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Mayor Filner Wants City Attorney Goldsmith to Drop Pension Lawsuit

Aired 4/12/13 on KPBS News.

Mayor Bob Filner plans to publicly urge City Attorney Jan Goldsmith today to drop a lawsuit against the San Diego City Employees Retirement System over differing interpretations of required pension contributions.

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Bob Filner plans to publicly urge City Attorney Jan Goldsmith today to drop a lawsuit against the San Diego City Employees Retirement System over differing interpretations of required pension contributions.

KPBS

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith (L) and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

Filner said that because the city supplies legal defense for SDCERS, the city essentially was suing itself. He said the pension system's legal expenses have hit $3.2 million over three years.

The mayor and Herb Morgan, president of the SDCERS Board of Administration, have scheduled a mid-day news conference at City Hall to make the request.

A section of the City Charter requires that the city and its workers pay a substantially equal contribution to the retirement system.

City officials, labor union heads and pension system administrators have their own interpretations on what the term "substantially equal'' really means, and Goldsmith filed suit in June 2010 in order to get a judicial finding on the issue.

The City Attorney's Office contends that SDCERS has overcharged the city for its pension contributions by tens of millions of dollars annually for years.

In a statement, Goldsmith said trial in the case is scheduled for next month.

"Labor unions and (the) pension board have been lobbying the city to drop the case,'' Goldsmith said.

He said litigation was approved unanimously by the City Council in 2010, and council members decide in closed session whether to file or drop a court action. The city attorney said he'd be willing to discuss a settlement, but simply dropping the case would leave the original question unanswered.

The city's pension deficit as of last June 30 was estimated at almost $2.3 billion.

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