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Jeff Adachi

Jeff Adachi

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Jeff Adachi mayoral candidate questionnaire from The San Francisco Examiner
Jeff Adachi mayoral candidate questionnaire from The San Francisco Examiner

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Published by: San Francisco Examiner on Oct 01, 2011
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10/01/2011

 
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Jeff AdachiSan Francisco Examiner mayoral candidate questionnaire
1) Please explain your campaign platform in 20 words or less.
I will focus on jobs, keeping families in SF, providing independent/effective leadership,integrity, and solving the City’s fiscal crisis.
2) Please list your votes on the local November ballot measures
.School Bonds – YesRoad Repaving and Street Paving Bonds – NoPension reform:Lee supported version – NoAdachi Initiative – YesAmending Initiative Ordinances and Policy Declaration – NoCampaign Consultant Disclosures – NoSchool District Student Assignment System – Yes
3) What is the worst budgetary problem in San Francisco and how will you address it?
The City’s most dire budgetary problem is skyrocketing pension and benefit costs for cityemployees. This year, taxpayers spent one out of every six tax dollars – nearly a billion dollars— on city employee benefits. Within five years, that number is expected to double. Over the next12 months alone, The City’s benefits costs for city employees will soar by $100 million, andevery year that number will grow. By 2015, these costs will reach $800 million annually.Meanwhile, The City is facing a $483 million deficit in the coming fiscal year. Unless significantreforms are made immediately, The City will have little choice but to divert scarce funding awayfrom education, law enforcement, parks and recreation programs, public health and other basicservices in order to pay for city employee benefits.San Francisco needs its next mayor to be firmly committed to solving this problem, even if theface of push-back from powerful interest groups. For the second year in a row, I have been at theforefront of reform. I am the author of Proposition D, the largest fiscal austerity measure everproposed in San Francisco.In 2011, I set out to reform The City’s pension system because, put simply, escalating employeepension and benefits costs are bankrupting our city. After meeting with members of the 2010civil grand jury who felt that their calls for reform of pension system had been ignored by electedofficials, I urged Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors to take on this issue, to noavail. Because no elected official had the bravery to push for pension reform, I took the issuedirectly to the people of San Francisco. While the November 2010 pension and health carereform ballot measure did not pass, it garnered 116,000 ‘yes’ votes.Taking what I learned from that experience, I retained former San Francisco City AttorneyLouise Renne’s law firm to help draft Proposition D for the November 2011 ballot. PropositionD improves on the earlier ballot reform measure by exempting lower-paid workers – those withsalaries less than $50,000 – from any increases in retirement contributions, and by setting a
 
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graduated contribution rate so that higher paid city employees will contribute to their retirementat a higher rate than lower paid employees. Proposition D also provides a fairer, more sustainableretirement reform system for new hires, and it prohibits pension spiking.Proposition D, if approved, will be the largest fiscal austerity measure in the history of The City.According to the City Controller, Proposition D will save taxpayers $1.7 billion over the nextseven years, enabling The City to prevent further cuts to and even restore important city services.Proposition C is not an effective reform measure. When Ed Lee was appointed interim mayor, hepledged to address The City’s growing pension crisis. As a result of several “meet and confer”sessions with unions, who vehemently opposed any increase in their pension contributions, Lee’scompromise reform measure does not provide nearly enough cost savings. Here’s why: First,Lee’s plan assumes a 7.75 percent rate of return on investments, which all financial experts,including Warren Buffet, say is unrealistic over the foreseeable future. (The City’s pension fundhas never realized more than an average of 5 percent during the past 10 years.) Second,Proposition C fails to cap pensions. Third, it still allows some employees to receive 90 percent of the income they received while working. Fourth, Proposition C does not stop pension spiking.While Proposition C purports to address the pension crisis facing our city, it will save The Citymuch less over the next decade. In short, Proposition C will not result in long-term, sustainablepension reform.The proponents of Proposition C claim that Proposition D would be vulnerable to a legalchallenge. Both Propositions C and D raise employee pension contribution rates, thus it is likelythat both will be challenged. In fact, City retirees have already said they would challengeProposition C.Regarding health care, Proposition C addresses the $4.3 billion unfunded liability by requiringcity employees to contribute 0.25 percent toward their healthcare costs beginning in 2016. Ibelieve this is insufficient. I would work to decrease The City’s health care costs while requiringa greater contribution, based on income. As mayor, I will propose an employee healthcare costreform measure that fairly and adequately addresses The City’s rising health care liabilities.Because these competing pension reform measures may be confusing to the voters, I haveproposed a series of debates to assist voters in understanding the measures’ relative merits. Forexample, Proposition C is 250 pages in the length, while Proposition D is 12 pages in length.Unfortunately, interim Mayor Ed Lee has declined this opportunity to inform voters.Comparison of Proposition D and Propisition C’s terms and effectiveness:PROP D PROP CBASE EMPLOYEECONTRIBUTION7.5% (non-safety employees);10% (safety)No base contribution
 
ANTI-SPIKING FORMULA Uses 5-year average todetermine pensionablecompensationUses 3-year average todetermine pensionablecompensation
 
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ANNUAL PENSIONS New plan capped at 75% Some employees can stillreceive 90% of pensionCAP ON PENSIONS Lowest of 75% or $140,000 $190,000CAP ON CONTRIBUTIONSBY EMPLOYEESUp to 16% for highest paidemployees13.5% for all employees
 
METHOD OF PAYINGCONTRIBUTIONSUses $10,000 increments todetermine what employeescontributeUses $50K increments
 
COST SAVINGS $1.7 billion over 10 years $1.3 billion over 10 years
4) What are your plans to attract and retain businesses in San Francisco?
As a mayor who will be taking office in the midst of a deep economic recession, I will work tirelessly to make San Francisco a fertile rather than hostile place to do business byimplementing a five-point job growth plan:First, I will revise The City’s business tax structure, including a major overhaul of the payrolltax. The current payroll tax discourages the hiring of new workers and deters lucrativebusinesses from settling in San Francisco. We are one of the only cities in the nation that has apayroll tax, and it’s hampering our ability to use the Web 2.0 movement to bring more high-paying jobs and high-growth companies to San Francisco. As mayor, I will eliminate this flawedtax and replace it with one based on net business revenue, with strict prohibitions againstunderreporting and outright fraud.The payroll tax is not a matter of companies “paying their fair share.” Companies have afiduciary duty to their shareholders, which means that they cannot choose to locate in SanFrancisco if locating just a few miles away could save the company millions of dollars. I supportSupervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s legislation proposing a six-year stock option exemption from thepayroll tax for pre-IPO companies that undertake public stock offerings while in San Francisco.This exemption provides much-needed tax relief without adversely affecting San Francisco or itsgeneral fund.My proposed alternative to the payroll tax is a tax on companies’ gross receipts or net businessrevenue. This tax will provide The City with the same amount of revenue without putting SanFrancisco at an unfair advantage in a tough economy by unfairly penalizing high-growth startupsthat create thousands of jobs. Unless we revamp the way The City earns revenue from localbusinesses, we will find ourselves looking out at gleaming cities in Silicon Valley and on thePeninsula while we suffer high rates of joblessness and under-employment.Second, I will foster a business climate that supports small businesses. For example, I will setaside $40 million each year for investment in micro-enterprise job creation by issuing 1,000small business micro-loans of $40,000 a piece. In addition to supplying pivotal startup capital forsmall business entrepreneurs, the program will shepherd participants through the process of creating their own businesses. (For a more detailed discussion of my micro-loan plan, seequestion six below.)

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