Both Sides Disappointed in Description of Statewide Pension Reform Initiative

Neither Mayor Chuck Reed nor his union opponents liked the way California Attorney General Kamala Harris worded the official description of a polarizing pension reform ballot measure, which on Monday was cleared for signature-gathering to place it on the November ballot.

The unwieldy title of the initiative: “Public Employees Pension and Retiree Healthcare Benefits Initiative Constitutional Amendment.” The description says that it “eliminates constitutional protections for vested pension and retiree healthcare benefits for current public employees, including teachers, nurses and peace officers, for future work performed.”

Unions say the phrasing doesn’t reflect the goal of the measure: “to slash the retirement benefits and retiree health care of current and future employees,” per David Low, head of Californians for Retirement Security.

Reed, on the other hand, says the language focuses on pension cuts without mentioning that it protects accrued benefits. The title, he says, “incorrectly claims that the initiative eliminates constitutional protections for vested retirement benefits for future work performed.”

Attorneys general have come under fire before for the way they word initiatives. Prop. 8 proponents sued then-Attorney General Jerry Brown for describing their measure as one that would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry instead of as restoring the one-man-one-woman definition of marriage struck down by the Supreme Court.

The wording could very well affect the outcome of a ballot measure at the polls. But the bigger blow for Reed may have been when a judge gutted the main part of a citywide pension reform by saying San Jose can’t cut retirement benefits for existing workers.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Chuckie just wants to make another BS stand before he expires in San Jose.  You can only guess he wants to run for state or federal seat.  Good luck with that.  People will understand how you destroyed a once great city.

  2. The last poll I read showed that only 36% of voters polled supported his proposed measure. 

    Chuck Reed failed in San Jose with measure B, hopefully he’ll fail at the state level too.  In any case, I would never support a ballot measure backed by John Arnold, a former crook Enron executive.

  3. Reed is just mad because they wouldn’t allow his “miswording” the initiative like he did with measure B. he will go down in History as the Mayor who destroyed San Jose and its Public safety. Hopefully he leaves town , never to be heard from again

  4. Mayor Reed has become nothing more than a pawn of the vulture fund world. These are the same folks that brought us Enron, etc, and their goal in this initiative is to raid, rape, pillage and steal from the public pension funds. Mayor Reed is especially grouchy now that he lost the major component of Measure B, and has doubled down pushing the agenda of his handlers at the vulture funds. He has taken his marching orders and is following them like the sheep that he is. Make no mistake, these thieves at the vulture funds would not stop with public pension funds – they would not think twice from stealing from private pensions or even the Social Security trust if given the opportunity.

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