San Francisco: Mayoral Candidate Jeff Adachi and Pension Reform

KPFA Weekend News, 08.21.2011

 

Transcript: 

 

San Francisco Public Defender and mayoral candidate Jeff Adachi KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest: Turning now to Bay Area news, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi joined the crowded field in the San Francisco Mayor's race on August 12th, the last day to file for that office. Adachi entered the race, after placing Measure D on the ballot. Measure D is another attempt to modify the City's pension system. San Francisco's underfunded city workers' pension fund's become a contentious issue, especially among progressives. Some accuse Adachi of a neo-liberal attack against labor, akin to Scott Walker’s in Wisconsin; others say that Adachi and Measure D are the City’s best hope of preventing a municipal budget crisis. KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: It's widely agreed that San Francisco's city pension fund is structurally underfunded, in that it calls for payouts well beyond the contributions made by city workers and the city itself in the course of the workers' employment, and the disparity between what is paid out and what is taken in will grow with time. Sustaining the pension payouts, as currently structured, therefore requires cuts to other City services. Public Defender Jeff Adachi undertook his pension reform campaign in response to cuts to the Public Defender’s office which left indigent defendants facing the most serious charges, and penalties, including even the death penalty, with incompetent and or indifferent court appointed attorneys. Left leaning San Francisco columnist h. "bulldog" brown, who has been covering the mayor's race almost daily for Fog City Journal, became an adamant supporter of both Adachi and his pension reform proposal, Ballot Measure D, as soon as they were on the ballot.
 
“h.” bulldog brown: Adachi is the most powerful progressive we have had in San Francisco politics, other than Matt Gonzalez, for the last decade. No doubt about it. San Francisco progressives and all that say he left them because he went for pension reform. What Adachi saw was, in his own Public Defender Department, which is limited by the Constitution of the United States to having the responsibility to properly defend defendants: he was underfunded. And he held up his Bar card in front of the Board of Supervisors and he said, "I will not risk this by violating the Constitution." Adachi said, legally, you have to provide, Constitutionally, an adequate representation for everyone accused of any crime. OK?  That is the Constitution.

KPFA: San Francisco labor unions characterize the Adachi measure as a neo-liberal attack on labor, and, say that the City should find other revenue sources to support the pension fund, such as taxing corporations that do business in the City, and/or working to repeal Proposition 13.

Fog City Journal columnist h. "bulldog" brown Photo courtesy Luke Thomas, FogCityJournal.com The Service Employees International Union, put much of its political energies into defeating Adachi’s first pension reform proposal on the November 2010 ballot. The union opposes Measure D as well, and, it has endorsed California State Senator Leland Yee and San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos in the mayor’s race.  

What is usually described as San Francisco’s progressive community is divided on Measure D. Many of those supporting the measure also support Adachi. Many opposing it support Avalos. But, it’s widely expected that many who cast a vote for one will also cast a vote for the other in San Francisco’s ranked choice voting system, which allows voters to vote for their 1st, 2nd and 3rd favorite candidates.

For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I’m Ann Garrison.
 

(Correction:  After the KPFA Weekend News broadcast, I realized that, in this sentence, I had included only one option for continuing to pay City pensions as structured: "Sustaining the pension payouts, as currently structured, therefore requires cuts to other City services."  

The other option is, of course, raising revenues, which I did point to several paragraphs later, when I wrote that, "San Francisco labor unions characterize the Adachi measure as a neo-liberal attack on labor, and, say that the City should find other revenue sources to support the pension fund, such as taxing corporations that do business in the City, and/or working to repeal Proposition 13.")

 

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