Richard Riordan, Los Angeles' millionaire former mayor, plunged deeper into the fray over public pensions Friday, announcing he is finalizing language for a ballot initiative that would move newly hired workers into 401(k)-style plans and freeze retirement benefits for existing workers.
Riordan and his advisers said the proposal would save hundreds of millions of dollars a year by 2017, in part by phasing out government pensions as new employees come into the city workforce.
The announcement set the stage for a ground war between Riordan, who has warned that retirement costs would push the city into bankruptcy, and an array of employee unions influential in city decision making. Riordan would need nearly 255,000 signatures to get the measure onto the May municipal election ballot, according to the city clerk's office. Labor leaders want to keep that from happening.
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