The top four contenders in San Diego's mayoral race spoke in loud voices on Wednesday, as they traded arguments and challenges over the Comprehensive Pension Reform measure on the June ballot.
They're split 3-to-1 in favor of the reform measure, formerly known as the CPR, but now called Prop B.
Even among the three "Big Four" candidates who back Prop B, there are subtle differences over implementing the measure if it passes.
"It's not the problem created by the employees,” said current District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “It's the problem that was created by the leaders of the city in the past, that made bad mistakes and kicked the can down the road.”
The measure would put all future city employees except police officers in 401K-style retirement plans, common in the private sector.
Congressman Bob Filner, who disputes its backers' claims of cost savings, prefers refinancing about half of the pension debt.
Some heated comments came during a luncheon a debate hosted by the San Diego Association of Health Underwriters.
"A six-figure pension is immoral! It is immoral. At a time when schools are doing less, when we have fewer cops, when roads are in terrible shape, to say that your taxes ought to go to someone who's making $100,000 in retirement is wrong!" said state representative Nathan Fletcher.
Rep. Bob Filner called for putting a cap on the pensions.
“No more six-figure pensions!” Filner said. “Get rid of all the horror stories that he keeps bringing up to bring up hatred of the public employees! Put a cap on them today!”
San Diego’s 5th district representative Carl DeMaio responded with criticism to Filner.
“Know how much debt the $231 million payment pays off this year?,” asked DeMaio. “One penny on the dollar! What Mr. Filner wants to do, he doesn't even want to pay the penny on the dollar. He wants to hand that cost off to our children and grandchildren!”
The measure's sponsors spent more than a million dollars on a petition campaign to qualify it for the June 5th primary.
So far it's survived two early legal challenges aimed at striking it from the ballot.
For more issues on the mayoral candidates and the issues they face, check out our elections coverage here.