LA County Dem Party Blasts Statewide Pension Reform Ballot Measure -- Submitted By Four CA Dem Mayors -- That Would Change CA Constitution To Let Cities Negotiate Changes To Current Employees' Pensions/Healthcare Benefits (Not Affecting Benefits Already Earned But Applicable To Future Years of Service)

(Oct. 18, 2013) -- The Los Angeles County Democratic Party has released a statement (Oct. 17) blasting the recently proposed pension reform ballot measure -- filed for statewide petition signature gathering by four CA Dem Mayors -- that would let voters change the CA constitution to let government agencies negotiate changes to current employees' pension and healthcare benefits, not changing benefits already earned but letting agencies negotiate changes applicable to future years of service.

The proposed ballot measure, reported on Oct. 15, by several outlets outside Long Beach, was reported first (again) in Long Beach yesterday by

Labeling the measure a [release text] "proposal attacking public employees, L.A. County Democratic Party Chair and California Democratic Party Vice Chair Eric Bauman stated:

[LA County Dem Party Chair Bauman statement] Here we go again: another out-of-state right-wing bankrolled full-frontal attack on our public school teachers, nurses, firefighters, and police officers. This time, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and his extremist friends, like former Enron executive John Arnold of Texas, have gone too far with their proposed initiative that slaps the faces of the hardworking people who have dedicated themselves and, in many cases, risked their lives in serving our communities. Moreover, Arnold alone has already spent hundreds of thousands of out-of-state dollars on this proposal in our state.

We can't break our promises to these public servants midway through their careers by changing the rules of the game on their security. We can't allow another out-of-state extremist scheme assault California's best. This initiative proposal is inherently unfair, unreasonable, and unwise. On behalf of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, I urge California voters to reject this initiative proposal.

If the measure's proponents gather sufficient signatures statewide, CA voters would be asked to approve the "Pension Reform Act of 2014" that would change the CA constitution to eliminate the "vested rights" principle that now blocks government bodies from negotiating reduced pension benefits.

The Mayors of San Jose, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, Anaheim and Pacific Grove (four Dems and one Repub) jointly filed the measure.

  • To read the full text of the proposed measure, click here.

    On Oct. 16, Mayor Bob Foster's office told that the Mayor didn't have a comment, saying he hasn't read the ballot measure yet. Mayor Foster has sought to position himself as a supporter of "pension reform" for having urged pension changes in Long Beach (advocated previously by grassroots activists) that required city employees to pay the full share of their pensions (instead of partial payment with taxpayers picking up the rest, which City Hall had agreed to for years.)

    Following his 2006 election in which he was endorsed by LB's three biggest city employee unions, Mayor Foster supported contracts with police (2007 voluntary reopener), firefighters and non-public safety employees (2008) that didn't include pension reforms. Mayor Foster began urging pension changes that required city employees to pay their full employee share after the economic downturn worsened entering 2009. Labeling the change pension reform, Mayor Foster made it a high visibility priority for his administration, and the reforms were ultimately accepted by the "big three" city employee unions, followed by all other city employee unions, as Council majorities backed the Mayor's position on the pension changes (the Mayor has no independent vote, only a veto.)

    Long Beach's voter registration overall is overwhelmingly Democrat, although high voter turnout areas of East Long Beach tend to vote more independently and conservatively and smaller parts of SE Long Beach lean Republican.

    Although Long Beach city elections are nominally "non-partisan," but eight of nine LB City Council incumbents are Democrats. In the 2014 election cycle, multiple Council incumbents (all Dems) are seeking higher office: Garcia, Schipske, Lowenthal (Mayor), James Johnson (City Attorney), Patrick O'Donnell (LB Assembly district seat), Steve Neal (NLB-Carson-Compton Assembly district seat).

    Gary DeLong, a registered Republican, ran for Congress in 2012 as a "no labels" candidate and finished second to Dem Alan Lowenthal in a LB-West OC district.

    The L.A. County Democratic Party (LACDP) is the [release text] "official governing body of the Democratic Party in the County of Los Angeles and works in cooperation with the State and National Democratic Committees...Endorsements issued by the LACDP in local and municipal races become the official endorsements of the California Democratic Party."

    Registered Democrats aren't bound by the positions of the Party's leadership and candidates and voters can take positions -- including on items like the proposed pension reform ballot measure -- independent of the Party's leadership.

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