Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 – 4:26 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 – 10:17 pm

Two years ago, a campaign to overhaul public pensions in California was short-circuited when Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office issued a “title and summary” that was obviously slanted against the proposed ballot measure.

Knowing that a large number of voters react to the brief descriptions of ballot measures, the measure’s sponsors backed away, thus handing their political foes – public employee unions – a cheap victory.

Given that experience with political manipulation of what should have been a straightforward, ministerial function, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and other sponsors of a new pension reform measure understandably had trepidations.

This time, however, the state’s major newspapers weighed in, editorially admonishing Harris, in effect, to play it straight. And Harris pretty much did so.

While the union coalition, Californians for Retirement Security, did get a buzzword it had wanted – “eliminates” – in referring to the proposed constitutional change, and the summary did mention “teachers, nurses and peace officers” that would be affected, the synopsis was, on balance, accurate and fairly straightforward.

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