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    Responding To Drummond's Pension Pounding In Mayoral Debate, Colonna Says New City Employee Contract Includes...

    (January 18, 2006) -- has learned (along with about 300 other people attending tonight's Junior League/League of Women Voters Mayoral debate) that LB city management and the LB City Council have offered, and leadership of LB's non-public safety city employee union has tentatively accepted subject to ratification by rank and file union members, a contract that includes a "second tier" for new city employee hires.

    "It was something that actually myself and a large number of Councilmembers insisted upon," said Mayoral candidate and incumbent 3d district Councilman Frank Colonna...who added:

    "We also have employees making a contribution, actually 2% into their pension fund, which was something that hadn't been done for well over 18 years."

    Colonna's statements came after Mayoral candidate/retired 3d district Councilman Doug Drummond hammered the issue of the Council's 2002 boosting of city employee pensions...a Council action in which Colonna participated after Drummond had left office.

    Returning to the issue multiple times, Drummond said the Council's "pension spike" imposed a major cost on LB taxpayers, now evident with closed libraries and poorly maintained streets filled with "pension potholes."

    And in a final jab, Drummond added "San Diego is near bankruptcy. It's a disaster. Believe me, if we continue to operate that way, we're going to be in bankruptcy as well."

    Colonna responded by citing portions of the newly proposed city employee deal (now pending employee ratification) and added for the debate audience:

    "[W]e have a fully funded pension program. We owe no money. We pay currently in the fund. We had an option last year to have borrowed money in order to make the fund current and we didn't need to do that, so our books are clear. We've got a strong pension fund. We've got a strong force of city employees and we are tightening our belts and making sure that any mistakes that we made in the past will never be repeated and that's a guarantee."

    Mayoral candidate Bob Foster said of the Council's 2002 pension action, "This was something that should not have taken place." Mr. Foster added, "We're not in a San Diego situation but this is something that requires fiscal discipline, it's something that probably should not have occurred. Certainly we're going to have to be vigilant."

    [Detailed coverage of the Mayoral debate will be posted separately by]

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