Retirees: Current San Diego elected officials and management are, I am sure, spending some sleepless nights. A few of the current elected officials were active participants in Prop B and a few city staff who were involved are still on the job. Most of the perpetrators have moved on to greener and safer pastures.

One of the problems with the turnover of elected officials and upper management is the loss of corporate memory, and corporate culpability. By the latter I mean the series of compromises, agreements, and pacts made over time between management and labor that are disregarded or abrogated by subsequent administrations. Prop B was latest example of these unfortunate events.

More history: In 1982 the City of San Diego mounted an effort to withdraw from Social Security and thereby create a savings of 6.6% of payroll; that was the objective. But exiting Social Security was not that easy; comparative safeguards were required. First line of defense for the City was the Defined Benefit Pension Plan but two additional obstacles remained; the Social Security payments for those over 65 and the health care provided by Medicare. To overcome these impediments to withdrawal, the City proposed a Supplemental Personal Savings Plan (SPSP) and the promise to provide healthcare for all retirees. To make these changes required a vote of the employees who approved the plan based on those assurances.

Fast forward to Prop B, and a whole new deal. Reduced health care, no SPSP, and a 401(k) for new employees in place of a Defined Benefit pension. But former Council member, later State Assemblyman and now State State Senator Ben Hueso authored legislation (AB 1248) that was signed into law. This legislation required the City of San Diego to include new hires in Social Security.

So now, the prospect of a California Supreme Court decision that could require the City of San Diego to restore Defined Benefit pensions for new employees hired since implementation of Prop B is causing sleepless nights for those holding the Prop B bag. Whichever way the Court decides, the experience and history should prove educational to the City of San Diego, if anyone takes the time to review past efforts and past mistakes.

Joe Flynn, Retiree

The article “If state Supreme Court rules against San Diego on pensions, it could could cost city millions” by David Garrick published in the San Diego Union Tribune on July 14, 2018 may be of interest to retirees. Click here to read the article.