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.”