DeMaio, Reed team up for 2016 pension fight

San-Diego-Pension-Reform-Sign2-300x225The dynamic duo of California pension reform are teaming up in 2016.

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, both of whom successfully passed pension reform in their respective cities during their time in office, announced Wednesday their plans to work together on a statewide pension reform measure for the 2016 ballot. Reformers hope to take advantage of easier ballot measure qualifying rules that require the lowest number of signatures in decades.

“Without serious pension reform in California, we face a future of cuts to important services and more tax revenues diverted to unsustainable pension payments,” Reed, a Democrat, said in a press release announcing the effort.

The group points to independent numbers which show the state’s pension liabilities have increased 3,000 percent in a decade. Last November, then-State Controller John Chiang (now state treasurer) pegged the state’s total unfunded pension liability from 130 public pension systems at $198 billion, a dramatic increase from just $6.3 billion in 2003.

Redux of San Diego pension reform fight

Last year, while DeMaio was preoccupied with his campaign for Congress against Rep. Scott Peters, Reed unsuccessfully tried to qualify a similar statewide pension reform measure. However, that effort stalled during the qualification stage over a dispute with Attorney General Kamala Harris over wording for the title and summary. This time around, he’ll benefit from DeMaio’s experience as a grizzled veteran of ballot-measure shenanigans.

“We have done a lot of legal work to make sure this initiative is bulletproof,” DeMaio, a Republican, told Reuters. “Because the unions are going to throw the kitchen sink at us.”

DeMaio knows full well the extent to which organized labor will go to thwart pension reform. In 2011, he led the effort to qualify San Diego’s Comprehensive Pension Reform measure for the 2012 ballot. The CPR measure forced all new employees into a 401(k)-style plan and capped contribution levels for current employees.

Labor organizers deployed activists to block signature gatherers and frighten potential signatories with misleading claims that signing would put them at risk of identity theft. At the time, longtime San Diego political operative T.J. Zane, who now serves as executive director of the San Diego Republican Party, described the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council’s signature-blocking efforts as “unprecedented in its scope and ferocity.”

After the measure qualified for the ballot, San Diego voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition B in June 2012 by a two-to-one margin.

Chuck Reed: Pension reform in San Jose

At the same time DeMaio was reforming pensions in San Diego, Reed, then-mayor of San Jose, was leading a similar effort in Silicon Valley. Reed’s Measure B passed by an even larger margin: 70 percent to 30 percent. The Wall Street Journal praised Reed’s efforts and described him as “that rare creature, a Democrat in a liberal bastion who is nonetheless focused on salvaging government finances while inviting the wrath of public unions and their political allies.”

Ultimately, courts effectively gutted the most important provisions of Reed’s measure.

“San Jose’s was the most far-reaching, in that it challenged the core obstacle to serious pension reform in California,” Steven Greenhut, one of the state’s leading experts on pension reform, wrote at City Journal. “But a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge gutted the reform measure, saying San Jose could cut its employees’ pay, but not their pension benefits.”

Even after the negative court rulings, Reed’s successor has begun to further distance the city from Measure B in a bid to make “peace in the city’s pension wars.”

Broad-based coalition for reform

The proposed statewide pension measure for 2016 already has received some harsh criticism as the work of two washed-up politicians.

“2 out-of-work pols @carldemaio & Chuck Reed plan to attack @CalPERS, retirees with #pension measure in 2016,” tweeted Democratic political consultant Steven Maviglio. CalPERS is the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, America’s largest public-pension system.

In anticipation of push-back from local governments, state pension funds and organized labor, Reed and DeMaio have made it a point to build a broad-based coalition that sets aside their different political parties.  The coalition also will include David Grau of the Ventura County Taxpayers Association. Last year, after collecting thousands of signatures, Ventura County’s pension reform proposal was removed from the ballot, according to CalPensions.com.

“CalPERS has dedicated itself to preserving the status quo and making it difficult for anybody to reform pensions,” Reed recently said of the effort. “This is one way to take on CalPERS, and yes, CalPERS will push back.”

It’s unclear whether the proposed ballot measure will be drafted as a statute, which requires 365,880 valid signatures, or a constitutional amendment, which requires 585,407 valid signatures.

35 comments

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  1. Dork
    Dork 12 March, 2015, 18:31

    Reform? they need to be abolished. Why should we the people give a pension in excess of what the maximim Social Security payment is, to our Employees??
    An unfunded Liability is by definition a Slave Contract on Future Generations, and should be invalid.

    Reply this comment
    • SkippingDog
      SkippingDog 13 March, 2015, 10:40

      Your idea accurately reflects your name.

      Reply this comment
      • Tough Love
        Tough Love 14 March, 2015, 17:45

        SkippingDog,

        Pretty funny considering your ridiculous commenting handle. And ALL of your comments in favor of obstructing even the most minor of pension reforms are typical of your ilk … the retired public Sector workers with an over-sized sense of entitlement, insatiable greed, and disdain Private Sector taxpayers who, while getting 1/4-1/3 of the retirement benefits ROUTINELY granted PUBLIC Sector workers, are called upon to pay for 80-90% of the total cost of Public Sector pensions.

        Soon enough, they’ll be playing that song …. “when the walls come tumbling down”.

        Reply this comment
        • Ted
          Ted 16 March, 2015, 12:23

          T Lovey–

          When exactly will the “walls come tumbling down” little buddy?

          These clowns can NEVER pick a date– in ANY way….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

          Reply this comment
    • TruthSquad
      TruthSquad 16 March, 2015, 14:10

      Many public employees don’t get Social Security (teachers, many CalPERS recipients). This is all they get. And they don’t get stock options and many other benefits available in the private sector.

      Reply this comment
  2. maximilian
    maximilian 13 March, 2015, 11:33

    Perfect timing to get this on the 2016 ballot based on years of pension reform experience out of DeMaio and Reed. Too bad we couldn’t import Scott Walker’s expertise and guarantee a winning formula.

    What to watch for: Plan to be attacked on every flank by Kamala and her band of union bosses. She’s running for U.S. Senate and, while she remains California’s AG, she’ll have those same unions & more state resources to prevent this from ever reaching the ballot.

    Reply this comment
    • S Moderation Douglas
      S Moderation Douglas 13 March, 2015, 19:46

      Is the winning formula to exclude police and fire? It worked in Wisconsin.

      Reply this comment
    • NTHEOC
      NTHEOC 14 March, 2015, 07:02

      Too bad we couldn’t import Scott Walker’s expertise and guarantee a winning formula.
      —————————————
      Yes just what we need, a college DROP OUT who is funded by two evil,crooked billionaires! But your ok with that max? Very hypocritical of you…

      Reply this comment
      • Tough Love
        Tough Love 14 March, 2015, 17:47

        NTHOC,

        Evil ?

        No, “evil” are Public Sector Unions, nothing but a CANCER inflicted upon civilized society.

        Reply this comment
  3. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 13 March, 2015, 19:08

    What a pair!

    Reply this comment
  4. fletch92131
    fletch92131 13 March, 2015, 19:43

    a Democrat and an openly gay Republican, they should get it done just fine!

    Reply this comment
  5. fletch92131
    fletch92131 13 March, 2015, 19:47

    Don’t stop with pension reform, overhaul the entire state using this webpage as a guide, http://bit.ly/10rkHTM

    Reply this comment
  6. Donkey
    Donkey 13 March, 2015, 23:26

    What a great way to start the destruction of the RAGWUS feeders internal theft of the taxpayers money. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  7. desmond
    desmond 14 March, 2015, 04:50

    Any one notice that the salary of the recently resigned police chief of Ferguson, Mo. Was $96000/year? Most cops retiring now make that in Cal in pension. Broken.

    Reply this comment
  8. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 14 March, 2015, 06:45

    Now this is just what the CWD needed!! This site was getting very dull. I miss the good old DOOMER rants of California is Detroit,California is Greece, California is going BK, etc!! Lol……

    Reply this comment
  9. NTHEOC
    NTHEOC 14 March, 2015, 06:58

    Any one notice that the salary of the recently resigned police chief of Ferguson, Mo. Was $96000/year? Most cops retiring now make that in Cal
    —————————-
    Sounds like a balanced and fair compensation for a chief in ferguson,mo. Don’t forget he also got a severance on the side. California has a much higher cost of living so the compensation here is also Right on the MONEY!!

    Reply this comment
    • desmond
      desmond 14 March, 2015, 14:18

      Ferguson is close to Lambert International airport along light rail connecting to St Louis metro. Cost is like central valley, where I live. Govt comp is benchmarked to coast. Big difference is lower taxes in Mo.

      Reply this comment
    • TruthSquad
      TruthSquad 16 March, 2015, 14:11

      Anyone notice cops getting shot in Ferguson?

      Reply this comment
  10. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 14 March, 2015, 10:07

    Ragwus pay lots of taxes. Their net approaches a hamburger flipper in Gritty Sunset Beach…..the heck hole where Donkey exists!

    Reply this comment
    • SkippingDog
      SkippingDog 14 March, 2015, 10:19

      The last decent places in Sunset Beach were Sam’s Seafood and the Glider Inn.

      Reply this comment
      • Donkey
        Donkey 14 March, 2015, 13:07

        Funny, I worked at Sam’s one summer in the late 1960’s, and by the way, the Glider Inn is in Seal Beach!!

        Every RAGWUS feeder is overpaid, over pensioned, and under worked!! 🙂

        Reply this comment
        • Ulysses Uhaul
          Ulysses Uhaul 14 March, 2015, 19:33

          Glider Inn and Sam’s cholesterol shops attracting poly pants doomers and their blue hair aunties!

          Reply this comment
          • Donkey
            Donkey 15 March, 2015, 07:01

            Cholesterol is very important to the good health of a human body Ahaul, but then why would a RAGWUS feeding fool like you know that fact!
            Between the “blue hair…” and the Xers, and youngers kids the RAGWUS will be dismantled and pensions for the feeders cut! 🙂

      • Ted
        Ted 16 March, 2015, 12:29

        LOL Duncey– A date for the big pension cuts little buddy?? LMAO

        Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        Reply this comment
        • Donkey
          Donkey 17 March, 2015, 13:21

          Just like Pearl Harbor TCS, it’s only a matter of time, and very soon indeed. 🙂

          Reply this comment
  11. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 15 March, 2015, 19:08

    Doomers are slowly devovling fossils……always gloom in the future…..Uly is tired of waiting…..bring on the final DOOM!

    Reply this comment
    • Bill Gore
      Bill Gore 16 March, 2015, 06:48

      Comin’ at ya baby-like a heart attack! Liberal deer in the headlights is thinking ‘this isn’t happening. My lord and saviour Barrack Obama, who is black and went to harvard, will enrapture good little progressives to the Bay Area in the sky..’

      Reply this comment
      • Ted
        Ted 16 March, 2015, 12:27

        LOL
        Mike Huckabee in 16—lol

        No wait, ah….Palin! LOL, ahhhh Rubio! LMAO !!!

        Ahhh Teddy Cruz!!! LOL

        Scotty Walker!!! LMAO THIS will be fun!!!

        Reply this comment
  12. Cilisi
    Cilisi 16 March, 2015, 06:46

    This article has a list of losers that have either lost in the court or damaged their cities ability to protect itself so bad they should be in jail. Just like in the corporate world, when you rip off your workers they leave for greener pastures.

    The biggest problem they have, and what they are afraid the public will understand, is that all these different public pension plans are either fully funded now or on a sustainable path.

    Let me correct myself. The biggest problem they have is that the GOP in CA is almost nonexistent. About to drop below 30%, so they have to call upon out of state billionaires to fund their ballot measures. What a joke.

    Reply this comment
    • Donkey
      Donkey 17 March, 2015, 13:16

      Cilisi, the biggest problem the RAGWUS has is that the money needed for your crooked scheme is moving away, and the millenneals , GenXers, and the rest will not support a bunch of thieving crooks that gamed the corrupt system of government work for gain!! 🙂

      Reply this comment
  13. Steven Maviglio
    Steven Maviglio 16 March, 2015, 14:14

    Where’s the focus on the $5 MILLION Chuck Reed cost San Jose taxpayers, and the resulting spike in crime when the city couldn’t attract police to the city because of his pension actions? Or about the millions San Diego taxpayers paid for lawyers when the SD pension measure didn’t hold up in court?

    Reply this comment
    • Donkey
      Donkey 17 March, 2015, 13:18

      Five million is nothing when compared to the Billions of dollars you RAGWUS clowns have managed to steal from the trusting taxpayers. 🙂

      Reply this comment
      • NTHEOC
        NTHEOC 17 March, 2015, 19:38

        Can we go over what a RAGWUS is again?? There is some newbies commenting and they may not know, besides it’s always good to refresh the DOOMER mantra!

        Reply this comment

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John Hrabe

John Hrabe

John Hrabe spends his time traveling the world as a freelance journalist. When he isn’t on an international flight, John writes about California politics for CalWatchdog.com and CalNewsroom.com.

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