Much shouting and finger-pointing accompanied Public Defender Jeff Adachi to City Hall on Tuesday, when Adachi was forced to defend himself and his pension reform ballot measure — SF Smart Reform — from livid labor representatives.
Labor is peeved at Adachi’s audaciousness, wherein the PD went up and over the heads of politicians like Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors — and ergo avoided wasting time at the legislative level, where Gavin’s friends with the Fire Union and the BoS’s buddies in SEIU and other labor would have shot it down anyhow — and engaged in a last-minute signature drive to qualify SF Smart Reform for the ballot.
How did Adachi get there? Venture capital, mostly: records show that venture capitalist Michael Moritz and his wife, author Harriet Heyman, donated another $95,000 in the last two weeks in June to the effort, on top of the $150,000 the Sequoia Capital principal had previously contributed.
There must be something about Adachi’s pension reform measure to make an admitted billionaire donate a cool quarter-million to the effort, and to encourage investor Ronald Conway and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger advisor David Crane to dish out $10,000 each.
There is, and that something smells fishy, according to Tim Paulson, executive director of the SF Labor Council. “This comes out of the same camp as Meg Whitman,” said Paulson, who pledged that “California workers energized by Whitman’s attacks on them will be energized to come out against [SF Smart Reform]. It’s the same corporate camp as Whitman, attacking workers.”
There may be some truth to that: Crane is a Democrat but decidedly pro-business; and who else but private capital would wish to put a stop to public employee benefits?
According to Adachi, there are 75,614 people in San Francisco eager for pension reform. Adachi dropped off that many John Hancocks at the Department of Elections today roughly one hour before the final deadline. In order to hit that number, his team collected an estimated 15,000 signatures over the holiday weekend.
If Adachi’s measure does qualify for the ballot, it will have done so more cheaply than Supervisor Sean Elsnernd’s Muni reform measure: records show SF Smart Reform has spent $157,000 in its push for 75,614 scribbles, or a little more than $2 per signature. Elsbernd’s Fix Muni Now spent over $4 per signature.
Whatever Adachi’s motives, and the motives of the money behind him, SF Smart Reform would save SF mucho dinero if it passes in November: up to $170 million of the city’s unfunded pension liability would be lifted from taxpayer’s backs (and dropped onto the backs of city workers, who would contribute up to 10 percent of their paychecks into their pension, up from as low as 7.5 percent).