From Wisconsin to San Francisco

Jeff Adachi's proposed pension reform is far from progressive

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Public Defender Jeff Adachi is scurrying all over town trying to explain how his version of pension reform is really "progressive." It would be laughable if its implications weren't so devastating for working people employed by the city and those living in and around San Francisco.

Adachi is rightfully worried that the events in Wisconsin and the national movement to defend union rights they have inspired will hurt his campaign. He is eager to say that he, unlike the Republicans in Wisconsin, supports unions' rights to collective bargaining. But while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature eliminated collective bargaining for their public employees to slash their wages, health care, and pensions, Adachi is slashing San Francisco's workers pay and pensions through the ballot, effectively taking those items off the bargaining table. What's the difference?

In both Wisconsin and San Francisco the deficit is the excuse to require cuts in public worker retirement and community services. Walker created Wisconsin's deficit by granting huge tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich. In San Francisco, the deficit that cannot cover the city's pension fund contributions was similarly brought on by three decades of tax cuts for corporations and the rich in California, compounded by former Mayor Gavin Newsom opposing nearly every revenue measure proposed throughout his seven-year reign — and by the city not contributing its share to the pension fund for all the years the stock market was doing well.

In determining how "progressive" Adachi's measure is, we should, as always, follow the money. Here's who's is backing his proposal:

 Michael Moritz, the billionaire venture capitalist (and No. 308 last year on Forbes' list of wealthiest Americans) who hosted fundraisers for Prop. B — Adachi's first attempt last year at pension reform that was soundly defeated — and is a major financial backer of Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee.

 Howard Leach, the billionaire financier who raised almost $400,000 for the George W. Bush campaign and was rewarded with the position of ambassador to France. He also contributes to the Republican Governors Association, whose major objective was the election of the new crop of conservative governors pushing anti-worker measures in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, New Jersey, and other states.

 David Crane, who is a paltry multimillionaire former investment banker and close friend of and former top pension adviser to Republican former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You have to wonder why these super-rich are suddenly so concerned about the parks and senior and youth programs, the mental health and drug abuse programs Adachi cites as being cut because of pension costs. If these billionaires were so moved, they could take the money they are sinking into Adachi's measure and donate that to the programs. Or they could support some kind of progressive revenue measure that makes the wealthy downtown financiers and investors — who can afford to pay — ante up to protect the programs they claim to be concerned about.

No one is more concerned with the viability of the pension fund than those who plan to retire on it. That's why the city's unions are engaged in discussions with the city to develop real pension reform that is fact-based, principled, and compassionate to those trying to raise families in this economic climate.

So when Adachi's high-priced signature gatherers (paid as much as $5 per signature to get Prop. B on the ballot) come to your neighborhood grocery store, just say "No!"

No, this is not what we call progressive policy. Not in Wisconsin, and not in San Francisco.

Roxanne Sanchez is president and Larry Bradshaw is San Francisco vice president of SEIU Local 1021.

Comments

What is your solution to the math problem? We've heard about the "Labor Working Group" for months and no proposal has emerged. Adachi has already come out with 3 proposals.

And you say Adachi's proposal is not progressive, but you don't devote one sentence to any of his three proposals. The entire article is premised on the notion that because wealthy people financed Adachi's effort last year, whatever he is doing must be bad. Not seeing any logic in this article at all.

Don't forget that unions spent a lot more to defeat Adachi's measure last year than he was able to raise to try to pass it.

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

Pension reform is nearly impossible,

Melissa Griffin noted in the morning Examiner that Herrera has yielded to SEIU 1021 once again and has come up with a ballot description of Adachi's Pension Reform that fails to properly describe Jeff's measures as Pension Reform. What this means is that thousands of SEIU workers will be fired over the course of the next couple of years.

And, if Hellman's numbers are right and there is no reform then many many more thousands of workers will join them until the City is forced into bankruptcy a' la Vallejo.

Tax the rich? Nice slogan. Now let's see you do it. This mayor and board is too busy rolling back taxes on the wealthy and even if you came up with a ballot measure, Herrera would butcher it so badly that it would have no chance of victory.

The SEIU brass remind me of the Bruce Willis character in 'Sixth Sense'. Walking around dead and unaware of it.

Go Giants!

h.

Posted by Guest h. brown on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 8:58 pm

It's bad enough the unions have unlimited $ to engineer massive information campaigns, now we learn today that Herrera rigged the ballot language for Prop B and is trying to rig it again.

It's corruption plain and simple, and this guy is running for mayor...

Posted by Flowers on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

As you have said before, "these people" have been "killing their political opponents for thousands of years."

Right?

Change your tagline to "go Hitler!"

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 10:14 pm

The authors state: "Adachi is slashing San Francisco's workers pay and pensions through the ballot."

It's called real politics. Most politicians won't address the pension issue with any credibility because taking on unionize civil servants at the local or state level is essentially committing political suicide. No group is more organized - or has more at stake - than the employees of municipal and state govenment.

The only people who would dare make the necessary changes to unsustainable pension and heathcare contracts are the voters. So Mr. Adachi is right on point with his plan to go straight to the voters. Most of us don't want to cut government services by 30% or 50% over teh enxt 5 to 10 years just to meet the ever-increasing pension and healthcare costs that are growing exponentially as the huge baby-boomer geneation retires en masse over the next 10 years.

I'd like to see Mr. Adachi ride this pension reform issue all the way to the mayor's office. In case people haven't been following the news closely, the general public is frightened and angry by the upcoming massive cuts to government services caused by ballooning unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities. And the pubilic is frustrated no governmental body at the local, state or federal level is making the difficult changes needed to restore some fiscal sanity to government budgets.

Over the decades the unions have supported bond financing - one of the most regressive forms of government financing possible - leaving our children and grandchildren with mountains of debt. And the unions have not put pressure on the government to use honest accounting to tell us just how much unfunded liabilities the city creates each year, instead allowing the politicians to hide behind "assumuptions and projections" that have turned out to be wildly inaccurate.

Government. Pay off your debts now. Pay off your unfunded pension and healthcare benefits now. Change the government pension plans so that government workers are in the same sad shape as the rest of us relying on defined contribution, pay-as-you-go pension plans. Maybe then the government workers will start caring about our difficult lives too rather than just see us as the payslaves and chumps.

Posted by Robert on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

I agree that the silver lining in pension reform is it will create more voters for single payer health care.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 10:19 am

Yes, our mayor says the City is five to ten years from bankruptcy- and do these SEIU folks care? Of course they don't.

Just more irrelevant talking points..."Wisconsin"..."billionaire"...."George W. Bush"...Schwarzenegger"....Blah blah blah. And since the unions outspent Adachi's "billionaires" in the Prop B campaign, does that mean the unions have more money than god?

So what is your actual plan to address $6.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $4.5 billion in unfunded retiree health care? Oh, that's right you don't have one- just rants against billionaires.

..."Adachi is slashing workers... pensions." This is a lie.

..."That's why the city's unions are engaged in discussions with the city to develop real pension reform." You mean like the utterly useless, window-dressing pension reform that the unions sponsored and passed as Prop D in June of 2010? Please don't insult the intelligence of SFBG readers.

However, it's always great to be reminded that the SEIU (and ALL other unions) doesn't give a da*n about the inevitable cuts to the poor and the non-profits because of ever escalating, unsustainable employee benefit costs where City employees are loathe to increase their contributions.

Unfortunately for you folks people read newspapers. Adachi will have no problem getting his signatures.

Posted by Flowers on Apr. 05, 2011 @ 9:09 pm

Raise taxes on the people financing Adachi. That is the answer.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 10:21 am

Find their homes, and have regular noisy marches at night where people march around the block shouting "HOW DO YOU SLEEP?"

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 10:34 am

The truth of the matter…
Let’s be clear about who our enemies are and how they use certain individuals to their benefit: Jeff Adachi is an aspiring politician. Obviously he has accepted to do the myth churning for several San Francisco wealthy individuals who along with other millionaires have benefited from making risky investments that are responsible for crashing the world’s financial markets and erased half the world’s wealth, which includes pension fund investments.
These few wealthy individuals will not assume any responsibility for what they have done and for them it is easier to put the blame elsewhere. That elsewhere is on “public workers and their pensions.”
But why are they attacking public workers? For one, they have guaranteed pensions that they fought for, and oh, let’s not forget that they also in mass supported civil rights, gay rights, prochoice, and environmental movements. While we marched for equality and justice for workers, and demanded that our taxes pay for public benefit programs for the poor and elderly, rich individuals like San Francisco based David Crane and Michael Moritz did not pay their fair share of taxes. In essence, their friends in the White House, Bush and now President Obama, have extended their tax breaks.
The richest 1% of Americans are now paying a much lower share of their incomes on taxes than at any time since World War II! If they were taxed at the same rates they were half a century ago, they would be paying over $350 billion more this year alone; enough to reduce future deficits. This would include taxing the profits of California oil companies.
In 2004 California voters passed Proposition 63 which added a 1% surcharge on incomes over $1 million to fund mental health services. Surely we can do this now during our current financial crisis to save our pensions, teachers and adult day health care programs.
If labor unions do not defend workers benefits, then who will? The rich will continue to blame us for this economic recession and will continue to find ways to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. They will find sleazy dupes who need financing for their political careers. Jeff Adachi is one individual who is doing the public bidding for the rich by perpetuating their myth that it is the workers’ pensions that caused the budget deficit.
The truth of the matter is we didn’t cause this recession. I’m voting with my class, the workers of San Francisco against the few rich men who want to buy the next Mayor of our City.
I am not taking the blame! I’m fighting back...at the ballot box. No to Adachi and No more tax breaks for the wealthy. Hands off my pension!
Rosie

Posted by Guest Rosie on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 11:01 am

"Jeff Adachi is one individual who is doing the public bidding for the rich by perpetuating their myth that it is the workers’ pensions that caused the budget deficit."

Hmm...SF revenues have not gone down. Deficits are way up. Hmmm.

I would agree that he is doing the bidding for the rich, but I would also add the poor and everyone else in-between. I gather the poor do not want to see public health cut, potholes mushroom or $100 parking tickets...but that's just me.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

You are trying to connect macro-economic forces, national tax policy, Wall Street, civil rights movements, the pro-choice movement, gay rights, environmental movements, etc. to local pension reform. Tying all those issues to our local pension math problem is a pretty hard sell.

As for prop 63, last I read, our Sacramento legislators have raided those funds the last few budget cycles, so that tax is looking pretty misguided.

Stating that Michael Moritz and David Crane don't pay their "fair share" doesn't make much sense to me. After the Obama tax cuts, we still have a progressive income tax system--wealthy pay a higher marginal rate on higher incomes--so I'm fairly certain they pay a lot more taxes than you or me.

Posted by The Commish on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

People realize that we're being gang raped by the top 1% and it is never a stretch to convince people these days that members of that top 1% are operating locally in harmony with their project at higher levels of government.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 9:01 am

The richest 1% pay 50% of all taxes.

You can't go much further than that without driving them into the hands of accountants and tax lawyers who are far too clever for the odd left-wing internet warrior here.

Posted by TheDoc on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 10:32 am

@TheDoc,

Actually, the erroneous claim you usually hear is that the richest 1% pay around 38% of all taxes. But, in fact, big corporations often pay little or no income taxes due to tax loopholes, dodges, tax havens in the Cayman Islands, etc.~

http://www.alternet.org/economy/150387/2_3rds_of_us_corporations_pay_zer...

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

considerably higher than even in some quasi-socialist nations in Europe.

And since all corporate taxes are ultimately borne by their consumers anyway, it's largely moot what they pay anyway.

And 38% versus 50% we can debate, but either way, the disproportionate amount of tax the rich pay is enormous.

Posted by Chad on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

My word, Doc, where have you been? Even Warren Buffet has admitted that he pays less in taxes than his secretary (at 17.7% while his employees pay 32.9!). And here's what economist Robert Reich has to say on this score~

"Even as their share of the nation’s total income has withered, the tax burden on the middle has grown. Today’s working and middle-class taxpayers are shelling out a bigger chunk of income in payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes than thirty years ago.

It’s just the opposite for super rich.

The top 1 percent’s share of national income has doubled over the past three decades (from 10 percent in 1981 to well over 20 percent now). The richest one-tenth of 1 percent’s share has tripled. And they’re doing better than ever. According to a new analysis by the Wall Street Journal, total compensation and benefits at publicly-traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record in 2010 — $135 billion. That’s up 5.7 percent from 2009.

Yet, remarkably, taxes on the top have plummeted. From the 1940s until 1980, the top tax income tax rate on the highest earners in America was at least 70 percent. In the 1950s, it was 91 percent. Now it’s 35 percent. Even if you include deductions and credits, the rich are now paying a far lower share of their incomes in taxes than at any time since World War II."

http://robertreich.org/post/4344201496

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

how much the rich pay versus others? Whichever way we measure it, the rich will always pay the most tax as only they can. The rest is just tactics.

Why not focus on the revenues we need and the cuts we can make? Rather than trying to use the tyax code to process class envy? Taxes exist to collect revenue from as broad a base as possible, not to punish those who we preceive as being more sucessful

Posted by Chad on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

As Robert Reich said,"If the rich were taxed at the same rates they were half a century ago, they’d be paying in over $350 billion more this year alone, which translates into trillions over the next decade. That’s enough to accomplish everything the nation needs while also reducing future deficits."

Not to mention that we'd have enough left over to pay for essential services without cutting workers' pay or benefits. (American workers haven't had a real wage increase in 30 years.)

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

(Not that he is an objective source anyway).

If taxes rates were much higher, we'd have less rich folks and the ones we would have would be elss rich.

Plus they avoid and evade tax more.

Hence the famous J curve, where tax revenues actually rise when marginal tax rates are lowered.

Posted by Chad on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

@Chad, you almost certainly mean the "Laffer Curve," which by the way projects maximum revenue collection at approx. 70% tax rate.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 10:37 am

The Laffer curve has been thoroughly discredited, except amongst those still steeped in neoliberal junk economics.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 10:38 am

"wealthy pay a higher marginal rate on higher incomes."

That is just brainless.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/money/tax/article1996735.ece

Buffett blasts system that lets him pay less tax than secretary

"...Mr Buffett said that he was taxed at 17.7 per cent on the $46 million he made last year, without trying to avoid paying higher taxes, while his secretary, who earned $60,000, was taxed at 30 per cent..."

Posted by Guest on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 10:25 am

in other words try again

Posted by Guest on Jun. 22, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

CA GOP position on pensions, indistinguishable, arguably more progressive, than Adachi/Moritz:

http://cssrc.us/news.aspx?id=10535

Posted by marcos on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 11:12 am

i only recently learned that attorneys and union reps are exempt from city laws regarding who needs to register with the ethics commission as a lobbyist, and such an enormous loophole is ridiculous, IMHO.

the matter of union lobbyists self-registering should be part of this debate regarding pension reforms.

lemme state also want willie brown and rose pak to self-register as lobbyists, and like the union lobbyists, all of these folks should not wait for the supes to take a few years and get around to closing this rotten loophole.

Posted by MPetrelis on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

First the negative:

"It would be laughable if its implications weren't so devastating for working people employed by the city and those living in and around San Francisco...Adachi is slashing San Francisco's workers pay and pensions through the ballot, effectively taking those items off the bargaining table."

Then the sad retrospective:

'In San Francisco, the deficit that cannot cover the city's pension fund contributions was similarly brought on by three decades of tax cuts for corporations and the rich in California, compounded by former Mayor Gavin Newsom opposing nearly every revenue measure proposed throughout his seven-year reign — and by the city not contributing its share to the pension fund for all the years the stock market was doing well."

Then the "don't look here, look there" used car salesman bait and switch:

"In determining how "progressive" Adachi's measure is, we should, as always, follow the money. Here's who's is backing his proposal: "

Then the comforting solution that there are "discussions" taking place that are going to fix the problem using "facts" :

"That's why the city's unions are engaged in discussions with the city to develop real pension reform that is fact-based..."

Then the facts:

Posted by Rod Ciferri on Apr. 06, 2011 @ 10:01 pm

Hey Rod, how about expressing your thoughts in collage form, at least that is esthetically entertaining?

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 9:01 am

Marc:

Maybe you should go to work for the unions as a snarky punchline creator -- if you aren't already so employed.

Also, thanks, again, for your compliments of my collages. You can buy one at Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto.

Posted by Rod Ciferri on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

over-employed, given both the frequency and the prolixity with which he posts here (not to mention many other blogs - he's a regular little internet warrior and, I'm sure, a hoot at parties)

Posted by Chad on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

Not only a very creative response, but so true as well.

It's a reminder of a link posted on another chatboard to the Razzle-Dazzle song and dance from Chicago. The Guardian management doesn't allow us to put links here in case it might be an unauthorized web site like the Wall Street Journal or something equally egregious, but if you haven't recently seen this great Richard Gere memory check it out on youtube: watch?v=Rn5-VN3SH1o

The song perfectly captures life in the 20th and 21st centuries when it comes to politics and economics.

"It's all a circus. A 3-ring circus.
This trial - the whole world.
It's all show-business."

The union's negotiating tactics remind me of Israel's consistent strategy: Stall. Pontificate. Stall. Act outraged. Stall. Hurl a few epitaphs at the other side. Stall.

All the while - years upon years - the "facts on the ground" remain. Land and water remain confiscated. Settlements get expanded. Dividing walls get built. Negotiating dates get pushed out months and years into the future.
Stall. Wash.
Stall. Rinse.
Stall. Spin.
Stall. Repeat.

The annual multi-million pension and healthcare payouts are not going away. The baby boomer generation is retiring by the tens of thousands over the next decade and the numbers will keep growing. Every year major parts of current government services will keep getting cut.

I don't blame the public employee unions per se for the fiscal mess we're in, but they sure weren't helpful to the non-unionized middle class over the past 30 years when the government - of which they are a key component - kept increasing sales taxes and bond interest payments, while giving billion dollar annual tax subsidies to landlords, property speculators and big companies that have been shipping well-paying jobs overseas.

Nothing has changed in the economic status quo after all these decades other than unions are now starting to feel some of the economic malise their non-union brothers and sisters have been living through for at least a generation.

It's likely in the next 10-15 years defined benefit plans will be replaced with 401/403 plans. It's also possible public unions will one day be relying on the solvancy of Medicare just like the rest of us non-union schmucks. Maybe at that time - when their respective economic situations are more closely aligned - unions and the working families who are not part of the more elite union class will be able to walk hand in hand together again for mutual benefit. Like maybe a 4-day work week to solve the ever-nagging unemployment problem? Like a tax system that taxes labor the least and rent and interest incomes the most? Like a housing market that lets homeowners have lower taxes while everyone else - landlords, investors and speculators - pay really high taxes?

Oh and Rod, sorry about the snide remark from another poster. A couple of weeks back the same poster was trying to out someone who obvioulsy prefers to post anonymously. That was really tasteless too. The Guardian Management seems to allow this type of hostile behavior so you'll notice a fair number of posters here whose ratio of personal vindictiveness to sober thinking and writing is about 1,000%.

Razzle-Dazzle has a good line about this too. If someone can "win" by tearing down the other side I suppose a tiny fraction of the population will consider that a win. But even that tiny percentage won't think it's a win on the merits being debated.

"Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle,
Razzle dazzle 'em

Show 'em the first rate sorcerer you are

Long as you keep 'em way off balance
How can they spot you got... no talents?
Razzle dazzle 'em
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll make you a star!"

Posted by Robert on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

"Nothing has changed in the economic status quo after all these decades other than unions are now starting to feel some of the economic malise their non-union brothers and sisters have been living through for at least a generation."

And Moritz and Coates are going to connect the dots between breaking the status quo in favor of impoverishing everyone and organizing to put Moritz and Coates out of our misery?

Moritz and Coates represent the ongoing organization of the rentier class, the likes of which our side has not adapted to and is perishing as a result. If the rentiers can win in San Francisco, they can win anywhere.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

Oh, I know it's silly, Rod, but let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Bradshaw and Ms. Sanchez actually have a point. Let's suppose that the same dynamic that's going on in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa is being played out right here in San Francisco. And that it is being funded by the ultra wealthy whose primary agenda is to undermine unions, gut collective bargaining agreements, privatize public services, etc, all in the interests of amassing even greater wealth for themselves. If this is true, wouldn't you be against this? Wouldn't you fight it with your last breath, just as a progressive (that is, if you are a progressive)?

Oh, but I think I hear you hombre. Nah, not even a remote possiblility, you say? Oh, but of course! Silly me. Just another left wing-nut conspiracy theory. As your friend Matt will tell you, I have a rather active imagination. So, indulge me for just a moment while I suppose things that never were and never will be...

Suppose that wealthy have an agenda to gut the public sector entirely in order to amass even more wealth for themselves? Oh goodness, I had some doubt about this myself. So I wrote to journalist Shamus Cooke, who sent me a eye-opening essay on the neoliberal corporate agenda...err, conspiracy theory.

Unfortuantely, I dont' have it on hand right now, but here's what Mr. Cooke had to say in a revealing article in Counterpunch, “The corporate establishment has made it clear that a ‘strong recovery’ depends on U.S. workers making ‘great sacrifices’ in the areas of wages, health care, pensions, and more ominously, reductions in so-called ‘entitlement programs’ - Social Security, Medicare, and other social services. [...] These plans have been discussed at length in corporate think tanks for years, and only recently has the mainstream media begun a coordinated attack to convince American workers of the 'necessity' of adopting these policies." Read it for yourself~

http://www.truth-out.org/labor-fights-back-living-wages-and-jobs-for-all...

Now, are there any parallels with Wisconsin here? Well, let's see, like Scott Walker, David Crane wrote an eye-popping piece in which he argued that public employees do not deserve to have collective bargaining rights. And as Senator Ted W. Lieu points out, the economic crisis in this state was engineered by Schwarzeneggar (Crane's boss)~

"In his Op-Ed, titled "Should Public Employees Have Collective Bargaining", Mr. Crane argues that because of collective bargaining, "general fund spending on higher education, parks and environmental protection was flat or lower." As a matter of historical fact, that is false. Our general fund spending generally declined because of a national economic recession. The recession was not caused by collective bargaining or public sector unions, but by private sector, out of control Wall Street firms at the time.

The specific reason our general fund spending sharply declined was because the person Mr. Crane advised, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, reduced the Vehicle License Fee and replaced it with . . . nothing. As a result, the state general fund lost over $5 to $6 billion in revenues per year for every year Mr. Schwarzenegger was in office. The VLF reduction has resulted in a total loss of over $30 billion to the state, an amount in excess of the current California budgetary shortfall. How conveniently Mr. Crane forgot to mention that critical fact when it doesn't suit his ideological assault on public sector unions."

I'll have to continue this tomorrow...

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 07, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

I trust that the parallels between Wisconsin and SF are apparent to anyone who read or researched this for themselves. In short, Scott Walker engineered a fiscal crisis in order to break the backs of the unions. [Note: The previous Democratic administration had left Wisconsin with a $121 million surplus.] As Senator Ted Lieu said, Schwarzenegger initiated a similar crisis in California when he “reduced the Vehicle License Fee and replaced it with . . . nothing.” Then he went after the public employees, blaming them for a crisis of his own making.

Now, Michael Moritz wrote an op-ed in the WSJ where he said, “If pension reform…can start in famously liberal San Francisco, then it can happen anywhere.” What he really meant was that if this end-run around collective bargaining process succeeds here, it spells the death of collective bargaining everywhere.

Don't believe it? Ohio Governor John Kasich just signed a law to eliminate collective bargaining for public workers. Guess who contributed to his campaign for goveror of Ohio? Yes, as Bradshaw and Sanchez have pointed out, Moritz shelled out $11,000 to get Kasich in the Governor's seat. And he has also contributed to the Ohio Republican Party Central Committee.

The other billionaire who is funding Adachi's measure has argued for the elimination of collective bargaining for public workers. And yet, we get ridiculed for daring to inquire about the agenda of the folks who are backing these anti-worker measures. We're not supposed to notice that little billionaire behind the curtain...you know, the one pulling Adachi's strings. Yeah, razzle-dazzle us Rod!

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

George Soros?

The tin foil hat marches on.

Posted by meatlocker on Apr. 08, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

Good for you- you're very passionate but please just stick to your general rants against the evil rich.

"The other billionaire who is funding Adachi's measure has argued for the elimination of collective bargaining for public workers. And yet, we get ridiculed for daring to inquire about the agenda of the folks who are backing these anti-worker measures. We're not supposed to notice that little billionaire behind the curtain...you know, the one pulling Adachi's strings."

If you are referring to David Crane here as the "other billionaire" (calling him a "billionaire" is a lie but will let that one slide), please provide any statement where Crane strictly called for the elimination of cb rights. There isn't one and as a matter of fact, he has said explicitly he supports cb for UC employees.

Moritz is pulling Adachi's strings?? Are you f'ing kidding me? Adachi recruited Moritz - not the other way around. Get your facts straight. Yes, we all know you hate Adachi, but no one pulls that guy's strings. You don't take on the ENTIRE SF union cabal if you don't have a spine.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 9:56 am

David Crane has been variously referred to as a "billionaire investment banker" or a "multi-millionaire" in several articles I've come across. (e.g. see "Is David Crane just another Kochhead?" @SFBG)

I think you're just trying to split hairs here, since he is obviously an exceptionally wealthy individual...and that's my point. But if you have information that could enlighten me as to the exact measure of his wealth, by all means, share that link with me.

Crane did indeed write an op-ed piece in the "Should public employees have collective bargaining?"~

http://articles.sfgate.com/2011-02-27/opinion/28635623_1_public-sector-p...

I read this piece, and he certainly appears to be making a case against collective bargaining rights for public employees. Crane states, "Collective bargaining is a good thing when it's needed to equalize power, but when public employees already have that equality because of civil service protections, collective bargaining in the public sector serves to reduce benefits for citizens and to raise costs for taxpayers."

However, the Chronicle took Leland Yee to task for "falsely claiming" that Crane had called for an end to collective bargaining rights for public workers. But as Sarah Phelan points out, "public records reveal Crane to be less a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and more of a Bushocrat, an ultra-rich investor who supported G.W. Bush through two elections, and repeatedly frames the collective bargaining rights of government employees as an obstacle standing in the way of pension reform and budget balancing."

http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2011/03/09/david-crane-just-another-kochhead

Later on, when Crane was being considered for a position on the Board of Regents, he attempted to backpedal away from his earlier statements (from the Chron op-ed). As Sarah Phelan reports, Senator Ted Lieu took Crane to task for this about-face~

“Now that Mr. Crane senses his confirmation may be in jeopardy, he attempts to marginalize his own Op-Ed by releasing a new statement saying he really didn't mean to attack all public sector unions, just those who happen to have statutory civil service protections,” Lieu added. “For those in Ivory Towers that distinction may have some academic meaning, but for everyone else in the real world that is a distinction without a difference. Civil Service protections do not prevent employees from being terminated or laid off, they provide standards for government to follow when firing or disciplining employees. Such protections do not guarantee appropriate wages or benefits, nor address a plethora of other issues, such as workforce safety issues.”

“Mr. Crane's Op-Ed also discusses political spending by public sector unions, “Lieu concluded. “In his world view, political spending by the California Teachers Association is inappropriate, but the massive political spending by the Koch Brothers would presumably be acceptable. I cannot, and will not, support someone for the post of UC Regent who blames public sector employees, such as teachers, for somehow being responsible for our economic crisis or the resulting decline in general fund spending. We need UC Regents who are interested in solving problems, not those who twist historical facts to suit an ideological agenda."

Guest, please print your full name if you're going to accuse me of lying or any other ad hominem attack. Otherwise, you're little more than a coward and a hypocrite. Just saying.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

Well, I can see how that happens now. Guest, I'll assume that you meant to post your name and wouldn't attack someone anonymously....because it's cowardly. However, the next time you call someone a liar, please identify yourself. Thanks.

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

In fact, I admire him for the job he's doing as a defense attorney. And I'm sure he believes he's doing the right thing (what is they say about the "road to hell"?). I just don't understand how a "progressive" could ally himself with conservatives like Howard Leach, Moritz, with their anti-worker agenda.

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

...Was just making a snide comment about your calling Crane a billionaire. Crane is an expert on the state's financial problems and knows his stuff.

...Agree that I should not have posted that you hate Adachi - that was kinda dumb.

My main beef is that you obfuscate on this topic and never discuss the core issue which is the math. I assume you do not want the City to go bankrupt. How do you propose the City pay off its $4.5 billion in unfunded retiree health debt that it is growing at $300 million a year and its $6.5 billion unfunded pension liability? ( And no, the City can't lawfully "tax the rich"...)

Peace,

Guest

Posted by Guest on Apr. 09, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

It is the billionaires that led the economy into bankruptcy and put the City budget on life support, and it is not going to be the billionaires that lead us into solvency and ample municipal services.

Everything in the billionaire's project is designed to shrink the size of government and to privatize everything for a profit, all for the benefit of the top 1%.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 7:16 am

great right-wing conspiracy?

Gee, where have I heard that before?

Posted by Chad on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 7:39 am

You see, Rachel Maddow is probably straight down the middle representative of San Franciscan's political orientation. In that consensus Democratic Party conception, it is indeed the top 1% who are rigging the economy to throw us all into serfdom as the cost of increasing their holdings.

If you wish to challenge that consensus Democratic Party middle ground, then by all means, do so. Throw more money at the problem using Tea Party language and rhetoric and go down in flames again.

I can't wait to see the same interests screwing City employees while trumpeting the need for us to approve a special post-employment waiver for Ed Lee so that he can go back to being City Administrator and get that extra, what $50K bump in his pension?

The Chronicle reports: "Lee is opposed to a sliding scale, saying high earners are already paying more money toward their pensions because of their larger salaries."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/04/07/MN7F1IRIEK.D...

That is self-dealing where as Mayor, he's taking steps that directly benefit his financial position were he to return to the position of City Administrator, and should be immediate grounds for lack of consideration for any post-employment waiver.

I'll not hold my breath expecting the billionaires involved in this massive wealth transfer scheme to hold Ed Lee's pension down below $200K. The entire City ruling class will run a full court press to keep the Mayor in the style to which his subservience has made him accustomed to, and which he feels entitled to.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 8:29 am

don't have much sway or say here. They are an easy group to point fingers at but the simple fact is that a handful of rich people don't make much difference to the city's finances at the margin.

And anyway, that's off topic since the issue being debated is a nationwide one. SF is a political footnote in the national debate.

Cuts are happening at all levels of government, because they must happen. Tilting at windmills might make you feel good but that won't pay the bills.

Posted by Chad on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 9:49 am

Jeff Adachi would not be a factor in pensions unless he had Moritz and Coates behind him. Did you ever hear of Citizens United, the activist radicals on the US Supreme Court cherry picked that case out of nothing in order to open the spigots of campaign finance so that the über riches can just buy whatever aspects of government they did not already own.

Like I said, Rachel Maddow represents the middle ground of SF politics here, as she speaks for the mainstream liberal Democrats. Maddow is hammering home on how the top 1% are running government as a battering ram against the bottom 2/3. Please, by all means, put your billionaires up against mainstream Democratic Party pro-union, pro-fairness and get your asses kicked over and again in San Francisco.

Last time, all that it cost progressives was the Board of Supervisors, next time it will divert resources from the Mayor's race. This has nothing to do with pensions and everything to do with controlling SF contracting and development entitlements.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 10:30 am

What do billionaires have to with the City's $4.5 billion in unfunded retiree health care? Answer: nothing. It is idiotic public policy like providing lifetime health care to persons after five years of service (not changed until 2008).

The City's pension system was unsustainable BEFORE the 2008 crash as SB 400 was unsustainable the day it passed in 1999 I believe. You can't craft a pension system on the faulty assumption that the stock market goes up forever at 8% annually. Evil billionaires didn't craft the pension system either.

If the City promises huge benefits to City employees with nothing to pay for it, then that's on public officials - no one else. But keep ranting if it's carthartic...

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 12:17 pm

Billionaires fund Adachi to attack working people. They do this so that working people will be forced to invest individually and Wall Street will get a little off of the top of 25,000 retirement accounts instead of having the City bulk invest for them which will result in fewer fees for Wall Street.

Moritz justifies this on the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Adachi associates himself with the WSJ editorial page by associating with Moritz.

Ditto for Coates.

The attack on unions and retirement is the work of billionaires, and like San Franciscans were smart enough to not fall for that last year, we will not look to billionaires to help us out of a crisis of their creation because we know that even though public finances are a mess, letting the billionaires lead will be much more expensive for us all than doing nothing.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them..." Frederick Douglass

@Guest,

No, I don't want the city to go bankrupt. I am as outraged as anyone else at the practice of spiking, Heather Fong's outrageous pension, etc. In fact, most of the $100K (and higher) salaries are in management and public safety.

As Chris Daly said in a recent comment (@FCJ), "As for pension reform, I believe I was the sole vote against the cop’s contract. If you look at the big salaries and big pensions, that’s where it is. And that’s where any affective reform would need to start. Unfortunately, you’re also looking at one of the only pols who would start there. Adachi didn’t, and that’s why he not only lost, but also lost favor with Progressives."

I agree with Chris. I think reform needs to start there, however it should be negotiated through the collective bargaining process. I am not about to turn my back on fellow workers in the current climate where public employee are under attack all across this nation. However, police, firefighters, prison guards, management, etc., need to recognize the problem and rectify it.

I have a real problem with people lumping all city workers together, as if everyone is getting the same outlandish salaries and pensions. It's simply not true. The public sector has traditionally been a step up for women and minorities. To attack these folks without demanding commensurate
sacrifices from the financial elites who torpedoed the economy is unacceptable.

I support the San Francisco Labor Council's call for " the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to organize massive demonstrations in major cities across the country to demand that the federal government bail out the cash-strapped states through one or more of the following: a national mass public works program to put 27 million people back to work now; taxing Wall Street and raising taxes on the rich and on corporations; a major and systematic reduction in the Pentagon budget, with funds redirected to create jobs and meet human needs; and/or the repossession of improperly used federal bailout funds that are sitting idly in the Wall Street coffers."

Posted by Lisa Pelletier on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 6:18 pm

For all how we love to envy them, there simply aren't enough of them to make any significant difference to public finances. And of course the rich and their money are infinitely mobile, and they can afford accountants who are whip smart.

So the burden of balancing any deficit will always fall on the rank and file. 'Twas ever so.

Posted by Chad on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

The über riches are the ones who caused the deficit because they gambled with other people's money at highly leveraged rates and lost a bunch of bets, and sent the economy into a tailspin.

There is $350m of taxes we can levy on the rich in San Francisco to cover the costs of their errors, and you all had better start thinking down that line of analysis because so long as Jeff Adachi lines up with the WSJ editorial page and speculative billionaires, and so long as Ed Lee covers for the cops and firefighters and for his own soft landing, we're not going to be seeing pension reform pass this year either.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Apr. 10, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

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