In most years, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith figures the deal he’s offering city employees would be embraced: Share in the city’s investment returns from the stock market and reap the benefits by paying less to the city’s pension system.
“Over a long period of time, these investments make money,” Goldsmith said. “I think over a long period of time if I had my druthers I’d rather be a partner in this.”
But Goldsmith is pushing it in a year where city employees would lose. Big time. Possibly to the tune of $4,000 per employee.
After five months of increasingly loud talk and two months before the city faces a budget busting pension bill, Goldsmith landed the first formal blow in what’s expected to be a protracted legal drama. Through a lawsuit filed this week, he seeks to force the retirement system to heed his interpretation of the city charter — one where the city and its employees become equal partners to the stock market’s whims.
He wants a decision by July 1, before the city’s record $231.7 million pension payment comes due.
The legal issues are cloudy and esoteric enough. Goldsmith sought an opinion from an out-of-state pension lawyer and dredged up a 56-year-old city document to support his position. The retirement system has produced numerous legal opinions that combat Goldsmith’s view.