Pension Ballot Initiative Update
MEA continues to fight the proposed “Comprehensive Pension Reform” ballot initiative authored by Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilmember Carl DeMaio on a number of fronts. First, in conjunction with several other labor organizations, we remain involved in the “Decline to Sign” campaign, which educates voters being solicited to sign the initiative with accurate information about exactly what they are being asked to sign. (Paid signature gatherers have a tendency to stretch the truth or to just lie to get people to sign!)
The ballot initiative supporters have about four more weeks to collect the required signatures to put the measure on next June’s ballot. Of course the easiest way to defeat the initiative is to keep it off the ballot altogether due to a lack of signatures. However, given that Mayor Sanders, Carl DeMaio and friends have raised around a million dollars to try to qualify the measure, it is very likely that they will get the required signatures to put it on the ballot. When you are paying people up to $10 per signature, it is not all that difficult to literally buy your way onto the ballot in San Diego.
MEA and our attorney Ann Smith have also been engaged on the legal side of this fight for some time now. We believe that the proposed initiative is legally flawed in a number of areas, most notably that the proposed ballot measure masquerades as a “citizen’s initiative” when really it is sponsored by Mayor Jerry Sanders and the City of San Diego. As such, it should properly be considered a City-sponsored initiative under State law. Attached are three letters that represent a taste of the back-and-forth exchange between Ann Smith and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith on that point. We believe the record is clear that the initiative is really a City-sponsored initiative, not a citizen’s initiative, and therefore the City’s refusal to meet and confer with MEA regarding the contents of the initiative violates the law that guides labor relations in California.
Finally, many in the San Diego media seem to be, once again, out of control on issues related to the ballot initiative. We have engaged with the media at every opportunity in an attempt to spread the word about what this ballot initiative is really about and how much it will COST (not save!) taxpayers should it pass. But the local independent television station KUSI seems to not even be trying to appear neutral or independent in their reporting on this issue. (Recall that this is the same station that for years gave former City Attorney Mike Aguirre a weekly slot to spew his rhetoric without retort, and now they are doing the same with Carl DeMaio at every turn). Last week, KUSI hosted a special “Sign-A-Thon” which essentially became a long infomercial for the ballot initiative. They claimed on that program that they sought out City employee perspectives, but that is not true. Please see the attached e-mail from MEA General Manager Mike Zucchet delivered to the owner and news director of KUSI last Friday.
MEA will continue to fight this costly, and likely illegal ballot measure on all fronts. Assuming its supporters get the required signatures to put it on the ballot, the initiative’s legal flaws may very well prove to be its downfall. In the meantime, please try to ignore the political madness swirling around the proposed measure and know that we are working hard to make sure that negotiations over your salary and benefits remain at the bargaining table, not the ballot box.
Jan Goldsmith Letter September 12 2011
Ann Smith Letter September 9 2011
Ann Smith Letter September 16 2011
Mike Zucchet E-Mail to KUSI