San Jose: Mayor’s gang-violence claim underscores political fight for city’s crime image

By Robert Salonga | San Jose Mercury News
10/20/2014 02:28:55 PM | Updated: a day ago

san jose mayor gangSAN JOSE – When Mayor Chuck Reed’s office put out a news release boasting a staggering 70 percent decline in violent gang crimes since the start of the year, it raised eyebrows and expectedly drew the ire of the police union.

Union officials accused the mayor of cherry-picking numbers to gloss over spiking crime while the mayor maintained he was simply citing hard facts that temper what he considers a relentless union campaign to paint San Jose as increasingly unsafe.

The mayor’s release last week was the latest salvo in the intense political fight for the future of the Bay Area’s largest city, where the current City Hall administration and the police union have engaged in trench warfare for months. Crime is dominating city politics on an unprecedented level, framing the mayoral battle between Councilman Sam Liccardo, a Reed ally, and Supervisor Dave Cortese, who is backed by the union.

Longtime San Jose State political science professor and analyst Larry Gerston says residents and voters should take a fine-toothed comb to any bold numbers announced in such a heated political atmosphere.

“We have to be cautious about it,” said Gerston, who has observed San Jose for four decades. “I can’t tell you what’s true. The only time you’ll see heads or tails is after the outcome of the election.”

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