Adachi’s pension reform and the D. 10 candidates

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As pretty much everyone knows by now, Jeff Adachi collected enough signatures to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would reform the city’s retirement and health benefits plan. His amendment has become such a hot political topic that the Potrero Hill Democractic Club asked the 15 candidates who spoke at the club’s  August 2 and 3 District 10 forums what they thought of Adachi’s “smart reform."

By my understanding of what the candidates said, four seemed unsure what the Adachi amendment would do, or were open to the idea, while the other eleven were opposed. But read for yourself what the D. 10 candidates said and decide where they stand on this issue:

Kristine Enea: “Certainly something needs to be done. I did sign [Adachi's] petition. Adjusting for new employees has an inherent fairness. The path we are on is not sustainable."

Nyese Joshua: (After admitting that she didn’t know much about Adachi’s amendment), “In terms of bringing it to the ballot, I agree.”

Lynette Sweet: “What Jeff Adachi did was not a bad thing, but the way he went about it was.”

Stephen Weber: “I don’t believe it was done right way, but I like the idea. The labor leaders are willing to sit down and discuss the pension plan. They just want to discuss it with the Board that is sitting there now.”

Eric Smith. “I love Jeff Adachi. And initially it looked great. But Beyond Chron [for which Smith sometimes writes] has an interesting story: When I read it, it says the measure goes after people’s health benefits. That’s troubling. I can’t really get behind this. We need to do reform from the bottom up, not from the top down.”

Malia Cohen: “Adachi’s a great public defender, but he’s taken an approach that’s disrespectful of public policy. Instead, he’s created a policy. I’m not in favor of it, if it unfairly taxes those at the bottom."

Steve Moss: “The labor unions are rightfully furious. Pensions need reform. Things are out of whack. But this could lead to folks losing healthcare because they have to pay more to cover their dependants.”

Geoffrea Morris: “He had a point. The unions are very powerful in the city, he didn’t want to go through the red tape. Something needs to be done to reform healthcare and pensions.”

Isaac Bowers: "I thoroughly reviewed the San Francisco civil grand jury's 'Pension Tsunami' report. I don’t think his initiative is the right way to go. I fear copayments for healthcare will throw people back on the city.”

Tony Kelly: “Great guy, stupid idea.”

Espanola Jackson: “You should talk to Adachi. Don’t shoot him down.”

Chris Jackson: “The measure is popular, it’s polling in the 60 percent range. But Adachi never talked to the nurses and the workers who make $35,000. And then there is the fact that this in an attack on healthcare. So a large percentage of the ‘savings’ is what workers will have to contribute. It’s a move away from supporting working class individuals.”

DeWitt Lacy: “We need pension reform. But no one likes change rammed down their throats without any negotation with, or input from, the workers. It addresses an important issue, but it’s too divisive.”

Diane Wesley Smith: “It’s ridiculous. Some reform has to happen, but this isn’t it.”

Marlene Tran: “Jeff Adachi took a lot of risks in this pro-labor town. He claims a $170 million savings. I would support it, because everyone should pay into the pension fund.”

Comments

Something needs to be done by somebody somewhere at sometime.

The art of saying nothing has really been honed in this city.

This was also good.

"four seemed unsure what the Adachi amendment would do, or were open to the idea, while the other eleven were opposed"

Some very subtle propaganda.

One of those flunkies should have just came out and said

"I want the public employee union's; endorsement, money, votes and volunteers. So of course I am against it, if elected I will put off fiscal responsibility as long as possible then I will be termed out."

Just keep raising taxes an fees on people actually making 35,000 to pay for SF's progressive failure... As opposed to Chris Jackson's city nurses supposedly making 35,000. LOL.

Posted by matlock on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

Listening to folks speaking at political forums is an interesting exercise. At first you think they're saying yes. But then, oh look, they said no. Or did they? It often becomes a case of trying to read between the lines and then following the money to see who's standing behind candidates' campaign finance curtains.

Posted by sarah on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

I appreciate Sarah's blog post because I do think pension reform is an important issue for the future fiscal health of the city.

I would like to note, as a factual correction, that I did not say I reviewed "Jeff Adachi's pension tsunami documents" -- which sounds nonsensical. I said that "I thoroughly reviewed the civil grand jury's 'Pension Tsunami' report." I also went on to state that I agree that if pension and health care costs spike as projected in the report, the city will face serious fiscal consequences.

I know there are inherent space limitations in this type of forum, but many of the candidates made a number of points and in my opinion showed more nuance than these single quotes might indicate. I don't have time now, but I will try and take the time later to mention some of the other points I made. I encourage other candidates to do the same. We should all take advantage of the fact that Sarah is bringing this important issue to light to continue our discussion around it.

Cheers,

Isaac

Posted by Isaac Bowers on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

I appreciate Sarah's blog post because I do think pension reform is an important issue for the future fiscal health of the city.

I would like to note, as a factual correction, that I did not say I reviewed "Jeff Adachi's pension tsunami documents" -- which sounds nonsensical. I said that "I thoroughly reviewed the civil grand jury's 'Pension Tsunami' report." I also went on to state that I agree that if pension and health care costs spike as projected in the report, the city will face serious fiscal consequences.

I know there are inherent space limitations in this type of forum, but many of the candidates made a number of points and in my opinion showed more nuance than these single quotes might indicate. I don't have time now, but I will try and take the time later to mention some of the other points I made. I encourage other candidates to do the same. We should all take advantage of the fact that Sarah is bringing this important issue to light to continue our discussion around it.

Cheers,

Isaac

Posted by Isaac Bowers on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

Just like career politicians .... a preference to say "we definitely have a problem here," but none really have the spines to take action .... while vital city services get cut further to the bone. WE NEED LEADERS, NOT COWARDS ELECTED THIS YEAR TO SAVE OUR. CITY SERVICES

Posted by Jamie Whitaker on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

What they are saying is

"...we have a problem but I don't want to offend the people who helped create the problem, I also don't want to offend the people who are for solving the problem, so I'll say nothing and try and make it sound profound"

Posted by matlock on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

It's good to see that some candidates realize this is also about Adachi's measure attacking the healthcare of children and other depedants. Using the cover of so called "pension reform" is an easy way to mask the underlying problems of this measure. Forcing working families to go to SF General because they can't afford healthcare coverage is only going to cost the tax payers even more out of the general fund.

Posted by SF Local on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

"Forcing working families to go to SF General because they can't afford healthcare coverage..."

A better analogy is this:

Cutting funds to SF General because the money had to be diverted into bloated, underfunded pension obligations for retired city employees.

Posted by Barton on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

Yes- they all agree we need reform but they don't want to be the ones to tell City employees they need to contribute more...but they are happy to address hypothetically. They tell us we all need to work together - labor, BOS etc. They don't bother to tell you that approach got us Prop D passed in June, window dressing pension reform where savings don't materialize for 20 years...Just keep kicking the can down the road until I'm out of office...cowards.

I hope Adachi's proposal dispels the myth these folks are peddling about the "low paid" City worker. City gardeners are making $85,000 and janitors $75,000 in the current budget (wages and benefits) probably double private sector gardeners and janitors - the folks who are seeing their vital City services cut to pay these City employee benefits....cowards.

Posted by Seej on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 10:39 pm

"City gardeners are making $85,000 and janitors $75,000 in the current budget (wages and benefits)."

Seej, you are a coward for not backing up these claims with something substantial.

As your geometry teacher used to say, "Show your work."

Posted by Guest LD on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 11:12 pm

That is the average annual compensation for those two classifications in the 2010-11 budget.

Posted by Seej on Aug. 07, 2010 @ 12:09 am

Give us a link with the data you use. You seem to fail to do that for any of your facts . . .

Posted by SFLocal on Aug. 07, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

sfgate article entitled "1 in 3 San Francisco employees earned $100,000"

"The average city worker salary in San Francisco is $93,000 before benefits, according to Deputy City Controller Monique Zmuda. The data take into account everyone from park gardeners and street cleaners to attorneys and technology specialists."

Posted by matlock on Aug. 07, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

Time for a math lesson. An average salary is figured by selecting a group of people, adding up their salaries, then dividing this number by the total number of people in the group.

Average salary = Sum of all salaries/total # of people

Example: 9 city workers make $10,000 a year and 1 city manager makes $500,000. The total salary made is $590,000 divided by the 10 city employees = $59,000 a year average salary. That obviously does not give a good picture of what the vast majority of the 10 city workers actually earn per year($10,000) because the one large salary skewed the average salary much higher.

Your figure of $92,000 as a average salary includes the figures of all the highest paid directors, mayoral appointees, etc. When you mix them in you hide the fact that the majority of city employees do not make nearly that much money.

Posted by SFLocal on Aug. 07, 2010 @ 10:46 pm

Adachi's proposal is polling in the 60's because most voters are sick of paying for their own pensions AND for the far more generous pensions of City workers earning twice what they'd get in the private sector AND with more job security.

Enough. and in fact I think Adachi isn't going far enough. But it's a start. We need to rein in and starve the beast.

Posted by Folly on Aug. 06, 2010 @ 11:19 pm

Doubling -- increasing by 100% -- payments for dependents is cause for righteous anger. Fuzzy notions of starving beasts and of overburdened taxpayers being some kind of overlord to public employees are not.

Posted by Guest LD on Aug. 07, 2010 @ 9:33 am

How much does Adachi make a year?? Does your average include his salary and the salary for the lawyers in the Public Defender's office? You focus on police salaries and fire but you left out other jobs. Those jobs include doctors who work in SFGH. Remember the "People's hospital campaign" last year that was passed by the voters for a bond. A hospital is more than a building. Your average includes highly educated, trained people too. Your 92,000 or more a year probably includes salaries for PA's, NP's, therapists, , dentists, trauma surgeons, oncology nurses who work 12 hour night shifts, head nurses who run medical surgical floors, psychologists, nurse anesthetists, certified nurse mid-wives, family practice physicians and public health nurses. The average, market rate for a skilled surgeon, oncologist, women's health clinician, ICU nurse with 15 years or more experience is probably included in your average too. If the concern as reflected in the measure is purely about the highest salaries that some public employees make, then why didn't this measure focus solely on them, including the Public Defender, who earns over 150,000 with benefits a year. And why is this about salaries rather than the measure itself?

The comments in support of Adachi's badly crafted measure are best summed up by the "starving the beast line". That is straight out of Republican ideolog, Grover Norquist who coined the phrase when it came to government only it was strangling government in the mythical bathtub. Support for this measure is sounding more Republican with every comment. The tone is sounding more like the "Tea-party" movement in its fixation on unions, government workers and our salaries.

Posted by Guest lucretiamott on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 5:19 am

...vote for a measure that would rein in management compensation and benefits in the city. The dysfunctional liberals that run this city have been throwing way to much money at that too.

If the unions and their trained liberals want to get revenge on Adachi and make things "fairer," and at this late date discover fiscal responsibility, get going, I'm all for it.

look at the data base, do a search for

Data Center: Public Records, Searchable Databases, Maps and More

go down to 2009, plenty of rec and park plumbers, electricians and truck drivers making in the 100,000+ area.

I do get a chuckle out of a doctrinaire liberals complaining about Norquist and other conservative hacks. What does the lady on Democracy Now have to say?

Posted by matlocl on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 10:13 am

"Plenty of"? Yeah I went on the database and counted them and there were only a few positions out of the top 50 park and rec earners that were in positions that you mentioned(I counted one truck driver). All the other positions were managers, supervisors, engineers, and other upper level management.

Misinformation seems to be the only thing Measure B supporters can spout. . .

Posted by SFLocal on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

situation if they think it is unfair.

Posted by matlocl on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

Your desperation for facts supporting Measure B's attack on kids healthcare is showing. . .

Posted by Guest on Aug. 09, 2010 @ 11:50 am

3279 Recreation Leader
Recruitment #TEX-3279-056744

Department: Recreation and Parks
Analyst:
Date Opened: 8/18/2010 5:00:00 PM
Filing Deadline: Continuous
Salary: $13 to $20/hr depending on level

This is the proof.

http://www.jobaps.com/sf/sup/images/default.asp

Posted by Liar Liar on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

3279 Recreation Leader
Recruitment #TEX-3279-056744

Department: Recreation and Parks
Analyst:
Date Opened: 8/18/2010 5:00:00 PM
Filing Deadline: Continuous
Salary: $13 to $20/hr depending on level

This is the proof.

http://www.jobaps.com/sf/sup/images/default.asp

Posted by Liar Liar on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

The Chron reported on Saturday that "an employee using the city's Kaiser plan for them and one dependent will have a rise in premiums from $9 to $249 a month under Adachi's proposal."

$249 is still an incredibly sweet deal.

Healthcare costs have risen about 12% a year over the past 10 years, and those of us paying our own way are now forking over $1,000 a month to cover three people. The system needs real reform, I know. Healthcare now consumer 18% of GDP in the US, as we are thoroughly pickled on drugs ("ask your doctor about...")..

But until reform happens, the Public Sector Unionocracy needs to realize that $249 a month is still incredibly sweet for healthcare. Count your blessings, folks.

Posted by Barton on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 10:21 am

"Just keep kicking the can down the road until I'm out of office...cowards."

I think that is the key point here, Seej.

In good times, politicians give public sector workers good pay increases. In bad times when pay increases are unaffordable, the politicians boost public-sector workers benefits (retirement, pension, and healthcare).

Politicians don't care about the future. They only care about the current term and the next election. Their mentality: "Sure, the costs will keep rising and rising, but I won't be around 15 years from now when the payments start coming due."

This is how we got into this mess.

Adachi is the only politician with any courage to address the problem. I hope he runs for mayor

Posted by Barton on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 10:36 am

Anybody who has worked for the city of San Francisco for at least five years gets full healthcare benefits for life (law was finally changed in January 2009) even after quitting the job.

So, if you worked for the city from, say, 1974-1979, you are still getting full healthcare insurance paid out of the general fund.

Unbelievable!
If I had known, I would have got a job at city hall in the 1980s, pushed pencils for five years, and then retired, knowing the taxpayers would still be paying for my doctor and dentist.

Posted by Barton on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 10:46 am

Measure B is about making healthcare unaffordable for current city workers and their dependents. As you clearly stated the 5 year vesting has been changed so that situation has already been addressed.

Your attitude that the teachers, public health nurses, and other public workers do is only "pushing pencils" shows how much you know.

Posted by SFLocal on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

Nobody pays for my dependent's health care. Why should taxpayers pay for the healthcare of dependents of city workers? The healthcare argument is a hard sell when you're asking people (city taxpayers) to subsidize a benefit they don't get themselves.

Posted by Cas on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

"This is about kids health care"

If it bothers you that people don't want to pay for the health care of your kids, don't have them.

What entitles you to have kids you can't afford?

Posted by matlocl on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 4:49 pm

All I can say is wow! So according to you only rich people are allowed to have kids. It is pretty astounding that you would state that. . .

Posted by SFlocal on Aug. 09, 2010 @ 11:54 am

He isn't saying that poor people can't have kids.

He is saying that if you have kids, you shouldn't expect other people to pay for them.

Posted by Folly on Aug. 10, 2010 @ 2:26 am

It's strange, I don't have any kids but I'm paying for other peoples at every turn. If the people who have kids start having to pay for some of those costs it outrages them.

The cities progressive want people to pay for the supposed costs of; drinking, driving, smoking, eating, breathing, walking, talking. sitting etc... but if someone has kids they are entitled to not pay any costs for those kids.

My guess this is an extension of the catch all progressive word "fairness." Defined as "whatever works to my advantage."

Posted by matlock on Aug. 10, 2010 @ 7:35 am

SF Local,
I did not intend it that way. I know teachers and many others work hard. I was merely pointing out that $249 a month to get full healthcare coverage is an incredibly sweet deal. I wish I had it that good (and $9 a month is heavenly).

Listen, while the stock market made its incredible run from 1980 to 2000, nobody cared about the sweet perks for public employees.

Times have changed. Now, the choice is between (A) pension reform to make public workers cover some of their own costs, or (B) cuts and cuts and cuts in city servies, forever and ever until...

...the only way to address this chronic, systemic problem will be BANKRUPTCY.

See VALLEJO for details if you don't believe me.

Posted by Barton on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

B (Adachi/Moritz) will not stop the cuts. There is nothing in this bill that specifically allocates the cuts to our salaries through increasing out of pocket expenses for our health care and pensions that were won through collective bargaining agreements directly to the services any more than "Care, not cash" ended chronic homelessness. . B is not reform and will not cure chronic budget shortfalls. This is the same old Reactionary Republican ideology pushing the same old take from the middle class and give to the rich mentality that drove our economy into the ditch to begin with. Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, Tom Ammiano and President of the Board have come out strongly against this badly crafted mess that will not save the services but in fact will lose revenue like HHS has outlined.

Revenue must be generated, and city and county workers have proposed a modest Hotel tax to help generate needed revenue. I wonder when he is asked , whether Mr. Adachi will support J?

Posted by Guest lucretiamott on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

"B is not reform and will not cure chronic budget shortfalls"

I respectfully disagree. It will save $170 million in the first year, money that would be much better spent on hospitals, schools, libraries, park & rec, and roads than on further fattening public-sector pensions.

I think we have to understand that public-sector unions and private-sector unions are completely different entities. I will support private-sector unions to the grave. They are fighting to give working men and women a living wage.

Not in the public sector, though. Unlike GM vs. Chrysler, or AT&T vs. Sprint , unions in the public sector face no competition. You know we cannot fire the police department en masse, or close city hall in a lockout. You wield tremendous power, and you know it.

You have had the Board of Supervisors eating out of your palm for a generation, and they have rewarded you with fat perks and fat pensions that are unsustainable at this point.

Posted by Barton on Aug. 08, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

Expect more bad news for real estate especially in SF as more foreclosures are being surfaced due to city employees 5.77% pay cut that took place on 7/1/10, and if PropB passes in Nov 2!!! More foreclosures will follow, you figure, how many low pay city employees, especially single moms will be able to continue to make their under-water mortgage and property tax if they have to lose 20% to 30% of their salary to cover their pension and dependent health care coverage. They will definitely not want to spend any more money in SF. I wouldn't, I have two condos, one in Millbrae and one under-water condo in SF which I am renting out to section 8. I will have to supplement my income by foreclosing the rental in SF, stop making my mortgage and property and keep the rent money til the foreclosure process starts. Than my boyfriend will buy the identical unit back once it gets on the market. Thank you, Adachi & supporters...Prop B...Finally, I am able to get rid of my under-water and buy it back and save at least $100K, if not more...than I could rent it out privately no rent control.

Posted by GuestBoyscottsf on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 2:00 pm

If you use city services, why can't you contribute to the city. As a homeowner and a city employee, I am contributing SFUSD through property and as a city employee, I am contributing 5.77% of my slarary to SF's concession. Last year, I told 10 unpaid holidays and next year, I will contribute 7.5%. Adachi & his supporters' PropB wants to take 30% from me instead? I will not be able to make my SF under-water mortgage.

Posted by City Employee on Aug. 31, 2010 @ 3:14 pm