Tomorrow morning the SDPOA will be in court (Department 67; Judge; Honorable David B. Oberholtzer) at 0900 hours to defend the DROP against the mayor's attempt at reducing the interest paid to DROP accounts; changing the entry age of those wishing to take advantage of this benefit; elimination of DROP from managers (Chiefs and Captains); and seeking a final determination that DROP is a "Vested Right." The City is attempting to have the court rule DROP is not a "Vested Right" and subject to negotiations.
The central issue of "Vesting" is clearly addressed by David Wesco, the San Diego Retirement System's Administrator/CEO, in a letter to the mayor on June 22, 2009. Mr. Wesco also sent a tersely worded letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith on June 3, 2009, detailing clearly the effects of Charter Section 143.1 and the fact DROP is a "Vested right" in the eyes of SDCERS.
The attorney for the City (NOT the City Attorney) attempts to make the City's case in their petition using the June 10, 2009, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ruling on "DROP Salary." The use of this ruling is almost laughable if this were not such a serious case before the court with extreme ramifications. Remember that "Institutional Knowledge" I talked about? This is a classic example of the problems associated with a person who is involved in an issue of this magnitude who has a total and complete lack of knowledge of the core issues. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal made no such determination of DROP. But it appears in a legal brief the City filed as their "Opening Brief on Petition for Writ of Mandate Compelling SDPOA to Meet and Confer on City's Proposal to Eliminate DROP."
The hearing tomorrow will likely take all day. The City was successful in keeping MEA and the other Unions out of the court. The Fourth District Court of Appeal refused today to overturn this ruling which sets up a faceoff with the SDPOA and the City. Mike Conger has prepared his legal briefs that have been posted on his web site for all to read. Take the time to read the facts and educate yourself. You will find a disturbing thread in each of the papers filed by the City. They have included information that is factually incorrect and in several instances the wording is almost word for word taken from article found in the Union Tribune; all of which is a fantasy and factually incorrect.
No court case can be called a "Slam Dunk" when issues of this magnitude are being considered. The human variable and potential for "If you say it long enough and loud enough; someone is bound to believe it" coming into play. The City's briefs are filled with the spin, half truths, miss-statements and flat out lies the Union Tribune has employed for the past several years. My hope is the Judge is made acutely aware of these factual errors and sanction the attorneys for the City for their careless and in my opinion; knowing and calculated miss-representation of the facts.
Tomorrow is an important day for the SDPOA and all City Employees who have had the City attempt to eliminate promised, "Vested" benefits and further damage the lives of so many. This is a political fight being waged by the mayor against the city's employees. This has more to do with ego than it has to do with money. The mayor has steadfastly refused to conduct an analysis of DROP to determine its actual cost because he knows the numbers would not support his assertion DROP is costing the City millions of dollars. The mayor has had ample opportunity to provide for the analysis of this program and yet on the eve of trial; in briefs the mayor and city assert in page after page their reasons for eliminating DROP; the "Double Dipping" costing the City millions of dollars each year.
The truth will soon be out and we can hope and pray for a positive outcome in Department 67. Do not look for the judge to rule tomorrow; in all likelihood he will take arguments from both sides and make a calculated decision in the coming days and weeks. The City is sure to appeal if the decision goes against them; keeping people in turmoil for many years to come. I say take one day at a time and focus on your safety and family. Control those things within your sphere of control and let the rest go. We cannot control the actions of the mayor; courts or politicians. We can control how we respond to their words and actions. Stay positive and be safe. They only win if we let them.