Judge bars implementation of pension reform initiative temporari - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Judge bars implementation of pension reform initiative temporarily

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego judge today issued a temporary restraining order that bars immediate implementation of a voter-approved pension reform initiative.

The written ruling issued by Superior Court Judge Luis Vargas was one of two procedural setbacks in the city of San Diego's defense of Proposition B, which passed on June 5 with the support of 66 percent of voters. In the other decision, the state Supreme Court rejected a bid by the city to consolidate litigation over the initiative and place it before the 4th District Court of Appeal.

Vargas said the TRO will be in place until July 27, when he will reconsider his decision.

The request to slow down implementation of Proposition B was made by lawyers with the state Public Employment Relations Board, which is set to hold a hearing on the initiative before that date.

The judge scheduled another hearing in his courtroom for July 27 at 2:30 p.m.

"We agree with Judge Vargas that those discussions should move forward promptly as a prelude to any formal city decisions on implementation, but we will resist an extension of the TRO beyond July 27," Goldsmith said.

The city cannot legally change the terms of the initiative, but can negotiate how it is implemented and how to deal with its impacts, Goldsmith said.

Councilman Carl DeMaio, a chief backer of Proposition B, called the ruling "a procedural requirement that will ultimately have no impact on our timeline to implement pension reform."

"Even with the court's order, Prop. B's language will still be added to the city's charter within the next few weeks," said DeMaio, who is in a November runoff for mayor against Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, who opposes the measure.

He said once the charter is amended, the city will no longer have the discretion to put new, non-police, hires into the pension system.

THIS IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS STORY BELOW.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A San Diego judge Wednesday issued a temporary restraining order that bars immediate implementation of a voter-approved pension reform initiative.

Under the written ruling issued by Superior Court Judge Luis Vargas, the TRO will be in place until July 27, when he will reconsider his decision.

The request to slow down implementation of Proposition B was made by lawyers with the state Public Employment Relations Board, which is set to hold a hearing on the initiative before that date.

A complaint was brought to PERB by unions that represent city employees, who claim city officials should have consulted with them before placing the initiative on the June 5 ballot.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the city was only required to meet and confer with its unions before implementing the measure, which passed with 66 percent support.

The initiative requires the city of San Diego to issue new employees -- other than police officers -- 401(k)-style retirement plans instead of enrolling them in the debt-ridden pension system.

The measure also calls for a five-year period in which municipal workers can only use base salary when computing their retirement payouts. They would not be able to include bonuses or other special pay.

"The court underscores that the voters of the city of San Diego have overwhelmingly approved the local ballot measure (Comprehensive Pension Reform Initiative), and only grants this application amid assurances by both the city and PERB to timely meet and confer regarding priority implementation of time sensitive issues of the CPRI," Vargas wrote in his ruling. "Both parties represent the imposition of the TRO will not halt meet and confer efforts."

The judge scheduled another hearing in his courtroom for July 27 at 2:30 p.m.

Goldsmith said city officials needed to move quickly to develop the 401(k)-style plan, otherwise the city would be unable to hire new employees once the election results are certified by Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

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