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The Farsider

September 6
, 2012

 

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.




OOPS


There was a gremlin on the website last week that resulted in many of you inadvertently opening the Aug. 23rd Farsider instead of the Aug. 30th issue. If that happened to you, clicking on the link below will display the Aug. 30th newsletter that you missed...

<http://www.sjpba.net/Farsider/083012.htm>




 

PENSION NEWS


This missive by Councilman Kansen Chu appeared on the Letters page of Tuesday's paper...

Pension Reform Will Help Hiring

Letters to the Mercury News — Sept. 4, 2012


Although I did not support Measure B because of the out-of-sequence approach, I support the second-tier employee pension reform proposed by the governor and Legislature for new hires at the state and local level. The proposal is more than 80 pages in length.

I am happy that the state did not rush to establish a constitutional amendment. San Jose will not be seeing any savings from Measure B for quite some time, and we are losing talented city employees in droves. I am hoping that enacting the state’s pension plan will put San Jose at a more competitive level in filling the vacant police and fire positions.

Kansen Chu
Member, San Jose City Council


~ ~ ~

As a counterpoint to the councilmember's letter, yesterday's paper included this tongue-in-cheek response...

Lowering the Bar to Third World Levels

Letters to the Mercury News — Sept. 5, 2012


San Jose City Councilman Kansen Chu (Letters, Sept. 4) is happy that the governor has proposed second-tier employee pension reform because it will lower the bar to the San Jose level and make San Jose more competitive in filling the vacant police and fire positions. San Jose is losing talented city employees in droves, so making sure they have nowhere else to go makes sense. If we lower the bar enough we can obtain wage parity with China and other Third World nations. The faster benefits and public employee unions are eliminated the faster that can happen.

Phillip Pflager
Cupertino

• • • • •



Good intentions that don't work out is a lesson learned from this story that made the front page of the Local Section of Tuesday's paper...

San Jose Pension Protest Fizzles Out

—Figone out of town; police bounce group opposing city’s reform plan—

By Dana Hull
<dhull@mercurynews.com>
Mercury News — Sept. 4, 2012


SAN JOSE — A planned Labor Day “barbecue” in front of City Manager Deb Figone’s house to protest the city’s major cuts to police officers and firefighters’ salary and pensions fizzled out.

Figone was out of town. The half-dozen protesters neglected to bring a grill. And the police, who protesters had hoped to treat with free food, told them what they were doing was illegal.

“Public official or not, there’s no protests in residential neighborhoods,” Lt. Brian Ferrate said.

Some demonstrators attempted to hand out chocolate cookies to police officers, who declined.

At one point, a woman with a bouquet of balloons sat on Figone’s front steps but moved when an irked neighbor warned her that she was trespassing on private property.

A lot of Figone’s Rose Garden neighbors were out of town for the long weekend; others were washing their cars or drinking sangria.
 

Members of Peninsula Direct Action set
up in front of San Jose City Manager Deb
Figone’s house Monday in San Jose.


The police officers arrived first, then news crews and finally about half a dozen protesters.

“The rank and file officers are on our side,” said Shaunn Cartwright with an Occupy-affiliated group known as Peninsula Direct Action.

In June, San Jose voters passed Measure B, a contentious pension reform plan that reduces retirement benefits for new hires and makes current workers pay more for their pensions if they don’t choose a more modest plan for their remaining years. “She used phony figures to pass Measure B, cut their jobs and their pay,” Cartwright said of Figone. “Now veteran officers are leaving the force, and the crime rate is up.”

Last month, the California State Auditor reported that San Jose “likely overstated” that its future pension costs could reach $650 million by 2015, a figure the audit called “unsupported.” Figone and Mayor Chuck Reed have denied misleading anyone about the city’s pension problem. City employee unions are suing to block Measure B, calling it an illegal breach of their pension rights, and have pounced on the audit as proof that city officials cannot be trusted.
 



Christy Wong of Peninsula Direct Action

briefly sits on Deb Figone’s front porch
Monday. The group was protesting San
Jose’s pension reform plan.


J
ames Lee, another member of Peninsula Direct Action, said that pension reform should start with top city managers, not public safety personnel. He said that actions in San Jose to reform pensions will likely spread to other Santa Clara County cities.

“I’m from Redwood City, and what happens in San Jose gets exported to other cities,” Lee said. “If we’re talking pension reform, we should reform Deb Figone’s pension.”

Figone has been San Jose’s city manager for about five years and previously worked as town manager for Los Gatos.

In November, a small group of Occupy San Jose protesters shouted in front of Figone’s home, blaming her for refusing to give them a permit to camp at City Hall.
 

• • • • •



This article from last Saturday's paper may or may not be of interest to you. It's an update on what the State is doing about pension reform...

Pension Reform on to Brown

—Legislature passes ‘sweeping’ changes to system that will mostly eliminate worst abuses—

By Steven Harmon
<sharmon@bayareanewsgroup.com>


SACRAMENTO — Delivering on Gov. Jerry Brown’s campaign promise to reform the state’s pension system, the Democrat-controlled Legislature sent him a bill Friday that will alter retirement benefits for public employees and save the state billions, though it will take years to see the results.

Though critics called it a small step toward tackling the runaway costs stressing state and local governments, the votes in both houses of the Legislature were overwhelming, handing Brown what could be a major success heading into the fall campaign.

“With strong bipartisan support, the state Legislature today passed the biggest rollback of public pensions in California history,” Brown said in a statement. “This sweeping pension reform package will save tens of billions of taxpayer dollars and make the system more sustainable for the long term.”
 


In asking voters to support his tax-hike initiative, Proposition 30, Brown will say that he and Democrats fulfilled voters’ desires to ratchet down government spending, in part with the pension reform.

The bill, AB340, passed on a 50-8 vote, with two Republicans voting for it and two Democrats voting against it in the Assembly. Of the 22 Assembly members not voting, 19 were Republicans, three were Democrats.

The Senate later passed it 36-1, with Sen. Joel Anderson, R-San Diego, the only “no” vote.

The legislation caps benefits for new public employees who make more than $110,100 — 20percent for those who don’t get Social Security. It also eliminates pension “spiking” and raises the retirement age for new employees. That and other fixes are estimated to save between $52 billion and $72 billion over 30 years, according to CalPERS, one of the state’s two largest pension funds. That was higher than estimates earlier in the week of $40 billion to $60 billion. CalSTRS, the pension fund for teachers, estimated there will be an extra $12 billion in savings on top of the CalPERS estimates.

The Legislature on Friday also fixed a gaping loophole in the pension reform bill that would actually have enabled more spiking of retirement pay in 20 California counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo. The existence of the loophole was first reported by Bay Area News Group columnist Dan Borenstein.
 



State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, gives
a thumbs up as the Senate approves the pension
reform bill 36-1 at the Capitol on Friday.


Action came relatively early in the marathon last day of the session amid a flurry of other last-minute votes, including one on workers’ compensation.

When the debate over pensions began, state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said, it was the egregious six-figure pensions, the double dipping, spiking and other abuses that outraged the public.

“This package we voted on deals with all that and a whole lot more,” said Steinberg, D-Sacramento. “There are those who defined pension reform as eliminating defined-benefits middle-class pensions. I wouldn’t go for that.

“I hope this puts this issue, which has so dominated our public discourse for a long time, if not away, at least to the side.”

Steinberg disagreed with criticism that the reform failed to cut deeply into the state’s long-term pension liabilities, but said he is open to looking into reforming public employees’ health benefits as part of implementing federal health care regulations.

Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said the bill wasn’t perfect but it’s a start.

“Is now the time to defer this, or should we start the process?” Beall said. “We’ll have to watch this over the next several years, but let’s take this considerable step now.”

Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, said the Legislature should have accepted the 12-point plan Brown proposed last October. Democrats, he said, “emasculated and gutted and amended” the governor’s original proposal, which included a hybrid plan that would have required new employees to build part of their pensions through a 401(k)-style plan.

Republicans questioned whether labor truly was as outraged as they’ve expressed.

“This is a very, very, very short haircut for unions,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield.

“Each of us know in our hearts that this is a small, small, small step,” said Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Escondido.

That’s not how Democrats saw it. Under the reform, a future public employee working for 30 years and retiring at 55 would get 48 percent less than a current employee, said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.

“You hear me right,” Simitian said. “The difference between what we’re obliged to pay today and what people will be entitled to is close to half. I don’t think anyone can call that nibbling around the edges.”

The bill does affect local governments that have CalPERS plans, but not cities such as San Jose, which has its own plan and passed its own reforms, now being challenged by unions in court.

Brown hopes to use the reforms — and other cost-cutting moves he made this year — to enhance his chances to win voter approval of his tax-hike initiative, Proposition 30, in November. His proposal would raise income taxes on the wealthy and boost the sales tax by a quarter-cent, raising about $6 billion a year, enough to prevent massive new cuts to schools and colleges.

After months of negotiations with Brown, legislators produced the pension legislation earlier this week, pounding out a 40-page bill with no time left to send it to the floor. Republicans complained that Democrats were rushing through a bill with little scrutiny.

But the howls of outrage came from labor groups, who said that they were being thrown under the bus by Brown and Democrats.

Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, said the governor was about to sign into law a “political overreaction on pensions.”

“Ripping billions of dollars of pension benefits from public workers without collective bargaining is unfair and wrong,” Low said. “Wall Street interests who caused the economic crisis and are now calling for unconstitutional and illegal actions should take stock of their victory before attempting to further undermine retirement security for public workers.”




 

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF SAN JOSE AND THE SJPD


Last Sunday's op/ed page in the Mercury News included these words of wisdom for the citizens of San Jose...

San Jose Must Try to Retain Police Officers

Mercury News Editorial — Sept. 2, 2012


Eight murders in 11 days in San Jose — some gang related, some just bizarre — have unnerved residents already alarmed by the uptick in burglaries affecting much of the Peninsula and South Bay.

It happened amid an exodus of experienced police officers heading to better paid jobs, leaving fewer than the authorized level of 1,100 sworn personnel.

And even that is a number nobody thinks is sufficient.

On Sept. 18, the City Council will conduct a public study session on how to deal with all of this.

We hope it results in an incentive for talented officers to stay on while San Jose works to overcome its chronic budget deficits.

The departures are the result of plunging morale and lower take-home pay, thanks in part to a 10 percent pay cut the police union agreed to in 2011.

Recruits are now being hired and trained, but it takes a year to get them up to speed. If the cost-saving pension reforms approved by voters last November hold up in court, then it should be possible to start restoring salaries, but that remains uncertain.

The police union is calling for restoration of that 10 percent in pay. But remember why the police agreed to it: If they hadn’t, an additional 150 officers would have been laid off in 2010, leaving the force at a frightening low of 950.

Restoring 10 percent of pay would cost about $20 million a year, according to city staff. The entire library budget is $24 million. Still, there may be a way — a retention bonus? — to do something if money becomes available.

San Jose has not been cavalier in its budget cuts — and none of them was based on hypothetical future pension costs, political grandstanding to the contrary. They were based on actual costs and revenue. Another deficit is forecast next year, even at current pay levels.

A bonus or some other gesture is important, however, because officers now feel unappreciated — demonized is their term. Voters’ approval of Measure B to impose pension benefit reductions last fall hit them personally, and they primarily blame Mayor Chuck Reed. Many city employees, not just police, further resent the mayor’s refusal to champion a sales tax increase this fall, but a tax could not have passed this year.

Reed led the effective campaign for Measure B, but it cost $1 million. Reed said he looked at his donor list and saw almost nobody who today would help finance a tax campaign, which he believes would require at least $500,000.

The Chamber of Commerce quickly opposed the tax, and labor is leading the county’s sales tax campaign. There would have been opposition, and no money to counter it.

Reed believes 2014 is the time for a tax measure. By then the courts are likely to have resolved pension issues, and residents can be prepared for the proposal, which surprised many this summer.

The immediate challenges, of course, are the current crime wave and reassuring residents who fear their safe city is in decline. Police Chief Chris Moore has good ideas for allocating the existing force more efficiently, and he’s working with city finance staff to find resources to devote to retaining current officers.

We hope he succeeds.

San Jose still has an excellent police force. But it accepted a pay cut for good reason, and sadly, that reason still exists.
 

• • • • •



Be still my heart. Did this Mercury News editorial from yesterday's paper actually get it right? If so, perhaps it's because so many of their newspaper stands are covered with graffiti...

Writing Is On the Wall for Graffiti Gangs

Mercury News Editorial — Sept. 5, 2012

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen might appear to have gone nuclear against a gang of graffiti vandals, charging them as, well, a gang, which makes their felony vandalism guilty pleas a first strike. This from a DA who thinks the current three strikes law is too extreme. But really — how do you stop people who keep committing the same crime if you don’t escalate the consequences?

Rosen charged HYSU (Have You Seen Us) with scores of felony acts of vandalism totaling more than $60,000 in damage and, for five of the seven members, added a gang enhancement, which allows for more serious penalties.

The enhancement is mostly used to put away violent street gangs, but violence is not a requirement under the law.

Some defense attorneys and community activists are appalled at the first strike, since the men are not charged with violent crime. But burglary isn’t a violent crime, either, and nobody says it shouldn’t be a strike. The gang charge feels right to us, given the measured way Rosen has applied it and the degree to which graffiti harms a community.

A critic of the prosecution told Mercury News reporter Tracey Kaplan that “no one is hurt or even threatened” personally by what taggers do.

But graffiti can terrorize a whole neighborhood where it implies — true or not — that violent gangs are marking territory like tomcats.

Recurring graffiti on signs, walls and fences is a constant reminder of danger that may lurk every time the kids go outside to play or teenagers walk to the store. It’s an in-your-face declaration of who controls the street you live on. (Hint: Not you.) Neighborhoods in San Jose take it so seriously that the effectiveness of the city’s new graffiti removal contractor is a raging debate. Rosen clearly views this first strike as a shot across the bow.

While the plea bargain included the gang enhancement, the DA did not impose it at sentencing, so the vandals will serve a year or less in county jail, not years in state prison.

The first strike mainly stands as a warning to the men, who have been arrested for this before, often caught red- (or some other color) handed on video surveillance. Nobody’s getting life in prison for graffiti, but if the gang members get caught at it again, or commit other felonies, a second strike is likely to mean real prison time.

These aren’t kids. The leader of the group is 33.

If they’re really artists, as their supporters say, and not just chronic vandals, this could be the hint they need to start buying canvases to paint on.

For the five people in this extreme case, strike one was a good call. If it puts other graffiti vandals on notice, so much the better.

Graffiti on signs, walls and fences is a constant reminder of danger and can terrorize a whole neighborhood where it implies, true or not, that violent gangs are marking territory like tomcats.



 

WEEKLY POLL
 

   


Results from last week's poll...




For the full scope of state and national polling by Scott Rasmussen, click on this link:
<http://www.rasmussenreports.com/>

For the most recent releases, click here:
<http://www.rasmussenreports.com/older_content/home/top_stories/most_recent_articles>




 

MAIL CALL
 

Aug. 30th

Hi Bill,

Not sure if you had heard about this recent effort by a City Councilman to undercut the POA. It's a public document from the City's agenda server. I've included the memo and the url.

<http://www.sanjoseca.gov/clerk/CommitteeAgenda/Rules/20120829/rules20120829_d1att.pdf>

Please keep up the great work you and Leroy do with the Farsider. You guys do a great job of keeping us all connected.

Cheers.


The author of the email asked that we withhold his identity because he's a member of the Reserves. The link he provided will download to your desktop a .pdf file of a City Memo with a recommendation by Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio to utilize the SJPD Reserves for the SJPD.



 

NEW VANGUARD NOW AVAILABLE ON-LINE


Click on the link below to download September's POA newsletter to your desktop, then double-click the icon to open it.

<http://tinyurl.com/9za8dq5>




 

WEEKLY SNOPES URBAN LEGEND UPDATE AS OF SEPT. 1, 2012
 

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

New Articles

 • Did Bill Nye the Science Guy 'blast' Rep. Todd Akin for accusing him of 'personally provoking Hurricane Isaac'?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/billnye.asp>

• Photograph purportedly shows Michelle Obama with her daughters draped in South African colors at the 2012 Olympics.
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/photos/olympics.asp>

• Did Samsung pay off a $1.05 judgment awarded to Apple in a patent infringement lawsuit entirely in nickels?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/samsung.asp>

• Is the Obama campaign sponsoring an "Islamic Jumah" at the Democratic National Convention but declined to allow a prayer from a Catholic cardinal?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/dncprayer.asp>

• Is George Soros buying up and shutting down firearms manufacturers, including Marlin Firearms?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/freedom.asp>

• Did astronaut Neil Armstrong say 'Good luck, Mr. Gorsky' during the Apollo 11 moon landing?
<http://www.snopes.com/quotes/mrgorsky.asp>

• Woman accidentally leaves a bag of waste in her lover's apartment.
<http://www.snopes.com/embarrass/feminine/leftbag.asp>

• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!
<http://www.snopes.com/daily/>


Worth a Second Look

• Can overdue pregnant women induce labor by eating at specific restaurants?
<http://www.snopes.com/pregnant/overdue.asp>


Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.
<http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp>


Fraud Afoot

• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.
<http://www.snopes.com/fraud/topscams.asp>



 

THE LIGHTER SIDE & OTHER ODDS AND ENDS
 

Large or Full Screen reminder for the YouTube videos...
 




• • • • •



An email from Bob Bell suggested that what we all learned about administering CPR has been updated to the degree that chest compressions only — without breathing for the victim — are just as effective. We checked online with the Red Cross, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Assn. and a couple of other authorities and all confirmed that to be the case. Have a look at the video below, and if you have doubts, Google "Continuous Compression CPR" (without the quote marks). (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5huVSebZpM>


• • • • •



This video on how we landed the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars a few years ago is going viral, probably because the superb animation is blended with actual footage of the feat. But don't confuse it with the Curiosity rover that NASA landed last month and is currently beginning its exploration of the red planet. (6 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRCIzZHpFtY>


• • • • •


This video from Joe Wicker of an F-18 making a low altitude canyon run through Northern California and Oregon was posted to YouTube last weekend. After running the clip past my nephew who commands a Marine Corps squadron of F-18s at NAS Miramar, he said that when the Marines took over the San Diego air base, the Navy squadrons moved to NAS Lemoore near Fresno, and that this is likely one of the Navy pilots. He also said that the video was shot with a "Go-Pro" video camera that was suction-cupped to the canopy which is being used by numerous pilots to document their flights. (6 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROU4fVyEjvs>


• • • • •



While the F-18 video above featured a Navy pilot in his F/A-18 Hornet, this award winning video sponsored by Raytheon that was sent in by Chuck Blackmore highlights Air Force F-15s engaged in a simulated aerial battle. Grab your barf bag and hop aboard if you dare. (10 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NEcBaxvbQE>


• • • • •



If watching toppling dominoes sparks your interest, you need to watch this clip from Bruce Morton. How long did it take the organizers to set up all 128,000 for the great fall? We speculate that they probably started in 2006 of 2007. (7 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E7Ep3U06Nc&feature=player_embedded>


• • • • •



Bruce also sent in a clip of an adrenalin junkie who performs what he calls the first reverse bungi. Leroy and I have pulled our resources and will offer a $10 bill to the first Farsider reader who can duplicate the stunt. Just make sure you let us know when and where it's going to take place so we can show up and capture it on video. (4 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpWHjQzdDts>


• • • • •



Bruce's third and final submission this week was this clip which he described as "breathtaking," which may be only the second time in his life he has ever used that adjective. We heard that the first time he uttered that word was when he ran over an oil slick going around a turn at 60 mph on his police motor. (6 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWIhXzZT8dE>


• • • • •



If you are curious want to know what all the hullabaloo is about over the vile tweets by Nickolodian's (and "American Pie" co-star) Jason Biggs about the wives of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, you won't find the actual text being reported by the mainstream media. But the tweets were easy to locate on the Internet. If you choose to read them by clicking on the link below, be aware that they are extremely graphic and gross...



<http://tinyurl.com/8p849kf>


• • • • •

 

If you can watch this without laughing you have more restraint than we do. A Brit is having en electrical problem with his Lexus. One of his kids is behind the wheel and going to try to help him start the car. His other kid is in the back seat capturing the incident on video and goading the kid in the front seat into having some fun. Watch what happens. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4SiCH1W56c>

 

• • • • •



This clip should bring back some memories for those of you who remember the forgotten art of hand shadows. (4 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8uhh2L4ZN3Y>


• • • • •



Here's an interesting submission from Dave Scannell. It's a morphing presentation of all 44 of our U.S. presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama set to the music of Ravel's Bolero. I found that shutting your eyes for a moment brings forth images of Bo Derek in "10." That alone makes this worth a click. (4 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYrZZ68zhSs>


• • • • •



This song sent in by Steve Weesner is titled "Green Side of the Grass" and would be funnier if it didn't hit so close to home for so many of us. (4 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dbBfXCMbH4>


• • • • •



Ever heard of the Fun Theory? This ad from Volkswagen has nothing to do with cars, but it could provide a partial answer to losing weight and staying fit. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lXh2n0aPyw>


• • • • •


This short clip that asks "Which is the guilty dog?" has gone viral and is certainly worth a look. See if you can guess which one before you play the video. (1 Min.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kLdO3EsECs>


• • • • •



Saving the most amazing video we received this week brings us to this one about the underworld. No, we're not talking about the Mob; this is about insects, specifically ants. Have a look at this excavation of what is believed to be the world's largest known city of ants that a handful of readers sent in. If you don't find this amazing, it likely means you have no curiosity. (3 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLHAdwxLD-I>


• • • • •




C'ya


 

Pic of the Week:
Submitted by Alice Murphy


Lovemaking tips for seniors...

1. Wear your glasses to make sure your partner is actually in the bed.

2. Set timer for 3 minutes in case you doze off in the middle.

3. Set the mood with lighting. (Turn them ALL OFF!)

4. Make sure you put 911 on your speed dial before you begin.

5. Write partner's name on your hand in case you can't remember it.

6. Use Extra Strength Polygrip so your teeth don't end up under the bed.

7. Have Tylenol ready in case you actually complete the act.

8. Make all the noise you want . . . the neighbors are deaf, too.

9. If it works, call everyone you know with the good news!

10. And finally, wait at least a month before trying it again.

 

   

Scrolling Box

 
This is the message box, using the scroller component.
 

 

 

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