Supporters of a proposed ballot measure that would replace pensions for most new city of San Diego workers with 401(k)-style plans spent more than $1.1 million on their signature drive, reports the Union-Tribune:

Here’s the breakdown, from the U-T:

Major contributors to the petition drive included the pro-business Lincoln Club, $259,000; City Councilman Carl DeMaio, $78,000; San Diegans for Pension Reform, a group created by Mayor Jerry Sanders, $108,000; the San Diego Lodging Industry Association, $55,000; the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce, $50,000; and the San Diego Association of Realtors, $50,000.

When initiative backers turned in signatures last month, our Liam Dillon wrote about some important numbers related to the measure:

120,000: In the past two years, two high-profile city initiatives unexpectedly failed because they didn’t have enough valid signatures. Signature drives that pushed for greater outsourcing of city services and school board changes had too many duplicate or otherwise invalid signatures to qualify even though they turned in many more raw signatures than they needed.

Pension initiative supporters insist they’ve learned their lesson. They paid a company to check signatures for their validity before they submitted them to the city. Their data shows they have 120,000 valid signatures, about 25,000 more than they need. …

More than $1 million: Signature verification costs money. So does dealing with a coordinated campaign from local labor unions to keep people from signing petitions. The signature drive resulted in bitter fights in front of city supermarkets and other petition hot spots. (Councilman Carl) DeMaio estimated it cost more than $1 million to qualify the measure. A labor leader declined to say how much union efforts cost.

Backers are hoping the measure will qualify for the June 2012 ballot.

A few reactions from Twitter to today’s news:

• Local labor leader Lorena Gonzalez: “Proof that if you have enough money, you can buy your own democracy.”

• San Diego County Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric: “What will San Diego’s #unionhacks and #pretendjournos say once @JerryBrownGov rolls out his tax increase initiative and pays for signatures?”

Dagny Salas is the web editor at You can contact her directly at or 619.550.5669.

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Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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