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A veteran San Francisco prosecutor, who started when there were only four other women working in the DA’s office, is retiring. Chief of administration Linda Klee will officially say goodbye on May 4, after 35 years in the office. Klee, 61, says her retirement was a “precipitous decision” and wasn’t related to the ongoing retirement-benefits battle that public defenders and prosecutors have been fighting for years. Some veteran prosecutors � and possibly veteran public defenders � are growing tired of waiting for a better retirement plan. In 2002, the state Legislature allowed counties to reclassify public defenders, district attorneys and public defender investigators as safety personnel, which entitled them to enhanced retirement benefits under CalPERS. Three years later, San Francisco voters passed a charter amendment allowing those employees to get those retirement benefits if the city bore no cost. Since then, some members of the Municipal Attorneys Association have been negotiating with the city’s Human Resources department to implement that plan. Although one source says some old-timers have been holding off on retiring, others “have reached a point in their career where they just don’t want to wait to retire,” said Gerald Norman, vice president of the Municipal Attorneys Association and a managing attorney in the DA’s office who has been negotiating with the city’s human resources department over the years. If and when the CalPERS retirement plan goes through for those employees, there could be an exodus of veteran prosecutors and public defenders. But for now, they’ll have to retire under the current plan. “The city’s retirement is terrible retirement,” Klee said. Under the city’s retirement plan, employees must work 37-and-a-half years and be at least 60 years old to collect the maximum 75 percent of their annual salary after retiring. Under CalPERS, an employee can retire at 55 years old after 30 years and receive 80 percent of their annual salary, Norman said.
Although one source says some old-timers have been holding off on retiring, others ‘have reached a point in their career where they just don’t want to wait to retire,’ said Gerald Norman, a managing attorney in the DA’s office who has been negotiating with the city’s human resources department over the years.

Assistant District Attorney Gregory Barge declined to confirm whether he planned to retire anytime soon because it was “personal,” but the prosecutor agreed the retirement plan negotiations have weighed on colleagues. “I think that’s on everybody’s mind,” said Barge. Spokespeople for DA Kamala Harris declined to comment on whether new hires were in the works, but Klee said she expected to learn more about a transition plan on Monday. Klee, who started her career in the San Francisco DA’s office in 1972, has gone through five district attorneys. “I care about this community,” she said. “I care about how well the criminal justice system functions.” Since 2000, she has been making regular trips to Russia with an organization that trains government and community leaders, scholars, judges, law enforcement and others on hate crimes. In a statement Wednesday, Harris called Klee a “trailblazer who has broken new ground for women attorneys.”

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