Liccardo and Reed Can't Fix What They Broke
JIM UNLAND is president of the San Jose Police Officers Association and a Sergeant in the San Jose Police Department.
The Mayor’s race has officially begun. Well, it actually began when the socially conservative, tea party stalwart, Pete Constant changed his opposition to support for gay marriage. But today it was Councilmember Sam Liccardo’s turn to change positions. After spending his tenure at City Hall casting vote after vote to dismantle the police department, Liccardo and Mayor Reed released a memo titled “Police Staffing Restoration Strategy.”
A better title for their memo would have been, "Sam Liccardo is running for Mayor and I want everyone to forget that my votes led to increased violent crime, more gangs, burglaries and auto-thefts”. I’ll highlight some of the details below, but in short, they admit that the police force is understaffed by several hundred officers and that their votes to cut officers pay 10% have led to officers leaving at unprecedented levels.
To fix the mess they orchestrated, they propose to create a goal to restore officer’s 10% pay cut within 4-years and to hire hundreds more police officers. Isn’t it great to have goals! Several of the strategies for funding the 10% pay restoration and new police officers basically involve taking money out of officers’ left pocket, putting it back in their right, and telling the officers they’re ahead on the deal.
Keep in mind that in proposing to restore the 10% pay cut over four years, Reed and Liccardo’s lofty goal is to bring officers pay up to 2009 levels by the end of 2017!!! Never mind the realities of inflation over that eight-year period. Somehow these two politicians believe this will retain and recruit officers. Perhaps they are unaware that our officers are already taking home less pay today than they did in 2004.
In their memorandum, they state “…our top priority for restoring services should be in the Police Department, and our top priority for restoring pay cuts should be in the Police Department.” What do you mean the top priority for restoring services should be in the Police Department? Not is orshall be, butshould be. Are you betraying the fact that currently it is not If so, what is the top priority? Maybe Reed and Liccardo can persuade the City Manager that restoring pay cuts for public safety is the top priority. That was not the City’s position just a few months ago. In fact, City Manager Debra Figone testified under oath about prioritizing the pay restoration. She used the word “equity” to define the City’s position that everyone took a 10% pay cut so everyone should have it restored at the same rate.
One need only look at the City’s last several offers to the POA to reveal that Reed and Liccardo’s words do not match reality. The first year of the City’s most recent offer calls for a 2.5% restoration that is not retroactive back to July 1, 2013. It means that the restoration for this fiscal year is more like a 1.8% to 1.9% restoration not 2.5%. Now compare that to the 2% restoration already given other bargaining units and you can see that Reed and Liccardo’s words ring hollow.
So where is this money going to come from for this grand scheme to fix their mess? One of the funding sources identified is the legally challenged Measure B money that will be taken from the police officers in the form of higher pension payments. That money will then apparently be returned to the officers in the form of the pay restoration. If you are confused by this, it is because you are thinking rationally. If I take a dollar from you and then give it back, I don’t get to claim that I gave you a dollar: but that’s what Reed and Liccardo are proposing.
Here are a couple more of their ideas along the same vein. They propose to use the money the officers are no longer getting for their sick leave balances for pay restoration. Again, the idea here is to take money from the officers with one hand and give it back with the other. Also, there is reference to a "yet-unachieved fiscal reform" regarding how overtime is calculated. If the City can change the way overtime is calculated, the officers will still have to work the same number of hours but receive less overtime pay. That money, according to Reed and Liccardo, can go to pay restorations; money taken from the back pocket and put back in the front pocket.
The term “voter-approved revenue increases” is listed at the end as a throw-away item. The reality is that last year, Reed and several wanna-be Mayors (Liccardo, Nguyen, Oliverio and Herrera) blocked a measure supported by the City Manager to allow the citizens of San Jose to vote on a sales tax increase. You all remember that one: it cost us a Chief of Police and also contributed to officers leaving. Had that vote occurred and passed, we wouldn’t be talking about this re-hashed strategy. But the arrogance of five individuals prevented the citizens of this city from having their say.
The memorandum released today is not a serious document. It is the opening salvo for a Mayoral aspirant who knows that all of the policies he has championed and supported are destroying one of the finest police departments in the nation. If the memorandum had called for an immediate restoration of the 10% pay cut, an end to the City’s futile efforts to illegally reform pensions and a modification to the 2nd Tier pension plan, then these two politicians would have some semblance of credibility. As it stands now, they have none.
NBC’s local political commentator, Larry Gerston said it best in the Mercury News when he had this to say about this strategy, "There comes a point in the tenure of an incumbent, especially when he's termed out and there's an heir apparent, where governing and campaigning become very blurred.”
Welcome to the San Jose Mayor’s Race.