Mayor Reed Talks Pensions in … Iowa?

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed might not have any glistening towers of glass and steel to point at years from now and say, “I built that,” but he will have a legacy when he leaves office: pension reform.

As the city’s Measure B sits in legal limbo—despite voters’ overwhelmingly passage of it in June to reduce retiree benefits for public-employee unions—Reed remains active, traversing the country to spread the fiscal gospel. But even restraint has its price.

This past weekend, Reed flew to Iowa—Iowa?—to meet with the state’s conservative governor, Terry Branstad, and his staff. Reed then spoke about San Jose’s pension problems and the coming storm for other cities in front of a group called the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa, which claims to be nonpartisan but sounds uncannily similar to other Tea Party front groups.

So, why does a fiscally and socially conservative mayor in San Jose, who claims to be a Democrat despite little ideological affinity to the party’s values, suddenly feel the need to push other cities into following San Jose’s lead?

“I’m trying to develop some national support” for an opt-in pension plan, Reed said.

According to the mayor’s spokesperson, Reed took three trips this summer to national events to discuss pension reform—two conferences in Washington D.C. and one in Philadelphia is difficult to know right now. He also sent this letter to the Department of the Treasury. But Branstad is the chair of the National Governors Association, and Reed told the teabaggers—er , taxpayers group—that they should get him a meeting with the governor if Chuck’s coming out (Mid)west.

A closer look at Reed’s pit stops shows that while the mayor may own a frugal reputation, eschewing meal reimbursements and per diems, he still has an appreciation for some of the finer things. Reed’s East Coast jaunt in July included a $480 stay at the Ritz Carlton in Philly and a $388 stay at The Madison in Washington D.C.

On his most recent voyage, the mayor had San Jose taxpayers pick up the $200 one-way ticket to Iowa, while he picked up the return-home tab after visiting his mother in Kansas.

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


  1. Wow didn’t know that police and fire in Iowa are causing a $650 million pension debt…..good for you Mayor……maybe you can use, “San Jose is still safer than Iowa and Kansas combined!!!”

  2. Does anyone understand why our mayor travels like this when we have so many problems here in our own city? It worries me so when I read such things. Does anyone else think of our new airport and our new city hall when you read about our mayor staying at the Ritz Carlton or The Madison hotels? Does anyone else compare our libraries to Trump Towers when they walk in? Sure libraries are necessary but do we need to spend so much on such luxury? Does anyone else see the waste on such extravagant real estate or am I the only one? When ever I hear that 660 million dollar pension figure I think of our 660 million dollar city hall building.

  3. Did everybody think he was going to stay at a motel 6???

    He’s above all you tiny people out there!

    Hey Sam, what do you think about this? The Ritz, good bottles of wine, maybe a lap dance. Been the Mayor wants to have fun.

  4. “despite voters’ overwhelmingly passage of it in June…..”

    This statement is tiresome….. 2 points to consider .

    1. 95,716   people voted Yes for the measure or less than 10% of the population in San Jose…. Not quite the overwhelming majority of the city, that’s just the people who have drank the Reed Kool-aid and decided to vote….

    2. Widespread belief in an idea is not proof of it’s validity…. In other wards, the measure is still illegal.  Even if 95,716 people don’t think so….. 

    Time will tell about the outcome of the measure….. The only winners continue to be the lawyers.

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