Reed and DeMaio Continue Assault on Public Employees

Despite a lack of public support, Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio are persisting in their attempts to destroy public pension systems throughout the state of California. The State Attorney General just released Title and Summaries on their two latest pension-assault initiatives, although Reed and DeMaio they have said they will only circulate one.

This will be the third time in the past two years that Reed has gone through this process, and it remains to be seen if these initiatives will succumb to the same fate of his past two attempts: uncirculated.  Reed acknowledged there is no public clamor for his initiatives, telling Jon Ortiz of the Sacramento Bee that he needed to conduct polling to determine public support for the initiatives, but that he would need 60% support to begin circulation and then he would then solicit $2-3 million to pay signature gatherers to circulate the initiative.  He said he would need to raise $25-30 million to mount a statewide campaign.

It is no wonder why voters don’t want to follow Reed’s lead on public pensions, given the disaster his 2012 pension initiative created in San Jose.  That initiative led to a soaring increase in the city’s crime, combined with the exodus of hundreds of police officers and other public employees.  Ironically, only days before the Attorney General’s title/summary, the San Jose City Council reached agreements with all of its employee groups to scrap Reed’s 2012 pension initiative. The city rightly decided that the millions it had paid in legal fees—and the millions it agreed to pay public employee unions for the legal fees they incurred challenging Reed’s initiative —was enough waste of taxpayer dollars.  Reached for comment after this action, Reed expressed his dismay that the city had decided not to waste additional millions trying to overturn 65 years of California Supreme Court case law on vested rights.

The California Attorney General just released Title and Summaries have been released on the two Chuck Reed/Carl DeMaio pension initiatives.  The current Reed initiatives would, amongst other changes:

Eliminate defined benefit retirement for new public employees hired after January 1, 2015, and does not require employers to provide new employees with any retirement at all.

Takes away disability benefits for police, firefighters and other workers injured in the line of duty and unable to return to work,  since the basis on which these benefits are provided (defined benefit plans)  are eliminated and  no replacement plan exists that can provide those benefits.

The initiative prohibits commonly accepted pension financing of closed pension systems and affecting the financial stability of current pension systems.

A just released poll (conducted after the title and summary was released) demonstrates the lack of support for Reed/DeMaio and their initiatives. That poll showed neither initiative garnered more than 42% support—and opposition at 42% to one initiative and 40% to the other.  The undecided voters are further bad news for Reed/DeMaio, as initiatives usually lose undecided voters when faced with a well-funded opposition campaign—which there will be should either initiative qualify for the ballot.

Contrary to Reed’s claims, taxpayers and public employees do not benefit when a pension plan is closed.  A recent study from Canada debunked the claim that Canadian taxpayers and other stakeholders would benefit from converting public sector DB plans to DC plans. It cited studies and experience of US public employers to make the case.  “[A]after examining the literature on the experience in other jurisdictions and modelling what the ramifications would be in converting a large Canadian DB plan to DC, we found that none of the stakeholders would ultimately be better off.”

While Reed scrambles to find money to fund his third attempt to qualify a statewide pension initiative, the lessons of Phoenix and Cincinnati loom large.  In both those cities, well-funded, out-of-state interests tried to alter drastically those cities’ pension systems through ballot initiatives.  Each time, the initiatives were soundly defeated by an opposition campaign of citizens, public employees, and public officials who exposed the numerous flaws and unsound public policy in the initiatives.  We at ADDA are going to vigorously engage in this fight should Reed circulate his initiative – by regularly educating our members so you can educate your family, friends and neighbors, and by joining other public safety employee groups to mobilize against this initiative.

If you want to learn more now about pensions and get the facts, please visit a great website called Let’s Talk Pensions run by Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of more than 1.6 million Californians representing public employees and retirees.

For factual information, please read our five previous blogs that detail the pension issue and the financial disaster that Chuck Reed and Carl DeMaio want to create in California: (1) One Pension Scheme Shelved – New Ballot Measure Planned, (2) Attorney General: Reed initiative eliminates constitutional protections for vested pension benefits,  (3) The destruction Chuck Reed wants to bring to California, (4) Attention Shoppers: Don’t Sign that Misleading Pension Petition!, (5) Your Pension is Under Attack and (6) Fuzzy Math Continues to Drive Public Pension Hysteria.

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The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.

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