Don Bauder 5:03 p.m., May 22
Pushback Over Prop B Implementation
As promised, legal challenges to San Diego’s Proposition B, dubbed “Comprehensive Pension Reform,” have begun to surface from labor.
Ann Smith, an attorney for the San Diego Municipal Employees Association, has asked San Diego Superior Court Judge Luis Vargas to delay implementation of the plan until negotiations on how to implement the plan, which passed by a large margin with the San Diego electorate, until details could be worked out on how to eliminate pension benefits for new hires and transition them instead into a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.
City attorney Jan Goldsmith, however, wants the changes to be put into effect immediately upon certification of the election results, which should come next month. The Municipal Employees Association says a full plan could be brought to the city council for approval by late October.
The changes in retirement benefits for new hires would affect all public employees with the exception of police officers. Current employees would also be subject to a five year freeze on pensionable pay, thus lowering the benefits they would be able to receive in retirement. This pay freeze has been identified as the sole source of savings by many, including the Voice of San Diego, who also reported yesterday that mayoral hopeful Bob Filner has backed off his alternate proposal to fix the city’s pension woes, saying instead he would honor the will of the voters by embracing the voter mandate to eliminate pensions altogether going forward.
There is still the question of whether former Chief of Police Jerry Sanders and Prop B co-supporter/Filner opponent Carl DeMaio were acting as private citizens or elected officials when pushing for the ballot measure, which unions decried as an end-run around state labor laws that require officials to bargain in good faith over pay and benefit issues.
After hearing two hours of arguments regarding the delay in Prop B’s implementation, Vargas declined to make an immediate decision, preferring instead to issue a written statement at some point in the future.