San Francisco pension tension heats up 

Tensions over dueling November pension measures intensified Tuesday with a new message sent from backers of Mayor Ed Lee’s effort: Voters should only support one, not both.

Lee’s pension measure for the November ballot has the support of labor leaders and a majority of the Board of Supervisors. Public Defender Jeff Adachi has placed a different initiative on the ballot that would have city workers contributing more toward their pensions than under Lee’s plan, which addresses the rising costs of pensions that threaten basic city services.

Two measures on the ballot can lead to confusion, jeopardizing the chances of either passing, but the dueling measures also pose another concern. If both were approved and Adachi’s received more votes, his pension contribution rates would go into effect along with the provisions in Lee’s measure that were not in Adachi’s.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd amended Lee’s measure Tuesday to “make it very clear” there are “two clear and distinct choices.” The amendment says if both measures pass and Adachi’s receives more votes, then no provisions in Lee’s would take effect.

Adachi blasted the amendment as an attempt to persuade voters to vote against his measure.

“They’re clearly afraid that both measures will pass and that our measure will get more votes,” Adachi said. He said the amendment was an attempt to “scare voters into voting for their initiative.”

Elsbernd said the choice is between Adachi’s measure or one “that is comprehensive” and was “produced out of collaboration over months of discussion” with labor leaders and “experts in the field,” and “ensures that we will move forward as a city together.”

The amendment also counters a possible campaign to persuade people to vote yes on both measures.

The full Board of Supervisors is expected to vote next week on whether to place Lee’s amended pension measure on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Campaigns for both measures are expected to be well-funded and heated, with wealthy personalities behind both efforts — businessman George Hume and venture capitalist Michael Moritz support Adachi’s measure, and San Francisco millionaire financier Warren Hellman supports Lee’s.

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