SF pension reform battle heating up

July 12, 2011 2:07:04 PM PDT
Pension reform is a hot topic this week in San Francisco, where two competing plans to address the issue are coming into the spotlight.

On Monday, Public Defender Jeff Adachi dropped off more than 72,000 signatures at the city's elections department to get his pension reform measure on the November ballot.

Today, the Board of Supervisors is set to consider a separate measure being put forth by Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials.

A coalition of city workers and retirees planned to hold a rally prior to today's board meeting to oppose both measures.

Adachi said his measure, which proposes higher pension contributions from city employees and caps on pensions for new employees, among other changes, would save the city more money than the mayor's proposal.

Lee's plan is the result of months of negotiations between city officials and labor and business leaders. The Board of Supervisors will consider it today and will likely vote next week on whether to place the measure on the ballot.

Adachi said today that the 72,640-plus signatures his measure received far exceeded the 46,177 required to get it on the November ballot. The signatures will have to be certified by the Department of Elections within the next 30 days.

He said the number of signatures shows "not only the level of support from voters but their level of awareness."

"They're very concerned about the pension crisis, people are realizing how this affects their lives," Adachi said.

Adachi said he is open to compromise with the other city officials and that he hopes the supervisors today will consider incorporating his proposal into the other measure in order to have "a unitary proposal" rather than two competing initiatives on the ballot.

He said his plan would save the city about $1.25 billion over 10 years, compared to about $750 million in savings from the mayor's plan over the same period. He said a compromise plan he offered last week would fall somewhere in between.

However, if his proposal is not considered by the board, Adachi said he plans to move forward with his measure.

"I'm not interested in kicking the can down the road for a couple of years," he said.

Today's protest prior to the board meeting is organized by a coalition that includes the United Public Workers for Action and the West Bay Retirees chapter of Service Employees International 1021, the city's largest labor union.

The rally was set for 1 p.m., and the Board of Supervisors meeting begins at 2 p.m.


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