Reed and Herrera Fail to Seek Serious Solutions
By Sergeant Jim Unland and Battalion Chief Robert Sapien, Jr.
San Jose's firefighters and police officers agree that political rhetoric and posturing should be set aside and that city leaders and public safety unions should focus on finding solutions to serious public safety challenges. Moving forward, however, must begin with a clear record.
Unfortunately, the Mercury News chose to view pension reform through rose-colored lenses: Measure B is pension reform. Unions, some councilmembers and some candidates oppose Measure B. Therefore, unions, some councilmembers and some candidates oppose pension reform. It's nonsense, and this paper knows we offered legal and substantial pension reform that was rejected by the city in favor of the legally flawed Measure B.
This was the fallacy that allowed Mayor Chuck Reed to effectively eliminate collective bargaining in San Jose and muted warnings about the measure's impact on public safety.
Never have city leaders and its workforce been this divided, yet there has been no criticism of Reed's divisive leadership from the Mercury News. Why have other cities not experienced similar turmoil? The answer is simple: leadership.
The police and fire unions took pay cuts, increases in health care premiums and offered legal pension reform that could have already been implemented. Instead, we have rising litigation costs, no pension savings and talented employees leaving in droves. Both Reed and the Mercury News knew this would happen.
Your editorials attacking police officers and firefighters for expressing our serious concerns with Rose Herrera omits all of the reasons why we believe she's a poor choice for our city. Your implication that we're opposed to legal pension reform is untrue and disingenuous.
Our opposition to Herrera is rooted first and foremost in her abysmal public safety record and her untruthful flip-flops on issues such as placing a tax measure before the voters. Your insistence that our opposition is solely based on the unlawful Measure B is inaccurate.
In June, Herrera opposed reinstating the burglary investigations unit, arguing officers shouldn't be pulled from patrol, and said that, in August, the council would be putting a sales tax measure on the ballot and could look at restoring the unit then.
Herrera could have urged the use of overtime burglary suppression teams. That's how the city tries to keep a lid on gang violence. Then August came and Herrera flip-flopped on the sales tax measure. She voted against it. The council never took up reinstating the burglary investigation unit.
We informed voters that Herrera voted against supporting Proposition 35, which cracks down on human trafficking. Herrera joined the entire council and voted against the council taking a position in support of Proposition 35, even though the city staff urged support and the Mercury News recommended that voters approve the proposition. This was typical of Herrera's disregard for public safety.
We find ourselves wondering why the editorial pages were silent when the state Fair Political Practices Commission declared Reed had violated the law by funneling $100,000 in campaign cash to assist Herrera.
We're proud of our support for Jimmy Nguyen and pleased that he defeated Herrera in the 17 precincts in which our members walked door-to-door. Our members' integrity, solidarity and character are strong, and this paper will not shake that. They have continued to serve despite the turmoil the mayor has manufactured. It's time to show them the respect that they earn every day.
We're renewing our call for public labor negotiations. Reed balked at public negotiations, but residents should know who's serious about finding solutions.
Jim Unland is president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, and Robert Sapien Jr. is president of San Jose Fire Fighters Local 230. This article was originally published by the San Jose Mercury News and was reposted on Protect San Jose with permission of the authors.