Sacramento -- San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's measure to slash the retirement benefits of current teachers, firefighters, police officers, school employees has lost the support of a key Democratic mayor and is experiencing other major setbacks even before it has received its title and summary from the California Attorney General's Office.
Late yesterday, Reed pulled his original version of the ballot measure, submitting a new version of the initiative with what he calls "substantive" changes in the filing. Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido no longer is listed as a proponent, replaced by a city council member from Vallejo on the filing. Pulido was one of the four Democratic mayors that Reed announced when he introduced the measure. No other mayors -- Democratic or Republican -- have since endorsed Reed's effort. The Mayors of California's largest cities also are conspicuously absent from the measure.
Meanwhile, in a related development, Mercury Public Affairs, which had been handling the rollout of the ballot measure, is no longer working on it.
"It is clear that the wheels are coming off the wagon of Mayor Reed's pension scheme," says Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, a 1.6 million member group representing public employees and retirees. "Even though Reed made cosmetic changes to it, the measure's weaknesses -- breaking the promise of retirement security to current public employees, increased short-term costs to state and local governments, and legal issues-- remain the same. These are flaws that even the millions of dollars of dark money from out-of-state Chuck Reed is counting on can't fix."
Low noted that Mayor Reed is relying on "dark money" from right-wing funders to promote this effort. Reed recently told a San Jose news outlet that "I'm not going to tell you" who is contributing to his effort. However, local news have reported that a $200,000 contribution has been received to promote Reed's efforts from a foundation run by Texas-based Enron billionaire John Arnold.
Low said that public employees already are mobilizing against the measure.
"Less than a year ago, we overwhelmingly defeated Prop 32 with strategic organizing of our supporters," he said. "With the introduction of his measure, Mayor Reed has given our effort to galvanize these voters a kick start. We will muster all the resources we have to defeat this measure if the Mayor continues to move forward with it instead of engaging in constructive dialogue and settling these issues at the bargaining table instead of the ballot box.
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