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San Jose Pension Reform, Measure B (June 2012)

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A City of San Jose Pension Reform Ballot Question is on the June 5, 2012 ballot for voters in the City of San Jose in Santa Clara County.[1]

According to a 2010 audit by the city, the amount that the city pays every year for the retirement plans of its retired workers has risen from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million in 2011. Over the last two decades, the amount paid by the city in total pension benefit payments has grown sevenfold. The amount that is paid out of the account every year has been exceeding the amount paid in for over 10 years. The city's 2010 audit also says that the city is about $2 billion short of the amount that should be in the account to pay for future benefits.[1],[2]

Support

  • Chuck Reed, San Jose's mayor, is a leading supporter of the pension reform measure. He began advocating for pension reform in the city in early 2011. Scott Herhold, a Mercury News columnist, says, "Make no mistake: The proposal that San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed unveiled...to curtail retirement and health benefits for city employees will define his mayoral career."[3]
  • Jeff Cristina, director of Environmental Services at GreenWaste Recovery in San Jose, supports the measure.[1]
  • County Assessor Larry Stone says he supports the measure because "We need significant reform, not just incremental reform. Why? Because the current system is unsustainable."[1]
  • City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio.[4]

Opposition

The measure is opposed by the city's public sector employee unions. In a statement released by five unions after the vote to place the measure on the June ballot, the unions said, "the mayor and his supporters scored some political points today, but only time will tell what the ultimate cost to our city will be."[1]

Path to the ballot

The San Jose City Council voted to place the measure on the June 5, 2012 ballot in a meeting on March 6, 2012. The vote was 8-3.

Chuck Reed, Pete Constant, Pierluigi Oliverio, Madison Nguyen, Sam Liccardo, Rose Herrera, Donald Rocha and Nancy Pyle voted in favor of placing the measure on the ballot.

Ash Kalra, Kansen Chu and Xavier Campos voted against placing the measure on the ballot.[1]

Lawsuit to remove

See also: 2012 ballot measure litigation

On March 16, a lawsuit was filed against the City of San Jose, arguing that the measure should be removed from the June ballot because the ballot question written to describe it isn't neutral.[5]

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are:

  • Robert Sapien, president of the San Jose Fire Fighters Union
  • Franco Vado, a police officer in the city
  • Karen McDonough, an environmental service specialist
  • Clifford Hubbard, a retired firefighter[5]

Robin Johansen of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell is the attorney working with the plaintiffs. In the complaint, she says, "The code says it has to be fair and impartial, not an argument for the measure. When you look at the kinds of emotionally laden words -- reform and abuse, essential services -- those are very strongly worded phrases intended to get people to vote for the measure."[5]

Chuck Reed said, of the lawsuit, "They're doing everything they can to try to keep the voters from considering the ballot measure. So this is just another step."[5]

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