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A Necessary Re-Think for the City of Milpitas

Outsourcing the Milpitas Police Department will not resolve the issues at hand. The City of Milpitas will be taking bids through October 2, 2012.

The economy is imploding before our eyes. Long-term neighbors have lost their homes and have moved away in the middle of the night. College students have given up on getting the classes they need to graduate. They’ve traded their career paths for the commuter lanes, taking them from their morning jobs to their night jobs, which combined won’t cover the rent. 

It’s difficult to justify top City of Milpitas salaries and compensation exceeding $200,000 per year in any economy. With everyone else suffering the effects of this undeclared depression, it’s hugely insulting to the taxpayers to maintain such false standards. The City Council likes to see top Milpitas staff positions as career destinations rather than as employment stepping stones. The effort to draw the most qualified employees would be a wise plan, if not for the over-reaching budgetary demands on taxpayers.  It was difficult to justify the expense of Milpitas City Hall, seemingly designed as much to show the status of Milpitas in competition with San Jose as it was to serve the needs of the community. We still remember the City’s attempts to restrict public access to the very building which we as tax payers were obligated to fund. The City of Milpitas has worked hard to build itself into a bright star at the South end of the Bay despite its more humble beginnings. It’s a City overcoming an inferiority complex, striving to not only fit in, but to excel in its participation in growth, development and progressive group think regionalism.

 Most disturbing in this momentum toward group think is this City’s willingness to post surveillance cameras on every corner, blending us seamlessly into the surveillance society.  Smart Meter technology which will in its next iteration, supply agencies with detailed information about our daily habits was adopted in Milpitas without a question about its safety, efficiency or privacy violations, even in light of concerns that were raised in other communities.  The cost of such surveillance technologies goes far beyond the monetary obligation.  What we have forfeited in personal privacy rights is incalculable.

The City of Milpitas also funds building inspectors to drive by our homes looking for potential building code infractions and then allows inspectors to trespass on our property in pursuit of violations. One of the few benefits of City cut backs has been to pare back on this invasive practice. On a related matter, it’s frustrating to see our City Council’s compliance with ICELI, which influences all policy under a false sustainability model and serves to implement controls over all land use. ICELI oversees the implementation by counties and cities of the protocols for environmental land control set by Agenda 21 at the first Rio Conference. It serves to achieve bureaucratically what cannot be achieved by the consent of the voters.

We live in a highly chaotic time. We have been keeping our heads down and hoping that others will take the responsibility for finding the fix to our economy, to our political differences and to restore our lost rights. But hope is an empty place holder. It has to be filled with personal responsibility and positive action.  Our City won’t get out of financial trouble by co-opting the responsibility for employee pensions or by replacing local police officers with regionalized law enforcement and neighborhood surveillance systems. Where can an outsourced law enforcement agency come from when the County’s resources are tapped out? Will we have to employ the National Guard? Will drones peer into our yards or follow our children to school? Will we follow the lead of other cities who have accepted corporate donations to support law enforcement and then have corporations expect preferential treatment in return? Or will the law be changed to allow cities like Milpitas to contract with private policing firms such as Blackwater Xe?

In the post-9/11 fervor for fighting terrorism in America, our law makers passed horrible restrictions on our freedoms and civil liberties, gutting the very protections guaranteed by our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. Police officers everywhere are expected to enforce laws that are in clear violation of the Constitution. To speak of the Constitution now is to risk having one’s name placed on a list of suspected radicals. Police officers who affirm to uphold their oath to follow the Constitution, to protect and serve the public are too often ostracized. Officers who follow post 9/11 protocols of violence and violation of civil rights have contributed to the general sense of intimidation so inherit in our culture today. Into this mix we have to deal with a series of Executive Orders which have further eroded our freedoms and served to militarize police departments, blurring the lines between war trained soldiers and the officers sworn to protect and serve. This has further added to the tensions between citizens and police.  

Still, I would argue that we are better served not to go the way of outsourcing our Police Department or other City Services. Milpitas Police Department Officers are members of our community. They benefit as much as we do from living in a community where individuals’ freedoms are still guaranteed. We are only a community when each of us is also an individual whose voice is heard and whose vote counts. We lose that voice if we regionalize. Our voices are not heard when we outsource.

We do need to rethink the compensations structure of our City employees.  Zero interest home loans, participation in local credit unions, developing a community currency and supporting not restricting hands on investment in our neighborhoods will do more to help our City employees and restore our stability than regionalization our outsourcing could ever do.

We do need to step back from budgets that include funding the surveillance society.  We do not need high tech crowd control vehicles or weaponry.  We do not need to promote the top-down regionalism of ICELI and Agenda 21.

Local police departments are designed to protect and serve individuals and communities, not at the pleasure of the Mayor or the City Council or the even by the Executive Orders of a seated President if those orders are in conflict with the rights of sovereign citizens.  City Police Officers serve at the obligation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Private agencies, if it should come to that, will not.

 

Marie Oliver

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joseph Weinstein September 20, 2012 at 04:54 AM
Longevity was "installed" due to the fact that in the 70's and 80's we consistently lost officers to other departments because our compensation was so low. This was necessary then. Now, we should discuss limiting it to 10 years, no further increases. We need a return on our investment in training officers (and other specialized functions) and longevity helps to keep officers from jumping to another department due to higher compensation. In the early 80's we (the City) voted to increase compensation due to the extremely high costs of training we were incurring; we were a training ground for SJPD. Sometimes good decision have unintended consequences, that is why we have negotiations every few years.
Joseph Weinstein September 21, 2012 at 07:07 AM
PD is still under the 7% (I believe about 1.2 million dollars) reduction. How does that translate into the safety unions refuse to give any concessions. Not sure what Fire gave up, but they also took reductions.
Allen King September 25, 2012 at 07:56 AM
So long as the unholy nexus between politicians and powerful unions remains in place, don't expect any change. The loot will continue: http://www.mercurynews.com/salaries/pensions/ http://www.mercurynews.com/pensions/ci_21608920/double-dippers-rake-public-money
Andy Smith September 26, 2012 at 11:34 AM
A lot of familiar names on here in the comments section. I haven't followed Milpitas politics closely for years, but I see the same old people are still bitching and moaning. And there's even a disgruntled former City Council member who didn't get reelected and wants to blame those "big bad unions". Get over it, lady. By the way, Milpitas Police Officers do NOT belong to a union. They have an Association. Maybe it's just a play on words, and honestly, I don't know what the legal/technical difference is. I know that Milpitas Fire belong to an actual "union" (International Association of Firefighters) with a local union number and everything. But MPD does not---they have their own, self-contained Association that covers the cost of coffee and a few other things for its members. This Association looks out for, among other things, their best interests. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not! As I said, I haven't followed this stuff closely for years, but if anyone cares to find out, they will find that the Milpitas Police Officers *did* give up several things in order to help the City in its current financial crisis. They take numerous furlough days every year now (that is, days off without pay). They took a salary cut. A few years back, they agreed to increase the mileage on the patrol cars to keep them around longer before replacement. They adjusted PERS payments. It's not like MPD isn't trying to help here!
Andy Smith September 26, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Oh, and to the guy that said San Jose PD's chief works 80-90 hours a week, and MPD's chief works 8 hours a week, um, what are you smoking dude? Care to give us some documentation or references as to where that ridiculous number came from? I happen to know the police chief, and you are WAY off-base in your assumption.

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