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Pension Battle Goes to Court

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

The legal battle over whether San Diego city pension benefits should be rolled back begins today. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

At stake could be hundreds of millions of dollars, the future security of thousands of San Diego city employees and the financial solvency of the city. San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre will personally deliver opening argument. He says as much as $700 million should be wiped off the books. According to Aguirre pension benefit increases granted in 1996 and 2002 were the result of decisions marred by conflict of interest, and unless those benefits are rolled back, the city risks bankruptcy.

On the other side of the case, labor attorney Ann Smith argues there was no conflict of interest, and those benefits are vested and therefore untouchable. The Unions say previous legal settlements have already resolved all but about $40 million worth of benefits.

Mayor Jerry Sanders says the legal questions must be settled once and for all by a judge, but in the meantime he’s not relying on the outcome to solve the city’s financial problems. Alison St John, KPBS News.

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