Pension Hawks Warn of 'MP-3'

Voice of San Diego

By RANI GUPTA | Apr 21, 2009

It’s been a while since a San Diego mayor has been accused of tampering with the pension system.

But Mayor Jerry Sanders’ recent announcement that he is replacing three pension board members appointed before he took office has raised concerns that Sanders is angling to revise a relatively unknown aspect of the pension system.

Eliminating a provision known as “the corridor” could save the city tens of millions of dollars on its annual pension payments during upcoming years, softening the blow to the city’s budget at a time the city is dealing with flagging tax revenues. But it also raises fears that the city could repeat the mistakes of notorious deals that led the city to underfund the pension system.

Then, like today, the city was reeling with budget problems. City officials looked to the pension fund to ease its immediate financial problems, ultimately worsening the long-term health of the fund — and the city.

William Sheffler, one of the three pension board members who won’t be reappointed, said he found it curious that Sanders proposed replacing the trustees around the same time his staff started discussing the provision.

“It kind of smacks of an attempt to influence the board,” he said.

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Mike Foster