Monday, July 11, 2011
Jeff Adachi's Pension Crusade
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi held a press conference on the steps of City Hall last Thursday just under the Mayor's Office, which has been negotiating with various municipal unions to try and rein in what the San Francisco Grand Jury recently reported as the coming "Pension Tsunami."
Adachi started the perform reform ball rolling with last year's Proposition B, which went down to defeat after a concerted campaign against it by every union in San Francisco. The current Mayor Lee and a coalition of negotiators have come up with their own reform measure for this year's ballot, but according to Adachi not only is it too little too late, but the Mayor made a last-minute side deal with the fire and police departments for raises to offset the proposed pension contribution increases.
As Adachi pointed out with a succession of geeky poster board graphs and charts, this deal will only make the pension mess even worse and cost the taxpayers more in the long run.
For a good analysis of the actual figures, click here for a Bay Citizen article by Jamie Hansen. Most San Francisco public safety workers make at least six figure incomes and have learned to game the system to haul in huge pensions for life, after retiring in their 50s. The vast majority don't live in San Francisco so they also have little reason to care about the fiscal health of the city and county. (Click here for an article by Rachel Gordon from last year with some startling figures on their compensation.)
The ripple effects are serious, with less money for new hires and municipal services while the bill to taxpayers just continues to rise. The only person to honestly address the issue has been Adachi above, for which he has been vilified and demonized by "The City Family." His bravery and honesty on this issue has been breathtaking.
He even brought along a table with a compromise proposal for Mayor Lee's proposal, but according to the Fog City Journal (click here), the compromise was rejected out of hand, so the petition gathering continued over the weekend in hopes of putting another pension reform measure on this November's ballot.
The small group of reporters asked a few questions, including one from h. brown (above left) on whether or not uniformed policemen were harassing petition signature gatherers. Adachi diplomatically noted that it was "a very divisive issue," but then confirmed reports that signature gatherers had been interrogated on the streets by uniformed police.