Former LA Mayor Richard Riordan suspends LA pension reform campaign

Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan
Former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan

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Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan Monday suspended his controversial campaign to dramatically reform the pension system for city workers. 

Riordan’s “Save Los Angeles” campaign had hired people to collect about 265,000 signatures to place his proposal on the May ballot.

“Save Los Angeles and Riordan recently concluded that the Dec. 28 deadline cannot be met,” a campaign statement said. “The campaign is suspending its current signature-gathering effort and is now exploring various options to accomplish the goal of pension reform.”

Powerful labor unions that represent city workers had launched a counter campaign against Riordan’s plan, and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had expressed strong reservations about it.

In a statement, Riordan reiterated his belief that the city would face bankruptcy if it did not change its pension system.

“Remember it’s about services for the working poor, the elderly and the young, and not about union heads and former mayors,” said Riordan. “I ask the mayor, the city council and union heads to work with me over the next several months to save the city from bankruptcy and drastic cuts to public services.”

City worker contributions

Under the former Republican mayor’s proposal, city workers would have to contribute substantially more of their salaries to their retirement plans; it would place all newly hired city employees into a 401(k)-style system; and it would freeze automatic pension increases when the city’s pension fund investments are not doing well.

A campaign spokesman said Riordan would continue to try to change the pension system, which he believes will bankrupt L.A.

"We found a great deal of public interest in pension reform out in the field,” said John Hoy, the campaign’s chief strategist. “Voters know the current pension system is not sustainable. They get it. That awareness and concern was reflected in the amount of signatures we have collected.”

The statement did not say how many signatures the campaign had collected.