SAN FRANCISCO — Although Public Defender Jeff Adachi finished sixth in Tuesday’s mayoral election and his pension reform measure, Proposition D, was defeated, he deserves credit for pointing out that public-employee pension costs are creating a budget crisis for the city, the San Francisco Chronicle said in a Nov. 10 editorial.
Proposition C, a less drastic reform measure, was the result of an agreement between Mayor Ed Lee and labor leaders and was overwhelmingly approved by voters.
The Chronicle praised Lee, investment banker Warren Hellman and labor leaders for creating “a solid down payment on containing pension costs” by requiring city employees to contribute a greater portion of their salaries toward their pensions and to work longer to receive a maximum benefit. It is estimated that $1.3 billion will be saved over the next 10 years.
“One more critical player must be recognized here: Public Defender Jeff Adachi,” The Chronicle said. “His more aggressive measure (Prop. D) was defeated Tuesday, but it was his advocacy (starting with Prop. B last year) that shook the city out of its state of denial.”
During the mayoral campaign, the newspaper endorsed Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and gave honorable mention to Lee, Adachi and City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
“Talk about courage,” The Chronicle said of Adachi. “One of the city’s most liberal politicians took on labor over the bedrock issue of pensions. He lost in his first attempt last year, but is back with a revised version after he wouldn’t back a compromise measure also on the ballot. He’s been unfairly vilified by much of the city’s political establishment for daring to raise the pension problem that others preferred to ignore.
“His campaign shows he’s more than a one-issue candidate. He has a clear grasp of a variety of issues ranging from homeless policies to taxes. His independence is unassailable. The question is whether he has become too divisive a figure to be an effective mayor.”
Adachi, who finished behind Lee, Supervisor John Avalos, Herrera, Chiu and State Sen. Leland Yee, will continue to serve as head of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. He was re-elected to a third four-year term last year with no opposition.