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Tony Soprano Doesn’t Have a Thing on Santa Clara’s Police Union – Opinion

Monday, Santa Clara businesses received a communication soliciting donations that contained this persuasive piece of copy:

“Place our decal in your window” — i.e. donate — “and we will direct our ‘Friendly’s’ to support you.”

Tony Soprano couldn’t say it any better.


This wasn’t a communication from Tony Soprano, however. It was from the Santa Clara Police Officer Association’s — the police union — President Alex Torke and sent to Santa Clara businesses.

When Torke’s not soliciting something that sounds like protection money, he cools his heels in Livermore — about the same distance from Santa Clara as Tony Soprano’s suburban New Jersey mansion was from Manhattan.

It’s conduct that you’d expect in a noir film about dirty cops, but not what you’d expect from a Silicon Valley police department in 2021.

This glossy mailer claims that donors will “make a difference in Santa Clara” by donating  — suggested amounts are $100, $250, $500, $1,000, $1,500  — to the union. Not to any identifiable charitable organization — for example, PAL.

“Will you join our list today and help us with a much-needed donation?”

Torke makes it sound like Santa Clara police are in the same situation as a third world police force that can’t afford body armor, instead of working for one of the top-paying police departments in the country (

While the copy aims to give the impression that the money goes to local causes and “the families of injured and fallen officers” nowhere does it actually say that. Your donation is not tax-deductible and goes directly to the union’s coffers.

And what does the POA do with its money?

One thing it does is finance its political committee —a hide-the-money operation for developers so big developers like Related Companies can pretend not to be trying to elect a City Council favorable to their projects. Obviously, the union is starting its 2022 fundraising early.

The PAC is known for its vicious attack mailers that have attacked virtually every minority City Council candidate. These mailers quote a blogger who will go on trial later this month for “lewd conduct with a minor.” You’re known by the company you keep, as they say.

This is the union that didn’t protect one of its members, a Samoan American, who was passed over for a deserved promotion and then denied overtime he had earned.

This is the union that threatened to not work at Levi’s Stadium in 2016 because Colin Kaepernick “took a knee” to protest police shootings of unarmed Black men.

This is the union that engineered a systematic character assassination of Chief Mike Sellers who demonstrated that he could manage one of the most terrorism-attractive events in the world — the Super Bowl — without any incident.

This was done in the service of putting union president, Patrick Nikolai, in charge of the police department. Although the union didn’t succeed in 2016, despite a campaign run and largely conducted by Mayor Lisa Gillmor, it did achieve this ultimate in fox-guarding-the-hen house coup in 2020.

If this isn’t enough, consider this: When retired Santa Clara cops Brian Gilbert and Phil Cooke were concocting a cover-up of an obscene harassment campaign against journalists in Massachusetts, one of their ideas was to get a “friendly” in the SCPD to help them mislead the FBI and the Massachusetts police.

The damage that Nikolai, Torke and their operation are doing to the police department is immeasurable. They’re throwing gasoline on the “Defund the Police” fire.

How will this affect the police officers that put themselves on the line every day for the wellbeing and safety of our community?

How will this affect public trust? Who will trust the word of the police department on high-profile issues like officer-involved shootings?

Our police officers need representatives that look out for their members’ interests — not those of developers and politicians. And they need leadership that reflects the dedication to duty and high standards the vast majority of officers hold themselves to.

They don’t need leaders that take their cues from Tony Soprano.


Update: On Monday, March 22 the City made the following statement:  


  1. Joseph Rich 3 years ago


  2. Bob O'Keefe 3 years ago

    I would like to thank and commend the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association and all of our public employee unions for their unwavering generous support for many of our local charities and national organizations that help some of the most vulnerable members in our community. The men and women that make up these organizations whether they be police officers, firefighters, teachers, nurses, ditch diggers or janitors, truly care about the communities they serve. To compare these brave front line workers to an although fictional organized crime boss is even below the lowest standards that our so called news reporters have sunk to, no wonder it is only authored by the “Editorial Board” nobody wanted to be associated with this despicable piece of journalism!!! If you would like to see where these contributions go, I have attached the following link, or go to the Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association web site and click on support.

    • CSC 3 years ago

      If SCPOA wanted to help organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, Miracle for Kids, or Special Olympics of Northern California they could simply suggest donating to those organizations direct instead of going through a Political Action Committee “bundler.” The other fund donations to SCPOA may go to is their Political Action Committee (aka SCPOA-PAC) which pays tens of thousands of dollars to local politicians to do their bidding.
      Don’t Donate to SCPOA-PAC, donate here instead…
      Boy Scouts Silicon Valley:
      Miracles for Kids:
      Special Olympics NorCal:

    • Jean 3 years ago

      Aren’t you a retired Cop and didn’t the POA support or donate $ to your campaign for Santa Clara City Council? Of course you support the Santa Clara POA. That’s not a big surprise.

  3. HB 3 years ago

    Well, if everyone gave them the minimum and we all got stickers, they wouldn’t stop anyone and we would end racial profiling.

    Always glad to help calm the forelock tugging Marxist Left with their angst over prospective and mostly imaginary problems.

    A couple more helpful hints. Aluminum foil hats don’t work and neither do anatomical ones. 😂

  4. CSC 3 years ago

    This is despicable, and there is little difference between Torke (rank and file) and Nikolai (elected police chief). This past June, Nikolai held a virtual Town Hall Meeting where he stated, “the union is there to ensure any discipline is done fair and through a judicious process.”

    Prior to being elected to police chief, Nikolai was a sergeant just like his pal Torke. He likely scrambled to find an online degree mill to buy partial requirements needed for promotion to lieutenant. Neither Nikolai or Torke have a legal background or training yet, despite the City of Santa Clara having attorneys on staff and a capable human resources department, Nikolai defers to uncertified subordinates in determining what is legal and what is not.

    You can see Nikolai’s opinion on what he believes the union is for at the 41:00 minute mark here:

  5. Davy L. 3 years ago

    I’m hoping our businesses in Santa Clara are smart and wise enough to avoiding this stupid scam. We should also not support any current or future city candidates (like Bob) that promotes and sides with all these dumb, fake, phony, bogus, schemes.

  6. Bob O'Keefe 3 years ago

    I fully agree Davy L. Say NO to Jed York! Say NO to his 3 million dollar political power grab!! Say NO to his bought and paid for councilmembers!!!

    Say YES to a better Santa Clara!!!!

  7. Davy L. 3 years ago

    Dear Angry Bob:
    There is absolutely nothing “subdued” about your comments, is there? Do us a favor and just quit with your angry, annoying, and bullying shouting. Do you really always need to speak with CAPs and triple exclamation points? I agree for us to say “yes” for a better Santa Clara. But I believe the way to start is to reprimand Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Police Chief Nikolai, and City Attorney Brian Doyle. As for our new Council Members and Jed York, I would give them a “loud” cheer and hooray!

  8. Winnie Sloan 3 years ago

    What a truly sad and embarrassing situation for the SCPOA. They are “soliciting” donations but do not in any way explicitly state “how” the funds are to be used. Who do they define as the “Friendly’s” that will support the businesses that do donate? If a business does not donate, is that business then put on a list that is given to the Police Department so that the business gets ignored if there is any action needed by the Police Department? Bob O’Keefe is trying to yell from a soap box about how wonderful the Police Officers are.. That is not the issue. This is about the character of the Santa Clara Police Officers Association. The wording on the POA flier makes it very clear that this “donation” will be for the protection of the business that donates. This benefit is exactly the same as the under-the-table payments made to gangsters and hit men to protect businesses in a neighborhood. This is straight out of a Mafia-style movie! Shame on you Santa Clara Police Officers Association and shame on you Bob O’Keefe!

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