Mayor Chuck Reed came out swinging this afternoon, calling for an end to the “lying, cheating and lawbreaking” by public employee unions who oppose Measures V and W.
At a press conference held this afternoon at the Chamber of Commerce headquarters in downtown San Jose, Reed denounced the police and firefighters unions’ controversial campaign to dissuade citizens from voting yes on the measures. Reed is an ardent proponent of the initiatives that would limit the power of outside arbitrators and create a two-tiered pension system to help control skyrocketing costs.
In a statement this afternoon, Reed accused the unions of fear-mongering and spreading disinformation, saying he is “alarmed” that people are scared the police and fire won’t respond to their calls if they support V and W. He also addressed last weekend’s shenanigans involving San Jose councilman Pierluigi Oliverio and fire-union political consultant Tom Saggau, in which Saggau tried to place Oliverio under “citizens arrest” for removing No on V campaign signs from road medians. Reed called the incident “an effort to further intimidate the public and add to the public’s fear.”
The mayor’s full press statement is below:
I stand here to denounce the lying, cheating and law breaking actions of the union bosses and political consultants for the fire and police unions that are being carried out against Measures V and W. I am here to assure the people of San Jose that these disreputable and illegal actions do not represent the values of our community or our police and fire departments.
I am alarmed that many people are afraid firefighters will not put out a fire at their house if they publicly support Measures V and W. I am appalled that the police union sent out a piece of mail to make voters think that if Measure V is approved, murderers will not be arrested.
Unfortunately, the campaign against Measures V and W consists mostly of misinformation, disinformation and lies and is making people in San Jose fearful and distrustful of police officers and firefighters. Their political consultant’s attempt to falsely arrest a Councilmember for removing illegal signs is an effort to further intimidate the public and add to the public’s fear.
Their actions against Measures V and W do not reflect the values of the men and women in our police and fire department. San Jose’s police officers and firefighters are sworn to protect and defend the people of this city and they do so, with honor. We expect the men and women of our police and fire departments to meet extraordinarily high standards of ethics and behavior.
San Jose’s police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line and keep our city safe. They deserve better from their union leaders. They deserve to be represented by people who tell the truth and follow the law.
Political consultants know that when it comes to ballot measures, the more you confuse voters, the more likely they are to vote no. It is obvious that political consultants for the police and fire unions have convinced the union bosses to run a campaign of deceit and confusion to try to fool the voters.
Unfortunately, the union bosses and political consultants working to defeat Measures V and W have tarnished the reputation of our police officers and firefighters through their lying, cheating and law breaking.
1.California law prohibits engaging in campaign activities in uniform or while on duty. Yet, union bosses have appeared at official police department briefings in uniform, on duty, and on city property to recruit police officers to work on the campaign against V and W. Using official briefings for this purpose is unethical and illegal, and I have asked for an investigation.
2.The San Jose Municipal code prohibits placing election signs on public property. Over the weekend, I counted several dozen No on V signs. 90 percent of them were obviously posted illegally on public property. That’s cheating. And the City’s sign code allows volunteers to remove them on behalf of the city.
3.On Sunday October 10, the fire union bosses held a press conference and told the media that the first-due engine company could not respond to a fire because fire engine 34 had been taken out of service due to budget cuts.
The Fire Chief reviewed the incident and concluded that “The first-due assigned company to the reported location was Engine 5, and they responded from their fire station and arrived at the scene within eight minutes of the call being received at our Communications Center.” (Memo to City Council, Oct. 14, 2010)
4.The union bosses and political consultants have sent flyers to the people of San Jose that are full of misinformation to hide the truth. They are trying to convince you that their skyrocketing salaries and benefits have no connection to reductions in force in the police department and fire department. They are blaming everyone but themselves for the fact that we have less police officers and less firefighters than we had last year.
This concerted effort to scare and mislead the people of San Jose must stop. Over the last ten years, the union bosses demanded big pay raises and big increases in benefits, and they got them from outside arbitrators or from city councils threatened with outside arbitration.
Now they should have the courage to stand up and admit that the costs for pay and benefits are out of control. They should be straight with the taxpayers and admit that skyrocketing retirement benefits forced a reduction in the numbers of police officers and firefighters, even though we are budgeting the same amount of money for public safety this year as we did last year.
The union bosses and political consultants don’t want you to know the truth. That’s why as the Mercury News said: “The police and fire campaign twist facts and uses half-truths.” (Editorial 10-22-10).
They don’t want you to know that they have benefited enormously from huge pay and benefit increases driven by awards from outside arbitrators.
They don’t want you to know that the average cost to San Jose taxpayers for police officers and firefighters is over $180,000 per year. That’s a 100% increase over what it was ten years ago, even though revenues have only gone up by 20%.
They don’t want you to know that they can retire at age 50 and draw pensions of over $100,000 and that amount will increase every year.
They don’t want you to know they receive taxpayer funded medical care for life.
They don’t want you to know that they can cash in unlimited amounts of sick leave for hundreds of thousands of dollars as a retirement bonus.
They don’t want you to know that the average cost for each firefighter and police officer went up by over $20,000 this year. Even though we budgeted the same amount of money for public safety this year as last year, we had to pay $30 million more for pay and benefit increases. That’s the reason we have fewer police officers and firefighters. That’s the reason response times have gotten longer.
Yet, the union bosses and political consultants are trying to trick the people into believing the opposite by repeating big lies over and over again. It’s time for the lies and misinformation to stop.
The people of San Jose deserve better and they deserve the truth: Measures V & W are critical to reforming pensions, controlling costs and protecting services for the people of San Jose.
The City Auditor analyzed the financial statements of the two city retirement plans and concluded that “Pension benefit payments to retirees and beneficiaries have grown seven fold over the past twenty years.”
That’s the truth the union bosses and the political consultants do not want you to know. Please vote Yes on Measures V and W.
“The police and fire campaign twist facts and uses half-truths.” (Mercury News Editorial 10-22-10).
Measue V will help control costs and protect services. “Police and fire unions argue that they will result in deeper cuts to public safety. The opposite is true.” (Mercury News Editorial September 25, 2010)
“As salaries have risen, the city has had to cut back services.” (Metro Silicon Valley October 6-12, 2010)
The 2009-2010 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury concluded that “Cities Must Rein In Unsustainable Employee Costs,” and that the arbitration process in San Jose “has resulted in wage and benefit decisions that have been greater than the growth in basic revenues sources.” http://www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/jury/GJreports/2010
The San Jose City Auditor in a report on Pension Sustainability ( Report 10-10, September 2010) observed that “Rising pension costs threaten the city’s ability to maintain service levels. Recent budget deficits required cuts to service and layoffs . . . future deficits . . . will require similar considerations.”
In that report, the City Auditor collected data from financial statements of the two city retirement plans and concluded that “Pension benefit payments to retirees and beneficiaries have grown seven fold over the past twenty years.”