Councilman Wants San Jose to Allocate More of Its Budget to Police

San Jose residents may get a chance to vote on allocating more of the city’s budget to public safety, which would take away from other city services unless voters pass a tax increase to make up the difference.

A motion by Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio aims to put a charter amendment on the June ballot that would guarantee that 40 percent of the general fund—$400 million—goes to the San Jose Police Department. Right now, 30 percent funds police services, down from a peak of 35 percent.

“I first floated this idea over two years ago; however until recently a ballot measure designed to raise taxes did not seem likely to pass the council,” he writes in a memo included in the agenda for Wednesday’s Rules and Open Government Committee. “This has changed. If it is the intention of the city council to push a new tax measure on the November ballot, then I feel we should first put this charter amendment on the ballot in June.”

The sequence would ensure that a specified portion of new tax revenues would get earmarked for police services, he continues. He raises the issue, he says, because apparently council members want to pursue a tax increase that, though intended for public safety, could technically be spent on any city service.

“No wishlist, statement of intent or ordinance passed by the city council is legally binding in terms of how new tax revenue dollars can be spent,” he writes. “In fact, spending priorities could be changed any given Tuesday by six votes.”

The only way to lock it in, he says, is to put it in the city charter.

“A fixed percentage of the budget would allow for police funding to be secure and not in jeopardy to the whims of elected officials when flash-in-the-pan initiatives come before the council that are purely discretionary in nature,” he writes.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for February 19, 2014:

• Councilmember Don Rocha read an article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal mentioning how a shopping center in his district is up for sale and that it’s a candidate for redevelopment. This was news to him, as the 17-acre Cambrian Plaza Shopping Center lies in unincorporated county land. Rocha submitted a list of questions on behalf of his constituents asking about the city’s role in possible redevelopment and whether the land could get annexed into San Jose and pegged as part of a future urban village.

• Police made quick work of nabbing a man who broke into a pot collective just before Christmas, says the head of a private security company in a letter thanking the San Jose Police Department for its help. Sonitrol of Silicon Valley CEO Paul Shumate says in a letter to the public record that he plans to donate $100 to the Police Officers’ Association in honor of the arresting officers.

• The father of a West Point graduate who died during officers training in January publicly thanked the San Jose Fire Department for escorting his family to his son’s casket when it arrived at the Mineta San Jose International Airport. Terence Murphy collapsed and died Jan. 14 during a 5-mile run at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

“Our family will never forget the way they honored our son,” Brian Murphy writes.

• A screening of the film When Women Come Marching Home takes place at 6pm on March 20 at the City Hall Rotunda. Councilmember Rose Herrera is asking for the city to sponsor screening, which will be followed by a panel discussion by female veterans on resources for women returning home from active duty.

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Hello,  I know PO is running for mayor but San Jose Councilman Xavier Campos, already put a proposal to the rules committee.  Is everyone running for mayor NOW jumping on the PD ban wagon when before they all hated pubic safety.

    Please every council member on the “I want to be Mayor” has voted against public safety, now they all want to look like It is on top of their wish list.  Shame on all of you, you have let this city fail.  How many murders this year…7.  Good luck with that!

    Vote Dave!  We need a change.

  2. This is purely a political stunt by Luigi. Measure B, which Luigi pushed, codified into the city charter the draconian measures causing officers to flee this department. This city council can do nothing to change this, as because of their folly, they gave up their power to change this, and instead decided to “govern by the ballot box”. It was hilarious watching yesterday’s Rules Committee meeting, in which the mayor chastised Luigi’s proposal as governing by the ballot box, when it was this mayor who crafted Measure B and made such a huge deal about giving voters this power. What a hypocrite. This mayor and city council is so dysfunctional and screwed up. It is nauseating watching the same city council members running for mayor who have done everything to dismantle public safety, now coming up with grand proposals for improving public safety. This is like a doctor who amputated a perfectly good limb, now calling press conference and making himself a hero because he has grandiose ideas on how to get the patient a prosthetic limb.