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Court orders mediation in pension benefits dispute

The court fight over the awarding of pension benefits to San Diego city employees is now in mediation. The court-ordered mediation is non-binding.

Speaking on the KPBS program, These Days, Mayor Jerry Sanders says the mediation is
a positive first step in resolving the dispute.

Sanders: Certainly if we can everybody to agree on going into the process we can save a lot of money on lawsuits and litigation. We can also cut down on the amount of time it takes to solve some of these issues. So, you know I just choose to take a positive outlook on it, some of the others there may not have, but you know, I think we least need to try it.

Ann Smith, the attorney for the Municipal Employees Association, questions the value of mediation. She says the union believes the benefits are protected by the state constitution. The city claims the benefits were granted illegally by the City Council in 1996 and 2002. City Attorney Mike Aquirre says San Diego's $1.4 billion pension deficit could be significantly reduced if the benefits are determined to be illegal.

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