Sorting out the Adachi initiative

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Lots of press on the Adachi pension-reform measure, a proposal that would amount to cutting the pay of city workers during a recession. It turns out even Gavin Newsom doesn't like the plan:

The mayor also attacked Adachi's pension plan, arguing that the public defender never discussed it with the employee unions, city officials or others affected by the measure and that it could have "unintended consequences" for the city.

And while I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that the Adachi measure "could reshape national politics," Randy Shaw makes a good point:

Adachi’s measure would join with Sean Elsbernd MUNI charter amendment to create a one-two punch against public employees on San Francisco’s November ballot. The national media will have a field day with the prospect of “liberal” San Francisco, and Nancy Pelosi’s home turf, voting to cut public employee compensation.

While this is not the message Adachi wants to send, it will likely be the one that is heard. It emerges at a time when the entire Republican Party and corporate Democrats are in a full-fledged media campaign to redirect public anger over the fiscal crisis toward excessively compensated public employees, and away from banks, oil companies, hedge fund managers, and an under taxed and poorly regulated private sector.

Shaw also says that the campaign will "bitterly divide progressives," and I'm not sure it has to turn out that way. There's always the danger that liberal voters who work in the private sector, and are struggling to keep their jobs and health insurance, will be seduced by the notion that public-sector employees are too well paid already. And the donwtown folks, who will soon be fully on board with the Adachi measure, will seek to divide the nonprofit sector and labor by arguing that nonprofit workers don't get the same benefits as city employees -- and city funding for nonprofits is threatened by the budget deficit. Both those things are true, but it's also true that there's a growing movement to challenge that approach. This battle will be a test for the city's progressive movement, but I think the overwhleming majority of progressive leaders, activists and nonprofits will stick together and oppose Adachi.

The more important political impact will be felt in the tightly contested district-election contests, where city-employee pensions could join the sit-lie measure as wedge issues that the moderates will use against progressives. When Adachi came down to see us, I asked him if he was worried about that; he didn't really seem to think it was important.

But there's a reason we talk about a "progressive movement" (and don't start on the "machine" stuff again, we had that debate over here). We all ought to be concerned about how one campaign affects the larger goal of building a better and more sustainable city. And while I hate to say it, I have to agree with Gavin Newsom: This thing could have "unintended consequences."

 

Comments

In your article above, Tim, you say:

"... city-employee pensions could join the sit-lie measure as wedge issues that the moderates will use against progressives. When Adachi came down to see us, I asked him if he was worried about that; he didn't really seem to think it was important."

Perhaps the problem is the current, narrow concept of "progressive" in SF, rather than Jeff Adachi's proposal for pension reform or the proposed Civil Sidewalks Law.

As progressives in SF have become ever more narrow and doctrinaire, the number of reform measures that they scoff at has become ever more numerous.

The two tendencies are mutually enabling.

I remember a time when SF progressivism was a popular, inspiring, independent movement. But in recent years, it has degenerated into a doctrinaire sect of ideologues with a bunker mentality, tied to the fortunes of certain politicians, and co-opted by unions, the nonprofit political complex, and the cannabis capitalists.

Hopefully, the pension reform measure and the proposed Civil Sidewalks Law will help loosen the grip of the ideologues as they strive to keep the windows of SF progressivism tightly closed.

Let fresh air in!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jul. 07, 2010 @ 4:23 pm

I'm afraid I don't understand. Doesn't the Adachi plan ask for contributions from workers to their pensions funds -- but is scaled based on salary??

Is it really a cut throat attack on workers to ask that they contribute to their pension funds? Do public workers all over the U.S. NOT contribute to their pension funds?

My other question is this: How is this going to become a "wedge" issue that downtown/real estate will use against our progressive candidates in district elections if Newsom is denouncing it?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 07, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

Tim

How is engaging in collective bargaining "anti union"? Isn't that what all unions want? and fight for?

Please indicate where in the Fix Muni Now amendment that states how much driver salaries will be reduced, as well as benefits. Please quote it directly, do not infer.

What's that? Can't do it? That's because that's not what the amendment is about.

It's simply about engaging in collective bargaining. It is more likely that the amendment could just as easily result in MORE pay for drivers during the process. You know, the one ALL OTHER unions engage in. And it takes on outdated work rules that increase costs to Muni and hurt service. Anyone who's waited for a bus that never shows up because a driver didn't bother to call in sick knows this one.

Progressives no longer care about making SF a great city with great services - they just think the City is a jobs program for city unions only, and the public be damned. Plenty of progressive voters are sick of seeing programs cut and Muni rot, and it's clear you and the BG staff don't do your research before blasting people who are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

More to the point - the Labor Council has been appeased so much over the years. Where is their solution to the pension costs and so on? Let them put an alternative on the ballot so we have a choice.

Aww, but that would be too difficult. Better to scream and yell and lie. The Progressive Way.

Posted by Red Tidmond on Jul. 07, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

In the face of the recession and the budget crises in the state and in municipalities throughout California, it is clear that solutions lie beyond the status quo. Jeff and Matt have their own reasons for the campaign, the most obvious being a simple recognition of city fiscal obligations being stretched beyond the revenues needed to maintain them. In this context, the gubernatorial campaign of Green Party candidate Laura Wells presents several fundamental structural reforms that address these issues in the state bank proposal and closing the Prop 13 loopholes.

As a long-time Green, it has become clear that posturing will not address real problems and revenues will not be increased by adding on more fees and fines to city residents and businesses. Support for SFSMARTREFORM means that people are establishing priorities. Making decisions inevitably impact others. Not making decisions also impacts others. It is worth saying that I for one consider that the reconstruction of public schools in San Francisco and throughout California is a priority. Unsustainable government and one party rule is not a solution. It IS the problem. Visit the future, see Detroit.

Posted by Martin Zehr on Jul. 07, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

Ok, so now I understand that Adachi's measure would require workers to contribute about 1.5 percent more than they currently contribute. That doesn't seem too draconian.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 07, 2010 @ 10:21 pm

I am a City employee and want to say, we have given back already. We have agreed to pay 7.5% into our pensions, are paying an additional .95% additional premium to help other City employees who would otherwise have lost their jobs and/or have had a pay reduction, plus we are taking 12 unpaid furlough days, with a resulting pay reduction that will be taken out of our salaries each paycheck for two years. What more does Jeff Adachi want and why is he picking on us? Most of us do not earn more than $100,000, do not spike our pay and do not get paid overtime. The police and firemen/women are in that category, not the majority of City workers. I think public employees are also being scapegoated for the sins of corporate greed and entitlement. Maybe Jeff Adachi makes enough to contribute to a 401 K for his retirement and live off of it, but most of us do not.

I also want to say that we work under terrific pressure (in DPH, Children's Behavioral Health Services), pressure which has increased due to budgeting and staffing shortages. No one should have to work under this kind of pressure, because we cannot adequately provide low income and underserved populations the quality of services they deserve when we are turned into assembly line workers--spending more time doing paperwork on computers than actually working with our clients. If the City wanted to save money, they should have more carefully thought through their plans to put everything on computers. They should have more carefully evaluated the new assessment forms we have to fill out, which take hours. It takes many of us three times as long to complete paperwork than it did when we could just write out perfectly useful assessments, goals and other administrative details pertinent to serving children and families in mental health clinics. It is pathetic to see all our workers staring at computer screens when we should be seeing our clients. But if we spend too much time with clients we will then be in trouble for getting behind on the ever-speeding-up paperwork requirements on ever-more-time-consuming computerized software. It would be gratifying if SFBG could do an inside story on the costs vs. benefits of money spent on computer software programs that slow us down and take us away from our clients.

In conclusion, most City workers are conscientious, hard-working and, given the chance, could probably come up with myriad ways to reduce City spending without penalizing those of us who give our all to serve low-income clients. But nobody asks us. SFBG: You have an untapped source of information available to you if you can help us to disclose it to you without giving away our identities. After all, we don't want to end up unemployed for speaking out!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 07, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

You guys should stop complaining cuz one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed give it a try u guys are too hard on democrats they went to college and we voted for most of these people.so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. as for obama people are just tryin to make it look like america made a mistake he has done things to help us and we had a full 8 years of a terrible president and i will be so as happy as ever when a obama fixes bush's mistakes. You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price from http://bit.ly/cn4pjL obama has to put up with the wo0rld judging his every move and trying to fix the mess we are in we are lucky anyone wants to be our president. STOP COMPLAINING AND GIVE HIM A BREAK. i wanna see one of yall do what he sas done. some people are just so ignorant.

Posted by kingbasil on Jul. 07, 2010 @ 11:59 pm

This reminds me of the history of the origins of PROP 13. The failure of the Governor and the Legislature to act in a timely way resulted in the PROP 13 disaster. Now, the Chamber and Chevron are extending the 2/3rds vote of the People requirement to all revenue measures, including Fees. This will bankrupt CA if approved by the Voters by a simple majority vote.

Why is Chevron and the Chamber doing this? Because of the opposition to a Constitutional Convention so we can get our fiscal house in order--that is my guess.

So the SF Civil Grand Jury issued a report warning that the SF pension system is not solvent, and the Board refused to respond as Labor wants no changes (except tax increases).

The Civil Grand Jury approached our Electeds and Mr.Adachi and Mr.Gonzalez respond by going to the ballot.

We have no one to blame but ourselves it seems to me.

Posted by Guest Charley_sf on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 8:53 am

The city's payments to retired pensioners increased $130 million this year. City workers pay a pittance to cover the pension costs of their own bethren.

These costs are scheduled to go up another $170 billion next year.

This is money that should have been spent on public healthcare, on libraries, on rec centers, on roads.

Adachi and Matt Gonzalez (is he a a capitalist sell-out, too?) are only asking that city workers pay enough into their pension funds to cover their own pension obligations. That's not asking for much.

For a financial breakdown, see our discussions over the past couple of weeks. This is a train-wreck in the making.

Posted by Barton on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 9:39 am

As for the MUNI proposition, drivers are guaranteed the second-highest wages in America. They don't have to bargain for wages or for specifics on driving schedules.

What is wrong with collective bargaining? What is wrong with asking the union to bargain in good faith?

That's all this proposition does.

Posted by Barton on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 9:42 am

First of all, this post isn't about the Muni reform measure; that's a different charter amendment. Second, the Adachi measure does NOT make any adjustment for how much money you make; everyone, from the lowest-paid clerk to the members of the $100K-plus club, will chip in the same percentage -- and takie the same pay cut. Third, the city employee above is correct: the people on the lower end have already given back. When the wealthy and big business are willing to do their part, too, then they can talk. So far, they've done nothing but take advantage of Bush-era tax cuts to collect an ever-larger share of the nation's wealth. Talk about unfair.

Posted by tim on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 10:19 am

You have your facts incorrect. First, it's not the same percentage--the ballot states that police and fire would pay 10% and all other employees would pay 9%. Second, it's not a pay cut. These workers are contributing to their own retirement fund. It's not a pay cut for the same reason that a private or public employee contributing to his 401(k) account is not taking a pay cut. Third, many of the givebacks are illusory and temporary. For example, the givebacks are 12 furlough days over two years. As another example, the police union claims to have given back, but cops are still receiving a net raise.

Posted by Patrick on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

Tim,

You just contradicted yourself.

First you said that " the Adachi measure does NOT make any adjustment for how much money you make".

Then you said that "everyone, from the lowest-paid clerk to the members of the $100K-plus club, will chip in the same percentage".

So which is it? Is everyone paying the same flat amount? Or is a percent based on salary?

Since pension payouts are typically based on salary, the argument has always been that pension contributions should be a percent of salary.

What percent? Whatever it takes to make the plan solvent. Which is definitely way more than at present.

The ideal solution would be the same as the rest of us have i.e. a Dc plan. But until then, their DB plan has to be self-sustaining.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 12:12 pm

We need to get this straight, because it's important. This is a flat assessment; if you make $40,000 a year, you pay 9 percent, and if you make $150,000 a year, you pay 9 percent. There's a huge problem with that: If you take 9 percent away from a $40,000 a year worker, that's $3,600, and the worker has only $36,400 left. You take 9 percent from $150,000, and that's $13,500, and the worker has $136,500 left.

In the first case, the worker might not be able to pay rent. In the second case, there's a lot more left.

That's why a progressive tax system (which is well established in the US) taxes higher incomes at a higher PERCENTAGE.

Posted by Tim Redmond on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

Tim,

It is not factual to say that it is a "flat assessment." The highest paying workers (fire and police) will be paying 10% into their pension funds which is more than other city employees.

Posted by RCCola on Jul. 13, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

Appreciate the somewhat more nuanced approach to this Adachi measure. But I think the real question has less to do with "progressives" being divided or not, and everything to do with the possibility of working people being punished immediately, directly, and unfairly. Adachi and co. spin this specter of a "pension crisis" as something that will harm the common good of future generations, and that our only salvation lies in punishing our public workforce. Textbook scapegoating and fearmonger tactics.

Nobody has all the answers. But a good place to start looking would be at corporations that could be kicking in a bit more cash for the "common good." The only thing unsustainable is that these guys aren't doing so already.

Posted by Guest LD on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

Appreciate the somewhat more nuanced approach to this Adachi measure. But I think the real question has less to do with "progressives" being divided or not, and everything to do with the possibility of working people being punished immediately, directly, and unfairly. Adachi and co. spin this specter of a "pension crisis" as something that will harm the common good of future generations, and that our only salvation lies in punishing our public workforce. Textbook scapegoating and fearmonger tactics.

Nobody has all the answers. But a good place to start looking would be at corporations that could be kicking in a bit more cash for the "common good." The only thing unsustainable is that these guys aren't doing so already.

Posted by Guest LD on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

A pension contribution is NOT a tax, so comparisons with a "progressive" income tax system are irrelevant.

Your point would make sense if and only if all pension recipients receive an identical payout. But they do not. They get a payout dependent on their (usually final) salary.

Just like social security, in fact.

I know of no pension system where all payments in and out are identical for all levels of pay.

Nor of one where diffeering levels pay differing percents.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 08, 2010 @ 11:48 pm

I agree that any increase in pension costs paid by pre-pension-earning workers should NOT be based on a flat tax! It is unfair to penalize our clerk (who already was "laid off", and rehired at a lower salary, on probation, no less--due to our budget cuts) by expecting her to pay pension costs at the same percentage as the higher earners--those many City employees who earn over $100,000 per year! Pensions are a valid and legitimate way of allowing workers to protect ourselves in our old age. We can't count on the stock market, we can't count on the banks--what are any of us supposed to live on if we do not have inherited wealth or property??

People talk about pension costs taking away from social programs. Excuse me, but since no one can save enough to live on through their old age, where do they think many elderly people will end up looking for help if they have no reliable income source to live on? Yep--we will look to social programs to help us. Better we should be as self-sustaining as possible. Since I am in the no-inherited-wealth category and not a homeowner, I am counting on my pension, Social Security (which I also paid into, just like you did) a little savings and a Deferred Compensation Plan (NOT employer-matched) to see me through. Instead of blaming those of us who pay into our pension funds, we should all be clamoring for private businesses, corporations and other non-governmental entities to provide pensions, whether through pooling funds through group pension programs or other means. Look up, folks, at those who are not paying their fair share-- the corporate interests, banks, developers, mortgage and insurance companies and all those who pay their CEO's millions of dollars-- not down at the middle-class worker.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 6:06 am

Sorry, but there is a big difference between Social Security and the city's public-sector pension scheme.

Socially Security is solvent. Those monthly checks granny gets are covered by a fund that pays its own way.

SF public-sector pensions are seriously underfunded. City workers don't pay enough into it to cover costs for their retired bethren.

So, pensioners have to dip into city revenues to cover their liabilities. They dipped in for around $190 million this year, and the controller's office says this will rise to around $600 million in five years. Fully 1/4 of city employee's are now eligible for retirement.

Matt Gonzalez and Adachi are only asking that city workers pay more to fund their own retirement. What's wrong with that?

Posted by Barton on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 7:31 am

Why Matt Gonzalez supports it:
1. Half of city workers pay ABSOLUTELY NOTHING into the city's tamed-down version of social security.

2. Underfunded pension obligations will rise to $700 million in two years (THINK ABOUT THAT!: 1/5 of the entire city budget will go to meet underfunded pension payments)

Here what Matt says against the percentage argument expressed above:

"Paying a percentage of your income, even if it’s the same percentage across the board, guarantees the higher wage earners pay more. It’s also worth noting these are pre-tax dollars and they go into a retirement account that belongs to the worker. They can take the money out of these accounts, if they leave employment prior to retirement, if they choose to do so."

Posted by Barton on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 7:44 am

Baron

Yes, this is all about how we fund these vast pension liabilities. Every City and State has the same problem.

In the private sector, we are basically all now 100% responsible for our own pension through DC plans and our own contributions

It has to go that way for public employees too. We can't carry on assuming that future taxpayers will endlessly bankroll insanely generous pensions for janitors at city hall but not for janitors anywhere else.

Even rabid socialists like Gonzales seem to get this. Everyone except the SFBG, of course, for whom every issue is an exercize in class warfare.

Getting public employees to contribute is just the first step. Then convert them, or at least new employees, to a DC plan.

Then eventually get the taxpayer off the hook altogether.

Posted by Folly on Jul. 09, 2010 @ 8:59 am

Luke Thomas is right on when he wrote under a similar blog post: “Here’s an idea: Come up with an alternative solution that addresses runaway pension and healthcare costs in way that’s palatable and equitable. If it’s viable, and there’s consensus buy-in across the political aisle to advance a legislative solution through the Board, then you can approach Jeff and ask him to withdraw his ballot measure.”

For those of us living in reality, who recognize money doesn’t get printed by anyone except the Federal Government in the USA, and who are losing more and more needed services as the young people with the least seniority are laid off from the City and County of San Francisco know, the status quo is unsustainable.

While Mayor Newsom and other politicians (and the peanut galleries on blogs) in this town are busy shooting arrows in Jeff Adachi’s back for stepping out of line with the career politicians and standing up for sustainable pension reforms that will help to do the most good for the most San Franciscans, San Franciscans who are not benefiting from unsustainable pensions and healthcare benefits are quickly learning who is beholden to the special interests and political machines in San Francisco and who the real, principled leader(s) are among our elected officials.

Here’s something to suck on … “Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $27.73 per hour worked in March 2010. Total employer compensation costs for State and local government workers averaged $39.81 per hour worked in March 2010.”

Read the whole thing at http://bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ecec.pdf

You folks against sustainable pension reform in San Francisco want folks in the private sector who earn an average $27.73 in total compensation per hour to give up needed services like MUNI, public health, and public defense and/or pay for fees and taxes to support the unsustainable retirement benefits of folks who earn 44% MORE TOTAL COMPENSATION? Talk about taking from the poor to give to the well off … what kind of “progressives” are you assholes?

Posted by Jamie Whitaker on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 12:52 pm

I cover my whole family through Blue Shield and currently paying $545.86 for my whole family including my spouse that works for a private sector, and Adachi wants me to pay $761.33 for health care. As of 7/1/10, I had to take a 5.77% pay cut to help with the concession and I will start taking another 9% out of my pay check on top of I lost one paycheck last year.

Posted by City Employee on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

I had to read the proposed ballot measure before weighing in. I have to say it is very reasonable to ask a worker to contribute to their own pension fund. And a 50/50 ratio isn’t unreasonable, if you are making the high dollars.
My wife had worked for the federal government she paid a cap percentage of her base pay the government matched that and and the pension fund match 1%.
This proposed ballot doesn’t have those caps written into it. Unless I missed it.
This ballot measure I guess with anything in San Francisco goes, is a step in a fiscal right direction. But it could of been better written.

Posted by Jerry Jarvis on Jul. 10, 2010 @ 11:33 pm

Jamie Whitaker,

The issue doesn't have to be framed in terms of public workers vs. public services, where if you don't cut one you must cut the other. There is also no reason that it has to be public vs. private sector. In other words, business interests, anti-tax zealots and the like want the discussion to happen only along these lines. They don't want people saying, "Hey, SF is still a wealthy city, couldn't the people with all that wealth contribute a little more?"

That's the reality.

Now, I wouldn't call you an asshole because you fail to see this, maybe just a little ignorant.

Posted by Guest LD on Jul. 14, 2010 @ 9:10 am

all of these programs, redundant services, useless bureaucracy and also roll out the red carpet for the worlds wrecks pay more?

Why don't the progressives in the city create a fee directed towards people who vote the straight Daly ticket?

If that clown Avalos can do it with alcyhol you so called progressives can put your dollars where your mouths are.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 14, 2010 @ 10:56 am

Ah, yes, anybody who disagrees with you is just a little ignorant, but not necessarily an asshole.

Is Matt Gonzalez just a little ignorant, too?

He has seen the writing on the wall. Underfunded pension costs wil rise by another $120 million next year, sparking another round of cuts at rec centers, cuts in hospital beds, cuts in lawyers for the impoverished charged with crimes, etc. We are asking city workers to pay a share of their own pension costs just like the rest of us do. What's wrong with that?

This is a systemic problem. Deal with it!

Posted by Barton on Jul. 14, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

Hear ye!

Mayor Newsom (who stands against Adachi's measure) has been voted back onto the Progressive Island and Matt Gonzalez has been voted off!

This is more than a wedge issue, apparently.

It is a wedgy issue! The world (just a little ignorant) has turned upside down on its head.

Posted by Barton on Jul. 14, 2010 @ 6:06 pm

The systemic problem that must be dealt with is wealthy cities (SF) not having enough money because of the wealthy getting off easy. That should be the focus, not whether or not public workers have "generous" benefits. Why is that so hard for you to deal with?

Posted by Guest LD on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

Why is it so hard to me to deal with it? Pension obligations to already-retired city workers will devour about a quarter of the city budget soon. The tsunami hovers over us.

Or maybe I'm just too ignorant to understand.

Calling those you disagree with "ignorant" is the classical far-lefty/Fox news ploy. I'm just too dumb to understand.

Posted by Barton on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

"Calling those you disagree with "ignorant" is the classical far-lefty/Fox news ploy. I'm just too dumb to understand."

If you were only educated the correct way with the correct interpretation of the correct books and tombs you would share the correct FOXnews/progressive/bornagain/Randroid/etc... world view.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

I think the fact that the first comment is by Arthur Evans, a Republican, says it all! I am very disappointed in Adachi. This is going to hurt the people who don't make the big money the most!

He's obviously positioning himself to be mayor.....

Posted by Harry on Jul. 15, 2010 @ 9:44 pm

Thumbs up for you. Mike Moritz is partnering up with Adachi so they could benefit each other for the office and more tax cuts!!!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2010 @ 10:05 am

Barton, I've never said you were dumb or ignorant. But you are a total hypocrite for (rightly) observing me call a certain poster with an opposing view ignorant, while you don't bat an eye when that same poster calls people "assholes" for not agreeing with the views you're so fond of repeating over and over again.

If I may be even more honest, I think you internalize the rhetoric of this Adachi screed a little too readily. "The tsunami hovers over us"? Something tells me you did not come up with that yourself.

If the Grand Jury Report can predict fiscal Armageddon then Adachi and the guys who wrote it should be promoted to the highest levels of government and we can all avoid another economic meltdown.

Maybe you and your buddy matlock will be happy when everyone works for minimum wage with no benefits and vacation.

Posted by Guest LD on Jul. 16, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

"Maybe you and your buddy matlock will be happy when everyone works for minimum wage with no benefits and vacation."

No, I would like city workers to pay SOMETHING into their own pension funds. Half pay nothing at all. Adachi's measure is asking that city worker pay 7.5% of their salary into a retirement fund just like the rest of us do into Social Security.

What is wrong with that?

I think anyone who works full-time deserves a living wage. And I think people should cover at least a portion of their own pension costs so that we don't have to cut government services to the poor, the elderly, and children, in order to meet underfunded pension obligations.

These ballooning pension costs are cutting services for the needy. Adachi's measure will help address this problem.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

Firefighter and police unions are driving California cities towards bankruptcy, as they have already bankrupted Vallejo, and reform of firefighter and police salaries, benefits, and pensions is mandatory and not an option.

The City of El Segundo compensation for many firefighters and police officers was more than $250,000 in 2009. This is a lot of money for a job that requires only a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent and good health to get hired, and which provides on-the-job taxpayer funded training.

For example, Christopher Thomason, the current El Segundo firefighters union president, had 2009 total compensation of more than $256,000.

Former El Segundo police Chief David Cummings had total 2009 compensation of about $600,000 including his $425,000 total earnings, and his contract employee compensation and double-dipping into his $210,000 per year CalPERS pension as he continued to work as the El Segundo Police Chief after he retired with about 11 weeks remaining in the year.

The City (taxpayers) has been paying both the CalPERS 9 percent employee contribution and the much larger employer contribution for firefighters and police officers. The total CalPERS pension contributions paid by the City for firefighters and police officers averaged 77 percent of regular earnings in 2009, and is only increasing.

Police officers can retire as early as age 50 and firefighters as early as age 55, with up to 90 percent of their single highest year salary (regular earnings plus special compensation, which averaged 28 percent of regular earnings in 2009) as their annual pension benefit. And they did not have to contribute a single dollar into their own pension plans. Plus they get a 401(a) deferred compensation plan.

Over the last nine or ten years, about 55 percent of all El Segundo firefighter and police officer retirements were "job related disability" retirements, making half the pension income tax-free. It should be clear that most of these retirees did not have real "job related disabilities."

El Segundo is a small city with only about 16,000 residents and 5.5 square miles. The city has few fires and mostly paramedic calls, and very little crime. There were no major structure fires (with $100,000 or more in damage) in 2010, and there are usually zero or one major structure fire in any given year.

For more information, see the PublicSafetyProject.org web site El Segundo City Employee Compensation web page at:

http://www.publicsafetyproject.org/elsegundo/elsegundo_payroll.html<.a>

- PublicSafetyProject.org

Posted by PublicSafetyProject.org on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 7:16 am