By Luke Thomas
September 8, 2011
Citing the vital importance of pension reform to San Francisco’s fiscal future, Public Defender and mayoral candidate Jeff Adachi today challenged appointed Mayor Ed Lee to publicly debate the merits of two competing pension reform proposals, Propositions C and D.
In a letter sent to Lee, Adachi, the sponsor of Prop D, states, “I request you to join me in a public debate regarding the relative merits of our two pension proposals this month. As the two principals behind the competing ballot measures, I hope that we can work together to increase awareness of this important issue and work towards a better future for our city.”
“As you know, San Francisco’s pension system for city employees is in crisis,” Adachi wrote. “The city’s pension costs are rising at an unsustainable rate, threatening our city’s fiscal health while risking cuts to essential services and compelling tax increases. Within the next four years, our city will be spending over a projected $800 million of taxpayer money to cover its annual pension costs. Because the system is severely underfunded, our pension crisis could also result in the city’s inability to meet its pension obligations to public employees.
“Earlier this year, you stated that without at least a $300 million to $400 million reduction in annual pension costs, our city was on the path to bankruptcy. I appreciate your recognition of the dire fiscal outlook our city faces, and acknowledge your efforts to garner support for a political solution to this problem. However, I believe that your solution – Proposition C – repeats many of the mistakes that precipitated our pension crisis in the first place, and falls well short of what is necessary to restore our city’s fiscal health.
“This November, the voters of San Francisco will have a choice between your plan, on the ballot as Proposition C, and the San Francisco Pension Reform Act, on the ballot as Proposition D. Pension reform is as complex as it is crucial to our city’s future. I believe there is a vital need – if not an obligation – for us to ensure that the voters of San Francisco understand both the severity of our pension crisis as well as the significant differences between our two proposals. Without a meaningful understanding of our pension crisis, we risk repeating our mistakes, as well as our city’s future.”
FCJ sent requests for comment to Lee campaign spokesperson Tony Winnicker and mayor’s office spokesperson Christine Falvey. FCJ will publish their responses upon receipt.
Update, 11:17 am: Lee campaign spokesperson Tony Winnicker provided FCJ with the following response:
“Mayor Lee already debates his San Francisco approach to pension reform versus Adachi’s divisive Wisconsin way everywhere he goes and will continue to,” Winnicker stated via email. “It’s already a topic at every forum and will continue to be, but voters deserve to hear from all the candidates on pension reform, not just two of them. This is nothing more than a cheap sideshow stunt to attract momentary attention to his floundering mayoral campaign.”
Update, 12:38 pm: Mayoral spokesperson Christine Falvey provided FCJ with the following response:
“Mayor Lee has already discussed the consensus pension proposal at length with Mr. Adachi over several months,” Falvey wrote via email. “He has also gone across the city to discuss the proposal with San Franciscans. No one is arguing that pension reform is necessary, but Mayor Lee has been communicating to a wide audience about why a comprehensive and consensus plan will realize the savings the city needs to protect city services.”