Mayor Chuck Reed Behests $300K in State Pension Reform Push

What in tarnation is Chuck Reed up to? Pension reform, of course. The mayor of San Jose got future benefits for city employees scaled back last year with Measure B, and now he’s taking aim at a state ballot measure with the help of Texas moneymen. In a Behested Payment Report filed in August, Reed informed the city that he asked a shadow organization called Action Now Initiative to give $200,000 to the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, which is helping to stage a statewide pension reform push for next year or 2016. Reed told Fly that people from the Arnold Foundation, a Houston-based philanthropic organization founded by former Enron exec John Arnold and his wife, helped put him touch with the group, but he would not say who he talked to or what was discussed. “I’m not going to reveal names, because they’ll end up in your newspaper and people might cause trouble for them,” Reed said. After some digging and a quick chat with Austin, Texas lobbyist Chuck McDonald, Fly gave a call to Action Now Initiative director Alison Ferguson. Wouldn’t you know, it went unreturned. Arnold, described by Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi as “a dickishly ubiquitous young right-wing kingmaker with clear designs on becoming the next generation’s Koch brothers,” sounds like a real gem, having made his money by cashing out an $8 million bonus just weeks before Enron went belly up. After that, he made his fortune betting on natural gas commodities as a hedge-fund manager. Reed said he doesn’t know the details of Arnold’s past but insists he’s building a bi-partisan coalition with Arnold and his wife Laura—listed in IRS filings as directors for Action Now Initiative—as they both supported President Obama. While true, the Arnolds appear to be the kind of Dems that exist only at the highest peaks of Wall Street. But Reed didn’t just dial up the Arnolds’ minions. He also behested $50K from Richard Riordan, the Republican former mayor of Los Angeles, $25K from pension-busting businessman George Hume and another $25,000 from VC billionaire Michael Moritz and his wife, Harriet Heyman. The latter two payments went to the Coalition for Fair and Sustainable Pension, courtesy of Sutton Law Firm, which Reed enlisted to handle his Measure B PAC.

(H/T The Daily Fetch)

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. I love that Reed is in bed with a “pension reformer” former executive of a company that absolutely stole millions in pensions from it’s employees. 

    This is nothing more than a rich get richer, poor get poorer persecution lead by people like John Arnold and executed by people like Chuck Reed.  Read the article (, it’s enlightening, frightening and frustrating. 

    Bankers and Wall Street have screwed our country more than once, gotten away with it, and will do it again. 

    We can only hope that this push to have a statewide ballot measure goes nowhere.  Even if you are for pension reform, don’t let these crooks, who don’t even live in California, get away with this.

  2. I’m sure it doesn’t bother Chuck Reed in the least to be in business with a guy associated with a company infamous for screwing its workers. It’s actually a perfect match.

    • Is this the same pension reform pushing Pete Constant who gets a lifetime tax free pension for supposedly getting hurt at work, but never mentions this pension he gets to the Tea Party crowd he is addressing about the evils of pensions????

  3. Mom used to say “Show me your friends , and ill tell you who you are”. Enough for me to believe that this Mayor is as Corrupt as they come. His Buddy Arnold got rich by raiding the pensions of his workers. What an absolute P.O.S. ! . the Name Reed will never be mentioned along words like Honor,Integrity,courage. absolutely the biggest coward Ive ever met. Damn weasel

  4. Regardless on how it happens, I would like to see something on the ballot.

    Specifically why do public employees get “vested rights” protection that the general public doesn’t?  This is a fundamental issue of fairness, and equal protection.  Something that the general public hasn’t been getting.

    • Yes, let’s talk about fairness. One of the best financial benefits for police officers has, for a long time, been a nice retirement package. I’m pretty sure this was also the case when you, s randall, were considering what type of career you wanted. Police officers are hired after going through a fair testing process, one which you could have attempted, provided you had enough education, a clean background, and could satisfy the physical and psychological requirements of the job. Then all you would have had to do is last 20 years in a job which might require working nights, weekends and holidays, which might place a considerable strain on your most important relationships, and which would likely take a greater physical and psychological toll on your well-being that the average office job. For all of that, you’d then be eligible to receive 50% of your pay for the rest of your life, starting at age 55. Of course, your expected life span would probably have been reduced from the rigors of the career you just finished.

      You obviously made a different choice, which was fair. I’m sure you made your choice taking into account all factors, including your abilities and qualifications. You no doubt made your choice after considering what your pay and benefits would be as well. Law enforcement probably didn’t appeal to you; it doesn’t to most people. Most wouldn’t want to do the job of a police officer. Most couldn’t do the job of a police officer. Too scary, too dangerous, too many disgusting sights and smells. I can definitely see the appeal of a career which doesn’t include any of those things.

      I chose differently from you, but I don’t begrudge you your choice. If some night you hear a noise and wake up to find that an armed parolee is trying to break into your house, my co-workers and I will be coming as quickly as we can to protect you and your family. Afterward, I won’t be expecting any special thanks or acknowledgement. It’s my job, it was my choice, and it’s fair.

      What I do expect, however, is that my employer honor the promises it made to me over 20 years ago when I made my choice, and for that I offer no apologies. I’ve held up my end. In that sense I agree with you. This is a fundamental issue of fairness.

    • Whatever does that slogan “fairness” even mean?  What would people be voting on?  Do you mean fairness in government honoring contracts it has signed?  Do you mean fairness in the general public’s Social Security and Medicare being honored?  Or do you mean fairness as in whatever low pittance that Reed says you can have?

    • “Vested rights” ?  a great place to start learning is the famous SCOTUS case Marbury v Madison. Sure everyone knows that it established “supreme jurisdiction” but the case itself was about the rights associated to employees of public entities. 

      Contrary to what many have been brainwashed into believing (and Chuck Reed Esq is one of many who are AGAIN responsible for deceiving the masses) “Vested rights” DOCTRINE is not something that Public Employees dreamed up last night but it is a very, Very, VERY OLD and sacred legal doctrine that predates the case I am referring you (any anyone else who really believes that they care) to.

      • PS Everyone has “vested rights” as long as there is a “contract” involved then there are “vested rights” unless you are a party that enters into a contract willingly and that contract specifically says there are no “vesting” of rights like all new hires at the City of San Jose who agree to work under a “Tier 2 ” contract.

        So are you happy now? Does this help explain why CSJ is having such a hard time recruiting employees and retaining recent new hires?

        There are at least 12 recent graduates of the SJ police academy who are about to be hired away from SJPD where they have no vesting rights by cities that do have contracts that “vest.”

        What would you rather have? wetSecurity or insecurity?

        • Let’s be clear, redefining “vested rights” to be whatever benefits were earned, and not to include any rate schedule that was ever in effect will only allow governments to adjust compensation to the market rate for its employees.

          It’s pretty clear to me that the market rate for police officers is pretty good now.  I agree that San Jose made and continues to make mistakes trying to ratchet down the compensation of police officers past what seems to be the going rate.  Given that the crime rates seem to be increasing in the better funded or better run municipalities in the South Bay, the demand for police officers is something that is unlikely to change for a while.

        • First (to be clear) there is no need to redefine vested rights much beyond what it is already defined as. 

          Once one has met the terms of a contract for say ones pension and they are “vested” in those things the pension contract says they have EARNED then what was EARNED is now the earners PROPERTY and cant be taken away without compensation.

          Once earned you cant go back and say – ” ya you earned those things but that was under the old contract and now there is a new contract. Sure the old contract said you had to pay $X.yz but the new contract says that if you want to keep what you earned under the old contract you must now pay $X.yz + 4%(4years).  IF you don’t want to keep what you earned that’s even better, all you have to do is sign up for this other pension plan (which DOES NOT EXIST). ” 

          THe other thing about “vested rights” is that an uninvolved third party (entity that was not part of the original contract can’t come in and change the terms of the contract – LIKE: voters changing the existing pension contract by approving Measure B.

          When you talk about “rate schedules ever in effect” and market rate that is and isn’t a separate issue.

          Pay rate contracts fluctuate as a function of factors like the economy and current market rates. SJPOA’s membership understands that and that was one of the factors considered when THEY agreed to temporarily give up 10% of their pay on a promise from the City that the reduction would only be TEMPORARY. 

          SJPOA isn’t claiming that the 10% they gave up was a “vested right” that once they were paid it they could never not be paid it or that by giving it up SJPOA members had to be compensated in some way that was the equivalent of the 10%.

          WHere the 10% salary reduction does come in to play in the “vested rights” world is that the Salary on which a pension is based on is the “Highest Year.”

          So say an officer retires today and is earning 10% less than 5 years ago – his/her pension would be calculated off the salary 5 years ago. Take issue with that if you want but understand that it used to be the normal progression that salary increased with years of service instead of decreeing.

          to sum this up, there is no need to redefine “vested Rights” since the current definition already covers your concerns.

    • S Randal,

      Maybe we ought to be fighting for vested rights for everyone so that bankers and politicians can’t continue to screw the public over in the name of higher profits.

      What’s wrong with a properly managed and fair pension for workers, public or private?  Nothing, except that bankers and corporations might have to give up so ex of their profits.

    • Because they perform jobs that most either dont want to do or Cant do. Like fight fire, perform CPR,pull bodies from MVA’s, draw your weapon in defense of Life, Fight with Meth heads, notify people of a death of their love one, These are all things that happen on the regular here in San Jose.
        Public Safety is actively seeking qualified and motivated candidates. feel free to apply or pass the info along to any interested parties. But just remember you wont be getting the same pension , you will be required ( if Measure B passes, Which it won’t) to pay 46%of their paycheck to their own pension and retirement. not to mention increased payments for Medical/dental coverage that I know the Mayor says is free , But Its not.  and that can be easily verified. Reed is a proven Liar

  5. Does this really surprise anyone? Just look at how long Reed has been in bed with local developers.

    And if you don’t think there is something waiting for Reed at the end of this current journey, just follow the money.

    Crooks.. Every last one of them. And the victims are those who are losing their pensions.

    • Not to mention KLIV, the Fox News of Silicon Valley. Its all about the Mayor, Chamber, Rotary,CEO’s and the Leadership Group. Absolutely no opposing opinions, Charlie’s personal mouthpiece to spread his propaganda.

  6. The man whose campaign platform was honesty and transparency is shady as they come and won’t disclose who he conspires with… Sounds about right.

  7. “I’m not going to reveal names, because they’ll end up in your newspaper and people might cause trouble for them”


    “Reed said he doesn’t know the details of Arnold’s past but insists he’s building a bi-partisan coalition with Arnold and his wife Laura”

    So, even though it affects the public Reed doesn’t want to talk about it in public and any way he doesn’t know the details surrounding the people he’s throwing huge amounts of money at.  Sir, you are either an idiot or a liar.

  8. $300k can’t buy you much these days, especially if you’re looking to hire ONE “fire chief” in SJ – two years ago.. and we have 10 of them (incl. batallion chiefs). Let’s see:

    Base Salary:$199,154

    Lump Sum Payouts:$19,735
    Employer Contributions to Medical/Dental:$14,313
    Employer Contributions to Pension: $111,054    

    Other non-cash costs: $4,432  


    More fun facts @;=&PageID=2&PrevPageID=2&CPIpage=113&CPIsortType=asc&CPIorderBy=Entity&cbCurrentPageSize=250&cbJumpTo=112

        • We don’t have 25 fire Chiefs in San Jose.  Get off the Chucks cool aid, following your logic we should shut down VMC because those folks are costing us millions.  As I recall police and fire save lives too, but they are under attack from Chuck and his merry clowns.

        • Typical troll bait.  TCOE is not salary but total cost of employee.  Every employer, public or private, has non-salary employee-related expenses.  But for some reason no one ever talks about those unless the employer happens to be public.

        • And we all know that if its in “The Merc” its gotta be true. Do some real research, the information is out there. we dont have to agree , but lets at least do our best to get at the truth

        • The Merc just does a data-dump to the web.  All sort of stuff get swept up.  If you have to use your own car for work travel or stayed out of town for mandatory training and got reimbursed for it *** surprise *** Merc list that as salary.

  9. Sorry, but with Willie McDonald it’s 25:

    Lee, Ivan   Fire Battalion Chief
    Diaz, Juan   Fire Battalion Chief
    Crivello, Joseph   Fire Battalion Chief
    Guerrero, Jose   Fire Battalion Chief
    Stallard, Barry   Fire Battalion Chief
    Jacobson, Curtis   Fire Battalion Chief
    Panholzer, Christoph   Fire Battalion Chief
    Sapien, Robert   Fire Battalion Chief
    Culbertson, Robert   Fire Battalion Chief
    Alvarado, Steven   Fire Battalion Chief
    Olmos, Albert   Fire Battalion Chief
    Phelan, Joel   Fire Battalion Chief
    Mulholand, Colleen   Fire Battalion Chief
    Barnett, David   Fire Battalion Chief
    Cabral, Allison   Fire Battalion Chief
    Tapia, Patricia   Fire Battalion Chief
    Kouns, Scott   Fire Battalion Chief
    Mc Carthy, Kenneth   Fire Battalion Chief
    Rangel, Charles   Fire Battalion Chief
    Dellinger, Johnny   Fire Battalion Chief
    Seal, Richard   Fire Battalion Chief
    Valle, Javier   Fire Battalion Chief
    Galasso, Gary Deputy Fire Chief U
    Torres, Ruben Deputy Fire Chief U

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