The budget blues aren’t over yet in San Jose. Mayor Chuck Reed announced that the Firefighters Union has come up $6 million short in its effort to meet the 10 percent cut on salaries and benefits, leaving the city no choice but to eliminate 81 positions. As a result, 51 firefighters will lose their jobs, one station will be closed, and other stations will have to contend with reduced staffing and equipment. It is the first time in the city’s history that firefighters have been laid off.
The firefighters are livid as a result of the decision, and argue that funds could be redirected from less vital programs to help them save their jobs. Union head Randy Sekany issued an ominous warning: “I guarantee you that it [the layoffs] will ultimately result in some person being injured more gravely or possibly dying or that a house will burn more dramatically or completely. I guarantee it.” A longtime critic of city spending, in April Sekany circulated a document around City Hall headlined “City Spending Gone Wild.” The document details more than $7 million worth of expenditures on a range of items and services, from hybrid Priuses to real estate assessments. “I mean, $150,000 on ergonomic chairs? When you’re firing people?” he asked?