Jeff Adachi has until 5 p.m. today to gather signatures for his "Smart Reform
" measure, which would mandate city employees pay hundreds of millions a year toward their pension and health care costs
. Reached late Monday afternoon, San Francisco's public defender said he'd probably be spending every minute until that time either gathering or counting signatures. When asked if he planned on sleeping any, he laughed. "I doubt it," he said. "But I'll sleep real good Tuesday night."
Adachi needs a shade under 45,000 valid signatures to get his charter amendment on the ballot. He says he has somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 signatures -- though it's entirely possible that "Mickey Mouse" and "Phuck Yu" are among this group. To be safe, he hopes to reach 70,000 signatures
by Tuesday evening.
In a town where public nudity and lengthy debates about meaningless, non-binding resolutions are normal, Adachi's pension-reform crusade is most decidedly not normal. It required the city's public defender-for-life, a solid man of the left, to enrage the San Francisco's unions and labor lobby -- the allies (and ATM) of lefty candidates and office-holders in San Francisco. Not surprisingly, according to Adachi, not a single elected official or candidate for office has come out in support of his measure, which he claims would save San Francisco $167 million in its first year alone.
With labor cut off as a source of funding -- perhaps forever -- Adachi instead managed to solicit $150,000
from venture capitalist Michael Moritz and his wife, novelist Harriet Heyman.
If you're into political chess, you'll point out that, if this measure gets on the ballot and passes, Adachi has proven that he doesn't need unions' blessing or dinero to get things done in this town. He'd be able to run for mayor in 2011 as a lefty uncontrolled by labor, and, following pension reform, someone admired by moderates.
But if you listen to what Adachi has said, repeatedly
, there are far easier ways to run for mayor than alienating the left by staking your reputation on a complex, unsexy issue that doesn't resonate with voters. For what it's worth, Adachi last month told us "I don't have any present plans to run" for mayor.
Should enough of the signatures he turns in today be declared valid, Adachi predicts success in November's election.
"It will be successful. It's a common-sense solution to a problem that has to be fixed," he said. "My hope is, once it gets on the ballot, public officials will take a position. If you oppose it, oppose it -- and tell us why." Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly