San Jose’s nastiest political battle is no more. On Wednesday, the city reached a pension reform settlement agreement with its police union, ending a three-year court battle after voters passed Measure B in June 2012.
The current conundrum at City Hall has been exacerbated by the inability of personalities to work together on Measure B and pension reform. Mayor Sam Liccardo and his opponents should try to find at least one issue on which they agree.
Shortly after returning from a holiday lunch party Thursday, City Manager Ed Shikada removed Alex Gurza as head of the Office of Employee Relations. But on Monday, Gurza surprised many by returning to work—just at a far lower rung on the totem pole.
San Jose’s public employee unions will have a fresh face to spar with behind closed doors in the coming weeks. City spokesperson Lenka Wright confirmed to San Jose Inside on Friday that Alex Gurza will no longer serve as the city’s lead negotiator on labor contracts.
People opposed to incoming Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo are also concerned with an interim appointment to the District 4 council seat, fearing it will give the mayor a governing majority. The truth is Liccardo already has a majority.
San Jose’s new mayor faces huge challenges. The most striking problem is not simply putting more cops on the street, though it is an important goal. The real work will be bringing a divided city together.
San Jose will consider opening up labor talks to give the public more oversight of public employee contracts, which take up half of the general fund budget. Other issues before the City Council on Tuesday include health and wellness coaching for firefighters and a fancy new fence.
A judge ruled that the city of San Jose should be on the hook for union attorney fees in the ongoing battle over Measure B pension reforms, according to a NBC report. But the legal battle isn’t over yet.