By using an unsubstantiated pension cost projection that was more than double the actual amount, Mayor Reed and Councilmember Herrera knew that the City's position on pension negotiations were fatally flawed. Their use of these inaccurate numbers all but ensured that there would be no negotiated agreement on pension reform with city workers, and thus, no savings to restore services in our police department. The California State Auditor's investigation released Tuesday demonstrates that Mayor Reed and Rose Herrera chose to mislead San Jose residents. When they voted to move forward with a legally flawed ballot measure, they knew it was destined to be tied up in the courts for years. They also knew that the measure's severe pay cuts would force many officers to resign.
The voters had the right to be given consistent and reliable information on the true costs of public safety pensions before they went to the polls! The consequences are now clear as we are daily witnessing gang wars and waves of violence sweeping our city. San Jose has just experienced its 7th homicide and 12th shooting in the past 8 days. San Jose has now experience 32 homicides in 2012; that's up from 27 at this point last year (a number Mayor Reed then said was an anomony) and 20 for all of 2010.
All major crime indexes are up. In Councilmember Herrera's District 8, auto thefts are up 75%, burglaries are up 151%, robberies are up 11%. With these ever rising crime rates and officers continuing to resign in the face of an additional 20% pay cut under Measure B, residents should be concerned.
Officers are leaving SJPD for other law enforcement agencies in droves, and those that are staying are stretched to the limit. New officers from SJPD’s first police academy since 2008 won't hit our streets until the Summer of 2013. When these new officers finally arrive on the streets, they will soon learn that they are some of the lowest paid police officers in the area and their ability to support families will force them to other agencies in the near future. With the average cost of $170,000 to train each new officer, this is an expense both in dollars and public safety that the city can ill afford.
The California State Auditor’s report should provide a clear warning to elected leaders who engage in using inaccurate cost projections for political gain. This type of practice should not be tolerated. Now the residents of San Jose are paying the price. Do you hear the alarm bells ringing at City Hall as daily citizens are being murdered on the streets?
Political objectives should never outweigh public safety. It is time for Mayor Reed and Council Member Herrera to set realistic budget priorities that place public safety first.