The Truth Behind the Public Pension Ballot Measure

Yesterday, my fellow proponents and I announced that we will be filing a legal challenge to correct the inaccurate and misleading ballot summary that the Office of Attorney General Kamala Harris issued for our statewide pension reform initiative.

The ballot summary is just plain wrong. It provides an inaccurate description of our initiative and misleads the voters as to what the measure does. The Attorney General’s Office has failed to meet its legal duty to give voters a ‘true and impartial’ summary of our initiative.

In particular, the lead sentence in the ballot summary incorrectly states that the initiative eliminates constitutional protections for employee pension and retiree healthcare benefits.

Our initiative does not eliminate vested rights for government workers. It protects the benefits that employees accrue as work is performed, while giving government leaders the tools they need to negotiate changes to employees’ future unearned benefits once labor contracts expire.

In addition, some of the language appears to have been lifted from a memo that a Washington-based polling firm, Garin-Hart-Young Research Group, wrote to its public employee union clients opposing the measure. This memo urged use of the word “eliminate” because it creates a negative impression of the initiative in the minds of the voters.  Furthermore, the ballot summary singles out a few specific public occupations that are held in high regard by voters, and which editorial boards across the state felt would unduly prejudice the voters.

The people of California deserve better. The only recourse for correcting an inaccurate ballot summary is through the courts, and consequently, we have no choice but to file suit.

Unfortunately, the amount of time it will likely take for the courts to resolve the issue will make it extremely difficult to gather the required number of signatures in time for the November 2014 election. Nontheless, we are committed to bringing this initiative before the voters as soon as possible and ensuring that cities, counties and other government agencies have the tools they need to control their skyrocketing retirement costs and protect essential public services.

(Chuck Reed is the Mayor of San Jose. Originally published on Fox and Hounds.)


  1. Don’t you just love intra-familial food-fights!
    Democrats, fighting for the hearts and souls of Democrats –
    can both sides lose?

  2. The AG is a Democrat, the Union contracts were awarded by Democrats, The unions own the Democratic Party in California…. Check the election contributions the unions have gave Democrats.

  3. Anyone who does not have a part in, or has escaped from, the current Political Class hodgepodge local or national agenda knows enough not to trust Kamala Harris. We have seen what results when there is a single candidate on the ballot for public office, even if the issues are not buried under legalese. Trust cannot be dispensed with as a vital element, even in the least important of human interaction — with some 25 million people directly involved in deciding so much of how the rest of us are to be made to live, how can the any display of untrustworthiness be tolerated on the part of those who derive their wealth and social position by merely voting, oft times, in secret meetings on secret deals with no regard for the people or of the law.
    The meaning of citizen, for those who are citizens-in-name-only, as been reduced to one who is a simple minded disposable taxpayer, a needless burden on the gravy-train.
    Time to show them the door and all their plans for us be put instead on them, before it is too late to stop the firestorm.

  4. I learned quite some time ago, that as an “informed” voter, you need to actually read thru the entire language on the ballots. You CANNOT depend on the commercials or rely on the intent of the Attorney General wording on getting a particular ballot initiative approved or rejected.
    They ALL seem to be written with a slant to achieve the majority parties goals.
    In the meantime, I kept wondering how anyone in their right mind
    could vote for many of the B.S. initiatives that are approved.
    Perhaps that is where the phrase “uninformed voters” came from.
    ANY initiative for tax increases generates an automatic NO from me.
    Need money?? Cut spending!!!

  5. Sadly, this saga proves that a leopard doesn’t change its spots. You can make a street-walker AG but she is still practicing her profession.

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