Former San Jose Councilwoman Questions Legality Of Pension Reform Plan

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San Jose City Hall

San Jose City Hall (City of San Jose)

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – A former San Jose city councilmember and Vice Mayor is among many poking holes in the city’s new pension reform plan.

Cindy Chavez served eight years on the city council and now heads the South Bay Labor Council.

She said the city can’t change pension benefits of current city employees simply by declaring a fiscal emergency.

“To declare a fiscal emergency, to benefit one party, so that one party can eliminate an agreement is a huge challenge,” Chavez said. “It’s a huge legal challenge for them that I don’t think they’re going to overcome.”

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

But San Jose City Attorney Rick Doyle said the Supreme Court has recognized the right of cities to alter contracts.

“Because we have a fiscal emergency, or may have a fiscal emergency if they declare it, there is the ability to modify those agreements,” said Doyle.

The San Jose City Council is scheduled to vote on formally declaring a fiscal state of emergency and deciding which pension reforms might be taken to voters on June 21.

Cities across the country with similar problems are expected to closely follow the legal fight in San Jose.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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