Report Scathes Rising Pension Costs

Public safety unions unleash criticism of report for targeting the ‘one percent’

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBCSanDiego

    Carl DeMaio released his annual pension report, shedding light on what he calls “excessive” amounts of taxpayer dollars funneling into city workers’ pensions.

    In a press conference announcing the eighth report on Wednesday, the councilmember and mayoral candidate pointed to several high-ranking workers with six-figure pensions as an example of the “unsustainable” system, he said.

    “We need to end the pension system and move to a defined contribution plan,” DeMaio said. “The risks to taxpayers is simply too great.”

    The report did not use workers’ names but DeMaio hinted at the identities and professions of a few of the workers. He pointed to a librarian in the report whose pension was almost twice as much as her $100,000 salary. He also targeted public safety workers, who had a high concentration of six-figure pensions.

    Click here to see the pensions mentioned in DeMaio's report, or click here to view slides of the report.

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    DeMaio has championed a Comprehensive Pension Reform ballot initiative, which was approved for the June ballot in January, but recently questioned by labor rights groups. The plan would replace the pension system completely with a 401(k), defined contribution plan, and also cap pensionable pay for city workers for five years. He said Wednesday that capping period could be made longer if necessary.

    In his press conference Wednesday, he said much of the reform he’d like to see could be accomplished with his ballot measure. But some – such as capping pensionable pay -- could be accomplished immediately in the mayor’s budget if approved by five city councilmembers, he said.

    The report drew major criticism from the public safety workers he targeted. The workers DeMaio highlighted in his report for making a six-figure pension are just a small majority of workers, said Frank De Clercq, President of the San Diego City Fire Fighters Local 145.

    “They are the 1 percent,” De Clercq said. “Your average city employee isn’t making those kinds of pensions.”

    “We’re supportive of pension reform,” he went on to say, “but that’s the tip of the ice berg that [DeMaio] likes to point to.”

    For more election coverage, visit our Decision 2012 page for mayoral candidate bios and related stories.