Don Bauder 2:30 p.m., Aug. 1
SDCERS Says City Breaking Law
On Thursday, Aug. 5, Mayor Jerry Sanders and Council President Ben Hueso were told that the mayor's office had instructed the comptroller not to implement the new member contribution rates that had been adopted by the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System July 9. This "is a violation of the law," said Mark Hovey, SDCERS's chief executive officer, in a letter to Sanders and Hueso. On the same day, the city attorney's office wrote to Jay Goldstone, the city's chief operating officer, and Ken Whitfield, comptroller, that City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had received a telephone call that morning from Hovey, indicating that the mayor's office may have told the comptroller not to comply with the new rate structure. SDCERS's new employee contribution rates "have somehow been altered," said the memo.
Goldsmith is pushing for employees to pick up more of the pension contribution costs. The new rates would have employees picking up part of disability costs. The police and firefighters, in particular, have been battling against the proposition. At a city council rules committee meeting July 21, a police representative said that this would be the first time in California history that safety workers would be asked to pay for disability benefits. A representative of the police said that police would be paying 20% of their salaries if both disability and normal pensions were included in their payments.
"Having SDCERS insist that the City collect more in contributions for pensions and disability is a miracle; nothing like this has been done before," says former City Attorney Mike Aguirre. He believes that Hovey's actions suggest that the pension fund "is hurting for cash flow." I have not been able to ask SDCERS about that.
One thing is puzzling. The letter by the city attorney's office to Goldstone and Whitfield is signed by three people, including Roxanne Story Parks, deputy city attorney. At the SDCERS meeting May 28, the board discussed how Parks, associate general council of SDCERS, would be moving to the city attorney's office. It was stated that Parks has signed an agreement that there would be no conflict of interest, and that she would not be working on pensions with the city attorney's office. I will attempt to clarify that Monday.