Oakland’s New Fire Chief Not Retired Long

The city of Oakland hired Teresa Reed to be its new fire chief Wednesday, continuing a trend of former San Jose public employees finding work with nearby municipalities. Deanna Santana left San Jose to become Oakland’s city administrator last summer.

But Reed’s change in employment, after retiring from the San Jose Fire Department less than two weeks ago, appears to be just one example of why Mayor Chuck Reed (no relation) and other city officials in San Jose are clamoring for pension reform.

Reed worked for the SJFD for 25 years. She will now receive 75 percent of her highest base salary with San Jose for the rest of her life, in addition to earning a paycheck as the top firefighter in Oakland. According to the city of San Jose’s website, Reed’s base pay in 2010 was $169,012. (That number might include other adjustments to her base pay.)

Several officials at San Jose’s City Hall were surprised to learn of Reed’s new job with Oakland, but all were supportive of the move.

“I can understand how some people might say that’s somehow a flaw in the system,” said David Vossbrink, the city’s director of communications, “but the fact that she goes to another agency does not change the fact that we have a pension system and she’s earned it.

“That would be true if she retired and spent the rest of her life on the beach.”

According to a weekly report sent out by City Manager Debra Figone on Jan. 20, Reed was the first black woman to join the city’s fire department. Figone’s report adds that a successor to Reed will be selected through an open recruitment process.

2010 Salary Report for Teresa Reed
Total Cash Compensation — $193,419
Base Pay ** — $169,012
Overtime — $0
Sick and Vacation Payouts *** — $10,272
Other Cash Compensation — $14,135
Deferred Compensation City Paid — $0
City Paid Medical / Dental City Paid — $13,650
Retirement Contributions — $63,210

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


    • She earned her pension and has the legal right to collect it now.  And by the way, the term “double dipping” refers to being employed and collecting retirement from the same public employer at the same time.  Also, did you know San Jose’s pension systems have had safeguards against pension-spiking, true “double-dipping” and significant penalties for early retirement for around 70 years. The Mayor counts on you assuming that all public pension plans are the same – they’re not.

    • The city Mgr. would be on the list.  I don’t think that is going to happen.  Maybe cities should no longer higher people of experience.  You leave your out!  Let’s see Wait! Pete C. has a Ret. from SJPD.  He should not have been allowed to be a council person according to your thought process.

    • If someone earns a benefit, then they earned it. Period. What they do next is irrelevant to that. If she just sat on her but at home to you she would then be ok to take her earned pension but if she is productive then you complain.

    • As long as every single private sector person who leaves one company and goes to another cannot cash in any stock, receive any severance pay, leverage their career path with the previous company, nor benefit in any way from their former employer.

  1. This is EXACTLY why people are leaving SJ.  This is not double dipping, these is why good people are leaving SJ because they don’t want to take a hit from Chuck. 

    Josh, why don’t you post all the compensation numbers for Chuck and the other other council members.  How about posting Constants disability retirement pay along with his city council pay?

    Why should anyone walk away from Sick, vacation and comp time buyout that Chuck wants to take away? 

    What rank did she retired at because the base pay seems high?  You also throw in medical and dental.  She was not paid this in cash.  And retirement contributions
    is this what she paid in over her career?  How long was she with SJFD? Again, this is not just a cash grab.

    The why you post this looks like she got all this is cash which is not true,  poor reporting here!

  2. Josh,

    as you say “But Reed’s change in employment, after retiring from the San Jose Fire Department less than two weeks ago, appears to be just one example of why Mayor Chuck Reed (no relation) and other city officials in San Jose are clamoring for pension reform.”

    Chuck is forcing people to leave, just because they resign from San Jose and move on does not make it double dipping.

  3. There is absolutely nothing wrong with retiring and taking a job somewhere else. She did her time and put 25 years in with the city. She earned her retirement. Why do you have to be so jealous that you can’t stand the fact that she has moved on to take another position, elsewhere? Maybe if you had the skills, you could get a decent job, paying a decent pension and can earn a decent retirement. Then YOU can go do something else. Just maybe if you went to college and earned a Master’s degree, like she did, you could even earn a comparable salary. The reason I know that you do not is because educated people do not whine about petty things such as this.

    • …because Mayor Reed and a majority of the City Council in concert with the MercuryNews have used misinformation to mislead the public into believing that retiring and collecting a pension then taking a job or earning any income in addition to your pension is somehow corrupt.

  4. Saying city employees ” earned ” their pensions is part BS.

    Tell the whole truth, government employees did not earn or pay for reto pensions which were political paybacks

    Grey Davis and Demo Labor controlled Legislature gave prison guards huge increases in pay and pensions in 2000 campaign paybacks and then all other California government employees got same increases with higher retroactive pension benefits

    Pension Political Paybacks Were Not Earned

    • Actually that is an ignorant statement. CSJ employees are not at all connected to state pension benefits. That’s CalPERS. City employees are under the city’s own retirement systems. Only the Mayor and Council are under PERS. so actually, Gov Davis and the prison guards have nothing to do with city retirement benefits. They Do however impact the Mayor and Councilmembers. Do your homework. You are upside down.

        • The CALPERS Grey Davis 90% pension benefits set in motion the comparables for all public safety to go to 90%, including San Jose. While it is a seperate plan, there is a connection to CALPERS, however each time there is a comaparable and increase it gets worse, like the 3% at 20 years the San Jose Firefighters were awarded in arbitarion, costing the City millions in unfunded liability.  It is not BS from the mayor, just facing the facts of an unsustainable system.

  5. please explain medical and dental payout, there is no such thing that I am aware of.  Then explain retirement contributions.  Is this what she paid into her own 401K? Finally what was the other cash compensation?

  6. About the retired SJ fire official taking the Oakland job, Josh Koehn opines that it “appears to be just one example of why Mayor Chuck Reed (no relation) and other city officials in San Jose are clamoring for pension reform.”

    The notion that Mayor Reed objects to government employees double-dipping is contradicted by his own actions: it was he who created the six-figure per year position on his staff and filled it with Jose Salcido, a retired Sheriff’s commander already collecting a six-figure pension from PERS. Also, it’s laughable to even consider that our mayor—or any public official in the Bay Area, would dare exhibit a reaction other than exhilaration over the appointment to high office of any African American.

  7. So, if a CEO from a major company gets stock options and then leave that company, cashing in for millions, gets a severance payout and then gets a new CEO job down the street for more money, do you think that is double dipping. She earned her pension. What she does during her retirement is her choice.

  8. It should be noted, Teresa Reed loved in Oakland for the past 22 years, and commuted to San Jose for her job with the Fire Department.

    Is this common?

  9. Yes, it is very common. 

    Many firefighters live outside the city or jurisdiction they work in. Before the housing dump, prices in metro areas were through the roof, no pun intended, and many firefighters could not afford to live near where they worked.  Firefighers want the best for their families like everyone else so they live where they can afford, where schools meet their standards, and where their families can enjoy their lives.

    • That’s a croc that they cold not afford to live in the community they work.  They just couldn’t buy a five bedroom house with room for their boat and toys, but they could buy a home.  It is more a choice to live outside the area for firefighters.  Because of their schedule, they only work 10 days a month, so a commute of 1 to 2 hours is acceptable for them.  It is a choice, not that they could not afford to live in the area.  The lower paid City jobs such as janitor, park worker etc. all live in the area.  Even teachers who are paid far less than firefighters live in theri community.  The ratio is probably about 70% of City employees live in the area, and 70% of the firefighters live outsie the area by choice because of their work schedule.

      • You sound like someone who couldnt pass the entrance exam for P.D. or F.D. . how do you know what their situations are? Do their wives work? special needs kids?taking care of parents? family located else where?Divorced and sharing custody?  no ones situation is the same.But you are right , alot of them refuse to spend one red cent in the city that doesnt appreciate them . they are free to live where they like…….and they do! the ones that do live here are struggeling just like everyone else , and yes alot of them are looking to move out of San Jose. Can you blame them?? people have to do what they have to do to live and survive , whether you like it or not

      • The decision to live outside an area is also a reflection of the competitiveness in Public Safety Hiring.  Prospective Firefighters and Police Officers routinely test throughout the State and sometimes nationwide to become a members of these proud professions. That’s how these careers have maintained the highest level of professionalism and integrity. Their shifts then tend to be 24 (56 hours a week for Firefighters), 12 or 10 hours in length, meaning they don’t always commute regular 9-5, M-F shifts.  Making it much easier to not uproot your family when you do get hired if your working odd hours with shorter weeks.  If your skill set is janitorial, secretarial or even administrative work you tend to have plenty of opportunity much closer to where you and your family are currently living.  Thus they tend to work where they live.  There aren’t any Ebay Fire Departments or FaceBook Police Homicide Detective Postion either.  So the employer (and stock options) opportunities are quite limited for Safety professionals.  Being a Public Safety member in San Jose is something to be proud of, the 10th largest and one time safest big city in America. You can understand why people once sought out this city for employment from across the West.  ……….One last thing to think about… Imagine your a cop or firefighter with your family, shopping at Wal-Mart or going to the movies in the city you work for.  Where quite often you will come across people you have arrested or interacted with in your days who may not be so friendly towards you and your family.  Maybe you just driving your kids through an intersection where you have memories of that rainy 2am when you cut bodies out of a fatal vehicle accident.  Sometimes is nice to not be ‘On Duty” for just 5 minutes.  To let your guard down and be with your family, and get recharged and ready for the next day.  Many SJ public safety members still live in this city along with public safety from around the bay. The decision of members to live outside the city is a personal one and isn’t reflective of any lack of love for San Jose.  Don’t forget these are also the 2 groups who continually support the community “off duty” though PAL events, Toy Drives, and many other support programs.

    • This has never been more true , as even more Public Safety is moving out of San Jose , and it will continue. Nobody wants to live where there is not enough Public Safety , not even first responders.

  10. It looks like to me another sign of the mass exodus due to SJ not being the Employer of choice! Who wants to be here when you can go anywhere in the Bay Area and make more $$ and better benefits! So lets look at the real problem and that is Mayor Burns and Doug Figone destroyed City Services!

  11. I am not off base at all.

    Firefighters, like anyone else, have the right to live where we choose. If San Jose had neighborhoods where I felt safe and where I could afford a 3 bedroom home like I own then I would have bought there.  I wanted to live in a very modest home , with a nice neighborhood and good schools and San Jose did not have that for me at the time in my price range.  Willow Glen is a great example but I could not afford the $700,000 for a starter. 

    Dont go citing percentages of where people live without something to back it up. Just know that when the city needs me, I will be there. That is the oath I took and one I will live up to.

  12. Add me to the list of Residents leaving. I could care less where Public Safety choose to live .  I do care that Public Safety has been decimated in this City , And now they want to reduce P.D. and F.D. again! it is pure insanity !! Ibm came out with their study showing S.J. coud stand to lose 450 officers and another 150 firefighters , since when has IBM been in the Public safety arena?? No other city even close to the size of San Jose has the staffing levels that we have (they all have considerately more. I guess when a real big emergency comes we can all call IBM instead of 911 since they seem to have all the answers.By the way this study was done at Mayor Greeds Request , so to be fair i asked quite a few of the villainized and discredited City employees what they thought. well that language cant be used here but lets just say NO ONE BELIEVES OR TRUSTS THIS MAYOR, CITY MANGER OR MOST OF COUNCIL! so why dont we ask IBM to try to fix that problem

  13. Thanks for the percentages.  So by your source, approx. 60% of San Jose firefighters live within the county leaving 40% outside the county.  I still stand by my choice to live outside the area because I can not afford to live as I choose in San Jose. When I say I can not afford it I mean I can not afford to live in San Jose like I can live in a neighboring county or city.  Let’s face it,  anyone could live in the most undesirable areas for the least amount of money but most people choose to go where they can get the most for their dollar.  Some people’s dollars are bigger than others. 

    After the 10% pay cut we took and increase in benefit packages I may end up living further away.  LA is not for me but for some it works and I do not blame them one bit. A two hour commute just may be in my very near future.  Sorry you think it “ain’t right.”

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