A Conversation with San Jose Mayor-Elect Sam Liccardo

San Jose Inside editor Josh Koehn sat down with Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo last week to discuss the recent election, what accomplishments he’ll cite when running for re-election in four years and how he plans to mend relationships with political adversaries.

Council to Discuss Success of Plastic Bag Ban, New Fire Engines

That single-use plastic bag ban worked. The city enacted the 10-cent charge and San Jose’s shoppers adapted accordingly, bringing their own reusable bags instead of opting for single-use recycled paper bags, according to city staff. It’s a good thing, too, because that good behavior is pushing the city to consider canceling a fee increase that would have come into effect Jan. 1, upping the price-per-paper bag to 25 cents. Other items on Tuesday;‘s City Council agenda include a $5 million settlement with a Halloween partier who was shot 20 times by police and the potential pick up of two new fire engines.

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.

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.

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?

All New City Employees Should Be Given Second-Tier Pensions

The city of San Jose should put a hold on hiring firefighters until the firefighter union accepts a lower cost, second-tier pension plan for new employees. This would achieve cost savings and keep the city on a fiscally responsible path. Doing so would allow us to dedicate more funds to hiring police officers.

San Jose Fire Chief Leaving for Las Vegas

San Jose Fire Chief William McDonald will step down from his position after he was selected to serve as the head of Las Vegas’ fire department. His appointment is expected to be approved by the Las Vegas City Council in July.

City Council’s Campos, Kalra Say Fire Department Analysis Incomplete

An audit of the San Jose Fire Department didn’t include enough analysis of staffing, councilmembers Ash Kalra and Xavier Campos argue in a memo. They want to look into whether the shorter staffing levels are what led to longer response times and loss in overall service. Other items on the council agenda for Tuesday include a settlement with the family of a young child killed by a falling tree and a proposed ordinance to allow street vendors to sell fresh produce in low-income neighborhoods.

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.

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.