San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is throwing down a gauntlet at the city's labor unions and his opponent, Congressman Bob Filner.
They're accusing him of "hypocrisy" and creating "chaos."
After seeing his campaign dragged into a lily pond -- figuratively speaking -- for a few days, Councilman DeMaio is moving to re-focus attention on his crusade to implement Proposition B.
He called a news conference Thursday to announce a "major deal" that'll get that done.
"I'm pleased today to announce that the city of San Diego has everything it needs to insure the full and complete and immediate implementation of Proposition B,” DeMaio told journalists gathered on Civic Center Plaza during the noon hour.
By that, DeMaio was referring to having at least four Councilmembers sworn to block a potential two-thirds Council vote that would override a freeze on pensionable pay for city employees.
That's the key, money-saving component of the pension reform measure, Proposition B, that San Diego voters passed in June by a 2-to-1 margin.
Prop. B is now tied up in legal challenges, prompting a municipal hiring freeze until the city and its six labor unions reach agreement on an interim retirement plan for their members.
Joining DeMaio to affirm their allegiance to Prop. B’s provisions were Council members Kevin Faulconer and Lori Zapf, and Council members-elect Scott Sherman and Mark Kersey.
Zapf directed this warning to the unions: "They need to understand that we do not come to the table to implement their terms. We are implementing the terms of the voters."
But state law requires a good-faith "meet and confer" process between management and labor, and labor leaders say DeMaio's media event was “a publicity stunt” that marginalized that framework.
"You know, it's just hypocrisy, said Frank De Clercq, president of San Diego Firefighters Local 145, following the news conference. “(DeMaio) doesn't have any respect for the meet and confer process that's going on. As he stood here right now, we are meeting here today."
DeMaio also said his opponent, Bob Filner, is "poised to negotiate away, if not outright invalidate" Prop. B.
Filner, in a later interview, said DeMaio is misrepresenting his positions, and endangering bargaining talks: "I will bring the meet and confer process, which I have total respect for, to a conclusion, to a zero increase in pensionable pay over five years. Bring that $1 billion savings, and not do it with this chaos and division that Mr. DeMaio is creating right now."
De Clercq and other city union leaders characterized the current bargaining sessions as “going well”, and pointed out that their members have made many concessions, including pay and benefit cuts and freezes, over the years.