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The Farsider

July 25, 2013


Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>


The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.



As noted in this article from Monday's paper, the "vested rights" issue of Measure B is now being litigated in the courtroom, but don't look for a decision anytime soon. And when it does come, there will no doubt be an appeal by the losing side...

City’s Measure B Going to Court in High-Stakes Case

—‘Vested rights’ doctrine considered off-limits by unions in cross-hairs—

By John Woolfolk
Mercury News — July 22, 2013

SAN JOSE — The pension reforms that San Jose voters overwhelmingly approved just more than a year ago come to a key test with a trial starting Monday before a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge.

No one expects the week-long hearing to be dramatic. There won’t be celebrity defendants or star witnesses nor the courtroom suspense of a whodunit nor even a jury for lawyers to sway with theatrical performances. After bureaucrats and actuaries dissect fund figures and lawyers parse nuances of the city charter and case law, it could be months before the judge issues a ruling. And then there will be appeals.

But much is riding on the outcome. San Jose’s current budget already relies on $20 million from parts of the Measure B pension reforms. A city win could add $48 million in yearly savings. Workers, though, want to keep the city from grabbing even more of their paychecks to pay for their pensions. More broadly, the judge’s ruling will affect similar debates over government pensions throughout the state and across the country.

“There are a lot of eyes on this case,” said Arthur Hartinger, the lead lawyer representing the city. “The stakes are high.”

Added Gregg Adam, a lawyer representing the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, one of several unions suing to block the measure: “It’s the opening round, but opening rounds are important.”

The core arguments remain unchanged from even before the city took its pension reforms to the ballot. City employee unions say that under a “vested rights” doctrine established through a series of court decisions dating back more than half a century, government employers cannot cut employees’ pension benefits. They insist pension rates are protected for work already rendered and for the rest of their careers.

The city is challenging that doctrine, arguing it has been stretched to extremes that voters never intended. City lawyers point to San Jose’s charter language and argue it reserves the right of voters and their elected officials to make future changes to retirement plans.

San Jose’s pension troubles are rooted in benefit increases, flawed assumptions and market losses for the city’s pension fund. As a result, the annual cost to the city more than tripled in a decade, consuming more than a fifth of its general operating fund. City officials cut everything from police and fire department staffing to library and community center hours to cover growing costs. And with the retirement funds still $2.9 billion short of promised benefit costs, the bill continues to rise.

“At the time these benefits were enacted, did voters think they’d face this $2 billion-plus exposure and there’s nothing we can do about it?” Hartinger asked. “We don’t think that’s right.” The stakes are huge for Mayor Chuck Reed, who championed the measure, and the City Council members who supported him. He and many of his council allies complete their last term in office next year, and a loss in court could sap political support for the controversial reforms as well as upend the budget.

“If we lose,” Reed said, “we’ll have to go right back into cutting services.”

The case is being argued before Superior Court Judge Patricia M. Lucas. Before former Gov. Gray Davis appointed her to the court in 2003, Lucas specialized in litigating high-stakes intellectual property cases and headed the litigation department for Fenwick & West.

Lucas already has some familiarity with the Measure B case. Before it went to a vote, she ruled that a ballot argument against the measure slightly overstated concession offers from police and firefighters. But she dismissed a host of other complaints about the opponents’ argument.

Measure B reduces pensions for new hires and makes current employees contribute up to 16 percent more of their pay toward their pensions unless they switch to a lesser benefit. Retirees could see annual 3 percent “cost-of-living” raises on their pensions suspended if the city declares a “fiscal emergency.”

San Jose was one of two major California cities where voters overwhelmingly approved pension reforms in June 2012. San Diego’s Proposition B called for replacing pensions for all new hires except police with 401(k)-type retirement savings accounts and a five-year freeze on current employees’ pay that would count toward their pensions. San Diego has since negotiated the five-year pay freeze and put new hires on 401(k)-type plans after defeating unfair labor-practice challenges.

San Jose’s legal road is longer because the city is taking direct aim at the “vested rights” doctrine. Said Jack Dean, vice president of California Pension Reform: “All of the state’s pension reform activists are watching this case with great interest.”

~ ~ ~

This story that also appeared in Monday's paper is related to the one above, but it deals with a different issue regarding pension reform...

Taking Reforms to Next Level

—Mayor Seeks Support for an Amendment to State Constitution—

By John Woolfolk
Mercury News — July 22, 2013

SAN JOSE — As his signature pension reforms go on trial starting Monday, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has been working to build support for a state constitutional amendment that would bolster the city’s legal authority to reduce costly employee retirement benefits.

Unions suing to block Reed’s Measure B pension reforms argue it’s a blatantly illegal breach of the “vested rights” doctrine that effectively prohibits California governments from cutting their workers’ pension plans for the duration of their careers.

Reed doesn’t dispute that employees are entitled to benefits earned for the work they already did. But he argues the city charter reserves San Jose’s right to change retirement benefits they would earn in the future. Still, the mayor acknowledged “the law is unclear.” “A constitutional amendment would make sure we have the right to deal with future benefit accruals,” Reed said. “That’s really the only way to bring down the cost for current employees.”

The Measure B trial will be long over before such an amendment could go before voters either in November 2014, as Reed hopes, or 2016. But appeals are expected, and a constitutional amendment could counter a city loss in court.

Whether such an amendment could ever get to a statewide ballot, let alone pass, remains highly uncertain. Reed has been taking the temperature in the Capitol. But his fellow Democrats, who control the Legislature, sympathize with government employee unions who oppose limits to vested rights.

If the Legislature won’t put such an amendment before voters, Reed said the alternative would be gathering signatures to qualify an initiative. But that’s also fraught with difficulty. California Pension Reform President Dan Pellissier, whom Reed regularly consults, abandoned a statewide pension initiative last year after California’s Democratic attorney general, Kamala Harris, issued a ballot title and summary that backers thought would guarantee its defeat.

Steven Maviglio, spokesman for Californians for Retirement Security, which defends the pension rights of 1.2 million public employees and retirees, gives Reed’s amendment idea long odds. The Legislature, he noted, just passed a host of pension reforms last fall and will “want to see how that plays out over the next couple years.”

Maviglio also said Reed may not find voters statewide sympathetic to what unions consider an attack on cops, firefighters and teachers.

“Any attempt to attack the basic collective bargaining rights of current employees is destined to fail,” Maviglio said. “It’s unpopular with the public. I think the mayor should concern himself with affairs of San Jose.”

But Reed presses on, believing pension reforms are key to keeping San Jose from going the way of Detroit, the latest major city — and largest to date — to declare bankruptcy. This month alone he has spoken with former governors Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, former mayors Richard Riordan of Los Angeles and Willie Brown of San Francisco, and others to rally support. And though he’s not on the witness list, Reed plans to spend next week in the courtroom where his reforms are on trial.



The Internal Affairs column in last Sunday's paper included this tidbit about Mayor Reed talking with the IRS in an effort to certify San Jose's opt-in retirement plan that he wants to create...

Mercury news — July 21, 2013

Mayor Chuck Reed, who championed Measure B, has made repeated trips to Washington, D.C., to lobby for IRS approval, and has rallied officials in other cities and counties facing similar issues to join in support. Back east last week visiting family during the council summer break, he said he was “cautiously optimistic” that the IRS will act by the end of the year.

City officials have told us privately that the IRS is concerned about schemes to deprive Uncle Sam of tax revenue but that shouldn’t be an issue with a reduced plan that would have a smaller pre-tax deduction.

We couldn’t get an answer from the Treasury Department when we called to ask what’s holding things up. It took several tries just to get a response at all — apparently they were still busy heaping scrutiny on Tea Party groups. We finally got hold of IRS flack Bruce Friedland, who told us — and we’re not making this up — that the revenuers can’t talk about certifying San Jose’s opt-in retirement plan because it would violate the city’s privacy rights as a taxpayer.



Last Week's Poll Results

For the most recent Rasmussen Reports releases, click here:



July 22nd

If a picture truly is worth a thousand words, we received a ton of mail this week. This 1974 pic of the SJPD Narcotics Unit came from Jack Farmer via Ken Hawkes. We're going to assume it's safe to publish this photo since it's unlikely that any of these former narcs are still working undercover.



Topic for Last Week:

Was the prosecution of George Zimmerman politically
motivated, and if so, who was responsible?

Turns out this idea was a dud. A total failure. Went over like a phart in church. Only one reader chose to respond, so we're giving up again on trying to find a way to generate some reader participation.



We're sending out a last call for volunteers to assist the Association's BBQ-luncheon for wounded military veterans who are being treated at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto. The event will be held this coming Saturday, July 27th.

Please click on the link below to view the pot luck items already signed up for and for further detail about the event.


To sign up as a volunteer or for questions regarding this event, please contact Tom Scully at 831-331-7275 or by e-mail at <tomscully@comcast.net>



The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight

Crime stories have been known to start with something like, "It was a dark and stormy night..." Not so with this one. For the SJPD it began on the "mean streets" of San Francisco when passersby and business owners were attracted to the sound of pounding and thumping from the inside of a car trunk parked on a city street on a weekday afternoon. When police and fire units responded, the trunk was forced open which revealed two bodies: one alive, one dead. When the warm body was interviewed, he told investigators that he and the decedent were the victims of a double-shooting that occurred in San Jose. He also told the SFPD who, what, when, where and why the shooting took place.

SJPD was notified and the Crime Scene Unit (AP) was dispatched to SF to process the car and evidence. It was followed by two investigators (WW and JS) whose job was to interview the survivor of the shooting. This case would become infamous in the annals of the SJPD and later be dubbed, "The Gang that couldn't shoot straight." This is the short version:

Two father and son groups were meeting at the California Cheese Company when an argument broke out between Salvatore Marino and his son Angelo, and the other father and son, Orlando Catelli and his son, Peter. The arguments culminated with the bodies of Orlando and Peter being loaded into the trunk of Peter's car and were ready for disposal. A call went out to a "gumba" (business associate) who was given instructions to "drive the car to San Francisco and dump it." But the gumba wasn't very bright. Upon arriving in the City by the Bay he made several wrong turns and found himself on the Bay Bridge heading to Oakland. Confused and disoriented, he stopped at the toll plaza going the wrong way and asked for directions to San Francisco. When the toll collector pointed him in the right direction, the gumba made a "felony u-turn" and sped off in the direction from whence he came. The surprised toll taker noted the car's license plate and filled out an incident report that, among other things, detailed the offense of "fare evasion." Meanwhile, the gumba made it to San Francisco and successfully dumped the car on a city street. We now return to the pounding and thumping from inside the trunk.

Indictments for Salvatore and Angelo were issued the same year. It was 1977.

In 1980, some two years later, the case was ready for trial. But because it generated so much local publicity, a change of venue motion was granted and the trial was moved to Los Angeles. The proceedings were not unlike the "Godfather" movie. The theatrics began when the defendant-father (Angelo) was wheeled into court in a wheelchair with an IV drip bottle attached. "Too sick to stand trial was the claim." I'll leave you, the reader, dangling for the suspenseful ending.

When all was said and done, a story circulating around the SJPD Homicide Unit warned that when shopping for Mozzarella cheese from the California Cheese Factory, do not buy it if it appears to be laden with pimento flakes. Brain matter is not for the weak of heart, or for those who never had the taste or stomach to be a homicide investigator.

1980 was a tenuous year for the Homicide Unit as we had to operate shorthanded for over a year as that was how long it took to adjudicate the case. And it would take at least a year to document all the side stories related to the "Gang that couldn't shoot straight."



The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox

New Articles

• Is a promotional event from Apple Stores awarding free iPads, iMacs, or iPhones?

• Rumor claims Koch Industries paid the legal fees of George Zimmerman.

• Did George Zimmerman win a Florida state lottery jackpot?

• Is George Zimmerman suing Trayvon Martin's parents for their failure to control their son?

• Anecdote reports musician Miles Davis' making a crude remark upon meeting First Lady Nancy Reagan.

• Annual message about a meteor shower visible in North America in mid-August.

• Rumor claims the Obama administration has "filed federal charges against George Zimmerman."

• The FCC is considering modifying its indecency policies regarding the use of profanity and non-sexual nudity on radio and television.

• A TV station was pranked with fake names for pilots involved in an airline crash.

• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!

Worth a Second Look

• Account by astronaut Buzz Aldrin describes his taking Communion on the moon.

Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.

Fraud Afoot

• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.



Let's start with a new musical flash mob performance. This one surprised shoppers at a grocery store in London. (3 Mins.)


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Many of you have no doubt seen on the news this clip of two divers who came close to becoming a modern-day Jonah, who spent three days in the belly of a whale. They were diving off the coast of Morro Bay trying to get a better look at two Humpbacks that were in the area and looking to feed on a school of sardines. The video speaks for itself. Thankfully, it doesn't show the divers scrambling back on board the boat and going below to change out of their now stinky wetsuits. (1 Min.)


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What is arguably the funniest contribution of the week, Lumpy says you don't have to speak Chinese to understand what happened here. If you watch the entire clip you will understand what friendship is all about. Or not. (2 Mins.)


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If you like blue grass music and didn't catch these three youngsters who make up the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys when they appeared on the Letterman Show back in 2011, here's another opportunity. Trust us, these kids are good. (4 Mins.)


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Sure, this system in Japan may be a convenient way to secure your bicycle, but think of the poor thieves who are deprived from peddling away on your two-wheel ride. (4 Mins.)


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This clip from Alice Murphy that takes you on a tour through Will Smith's motor home should provide proof that if you are rich enough, you can easily afford to be a Hollywood liberal. (6 Mins.)


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Harry Mullins says any wife who can greet the return of her husband with dinner, a spotless home and a chilled martini is his kind of woman, and he cites this gal as a near perfect example. Emphasis on the word "near." (1 Min.)


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Is the Icon A5 the perfect private 2-place sport aircraft? As private airplanes go, it's relatively cheap. It's extremely easy to fly. It's amphibious so it can land on water or a runway. Its wings fold which makes it transportable on a trailer. And it's very difficult to stall or spin, so it's safer than regular small airplanes. If the A5 was available 43 years ago when I and a dozen other San Jose cops owned two Piper Cherokees (a 180 and a 235 turbo), I'd probably still be flying today. If you have ever had an interest in flying, the Icon A5 needs to be checked out. (7 Mins.)


Spin and stall resistance demonstration. (5 Mins.)


It's only $139K, so what are you waiting for. Order yours today...


If you can't afford the full-size A5, you can always buy an electric RC model and mount a video camera on it as shown halfway through this video for much less. But if you crash it like this pilot did, remember, the correct spelling of the word "oops" is OOPS — not UPS. (8 Mins.)


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Sharon Lansdowne offers the following to explain...

Why Parents Drink

A father passing by his son's bedroom was astonished to see that his bed was nicely made and everything was picked up. Then he saw an envelope propped up prominently on the pillow that was addressed to 'Dad.'

With the worst premonition he opened the envelope with trembling hands and read the letter.

Dear Dad:

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing you. I had to elope with my new girlfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Mom and you.

I have been finding real passion with Stacy She is so nice.

But I knew you would not approve of her because of all her piercing, tattoos, tight motorcycle clothes and the fact that she is much older than I am. But it's not only the passion...Dad she's pregnant. Stacy said that we will be very happy. She owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter. We share a dream of having many more children.

Stacy has opened my eyes to the fact that marijuana and other drugs don't really hurt anyone. We'll be growing weed for ourselves and trading it with the other people who live nearby for cocaine and ecstasy.

In the meantime we will pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so Stacy can get better. She deserves it.

Don't worry, Dad. I'm 15 and I know how to take care of myself.

Someday I'm sure we will be back to visit so that you can get to know your grandchildren.

Love, Your Son, John

PS. Dad, none of the above is true. I'm over at Tommy's house.

I Just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than the report card that's in my center desk drawer.

I love you.

Call me when it's safe to come home.

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Thanks to this contribution from Bert Kelsey, we get to drop in on Archie as he is being prepared by a female doctor for an operation and learns she is going to shave him "down there." (4 Mins.)


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The moron in this video sent in by Dirk Parsons sounds like a real bad-ass until he accidentally fires a round into the ceiling of his bedroom and gets grounded by his mom for a month. (1 Min.)


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Dirk also sent in this clip of an investigative reporter for the Fox affiliate in Detroit who mocks the absurd response time for a DPD unit to respond to a call for service. If the good citizens of San Jose are complaining about SJPD's response time, they should watch this. (6 Mins.)


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If you watch this final video clip on how to cook with olive oil, you will understand why it was sent in by a member of the female gender, namely Alice Murphy. We pride ourselves on being fair and balanced around here. Have a good week. (3 Mins.)


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Pic of the Week

"Breaking News"

 George Zimmerman leaves court after legally
changing his name to Ben Ghazi so the Obama
Administration will never mention his name again.



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