July 11 2012 09:06 AM

On pension reform, city attorney’s off his nut

Jan Goldsmith
Photo by David Rolland
In most matters, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith isn’t a nutty kook. But when it comes to efforts to reform city-employee pensions, he’s long since packed his bags and gone for a journey on the crazy train.

Some background: Goldsmith, who said he’d stay out of policy matters when he was running for his current office, spoke at an April 2011 press conference announcing the launch of an ultimately successful ballot measure to reform the pension system. He said at the time that he was supporting the measure as a private citizen, not as city attorney.

Lately, his gung-ho support seems to have driven him completely off the rails. For example, he’s made borderline-hysterical claims that the state Public Employment Relations Board, which has challenged the legality of the ballot measure, Prop. B, that passed last month, is controlled by public-employee unions—without substantiation and in the face of evidence to the contrary.

And in recent interview with CityBeat’s Kelly Davis, Goldsmith responded to claims that the measure was illegal because it sidestepped state-required labor negotiations by comparing it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s upcoming tax initiative. Why is one legal and the other illegal? he asks rhetorically. Um. First, because one’s governed by labor law and the other isn’t. Second, while Mayor Jerry Sanders did not make a good-faith effort to negotiate with the unions before launching what would become Prop. B, Brown tried his damnedest to get the four Republican votes he needed to get a tax measure on the ballot via the Legislature before resorting to a signature-gathering campaign. The chasm between the two is gaping.

On this issue, it behooves the City Council to take its city attorney with a large grain of salt.

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