City Council fails to override mayor’s veto of Pension Board Appointments
The City Council on Tuesday came one vote shy of overriding
a veto by Mayor Bob Filner of appointments to the San Diego City Employees
Retirement System Board of Administration.
Several supporters of the override contended that the mayor was dosing
out political retribution for a controversial vote by the pension board last
month that cost the city's budget millions of dollars.
The council members approved two re-appointments and a pair of new
appointees — who were nominated by Filner– last month. But the mayor vetoed
all of the appointments when one of them, Mark Ealy, decided not to serve on
The mayor's legal adviser, Lee Burdick, said the mayor could have left
the appointments intact and let Ealy resign. However, he viewed his decision as
an opportunity to diversify the board, she said.
The council members who supported the override, which gained five
affirmative votes but needed six, said the veto smelled of political
The Board of Administration was expected to lower the amount of money
the city of San Diego was to contribute to the retirement system during this
fiscal year because of a recently adopted five-year labor agreement between the
city and its six unions. Filner and council members touted $20 million in
savings this year.
However, the SDCERS board vote to lower the bill last month failed,
forcing the city to dip into reserves to pay for raises given to employees in
the labor deal.
“You know, it just doesn't look right,” Councilman Scott Sherman said.
“It sure seems to me like this is a political payback and not just trying to
change the makeup of the board for diversity's sake.”
Councilman Mark Kersey called the vetoes part of an “erratic style of
governing” by Filner, though he acknowledged that two women the mayor recently
put forward appear to be qualified.
Even David Alvarez, who voted to uphold the vetoes, called the situation
“chaotic.” However, he said he's never voted against mayoral appointments
before and won't now that the mayor has changed his mind.
Councilwoman Myrtle Cole and Sherri Lightner also voted to uphold the veto.
Burdick agreed it was an awkward situation.
“I think that is a political reality, and yet some principles override
how things look, the principles in this case being given the opportunity to
select a more diverse slate of candidates,” Burdick said.
Council President Todd Gloria said the diversity issue doesn't hold water.
“Number one, Bob Filner was a Freedom Rider in 1961 — I don't believe
that his interest in diversity showed up on July 19, the date of this new
memo,” Gloria said. “So if that wasn't important on the first round of
nominees, it sure as heck doesn't all of a sudden apply now.”
The mayor's now-upheld veto ends the tenure of board President Herb
Morgan, who voted against reducing the city's contribution level last month.
Board member Edward Kitrosser and new appointee Anthanasios Preovolos
were re-submitted as nominees in a memo from the mayor last Friday. Added
nominees were accountant Jeannie Posner and retired auditor K. Denise Thompson.
The new nominations will be considered by the City Council at a later date.