Merc Gets it Right

Every now and again the Mercury News editorial board hits a home run. Shortly after the election, the Merc issued a strong and thorough editorial about the city’s problems as they relate to city employees and their unions. “It’s time for San Jose city employees and union leaders to drop the ‘scapegoat’ label. It’s wearing thin, and nobody outside of union circles is buying it.”

“Union leaders, along with many hardworking city staffers feel people blame them for the city’s fiscal crisis. They are confusing placing blame with facing facts…the bulk of city costs are for personnel, so suggesting spending cuts without looking at layoffs or salary concessions makes no sense.”

The editorial then provided the statistics, that average compensation for city employees has jumped 87 percent since 2000, while city revenues grew by only 21 percent.  “For police and firefighters, compensation doubled in the same time.” The paper explained the choice that the City of San Jose is now confronted with. “We can have more men and women working for the city at a little less pay, or we can have fewer staff members at higher pay.” And, “The overwhelming approval of measures V and W showed no disrespect for city employees, it was a recognition that we need to find ways to afford more of them.”

The City of San Jose’s workforce has been reduced by nearly 20 percent over the past decade. That translates to a huge drop in city service levels.  The truth is, that the passage of Measures V and W will do very little to help solve the problem in the short term…it only slows the bleeding a little.

At the begining, I applauded the Mercury News for hitting a “home run,” by providing a useful and instructive editorial about the state of San Jose’s budgte affairs.  It’s too bad that the paper didin’t publish their piece four or five years ago!

69 Comments

  1. It is unconscionable that people with city badges, who carry guns, and who have the authority to arrest citizens, should be allowed to belong to a closed, exclusive group that coerces the city’s politicians and city government overtly and covertly to transfer city funds to their pay and benefits.

    When police units are dispatched to the residence of a city concilmember who happens to support laws opposed by the the police officers’ closed, exclusive, coercive group, there is a question of under whose judgement and whose authority these units were dispatched.

    In an open, self-governing society operating under the rule of law, there should NEVER be any question about who the police are working for.  They should be working totally, exclusively, one hundred percent for the government by the people, for the people, and NOT for any closed, exclusiive, opaque, behind-closed-doors group.

    It is long past time to decertify the San Jose Police union, and ALL police unions.

    If the police are not going to voluntarily decertify, and the politicians can’t find the political will to challenge the closed, exclusive, opaque, behind-closed-doors groups, then we can at least get the ball rolling by passing laws that allow ALL VOTERS to participate in police union affairs and vote in police union elections.

    The police union needs an object lesson in what it means to live in and be a fully participating institution in a democracy and NOT be a self-serving special interest.

    Every citizen of San Jose is a “stakeholder” in the San Jose Police department, and every citizen (through their councilmembers) is entitled to participate in the governance of police affairs, INCLUDING the pay and benefits.

    The will of the people is not a bargaining chip for negotiation with the people’s police department.  There is no need for negotiation if the voters who elect the city council are the same as the voters who elect the union leadership.

  2. Unions are blaming city council members for free-wheeling spending the last ten years, new city hall, MHP bailout, Grand Prix, etc.

    If you look at the council members who approved all the spending, it was union-backed council members.

    Did the unions think their council members would just go hog-wild with union pay and benefits.  No, they also went hog-wild with their spending for all sorts of things.

    • Wasn’t it union darling Mayor Ron Gonzalez and Vice Mayor (and not union honcho) Cindy Chavez and Councilwoman (now state assemblywoman) Nora Campos who sank so much money into the Mexican Heritage Plaza?  Who were the union backed council stronghold when the new city hall (that the unions seem to hate now) was approved and funded?

      They got what they paid for.  They paid for those council members / mayor and now they whine and cry about the non union backed members for ‘wasteful spending’. 

      No one is buying it.  We sent that message loud and clear with the passage of Measure V & W.  Get with it or get lost union owned council members.  Your days are numbered.  Tick tock.

      • Nice thought, but no.  San Jose is just too liberal & Democratic, and not just merely liberal & Democratic, but specifically inhabited by liberal/Democrat-types with a distinctly “conservative” temperament, by which I mean San Jose voters are not known for their original, outside-the-box thinking;  recall that Santa Clara County voted for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Presidential primary – I’m a fan of neither person, but damn, Hillary over Obama?  Seriously?

        Three of the five Council candidates elected this year are pro-union.  I do give Don Rocha some credit for endorsing Measures V & W, however.  And if the Mercury hadn’t been pushing Chuck Reed for Mayor since about two days after he was first elected to the City Council in 2000, and had the Gonzales scandals not tainted Chavez, she’d be Mayor right now.  The Mercury News is presently pushing Madison Nguyen for Mayor in 2014, and don’t be surprised if she beats Liccardo (the stodgy, old-time Democratic thinking that dominates this city’s electorate* will doubtless think its neato to elect an Asian woman as Mayor**).  Things right now are probably about as good as they are likely to get, as pathetic as that may sound.

        *Sure, they passed V & W, but almost any electorate you can find will be more conservative (for lack of a better term) when it comes to initiatives & referenda, then they will be when it comes time to pick amongst various personalities trying to achieve election to public office.

        **You’d think since we’ve already has an Asian Mayor (Mineta), and two female Mayors (Hammer & Hayes), combining the two traits wouldn’t be seen as particularly noteworthy, but in the politically ossified, dinosaur electorate of San Jose, yeah, silly feel-good cliches like “our first Asian woman Mayor” will quite possibly be sufficient to put her over the top.

        • You’re probably right but I’ll live in the clouds for a minute more and try to remain optimistic about SJ’s voting brainpower actually working. 

          Nguyen for Mayor made me literally shudder.  I give Rocha some credit too, hopefully he can continue in that practical vein now that he’s on the council.

          Campos et al are a mess.  If there is any hope for District 5 it will be that he will end up in jail for the MACSA mess and then maybe (maybe) that entire camp will realize they do have a responsibility to the community that goes beyond lip service.

          We should all send Ron Gonzalez a thank you card and fruit basket.  If it was his shenanigans that kept us from “Mayor Cindy Chavez” I am eternally grateful.

        • Interesting analysis.

          I haven’t completely figured out how such world class third stringers like Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer got reelected by such large margins.  You can criticize Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, but they were definitly not chopped liver and definitely not underfunded.

          My working theory is that “people voted with their feet”.

          In the present case, the people who voted with their feed were the fuzzy thinking narcissistic odd balls from the rest of the country who migrated to California where their crackpot beliefs and wishful thinking would be “accepted”, and all the other California crackpots would agree with and validate their beliefs.

          One of the central political issues that divides people is the notion of “freedom”.

          To regular Americans, “freedom” means wide open personal opportunity conditioned by a strong sense of personal responsibility.

          To California moonbats and their cousins across the land, “freedom” means “free things from the government” and permission from the government to do self-destructive and anti-social things that tradition and common sense tells us is stupid or wrong,  i.e. NO personal responsibility.

          The long term prospects for California are pretty dismal.  The value-creating productive base of California is wasting away, and the producers are leaving.

          Left behind is an ever-increasing population of “takers” and trust-fund children living in permanent marijuana hazes off of their parents’ money.

          If the world suddenly needs a hundred million tons of half-baked sophomoric schemes to organize the perfect utopian society, California will be first in line to supply it.  But if the world needs technology, or energy, or food, it will have to get it from India or China.

        • Fiorina was OK, but to compare Meg Whitman to chopped liver is an insult to chopped liver.  She was the worst gubernatorial candidate since at least 1958 (and I only cite ‘58 because I have no idea whom the GOP ran that year).  Jerry Brown was the only Democrat I voted for this year, due in no small part to what an incompetent harpy Meg Whitman seems to have been.

          This link is freakin’ hilarious, but the fact its humorous doesn’t detract from its informative value about the overall worthlessness of Meg Whitman:

          http://exiledonline.com/meg-whitman-stingiest-billionaire-in-america-or-top-8-reasons-why-borat-would-vote-for-meg-whitman/

          The fact this state keeps re-electing Barbara Boxer is humiliating.  I suspect Tom Campbell could have beat her, I pretty much knew Fiorina had little or no chance, and never really understood why my fellow Republican primary voters showed such enthusiasm for her.

    • Gee whiz, that’s not what the unions pay for.  They just want things that contribute to their cause… no wonder they’re so ticked off!

  3. No the Merc got it all wrong.

    “…The paper explained the choice that the City of San Jose is now confronted with. “We can have more men and women working for the city at a little less pay, or we can have fewer staff members at higher pay.”…”

    Just yesterday City Manager Debra Figone told the council that her initial 2011-12 budget deficit estimate of $40million was too low – she revised it to $70mill and said it is too early to tell but it will be larger than that. With a $40mil deficiet she was asking for 65 layoffs in the Police Department and closing another Fire Station (13-15 positions).  Her cuts equaled about $17.6 mil in savings. She was asking Police and Fire to make up 44% of the shortfall.

    She has said that she may have to go upwards of 90 police jobs @ a $70mil deficit.

    MEanwhile the city council continues to annex county pockets increasing the area and population of the City (I know all about the court case the City lost mandating the annexation – that isn’t the oint, the oint is we continue to grow the city with a population that requires a higher level of service than willowglen/almaden valley at the expense of everyone)

    If annexation isn’t bad enough , Council is approving high density housing all over town (  more burden on services that are being cut) and awarding development rights to wealthy developers who have setup “non-profit” construction companies to avoid the taxes that would normally be paid on new construction projects.

    Then yoiu say: “The overwhelming approval of measures V and W showed no disrespect for city employees, it was a recognition that we need to find ways to afford more of them.”

    You forget Chuck Reed’s presser documented on this blog telling public employees how much he respects them then calling them union thugs??? Or how Reed and Constant, this blog, Herehold and the Editorial Staff at the Merc went to bat for PierLuigi after he was caught dirty stealing a campaign sign and several others in the trunk of his car? YOu don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the times police and fire were called “union thugs” by that lot. 

    Pete Campbell – who ever you are – doesn’t get it , The Merc doesn’t get it and neither does the City. Sadly, the voters don’t get it either.

    • “You forget Chuck Reed’s presser documented on this blog telling public employees how much he respects them then calling them union thugs???”

      Yeah, I’m sure the phrase “union thugs” was intended to deride all municipal employees.  That’s exactly what was meant.  Congratulations on your astute and totally sincere analysis.

  4. The members who compose our public safety employee unions are fully franchised citizens, with the right to favor, support, and vote for any candidate on the ballot. How they vote, and who they vote for, cannot be discerned from the endorsements made by their particular bargaining groups.

    Our unions cannot cast votes, but can favor, support, and endorse any candidate whose platform best serves—or least threatens—the interests of its members, limited only by the choices on the ballot. Absent evidence of local king building, there is no reason to hold the unions responsible for who gets on the ballot.

    Our public safety employees (individually or collectively) have never been responsible for the abysmal quality of our local candidate pool. Our employees did not decide to put race, gender, and fringe foolishness above all other considerations in evaluating “leadership” qualities. Public safety employees would not invest their hard earned money with firms run by scoundrels like Xavier Campos or carpetbaggers like Ron Gonzales. They wouldn’t willingly entrust their children’s education to the likes of Forest Williams or Nora Campos, their moral guidance to self-serving worms like Chuck Reed or Pete Constant, or reveal their personal habits to an intrusive nanny-stater like Ken Yeager.

    Our public employee unions learned a long time ago—schooled under the lash of city managers, that they could submit to an annual whipping or start doing business politically. The choice they made was the same one that everyone reading this would’ve made, regardless of political perspective. And doing business politically these days means dealing with people you’d otherwise avoid.

    What it doesn’t mean is controlling them.

    I do not mean to suggest that in the exercise of its political influence the unions have always made the right decisions. No one is always right. But what I do suggest, and what the record supports, is that our police and fire employees have provided top-notch service to a city that has otherwise embarrassed itself with its reckless bond investments, laughable art expenditures, frustrating infrastructure neglect, grandiose makeover schemes, and pathological and expensive obsession with race, gender, and ethnicity. Subtract public safety from the city’s record and San Jose leadership has provided the public with little other than a long-running joke. 

    And subtract public safety is exactly what they are doing and, remaining true to their track record, they know not what they do.

    • …The members who compose our public safety employee unions are fully franchised citizens, with the right to favor, support, and vote for any candidate on the ballot….

      75% of San Jose Firefighters and 66% of San Jose Police Officers don’t live in San Jose, they choose to live in the suburbs. They just use San Jose taxpayers as an ATM.

        • Black is white today

          Day is night today

          Good is bad today

          Los Altos, Palo Alto home prices today are cheaper than San Jose

          San Martin equestrian ranch today is East San Jose

          Cuckoo, Cuckoo, Cuckoo, Cuckoo,

          Is there a doctor in the house?

        • BS…. I live in San Jose and support my family of 4 with one income, and it’s less than the income “SJPD Officer” reports in the other thread.

          You are exaggerating the plight of the “poor” public servant.

        • Lee Pac,

          I didn’t mention anything about “poor” public servants in my post, and I made no attempt to excuse, explain, or justify why people choose to live where they do.

          But just a question: why do you live in San Jose? Unless you were sentenced to do so by a judge, you probably weighed a number of factors into your decision, then exercised your freedom of choice.

          I suspect that every public safety officer did the same.

        • Yes, I do. My wife and I made a conscious choice that our priority would be to raise our children ourselves and not have them at afterschool childcare. She is a stay at home wife, although she is able to do some contract work every now and then to make some extra money. We have made a LOT of sacrifices financially to make this work for us,and we are happy with our decisions. We don’t eat out, don’t buy new clothes very often, drive old cars, and don’t take fancy vacations. Our family lives a very simple life, and we have no complaints about our financial sacrifice. I know our family isn’t the only family who is in the same boat.

          We don’t live beyond our means. I wish our government did the same, and wish public safety workers and their apologists would acknowledge how GREAT their total compensation, and that keeping the status quo is unsustainable.

        • If you notice the thread above, my post was directed at Kathleen. When I wrote “BS”, I was indicating that the content of her post above mine was Bulls##t in a politically correct manner.

          I live in the Piedmont area. I choose to live here because I was raised here, my extended family is here, and I love my hometown. Yes, it was by freedom of choice.

          Kathleen above said, “They live outside SJ because they can’t afford to live here.” This indicates that SJPD officers don’t have the freedom of choice to live in San Jose. Do you agree with her?

          If so, then you can now assume my post above applies to you as well. wink

        • Lee Pac,
          Amazing. So what exactly is your take home pay and your wife’s? Given your post, I assume you do not own a home but rent so you don’t pay property taxes, home owners insurance, water, garbage, sewer, money to maintain a home, etc. Are you on affordable housind, or HUD?

          I’m also guessing you are going on the projected costs of these public severants and not their actuals. Please post exactly what you think they earn, and contribute.

        • Are you friggin’ kidding me???? Affordable Housing? HUD? You want to know how much me and my wife make?WTF? You act like you have to be a milliionaire to live in San Jose. Get out at take a look around the city. Most of the people living in this town don’t take home as much as a police officer.

          I don’t need to post what I think they earn and contribute, because if we take “SJPD Officer”‘s post from the other thread as truth, we already know what a officer earns and contribute. As I told you I earn less that what he reported, and I am making it in SAN JOSE. Enough said from me.

        • Let me guess, you either live in a house that’s already paid off (and frankly, ANYBODY could support a family of four on $3600/month under those conditions – I could easily do it for half that), or that $3600/month figure is a post-tax income.  Because otherwise, there’s no way.  I’m unemployed (with no checks from the government), and my wife makes nearly $3600/month (before taxes), and we don’t spend money on ANYTHING, and yet we’re just barely avoiding homelessness, and that’s with no kids.  My shoes have holes in them, and I have to walk around with soggy wet socks whenever it rains, so I call bullshit on being able to raise a family of four on $3600/month in San Jose.  Inherited real estate kinda changes the equation, don’t you think?

        • Lee Pac,

          Thank you for sharing the reasons behind your choice of residence. As for explaining why SJPD officers live where they do, I can’t do that without interviewing each of them as individuals, and I’m not interested in speculating about them as if they were all peas in a pod.

        • Dude, before you call me out and try to make me out to be a bulls##tter, read the entire conversation. Yes, in my dialogue with Kathleen, we were discussing after tax income. I don’t have any inherited real estate. Whether you choose to believe me is your choice, but at least understand what the hell you are talking about before you spout off.

        • Lee Pac,
          Enough said from me. Good because I don’t think you are being honest in your posts.

          BTW-The only BS floating on this thread is yours. Kevin said it better than I could. There is no way you are making a house payment, or paying the high rents required in SJ AND supporting a family of 4 on less than $3,600.00 a month, that is unless you are living in free or low cost housing/shared housing, and getting some kind of aid.

          And finally, the outrage you feel about my asking you to account for your finances is the SAME outrage City employees feel toward you for judging their situation. A situation you CLEARLY know nothing about.

        • Of COURSE we’re talking after-tax income.  All Lee Pac said was that he makes less than “Police Officer” (who gave us a rundown of his paycheck on the ‘San Jose’s Police And Fire Lost More Than An Election’ thread).
          “Police Officer” had gross income somewhere around $76,000 through the month of October. That would translate to $97,000/yr. Why are people so incredulous that a family can do OK on 97K? Even buy a house and live quite comfortably? Are we THAT spoiled?

        • The truth is simple. SJPD officers choose not to live in areas of San Jose for a reason. The reason has more to do with our intimate knowledge of the crime trends.

          The areas where crime trends are lower indeed cost more to live. Hence, the other alternative is to live farther away in a less crime ridden area and commute.

          Most of us would prefer not to commute, but hey, what is an officer to do, when you live in the area you patrol? Inevitably you will run across someone who is unhappy to see you.

          Lets face it,most cops show up on your doorstep when you are having a less than stellar day! Don’t blame us when we don’t want to be neighbors with our arrestees.

        • My parents raised me in SJ making the same kind of trade offs and sacrifices that Lee P. speaks to above and neither my brother nor myself felt deprived in any significant way.  Being there with the kids is more important than private school, new sneakers or the latest pop toy from Apple.

          You can live, and live well without having to invest in or profit from others real estate (inheritance).  The secret to growing wealth is living slightly below your means and banking the difference.  Renting could be one option, another might be sharing a property with others, or going the mobile home or condo route.  There’s always a way to make it work if your willing to make sacrifices and you have a good attitude (kids oare worth it, etc.)  Car vacations versus plane trips, etc. 

          Like salesman and marketing types, there’s a lot being said to make you believe something.  Scoring political points is more important than honesty and so people use misleading numbers and facts.  Both sides.  Let’s just accept that this is still a democracy and the common man is capable of grasping the stakes at issues and at their best will help come to a reasoned conclusion.  You don’t have to lie and mislead with cynical sound-bites and facts quoted out of context if you trust in the principles of democracy.  The collective wisdom of common people can be profound.  I’m tired of elitists messaging messages and treating me like an idiot both during election cycles and between them.  Its not about “manufacturing consent” but rather earning it.

        • “Kevin,
          Very well said. I don’t know ANYONE who can make it on that income either.”

          Earth to Kathleen. Didn’t you notice that in his postm, Kevin said that and his wife are making ends meet with $3600 BEFORE tax? You are praising his post, but you don’t know how ANYONE could make on $3600 AFTER tax. I find that hilarious. Contradict yourself much?

        • Lee Pac, I think you better re-read his post to YOU….

          “Let me guess, you either live in a house that’s already paid off (and frankly, ANYBODY could support a family of four on $3600/month under those conditions – I could easily do it for half that), or that $3600/month figure is a post-tax income.  Because otherwise, there’s no way.

          I’m unemployed (with no checks from the government), and my wife makes nearly $3600/month (before taxes), and we don’t spend money on ANYTHING, and yet we’re just barely avoiding homelessness, and that’s with no kids.  My shoes have holes in them, and I have to walk around with soggy wet socks whenever it rains, so I call bullshit on being able to raise a family of four on $3600/month in San Jose. “

          Lee Pac, It seems you have a problem with reading comprehension.

        • Kathleen,

          Did you miss the part where he writes, “I’m unemployed (with no checks from the government), and my wife makes nearly $3600/month (before taxes)”? He MISTAKENLY thought that we were talking about income before taxes, and he and his wife are living on $3600 BEFORE taxes.

          OUR conversation(between you and me) is about income AFTER taxes. What I find funny is that you don’t think ANYONE can make it one $3600 AFTER taxes, but the guy whose post you think states your case is making it on way LESS that $3600 AFTER taxes. His post actually proves the point that people can live in San Jose with $3600 AFTER tax income.

          You must have missed that subtlety while slobbing all over his post. It seems that YOU have the
          problem with the reading comprehension.

          Anyway, back to the original topic. Officer Z above explains why he thinks Police don’t live in the city, and it’s not because they can’t afford to live here. I can explain his post to you as well, if you can’t comprehend what Officer Z is talking about. wink

        • Lee Pac,
          You want to be right so badly you refuse to look at the facts before you so you twist the statements you think support your position. (Kevin is living on a very small income and is barely making it.) You are the one who refused to put your income out there and prove your statement. If your wife is making money to help make ends meet, like you said in your post, then you are lying when you say you are living on ONE income of less than $3,590.00, AFTER TAXES. You avoided the question of whether you are renting, or a homeowner, or if you are on low income housing, WHY?

          And BTW- You aren’t putting your life on the line everyday on that income either.

          Stop twisting the facts to make yourself right here and look at the facts.  The Officer who posted HIS/HER reason for living elsewhere is correct but it isn’t the ONLY reason Officers and FIRE FIGHTERS live outside of SJ.

          Start watching Council Meetings and educate yourself on the fact that MANY retired Officers and Fire Fighters are on public aid because they are too poor to make it. (That is something we should all be ashamed of.)

          Try talking to public servants before making ignorant statements like you do.

        • Blair,
          Not only did I grow up the way you did, I agree that going without luxuries is not going kill anyone. It is the love of family and friends and having basic necessities that matter in life.

          Having said that, I also agree with you that both sides of the City employee/Union issue have spent a lot of time and money trying to mislead the public. (So has big business!) I am tired of it too.

          What sickens me most about this is that I work in areas where I know the truth first hand and I know who is lying and who isn’t.  I follow Council Meetings; the City budget, I speak with politicians, and public servants on a regular basis, and have friends employed by the City, and friends who are teachers.

          I also help citizens in need of housing, food; legal advice etc. so when I see people come on this blog and make ignorant statements it makes me angry. Try working 60 hours a week trying to help families in need get food and housing only to see ignorant people say a family of 4 is living on an income of $3,590.00a month income just fine, when real life tells me differently. Rents in this area are off the charts!

          The cost of living is much higher now than when we were kids, so I just don’t believe people who claim that they are making it just fine on an income that barely supports one person living in a market rate rental, trying to pay PG&E, phone, buy food, clothes, pay car insurance, car payments, or a $70.00 a month bus pass, pay to do laundry etc. is telling the truth UNLESS they are getting help whether it be shared or affordable housing. 

          I have no problem with folks sharing housing, getting public assistance such as affordable housing etc. but to lie and say that a family of 4 is living on $3,590 a month with NO help is just BS in my book.

          It seems that people have a narrow view of things and refuse to allow a truth they don’t want to hear penetrate their brain. I guess I will just have to agree to disagree on this and other topics because I work in these areas and see how truly badly people are suffering.

          I hope you and my fellow SJI bloggers have a fantastic Thanksgiving and that none of you has to experience a hungry belly this Thanksgiving holiday.

      • If there’s a point to your comment I don’t get it. Unless you think the employees possess the voting power to change elections, where they live has nothing to do with who gets elected in San Jose (just as it didn’t before the residential requirements were relaxed).

      • Maybe some of those 75% and 66% who don’t live in San Jose are the “newly” registered voters in District 5.

        Run the voting register against the public employee list and see if the out of city workers miraculously were able to vote in the local election this go around. 

        Fraud!

        • Measure V passed by 74,000 votes, and Measure W passed by 100,000 votes, so I don’t think municipal employee fraudulent registration addresses would be the issue here.

      • ‘75% of San Jose Firefighters and 66% of San Jose Police Officers don’t live in San Jose, they choose to live in the suburbs. They just use San Jose taxpayers as an ATM.’

        I fail to see how choice of city of residence is at all relevant to this discussion. Last I heard, every one of us enjoys the freedom to choose the city in which we live. In fact, last I heard, San Jose has a transient population of 500,000, meaning a half million people come from their homes in other cities to their place of work in San Jose. So, by your clearly critical and dismissive evaluation, a half million people do basically the same thing as San Jose employees.

      • If I can earn a good wage working in san jose and live outside the city to have a better quality of life for my family, I will not live in san jose. Why do I have to live here just cause I work here!!

    • > Absent evidence of local king building, there is no reason to hold the unions responsible for who gets on the ballot.

      Come, come, Mr. Monitor.  Give is credit for SOME intelligence.

      Whether they are successful or not, unions certainly TRY to be responsible for who gets on the ballot.

      • My post referred only to the police and fire unions, neither of which has to my knowledge ever engaged in grooming or convincing anyone to run for office. The firefighters enthusiastically supported John DiQuisto’s candidacy years ago, but the decision to run was his. At the PD, a number of former members have run for office, but again, it was always the result of individual ambition (with, at best, lukewarm to modest support from the cops).

        But look for that to change. With binding arbitration gutted, public safety will have little choice but to become more political, and king-making is a much more effective method of securing power than merely playing ball with politicians indebted to others.

    • I guess it all comes down to whether or not you believe that public employees were treated and compensated unfairly in the days before they became unionized. Based on my own purely unscientific, subjective, anecdotally informed observations of today’s situation I’d have to conclude that public employees grossly exaggerate both the difficulty of their jobs and the monetary value of the work they do. Extrapolating backwards 35 years, my hunch is that, among the population of mostly hardworking, satisfied public employees, there was always a percentage of resentful, malingering malcontents who were blind to the significant advantages they enjoyed as compared to their private sector counterparts. They fixated on the perceived inequities and grumbled about them to their fellow workers loud enough and long enough that finally they were collectively convinced that overall they were getting a raw deal.

      The introduction of collective bargaining rights for public employees, and the concomitant politicization and dealmaking, has been a key component in the tremendous expansion of governments into areas that many of us believe they have no business. Perhaps if civil servants had never chosen the unionization path, today’s City government would be one that knew it’s business and stuck to it. There would be plenty of money to generously pay police and fire at the levels they believe they deserve because so much money wouldn’t be wasted propping up the general labor union infrastructure. Sadly, we’ll never know. Instead we’re stuck with this perpetual adversarial relationship in which taxpayers and our employees learn to generally distrust and resent one another.

      • San Jose, California wasn’t the safest large city in the United States of America because its police department exagerated the the difficulty of their job or how much they were paid for doing it. The police department has one of the lowest (if not the lowest)  ratio per capita of officers to population of all cities lalrge/medium or small in the nation at about 1.15 : 1000.

        That ratio will soon be at 1.1 : 1000 when the current “leadership” of City Mgr Figone/Mayor Reed and the majority of the City Council is done with (1) the cuts, (2) the court ordered annexation of county pockets and (3) the insane approval of high density housing projects like Ohlone and River Oaks already approved).

        The other city bargaining units/unions took massive cuts in recent years after being assured that that money would prevent layoffs in the police and fire departments. Librarians seem to know that it is more important to fight crime and fires than it is to stay open so the homeless and youth can surf the net for porn on the taxpayers dime. Parks workers know that the grass can be long/short/dead due to the city turning off the water or flooded due to rain and the illegals will tear it up anyway with the non-permited soccer games.

        • Dear Dear John,

          Did you hear the one about the guy whose wife left him for a tractor salesman? Yeah, she sent him a John Deere letter!… So anyway…

          There’s much about your reply with which I agree. The high density housing infuriates me too. And it bothers me that the City is so welcoming of illegal aliens. In fact, that’s one reason I’m against high salaries for cops. To me, part of the SJPD’s job ought to be to cooperate fully with the feds in enforcing our immigration laws. I know it’s not the fault of the individual officers, and it probably frustrates the hell out of some of them, but I begrudge paying top dollar for a job to be done only to see the job done deliberately half-heartedly. You can’t put the blame for the lax enforcement on higher city officials as I’ve heard the Chief himself spout off the standard PC nonsense about ‘not wanting to betray the trust of the undocumented community or make them hesitate to call the police for fear of being deported yada yada yada..’ So I figure fine. You don’t want to do the job. I won’t pay you to do the job.
          Also, I think Lee Pac (several posts above) is pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. Despite the popular myth, you really don’t have to earn a six figure salary in order to live in San Jose. Unions can quit using the “we can’t even afford to live here” argument when attempting to justify their exorbitant salary demands. Lee Pac ain’t buying it and neither is anyone else who has ever had to learn to live within their means.

        • John Galt,

          The chief of police is a city hall politician who just happens to keep his office at the police department. His statements and sentiments reflect his concern for his career and not those of the men and women working the street—most of whom have been injured or subjected to serious risk by the criminal behavior of illegal aliens. They share your deep frustration.

        • > The other city bargaining units/unions took massive cuts in recent years after being assured that that money would prevent layoffs in the police and fire departments.

          Bargaining?  What bargaining?

          Bargaining over what?

          The police department is an integral, organic element of local government.

          The one that governs by the people, for the people.

          There is NOTHING to bargain.  The will of the people is the will of the people.

          If it is the will of the people to have layoffs in the police and fire departments, so be it.

          The people will bear the consequences.  The police union needn’t worry its pretty little head.

          The people are grown-ups.

        • I can assure you,…99.0% of officers are INFURIATED that we turn a blind eye to federal law re illegal aliens. Illegal aliens are NOT the gold standard of witnesses in many, many cases. Many, often, choose not to cooperate with SJPD because that is tradition in Mexico and other Latin American countries of origin. Some do and good for them, good for us where their statements are relevant/helpful. FYI

        • Decertify:

          Have you considered a move to Cuba? You would appear to enjoy and approve of the manner in which Castro handles unions…

        • Also, keep in mind that the chief of police serves only at the behest and blessing of the City Manager. If he says/does something with which she disagrees, he can be fired. In this respect, while many people state that public safety serves the people, there is a breakdown when it comes to these two levels of public service. The chief of police is accountable to the City Manager first and foremost. The City Manager is accountable to the City Council. Neither person is accountable to San Jose’s citizens directly. Because of this, there can often be a huge cognitive and philosophical disconnect between policies enacted by these two individuals and the will of the people. And, make no mistake – the C.O.P. will never ever enact a policy which is not approved by the city manager regardless of how sensible or lawful it might be.

        • Speaking as an Hispanic Officer, I can tell you that I couldn’t agree with you more when it comes to illegal immigration. I object to our present policies both personally and professionally. I believe that our responses to illegal immigration damage our credibility as impartial enforcers of the law and that it is, in effect, a form of soft racism as it implicitly suggests that some demographics can’t handle having the law impartially applied to them.

          The thing you need to understand is that the Chief of Police serves at the whim of the City Manager who, in turn, serves at the will of City Hall. Neither the Chief nor Manager are directly accountable to the citizens of San Jose and so, there’s no direct accountability for those two if they enact policies which the citizens find objectionable. This also serves to create a degree of separation between City Hall and the office of the Chief so that the Chief can adopt policies which, if they had to withstand the full scrutiny of San Jose’s taxpayers probably would wither and die like tropical flowers under a desert sun.

          One of the most interesting ideas for reform that I’ve heard is to make the position of Chief of Police an elected position. This would create direct accountability for the police department to the taxpayers and eliminate much, if not all, of the politicking and pandering to special interests that seems to accompany the position.

      • John Galt,

        Allow me to answer your post by describing a key decade, beginning with 1970.

        The requirements to join the police department: minimum 60 units of college, strenuous physical agility test, college entry level written exam, minimum height and weight requirements, brutally subjective interview process (there was no department in the state with higher standards).

        That’s what the city required of its rookie cops, and what it in turn did with those rookies was to put them on the street immediately, having provided them no academy training, no structured field training program, and no police equipment (BYO-Gun). The city did that in contradiction to existing state standards (regarding academy training), regulations (requirement to provide equipment), and, most of all, common sense. These untrained rookies, most of whom would later attend an abbreviated academy (at the city’s convenience), represented a prime example of the city’s willingness to play fast and loose with state law and the public’s safety.

        The decade of the ‘70s, driven solely by demands made, and legal actions taken, by the SJPOA and other police bargaining units, saw the implementation of rigid police academy standards, the introduction of psych screening, the development of a responsible field training program, and the provisioning of required safety equipment.

        By the end of that same decade the city had, driven by a liberal and increasingly race-obsessed agenda, eliminated the toughest of the physical requirements, dropped the written exam a few notches, and, in service to affirmative discrimination, took to violating Civil Service rules with a vengeance. Meanwhile, in another sphere of its influence, the once vibrant downtown was slowly being euthanized by the noxious bloviations wafting south from City Hall.

        The city’s approach to bargaining had always been to provide an annual list of takeaways, scoff at the union’s package, and tell them “don’t come back until you’re ready to capitulate.” It was a ruthless expression of leverage, one that included illegally requiring officers to work without pay (to accommodate the roll call overlap at the beginning of every shift). Every single year there was talk about how to make the city negotiate in good faith; there were threats to do this or that, but nothing ever happened until the double-digit inflation in the second half of the decade made it happen. With their buying power already cut by 30% and rapidly declining heading into a third year without a contract, the cops walked. Two days, big headlines, big headache for city management, big heartache for the cops, who’d gone ahead and done something they didn’t want to do. Suddenly negotiations opened and a contract was offered, its funding and reasonableness materializing almost overnight.

        If you want to understand the motivating forces behind binding arbitration—what propelled a bunch of otherwise non-political cops to all of a sudden invest their shoe leather and precious dollars into getting political, you need only understand how much the cops never wanted to be pushed that hard again; never wanted to have a contract stalemate squeeze them so tightly between a brutally indifferent employer and wives tired of skimping on the groceries.

        That job action was the first step in turning a professional organization that also bargained into a bargaining organization that also played politics. The second half of the transition didn’t happen until the next decade, and it didn’t happen without disagreement voiced and fear expressed (about climbing into bed with professional whores). But the politicians had come courting and the POA leadership viewed it as a potential solution for its annual slugfest with city management (one pretending that its employee’s needs were immune to the rapidly increasing cost of living here). I can’t say for certain, but I think things worked out pretty well (for both sides) until Ron Gonzales came into power and turned the city treasury into his personal slush fund (though persona non grata at the POA, he boldly crashed a meeting—his way of inviting the troops to his brothel).

        John, you speculated about the bottom-feeders and their impact on the organization, and for that you will get no argument from me. But realize this: nastiness and arrogance from city hall always lands much harder on the dedicated cops out there on the street than it does on any of the slugs hiding indoors with their fake injuries and early retirements (with tax free pensions and cash settlements). It undermines the commitment and ambition of the courageous and talented, to the advantage of the wimps pouring coffee for command officers (which is why so many of today’s command officers are yesterday’s errand boys). The real cops, the ones who’ve been scarred in battle and can recite a dozen different ways that they’ve almost been killed on the job, show up every night and everywhere they’re needed—without hesitation. They’re a proud breed, and they’ve been deeply offended by the mayor’s cheap political power play.

        I may be unhappy with some of the things that politicalization has done to our public safety unions, but I am quite confident that had unionization never occurred our police and fire would be bargain basement priced and TSA quality.

        • BS Monitor:

          Thank you for providing a historical perspective. It certainly helps understand how and why we are where we are today. And thank you for giving some voice to those who go 10-8 everyday/night thanklessly.

        • BS Monitor,
          Thanks for so eloquently putting this into words. Our police department has been destroyed in so many ways. I am one of the proud grunts who still pushes a police car. I have numerous permanent injuries from this job including bad knees, a bad back, and a hip that will eventually need to be replaced. Please keep up your well written and factual responses to the hyperbole of those that don’t have a clue of what we deal with on a daily basis, both from criminals and the city.

        • BS Monitor,
          I appreciate the thoughtful consideration and response to the points being made rather than simply dismissing them as ignorance and hyperbole. It’s OK to to come down on the other side of an argument when you at least feel that your opinion is being heard. So thanks.
          On this forum I usually take a partisan, one might even say selfish, point of view. That doesn’t mean that I’m unsympathetic, unappreciative, or ungrateful for the stressful and dangerous work that our police do. And I understand the consistent point that you make regarding the importance of elevating the position of policeman from ‘job’ to ‘career professional’. But that ‘career professional’ label comes at a cost and I question whether, within the framework of a unionized environment, it can be affordable to taxpayers. It’s comparable to the argument that Joseph DiSalvo keeps putting forward about what it takes to attract, train, and retain a good teaching force. His panacea always seems to boil down to ‘more money’. Well I’m not convinced that the best way to attract qualified, dedicated professionals to any occupation is to offer more money. It seems to me that this tactic is just as likely to produce the opposite effect and simply attract people who want…more money. I’d hate to think that the hardworking, principled, dedicated old school police grunts like Steve are a dying breed, gradually being replaced by a greedy, exploitive, uncommitted group of fortune hunters.

        • John, I’m not sure about you, but I’ve looked over the city’s budget and, although I am no accountant, I am certain I can point to line after line of expenditures which are unnecessary, wasteful, superfluous. Payments to non-profits, various monies for studies, monies distributed to various developers, housing subsidies all do not fall within the core mandates of municipal government. If the city had pared its budget down to the bone, funding only core services and still came up short, then Public Safety would probably be at the front of the line to take cuts, and do their parts. We wouldn’t be happy about it, but doing our part, and then some, is what public safety is all about.

          As for the issues regarding the problems in education, I have a couple of amazing friends with some revolutionary ideas about how to improve education. Getting those ideas put into practice is another matter.

  5. So what is the point of any further debate? City Hall has successfully demonized police and fire, simultaneously avoiding accountability for their misplaced spending priorities/planning. The Merc, Metro, and SJI miss no opportunity to slam police and fire. After all, yellow journalism sells more papers. Likewise, the shrill of Debug, ACLU, and the like harmonize seamlessly. In the end those that protect this city understand how “important” they are. We have become endlessly on standby, waiting for calls, unable to stop the carload of Nortenos/Surenos for lack of cover units. As well we are equally uninspired to risk our lives for a “give a damn” populace. Staffing has been eroded such that entire units have been eliminated and proactivity is rewarded with ungratefulness and complaints to IA. Police officers and fire fighters in SJ are no more important or valuable than librarians, maintenance workers, and janitors. We get it. And just one consequence is that citizens who call 911 can sit in a queue and wait, hours if necessary, until officers are AVAILABLE to respond. It is reality. Officers can not be in multiple locations at once, and often when they arrive are looked upon with distain. The politics of SJ have produced this staffing nightmare and bred a HATRED towards SJPD and SJFD. SJPD has become a limping, reactive force that is a shell of itself, unable to respond as before, hundreds of officers short, and it’s spirit, weakened beyond the inspiration speech of any prospective Chief. As they say,..what you sow, you shall reap. Sleep well, until you require us to help YOU. Pray someone is available and nearby and hope where YOU live is not a cut/unstaffed beat.

  6. It’s not just the unions, Pete.

    I just read that in 2007 The city”invested” (does that mean gave?) $502,000.00 in a Mexican grocery store near The Taj Gonzal.  The other store location is on the East Side. The dba is Mercado Su Vianda. The stores were in bankruptcy listing liabilities of $12MILLION and assets of $630k.  The BK case was dismnised by the judge for failure of the debtor to co-operate and provide court-ordered documents.

    But the stores owner lives in El Dorado Hills—a long way from DT & The East Side, economically and geographically.

    Once again our mayor and council screwedit up, investing in the name of diversity.  But they won’t lose a dime…we taxpayers take the hit.

  7. The City’s website has a link on it’s homepage to a list of employee salaries for 2009. Pretty enlightening. There are 196 pages with 46 records per page. They are listed in descending order, from largest salary to smallest. Not until the 24th record on the 59th page do the salaries drop below 100K.
    My tally showed-
      POLICE;
            75K-80K       78 employees
            80K-90K       76 employees
            90K-100K     133 employees
          100K-125K     416 employees
          125K-150K     571 employees
          150K-200K     256 employees
          200K-300K       27 employees
          300K-400K       5 employees
          400K-500K       1 employee

      TOTAL Police personnel OVER 75K = 1,563
                  Average Salary = $130,648

      FIRE;
            75K-80K       6 employees
            80K-90K       20 employees
            90K-100K       65 employees
          100K-125K     160 employees
          125K-150K     229 employees
          150K-200K     285 employees
          200K-300K       47 employees

      TOTAL Fire Personnel over $75K = 812
                  Average Salary = $147,109

    • John,

      You are right. That is eye-openeing. By my count, 68 out of the top 100 highest paid employees in the city of San Jose are from the Police/Fire departments! The amount of money they are making is obscene.

    • As usual, John, your infomation tells half the story about the police department. These figures are not only salaries, but total compensation. These numbers were distorted by a bunch of pencil pushers who accrued sick leave and cashed it out at the end. Grunts, ie patrol officers, usually burn all their sick time over a career, after dealing with people on a daily basis who are walking petri dishes of different illnesses. Take out the few at the top who made several million between them, and your “average salary” for police officers drops way down.

      • John,
        Steve is correct. Unfortunately, that salary doesn’t reflect those Officers SHARED contributions to their benefits, or Union dues, which have sky rocketed.

        Now if you really want to vomit, go back and take the salaries and benefits of NON UNION CITY Management. That will really knock your socks off.

  8. Very interesting.

    Are these numbers really “salary”, which excludes employer paid benefits?

    The more interesting —and more outrageous— numbers would be “total compensation including employer paid benefits”.

    • This is “Total Cash Compensation”, so it doesn’t include medical or retirement benefits. If they inlcudedd all of the retirement benefits, these numbers would look even more ridiculous.

  9. No One including Council, public or labor unions knows City Employee Total Compensation numbers

    1) Base salary + overtime + any special pays + uniform allowance etc – contribution to % employee pension and % employee medical benefits = Take home pay unless sick leave cash out in last year before retirement = W-2 Salary

    Add 2) City paid medical benefits and city pension contributions – pension plan investment income on pension plan earnings = city benefits and pension contribution


    PS Merc –  ALL MOST Never gets city budget numbers right and does not know or if shown budget could not understand city budget numbers even if they were given the numbers would get it wrong as usual which is why called Murky for their consistently bad politics, opinions and facts

    1+2 = Total city employee compensation ( maybe / most likely unless Other Employee Payments we do not know about ( like city owned vehicles used for communing to work / personal use ( taxable to employee as pay but city does not report to IRS / CA as taxable income etc )

    See what we mean –  NO One except Maybe or Not in City Manager office knows real total compensation numbers

    Other cities / counties have a department and city budget show all employee compensation by department and accounts ( i.e base pay , overtime , uniform allowances, benefits, pension special pays, shift differential, employee vehicle allowance, sick leave pay out etc,  etc , etc   = Total employee compensation ( by each Department and City Total compared to prior years actuals for Departments and City costs BUT Not San Jose

    San Jose has city employee cost numbers spread out throughout budget ( Some would say HIDDEN ) so you Council and public can NOT see the total city employee compensation numbers

    • > San Jose has city employee cost numbers spread out throughout budget ( Some would say HIDDEN ) so you Council and public can NOT see the total city employee compensation numbers

      Almost certainly true of every level of government, and an OUTRAGEOUS, MADDENING scandal.

      I got a little insight in MBA school into the “trickeration” that businesses can resort to in order to hide bad news and make an awful balance sheet and income statement look like Egyptian heiroglyphics translated into Urdu.

      Bernie Madoff wasn’t the first financial manager to cook a financial statement or convey more than a prudent amount of “sunny optimism”.

      Businesses ultimately are accountable to the government and the government is extremely interested in business finances because the government wants its taxes PAID IN FULL.

      But there is really no SOPHISTICATED watchdog watching the government.  All the financial wise guys in the government ultimately work for the regime.

      In my opinion, we should have a separate branch of government at every level whose sole job is to perform audits and establish financial management and reporting standards that legislatures and executive branches MUST follow.

      It should be like a Sarbanes-Oxley for government, and legistors and executives who fail to comply would be IMMEDIATELY removed from office.

      No more late budgets.

      The accounting schemes and gimmicks used by legislators are scummy and appalling, and make Enron executives look like financial Boy Scouts.