What if someone held an election and one side didn’t show up?
Well it is happening in the ill-advised pension reform campaign called Measure B. While proponents are raising money to pay for the Mayor’s under-employed, yet now overpaid, political consultant, organized opposition to the measure has evaporated.
The reason is simple and economical. It doesn’t matter whether the measure passes or not, it is illegal and unconstitutional and nearly everyone knows it. The measure itself acknowledges the thin legal argument prepared by outside lawyers and the City Attorney has advised the Council it is illegal.
So the opposition, including labor, police, and municipal employees; have decided not to waste precious campaign resources on this political contest. It is the fiscally responsible decision for them. Yet, it is unfortunate that San Jose residents will vote without critical information regarding the measure, as they will ultimately pick-up the tab for this political folly.
Everyone recognizes pension reform must be addressed in the long term, though the immediacy of the problem has been clearly overstated for political reasons. The Mayor and many advocates of pension reform, while sincere, have simply proposed a untenable solution and their insistence on moving the measure forward defies logic.
Both Chuck Reed and Sam Liccardo are good lawyers. They did not check their BAR credentials at the door when they took office. Neither can truly believe, from a legal standpoint, this is a good idea. The Meyers-Nave legal memo that notes the City has an “argument” is nuanced solely to permit the ballot language to go forward and self-serving as the law firm has also been retained to make the legal “argument” upon passage of the measure. I know not a single attorney, myself included, who believes that argument can prevail based on precedent and merit. But the Nave lawyers get paid either way.
Thus the voters and taxpayers will be on the hook for all legal costs moving forward. If voters had this information, they might well avoid the inevitable waste of tax payer dollars by defeating the measure. Currently, however, the mantra of “pension reform” without context is an alluring message for an electorate who understands the problem needs a solution.
A defeat of Measure B would avoid a waste of taxpayer dollars and allow a real solution to be forged through collective bargaining.
What’s more the irony is that the leaders who are proposing the fix are many of the same people who helped cause the problem.
Reed has acknowledged he made a mistake in supporting exorbitant pensions in the past. Of course, when he was supporting the increases he was considered a champion of law enforcement.
In addition, Councilmember Pete Constant, a former cop, who is leading the charge for pension reform is the poster child for its abuse. Constant receives a disability pension along with his city council salary; he is a double-dipper who has yet to give a penny of his excessive pension back.
And the political consultant, who has to date, siphoned over $40,000 from the Yes on B coffers was, in his previous service, a lobbyist for the Deputy Sheriff’s Association and other law enforcement unions. He was the guy who championed the alleged outrageous benefit packages he now seeks to annul.
All good information for the San Jose voter. But alas, unless they all read this blog–highly improbable–Measure B will pass, the voters will be disappointed and ultimately fleeced by the ensuing legal bills.