San Jose Councilman Sues to Challenge Union Ballot Language; Measure Called Pension Bellwether

In the latest twist to the back-and-forth legal battle over San Jose’s controversial pension reform measure, a council member is fighting fire with fire by filing a lawsuit of his own to counter union efforts to change Measure B’s ballot language. We relayed earlier this month that union opponents of the measure successfully convinced a three-judge panel of the Sixth District Court of Appeal to deem the wording of the measure unlawful because it was not sufficiently neutral. You may recall that the judges stated the word “reform” could not be used in the measure’s introductory language because they perceived it as “unlawful advocacy” on the part of the city.

In an update, Councilman Pete Constant filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court to challenge the language used by city unions in the official ballot language against Measure B. Constant commented that “I feel a responsibility to the voters to ensure that they have accurate and undistorted information when they make their vote. When I read the argument against Measure B, I was flabbergasted at how factually inaccurate their statements were."

Mercury News reports on what statements are being challenged: “The statements in question say the measure could eliminate disability retirements for police and firefighters and raise health costs for widows and retirees, that city workers took pay cuts up to 18 percent and that the measure won't stand up in court. Other statements that are being challenged assert that workers proposed dozens of legal pension reforms reducing the police and firefighter benefit to 1962 levels, and that city leaders used inaccurate financial projections to ‘scare voters.’”

A hearing is expected to take place early next month to consider Constant’s complaint as well as the suits filed by the unions.

In other news related to the measure, the media is certainly wasting no time in hyping Measure B as an important barometer for the rest of the state’s cities with NBC News commenting that “A victory for Reed and the Measure Bproponents will move the issue into countless local government jurisdictions. A victory by the forces opposing Measure B may well lead local governments (including San Jose) to consider new taxes.” Different analysis on why San Jose is considered “a pension bellwether” can be seen in City Journal here.

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