Two steaming non-scandals


The political press is all over two of the big non-scandals of the day, Jerry Brown's pension and Jeff Adachi's budget. Let's start with ol' Jer'.

You can say a lot of things about Jerry Brown, and I've said a lot of them myself, but the guy has never tried to enrich himself off the public dollar. Fact is, Jerry's about as cheap as you can get, and hates to spend money -- his money, campaign money, public money. In some ways, he's responsible for Prop. 13, because he was such a cheapskate as governor in the 1970s that he ran up a huge billion-dollar-plus surplus in Sacramento at a time when property taxes were soaring.

But Matt Drudge, playing off public anger at state employee pensions, decided that Brown was "double dipping," citing and OC Register report, and suddenly, the former gov's secret pension was big news. But wait, the Chron actually figured it out: Brown isn't drawing any pension at all right now. If he were to retire after about 25 years of service as secretary of state, governor, mayor of Oakland, attorney general and a Supreme Court clerk, he'd be eligible for a pension of $78,450 -- considerably less than your average San Francisco cop or firefighter. Knowing Jerry, he'll probably decline it anyway.

In other words: No story.

Then there's Jeff Adachi's budget. I know, it looks bad for a guy who's trying to cut worker pensions and health care to be seeing budget increases and still leave the city with a $2 million legal tab for work he refused to handle. But really, this is old news -- Adachi's been warning for a couple of years that he was going to have to decline cases (and thus stick the city with a private legal bill). And let's remember: The staff in the Public Defender's Office handles almost twice as many cases as they ought to.

Adachi's ballot initiative annoys me -- he's going after city employee benefits instead of looking at where the city can raise new revenue. And he's acting like a lone wolf, demanding that his office is properly staffed and launching an initiative that attacks public employee unions instead of trying to work with them.

But I don't blame him for being agressive in pushing for adequate funding for his shop -- I wish the director of public health was willing to try as hard to avoid cutbacks instead of going along with whatever the mayor proposes. And his current budget is nowhere near as scandalous as what happens every single year with police and fire.