San Diego’s pension wars aren’t over yet.
Earlier this year, a state appellate court sided with the city over the city’s white-collar workers union, maintaining Proposition B, the pension reform initiative approved by voters in 2012.
The Municipal Employees Association quickly said it would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. This week, the Supreme Court announced it would take up the case.
That means the city will continue to operate with Prop. B in effect while the case undergoes its final test, but the financial uncertainty over the possibility of getting the measure overturned will hang over the city’s head in the meantime.
Prop. B froze pensionable salaries for five years for city employees, except police officers, and shifted new city hires from getting pension plans to getting 401ks.
The measure was a citizens’ initiative but was heavily supported and crafted by then-Mayor Jerry Sanders, as well as then-City Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer. MEA argues that the mayor’s involvement made it a de facto city initiative, and therefore required negotiations with city employees before moving forward.
The appellate court disagreed, but now the state Supreme Court to make the final call. When it does, that decision could have statewide implications.
– Andrew Keatts
Kersey Eyes Senate Race as Jones Rolls Out Endorsements
San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey may be trying to make a move to Sacramento.
After winning re-election last year in the safely Republican Fifth Council District, Kersey has now opened a committee to fundraise for a 2018 run to replace state Sen. Joel Anderson, who is termed out.
If Kersey goes through with the bid, he’ll at least run against former Assemblyman Brian Jones, another Republican who this week rolled out a laundry list of endorsements. He’s locked up the support of Anderson, Assemblyman Randy Voepel, who succeeded him, as well as every mayor in the district.
Anderson, meanwhile, told the county Republican party last year that he would run for County Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s seat once she’s termed out in 2020.
If he does, he’ll have a financial advantage over any of his would-be opponents after exploiting a loophole that will effectively allow him to evade donation limits for county races. Anderson also has a campaign account open to run for the Assembly in 2018.
Kersey, though, could have more decisions to make in the future. Going to Sacramento could take him out of the running for the 2020 San Diego mayoral race, where he has been one of the most common names floated as a potential Republican candidate once Mayor Kevin Faulconer is termed out.
But whoever runs for mayor from the Republican side – Councilman Chris Cate is also frequently mentioned – would enter the race as an underdog, given the Democratic registration advantage in the city. If Kersey could beat Jones in 2018, he’d likely have a safe seat for eight years.
For now, Kersey can raise money for the race and see how things go. He’d still be able to pull out of the later, keep his options open for 2020 and roll whatever he raises into a 2020 race.
Jones has raised more than $200,000 for the state Senate raise, but those contributions all came in before 2017 – he hasn’t recorded any donations this year, according to campaign filings.
– Andrew Keatts
San Diego Set to Receive Anti-Poverty Funds
San Diego County appears poised to receive nearly $3.3 million to support anti-poverty programs if state lawmakers sign off.
The county recently submitted its plan to spend federal Community Service Block Grant money, which the state helps dole out to counties and nonprofits every two years. State legislators are set to review all the plans at an Aug. 22 hearing.
Maggie Ramsberger, who leads San Diego County’s Community Action Partnership, said San Diego’s plan is based heavily on community feedback and emphasizes programs and contracts with outside groups.
The largest share of the cash the county’s expected to receive would support its Communities in Action Program, which does everything from connecting families whose children are enrolled in local schools with services to providing short-term rental assistance. The county has also proposed continued investments in gang prevention and the San Diego County Workforce Partnership’s Connect2Careers youth employment program.
Ramsberger said San Diego’s spending plan also heavily emphasizes community capacity-building through programs such as a leadership training academy to help neighborhood leaders try to elevate and address concerns like safety issues or food access.
“We’re trying to help residents in low-income communities advocate on their own behalf,” Ramsberger said.
– Lisa Halverstadt
San Diego Odds and Ends
• Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill written by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber that makes it easier for California State University students to access CalFresh benefits.
• Tony Krvaric, chair of the San Diego County Republican Party, joined his counterpart in Orange County this week in asking Assemblyman Chad Mayes to step down as leader of Assembly Republicans over his vote in favor of the cap-and-trade bill. (San Diego Rostra)
• The state Department of Water Resources is ordering further reviews of dams around the state, including several in and around San Diego – El Capitan, Lake Hodges, Morena, Lower Otay – following the Oroville Dam breach. (Sacramento Bee)
Golden State News
• I’m really over the faux outrage about the new state nuts, but if you’re in the market for more, here’s this. (Union-Tribune)
• An L.A. development that’s moving forward could eventually house 60,000 people – but the housing crisis is so severe, “the project’s ability to improve the area’s housing crisis will be limited.” (KPCC)
• More than a third of California households have little to no savings, a new report shows. (Press-Enterprise)
• The world is watching to see how California will pull off its ambitious climate policies. But there’s still room for improvement, as this powerful look at the neighborhoods cap-and-trade left behind shows. (New York Times, CALMatters)
• California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has rejected another request from the Trump administration for voter data. (L.A. Times)