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‘City Family’ hogties San Francisco pension vote

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Side agreement: Police and firefighters unions have made pension deals with Mayor Ed Lee. (Examiner file photo)
Side agreement: Police and firefighters unions have made pension deals with Mayor Ed Lee. (Examiner file photo)

You may have read that Mayor Ed Lee negotiated deals with police and fire unions that shield them from the effects of Jeff Adachi’s pension reform measure, Proposition D, if voters support that measure over the mayor-endorsed pension reform dubbed Proposition C.

But did you know that the side agreements do far more than that? According to the deal documents, if any changes are made by The City or the state between now and June 30, 2013, that result in a “reduction in represented employee wages or fringe benefits,” those changes are automatically barred from taking effect until after June 30, 2015.

Put on the ballot by voter signatures, Prop. D would not take effect, and neither would any other attempts at pension reform, in the next two years. The agreements make a specific exemption from this blanket immunity for the mayor’s “City Family” measure — Prop. C on November’s ballot. In other words: It’s Prop. C or nothing.

The agreements also contain deferments of previously promised wage increases and a 3 percent increase in pension contributions by police and fire. However, if The City tries to implement any wage or benefit reduction between now and June 30, 2013 (other then Lee’s plan) those concessions terminate within six months.

The wage deferments and the pension contributions are supposed to save The City about $28 million over the next two years. At the Budget and Finance Committee hearing on these items, we learned that the $28 million in savings has already been included in this year’s budget. Which is a fun way for Lee to completely tie the hands of the Board of Supervisors, whose approval of these agreements is necessary. The board will vote on the agreements today.

Other items from that committee hearing:

  • According to Adachi, assuming Prop. D passes, the cost of shielding police and firefighters from Prop. D’s effects until after 2015 is estimated to be $61 million.
  • The firefighters union contracts also prohibit any reduction in staffing or increase in the average employee workweek until after June 30, 2013.
  • Supervisor Carmen Chu recused herself from voting on one of the agreements because her boyfriend is a member of the fireman’s unit that it covers. But not before the usually mute Chu advocated strongly for the passage of all the other police and fire agreements.

To recap: Lee and the police and fire unions have negotiated side contracts that the board has to approve lest they poke a giant $28 million hole in the city budget, as well as a pension reform measure that voters have to approve, or no other wage and benefit reductions can take place until after 2013.

It sure is nice of City Family to unburden the rest of us from the headache of weighing in on these important issues.


Supervisors prepare questions for mayor

Today is mayor question time at the Board of Supervisors. Now that Mayor Ed Lee is in the race to be elected to a full term, nerds like me get to read conspiracy and intrigue into every semicolon. Not that it’s particularly difficult.

For example, mayoral candidate Dennis Herrera has made his disdain for the Central Subway project a campaign issue. And lo and behold, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd’s submitted question — “Please discuss the current status, progress and future of the Central Subway Project” — is an open invitation for Lee to spend five minutes extolling the virtues of the project.

But my favorite question is from mayoral candidate Supervisor John Avalos, who wants to know “what are you willing to do to change the format [of mayor question time] to make it a truly interactive, substantive and dynamic exchange?” I can only hope that Lee responds by stating the obvious: the supervisors are the ones who set the rules of mayor question time, not the mayor. “So the question,” I imagine Lee saying, “is what are you willing to do?”


Emails track course of mayoral campaigns

Election Day is creeping closer and the assault of emails is getting more interesting. On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown thumped state Sen. Leland’s Yee’s skiing helmet law for kids, saying, “Not every human problem deserves a law.” When Governor Moonbeam thinks you’re overprotective, serious self-reflection is in order. Which may explain why Yee’s campaign for mayor has not sent a news release declaring that Brown hates the heads of skiing children. Yet.

Then on Saturday, an email landed in my inbox from the Bevan Dufty mayoral campaign demanding that the peasants revolt against the leadership of the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club endorsement committee who chose to endorse Dennis “gay marriage” Herrera over openly gay candidate Dufty. Rallying the club’s membership to reject the proposed endorsements by the club’s leadership is a bold but probably necessary move. Dufty was shut out by the Harvey Milk club endorsements (they went with John Avalos), and failure to get a first-place endorsement from at least one of the prominent gay Democratic organizations would be a real drag on his campaign.

Finally, on Monday a news release from the campaign to elect Sharmin Bock as district attorney arrived. It seems the Sierra Club endorsed both Bock and David Onek for the office. Which was very nice of them, considering Bock has been prosecuting violent criminals for 22 years. You know what else is nice? That Bock’s campaign consultant, Jim Stearns, did a round of mailers for the Sierra Club back in 2008 for which he billed them $4,476.09. And, according to ethics filings, on Dec. 31, 2010, Stearns forgave that debt entirely.

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