Harris OKs Judicial Review of Measure B

The office of Attorney General Kamala Harris granted the San Jose police union’s request for a judicial review of Measure B, the controversial pension reform ballot measure voters passed last year. In an opinion published Monday, Harris and her deputy attorney general, Marc Nolan, wrote that a review is needed to determine if the city of San Jose “fulfilled its statutory collective bargaining obligations before placing an initiative measure on the June 2012 ballot.”

Gregg Adam, a lead counsel for the Police Officers Association (POA) and attorney with Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP, said the AG’s decision is an important step in the process of overturning Measure B.

“The opinion of Attorney General Harris will allow the SJPOA to petition a court on behalf of the People of California to demonstrate that the City did not meet its obligations to bargain in good faith and that Measure B was prematurely placed on the ballot,” Adam said.

It’s important to note, however, that the AG’s opinion is not an endorsement of either side’s position.

“Where, as here, a private party seeks to file an action in quo warranto, that party must obtain the Attorney General’s consent to do so,” the opinion notes. “In determining whether to grant an application to file a quo warranto action in superior court, we do not attempt to resolve the merits of the controversy.”

POA President Jim Unland cited four complaints recently issued by the California Public Employment Relations Board in comments he made challenging Mayor Chuck Reed on Measure B’s validity.

“I wonder if Mayor Reed will have the same reaction to California’s top law enforcement official as he had with the Public Employment Relations Board when he said; ‘What PERB thinks about what happened is irrelevant,’” Unland said.

“Reed ought to reform his position and seek a lawful compromise on pension reform that can actually save money instead of wasting millions of dollars in legal fees.”

In a statement Friday morning, Reed countered the union’s argument that the meet-and-confer process was incomplete.

“The city of San Jose spent hundreds of hours negotiating with its employee unions over the Measure B pension reforms, including more than 20 sessions with a state mediator,” Reed said. “While we were unable to reach an agreement, we made a number of changes to our original pension reform proposal during the course of these negotiations. I am confident that the courts will agree that the City bargained in good faith and fulfilled all of its meet-and-confer obligations.”

Click to see the published opinion of Attorney General Kamala Harris on a judicial review of Measure B.

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


  1. reed’s comment is an effin’ joke. They came into the negotiations with their arms folded and a bullying take it or leave it attitude. When unions did not bow to them, the City imposed on them. There is a law that says something to the effect of when there is a taking away of benefits from the government employees, there must be something given to them that is of equal value, in return. Ask the City what they gave in return to the employees when they went on their “take, take, take” rampages. Zilch. They are in violation of that law.

  2. While it may be technically correct that the City changed the proposal, it’s also true that he started from an immovable position of 10% pay cut and the original proposal was drastic.

    Engaging in negotiation from an outlandish point and moving toward reasonable is not “bargaining in good faith.”  Haggling over a $5.00 widget, you wouldn’t start at $1 and expect the seller to start at $10.  Likewise, saying that a 10% pay cut is not negotiable is like trying to buying a car when the dealer won’t budge from the sticker price.

    The public would be outraged if any Union used the same tactics.  As an aside, it turns out San Jose has plenty of money for Wolff and pay raises for elected officials- despite stating publicly for years that employee costs were the problem.  “Sunshine” has now shown that lying about the pension numbers and unnecessary spending on pet projects were the issue.

  3. Even at this 11th hour, the POA is offering to negotiate a legal pension reform with the city, and true to form, Rufus is rigid and refuses to see the financial damage he is doing by costing the city millions in legal fees, and millions more from no pension reform, because of how rigid he is. Thought obviously very smart, this guy has some serious character flaws and a real problem with negotiating skills. His letter to MLB threatening a lawsuit is the most recent example. Hopefully, those closest to Reed will have the guts to tell him what a fool he is being by not trying to negotiate an agreement in good faith.

  4. The city is losing every Measure B related legal battle, and will continue to do so.  The dubious legal footing of Reed’s arrogant approach has been obvious from the beginning.  Once Measure B is finally invalidated, it will become apparent the the result was never really in doubt and that Reed’s “my way or the highway” effort cost the City millions in legal fees and lost savings which could have been achieved through negotiation, as well as the unmeasurable costs of a marked decrease in public safety.

    Most of the mayoral candidates have been in lockstep with Reed in all of this and will share the blame as well. As the writing on the wall about Measure B becomes clearer and clearer, it will be interesting to see if any of them start to try to distance themselves from Reed and his zealotry, or whether they all decide to go down with the ship.

  5. Just because two sides are in a room together , Does NOT mean you can call that a Negotiation . Going into Negotiation usually means that both sides have to give a little to get a little . NOT ,  this is our offer and then continue to reword it to YOUR benefit and Then REFUSE to even Look at proposals from the other side . That is not a negotiation , that is an attempt at a Bully session . The truth is slowly coming out and once again , The Mayor will be proven to be Less than forthcoming with the truth . NOT , that he would ever concede , he will continue to waste Taxpayer Monies(already into the millions and quickly growing) defending an illegal Ballot Measure.  looks like the gloves are coming off

  6. Reed the Absolutist’s goal has always been to generate income for his future employers at Meyers Nave law firm. Even with this latest ruling, they will continue to earn millions in billable hours related to the defense of this self constructed measure. It’s a novel concept. Propose to construct an illegal measure, and also propose to defend the challenges to the illegal measure. Create your own job security while Reed assures himself a future large firm partnership for shepherding this scheme.So unbelievable,yet so obvious
    The Billion dollar boondoggle.

  7. “…hundreds of hours….”

    Now, let’s see…there are only 40 hours in the work week and during union negotiations, they generally only meet about once or twice per month for a few hours each time. Let’s just say twice per month at three hours each meeting. That is 6 hours per month, which would be 72 hours, per year. reed’s “hundreds of hours” would equate to years in union negotiations for one simple fiscal year. Doesn’t happen. Heck, let’s just say they meet once per week for three hours each (which they don’t do). For the 52 weeks in a year, that comes to 156 hours. Where did the “hundreds of hours” come from? Was that another stretch off the top of his head, like the $650 million? When are taxpayers going to realize that this man simply does not tell the truth? He just seems to keep putting his foot in his mouth. He is so arrogant, that he just doesn’t have enough sense to stop.

  8. “The city of San Jose spent hundreds of hours negotiating with its employee unions over the Measure B pension reforms, including more than 20 sessions with a state mediator,” Reed said. “While we were unable to reach an agreement, we made a number of changes to our original pension reform proposal during the course of these negotiations…”

    This is another deliberately misleading statement made by the “Honorable” Mayor Reed.

    Negotiations between the City and Employee Unions regarding a ballot measure’s language is something totally different from City negotiations with Employee Union pay/benefit/pension contracts. The two things are nowhere near the same and not at all what Reed is trying to represent that they are.

    When will SJI challenge the Mayor, his Council allies and other City officials when they make statements like this that pretend to exhibit diligence but are factually empty? Why does SJI continue to accept Reed at face value and allow an elected official to deliberately mislead the public?

  9. Not only the best looking AG as Obama accurately observed, but also smart. Chuck save the City the pain and cost of a trial and negotiate. You can get 90%.

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