Adachi crosses the line


Former Mayor Willie Brown and Public Defender Jeff Adachi – author of Prop. B, which would require city employees to pay more for their pension and health care costs – yesterday crossed a union picket line at Le Méridien, which is being boycotted by hotel workers with Unite-Here Local 2, to attend a fundraiser for the measure.

San Francisco Labor Council President Tim Paulson called it “such an outrageous thing in San Francisco.” Even Sup. Sean Elsbernd, perhaps the most conservative member of the Board of Supervisor, was shocked today when told of Adachi's crossing the line, saying he would have never done so. Local 2 spokesperson Riddhi Mehta told us, “It shows their true colors. By no means are they for working families.”

Adachi has been public enemy number one of local labor leaders since he authored the measure with little input from unions or other public officials, and Paulson said this action was emblematic of Adachi's hostility to unions, adding that it was even more surprising to see Brown, a longtime ally of unions, supporting the measure and crossing the line.

“It was not unexpected for Jeff Adachi, with the way he's been acting lately, not caring about labor, but it was a little surprising for Willie Brown considering his career and record,” Paulson said.

Adachi told the Guardian that he was unaware at the time that it was a Local 2 picket line. “The honest truth is that when I got there, I thought it was a protest against Prop. B,” Adachi said. Yet he also that even if he had know, “I still would have went to the event.”

“I completely support the workers' right to strike, but at the same time, I am on a mission to save the city $120 million a year,” Adachi told us. “The resources that the opponents are pouring into this are completely unreal.”

La Merdien has been on the Local 2 boycott list for several months, and both Paulson and Mehta said the picket was independent of Prop. B, although some SEIU members did show up with signs criticizing the measure. As for scheduling future fundraisers at other boycotted hotels, Adachi told us, “I'll be more mindful of that.”


This comment is identical to the one above. It's beside the point. If CJ works in the private sector, taxpayers aren't paying for his salary/benefits. The public has the right to decide public employees' benefits because the public is paying for them.

Posted by The Commish on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

We do need pension and healthcare reform by Adachi is going about it all worng. The best solution is to have reform on a sliding scale. In short, this means that a more a City employee makes they more they have to give back. For example, City employees making under $100K should continue making their 7.5% pension contribution. Those making btwn $100K-$150K should contribute 8.5% and those over $150K should contribute 9.5%. You could have a similar format for healthcare. The more you make the more you give back. Under the current Prop. B a City worker with a spouse a two kids making $50K would have to give the same back as a City worker similarly situated making $150K. This obviously does not make sense!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

Well, not really. If all employees contribute 9% of wages (excluding police and fire), then obviously employees who make more pay more. On the health side, I am almost certiain there is a City provision that states you cannot determine what an employee pays for health care based on his or her income. I can't cite the code but give me a little time on this.

But at least you acknowledge the benefit cost crisis needs to be addressed. Most here think Adachi just dreamed the problem up and he is "attacking" City employees just because he has a lot of free time.

Prop B is not perfect - but it's all we have to address the crisis.

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 24, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

Pricing families out of health care is a show stopper.

If Adachi and Moritz gave a damn about health security, then they'd have changed relevant provisions while they were amending the damn charter that would have allowed for a sliding scale.

This is what happens when progressives allow conservatives to blow smoke up their asses.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 24, 2010 @ 9:00 pm

$448.64 a month for Kaiser for your entire family after Prop B passes- fact. Yes, "blowin smoke"...

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 24, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

Mr. or Ms. Flowers, you've already been shown that for some families the cost will be as much as $750 per month for Kaiser, but continue to use the $448 figure so that your argument seems more persuasive.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

Breaking taboos is worse than doing harm so often in politics. This is another case, offending Local 2 is the tipping point when attacking families' health care is not? What kind of logic is that?

We are beginning to see a pattern, where really smart politicians like Jeff Adachi and Barack Obama elicit conservative outcomes and pretend that they hold no responsibility for them, as if they were stupid.

They're not stupid, and that brings on all sorts of implications.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 24, 2010 @ 9:14 pm

Wages are flat, so the solution to that is for a billionaire to finance a sig gathering campaign that adds more costs to each family's balance sheet.

Damnit, Adachi and supporters of Prop B need to OWN their politics, not to cast latching Jeff's political career to the train of class warfare.

If Michael Moritz paid Social Security tax on his income > $98K then he'd probably be able to fund health care for all dependents of City employees.

But since billionaires always get heard in politics, that's not going to happen, and not satisfied with riches beyond anyone's wildest dreams, these billionaires continue to meddle in politics to ensure that they get even richer, that they're off the hook for paying the bills to finance the economic infrastructure that has allowed them to prosper.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 7:24 am

You keep blaming this billionaire guy, but the public employee unions are outspending the prop B campaign.

Posted by The Commish on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

Yes, Commish Michael, what would you expect labor to do when billionaires come threatening the health and survival of working families?


Posted by marcos on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:06 am

What a nonsense article by the Guardian. City employees should contribute to their own rich city pensions. Us folks in the private sector contribute to our 401ks. Welcome to the real world.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 9:36 am

It's the healthcare part that the opponents are angry about, and the part tha Prop B hardly mentions. Why have healthcare for anyone but the rich at all in this country? Let's just hasten our progress toward being a third world country. What's the point anymore? I'm tired of fighting for healthcare. Some employees will pay $750 for Kaiser under this prop. I'm going to opt out of the system altogether and let you all pay the bills through funding General, or by footing a bankruptcy bill should I ever get sick. Either way the "outraged taxpayer" will pay. Everyone thinks access to affordable care is a privilege not a right. So so so so sad.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

Prop B only covers 15% of the benefit cost increase.

The City Controller has stated Prop B will save $120 million in 2015 (savings were calculated for 2015 not 2011). The City Controller also estmates pension and health benefit costs will increase $800 million a year by 2015. Thefefore, Prop B only covers 15% of the cost increase so employees who receive the benefits are only being asked to chip in for 15% of the escalation in cost. Oh, the outrage!

Anyone can understand why no one would want to contribute more but frankly the folks who argue Prop B doesn't go far enough appear to be more credible based on the numbers. Inevitably there will be major reforms greater in scope (changes on the benefit side as opposed to strictly the contribution side) than Prop B if the City is to remain fiscally solvent.

Our elected officials have been blatantly irresponsible in dealing with this mess- for example, passing Prop D in June and calling it "pension reform." Prop D doesn't even generate $10 million a year in pension cost savings until 2022.

Thank you Jeff Adachi.

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 10:15 am

In all the public employees' posts on this article, I haven't seen a single alternative to prop B to solve the unfunded liability problem. The posts all seem to presuppose that there is an endless supply of money to fund these benefits, when in fact there is a massive unfunded liability. Everyone is sharing their view of how prop B is going to affect them personally, but this is a larger public policy issue than these individual cases--we have a math problem. And the taxpayers who fund these benefits are tired of getting worse and worse services while the money is re-directed to pay for public pensions and benefits.

Posted by The Commish on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

Michael, unions will pay 7.5% to retirement under the current contract negotiated before Prop B qualified for the ballot.

It is a lie, pure prevarication, to assert that there is no single alternative to the Prop B unfunded liability "problem," one that does not exist.

What does it say that former PERS board member Willie Brown crossed the picket line to support Prop B, just as it is revealed that PERS itself is drowning in red ink? Is there a connection here? Wasn't it Brown and Newsom's appointees to the retirement board who mismanaged investments? Could there be any corruption there that is being shifted from the public to the private balance sheet?

Where was Jeff Adachi, Esq., when it came time to sue to enforce Prop H that boosted cop and fire retirements to 90% of base salary, which Dennis Herrera, mayoral hopeful, has declined to enforce under hopes that he will secure the endorsement of these powerful yet lazy unions?


Posted by marcos on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:11 am

In the case of Prop H, Adachi could only enforce via a private lawsuit which of course would be very costly and an unfair burden to put on him. The non-enforcement is on Herrera. No doubt there is a lot of corruption in the air.

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

CJ Flowers, or is it CJ Roses, the name you use on SF Gate? It's obvious that you are being paid by Adachi to troll on all of these websites and regurgitate the "pension reform" hysteria that he is trying to push.

The fact of the matter is that Adachi is basing this entire proposition on a bogus report by the Civil Grand Jury regarding a "pension tsunami" that is not coming. The fact is that the pension fund is 97% funded. It has more money in it now than it did 5 years ago. SFERS is probably one of the best funded retirement systems in the world. But, this isn't about pension funds. It's about health care and how Adachi sold cutting health care for city worker's families as "pension reform". Pretty sly. I'd bet it would be pretty easy to get people to sign a petition taking away health care benefits if you labeled it as pension reform.

The end result will be that if Proposition B doesn't pass, it's because the voters of San Francisco saw through Adachi's dishonesty. And if it does pass, it will be tied up in litigation for many years as every single city union will sue and probably be successful. The judge who ruled on the motion to allow the Proposition to go on the ballot even stated that he thought some parts of the proposition were illegal. Maybe like attacking health care under the banner of pension reform.

Posted by Ghost of Reagan on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

Wrong. The judge only struck one provision of Prop B. He also explained how the unions' main argument that pension benefits were "vested rights" would fail if the City could show that the pension fund was ultimately unsustainable and measures had to be taken to make it sustainable. And it is unsustainable.

The pension fund is only 97% funded because THE CITY IS FUNDING IT to support its unfunded liabilities. The pension fund lost $4 billion (with a B) during the downturn. That's what prop B is trying to address.

As for your health care arguments, city employees get better and cheaper health care than average private workers in the city and average private workers make less money. Yet, the private workforce is paying the taxes to subsidize the increased benefits the public workers get. It's not fair and it's not sustainable.

Posted by The Commish on Sep. 25, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

Please state your source to show that most private sector employees pay more of a percentage of their benefits. I can only find one source that contradicts your stance.

Posted by Laddie on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

"Pension reform hysteria?" Well it's good to know everything we've been reading in the newspapers about City/State deficits and rising employee pension/benefit costs is just a media conspiracy. Was wondering if you could call the City's actuary Cheiron and tell them to change that 30% of payroll pension cost estimate for 2014 to 0% because it's all hysteria. After getting that done then we can all vote No on B.

Someone already called you out on your misinformation but save the "fully-funded" drivel for your misinformation commercial for the public. People posting here know the City's pension sytem is stripping hundreds of millions of dollars out of the City's coffers...

You sound a lot like the head of the police union who ran radio commercials touting all the "concesssions" police had taken (in the form of temporary furlough days) while at the same time taking 8% in raises from July 1 2009 to July 1 2010.

You sound a little panicky. You guys are in good shape- you're good at misinformation (the Examiner has already called you out on exaggerating the health contribution stuff) and you have millions to spend misinforming an uninformed public. I got my mailer with the child with a visible head injury in a hospital bed, tubes in his nose, mother at his side...Good stuff and that was just the opening salvo....You've also bought every politician save for maybe Elsbernd and Dufty (not sure) and you've got a Mayor runnning for higher office who desperately needs your support Too early to panic...

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

So long as it is in 12 point Times Roman typeface.

Wall Street and speculative billionaires like Michael Moritz are part of a larger project to disinvest in the public sector and to coerce us through threat of starvation or early death to contribute our piddling income streams towards insurers, investment banks and over priced real estate.

Has Jeff Adachi been offered a standing spot on Fox News [sic] yet for his service to their mutual patrons? I understand that they are steaming mad about the unfunded pension crisis.

Perhaps Willie Brown, Jeff's New Best Friend, might answer up for what happened to PERS during his stewardship, and how his appointees to SF's retirement board turned a $3b surplus in 2002 into an alleged black hole of unfunded liability?

None of this has anything to do with paying for health care for families of City workers, except that the savings from retirement are small when compared to squeezing a few bucks out of the health of working families.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 11:18 am

I agree that it's really about health care. That's why you hardly see those words mentioned in their literature, and when it is, they use the employees with the lowest contributions. it's not even a "Q" in their "FAQ." Not all employees pay as little as they tout, but why be specific when you can use more persuasive generalizations? Also most of the pro-posters are careful to use the word "benefits" and not "health care." It's much easier to incite anti-public worker sentiment with the words "pension" and "benefits."

Posted by Laddie on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

"Yet, the private workforce is paying the taxes to subsidize the increased benefits the public workers get. It's not fair and it's not sustainable. "

This is bullshit Michael. Property taxes finance the bulk of City government. City workers who live here pay property taxes either on homes we own or as passthroughs on rent.

What's not sustainable is business constant efforts to shift the burden of payment for basic needs like health care from the business to the individual all while enjoying a favorable tax regime--very few San Francisco businesses pay any sort of tax at all. All taxes and fees end up being paid by customers.

Sick people are not sustainable without access to health care, they tend to, you know, die.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 26, 2010 @ 9:34 am

I agree. The next step will be the dismantling of social security and medicare. It's always been an agenda item and times seem ripe for a more spirited attempt.

Posted by Laddie on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

The angry taxpayers say they are the bosses here. But if you actually ran a business, would you increase an employees health care premium by that much if you could avoid it? And without talking to your employees? Imagine how such a top-down decree would feel, and how that would cause dysfunction and loss of productivity, which would then affect your bottom line. And would you phrase it like "I'm tired of paying for your healthcare since its my money? That would go over really well!

In this country, unfortunately, access to affordable health care is up to employers. The City is an employer. When my business' health care premiums were raised beyond what the company agreed to contribute (a set dollar amount) we asked if they'd rather pay the difference or move to a lower-premium, higher copay plan. It was an absolute must for us to offer a health care plan, even tho we have just two employees. I just wouldn't go about it this way at all.

I'd also love to know what City services that Mr. Flowers relies on that have been cut? Usually people who rant about taxes crushing them are well-to-do and don't feel that they need public amenities like parks and libraries or stuff for "the masses." Do share!

Posted by Laddie on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

Okay - pretty reasonable.

Quite simply the City has offered benefits to its employees that are not sustainable.
If you started a business with $50,000 in the bank and hired three persons at $100,000 a year (and such business would generate little profit in the first year) you could not "sustain" the employment of the three persons.

The City's heath care system is a $4 billion unfunded liability. Please realize this is a gigantic number. (For example, for all you read about the City of San Diego's pension system being underwater- it's pension system is a $2.1 billon unfunded liabilty.) For relatively younger employees their health security is an illusory benefit. The liability is growing at $300 million a year. (In fact, you might calculate what is called a "run-out-date" as to what date the health care system will run out of money based on its current funding stream as actuaries do for pension systems.)

So then you say we should let the "employer" handle it - but our poiticians can't grapple with the problem. They passed Prop B in 2008 which only requires new hires to to contribute more for their health care (2% of wages per year I believe) and of course, the unfunded liability continues to grow. So I ask you, who in their right mind would believe you can pay down a $4 billion liability by only asking new hires to contribute more? Makes no mathematical sense.

Posters here seem to concede the pension problem when in fact the health care funding crisis might in fact be worse.

Employee benefit costs are rising an additional $800 million by 2015. The City's revenues are relatively finite. These costs will crowd out spending on everything; public safety, street repair, public health, funding for seniors etc...

As much as you might blame Adachi for this, I blame our elected officials for putting off the tough work to the officals who succeed them...

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 5:18 pm

More bullshit. There is no evidence on the table that paying dependent health benefits for current city workers is unsustainable.

The retirement system might have long term problems so long as the economy remains mired. Voters already hedged some of that with the ill advised doubling of vesting for lifetime health insurance benefits.

But if or when the economy recovers, then the picture will change. But Prop B will be locked in, preventing the City from competing for talent should the need arise in the future.

Adachi is responsible for teaming up with billionaires to advance Wall Street and the Club for Growth's agenda. Willie Brown is responsible for teaming up with Adachi and for running the City retirement system and PERS into the ground when he had influence to chart a different course.

It is Willie Brown who should be sued for abdicating his fiduciary responsibility to the residents, taxpayers and public employees of San Francisco and California.

Jeff Adachi must be made to crawl away from this election with the political equivalent of buck shot embedded in his knee caps to quench any future ambitions and to set an example for any other liberal or progressive who becomes seduced by the notion of cavorting with billionaires and the ruling class.


Posted by marcos on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

The evidence is a $4 billion unfunded liability (is that bull*hit too?) which came from the City's independent health actuary - a figure which is now higher...

The "City's health care system" is not sustainable that includes more than simply the dependents of current employees. It includes current employees and their dependents, current retirees and their spouses, future retirees and their spouses and new hires and the dependents of new hires - that's a lot of folks. (Why would the City even draft Prop B in 2008 if there was not a sustainability problem with the cost of health benefits? Prop B falls short.)

I wouldn't worry to much about "billionaires." I have no doubt you folks will easily outspend proponents...

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

Does Prop B address pension contributions in any way? I have read that some municipalities (and states I believe) have decided to go away from defined benefit plans (pensions) and moved to defined contribution plans (like a 401k). This seems like a good way to remove some of the future uncertainty about what public entities will be obligated to pay. People would of course be entitled to what they had already earned but perhaps new hires and future earnings could be moved over. There would probably be some sort of matching program I imagine.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

Prop B only deals with the pension contribution side- all City employees to contribute 9% of wages, police and fire to contribute 10%.

Meaning, the "defined benefit" aspect stays in tact. Prop B does not address all the reforms needed. I would say the a switch to a defined contribution is inevitable, particularly for higher paid employees...

Posted by CJFlowers on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

I'm not...

It's embarrassing to look around this city we love so much and see how run down and dirty it is, compared the other leading destination cities in the world.

I hear tourists gasp when they mistakenly venture into the Tenderloin, mId-Market street and 6th Street areas.

Compare our delapidated old subway system to that of most developing nations and you won't see much difference.

Most City employees voluntarily took pay cuts as of July 1 and most City job vacancies that oocurred in the last 2 years remain unfiled due to departmental budget cuts.

So now you have less people, trying to carry the same workload, for less money.
And now, you want to come back to them and ask for more?
If i looked around this city and saw it sparkle like Vienna, I could imagine cutting around the edges some...

You think this City literally stinks now? Just wait until you hit the people that bathe and nurse this old city with a double whammy and see how they react. I know how I would. I'm just being realistic. I understand that there is a fiscal problem, but I also know that Prop B is not the way to address it.

Jeff Adachi and his benefactorshave no chance at this Prop passing or occupying room 200. Think outside the box...

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

Here's a list of ACTUAL employee salaries, including base pay, OT, and other pay:

Posted by publicpay on Sep. 27, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

Retired workers are increasingly dipping into the general fund to pay for their pensions/healthcare.

Prop B is merely asking that city workers pay for some of their own pension costs.

Your choice, Ms. Voter: Pass Prop B, or further cut Park & Rec services, further cut neighborhood healthcare centers, further cut street cleaning, etc.

These pension costs are rising by $200 million a year, and they are the reason city services are being cut to the bone.

Prop B merely asks public-sector workers to pay for some of their own pension/healthcare costs. What's wrong with that?

Posted by Barton on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

Interesting that Marcos and others have such blind faith in the capitalist system and have become rah-rah cheerleaders for capitalism and believers in stock market appreciation.

Do you really believe city investment funds are going to rise in value and close this huge pension liability gap?

You are breathing the fumes.

Posted by Barton on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

City employees now pay $0 for full healthcare coverage. They pay $9 a month to cover their dependents. Prop B will raise the dependent payments to $249.

That is a SWEET deal! Those of us paying for our own healthcare are now paying around $400 per person per month.

You are middle class. The $249 will hurt, but you can afford it.

So bite the bullet and pay, so that we don't have to keep cutting back on Park & Rec, cutting schools, cutting neighborhood healthcare clinics, cutting libraries.

Matt Gonzalez and Adachi are not capitalist lackies. They are just tired of city workers that are unvilling covering some of their own bloated and ballooning retirement/healthcare costs.

Posted by Barton on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

I live in Crocker Amazon--used to live in Bernal. Bernal just got a new Rec Center manager who is doing a great job involving the neighborhood so far. I saw a bunch of potholes in Crocker repaired; we are getting a new streetscape planting on Naples; and the Excelsior and Bernal libraries seem to be open the usual amount. I'm not trying to be sarcastic--I'd actually like to know what city services are suffering the most. I know summer school was cut, but that teachers voted to reduce their pay through furloughs to avoid layoffs. But other than that, I just haven't witnessed the cuts, even here, in this working class neighborhood. I've been busy with my son and trying to keep my business afloat and home finances balanced--I haven't kept on top of it. What services cuts are impacting people the most?

Posted by Familygal on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

This is the real problem:

Publiic-sector workers have defined benefit plans (pensions) that get paid out of either stock market dividends. If the dividends aren't sufficient, you dip into the general fund.

At this point, the dividends are nil, so the public-sector workers are dipping into the general fund, which is resulting in cuts to libraries, cuts to Park & Rec, cuts to healthcare centers, cuts to roadwork, etc.

The costs are rising by around $120 million a year. So expect more cuts to services next year.

However, I see that Marcos and others here have become good capitalists with faith in the capitalist system. But you capitalists need to understand something: the money is not a guarentee.

We need to move public-sector workers to defined contribution plans: you pay into the system, and you get out of it whatever you pay into it.

Posted by Barton on Sep. 28, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

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