Elsbernd Handicaps His Pension Plan's Chances

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Update, 5:29 p.m.: Sean Elsbernd's predictions as outlined below proved eerily prescient. More at the end

The Board of Supervisors are meeting as I write (Supervisor Chris Daly is upbraiding Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and all is right in the world). Before he headed into chambers, Elsbernd gave us his best impersonation of Carnac the Magnificent, predicting how his pension reform measure would be received.

We've written a bit about Elsbernd's proposed charter amendment -- which would save the city hundreds of millions of dollars over the next several decades. Intriguingly, however, an amendment crafted by labor and carried by Supervisor Eric Mar would actually cost the city $15 million yearly -- which is not the ostensible goal of "pension reform."

Well, today's the day for the supes to fight it out. Elsbernd was hopeful Mar's amendment would be "tabled or set aside today" (i.e. "killed softly"). Perhaps he's got some really good pie charts or animated musical numbers to make his mathematical point.

As for the rest of Elsbernd's proposals, he's relatively optimistic. The city currently calculates pensions by looking at a 12-month window of an employee's career. Elsbernd wants that extended to 36 months (which would lower the pensions handed out) while Mar and the unions want 24 months. "If I have to bet, two years makes the ballot, three years won't," guessed Elsbernd. This would still save the city a bundle -- but far less than Elsbernd's original plan. He's conflicted about that.

Finally, Elsbernd didn't see much opposition to his proposals that public safety employees -- who earn more benefits than other city workers -- accordingly pay more in to their pensions; or that the city be mandated to set aside money in flush years to pay for retirees' health plans.

Those wagering on the Board of Supervisors meeting still have a couple of minutes to get their money in. Then bets are down and we'll see what comes of the pension plan.

Update: 5:29 p.m.: Per Elsbernd's prediction, the "wage swap" was unanimously tabled. Mar's proposal was amended and continued to next week while Elsbernd's original proposal was also continued. Only one can advance to the June ballot. The only difference between the two proposals is that Elsbernd's potential Charter Amendment would calculate employee pensions via a 36-month period while Mar's only looks at 24 months.

H/T   |   Chris Roberts


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