Unions representing San Francisco's police officers and firefighters have barred former city Supervisor Tony Hall from participating in a debate among mayoral candidates slated for tomorrow, citing in part Hall's aggressive stance on reforming municipal workers' pension and healthcare packages.
In a statement released today, Hall said he had been informed by leaders of the San Francisco Police Officers Association that he was not invited to the union-sponsored debate because of his advocacy of "stronger pension reform" than that proposed by labor unions and Mayor Ed Lee.
The forum will take place tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Marines Memorial Theater, and be moderated by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Phil Matier.
"San Francisco's political scene has now descended to a point where a major newspaper columnist and labor unions will put their brand on a false forum that intentionally shuts out opposing points of view," Hall said.
How best to lower costs to the city stemming from public employees' retirement benefits is one of the hot topics of the coming election season. Lee and Public Defender Jeff Adachi have put forward contrasting plans for addressing the problem, with Adachi's delivering bigger savings. Hall says he would like a plan that slashes pension expenses even more than Adachi's would.
POA Vice President Kevin Martin told SF Weekly that the major factor in Hall's exclusion from the debate was organizers' desire to keep the candidate field down to a manageable number.
"There's a very, very large field of candidates running," Martin said. "It was decided by the POA and [San Francisco Firefighters] Local 798 that the most viable candidates would be invited."
However, Martin acknowledged that Hall's position on pension reform also influenced the decision not to invite him.
"That Tony Hall does not endorse the POA's and the firefighters union's and the city's pension plan was certainly a factor, but not the overwhelming factor," Martin said.
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