City Attorney Explains Potential Pension Bombshell
Voice of San Diego
March 9, 2010
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith brought the noise on pension reform at City Council on Monday afternoon, publicly stating his belief that city employees could be responsible for part of the city's $2.1 billion unfunded pension liability.
His opinion came after a presentation by the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System. The retirement system's attorney, Elaine Reagan, said the city could not make employees help pay down that debt.
Goldsmith disagreed and gave his own presentation supporting his position that they could. Changes in employee contribution rates, he said, are not guaranteed, meaning they could be modified through labor negotiations.
"The minute you interpret our charter as requiring that the city pick up all costs, you are stating that they are vested rights," Goldsmith said. "I do not agree with that. I do not believe that interpretation is in good faith. I think it is flawed."
As the council discussed the issue, Goldsmith made sure to leave room to change his mind on the retirement system's opinion. He gave no formal opinion in writing beyond his presentation, and said he wanted to study the issue more.
But Goldsmith did not back down from his contention that the city, not the retirement system, interprets the City Charter section.
"This is not the SDCERS-form of government," Goldsmith said...