A recent column by Matier & Ross describes how the San Francisco public employee unions and their friends at City Hall are coming down hard on Public Defender Jeff Adachi for his public pension and healthcare reform measure. Not surprising, as Adachi noted that the average San Francisco employee’s annual pay is $93,000, with a third of city workers making $100,000 or more. If passed, the measure could save the city $170 million a year.
As the private sector continues to shrink in this financial crisis, yet the public sector seems to suffer very little, it may not be long before San Francisco and other U.S. cities collapse under the same shroud that strangled Greece. The measure would require all city and county employees to contribute nine percent of their pay toward their own pensions, which sometimes exceed 100 percent of their final year’s salary. In addition, the monthly employee contribution for health care, which is currently anywhere from $8.84 to a few hundred dollars, would increase more to the level that state teachers are forced to contribute-that is, in the districts where teachers even get health benefits, as many districts have cut them out. I know personally.
Since mounting his campaign, other San Francisco liberals have vilified Adachi for daring to rock the public boat, and in some cases done worse than sling insults.
Last year, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd made a request of City Controller Ben Rosenfield for a comprehensive managerial audit and performance evaluation of the Office of the Public Defender, an extraordinary move given that the office is headed up by another elected official. Last month, Robert Muscat, head of the city’s Professional and Technical Engineers union, called on Tax Collector José Cisneros to investigate Adachi for allegedly failing to pay city taxes from a private publishing company that has made him some $130,000 in the past three years.
Adachi wrote and published five books on how to pass the state bar exam, and says he started “outsourcing” the sales to a Los Angeles distributor in 2006 and now simply collects a royalty check. “We don’t pay or owe any (city) business taxes,” he explained. He contended that, “these personal attacks are meant to divert attention from pension reform.”
Most recently, Supervisor Chris Daly, who once said he cared more for people in jail than police, even attempted to have the public defender’s budget cut. That effort was soundly squelched, but it underscores how determined labor is to kill Adachi’s efforts to save taxpayer’s money. Of course, the labor union’s own polling shows the measure leading, 58 percent to 32 percent.
Now evidence has emerged that Mayor Gavin Newsom has done a little back room bargaining towards sabotaging Smart Reform SF, just on the off chance that it passes in the November elections. In case the employee benefits or any similar measure is passed, a clause has been added into the contracts between the city and the unions representing the city’s police officers and firefighters that would cancel all givebacks to the city made by those unions, including an eight percent giveback from firefighters. As such a provision would unbalance the budget, support for the pension reform measure becomes almost impossible.
When private sector jobs continue disappearing, along with many corporate pension plans, it becomes sickening for thinking taxpayers to see how bureaucrats continue to protect the way they have so nicely lined their own pockets. It’s the new Golden Rule: he who makes the rules gets the gold.