SAN JOSE -- In a major victory to former Councilman Pete Constant and a defeating blow to his one-time ally, Mayor Sam Liccardo, a court on Wednesday put the brakes on the city repealing Measure B -- the pension reform initiative voters overwhelmingly approved in 2012.

"I'm happy the court agreed that the council cannot move forward in such a rushed manner -- trying to push things through before the court process was completed," Constant said Wednesday.


Constant, along with the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association and businessman Charles Munger, Jr., have legally challenged the city's quest to nullify Measure B through a court proceeding.
  Constant, who championed Measure B along with Liccardo, said any changes to the initiative must go back out to voters.

The city last year reached settlements during closed-door meetings with employee unions who filed numerous lawsuits against the measure, saying it was an assault on their rights.

Liccardo and the current City Council pushed to replace Measure B with the settlement framework -- but without consent from voters who approved it.
 "All we've asked for is that residents be given the right to vote on the settlement between the city and the unions," Constant said.  "We believe that right rests solely with the residents."

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Beth McGowen didn't agree.  She issued two separate rulings denying Constant's plea and siding with the city in its attempt to wipe Measure B off the books.
Union leaders applauded the move, saying it allows them to begin rebuilding a workforce that was depleted from hundreds of employees resigning after pension reform.

Constant and his group appealed and the court Wednesday granted a stay in the case -- stopping all proceedings to reconsider the case.  Both sides have until May 23 to submit their arguments.

The highly-charged issue pitted Liccardo against Constant, one of the mayor's closest political confidants, and led to an accelerated push from City Hall to overturn Measure B.

One day after Constant gave Liccardo a "heads up" courtesy call about his intent to file court papers to stop the city's process of repealing the measure, the mayor called an emergency closed-session meeting to sign off on the city's court documents.

Then on Tuesday, the City Council voted 10-1 to declare the resolution that put Measure B on the ballot "null and void due to a procedural defect." The item was placed on the council agenda late Friday afternoon -- forgoing the standard 10-day notice required by the city's "sunshine" ordinance.

City Attorney Rick Doyle says that action is now on hold, pending the outcome of the appeal. But the council will not rescind Tuesday's vote, he added.

"The court is basically putting things on hold until it gets the opportunity to decide the petition," Doyle said. "Everyone needs to take a deep breath. I'm confident they'll uphold Judge McGowen's decision as the right decision."

But what's at stake by another speed bump in the Measure B saga? Lost time and the potential of missing a looming deadline. The City Council must finalize a ballot measure related to Measure B by August to make it on the November ballot. If it misses that deadline, the city must wait another two years to ask voters about pension reform.

This story will be updated.

Contact Ramona Giwargis at 408-920-5705. Follow her at Twitter.com/ramonagiwargis.