In his response to The Weekly’s Nov. 6 editorial, police chief candidate Lt. Patrick Nikolai made statements that demand correction; exhibit dubious logic; or, while strictly speaking correct, omit context that puts them in a different light.
First, Nikolai accuses The Weekly of not responding to a September 2016 correction request from Mayor Lisa Gillmor and himself. Our correction was printed in the Sept. 14, 2016 edition, nikolai correx 2016 and quoted extensively from Nikolai’s and Gillmor’s emails, to make sure we correctly reported the allegations the pair had made.
Second, Nikolai denies being the president of the Santa Clara police union since 2016. Yet in November 2017 he wrote an editorial bylined “Pat Nikolai, POA President.” POA-Nikolai-pres-2017
He is also described as “Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association leader Pat Nikolai” in a 2019 story in SanJoseInside.com, which says that he was at the helm when the union held a blatantly political “no confidence” vote against Chief Sellers in 2016. To date San Jose Inside hasn’t published a correction.
Third, Nikolai says that we are incorrect in saying that he has never held a police management position, claiming that police lieutenant is a management position. The City’s job classification for that position is “classified” — i.e. not management — as shown in the Santa Clara salary schedule. city classified salary schedule highlighted
Nikolai also says that he was improperly denied the opportunity to attend the FBI program by now retired Chief Sellers; Acting Chief Dan Winter attended. According to the FBI’s website:
“The FBI National Academy is a professional course of study for U.S. and international law enforcement managers nominated by their agency heads because of demonstrated leadership qualities.”
It isn’t just retired Chief Sellers who didn’t advance Nikolai to the FBI Academy— the two previous chiefs he worked for didn’t either.
Fourth, Nikolai states that the police “frequently purchased ads” in The Weekly during Chief Sellers’ tenure. This is completely untrue. In 2007, prior to Police Chief Sellers, the department ran a small recruitment ad. We do, however, know that the police union PAC has advertised in The Weekly. Police PAC ad 2005
Fifth, Nikolai appears to claim a mandate because 49.9 percent of voters voted for him in 2016. The last time we checked, Santa Clara elections are won by the top vote-getter, who in this case was Chief Sellers with 50.1 percent of the vote — a majority. By Nikolai’s logic, everyone who ever lost an election can claim a mandate.
In addition to his mandate from a minority of City voters, Nikolai points to Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen’s endorsement of his “talent and leadership.” In November 2009 the police union and its then-president Nikolai endorsed Rosen in his challenge to then-DA Dolores Carr. Cop Union Endorses Rosen 2009
It would be naive to assert that the two endorsements are unrelated.
Sixth, Nikolai falsely states that we are implying that Dan Winter is the “only person” who cares about Santa Clara because Winter withdrew from the police chief race. We don’t dispute that there are many people who care about Santa Clara, including many who aren’t readers of The Weekly.
Voters should be troubled by the prospect of a police chief careless with the truth, willing to engage in juvenile attacks on critics and ready to throw gasoline on already divisive City politics.