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City Attorney Jan Goldsmith’s office has released a legal memo opining that eliminating the Deferred Retirement Option Plan doesn’t require an employee vote.

The reason, Goldsmith wrote, was that the controversial retirement benefit, known as DROP, was never properly put into place. The city charter says any change to benefits requires “the approval of a majority vote of the members of said system.”

Even though 97 percent of the 3,269 employees who voted more than a decade ago were in favor of DROP, Goldsmith’s memo notes that the total votes are less than half of the members in the system, then 9,206.

The memo states that as a “result of the failed 1997 vote, the DROP ordinance did not take effect.”

Goldsmith’s position is at odds with officials at the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System, who said they wouldn’t implement changes to DROP — including the elimination of the program for management employees — without a vote of the membership. You can read background on the issue, which has threatened to hamper the mayor’s budget reforms and opened a window into the relationship between the city attorney and mayor, here and here.

RANI GUPTA

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