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Alternative Pension Reform Proposal Shot Down by SD Council President

A proposed alternative to the pension reform initiative set for the June 5 ballot will not be considered by the City Council or its Rules Committee, effectively killing it, council President Tony Young said today.

The ballot measure already set to go before voters is designed to save money by giving 401(k) plans to most new employees instead of enrolling them in the debt-ridden pension system. Also, only base compensation for workers would be figured into their eventual retirement pay.

It is opposed by city employee unions.

This week's proposal by Councilman David Alvarez would be similar. The main exception is that instead of giving new employees 401(k) plans, annual retirement pay would be capped at $99,999.

Young said he will not allow the Alvarez proposal to move forward because a deadline for putting something on the June ballot was too close, and because he did not want voters to be confused.

"This is a pretty important issue and putting something on the ballot in three weeks without being fully vetted would be a problem,'' Young said.

A number of important issues would need to be studied, including whatwould happen if both initiatives were passed by voters. Also, ballot measures that originate with the City Council require negotiations with municipal unions, and Young said he didn't think there was enough time.

He also said he wanted to improve the council's level of respect among San Diegans as a body that makes decisions for the public good, and did not want members to be accused of confusing or splitting voters between two initiatives.

Alvarez can force the proposal onto a City Council docket if he gets support from three colleagues. Young said he didn't think that would happen.

Alvarez put out a statement in which he said he would still like to see his alternative on the June ballot.

"A copy of the proposal was delivered to all members of the City Council," Alvarez said. "At this point, I have not been contacted by any other council members regarding their support for it. However, I am interested in having further discussions regarding pension reform."

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