Implementation of Prop B delayed

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A San Diego judge Wednesday issued a temporary restraining
order that bars immediate implementation of a voter-approved pension reform
initiative.

The written ruling issued by Superior Court Judge Luis Vargas was one of
two procedural setbacks in the city of San Diego's defense of Proposition B,
which passed on June 5 with the support of 66 percent of voters. In the other
decision, the state Supreme Court rejected a bid by the city to consolidate
litigation over the initiative and place it before the 4th District Court of
Appeal.

Vargas said the TRO will be in place until July 27, when he will
reconsider his decision.

The request to slow down implementation of Proposition B was made by
lawyers with the state Public Employment Relations Board, which is set to hold
a hearing on the initiative before that date.

A complaint was brought to PERB by unions that represent city employees,
who claim city officials should have consulted with them before placing the
initiative on the June 5 ballot.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the city was only required to meet and
confer with its unions before implementing the measure.

The initiative requires the city of San Diego to issue new employees —
other than police officers — 401(k)-style retirement plans instead of
enrolling them in the debt-ridden pension system.

The measure also calls for a five-year period in which municipal workers
can only use base salary when computing their retirement payouts. They would
not be able to include bonuses or other special pay.

“The court underscores that the voters of the city of San Diego have
overwhelmingly approved the local ballot measure (Comprehensive Pension Reform
Initiative), and only grants this application amid assurances by both the city
and PERB to timely meet and confer regarding priority implementation of time
sensitive issues of the CPRI,” Vargas wrote in his ruling. “Both parties
represent the imposition of the TRO will not halt meet and confer efforts.”

The judge scheduled another hearing in his courtroom for July 27 at 2:30
p.m.

“We agree with Judge Vargas that those discussions should move forward
promptly as a prelude to any formal city decisions on implementation, but we
will resist an extension of the TRO beyond July 27,” Goldsmith said.

He said city officials needed to move quickly to develop the 401(k)-
style plan, otherwise the city would be unable to hire new employees once the
election results are certified by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

The city cannot legally change the terms of the initiative, but can
negotiate how it is implemented and how to deal with its impacts, Goldsmith
said.

Councilman Carl DeMaio, a chief backer of Proposition B, called the
ruling “a procedural requirement that will ultimately have no impact on our
timeline to implement pension reform.”

“Even with the court's order, Prop. B's language will still be added to
the city's charter within the next few weeks,” said DeMaio, who is in a
November runoff for mayor against Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, who opposes the
measure.

He said once the charter is amended, the city will no longer have the
discretion to put new, non-police, hires into the pension system.

Categories: KUSI