A simmering dispute involving city pension reform is now boiling over in the San Diego mayoral race.
Councilman Carl DeMaio claims Congressman Bob Filner still hasn't disavowed the idea of issuing bonds to refinance San Diego's huge pension debt.
Filner insists that prospect is off the table.
"As recently as two weeks ago,” DeMaio told reporters at a downtown news conference Monday, “[Filne] was bragging about how he was going to refinance the debt, which he compared to a mortgage of a house … they are not comparable by any stretch."
DeMaio and backers of Proposition B, the pension reform measure city voters passed by a 2-to-1 margin in June, cited a study by the San Diego County Taxpayers Assn. concluding that 30-year pension-bond financing of the city's $2.2 billion unfunded retirement system liability would cost taxpayers $335 million more than the current, 16-year paydown schedule.
Filner doesn't quarrel with that – just the premise that he backs the bond.
"Pension obligation bonds was an idea which I talked about before the primary,” Filner said in an interview following DeMaio’s event. “That was before Prop. B was voted on. I have to implement it. These bonds are off the table. There's nothing to talk about. They're moot. And I wish these people had followed the campaign for the last two months."
Retorts DeMaio: "Now he's starting to deny that it's even his position any more. Well, he denied it, then he affirmed it. Then he denied it, then he affirmed it. This has been a pattern going on all summer."
As for Prop. B -- which puts new, non-police hires into 401(k)-style retirement plans -- pension reformers say Filner can't be trusted to implement it.
This, from Filner: "Make no mistake, I will implement Prop. B. I'm the only one who can implement the costs savings, and the bonds are a moot point. They've been off the table since the voters voted on Prop. B. I wish Rip Van Winkle of Republican politics will go back to sleep."
While the county's retirement system has issued pension bonds over the last decade, the Taxpayers Association says investment market conditions have changed for the worse since then.
Prop. B, meantime, is tied up in state administrative law proceedings.