Awaiting consensus - Page 3

The long-anticipated compromise pension reform plan still has a couple of key critics


"But Jeff Adachi is throwing a big roll of the legal dice," Elsbernd said. He noted that city employees have long paid 7.5 percent toward their pensions. "But now, along come two pension reform plans that both challenge that notion.

"And every case in California shows you have to provide a commensurate benefit to change that kind of right," he continued, arguing that Lee's proposal is more legally sound because it lowers employees' contributions during boom years. "So the $60 million that our plan would save is a hell of a lot more secure than the $90 million Jeff claims his plan would save."

Sup. David Campos has yet to take a position on Lee's plan, but hopes there is a way to address legitimate concerns about lower-income workers. "There's no question that we have to do something about pension reform," he said. "I don't know if there's a perfect proposal. But I'm especially intrigued by Mayor Lee's plan. It recognizes that low-wage workers should not be expected to contribute at a higher rate than higher-wage workers. But we have to put the mayor's proposal in the context of what else is happening, which is why SEIU's de-skilling concerns are legitimate." Campos credited Adachi for highlighting pension reform. "My hope is that we can come up with something that we can all be supportive of, where the mayor and Jeff's proposals are combined. And while we have to be careful that the balance that has been constructed is maintained, this allows for a dialogue at the board, and for Jeff to be involved, so we can come up with a unified proposal. Because if we are going to address pension reform, we need to do so with a united front."


The Mayor's plan doesn't go far enough. On Bay Citizen, both Mayor Lee and Warren Hellman claimed that $300 million or more savings per year was necessary. Now they put up a measure that saves $60 million a year and claim it's a solid measure? I'd stick with the Adachi plan.

I usually appreciate Elsbernd for being a watchdog over the City's finances, but he's dropping the ball here. His legal argument seems to be that both the Mayor plan and the Adachi plan may affect vested rights, but the Mayor's plan sort of affects them less. His reasoning is weak. In the union's lawsuit over Prop B last year, the court acknowledged that the solvency of the system can be a material factor in whether vested rights can be affected -- it doesn't do any good to preserve benefits when those benefits crater the pension fund and there's no money left for anyone.

Adachi's plan saves more money. And it's more equitable for lower paid workers.

Posted by The Commish on May. 31, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

You omitted this critical fact, Lee's absurd $195,000 pension cap, in the chart provided.

Adachi's plan is superior and Elsbernd (Lee) is out to lunch:

(1) Adachi's plan generates far more savings and therefore, avoids more layoffs and more cuts to critical City services. How can Lee even claim this is enough when at the same time, claiming we need a bond to repair potholes?

(2) Adachi is right - SEIU employees need to stop subsidizing the very generous pensions of police and fire. If any reporter would bother to read the City Charter, police and fire were legally required to increase their pension contributions a long time ago.

3) Elsbernd is making stuff up about the "legal roll of the dice." The "commensurate benefit" employees receive is the solvency of their own pension system. Otherwise, all employees are at risk of losing some portion (or all) of their pension because it is currently between $2.5 billion and $6.5 underfunded. San Jose is taking more drastic action right now than Adachi is. A huge flaw in Lee's proposal is that reducing employee contributions in "boom years" is EXACTLY the type of thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.

4) Lee's plan is not the "Business Plan." If one researched, you would see that the Chamber of Commerce receives funding from the City and therefore has a clear conflict or ulterior motive to support Lee's plan. A real survey of businesses would reveal they would support Adachi paln as it generates more savings to preserve critical CIty services.

5) Adachi caps pensions at $140,000- Lee\Elsbernd at $195,000.

6) Adachi's plan is more equitable for lower paid workers.

As has been posted, Lee originally said in February his goal was $300 million in annual savings. He failed and is now touting his "serious" proposal. Lee didn't move the goal posts, he took them down.

...This is BY FAR the best reporting on the pension issue by SFBG. I hope we can continue to see solid reporting on this important topic.

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

I also agree with the last two sentences. This was a good article.

Posted by The Commish on May. 31, 2011 @ 9:47 pm

So, Supervisor Campos,

You are "intrigued" by the Mayor's plan? Like a rat looking up at a weaving cobra I'd guess. Hey, a guy's gotta pay is mortgage right?

Adachi's plan is more fair to all. As Joe O'Donoghue is wont to say: "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure.". The Hellman group are liars 'figuring'.

If Adachi or Gonzalez or both don't enter the race for Mayor because of this bullshit then they have holes in their heads. San Francisco needs a Mayor who'll tell them the truth and the remedies, not just someone looking to kiss Gabriel Haaland's upturned patooie at every opportunity.

Giants playing in my hometown (St. Louis) and every win is a loss and every loss is a win on both sides. Kind of like true love.


Posted by Guest h. brown on May. 31, 2011 @ 9:43 pm

"Avalos, who described Lee's proposal as "a sensible approach" and "the right way to go," has said that if SEIU's concerns aren't adequately addressed, he'll withdraw his sponsorship."

Why is the city paying Avalos's salary?

Shouldn't the SEIU being paying it?

It's comical that the Bay Guardian thinks it is some sort of modern day muckraker when they line up behind these owned lackeys.

Posted by matlock on May. 31, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

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