Adachi defeated but not planning third SF pension effort

Public Defender Jeff Adachi is known as the guy who made City Hall take pension reform seriously. His initial effort last year, Proposition B, was defeated after labor leaders led a well-funded campaign against it while promising to draft a better solution for the November ballot.

The solution took the form of Proposition C, put on the ballot by Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors with the support of labor leaders.

Adachi wasn’t satisfied with that measure and instead collected signatures to place Proposition D on the ballot, which would have saved The City about $400 million more than Prop. C by forcing higher paid city workers to pay more into their pensions than under Prop. C.

But voters approved Prop. C and defeated Prop. D.

“I wasn’t surprised by the outcome,” Adachi said Wednesday. “The voters had a clear choice between two pension measures, a stronger measure and one that was weaker reform. They chose the one that was the weaker reform. I am happy that we have at least one pension reform measure that passed.”

At the same time last year, Adachi said the debate was on whether there was even a need to have government workers pay more into their pension. So in one sense Adachi won the debate, even though his measure failed.

Adachi said that even with the passage of Prop. C The City will have to do more to rein in pension costs and health benefit costs. The City’s costs of government, mostly driven by employees’ costs, are increasing at a higher rate than revenues. He said over time the “logic” of his pension measure will be “vindicated.” That logic was to have the higher paid city workers contribute a lot more toward their pensions than under Prop. C.

Adachi also ran for mayor but is out of contention having received about 6 percent of voters’ first choice votes as of Wednesday afternoon. He said he was “proud” of his campaign for highlighting fiscal accountability.

Labor leaders might be relieved to hear that Adachi is not plotting a Son of B II, or anything like that.

He said he doesn’t have any plans “at this point” to propose another pension reform measure. Although he said, escalating pension costs is “going to be a problem that will continue to haunt us.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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