firefighters

Wasserman’s State of the County Speech Highlights Social Services, Healthcare

The stink of ex-Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. has dissipated, and Santa Clara County is focused on a fresh start for 2014. “Scandal is no longer in the air,” Supervisor Ken Yeager said after Tuesday’s State of the County speech, delivered by recently sworn-in Board President Mike Wasserman. “We certainly spent most of last year changing and improving public outreach and creating much more transparency than there was before.” Wasserman’s address focused on the county’s role as a safety net for the most vulnerable, while also highlighting the little-known services it provides for residents.

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Millions at Stake in Fight over Fire Safety Requirements for High Rise Buildings

For the last several months, a fight with multi-million dollar implications has quietly been waged over fire safety requirements in San Jose’s tallest buildings. The clash—featuring a tangled array of alliances between elected officials, developers, lobbyists, a monopolistic breathing device manufacturer, a union spurned and an ambivalent fire department—will come to a head Thursday afternoon, when the Public Safety, Finance & Strategic Support Committee meets to discuss the city’s tri-annual review of its fire and building codes.

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Mayor, Councilman Liccardo’s Police Department Plan Flawed from the Start

Last week, Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilmember Sam Liccardo submitted a proposal to bolster our public safety capacity by focusing on San Jose’s inability to retain police officers. The gist of the Reed-Liccardo proposal was to hire 200 police officers by restoring wages by 10 percent within the next four years. On the surface, this sounds like a reasonable idea. However, because this proposal was more about timely politics than about meaningful policy, I could not support the plan.

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San Jose Fire Chief Leaves for Las Vegas Amid Unanswered Questions

A funny thing happened after Willie McDonald announced in a June 10 email to San Jose Fire Department staff that he was staying on as fire chief. He decided to send another email, only in this message, dated June 13, McDonald thanked everyone for their hard work and abruptly informed them he was leaving for Las Vegas, where he would oversee Clark County’s fire and ambulance services. So, why would a fire chief leave for a job expected to pay him less and demand more? And what would make him change his mind?

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Historic Faber’s Cyclery Building Burns as Writer Predicted

Once known as the “mecca for vintage bike enthusiasts,” the historic Faber’s Cyclery building is no more. The 129-year-old building on South First Street was the site of a three-alarm fire Thursday night, leaving the structure with heavy damage and a slight lean to one side. One writer predicted this would happen almost five years ago to the day.

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San Jose’s 5-Year Sexual Harassment Anniversary

Today represents the unfortunate five-year anniversary of a very painful situation for the city of San Jose. As reported previously in the San Jose Mercury News, 2008 was the year city officials terminated, or at least tried to terminate, a firefighter on charges of sexual harassment against female co-workers.

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In Case of Emergency, Law Enforcement Communications Options Limited

The day begins like any other in beautiful Silicon Valley: children are on their way to school, commuters are stuck in traffic, etc. Our carefree existence then suddenly gives way to a terrorist attack at a high-profile technology company. People are killed, injured, power is out, phone service is down, and a pursuit is underway for those who have set out to harm us. Police and fire departments across the region and in neighboring counties attempt to communicate and provide mutual aid, as an “all hands on deck” approach is required to tackle the catastrophic situation as it unfolds. But in this scenario, one of the main issues is that there is no way to for all personnel to effectively communicate with other agencies in real time.

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Firefighters Union President: City Plays Politics with Department Response Times

The city recently acknowledged that it was missing thousands of emergency response times when calculating how long it takes first responders from the San Jose Fire Department to arrive on scene. Robert Sapien, president of San Jose’s firefighters union, explains in an op-ed why emergency response times matter not only in life and death situations, but also when calculating the city’s budget.—Editor

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Prioritizing Future City Spending

At the upcoming Aug. 7 City Council meeting, the discussion will focus on how to prioritize city spending IF revenues increase. So, in the example below, if revenues increase by $10 million—either by revenue growth or tax increase—this is how I think it should be spent by percentage.

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Measure B Goes to Court Again

The legal battle everyone expected over Measure B’s passage began Wednesday, as the city filed for a federal judicial review (a.k.a. “declatory relief”) and attorneys representing police and firefighters unions filed two lawsuits in state court. All of this will take months, if not years, to resolve, so we’ll focus on some of the more interesting commentary surrounding the legal battle.

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Negotiations Delay Emergency Declaration

Tuesday’s City Council meeting will feature a status report on the city’s general fund, but no action will be taken in regards to declaring a “fiscal and service level emergency.” Consideration of that item has been deferred until after Oct. 31.

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San Jose Firefighters Make Concessions

UPDATED WITH CORRECTION: Firefighters Union Local 230 and the city are on the verge of reaching an agreement that would reduce the deficit and possibly even get back some jobs. The most radical concession involves the introduction of a two-tiered retirement plan, and distinguishes between employees hired before and after the agreement is signed. It will be the first such plan for public employees in the entire country.

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