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Some Bay Area Leaders Optimistic For Pension Reform

SAN JOSE (KCBS) - Supporters of pension reform measures on next month's ballot in San Francisco and San Jose are encouraged by the latest developments out of Sacramento.

The passage of pension reform in the new state budget passed on Friday is creating a new sense of optimism for some.

San Francisco's Public Defender Jeff Adachi's ballot measure, Proposition B would require city employees to contribute to their own pension and benefit costs. And in San Jose, Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, is backing Measure W which would reduce pensions of new employees by creating a second tier of benefits.

"I think this is a beginning of a movement for the people to take back control over the finances of local government," said Reed, who joined the governor and Adachi on Friday as Schwarzenegger spoke at a news conference touting the budget deal as a "great victory".

Leaders in both cities believe the passage of the state measure creates a new movement for pension reform.

Adachi called his cause an insistence that San Franciscans and the people of San Jose to work together to change the pension and health care system.

However, Cindy Chavez with the South Bay Labor Council says it's really about cities scapegoating their employees.

"When people are frightened and money is tight, leaders have two choices; one is you bring people together, look at the problem together, you decide what it is and then you fix it. The other is you point to the least popular group you can find, and say it's their fault and let the whole city get angry at them instead of leading," contested Chavez.

Chavez says cities are beating up their workers for political gain.

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