No Calculations for $650 Million, Yet

SJ City manager says councilmembers questions will be answered March 29

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Show me the math. That's what five San Jose city council members are demanding in a memo addressed to the rules committee today. They're asking for an explanation behind a 5-year pension projection used by Mayor Chuck Reed. It comes after an NBC Bay Area investigation led by Jenna Susko revealed the mayor used an inflated number as a "worst case scenario" to help sell a fiscal emergency- a number $250 million higher than the city's official projection. Here's the follow up report. This story was published Feb. 23, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.

    The pension drama at San Jose City Hall continues to unfold tonight and council members filing a memo will be waiting one month for answers.

    It comes after our exclusive NBC Bay Area Investigation into a questionable pension projection used by the mayor.

    Today a firestorm of words at the Rules Committee meeting in response to a memo filed last week by 5 city council members asking to see the math behind the five-year pension cost projection of $650 million used over the past year by Mayor Chuck Reed. 

    The most recent five-year projection is $320 million.

    In an interview with NBC Bay Area, the Retirement Services Director, Russell Crosby, told us $650 million was an estimate that was off the top of his head in a meeting last February. Crosby said the mayor was told not to use that number as a projection.

    Today, council members hoped to find out how that controversial estimate was calculated.

    Instead, accusations of political motives went flying.

    The mayor said in the meeting this afternoon, "I don't think we should allow use and abuse of city processes for political purposes," referring to the memo request for calculations by the council members.

    Councilman Pete Constant of District 1 agreed with the mayor, saying, "I think there is a significant political effort to do anything to delay and obstruct this pension reform ballot measure going forward."

    "Political tactics?" District 9 Council member, Donald Rocha asks, "Using that to describe an information request is extremely troubling," he fires back, "I'm pretty disturbed sitting here. I'm just over a year in office and I never expected to hear this kind of response to an information request."

    Councilman Rocha was not given an answer to that information request and still doesn't know the math behind the figure $650 million.

    The mayor did say what we already knew, that the number came from Retirement Services Director, Russell Crosby.

    The mayor said, "It wasn’t an actuarial methodology, he [Crosby] said it was an estimate done internally ," Mayor Reed continues, addressing Councilman Rocha, "so I'm trying to figure out what beyond Russell saying 'it’s an estimate' that you want."

    "Using any methodology or was it just a professional estimate using what was in his head?" Rocha asks.

    "Well I cant’ answer for what’s in his head," the mayor responds.

    The city manager says these questions will be answered at a meeting March 29th.

    Council members say they don't understand why it should take so long to produce a document if those calculations do exist.

    The mayor issued this response.

    Next Tuesday is the last council meeting before the March 9th deadline to put pension reform on the June ballot.