This is classic. The other day I highlighted an argument between City Attorney Mike Aguirre and Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin. Aguirre brought up an attempt by Tevlin and City Council President Scott Peters to insert positive statements into the city’s new financial disclosures.
Tevlin said she merely concurred with some of the “factual” statements that Peters wanted to include in the city’s financial disclosures. Facts like the city has created a budget committee and an audit committee and done other things structurally to make sure its future disclosures don’t deceive and jeopardize investors in the city’s bonds.
Curious about what the actual statements were that Peters was interested in declaring, I requested his memo to the mayor and City Council.
Pam Hardy, his spokeswoman, sent it over and said this in her e-mail:
This builds on the comments Scott made at the July 24 Council meeting. He feels it is important that the City highlight the many good, positive steps we have taken to correct decades of flawed management and finance practices.
So what were a couple of the good, positive steps that the city had taken? Well, it had all the things Tevlin mentioned.
It also had a couple of others. One of them asks that the city’s disclosures include the fact that the city “placed Proposition G on the ballot on July 19, 2004 and voters approved it on November 2, 2004.” Peters mentions that Prop G “outlawed any further funding arrangement between the City and its retirement board …” You, know, the kinds of funding arrangements that got the city into so much trouble.
Proposition G, if you don’t quite remember, was the reform to the city’s charter that requires that the city pay down any shortfalls in its pension system over a period of no more than 15 years. Voters signed off on it resoundingly.
And Peters thinks it was a “good, positive step” that should be highlighted as yet another example of what the city has done to correct decades of flawed management and finance practices.
Unfortunately, Peters didn’t continue his discussion of what happened with Proposition G. He acknowledges, in a footnote, that the state brought up a legal issue that might be interpreted to mean that the city couldn’t force its retirement system to conform to the new rule.
The City Attorney’s Office under Casey Gwinn didn’t think the law had problems. Nevertheless, the city’s pension system aggressively ignored Proposition G — as did the mayor and the City Council. They all proceeded to adopt a term longer than 15 years to pay down shortfalls in the city’s pension system.
In fact, Peters questioned and challenged Proposition G from the moment it was conceived.
Hard to believe that after he’s spent so much time dealing with the SEC for whatever responsibility he had in disclosing erroneous information about the city’s financial state, Peters might try to slip that kind of spin into a disclosure. I’ll try to go through the rest of the points he wants to include about how many great steps the city has taken in recent years to correct its past mismanagement.