Filner’s Pension Incentive: $20K

Filner’s Pension Incentive: $20K

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Bob Filner in November 2012.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s pension is creeping higher as he remains in office.

We examined the mayor’s potential pension payout during the campaign, and decided to take another look given the current sexual harassment scandal and calls for his resignation.

The mayor’s financial incentive to stay for a full four-year term is around $20,000 a year in city pension payouts.

What Does the Mayor Get Now?

Filner’s entitled to three pensions for his time as a professor at San Diego State University, his 20 years in Congress and his tenure as a city elected official.

The first two pensions are set. He received $14,756.28 from the state retirement system last year, a pension he’s been getting since 1992 when he retired from his professor job at age 50.

His congressional pension gives him $59,160 annually based on his two decades as a representative in Washington D.C.

Currently, Filner receives a mayoral salary of $94,074.

By serving more than five years as a city councilman, Filner was already entitled to $8,695.05 a year in pension payouts from the city even if he wasn’t elected mayor. He’s never collected it. This Council tenure allows him to receive a pension based on his time as mayor even though last June’s Proposition B eliminated pensions for new city politicians.

If you just count Filner’s state, federal and non-mayoral city pensions, Filner is entitled to $82,611.33 a year. All three pensions allow for annual cost-of-living increases as well.

What’s at Stake?

If Filner finishes his four-year term, he’ll be entitled to a $31,892.30 pension from the city, for a total payout from the three pensions of $105,808.58, not counting the cost-of-living adjustments.

So staying in office for a full mayoral term means a $23,200 boost to Filner’s annual pension payouts.

Here’s where the current situation makes things complicated.

City politicians receive their pensions based on their highest single year of salary. Filner has served less than eight months as mayor, which pays $50,000 more a year than what he made as a councilman in the 1980s. The city’s retirement system doesn’t know how much Filner would get if he left office now because city rules aren’t clear, a spokeswoman said.

“The mayor’s benefit formula requires further review,” said San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System spokeswoman Christina Di Leva.

Should Filner make it a year, his entire city pension will be based on his mayoral salary. Were he to leave office exactly a year after his inauguration, his total payout for his three pensions would be: $95,259.86, with about $21,000 coming from the city.

It’s fair to assume that if Filner leaves office before December, his total pension payout would be somewhere between $82,611.33 and $95,259.86.

What if He’s Convicted of a Felony?

Anyone convicted of a felony related to government business isn’t supposed to get a city pension, thanks to Prop. B.

But that provision is unlikely to apply to Filner.

He hasn’t faced any criminal charges in the sexual harassment case, let alone felony charges. But even if the mayor is eventually convicted of a felony – say as a result of the federal probe on his actions related to a Kearny Mesa development – his city pension probably won’t go away.

Tim Davis, the city’s outside labor attorney, said it remains an open question whether the Prop. B mandate would apply to any city employee hired before the law took effect.

“My own personal opinion is that it cannot be,” Davis said.

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Voice of San Diego is a nonprofit that depends on you, our readers. Please donate to keep the service strong. Click here to find out more about our supporters and how we operate independently.


Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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8 comments
Richard Ross
Richard Ross

There is some conjecture that the U-T may be funding his staying in office so as to keep their faltering circulation from complete colapse.

Richard Ross
Richard Ross subscribermember

There is some conjecture that the U-T may be funding his staying in office so as to keep their faltering circulation from complete colapse.

Eva Vargas
Eva Vargas

I believe that he has a personality disorder or borderline at this point, and he should be seen by a city psych to see if this is true from there you can determine if his personality can be changed. With no one to challenge his behavior he REALLY started believing the hipe that he told himself in order to do the things that he was doing. Down the road with the power, recognition he had gathered he's become (as Richard Rider put it) arrogant, power-mad, sex-crazed, narcissistic megalomaniac and I'm not kidding. I honestly don't feel, and recognize that he has not hit a bottom with his behavior. I believe that he feels that WE just don't understand him, and if we did we would not expect him to change. Given all I have heard and recently, I feel he has to leave. Even if he does change and is able to perform duties as mayor, will he ever will beable to regain the respect that he would need to govern? Hanging over him will be the sexual improprieties spector. It's like once you've seen someone sloppy drunk, it's hard to picture them any other way. I am just so sorry for San Diego and our neighborhoods who were looking forward to progressive thinking. Oh well, when a door closes another opens up; I pray this is so.

Eva Vargas
Eva Vargas subscriber

I believe that he has a personality disorder or borderline at this point, and he should be seen by a city psych to see if this is true from there you can determine if his personality can be changed. With no one to challenge his behavior he REALLY started believing the hipe that he told himself in order to do the things that he was doing. Down the road with the power, recognition he had gathered he's become (as Richard Rider put it) arrogant, power-mad, sex-crazed, narcissistic megalomaniac and I'm not kidding. I honestly don't feel, and recognize that he has not hit a bottom with his behavior. I believe that he feels that WE just don't understand him, and if we did we would not expect him to change. Given all I have heard and recently, I feel he has to leave. Even if he does change and is able to perform duties as mayor, will he ever will beable to regain the respect that he would need to govern? Hanging over him will be the sexual improprieties spector. It's like once you've seen someone sloppy drunk, it's hard to picture them any other way. I am just so sorry for San Diego and our neighborhoods who were looking forward to progressive thinking. Oh well, when a door closes another opens up; I pray this is so.

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen

Somehow I doubt that the pension checks he may or may not receive from the city are a major driving force behind his decision to try and remain in office.

Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen subscriber

Somehow I doubt that the pension checks he may or may not receive from the city are a major driving force behind his decision to try and remain in office.

Richard Rider
Richard Rider

Aside from the fact that Bob Filner is an arrogant, power-mad, sex-crazed, narcissistic megalomaniac, are three practical reasons why he may well want to stay in office as long as possible. Two are fairly well known — but one is not. This article details that third reason. Here’s the three reasons as I see it: 1. The first reason is so obvious it’s seldom mentioned. Each month he remains in office, he grosses $7,839.50 as mayor. When he quits, is recalled, or is convicted of a felony, that cash flow ends. Meanwhile Gloria Allred will be coming after everything he has. 2. Staying in office might serve as a bargaining chip with prosecutors. Should investigations (such as SunRoad) lead to actual criminal charges filed against Filner, he might offer to resign in exchange for prosecutors dropping their charges. Without that bargaining chip, prosecutors have little incentive to drop their charges (if filed). 3. This last reason (all but totally ignored up until now) has been on my mind for some time. Thank you Liam, for running these pension facts to ground. Apparently if Filner can stay a FULL year in office, then his mayoral salary becomes his highest annual salary — off which the pension calculation is made. Remember, Filner already has served over five years in his previous capacity as city staffer and city council critter. Before he was elected mayor, Filner was entitled to a modest $8,700 city pension, which he has never drawn (he has two other government pensions, detailed in the article) — plus he’s well qualified for Social Security (yes, Congressmen DO pay into Social Security). If Filner stays a year in office, his city pension jumps to about $21,000 — a 141% increase in his city pension.

Richard Rider
Richard Rider subscribermember

Aside from the fact that Bob Filner is an arrogant, power-mad, sex-crazed, narcissistic megalomaniac, are three practical reasons why he may well want to stay in office as long as possible. Two are fairly well known — but one is not. This article details that third reason. Here’s the three reasons as I see it: 1. The first reason is so obvious it’s seldom mentioned. Each month he remains in office, he grosses $7,839.50 as mayor. When he quits, is recalled, or is convicted of a felony, that cash flow ends. Meanwhile Gloria Allred will be coming after everything he has. 2. Staying in office might serve as a bargaining chip with prosecutors. Should investigations (such as SunRoad) lead to actual criminal charges filed against Filner, he might offer to resign in exchange for prosecutors dropping their charges. Without that bargaining chip, prosecutors have little incentive to drop their charges (if filed). 3. This last reason (all but totally ignored up until now) has been on my mind for some time. Thank you Liam, for running these pension facts to ground. Apparently if Filner can stay a FULL year in office, then his mayoral salary becomes his highest annual salary — off which the pension calculation is made. Remember, Filner already has served over five years in his previous capacity as city staffer and city council critter. Before he was elected mayor, Filner was entitled to a modest $8,700 city pension, which he has never drawn (he has two other government pensions, detailed in the article) — plus he’s well qualified for Social Security (yes, Congressmen DO pay into Social Security). If Filner stays a year in office, his city pension jumps to about $21,000 — a 141% increase in his city pension.