From Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 21
August 11, 2010
San Francisco working people and Stand up For Working Families released a legal complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court late Tuesday that documents how, in essence, Jeff Adachi cut corners and withheld critical information from the public in order to trick voters into supporting his anti-health care ballot measure.
The filing, which names Jeff Adachi and Craig Weber (as well as for procedural reasons John Arntz, SF Director of Elections) was made on behalf of City workers Katherine Alba-Swanson; Elvira James; Blue Walcer; Ron Dicks; Maria Guillen; San Francisco Firefighters, Local 798; the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, Local 21; the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021; the San Francisco Municipal Executives Association; and the San Francisco Police Officers Association.
The complaint sets forth five specific causes of action and asks the Court to intervene.
First, even after being advised by the Department of Elections to do so, and to consult an elections attorney, Adachi and Weber circulated a petition that withheld the legally required “notice of intention document” and concealed Mr. Weber’s involvement in the petition. There was no mention of Mr. Weber, who also chaired the City’s Grand Jury on pension reform, presumably as Adachi and Weber themselves were concerned with this obvious conflict of interest. In June, City Attorney Dennis Herrera had brought this clear conflict to the attention of Judge McBride of the San Francisco Superior Court. In subsequent developments, further questions have been raised about the nature of the relationship between Messrs. Adachi and Weber, the integrity of the Grand Jury proceedings and information that was contained in the ballot measure.
Second, the circulation violated the law by failing to disclose the full text of the legislation in front of voters when seeking their signature, causing voters to sign a petition without knowing its full purpose or impact. This measure, if allowed to go to the voters in November, would greatly increase City workers’ cost of family health care – in some cases quadrupling the costs – and forcing low-paid City employees to have to make tough choices about putting food on the table or insuring their children. Yet in circulating the petition, the section of the City Charter that governs the collective bargaining as it pertains to family health care coverage and cost is neither amended nor included, in violation of the well-established rule to include the full text of the legislation in the circulation. Moreover, rather than telling voters that the measure would vastly increase the cost of family health care, circulators misrepresented to voters approached for signatures that the measure would help Jeff Adachi “save the schools,” “help the poor,” “patch pot holes,” and “help poor people.” Furthermore, when asked for either the text of the measure or the summary, voters were shown a political flyer produced by Jeff Adachi.
Third, the measure violates the single subject rule. The single subject rule simply states that a measure can only deal with one subject at a time. If a proponent wants to deal with more than one subject, they are legally required to circulate more than one petition so that each and every subject is dealt with separately. Adachi and Weber clearly violated the single subject rule, as this petition takes aim at working families’ health care benefits, an issue dealt with within the City Charter through collective bargaining, yet does not reveal that it is amending the City’s Charter regarding the good faith and bargaining process, seemingly as a means to skirt the single subject rule.
Fourth, California’s constitution protects vested retirement security rights as it recognizes the contractual rights of employees once they have reached retirement and are receiving benefits. The Adachi/Weber measure takes awy those rights without providing anything in return . In essence, in circulating their unlawful petition, Adachi and Weber are interfering with the constitutional rights of employees who worked their whole lives for the City of San Francisco under certain expectations relating to their retirement security.
Fifth, the Adachi/Weber measure unlawfully violates City employees’ constitutionally protected right to due process. Hidden within this poorly drafted measure lurks a “poison pill” which states that if a City employee succeeds in a legal challenge against the measure after enactment, rather than celebrating a legal victory, City employees instead would face a five year cap on compensation. This provision is both poor public policy and radically unconstitutional, as all citizens of California have a constitutionally protected right to seek court redress for unlawful legislation.
Thomas Willis, an attorney for the plaintiffs, stated, “The proponents of this measure took short cuts in drafting and circulating the measure, and as a result the voters lost. They lost because they didn’t get enough information about the measure and who was behind it. The measure is clearly invalid and should be removed from the ballot.”
Petitioners expect the matter to be heard later in August.
For a copy of the legal petition, visit http://www.ifpte21.org/standup/verifiedpetitionforwrit.pdf