Jeff Adachi Already Crafting 'New Prop. B'

Joe Eskenazi
Labor's Public Enemy No. 1 is ready to go to work...
Labor leaders and government officials talking about the need for "pension reform" has become as fashionable in San Francisco as toting around a yoga mat. But while the folks ostentatiously carrying around the yoga accouterments are, ostensibly, doing some yoga, the city has yet to do a lick of actual pension reforming.

The good people who got together to kill Proposition B recently got together again -- to talk about instituting pension and health care reforms that'd make Prop. B look like a child's experiment. The assembled movers and shakers aren't letting Prop. B author Jeff Adachi take part in their reindeer games. But he's not waiting to see if they manage to pull off the legislative equivalent of blowing up the Death Star (San Francisco spent $993 million this year on workers' benefits -- you could probably build a Death Star and a shield generator on Endor for that).

Rather, Adachi tells SF Weekly that he's already assembled a "group of pension experts and attorneys" and is crafting "the new Prop. B."

Of course, if the city does manage to come up with a plan to save the $300 million to $400 million in short-term savings Warren Hellman says is the benchmark, then Adachi will let his second Prop. B die on the vine. But he's not exactly anticipating that.

By the way, the original Prop. B -- which would have called for greater pension and health care contributions from the city's workforce -- was only pegged to save San Francisco $120 million yearly. But, as Adachi is eager to point out, next year's pension costs have already jumped by some $100 million -- so you aren't even treading water until you're lopping $220 million off of the city's obligations.

When asked what his idea of "actually solving the pension crisis" will look like, Adachi manages to sound both punitive and pragmatic. He calls for measures that will affect current employees and retirees -- and acknowledges that it is an "open question" whether one can legally alter pensioners' existing payouts. But "the problem is so big it can't be solved just from increasing contributions of current employees."

On the other hand, Adachi says his Son of Prop. B would be more sensitive to the fiscal realities of city workers earning less than $50,000 yearly. And he's also open to crafting two measures -- one addressing pensions, and the other health care. He isn't ready to spill key details, but has discussed the situation in broad strokes on his website.

The public defender was overwhelmed in the last election by a juggernaut of organized labor spending millions of dollars and backed by every last elected official in the realm not named Jeff Adachi.  He also wasn't able to hire an actual, veteran consultant to helm his campaign, as throwing down for Adachi on this issue would be a spectacular way to ensure future unemployment in the field of San Francisco politics. 

Adachi hopes he won't be going it alone again. First of all, he says, today's workers and retirees have a vested interest -- literally -- in maintaining the viability of the benefits system. And, second, he feels the political tide has turned. "The issue has matured," he says. "It was difficult to find consultants to work with us [on the Prop. B campaign]. I don't think that will be the case with the new Prop. B."

That's a  bold prediction. Here's an easy one -- to paraphrase the immortal Clubber Lang: "My prediction? Pain."

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h. brown
h. brown

Prog 2012,

Your post is incomprehensible. Take a deep breath and rewrite it using half the words. What you wrote really makes absolutely no sense.

retired English teacher,



Congratulations on drinking the Adachi Kool-aid... This guy is no progressive, an emberassment to all real progressives like FDR and H. Milk ( now that's real leadership)

Let me get this right? After years of labor struggles, years of countless men and women who literally gave their lives in the name of human decency in the labor force- we succumb backwards to reverting all that was faught for? When the private sector has it's boast of wall street bankers and predatory brokers who gained record profits on the deceit of the working class- our response is to attack teachers,janitors and firefighters? Why would any so called progressive attempt to dehumanize the working class? Are public sector janitors and teachers exempt from having families to take care of? Bills to pay? Foreclosures? Are they any less human than you and me? Maybe we should change the retirement age for public employees to 75, oh and let's make them pay 3 times the avg.! And while were at it let's pay all of them minimum wage! Yup! That's real progressive! Please! Don't drink the Adachi Kool-aid! You can highlight maybe 10 city employees out of 20,000 who make too much money- Adachi included.

h. brown
h. brown


Sean's a friend and while we don't agree on much between the political chalk lines, we're simpatico about most of the rest of life. He did everything he could to rein in pension costs but didn't have the kind of PR machine Adachi's money folks allowed. Elsbernd took what he could get. Jeff moved the pile of dung further down the road like a beetle and now Hellman wants to step in at the finish line without a drop of sweat, take the trophy and screw the girl.

Ya know, I wouldn't trade places with the butt.

Go Giants!


h. brown
h. brown

Key fact?

Jeff was just reelected Public Defender 2 months ago. That means that he doesn't have to worry about losing his income even if he should lose a mayoral bid and, trust me, that's always the gold ring (as it should be) at the end of all these merry-go-round rides.

Newsom did the same thing in 2002. Got reelected to the Board (barely beat me in D-2) and, secure in his day job, sat back and relaxed while Darius Anderson and Wade Randlett and Eric Jaye spent well over 10 million to elect him (with bogus absentees) mayor.

Key is that more than half of the money spent on Newsom's actual mayoral effort went into the 'Care not Cash' referendum which bore his name.

Ironies? 'Care not Cash' was Tony Hall's idea but he didn't have the cash cows or the malleability always in Gavin's arsenal.

And, Pension Reform? Hell, anyone paying attention knows that it was Sean Elsbernd's raison d'etre long before Adachi or Warren Hellman entered the picture.

And, I'll say it again ... the reason Hellman and the unions won't talk to Adachi is because everyone already associates Jeff's name with Pension Reform and this pony can run. All the way to Room 200 if you must know. It's just a question of who's riding it.

My Progressive endorsements:

Matt Gonzalez

The Bay Guardian has given Matt and his law firm (Gonzalez and Leigh) major ink in each of its last two editions. I've been hearing a stream of mea culpas over the last few weeks from people who cursed Matt for backing Adachi's Pension Reform efforts. Now, they want to know if Matt will enter the race (search me). And, never forget that this guy got 119,000 votes for Mayor in 2003. If anything, he's more popular now. Being Latino definitely helps.

Jeff Adachi

Integrity personified. Dedication and intelligence. A terrific boss. Great family man and friend. Being Asian doesn't hurt.

Chris Daly

Always the guy at the head of the charge to support Progressive causes over the last 6 years. And, always am I honest with you ... at the end of the campaign he'll look like a deer who tried to run through an archery convention. Hey, you fake to Daly at the line and he get's hit by the entire defense while Gonzo and Jeff go long.

David Campos

The last few weeks this wonderful guy has been 'going along to get along'. So, he's slipped from Number 2 in my rankings to Number 4. But, he'd make a fine mayor and his values have always been Progressive.

John Avalos

To further build his City-Wide reputation. He's a keeper at the top.

Ross Mirkarimi

He's repeating the errors he made in 2007 when he stood before the Progressive Convention as our last viable candidate and said, "It's not my time.". Like they always said in the hood, don't flirt if you ain't gonna put out ... it makes people mad.

Go Giants!



I wouldn't give Elsbernd too much credit. He was a sponsor of Prop B 2008- ostensibly to reform health benefits- which has proven to be a disaster. In exchange for allowing unfunded retiree health care to increase at a clip of $300 million a year the measure allowed for a $170 million pension bonus payout after the pension fund lost billions.

Elsbernd originallly said of Prop B in the Chron "Jeff hit the nail on the head" prior to not having the backbone to publicly support it. I appreciate Elsbernd's efforts but he is overrated in this area.


With the Unions and Politicos keeping Adachi out of its Summit, in order to prevent him from gaining further popularity by being the champion of this wave to sane benefits and pensions,I hope Jeff is not timid in what reforms he calls for.

I would like it if the Unions regret that Prop B didn't pass last Fall.

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