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Police Union Campaigns While Negotiating Contract

The Santa Clara Police Officers Association and its associated PAC are using the controversial grand jury report Unsportsmanlike Conduct on the Santa Clara City Council to launch a political campaign at the same time the union is in contract talks with the City.

The campaign features a website and mailers that use cherry-picked quotes from the now highly questioned grand jury report to paint Council Members Anthony Becker, Raj Chahal, Suds Jain, Karen Hardy and Kevin Park as dark — literally, with darkened faces — and corrupt.

Council Member Suds Jain doesn’t mince words.

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“It’s negotiation time for the police union,” he said. “How do we know? Because the police PAC is sending out political mailers.”

“They are putting their foot on the scale in order to get a more favorable contract,” Jain continued. “With their political activity, the police have gotten candidates elected who are more than overly generous.”

It’s not a hard sell, said Gary Ferraris, president of Field Operations and Maintenance Staff union (Unit 6).

“It is very popular with voters to overfund police and shortchange other workers,” he said.

Unit 6 was on the verge of striking earlier this year after being the sole union asked to accept no increase.

The Weekly’s research has shown that before the police union got involved in City politics, not one of Santa Clara’s base police salaries were among top 25 police officer base salaries in California.

After the police union got involved in City politics in 2016, that picture changed.

In 2016, Santa Clara only accounted for 4 of the top 25 base police officer salaries. That number grew in 2017, when Santa Clara had 21 of the top 25 police base salaries. In 2018, the City had 19 of the top 25 police salaries and 17 in 2019.

This isn’t surprising. The union’s current contract stipulates that SCPD salaries will be “6% above the…average for the survey agencies as of January 1, 2021.”

Criticism of the police union’s politicking isn’t new.

In 2016, retired police chief Steve Lodge wrote to The Weekly, “In this election we see another example of the union going too far. They have raised over $70,000 from developers and other wealthy opportunists from outside Santa Clara to promote their candidate. Is that the role we want our police officers to play?”

This year, however, the police politicking has reached a new level.

“For [elected police chief] Nikolai to do what he’s doing is extremely political,” said Jain, pointing to Nikolai’s letter to District Attorney Jeff Rosen demanding a criminal investigation. “The grand jury report made no criminal allegations and did not recommend any criminal investigation.”

The union is grinding its axe over more than pay scale and benefits, says Jain.

“Why are they asking candidates to sign pledges to vote a certain way if [their actions are] not political?” asked Jain. “Why are they asking candidates to pledge to vote to keep the elected police chief before we have even had a conversation or consulted the people who live here about it? Only 15% of our police officers live in the City.

“Santa Clara is the only city in the Bay Area that still has a deficit,” Jain continued. “They all had the pandemic but they don’t have a deficit now. You can’t blame it on the 49ers because no general fund money goes to the stadium authority.”

“Of the $26 million that the City received from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, all of it went to police and fire,” he continued. “When we asked every department to cut 15%, they only cut 9%.”

Council Member Kevin Park has repeatedly pointed out the union is also lying in saying that the Council cut the police department’s budget when in fact Council gave them $1.7 million more than they asked for.

“I am not anti-police,” Jain said. “I’m not a ‘defund the police’ advocate. I care as much as the next person about safety.

“But I also care about our City finances,” he continued. “Lisa Gillmor is going to bankrupt the City. She has no idea how to get out of the deficit. What is she doing about adding more senior center hours? What is she doing about adding more library hours? She’s doing nothing. She has done nothing.”

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19 Comments
  1. SCMale 1 month ago
    Reply

    When are people going to wake up LISA has NO VISION, she only has Her Own interest at Stake. She talks up a talk that this is company Town.

    The company that owned Santa Clara long before SHE brought the Niners to town WAS the GILLMOR Real Estate Company – they bought up and sold off Santa Clara for years and were involved in ReZoning which made THE FAMILY MONEY.

    The Police are lying with the Wrong Dogs, when they wake up they will see the Fleas. NO MORE GILLMOR’s for SANTA CLARA

    Becker may not be the best choice but BECKER is NO Family Business that wants to OWN the town. VOTE BECKER

    • Davy L 1 month ago
      Reply

      Wow, I agree! I couldn’t find the words to say it any better.

    • Buchser Alum 1 month ago
      Reply

      SCMale,

      Lisa Gillmor and her father are and were small fries in Santa Clara real estate. To say that they “owned” Santa Clara is ridiculous and ignores the massive scale of real estate and other business interests in our city. Even the Forty Niners are only a big deal in Santa Clara because of Levi’s stadium and the fact that the city owns the stadium. But in terms of political influence and “owning” the political process it is no contest.

      The Forty Niners will spend around $4,000,000 this year on our elections and has five city councilpeople meeting them dozens of times in private without even city attorney or city manager or city clerk in attendance and no notes or minutes or recordings.

      Becker does not have family business interests that we need to worry about as conflicts of interest but the way he has been behaving we do have to worry that he is in the back pockets of the Forty Niners.

      • Davy L 1 month ago
        Reply

        I believe the past meetings our Council Members had with the 49ers were all directly related to the 49ers lawsuit. Since that lawsuit has now been settled, I doubt if there will be any further meetings. As for speculating that Becker is in the “back pockets” of the 49ers, there’s likely more truth in saying Lisa Gillmor is in the “back pockets” of Related Industries.

        • Buchser Alum 1 month ago
          Reply

          Davy,

          If they were meeting to discuss lawsuit settlement then there are serious problems. As you and I already discussed people with no experience in litigation or venue management or property management should not be discussing settlement of litigation with a multibillion dollar company without at least the presence of legal counsel such as the city attorney.

          And if they did discuss lawsuit settlement as you think they did then the other problem is that would mean they lied on their public calendar disclosures. Becker only disclosed litigation as a topic on his calendar for meetings with the Forty Niners twice but has dozens of private meetings with Forty Niners executives.

          Many times it is Becker and Jain and Park meeting with the Forty Niners separately from Chahal and Hardy. With the Forty Niners outnumbering our councilpeople because our councilpeople are splitting up into groups of two and three to make sure they can keep the meetings private with no records other than the little they self report.

          • Davy L 1 month ago

            Buchser,
            Yes, that is my speculation. They already knew the information that was provided to them by Santana and Gillmor. That information indicated a settlement could only be concluded with a court trial. They wanted to know if there was another possibility. Through their meetings with the 49ers, they discover there was another choice. Finally a possible agreement was reached, and the 49ers and our Council held a “closed” session to discuss the issue. Our Council voted, and they accepted the settlement. You can go on screaming if you wish. But for me, that is the end of the story.

  2. SCMale 1 month ago
    Reply

    Alum you are wrong on them being small fry’s when it comes to business

    They Own a lot of properties not only in this city but other areas of the State, they have shelf companies. Along with the rezoning, the rents from school properties, property management – they are worth millions

    Don’t believe their Lies. one day when they don’t need you to voice opinions on SV or other blogs run by their friends and feed by them you may wake up meanwhile you are dealing with little town liars who pretend to be your friend. The jokes on you

    • Buchser Alum 1 month ago
      Reply

      SCMale,

      The Gillmors are not small fries in comparison to normal people but they are small fries in the world of real estate in the whole area or even just our city. They own a few local properties and nothing major so it is just far too much to say that they “own” Santa Clara. It is easy to see what little they own from the very few issues that Gillmor must recuse herself from.

      I am not friends with them or anyone else in Santa Clara politics. I have never in my life had a personal conversation with Lisa Gillmor or her father or anyone currently on the city council. I am voicing my opinions because they are my opinions and I am angry about how much influence the Forty Niners have in our city and how they are refusing to allow city officials access to complete financial records for the management of the stadium we own.

      I support Lisa Gillmor in this election because I do not have major disagreements with her beyond disagreeing with her opposition to us having six districts instead of three or two. And because I think it is unacceptable that Anthony Becker acts the way that someone would act if they were in the Forty Niners back pocket and even if he did not is someone who simply does not have the life experience or expertise to have a prominent role in the administration of our city government. And he does not have the disposition or character to serve as our figurehead as mayor.

      I possibly would feel differently if someone else with experience and expertise and maturity was running against Gillmor.

      • Davy L 1 month ago
        Reply

        Buchser,
        My feelings are quite the opposite of yours. I feel that Lisa Gillmor has been a terrible Mayor. Even with less experience, Becker is a much better choice. I’ve listed my reasons in my comments below.

  3. Buchser Alum 1 month ago
    Reply

    Davy,

    Yes you are consistent in supporting the politicians you support and even if you do not know how to explain their actions you are consistent in coming up with scenarios in which they have only the best possible motives and achieved the best possible outcomes.

    By the way settlements are agreements that are made to avoid court trials and not agreements concluding with court trials.

    And if the councilpeople talked repeatedly with the Forty Niners about litigation their calendars do not reflect that and that is an issue because especially private meetings should have at least the general topic of the meeting reported accurately.

    • Davy L 1 month ago
      Reply

      Buchser,
      I like to refer to them as the “Anti-Gillmor 5”. I believe Lisa Gillmor is a not the right person to be serving as our Mayor. Like you, I only have one vote. So, my vote is for Becker.

  4. CSC 1 month ago
    Reply

    Regular beat officers, not Sgt’s, Lt’s, Cpt’s, or the Chief, in the City of Santa Clara make, on average, 20% more than peace officers in Campbell, San Jose, and the SCC Deputies who patrol Cupertino and Saratoga. SCPD base salary is on par with Sunnyvale’s DPS officers but unlike Santa Clara, Sunnyvale officers are also required to hold dual certification as firefighters. There is no reason why SCPD should make more than neighboring entities and absolutely no reason for them to contractually have a 6% pad.
    .
    If SCPD’s salaries were cut by 10%, they would still make about $10k/yr more than Campbell peace officers and the city would save $1.6 million per year to try and recover the millions lost by Gillmor, Watanabe, Santana, and Dole fighting the lost cause CVRA lawsuit. Even is Gillmor were to somehow hang on to her seat on the council, the majority members should move to not increase police salaries and benefits, they should actually move cut them. And not to worry fans, reducing SCPD base salaries will not make Santa Clarans less safe than residents in Campbell, Cupertino, Saratoga, or Sunnyvale. It will just be a sign that the city council is working on behalf of residents, not an employee union who will retire in their mid-50’s to state-income tax-free Idaho, Nevada, or Texas.

    • Davy L 1 month ago
      Reply

      CSC,
      Wow! I want to express my support for your comments 100%. Have you ever given any thoughts of running for Mayor? You can have my one vote over Becker.

    • Buchser Alum 1 month ago
      Reply

      I agree that it does not make sense for SCPD officers to have compensation that is more in line with what officers in Cupertino and Saratoga and Campbell are making. I think that the conditions of being a police officer in Santa Clara do not require significantly higher pay than can be gotten in similar suburbs.

      As you note the majority bloc on council can do whatever the council can do with or without Gillmor in the mayor’s seat and could have for the past two years.

      But while I want to see Gillmor beat Becker to remain mayor I do not want to see SCPD officers financially rewarded for political support by the SCPOA.

      Thankfully since Gillmor will not be in charge and has not been in charge for a couple years this will not be the case.

      • Davy L 1 month ago
        Reply

        Buchser,
        My feelings are quite the opposite of yours. I feel that Lisa Gillmor has been a terrible Mayor.
        1. Her opposition to the Six District Election system.
        2. Her support of Byron Doyle.
        3. Her support of Deanna Santana.
        4. Her opposition to the 49ers lawsuit settlement.
        5. Her letters to our Governor requesting favors for Related Companies.
        6. Her disgraceful behavior in bringing in outsiders to run as residents in our city elections (Sam Kumar, Christian Pellecchia, Bob Mezzetti).
        7. Her associates and their phony Civil Grand Jury report.
        8. Her condemnation from the trade union consortium (BCTC).
        9. Her lack of support from the local news media: Mercury News, Weekly, SVV.
        10. Her formal reprimand and censure from our Council regarding the Kevin Park incident at the Public Diversity Meeting.
        11. Her pending reprimand and censure from our Council regarding the closed session meeting with the 49ers lawsuit settlement.

        • Davy L 1 month ago
          Reply

          Two other costly fiascos: (12) Measure “C”, (13) 10pm Stadium Curfew.

      • CSC 1 month ago
        Reply

        By the way, Buchser Alum, what do you think that contractual 6% pad and additional $446,000 paise raise request is for? If you guessed “financial payback to make up for police and fire ‘donations’ to their PAC candidate so that it’s a net-zero cost to officers but a 100% hidden cost to taxpayers”, you’d be correct.
        .
        The current city council should deny the $623,000 pay raise request by the firefighter and police union. An approval would literally mean taxpayer money originally budgeted to support other departments and other employees is being siphoned to support union endorsed political campaigns.

        • Buchser Alum 1 month ago
          Reply

          CSC,

          I think it seems like SCPD officers get paid quite handsomely and do not need a raise particularly while the city has a budget deficit and it will continue to be a long road to replace pandemic losses in transient and sales tax revenues.

          But if the raises are nakedly quid pro quo reimbursement for PAC spending as you are claiming then it seems you need not fear approval of this raise at all since controlling power is firmly held in the hands of the majority bloc of five.

          But your claim does not add up in terms of basic math because the SCPOA has not even spent $15,000 supporting Gillmor.

          • Davy L 1 month ago

            Buchser,
            The SCPD supports Gillmor in ways that are non-monetary and often hidden.
            (1) Police Chief Nikolai requesting District Attorney Investigation of Civil Grand Jury Report.
            (2) Police Chief responding to Lisa Gillmor’s request for police “protection” following the 49ers lawsuit closed session meeting.
            (3) Setting up a website describing itself as “public service information”, supporting the Grand Civil Jury report.
            (4) This website sponsored a rally at City Hall by a self-described recall attempt that later was form as a POA, which is running Facebook Ads promoting the site.
            (5) Nikolai supported Gillmor’s measure favoring binding arbitration for public safety unions which failed.
            (6) Threatened “not-to work” at Stadium until certain actions were addressed.
            (7) The PAC hasn’t filed a financial report (Form 460) since July 30.

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