Undercover camera catches pension petition scandal

July 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Another embarrassing undercover video has surfaced in the ongoing battle between public defender Jeff Adachi and San Francisco's police union -- only this time, the tables are turned.

For months, Adachi has rolled out surveillance videos of plain-clothed police officers rousting residents of single-occupancy hotels in the Tenderloin.

The videos have embarrassed the department and led to an investigation by the FBI. However, a new video gets back at Adachi, but not in his role as public defender.

As a private citizen, Adachi is leading the charge to revamp the city of San Francisco's pension system. His amendment would cap benefits and raise employee contributions, particularly for police and firefighters.

To qualify for the November ballot, petition gatherers were hired and you can hear the pitch in a new undercover video released on YouTube.

In the video, workers give different reasons for gathering signatures on the petition. One says the signatures are going toward the goal of getting better pension benefits for city workers, while another said it was all about making the big shots pay. A third said it's about getting rid of night-time parking meters.

"That's not right," said union representative Nathan Ballard. "You can't say it's about night-time parking meters when it's really about pensions."

Ballard said the 72,000 signatures gathered should be tossed out and said their lawyers are looking into the issue.

Adachi, on the other hand, said it's spelled out right in the petition.

"Every petition has what's called a summary and title that's prepared by the city," Adachi told ABC7, "and let me tell you, people read the petition before they sign it."

Adachi also adds there were 300 people collecting signatures over the next three months.

"If the opponents have any evidence that a person signed the petition under false pretenses, they should come forward with it," Adachi said. "I haven't seen any."

It's still a little ironic that after all the surveillance videos that Adachi has rolled out, to the embarrassment of the police department, that it would be an undercover camera that allegedly catches his petition gatherers in a web of lies.

"We've made it clear to all the signature gatherers to be accurate," Adachi said. "Is there going to be a complete explanation as to every detail of the measure? No."

Adachi said that's why there's an explanation on the petition that people sign.

The signature gathering portion of Adachi's movement has been completed. Adachi needed 47,000 signatures in order to qualify and managed to obtain 72,000. The city's election office has 30 days to make the count.


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