Pensions: How Many Earn $195,000 or More?

Categories: Government
The Chronicle ran an interesting front-page story today acknowledging that pension reform is the dinner guest no one at the wanna-be mayoral table invited -- but can't get rid of.

Our would-be leaders are grilled about their stance on runaway pensions; most of them embrace the term "negotiated deal," although negotiated deals are what got the city into the mess it's in. They also kick dirt at pension crusader Jeff Adachi -- to do otherwise is considered an affront to organized labor.

Mentioned within today's story is an aside about capping future employees' pensions at $195,000. This prompts the question: How many San Francisco retirees would currently be affected? The answer:

  Thirteen. You can see the list of the city's highest-earning pensioners right here. Not exactly hard-hitting legislation.

A few more may soon pop over the $195,000 mark via Cost of Living Adjustments and the like -- but, remember, any pension caps are for future employees, not current ones. So such a move affects the payouts, 30 years or so down the road, of people not yet hired. That's why controller Ben Rosenfield noted that, while it sounds righteous enough, capping pensions for future hires won't save you beans in the short term.

And not saving beans doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. 

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What is really needed here are a complete set of statistics related current retiree pensions. Most articles only address the high end, not the thousands of former workers who receive $20,000 to $25,000 or less in pensions, who paid into this fund and healthcare while employed and who are trying to deal with the cost of living in San Francisco. So far the city's and PEC's proposals would serioulsly impact these low income seniors who have not been allowed at anyone's table to address their own issues. As someone who worked hard throught the labor movement to improve the lives of working people including going out on strike when I could hardly afford it as a single mother of two, I am totally incensed by the city's and the Public Employee Committee behavior toward my geneation. I now know what the "generation of vipers" refers to - it is at City Hall. By the way, the people leading these discussions stand to get those high pensions. Right now, I would go with Adachi's - it least there is a sliding scale for contributions based on income and his proposal won't send seniors back to the stone age. Kay Walker Vice President Seiu 1021 West Bay Retirees.


If one can not understand the bent logic and benefit to taxpayers as to why capping pensions at $195,000 when only .001% will be effected, then you certainly cannot understand the twisted logic of Tom O'Connor of firefighters Local # 798 in Heather Knight's Sunday article about 67% of S.F. Firefighters living elsewhere.

As Tom sees it, the silver lining of so many of our First Responders living so far from San Francisco:

"O'Connor declined to say where he lives. He said it can be beneficial to have some emergency responders living outside the city so that in a major earthquake, they're not coping with their own personal losses."

A mental, Gordian Knot if ever there was one.

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Ignoring the long-term consequences of our promises never hurt us before, right? Why start now?

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