In a race to find out who can say the worst things about the city of San Diego’s retirement benefits, Mayor Jerry Sanders took the first shot Tuesday.

“While city employees work hard and deserve the wages they earn — and I thank them for their dedication and service — we can all agree that these retirement allowances are unconscionable,” Sanders wrote in a memo he released Tuesday.

What prompted Sanders’ scorn? The answer is in the memo. Councilman Carl DeMaio’s office requested information on the city’s top pensioners. DeMaio plans to unveil a report based on the data at a press conference Wednesday morning.

“I’m happy that the mayor recognizes the pension liability the city is unsustainable,” said Tom Aaron, a DeMaio staffer who worked on the councilman’s report. “I agree with that 100 percent. I think that the report [Wednesday] shows that there’s still much room for improvement in bringing the city’s labor costs to sustainable levels that reflect the local labor market.”

Sanders noted in his memo that the city’s top 400 pensioners — or 5 percent of those drawing a city pension — took home $38.3 million in 2009, or more than the city’s library budget.


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