San Jose Inside introduces a new feature called “Story of the Week.” Each week, we’ll pick out a news story that caught our eye, for better or worse.—Editor
Honestly, this could be the story of the year. It’s just so ridiculous on multiple levels. In case you didn’t know, Mayor Chuck Reed received a traffic ticket Tuesday morning. He was stopped for not using his right turn signal at the corner of North White and Mabury roads. Making matters worse, someone in the San Jose Police Department took a photo of the ticket and passed it to an NBC Bay Area reporter, who then tossed it up on Twitter. Police Chief Chris Moore was none too happy, and he’s apparently scouring his department to find the perpetrator(s).
Let’s break this thing down.
First things first: Did Mayor Chuck Reed get a traffic ticket for not using his turn signal or because he’s the same guy who pushed to cut police pay and pensions? Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold wrote today that, according to the “cops I trust,” the officer who pulled Reed’s Toyota Prius over didn’t know it was the mayor when he initiated the stop. It’s possible he thought it was Ash Kalra. Kidding. (On a side note, we would love to hear more about the cops Herhold doesn’t trust.)
But what kind of quota garbage is pulling someone over for not using a turn signal? Running a red light—book ‘em, Danno. Texting while driving—absolutely. A turn signal while driving in a lane designated for turning? C’mon!
A spokesman for the mayor says he hasn’t decided if he will contest the $35 citation, but if the news gods are kind, Charles Rufus Reed will fight it to the bitter end.
The reporter who posted the photo of the ticket, NBC’s Damian Trujillo, tweeted a picture of the ticket with the following note: “EXCLUSIVE!! Amidst layoffs and pension reform, SJPD gives SJ Mayor a ticket this morning.” Possibly the least surprising aspect of all of this is that NBC Bay Area had the “EXCLUSIVE.”
I’m not saying the Police Officers Association had anything to do with this, but it’s no secret that the news station has a cozy relationship with the police union, and often trots out public safety stories that might as well have come straight off a POA press release. (And in case this sounds like I have something against NBC, trust me, I don’t. The reason I got into journalism was so that one day I could walk around City Hall making serious faces.)
In the end, no one comes out looking good in this deal, except maybe Mayor Reed. His office released a statement to the Merc saying, “I am a cautious driver, and this was my first ticket in decades.” Sure sounds like a guy who just wanted to get to work.
Now, though, the chief of police is using resources, when the SJPD is already stretched thin, trying to find out who leaked the ticket to the media. There’s an interesting angle. How much time and money will be spent on this issue, over a traffic ticket that probably should have never even been handed out in the first place?
Ladies and gentlemen, your story of the week.
UPDATE: Mayor Reed’s office said the mayor plans to pay the fine, although it is expected to cost “much more” than $35.