In a crushing defeat for public employee unions, major public pension reform measures were approved overwhelmingly in San Jose and San Diego. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, San Jose's Measure B was approved by 69.6 percent of the voters. In San Diego, voters passed Proposition B with 66.2 percent approval.
The San Jose proposal:
Mayor Chuck Reed, the major proponent of the reform, called it a victory for taxpayers.
Governor Jerry Brown, after seeing the election returns, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "The pension vote in San Jose, which is a more liberal city than the state as a whole, is a very powerful signal that pension reform is imperative."
City unions vowed not to accept the will of the people, and said they will initiate a court challenge.
In San Jose, city pension costs have tripled in a decade, from $73 million to $245 million, absorbing more than 20 percent of the city's general fund.
The San Diego reform proposal shifts new employees, except police officers, from a defined-benefit plan to a 401(k)-type program. It also revises the formula used to compute benefits by basing benefits on existing salaries for five years, if the mayor and City Council trigger the freeze. As in San Jose, public employee unions are expected to go to court to overturn the voter-approved plan.
In Orange County, voters approved Measure B, which reduces the retirement benefit available to Orange County supervisors to the lowest available option. The change was approved by a margin of 72 percent "yes" to 28 percent "no."
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway said the election results illustrate the public's desire for statewide pension reform. "In two large Democratic-leaning cities, despite the seemingly insurmountable opposition, voters overwhelmingly passed their own version of pension reform," the Republican leaders said in a joint statement. "We hope that the majority party received this clear signal from their constituents that it is time to work together to enact a balanced state budget and meaningful pension reform."
In February, Senate and Assembly Republicans introduced Governor Jerry Brown's pension reform proposal verbatim, but the plan was shelved by Democrats without a vote.
Other local election highlights:
San Diego Mayor: DeMaio Leads, in Runoff With Filner. Carl DeMaio, the San Diego City Council member closely identified with the city's pension reform proposal, emerged as the top vote-getter in the mayoral race, with 32.1 percent of the vote. His challenger in the November runoff will be Democratic Congressman Bob Filner, who got 30.1 percent.
"San Diegans have been clear that they don't want business as usual at City Hall anymore," Mr. DeMaio said. He pledged to finish the job of fiscal reform.
Mr. Filner opposed the pension reform plan during the primary campaign, and continued to voice opposition to the plan even after it was approved by 66.2 percent of the voters.
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who made headlines by switching from Republican to independent after unsuccessfully courting the local Republican Party's endorsement, finished third, with 24 percent of the vote.
In a rather odd development, Darren Pudgil, a spokesman for current Mayor Jerry Sanders, predicted that there will be a recall election of the next mayor in 2014. Mr. Sanders endorsed District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who finished fourth with 13.1 percent.
San Diego Project Labor Agreements Nixed. In another rebuke to organized labor in San Diego, voters handily approved Proposition A, which prohibits the city from requiring contractors to use "project labor agreements" for city construction projects, except where required by law. The "yes" vote was 58.2 percent, despite a vigorous opposition campaign by labor. Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown tried to influence the vote by signing a bill (SB 829, Rubio) denying state construction funds to cities that ban such agreements.
Trutanich Losing Race for Los Angeles County District Attorney. In an apparent setback for the political king-making power of Governor Jerry Brown, his endorsed candidate for Los Angeles County district attorney, Carmen Trutanich, is running third, with only 22.3 percent of the vote. The Los Angeles Daily News called the third place finish by the Los Angeles city attorney a "shocking upset."
Governor Brown made robo-calls on behalf of Mr. Trutanich, who outspent first-place finisher Jackie Lacey (32 percent of the vote) by 3-to-1 margin. Ms. Lacey is the county's chief deputy district attorney, and was endorsed by retiring District Attorney Steve Cooley.
The second-place finisher is Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson, with 23.7 percent of the vote. It is unclear whether there are enough uncounted votes to change the result, but Los Angeles County Registrar Dean Logan said the current tally includes 274,304 mailed ballots and 765,552 precinct ballots.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Reelected. Former NBA star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson rolled to a big victory, with 58 percent of the vote. Several long-time former Democratic officeholders, including former Mayor Anne Rudin and former County Supervisor Illa Collin, were unsuccessful in trying to entice voters to reject Mr. Johnson.
Fresno Mayor Coasts to Easy Win in Bizarre Election. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin easily won reelection with 75 percent of the vote in a campaign with a rather shocking development. The day before the election, The Fresno Bee trumpeted the following headline: "Fresno Police: Mayoral Candidate Rick Morse Pepper-Sprays Homeless Man." After that headline, it is surprising that Mr. Morse got even 4.6 percent of the vote.
San Francisco's Coit Tower Gets Vote of Support. Voters in San Francisco love their historic Coit Tower landmark. Measure B, an effort to preserve and protect the tower, got 53.6 percent of the vote, despite opposition from the San Francisco Park Alliance, which wanted to use funds from Coit Tower for other parks. The measure limits commercial activities at the tower and requires that funds from Coit Tower concessions be used for upkeep of the Coit Tower building, murals and park. Coit Tower is a 210-foot tower on Telegraph Hill, built in 1933.
June 8, 2012
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