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San Francisco Pension Reform Measure Headed Towards Ballot

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San Francisco City Hall (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

San Francisco City Hall (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Phil-Matier_BIO-HEAD Phil Matier
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Widespread support for a charter amendment to overhaul San Francisco’s public employee pension system has not deterred the public defender from collecting signatures to put a competing measure on the November ballot.

The measure introduced by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd on Tuesday would raise the retirement age for city employees and introduce a shared risk model where pension contributions rise and fall with the economy.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

“This is real reform,” Elsbernd said. “It is also real sacrifice on behalf of our current city employees.”

Financier Warren Hellman helped negotiate a plan he said would put the city at the forefront of pension reform because it has the backing of unions, Mayor Ed Lee and nearly every city lawmaker.

“I think there’ll be real surprise nationally when they see San Francisco taking the lead with a consensual plan,” Hellman said.

The plan cuts the city’s pension costs by an estimated $800 million to $1 billion over the next decade. The savings is not nearly big enough, said Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

The Hellman measure must make it through committee before the full Board of Supervisors votes to put it on the ballot. In the meantime, Adachi continues to gather signatures.

Adachi has already secured upwards of $600,000 to campaign for his measure should it qualify for the ballot, according to KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier.

“Right now they’re playing a game of chicken to see whether he goes ahead or they can talk him out of it,” Matier said.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

If both measures make it onto the ballot, the one with the greatest number of votes takes precedence. But if both pass, certain provisions of each could become the law of the land.

Would voters be able to make sense out of all of it, especially given that Adachi’s last attempt at pension reform failed?

“I don’t think it’d be confusing for voters,” Adachi said. “I think it’s going to take a lot of education.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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