The Los Angeles Times ran a story Friday spotlighting the city of San Diego’s attempts to erase up to $900 million from its pension deficit, saying that Orange County might want to look south before pursuing its attack on deputy sheriffs’ future retirement pay.

The Board of Supervisors there is considering rolling back benefits the county granted deputies in 2001, a strategy for decreasing the county of Orange’s $2.3 billion pension deficit.

But first, the supes in O.C. should consider the lack of progress made by City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s pension crusade, the Times said.

Far from restoring fiscal soundness, Aguirre’s efforts so far have only cost the city more money — and his legal arguments have found little favor in court. The lawsuit he filed to undo the pension enhancements has been thrown out of court four times, most recently on Aug. 3, when the judge found the statute of limitations had long since passed and barred him from pursuing the case any further. Aguirre said he would appeal.

San Diego has paid at least $1 million to lawyers handling the case and has been ordered to pay another $1.5 million to cover the defendant’s legal fees, according to an estimate by City Council President Scott Peters, one of Aguirre’s fiercest critics.

Asked what lessons San Diego might hold for Orange County, Peters said: “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!”

Aguirre dismisses Peters as a tool of the unions but acknowledges that his efforts have failed thus far. The city attorney thinks the city’s legal case has been undermined by the courts’ unwillingness to deal with the issue.


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