Adachi’s Pension Deception:
Billionaire Speculators Pricing Kids
out of Health Care

Written by Marc Salomon. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on July 06, 2010 with 47 Comments

Marc Salomon. Photo by Luke Thomas

By Marc Salomon

July 6, 2010

The common wisdom in conservative economic circles as trumpeted by FoxNEWS these days in serious, stentorian tones, is that the economy is broke rather than broken, and that we are saddled with massive unfunded pension and health care liabilities, which are deemed unaffordable and unsustainable.  The solution, according to those whose economic ideology got us into this mess, is to cut wages, pensions and health care, and to welcome these austerity measures and our new status as serfs as inevitable.  The unacceptable alternative to austerity for them would be that those responsible for the economic mess be wiped out in a wave of bankruptcies, which would mean them.  To avoid this, they will spend lavishly to convince us that we are to blame for their errors and convince us to transfer the meager resources of hundreds of millions of us into their coffers to make them not just whole, but to further enrich them.

Progressives hold that pensions and health care are fully funded by existing tax revenue streams.  To the contrary, there exists massive, unfunded obligations to cover the losses of Wall Street investment banks and the massive bills for Wall Street’s other profit center—economically unproductive wars largely ineffective – of our own choosing – which are being shifted to the taxpayers’ balance sheet.  Locally, taxpayers offer up significant subsidies to developers of profitable market-rate housing.  Working Americans, who have done nothing wrong, should not be made to take the hit for the failures of the high-flying financial elites while they keep most of their winnings.

“We” did not run the economy into the ground because of  “our” profligate spending.  Right wing economic actors see a long-awaited golden opportunity to play lead roles in a production of Naomi Klein’s “Disaster Capitalism,” to take full advantage of crisis to achieve the long held policy goals.  They desire more of the same: continued outsourcing of jobs; lowering of wages; dismantling of the public sector; and increased penetration of the financial sector into each and every one of life’s necessities; primarily health care and retirement, in addition to education, housing, driving and, when incomes falter, consumption, to make up the gap.

The pressing question here is why are “progressives” or even “liberals” such as Public Defender Jeff Adachi auditioning to move from demon faces on Glen Beck’s chalkboard to honored guests on his show by teaming up with billionaire venture capitalists to practice Disaster Capitalism in San Francisco?  Is this another case of “Independent” politicians making the  “tough choices” required to deal with our “common problems?”  In order to prove their mettle, right-wing politicians bash on the left, their opponents’ base.  For lefties to prove their “independence,” must they, too, bash the left, their own base?

For all of San Francisco’s diversity, we were quite unified in support of federal health care reform that included a public financing option.  There was also broad support in these parts for President Obama’s promise that if you liked your health care the way it was, that you could keep your health care.  San Franciscans from all walks of life were outraged when Montana Senator Max Baucus singlehandedly sabotaged the public option last year while taking “Big Sky” contributions from the health insurance industry.

Thanks to the late Joe Lynn’s law requiring signature initiative campaigns to report their expenditures, we can ask why progressives like Jeff Adachi raises hundreds of thousands of dollars from Pacific Heights residents Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman to finance an assault on kids’ health care and their parents’ ability to put food on the table?  Moritz, a Forbes 400 member, made his billions from Sequoia Capital Partners, a ground floor investor, and Heyman, same address, is designated as “retired” (do you have any Grey Poupon?).  Moritz has also contributed to Baucus’ Senate campaigns.  Whether on Wall Street or venture capital row on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, the common goal amongst these super rich is a bulk transfer of wealth, impoverishing working Americans to enrich the finance class.  Why again are progressives like Adachi giving aid and comfort to that project?

The same people who helped bring you the “individual mandate” to purchase skyrocketing private insurance that provides spottier and spottier coverage each year, without a public option and with severe tax penalties for failure to comply, are now pushing a campaign to shift the cost burden of health care from the broad base of taxpayers onto the narrow shoulders of families of City employees.  Tucked into section (e) of the measure is language that limits the City’s contribution to dependent health care to 50 percent of the cheapest plan.  Watch the City pick the skimpiest plan to set that baseline.  This will mean increases of hundreds of dollars per dependent, per month to maintain health care for kids, which most San Franciscans see as a human right worth socially financing.  Former Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s Healthy San Francisco program enjoyed unanimous support amongst the political class.

This measure would address perhaps $170 million out of $6.5 billion in the City’s budget this next year, according to proponents.  The measure’s proposed 9 percent mandatory employee contribution to retirement when combined with recently negotiated 5 percent pay cuts and 12 unpaid furlough days, this measure would blow a hole in tens of thousands of moderate income kitchen table budgets, displacing folks from San Francisco, and would leave children without the kind of quality health insurance that full-time workers and their families deserve, all for 2.3 percent of the City budget.

Since the beginning of the Wall Street crash, finance capital has launched a global war on the public sector and public support for retirement and health care security.  Many who hold right-wing values find this turn of events quite providential and would gleefully spur us all on in the race to the bottom.  But those who hold progressive values should respond to this tsunami of barbarity with a message that suggests we can guarantee dignified retirement security to all instead of leveraging resentments at retirement insecurity to reduce all to poverty.

The pattern is clear: We see bond vigilantes in Europe attacking the social welfare system.  In a pincer move, Moody’s rating service, the ones who brought us those “investment grade” rated Mortgage Backed Securities, just lowered San Francisco’s bond rating which will increase our borrowing costs, not because the City has missed a single bond payment.  Moody’s now deems San Francisco’s benefit obligations too high. The common thread here is that financial speculators, like those at Sequoia Capital Partners, oppose providing public social services with tax dollars.  In the face of a crisis of their own making, the finance sector remains undaunted, and across the table is doubling down on the failed policies that have led us into the chasm.

When Adachi first thought of this last year, perhaps the pension provisions made sense conceptually.  But in the intervening months as the legislation took on specifics, especially in the context of increasing speculative vigilantism forcing the US and Europe to race to the bottom, the circumstances have changed.  When Obama committed the US to more, deeper offshore drilling earlier this year, he had to at least appear to dial back on that pledge after circumstances changed in the Gulf of Mexico.

Adachi should have realized that his measure’s sails are being propelled by the worst, most regressive winds in American politics, winds that are only effective because organized labor has failed miserably to promote an alternative.  Union failure should not be a predicate for kicking kids off of quality health care.  It should not be a predicate for bumping health care costs for lesbian and gay domestic partner and retirees to $500 per month.  The fact that everyone is being pushed off a bridge is not a progressive rationale for pushing everyone off the bridge.  Progressives need to be the suicide barrier here.

Adachi is misrepresenting current city policy with respect to retirement contributions.  The lower ranks of labor, which have conceded wages and benefits for eight of the past ten years, has more than done its part.  For this next year, most workers’ concessions include a mandatory 7.5 percent salary reduction dedicated towards a retirement fund contribution, and a mandatory 5 percent salary cut for two years.   Most city workers are now required to contribute to the retirement fund.   This proves that such language has no place in the City Charter.  Adachi must correct the record to accurately reflect reality.

Those “hundred thousand dollar” employees at the SFPD, SFFD and Municipal Executives Association, the ones earning enough so that their margins can withstand a 10 percent cut without threatening their basic livelihoods, have not sacrificed in kind and enjoy much richer, earlier vesting benefit packages.  I would add that I was one of two members of the public to oppose the budget busting “loss leader” SFPD-raises in 2007.

Most of these civilian high dollar workers were brought into the system when former Mayor Willie Brown’s “Special Assistants” were converted to highly paid civil service employees represented by the Municipal Executives Association.  This represents the introduction of added obligations to the retirement system which has not been accounted for, one that capped Willie Brown’s doubling of the fiscal footprint of City government.  High dollar workers should be dealt with proportionately to their hit on the retirement system.

Let’s get this clear:  Adachi says that he was driven to push this measure because of difficulties in securing funding for the Public Defender’s office.  He claims that city workers are going to need to learn to live within their means, that stern, fiscal discipline and austerity are what is needed here.  What Jeff Adachi is saying is that law-abiding kids of law-abiding City workers should lose health care or housing so that those accused of crimes might enjoy top-shelf legal representation.   He is begging this comparison with this measure.

It should be quite a show the next time that Adachi petitions the Board of Supervisors for additional funding when he brings in his foot soldiers to clash with labor.  Perhaps the politically optimal solution would be for those who are accused of crimes, who Adachi’s new mansion dwelling friends might dismiss as  “low lifes,” (and might well believe they  wouldn’t be charged if they weren’t guilty anyway) to live within their means and accept the minimal constitutional standards for criminal defense counsel.

No other city offers up such generous employee health and retirement benefits Adachi says.  How many cities offer up an elected Public Defender? How many finance Cadillac standard of luxury level public defender services when a Volkswagen is legally sufficient?  Most have a judge appoint a local attorney to defend the accused for free and are dispensed with the matter so that the public sector might be relieved of these onerous, excessive burdens.  Can we really even afford the luxury of a vigorous Office of the Public Defender in these troubled times when there are constitutionally conforming less expensive options available?  Again, Adachi begs this question, which is the logical flip side of the case for his measure.

Adachi is going to have an even tougher row to hoe before a Finance Committee with potentially fewer allies, as progressive candidates will face headwinds because Adachi insisted on running this initiative on the same ballot when progressives running on progressive values were making viable plays for open seats.  The last thing that candidates facing a conservative onslaught need in an election year is to fight friendly fire, to run Adachi’s reactionary gauntlet.  Conservatives on the Board of Supervisors are not going to suddenly vigorously support indigent criminal defense just because the Public Defender agreed with them on pensions.

Adachi has a choice here, he can adapt like Obama has in the Gulf and recalibrate his policy approach to labor reform based on the very disturbing context of the global war on health care and retirement security, or he can follow the path of former President Bill Clinton on NAFTA and lead his allies into political oblivion on behalf of the super rich.    The Clinton effect was the Republican surge in the wake of Clinton’s DLC abandonment of his base, both in Arkansas and Washington, D.C. which led to fifteen or more years of disastrous single-party Republican rule.

Problems with Adachi’s measure:

–          Adachi misrepresents current public policy when he says that most city employees are not required to make contributions to retirement, requirements that most city employees contribute 7.5 percent of their salary were negotiated this year along with a 5 percent wage concession;

–          Financed by a Forbes 400 investment banker billionaire, this measure advances investment banker interests at the expense of working families;

–          Leverages resentments at the retirement security of others, appealing to the worst, most reactionary instincts of the electorate to raise barriers to access to quality health care;

–           Spurs on the race to the bottom during times of insecurity instead of promoting collaborative progressive policies for mutual advancement;

–          Accepts and advances the conservative framing of the issue;

–          Leads to kids losing health insurance;

–          Shifts costs from predictable benefits to at-least-as expensive crisis public health intervention;

–          Regressively treats the lowest paid city employees equivalently to the “hundred thousand dollar” club;

–          Cements regressive policy in the Charter based on atypical short term projections.

Progressive solutions:

–          Progressive rates of retirement contribution phased in based salary level and on ability to pay;

–          Affordable health care is a right, the budget should not be balanced on the backs of children’s health;

–          Retirement resentment can be checked by progressives buying folks into promoting the elimination of the income cap on FICA payroll taxes and having the conversation about retirement security instead of cynically leveraging resentments and insecurities;

–          Treat investment banker income as income (35 percent tax), not capital gains (15 percent tax) so that they would have less money with which to wage class warfare;

–          Shift the burden of criminal representation for misdemeanors and lesser felonies to the private bar.

–          Eliminate overtime for SFPD uniformed managers.

Against this backdrop, progressive municipalities should actively oppose the enclosure of those remnants of the economy which have not been outsourced by finance capital.  This means taking control of the creation of credit from the banks.  A progressive mayoral candidate I once knew proposed a public “Bank of San Francisco” to take deposit of city finances, to create inexpensive municipal credit and to promote sustainable local economic development.  The Bank of North Dakota has successfully served this role for that state for decades now.  City government is held suspect, but at this point I believe that when contrasted with Wall Street’s maliciousness, the risk of minor local corruption is minimized by the benefits of public finance capitalism with a local face.

Our ideas are better only when they are our ideas.

At the end of the day, ideology is the scaffolding that holds up those illusions which dominant reality requires.  That we don’t even know that it is there is testament to its effectiveness at structuring how we comprehend our reality and how we negotiate through it.  Only under the dominant ideology, does Adachi’s proposal work, because it cuts government and benefits while shifting resources to the financial class.  Once we take off those particular ideological glasses and view the measure through a progressive prism, evaluated against progressive values and priorities, we can see how it really does not work, that the savings illusory, is merely shifted from taxpayer onto kitchen table.  A proposal such as this would “work,” from a progressive perspective, only if it were equitable, if it shifted resources from the super rich and well-off to the moderate income folks and below.

Marc Salomon is a 20-year North Mission resident, a homeowner and property tax payer, partnered to a 20-year City and County of SF employee, an SEIU household, has relied on his dependent health insurance since 1991 for treatment for hepatitis C, insurance that he would no longer be able to afford should Adachi’s measure pass.


Comments for Adachi’s Pension Deception:
Billionaire Speculators Pricing Kids
out of Health Care
are now closed.

  1. I think that it demonstrates Jeff’s poor political acumen that he’d prefer to be seen as confrontational than conciliatory when the last negotiations clearly indicate that labor was willing to move in that direction on pensions. It is poor policy acumen to include health insurance caps in a city that is as consistently liberal on health care as San Francisco.

    This might work out like Don Fishers’ parking measure that went down in flames a few years ago, or like Prop D billboards, where the voters saw through conservative moneyed interests trying to pull a fast one.

    Good thing that the election is not being held today.


  2. @ h, the contract extensions were not out of the ordinary as action items because that was merely administrative procedure. What made them different was why they were seperated from the rest of the MOUs. The cops and firemen did not give up what the rest of labor did, not even close.

    I agree with marc’s last statement and push it further. If the problems are the charter ammendments that over sweetened the pot for Fire and Police, then RECALL those ammendments. Adachi won’t do that because he CANNOT run for Mayor as the guy that stripped F & P of their retirement. So he has to throw all of labor under the bus.


  3. So h Brown is supporting Jeff Adachi and Matt Gonzalez in taking out their rage against the cops and firefighters on lower income city workers and their kids?


  4. Howard,

    Do you really think having over 100 line cops take in over 300k yearly total is OK? Isn’t that just a tad beyond being properly compensated? They had a high ranking member of the brass retire under a cloud a couple of months ago and cut a check for over a half million dollars to him after which he’ll draw down another couple of hundred thousand a year for life. And, of course, he pays nothing for health care for he and his dependents. I’m a little surprised that a Republican would think this is cool. What happened to your fiscal conservatism?

    And jtothed,

    Didn’t know you drank bourbon in the early afternoon too. Yeah, let your fingers do the walking and watch a replay of Wednesday’s (July 7th) Government Audit and Oversight where normally Prog, Eric Mar joined with Chair, Carmen Chu to send contract extensions on 8 major unions’ MOU’s. A new mayor can’t negotiate with police & fire and others until the new guy or gal has been in Room 200 for 2 and a half years. I guess that was in case the Adachi legislation is approved by voters (which it will). The big boys are isolating themselves from anything pesky like sharing the pain.


  5. And screw kids out of healthcare,

    And drive more working families out of the City,

    And make it harder to recruit the best young minds for the PD’s office,

    And in the end, make absolutely no difference on the problems the city is actually facing. (Because the savings he would reap will make as much a difference as shoveling sand into the surf.)

  6. “(i) It is the express intent of the voters … (w)ith respect to City employees, should a court of competent jurisdiction render a final judgment determining that any portion of this section cannot be enforced, then there shall be no increase in the cost of bargained compensation for a period of five years after the expiration of any memorandum of understanding in effect as of November 2, 2010 covering employees covered by such judgment. If, notwithstanding the voters’ intent, an arbitrator awards an increase in wages or other economic benefits for employees under section A8.409-4 or A8.590-5, or the City is otherwise compelled to negotiate or arbitrate wage or benefit increases, such increases shall be presented to the voters for approval before they may become effective, for a period of five years after the expiration of any memorandum of understanding in effect as of November 2, 2010 covering such employees. ”

    This is the real kicker folks, if this measure is found to be illegal and/or unenforceable (which it will because pensions are considered deferred compensation and thus subject to collective bargaining), then this measure is imposing a FIVE (5) YEAR WAGE FREEZE at the tail end of ALL current contracts.

    That is why the list of donors stinks soooo suspiciously. Adachi will succeed in what the right wing has not been able to do, and that is tear apart the alliances of the left. Well Done Dipshit!

  7. To protect San Francisco we must make sure that our very best firefighters, police officers and paramedics can stay right here at

    That’s why we support Proposition H to help recruit and retain
    the most qualified public safety personnel.

    The men and women of our public safety services risk their
    lives to protect us. That’s why we need to protect them with common-
    sense measures like Proposition H. Right now, San Francisco
    offers some of the lowest retirement benefits in the state to firefighters,
    police officers and paramedics. As a result, the men and
    women who protect our families face intense pressure to take
    employment elsewhere – so they can protect their own families.

    Proposition H is a way to address this problem.

    Because of a multi-billion dollar surplus in our pension fund,
    there will be no cost to taxpayers for at least ten years, and probably
    much longer. As an added financial protection, Proposition H
    requires that if the retirement surplus is ever exhausted, the public
    safety officers would be required to enter into negotiations with
    the city to pay for the added benefit themselves.

    This is a fiscally sound and fair plan that will protect our city. It
    makes sure we have the best trained personnel at work.
    Proposition H helps bring our public safety officers up to the statewide
    average of retirement benefits. It will make a difference in
    the safety of our city.

    Please join Senator Feinstein, Congresswoman Pelosi, and
    Supervisors Ammiano, Daly, Hall, Leno, Maxwell, McGoldrick,
    Newson, Peskin, Sandoval and Yee in voting YES on Proposition H.
    Keep our very best hard at work protecting us. Vote Yes on
    Proposition H!

    Yes on H
    We owe our firefighters and police officers benefits in line with
    other counties in California. This measure will provide long term
    security for those who stand watch over our public safety.
    Prop. H equalizes their retirement benefits by tapping into the
    $3 billion surplus in the City’s retirement fund. These funds are
    only available for this purpose, thus will have no significant fiscal
    impact on the city.
    Please Vote Yes on Proposition H.
    Supervisor Gavin Newsom

    Yes on H. Police officers and firefighters put their lives on the
    line every day. Help retain our highly trained professionals by
    matching their retirement benefits with neighboring cities.

    Howard Epstein, 12th Assembly District

  8. Marc,

    Seriously dude, can you shorten your answers? It’s like you’re being paid by the word or something. Own up to the fact that all of your concerns about “children” losing their health care is actually you afraid that you’ll have to pay for yours. Really.

    And, you gotta start somewhere in slowing down this runaway bankruptcy train. You’re not entitled Marc. You haven’t worked a day in your life for the City and yet we’re all paying for your health care.

    And, money paid into a retirement account with your name on it is not a tax. It’s an investment.

    Keep em short Marc and maybe I’ll read your posts through to the end.


  9. David, as the economy has sagged, wages have fallen for most of the lower paid employees represented by SEIU. Such has not been the case for many higher paid employees, such as MEA, MAA, POA and Fire.

    Just as the poor rightly get affirmative action with a good chunk of the San Francisco budget, so should the highest paid city employees get affirmative action as applies to paying their fair share.

    There are many attorneys who serve the public interest who do so for much less than $100K. I don’t see why San Francisco should pay boomtime wages to attorneys during a bust.

    SF salaries rose for a variety of reasons. In the 1990s, comparable worth laws caused the salaries of traditionally female jobs to rise to those of men. At the time, salaries rose from the $20K+ range to $40K+.

    Then, after Willie Brown filled the City with Special Assistants, Peskin converted them all into civil service, many with the MEA and many making more than $100K at the time, more now.

    As the economy boomed in the 2000s and tax revenues rose, the City had to compete with the private sector and it raised salaries for all sorts of classifications.

    Finally, around 2007 or so, Newsom began to reclassify legions of MEA upwards with about $20K raises.

    Of these, only the comparable worth raises can be defended during these times of crisis. There are many unemployed attorneys out there, it is time for the “magic of the marketplace” for the “labor market” which Adachi’s new friends worship to perform its handiwork as applies to these highly paid classifications.

    Ad hominem attacks are appeals to argument based on the person. Jeff Adachi stated in public in support of this petition that the reason why he is taking this route is because he had trouble securing funding to represent his clients. Jeff made the equation and Jeff will lose having made that equation. Nobody put a gun to Jeff’s head to make that argument funded with the resources of venture capitalists and Schwarzenegger policy advisors.

    Adachi made the case that we are in a crisis so profound that he had to move immediately to change things. If the crisis is as profound as Adachi claims, and the health of children is now on the table, then everything has to be on the table. There is no escaping this.

    As far as leveraging resentment at the poor (and not everyone who is indigent before the court and cannot afford an attorney and relies on PD services is poor) not my first choice, but appeals to liberal guilt have diminishing returns. Elections must be fought for keeps, because there are no do overs, the other side is clearly willing to demonize whomever they need to in order to prevail, and the only alternative to losing is to fight to win.

    Let losers of the left “fight the good fight” and get their asses handed to them on a platter, as so many of them seem to find solace in defeat.


  10. After learning that the increased revenue this measure creates won’t be devoted to anything in particular, my doubt-level has increased. Who’s to say it won’t just be dumped into the police and fire departments, thus negating the purpose of the measure?

  11. I agree with h. The higher paid lawyers in the PDs office have been there 10-20 years. They are outstanding attorneys and have stellar reputations. Moreover, 100K+ might go far in St. Louis. But that’s a lower middle class income in SF.

    Marc is hoping his ad hominem attacks on the PDs office and their clients will resonate with voters. But to throw the most marginalized and disenfranchised people in our community under the bus to gain leverage is anti-progressive, disingenuous and Rovian. Rather, we should attack the measure on its merits.

    Pricing public employees out of dental care and dependent healthcare is fiscally irresponsible and morally indefensible. When people do not have access to preventative health and dental care, they will be forced to rely on county funded emergency care, which is astronomically more expensive than preventative care.

    The problem, as a general rule, is not overpaid city employees. Yes, there is abuse in some departments. But to focus on relatively minor public sector imbalances, while ignoring or minimizing private sector disaster capitalism, is to succumb to the smoke screen so artfully created by the oligarchy. All of the energy we spend attacking overpaid cops is energy we are not spending attacking Prop 13, the 2/3 vote requirement for the state budget, and the underlying economic system that protects the wealth of a few billionaires from the hungry mouths of billions of poor people.

  12. Neither the cops nor Leland Yee are launching a campaign to kick kids off of health insurance.

    It was you and I, h., who were the only ones to testify against the 2007 MOU giveaway.

    If the stakes are as massive, if the situation is as urgent as Adachi would have it, and if haircuts must be taken across the board, then the place for that to start is with Adachi’s own house, his staff and attorneys.

    I’m sure that David in SF would love to see the conversation focused on lazy city workers’ pensions, but the truth of the matter is that Adachi is teaming up with people who actually like Max Baucus and Arnold Schwarzenegger to screw kids out of health care.

    And that where the conversation will remain during this campaign because Adachi drew up his measure to put it there.


  13. Naw,

    Deputy Public Defenders make less than cops. Thanks for the link. Less than 50 of them make 100k while 113 cops (at last count) make over 300k a year on the DROP program. That’s where the outrage should be. Keep in mind that the defenders are lawyers. No way their pay is out of line.

    For those of you reading this please realize that I have the deepest respect for Marc Salomon and his hubbie. We are not enemies. Hell, I’ve pet-sat his house and totally spoiled kitties on occasion and the energy in their crib is wonderful.

    While I’m at it, an apology to Faber. I shouldn’t have been so hard on you. You’re a good person and brilliant. I’m often a foul-mouthed drunk. Sorry.

    That said, would you like a mug shot of Leeland Yee, Marc? A top Chinese language reporter told me that Yee’s light fingered shopping doesn’t stop with suntan lotion.

    Giants win 15-2 and all’s right with the world.


  14. UPDATE: in recent filings, again due to the Joe Lynn signature gathering reporting law, Adachi proves that he’s expanded his coalition to include INVESTORS! How providential.

    Ronald Conway donated $10,000.

    Harrier Heyman, now listed as an Author, contributed $35,000+$12,500 as did Michael “James Bond Villan” Moritz.

    Let’s do the math, $75K+$35K+$12.5K = $122,500 each for 2 = $245,000. A fucking mazing.


    This should belie any progressive pretensions that Jeff Adachi might have offered up. FAIL.

    Adachi claimed that Joe Lynn was his mentor. Indeed.


  15. Here’s how it goes, h, if the City is paying $100K+ per attorney, then the City is coddling indigent criminal defendants.

    Here’s the Public Defender gravy train:

    Look at all of those decimal places. Plenty of fat to cut in order to preserve health care for kids.

    If the City paid attorneys $75K, all of them, City Attorney, District Attorney and Public Defender, attracting freshly minted attorneys wanting to make a name for themselves, then the City might save money as well as avoid those high retirement costs that Adachi is so concerned about.

    We pay top dollar now, we don’t have to pay top dollar if the trade off is denying kids health insurance.


  16. “Coddling”?

    Giving someone a constitutionally mandated adequate defense is not coddling. I know you Marc and you always have the last word. Right or wrong.

    And, you’re right, we aren’t in the same class at all.

    Your class is Arthur Evans.

    So close this down with your increasingly senseless and repetitive blather.

    Go Gigantes!


  17. When I wrote “the going rate,” I meant just passed the bar freshly minted new lawyers’ rate.

    After all, it is those six figure salaries that are eating the budget alive.


  18. Lets move on, Adachi’s reform will be put on the ballot and it will be passed by the people of SF.

    Next topic folks.

  19. What’s not funny here is when a progressive sides with a finance capitalist, the kind of speculators who have clearcut San Francisco of economic diversity, asserting that the right of the highest quality defense counsel can be mathematically balanced against the right of city employees to have affordable health care for their families.

    Adachi says everyone needs to take a haircut in tough times. If he asserts, and I disagree, that kids should be kicked off of health care to assuage Wall Street and turns around and demands his budget be funded in full, no haircut, then the question of the budget of the Office of the Public Defender is now on the table. Adachi put it there and alienated many who have control over that budget.

    Defendants must be given constitutionally guaranteed at a bare minimum a certiain quality of counsel. That is not necessarily mean that we are required to pay top dollar to the best attorneys the office can attract. I’m not an attorney and don’t know the intricacies of state law as applies to counties with respect to the provision of indigent defense services. But we need to do what we can to share the pain with Adachi as Adachi would share the pain with us.

    Perhaps a cap on Public Defender attorney salaries at 50% of the going rate, to ensure parity with Adachi’s raid on childrens’ access to health care?

    Now I’ve seen it all, h. brown suggesting that we coddle those accused of a crime, a good chunk already convicted once, instead of prioritizing health care.


  20. David,

    Satire’s funny. At least it is when I write it. What you’re reading from Marc is unadulterated class warfare on poor people accused of crime. Read Redmond’s take on the issue. Workers in non-profits who have no coverage can pay 9.5% (?) and be covered? That’s sweet for someone on the lower rung of the ladder. Which is not and never has been the case for Marc. Whom, from his most recent posts is about one step from a 51-50.


  21. Looks like Adachi’s emerging coalition runs from the accused criminals in our communities right through accused criminals on Wall Street.

    The voters should eat that shit up!


  22. @David, Wall Street was the beneficiary of the raid, but it was the Obama administration that aided and abetted the heist.

  23. Adachi’s initiative is the “Care Not Cash” of 2010. It is well funded by venture capitalists and will pick up the support of conservative groups once it makes it on the ballot. This is not in my opinion a progressive way to handle the fact that many cities in California and the nation are facing tough choices due to a jobless, never ending recession. That fact that California cannot raise revenue unless it gets a 2/3 ‘s majority means that a minority of conservative politicians holds us all hostage. Many cities are having to choose between maintaining police and fire services or decent schools. Public health, an expensive part of any budget, is cut to help maintain parks, recreation and public transportation tor everybody and the tourist industry. Our pensions and health care benefits are easy marks for anyone to attack and given our climate of anger and resentment easy to stoke against unionized public workers, one of the last bastions of good pay and benefits. Playing upon fears of bankrupty which happened in Vallejo and anger at public sector unions, it appeals to the right wing mind set that sees unions and government jobs as the major most looming problem. If you read any of the comments at SFGate in support of the Adachi initiative they were by large anti union. Unions in one comment were the “pig unions”. No doubt those who come forward to endorse this initiative will largely come from Conservative groups and cash will not be a problem when it comes to helping this pass unless a stronger coalition emerges to stop it. Yes, unions haven’t been perfect. The deck has been stacked against us for many years since Reagan destroyed the air traffic controllers. Try an organize a union in a non union shop or in a place where their a right to work rules in place.
    Just like”Care not Cash” which promised to fund homeless services to ease homelessness, this badly crafted initiative will not save city services because there is nothing in this bill to actually ear-mark monies taken from workers to directly fund services. This initiative will open the door to more take aways and like our Govenator ensure that public workers will wind up on the unemployment line just like our private sector counterparts. from take-aways from service workers who actually due the work for those services. It makes no distinction between highly paid workers like doctors, nurses and social workers and medical asssitants. In addition, many workers have worked hard to gather signatures to place an actual revenue generating measure to fund services rather than the cutting that has gone on in the city for decades.

    Anyone with a conscience who was conscious in the last 6 months saw members of multiple unions work day and night to give up raises for two years, take 12 furlough days a year for two years, and giving up paid holidays in lieu of job cuts or benefit take aways for all city workers.

    As to who should debate Mr. Adachi or Mr. Gonzalez an art-full debater ask Roxanne Sanchez or Dave Fleming RN at SFGH. How about Ed Kinchley, MSW , social worker at SFGH. Ask the people actually do the work and labored hard to save jobs with good benefits including health care for their dependents. to debate this bad idea of a initiative masquaraiding as reform when it is merely helping the race to the economic bottom of the barrel and will set a precedent to break workers and their unions. As to whether or not it is “progressive”, there is nothing progressive about take aways of pension and health care benefits that many city workers worked hard to preserve this last budget round.

  24. I confess the satire was lost on me. To be clear, I strongly oppose Adachi’s pension “reform” measure. As Marc rightly asserts, the measure succumbs to the right wing logic of attacking the public sector as a means of fiscal responsibility while obfuscating Wall Street’s massive raiding of the public coffers. The measure will price many lower wage city employees out of preventative dental care and dependent healthcare. This fact alone makes the measure extremely ugly. To add insult to injury, the measure’s timing couldn’t be worse. It is already dividing progressives, and will be used by moderates and conservatives as a wedge issue to attack progressive candidates. On these points, I couldn’t agree with Marc more.

  25. Maldonado demolishes Newsom, if Gonzalez seeks it or runs for it, the record of his sexism will come out and he will never get laid in this town again. Gonzalez won’t risk that.


  26. David,

    Agnos. Gonzalez if they want to win in 2011 too. I’d say Peskin has the inside track but I like Art and Matt. Adachi best of all but he’s gotta be re-elected as Public Defender first. Running against? Nobody. A rare talent.


  27. To all, any suggestions for the interim major when Gavin leaves? As h said above its going to be fascinating!

  28. Any suggestions for the interim major? suggestions anyone.

  29. Campers,

    Well, the initiative or whatever made the ballot and it will most certainly be a fascinating election season. What with the unions fighting Adachi and Gonzalez on the one hand and shoring up Lennar on the other one is reminded of the Brecht line: “Pack your kit bag Johnny and fight, fight, fight cause right is wrong, Johnny and might makes right.”.

    Good luck to all. I predict Adachi’s reform passes with at least 60% of the vote, Reilly wins in 2 and Kim in 6 and Mandelman in 8 and damned if I know in 10 and Newsom goes away and Dufty and Maxwell resign any day now and damn, that Posey/Bumgarner battery rocks.


  30. @David, progressives attacking labor families using billionaire bucks while the financial sector is waging a global class war IS a clear instance of progressives eating their own. Naming it for what it is is not progressives eating their own, it is intelligence (not the smart kind, the informational kind).

    Apparently the hallmark of good satire is that people think that it is real. But what do I know, I failed English and gym a few times each.

    I was hoping the language about Adachi begging these questions, language repeated for emphasis with double a entendre, would check such suspicions of seriousness. In my pieces, I like to weave in snippets of language that others in SF political life use that are appropriate in context yet communicate those the individuals and to others who know the reference.

    “Our ideas are better,” is one of those references. “We’ll work with Newsom when we agree and oppose him when we don’t” is another. Maybe one day I’ll include one of your snippets, you give good language, but only when its yours.

    Speaking of Matt Gonzalez, as far as cutting the PD’s budget to check the power of an elected who is doing violence to what was his electoral base, isn’t it Matt who thinks that it is a good idea to try to spoil the Democrats in punishment for their lurch to the right, to make it so that they couldn’t use the power of incumbency to move their agenda and sabotage progressive policies, to make it so that Democrats had do deal favorably with liberals and progressives to regain power? Are such brutal tactics not appropriate only when the Democrat involved is a friend of Matt’s?

    Wasn’t it Matt Gonzalez who excoriated Tom Ammiano for moving to the right in preparation for the 2003 mayor’s race? “Tom couldn’t win” is their argument, but as it turned out Matt couldn’t win either. Are the lessons from this that Tom was right politically in reaching out to the right, but was just the wrong candidate? Is the suggestion that Adachi follow Ammiano’s path, but as a more attractive candidate?

    That line of argument is predicated upon the assumption that the hole Adachi is blowing in what had been his electoral base can be climbed out of.

    At this point, if Ross does not run, Leland Yee is looking awfully good in comparison. We need no more Barack Obamas making progressive promises and then screwing us when Wall Street waves a few hundred grand in front of his nose.


  31. Foggers, let’s keep the discussion on point, please.

  32. Faber,

    Remember why I stopped dealing with you? We were walking by an appliance store and you asked … ? do I need to remind you? Now, suddenly you’re defending him? Cause you see a chance to get your pathetic name out on the tails of people about a foot taller?

    Sorry for being so honest but I’m sick and tired of pygmies fouling the water of public debate.


  33. boys,

    We’ll see if it even makes the ballot. Don’t forget that it could come down to Herrera saying ‘OK’ to his petition and Jeff is definitely (whether he admits it or not) is Dennis’ top competitiion in that race. For now? Adachi for Public Defender! Then, let’s talk in January.


  34. h. said “you rage on because win or lose doesn’t matter to you. ”

    marc pointed out “Marc Salomon…has relied on his dependent health insurance since 1991 for treatment for hepatitis C, insurance that he would no longer be able to afford should Adachi’s measure pass.”

    Doesn’t look like win or lose doesn’t matter to him.

  35. What’s that line about liberals eating their own? So much for giving one another the benefit of the doubt.

    As I mentioned, I think Marc makes some very good points, and raises very real questions about the consequences of Adachi’s plan. But I think he goes too far in attacking the public defender’s office. Or perhaps all the privatization talk is satire disguised as real politic.

  36. Marc,

    I believe you called them “low life criminal scum” on the phone with me an hour or so ago and then immediately feathered the comment with: “You know I don’t believe that.”.

    You’re very smart but your ego makes you continually underrate your opposition. You’ve lost every single argument on this thread/board/post or whatever and yet you rage on because win or lose doesn’t matter to you. All that matters to you is that you be in the spotlight. If that requires you disembowel a virgin I’m sure you’d do that too.
    Because, it’s for the best ultimate cause, right? Uh huh, feeding your ceaseless blob of advancing insecurity.

    It’s just a matter of time before we see you on TV carrying a ’12 Galaxies’ sign.

    There’s a paper thin line between you and Arthur Evans and Rob Anderson at this point.


  37. @David, what’s unbecoming of progressives is to set out the political algebra that somehow it is okay to price health care out of range of dependents and kids because we need to provide top drawer defense services to indigents accused of crimes.

    I believe we need to do both, make health care affordable to city workers and their dependents and to provide top notch defense services.

    My efforts at Swiftian satire perhaps was not apparent.

    Were Adachi’s measure to pass, then kids would go without health care but indigents accused would have Cadillac representation. That is not fair. One solution is to offer up constitutionally conforming representation to indigent defendants to save some money to keep kids on health insurance.

    I’ve testified in favor of Adachi’s budget being made whole. But it is unacceptable for that political power that we’ve given him to be used as he is using it, against progressives. Do you really want Scott Weiner as your supervisor?

    When a “progressive” elected is using his office to make war on progressives, then progressives need to do what it takes to remove the power of that individual to make war against those who put him into office. That is not violence, that is intelligence.

    Hence, the use of the budget to send a message to Adachi that it is not okay to team up with billionaires to decimate access to health care for kids.


  38. Brother Stewart,

    Adachi and Matt are out getting signatures today. For another hour or so. Then at 5pm the Giants play in Milwaukee, the voodoo capital of the baseball world as Joe Eskenazi pointed out in today’s SF Weekly.


  39. By the way, if I could I would vote for Adachi’s measure as a necessary evil. I hope Matt or Adachi respond to Marc’s op-ed.

  40. I don’t question Adachi’s motives and I don’t think this is a cynical, sinister move on his part. However, his base of financial support is not wide and deep and it stenches of astroturf. In addition, I’ve yet to see either Matt Gonzalez or Adachi make a convincing argument as to why this measure isn’t regressive. It is essentially a flat tax. They seem to rely almost solely on the fact that the city will go into bankruptcy, etc., etc. In addition, Marc makes a good point in that of all the structural reforms to deal with a lack of resources, Adachi picked the worst way to deal with it (i.e. unions, unions, unions).

  41. Marc, my friend, you need an editor! Put down the torches and pick up a style manual!

    Your comments regarding the Public Defender’s office reveal a surprising ignorance about how indigent defense works. Shifting public representation of indigent criminal defendants to the private bar is exactly the kind of dismantling of the public sector that you rail against. It’s also significantly more expensive, as Adachi has pointed out many times. Your Cadillac/Volkswagen metaphor is backwards.

    Moreover, your suggestion that perhaps those accused of crimes should receive the lowest possible services required by law is unbecoming of any progressive. The majority of the defendants on any given day at 850 Bryant are poor people of color facing felony drug charges. To suggest that they surrender the last remaining vestige of dignity the system affords them is a view I would expect to hear from Glenn Beck.

    Still, you make some excellent points about how the issue of pension “reform” is framed and the possible consequences of Adachi’s measure. Unfortunately, your good points are obscured by hyperbole (Adachi is “bashing” the left), bizarre assertions (e.g., “our ideas are better only when they are our ideas”), metaphysical utterances (e.g., “ideology is the scaffolding that holds up those illusions which dominant reality requires”), run-on sentences and awkward clauses (e.g., “They desire more of the same: continued outsourcing of jobs; lowering of wages; dismantling of the public sector; and increased penetration of the financial sector into each and every one of life’s necessities; primarily health care and retirement, in addition to education, housing, driving and, when incomes falter, consumption, to make up the gap.”), and otherwise folksy metaphors reminiscent of Warren Hinckle (e.g., suicide barriers, scaffolding, kitchen tables, demon faces and Grey Poupon).

    I could forgive your rhetorical flourishes if you hadn’t gone to such lengths to undermine your main argument by calling for the privatization of public defense, which directly contradicts your underlying premise.

  42. h, times are tough and in tough times, tough decisions need to be made. Instead of hiring attorneys on staff and paying them those exorbitant, unsustainable beneit packages, the entire Public Defenders’ office should be defunded, except for the elected himself, and those dollars used to pay new attorneys who have just passed the Bar to practice and learn their trade.

    Clearly, the current system is not sustainable and emergency measures must be taken.


  43. That’s interesting at least,

    How many major cities don’t have a PD office? Do you realize the extent to which PD cases are already outsourced and that this is a key strategy from Downtown (and Marc Salomon apparently) to slowly cut the power base of a dangerous Progressive politician? Your “for free” claim is utter crap. Private attorneys are indeed assigned cases by judges but they certainly don’t work for free. They’re paid by the Indigent Defense Fund which comes from the SF General Fund and you damned well know it. In the short and long run farming out the defense of the poor costs more money than keeping it in house and any honest debater wouldn’t keep repeating this untruth.


  44. h, the discussion last year presumed the existence of a Public Defender’s Office, one which the City is not required to fund. Further, it presumed that the PD’s office would have to pay private attorneys to defend indigent defendants. If the City did not provide defense services, then a judge would order an attorney to provide defense for free.

    This is not my policy prescription. But if we take Adachi at his word thatf we are in as bad times as he says we are, and if we’re going to be pricing kids out of health care, then everything has to be on the table, including getting out of the business of indigent defense.


  45. Marc,

    The idea that the private bar will provide: “constitutionally conforming less expensive options” than the Public Defender’s office is ludicrous. Did you watch the hearings on this subject last year? Even conservatives backed down in the face of the numbers that came from Adachi’s office and were later confirmed by the courts. Suggesting that those charged with crime in SF should have the level of defense accorded them reduced while your own health benefits remain the same is hypocritical at best.

    Your “Progressive solutions” are right on which I’m certain Gonzo and Jeff would agree. They should be on the ballot for sure. Where’s your campaign? You have none. You virtually never have one. Your specialty has always been to snipe from the sidelines at whatever issue or candidacy will accord you the most face time. It’s very very tiresome.

    The Bottom line is that pension/health obligations will sink the City before the ‘Marc Salomon elimination of the income cap on FICA payroll taxes’ is finally signed into law in the Oval Office. Your family and thousands more like it will have been jobless for years before anything like that happens and you know it.

    Good luck to Jeff and Matt. With Marc Salomon walking arm-in-arm with Gary Delagnes and Tim Paulson you’ll need it.


  46. We bought our home 8 years ago after being evicted by the City for “affordable housing” and pay real property taxes based on an assessment that is around 85% of market value, thanks.

    I am paying for this microphone, sir.


  47. So for those of us who aren’t so lucky; the secret is to marry a city employee, and buy a home 20 years ago, and bemoan those who challenge your privilege. Sure that sounds possible! cc