Unions ask judge to take the Adachi Initiative off the ballot

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August 14, 2010

Portal:Ballot Measure Law

SAN FRANCISCO, California: Several public employee unions filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court on August 10 to try to remove the Adachi Initiative from the November ballot.[1]

Plaintiffs in the case include Kathern Alba-Swanson, Elvira James, Blue Walcer, Ron Dicks, Maria Guillen, San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers Local 21, SEIU Local 1021, San Francisco Municipal Executives' Association and the San Francisco Police Officers Association filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court to try to remove Proposition B from the November ballot.[1]

The lawsuit was filed against San Francisco election chief John Arntz in his official capacity and also against Jeff Adachi and Craig Weber as "real parties in interest."Craig Weber is an accountant who served on the San Francisco Grand Jury on pension reform for two years. He is also the treasurer of the Adachi Initiative "Yes on B" campaign.[2]

The 60-page complaint filed to open the lawsuit makes a variety of claims. It says:

  • Proposition B, if enacted, will violate the employees' contractual rights to their benefits.[3]
  • The petitions used to gather signatures for the measure were misleading and violated state election law.[3]
  • The petition form that was circulated did not include a "notice of intention document."[4]
  • The petition that was circulated did not mention Craig Weber.[4]
  • The petition that was circulated did not include the entire text of the proposed legislation.
  • Circulators who sought signatures on the petition misrepresented the nature of the proposed legislation to voters, using phrases such as "save the schools," "help the poor," “patch pot holes,” and “help poor people." Potential petition signers who asked for a copy of the text of the measure were not given a copy of the text of the measure and were instead presented with a political flyer.
  • Proposition B violates the single-subject rule.
  • According to a press release issued by one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, "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."
  • The same press release additionally says, "...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."

The "Yes on B" campaign disputes every assertion in the lawsuit. A spokesperson said, "Every step to get this measure on the ballot in November was followed and sanctified by The City Attorney, the Department of Elections and the over 77,000 people of San Francisco who signed the petition. Measure B is about pension reform and enabling the city to develop an independent funding stream so that we are not reliant upon one-time, quick fixes in order to fill escalating budget deficits, preserve vital city services and protect jobs."[1]

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