

    She has a FULL photo of the flier, unlike the one that you have with this article, displaying a page out of the play book used by Police Unions on how to win over voters.

    What I took a way from this flier was that, in the play book, they recommend that they organize and gang up on one Council Member, who votes against them, to knock her/him off Council to weaken votes against Police Unions.

    While I don’t agree with using this as a flier to win her re-election because it can be misinterpreted, I feel you misrepresented the flier and what it was meant to convey in your above article.

      • Jeeper, you asked, “What part of “Play 3: Work Slowdown” did you have problem interpreting?”

        I have zero problem with interpreting Play #3. She didn’t say it, the play book does. See for yourself:

        I find it very disturbing that this kind of handbook/playbook and its strategies are being employed by Unions to mislead ignorant, trusting citizens.

        Citizens don’t hate the Police right now, they hate the Unions, and this “Play Book” exemplifies why….

        • If you believe the there is a “play book”, established by “Union Bosses and Thugs”, you are more gullible than
          predicted.  Who in their right mind thinks that the Police and Fire unions are represented by anyone but their own employees?  The Union President for the Fire Department is a Battalion Chief.  NOT some random Lawyer (like City Hall), or some maverick, mouth foaming activist.  Rose Herrera has carefully crafted a deflection, and “leaked” a “play book” that she, or someone she holds on a leash, has written. 

          “I find it very disturbing that this kind of handbook/playbook and its strategies are being employed by Unions to mislead ignorant, trusting citizens”.
            And I find it disturbing that you would believe your Fire or Police Department would jeopardize their jobs, their integrity or the safety of the citizens they are sworn to protect and serve.  Instead you would believe a lying, manipulative shrew.

        • BOHICA,

          Being raised in a Union family, in a Union town, I know perfectly well that BOTH sides have a “Play Book,” or strategy that they use to win with.

          The bottom line for me is that I support public safety 100%, and I believe you men/women, deserve a decent wage, and benefits. Many times you die young, commit suicide, or become so badly injured that you don’t even collect your full benefits. You put your lives on the line for me everyday, so whatever you need, I’ll vote in favor of.

          I do my research carefully, so I don’t need a flier or TV commercial full of BS to get me to vote “their” way. I strongly feel that any one who does public safety service deserves my support, gratitude, and respect, despite the stupid things your Unions do on your behalf.

          Please stay safe out there, and thank you very much for your service to me, and our community.

        • I resent your calling the men and women who direct the negotiations for our Fire Department “stupid”.  These are people I work with, have fun with, and consider my family.  I trust them all with my future.  This City council and its minions are on a path to destroy that future.  If you really were careful about your “research”, you would know that there is no such thing as a “Playbook” for public safety, and that work slowdowns are prohibited by law, prohibited by sworn duty, and prohibited by common sense.

        • BOHICA,
          Wow! I’d hate to see how you treat people who are against you, if this how you treat people who do support you! You might want to re-read my comment. I never called anyone stupid. Both sides have behaved badly, and this is the result.

          Everyone on BOTH sides who are pointing fingers and playing the blame game are the ones who are destroying the future. Remember, voters, members of the public, passed Measure B because the Unions didn’t better educate them on the facts.

          Those of us who did the research voted No on Measure B. You can call it a “Play Book,” or whatever you want to but, ALL sides have strategies that they use to win.

  11. “I strongly feel that any one who does public safety service deserves my support, gratitude, and respect, despite the stupid things your Unions do on your behalf”.

      I did read it.  Did you read mine?  WE ARE THE UNION.

  12. BOHICA, you said, “WE ARE THE UNION.” Then you should probably talk to the many Officers and Fire Fighters who disagree with your strategy on how to handle this issue.

  13. Because the San Jose Mercury news is ALWAYS accurate. And it really boggles the mind how there are only 700+ line firefighters, and you know more about their own union than they do.  Amazing.

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