Would You Vote To Reform Public Employee Compensation?

Tony Manolatos Tony Manolatos 1 Comment

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Election results show city employees wouldn’t

I recently told you about a vote employees at City Hall were taking. City workers, including myself, were asked if they wanted to eliminate a controversial and costly employee benefit – the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP).  

Who in their right mind would vote to eliminate a retirement benefit, especially one that allows participants to simultaneously collect a pension and a salary — costing the City millions of dollars?

Turns out, not many at City Hall voted to drop DROP.

Full disclosure: I received a ballot but did not vote. Not that it would have mattered, given the results of the election:

  • YES votes: 119
  • NO votes: 3,286

I think President Obama would call that a shellacking.

The “news” arrived in a memo that generated little surprise at City Hall.

“The proposed measure failed for lack of a majority affirmative vote of the members of the System,” says the SDCERS memo. “As a result, the proposed changes, as detailed in the election materials, will not be implemented.”

The San Diego City Charter gives city employees the right to override reforms to retirement benefits. This de-facto veto employees enjoy blocks pension reform even when the changes are agreed to at the bargaining table.

It’s not a perk you will find in Wisconsin, or at most state and local governments. So how it did worm its way into San Diego government? I’m told it’s been on the books for decades. I haven’t found anyone who can tell me how it surfaced or who was behind it. Maybe it was Jimmy Hoffa.

The good news is Councilmember Kevin Faulconer and others are working to remove this de-facto veto from the City Charter.

Eliminating this perk is included in the Comprehensive Pension Reform ballot measure Councilmember Faulconer is sponsoring with Mayor Jerry Sanders, Councilman Carl DeMaio, the Lincoln Club and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.  

Without comprehensive reform, you can expect city employees to continue to vote with their interests in mind – at the expense of taxpayers.

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Comments 1

  1. The issue, I think, is the past promises that the council has made to the unions. No one forced the council to agree to these contracts, but they did and now we suffer because of their action. So the council would like the workers to reduce their compensation. Okay, I don’t have a problem with that, but since the council (Meaning present and past) created this mess, they should be doing some major reform to their own benefit package, which we’ve only seen token reform.
    But again, who is really to blame? We are. We elected them and we could have voted them out, but didn’t. We get what we deserve.

    If government was like a business, people that caused this mess would have been terminated.

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