Breaking public-employee pensions: The political path

Second in a series on public pensions. The first is here.

Sept. 27, 2012

By Mark Cabaniss

In taking on the California pension problem, the first step is dispelling some large, tenacious and commonly held illusions.

The first illusion is that pensions are contracts protected by the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution, and therefore are legally unbreakable, “written in stone.”  But, as noted in my prior article, assuming that public pensions are contracts, there are nonetheless legally valid ways to get out of all contracts, including current pensions.  The most important of the contract law doctrines that could be used to get out from under current pensions is the doctrine of mistake. According to that doctrine, the current pensions were granted while relying on mistaken assumptions, specifically, unrealistic projected future pension fund investment returns which have turned out to be too high.

The second contract law doctrine which might be used to get out of onerous pensions is that the money simply isn’t there to pay excessive pensions (the current highest in California is, ha-ha, $302,492 per year). The legal arguments, as well as the political arguments, are the strongest for reforming the very highest pensions, those in excess of $100,000 per year.

But the only way to find out the extent to which these arguments would be successful is to try them in court. Which means that someone in government will have to try to alter the terms of current pensions, for example, by stopping pension payments in excess of $100,000 per year.  I myself have no doubt that the arguments would succeed at least to some extent, because no court is going to hold that every school, every prison, every hospital has to be shut down rather than a few retired people continue to receive in excess of $200,000 per year, and not a penny less.

Second illusion

These legal doctrines of mistake and impossibility of performance lead us to a consideration of the factual mistakes that really were made, and to the second great illusion created by those mistakes — that we are fighting over money.  Actually, we aren’t.  We are fighting over the illusion of money, or the hope of money.  In truth, the money doesn’t exist, and it never did exist. 

Two financial calamities, masquerading as booms, came in quick succession, and created an illusion of great wealth that simply was not there.  The first of these was the stock market dot-com boom of the late 1990s, during which companies with no earnings whatsoever nonetheless had, for a short while, stock market capitalizations of billions of dollars.  The bubble burst in 2000, many of the companies going bankrupt and their share prices going to zero.

Nonetheless, the dot-com boom lives on in the projected future returns of CalPERS, which currently has an assumed rate of return of 7.50 percent.  Last fiscal year, in 2011, they earned 1 percent.

The second great calamity which created an illusion of wealth was the housing bubble of the 2000s.  The latest California city teetering at the edge of bankruptcy, Atwater, since 2007 has seen its median home price drop about 40 percent to $139,000 and its property tax revenue drop by 27 percent.  Obviously, the property tax revenue has farther yet to fall, and Atwater’s woes are duplicated state wide.

Cherished illusions

But people cherish their illusions, particularly illusions about money, about how rich they are, or soon will be.  That is why the single most difficult part of reforming pensions may be simply moving the discussion to the plane of fiscal reality.  For example, CalPERS itself, on its “CalPERS Responds” website, recognizes that the stock market returns of the 1990s were highly aberrational, noting:

“The $400 million [that the state had to contribute to the CalPERS retirement fund] paid in 1999 was the lowest the State had paid in generations and it was due to the fact that the investment returns in the mid-1990s were so high, little was needed from the State to cover the plans. Some years, the State paid zero contributions for schools. This was due to higher than normal investment returns. Using a starting point of $400 million is misleading, because the late 90s was an atypical period for investment returns. In addition, payroll growth (bigger government) investment losses and people living longer and retiring earlier are the primary drivers of increased pension cost.”

Unfortunately, the aberrational returns of the 1990s are used by CalPERS only as the explanation for why subsequent state contributions had to be higher, and not as a reason to reassess growth assumptions.  And yet, to state the unpleasant and obvious, if the returns of the 1990s were “higher than normal,” then perhaps it is not a good idea to project them into the future with an assumed 7.50 percent rate of return.

Moreover, the money which did not exist in the past cannot be made to exist in the future by magical thinking.  The political “leadership” in Sacramento is doing virtually nothing to address the budget crisis, except for hoping for a tax increase which will do very little even if passed.

The real, although so far unexpressed, hope seems to be that something will save us, perhaps all the high-paying but dirty manufacturing jobs that government is working so hard to create in California; or perhaps a federal bailout, in which all the senators from the fiscally solvent states would for some magical reason agree to fork over wads of their citizens’ cash to all the bankrupt states.

No. Being realistic, there is no reason to think anything is going to save us, not a sudden turnaround in the California economy, and not a Deus ex machina in the form of a federal bailout.  So the fact is, we are fighting over far less money than is commonly realized; sadly, we don’t really have the money to pay anyone a $302,492 a year pension; sadly, we are fighting over how to divvy up the lunch money, rather than the lotto payout.

Third illusion

Once we get over these dreams of pie in the sky and start talking about money that actually is here, now, we can move on to the third great illusion, which is that pension reform is somehow bad for unions.

In fact, as we have seen time and again throughout the state, such as when the city of Costa Mesa laid off nearly half its workforce, the only way to pay for the current highest, unsustainable pensions is to fire busloads of currently working union members. The bosses keep their $200,000 pensions, and the rank-and-file get laid off.  Returning once again to CalPERS’ own website, we find:

“About 2 percent of the nearly half million CalPERS retirees receive annual pensions of $100,000 or more. Many are retired non-unionized or specialized skilled employees or other high wage earners who worked 30 years or more. Many served in high-level management positions.” 

According to CalPERS itself, then, it is the non-unionized management bosses who receive the greater-than-$100,000 pensions.  So, to ask another obvious question: Just how is it anti-union to cut the non-union bosses’ pensions to save union jobs?

Fourth illusion

This brings up great illusion number four:  It is political suicide to even attempt to touch current pensions.  But CalPERS’ own numbers suggest precisely the opposite.

If only 2 percent of retirees receive pensions of more than $100,000, then that would leave, by my reckoning, 98 percent who do not.  Obviously, if you were a politician making a naked political calculation regarding the political benefit that you could garner from championing pension reform, you would rather be on the side of the 98 percent, than on the side of the 2 percent.

And that question — Why don’t politicians make that naked 98 percent vs. 2 percent political calculation? — brings us to the very heart of the political problem. The politicians don’t want to touch pension reform, not because it is not a political winner, but because they themselves are, by and large, in the 2 percent group, not the 98 percent. 

Obviously, intuition tells us that this tends to be true of union leaders too.  Anyone negotiating contracts is going to be someone with a lot of experience and seniority, a high-wage person with the expectation of a high pension coming.  So there is a huge systemic built-in bias against pension reform. All the union leaders and political leaders are automatically and strongly against it because they themselves stand to garner huge pensions, as long as there is no reform.

So that leads to the conclusion, which is perhaps the only way out.  We should begin asking a simple litmus test question of all political candidates:  Do you support a $100,000 cap on pensions, including current pensions and including your own?  If politicians running for office had to answer that question, in every race, up and down the state, the people, through their electoral processes, could begin to address the problem of the very very highest, unsustainable, current pensions.

Mark Cabaniss is an attorney from Kelseyville. 

86 comments

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  1. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 27 September, 2012, 15:37

    Mr. Canibass– Your illusions are straw men. Almost all of your contract hornbook review is true, well, sorta, but like you say, someone needs to test it in court. I will look forward to that day. In my experience your contract defenses are ultra weak. I remember well the cherished hopes of the unwashed pension envy crowd with the Cal Supremes and the DCA alchemizing the weak theories in the OC Cops case…..that of course never happened and 5 mil bucks later in costs and fees—- zip! It also hurt the feelings of a number of special trolls out here!

    As I have asked many over the years, cite me to one case on point abrogating the contracts clause either sate or fed? Well, you can’t. And as to your contract defenses…….cite me to any on point non distiquishable fraud case, there aint one on point amigo.

    Why not? because the stare decisis of fraud and contracts never grants relief to parties that informed bargained at arms length and received performance. You can spin weak factual theories all day and probably find a stupiud person in authority (like they did in the OC) to pay you millions of taxpayer dollars to file cases, have at it, in the end you’ll be back where you started. (but you may be wealthy) The way to ammend is at the bargaining table or it would have been done otherwise years ago.

    Reply this comment
  2. middleclassunderattack
    middleclassunderattack 27 September, 2012, 15:52

    ” The second illusion is the impossibility of performance, that is, the money simply isn’t there to pay excessive pensions”

    I’m gonna use that on my mortgage lender, tell them I don’t owe on my house because I signed the purchase agreement with the belief that my income would remain stable, it didn’t so now I’m off the hook…. don’t be an idiot.

    Reply this comment
  3. MiddleClassWorkerAttacked
    MiddleClassWorkerAttacked 27 September, 2012, 16:19

    I noticed that after I posted a response quoting part of your argument you deleted my post then edited your article to change the part I quoted, my response still stands. I’ll tell my mortgage lender that I no longer owe them on my house because when I signed the agreement it was based on the illusion of performance, i.e my current income being sustained into the future and because that didn’t happen I am now no longer bound by the terms of the agreement… if you think that will work, you go file the suit.

    — Editor’s note. I apologize for any misunderstanding. I edited the article shortly after it went up for clarity. I had not seen your comments. But the part you quoted was in the original.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 September, 2012, 16:33

    “About 2 percent of the nearly half million CalPERS retirees receive annual pensions of $100,000 or more. Many are retired non-unionized or specialized skilled employees or other high wage earners who worked 30 years or more. Many served in high-level management positions.”

    And that 2% takes up 10% of CalTURDS expense.

    And for the record, over HALF of that 2% are GED educated cops, prison guards and firewhiners-not “high-level management positions”.

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 September, 2012, 16:37

    Mr. Canibass– Your illusions are straw men. Almost all of your contract hornbook review is true, well, sorta, but like you say, someone needs to test it in court.
    OMG, now Teddy is a Contracts LAW PROFESSOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Teddy, is there anything you are not an “expert” in 😉

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 September, 2012, 16:40

    As I have asked many over the years, cite me to one case on point abrogating the contracts clause either sate or fed

    Every BK filed in America BREAKS the contracts clause you dim witted fool 😉

    And there are millions of cause in contract law that “abrogate” contracts for the very reason Mark states, you are just dumber than a bag of rocks and upset that Concorde LS online law degree you have is worthless 🙂

    Reply this comment
  7. John
    John 27 September, 2012, 18:27

    All I can say mr. Canabiss is being it on!!! It will only cost taxpayers money and a defeat. Last I checked, oc deputies won a similar case that court stated “you can’t take something away from employees who were contracted at the time of their careers with such benefits.”

    Reply this comment
  8. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 27 September, 2012, 20:01

    You’re right Poodle– I AM an expert in contracts.

    Have a nice day.

    Reply this comment
  9. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 27 September, 2012, 20:20

    Remember when the Poodle got soooo excited about the Iowa stuff!

    Rex The Wonder Dog! Says:
    July 30, 2012 at 10:40 pm
    http://www.uiowa.edu/~ilr/issues/ILR_97-4_Monahan.pdf

    Hhahahaahahahaa…I predict a change in the law very soon…

    VERY SOON a change in the law!!! LOL Bwa hahahahahaha—- YES the lawsuits are piling up, laws are changing! The sky is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalling!

    0 for 14 ™ OMG

    Reply this comment
  10. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 September, 2012, 20:34

    You’re right Poodle– I AM an expert in contracts.
    ==
    LOL…Teddy, you’re an expert in everything according to you.

    51-0 baby 😉

    Reply this comment
  11. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 27 September, 2012, 20:37

    middleclassunderattack: We edited the article, not because of what you wrote, but to make it more clear. The gist remains, as does your comment. I hadn’t even read your comment when I made the editorial changes. I apologize to you and anyone else who might wonder what happened.

    As to your hypothetical situation with your lender, it’s much the same as with government. If you don’t have the money, you declare bankruptcy and don’t have to pay anything. (Except for student loans, thanks to that stupid 2006 law Republicans in Congress passed and Bush signed banning most student-loan bankruptcies. Even there, you can get out of payment by moving to another country.)

    — John Seiler, Managing Editor

    Reply this comment
  12. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 September, 2012, 20:37

    VERY SOON a change in the law!!! LOL Bwa hahahahahaha—- YES the lawsuits are piling up, laws are changing! The sky is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalling!
    ==
    The change is here Teddy- or did you miss the Stockton BK where the BOND HOILDERS are contesting the BK b/c the city did not negotiate with CalTURDS, AFTER he rukled healthcare CAN be cut…opppsss..there goes that “contracts clause” being broken agaion 🙂 so sad, too bad.

    The Article I BK Judge will rule that the CalTURD ocntracts CAN be broken in BK, and I will be 55-0 😉

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 September, 2012, 20:39

    I’m gonna use that on my mortgage lender, tell them I don’t owe on my house because I signed the purchase agreement with the belief that my income would remain stable, it didn’t so now I’m off the hook…. don’t be an idiot
    ==
    First off it is a “trust deed” in CA, not a “mortgage”, second it is a sales installment contract, not a pension fund that is asset/liability bankrupt……..don’t tell me, you are a GED edcuated cop 🙂 I knew it !!

    Reply this comment
  14. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 September, 2012, 20:42

    If you don’t have the money, you declare bankruptcy and don’t have to pay anything. (Except for student loans, thanks to that stupid 2006 law Republicans in Congress passed and Bush signed banning most student-loan bankruptcies. Even there, you can get out of payment by moving to another country.)
    ==
    It was actually a 1998 law, the 2005 law made the changes apply to PRIVATE student loan lenders, totally unconstitutional but we now live in a banana republic where those with the most $$$ get the laws passed to favor them at the expense of everyone else.

    BTW-the 2005 BK revisions, written 1090% by the banking industry.

    Reply this comment
  15. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 27 September, 2012, 21:03

    Skeel has been selling this nonsense for 2 years….zzzzzzzzzz…….pretty soon the knucklehead John Eastman will be invoked!

    lol

    The skyyyyyyyyyyy is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    must have rattled the poodles cage— I live in his tiny skull!

    0 for 13 ™

    Reply this comment
  16. Tough Love
    Tough Love 28 September, 2012, 08:07

    middleclassunderattack said: …”” The second illusion is the impossibility of performance, that is, the money simply isn’t there to pay excessive pensions”
    I’m gonna use that on my mortgage lender, tell them I don’t owe on my house because I signed the purchase agreement with the belief that my income would remain stable, it didn’t so now I’m off the hook…”

    Bad analogy …. when you stop paying your mortgage, YOU lose YOUR house.

    When the Taxpayers stop funding YOUR pensions YOU lose YOUR pension.

    And it’s not far away

    Greed HAS consequences.

    Reply this comment
  17. Chris Beeman
    Chris Beeman 28 September, 2012, 08:11

    Mark Cabaniss… Great Article! Nice to see someone address this issue validly. It’s really not all that complicated and you have simplified it. I have wondered for some time when the lawyers would key in on “IMPOSSIBILITY OF PERFORMANCE.” It’s basic Contracts 101, not rocket science!

    Reply this comment
  18. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 28 September, 2012, 09:14

    T Lovey— Calpers is 245 bilion today—– so you think it’s going broke soon? You guys are funny. How many times over the last 3-5 years have you guys repeated that warning? And yet the fund just keeps in increasing….

    hmmmmmm

    Reply this comment
  19. a frequent reader
    a frequent reader 28 September, 2012, 10:56

    another enlightening and educated rebuttal…

    Reply this comment
  20. Edward Steele, Chief Investigator
    Edward Steele, Chief Investigator 28 September, 2012, 11:07

    …if not religious

    Reply this comment
  21. Accounting Avenger
    Accounting Avenger 28 September, 2012, 11:14

    The author makes some good arguments but – perhaps unintentionally – implies that reforming the 2% of pensions that are in excess of $100K will fix the financial solvency problem. It would help, of course, to eliminate the grossly over-generous pensions, but not much.

    The real liability is not the 2% of pension over 100K per year, but the 50% of pensions that are over $70,000 per year. That is where real money is being committed.

    When discussing solutions to the pension crisis, a viable option would be to cap all pensions, for current retirees, existing employees, and new hires, at $62,500 per year. That amount is not selected randomly – it is exactly TWICE the MAXIMUM benefit someone can earn under social security. At the same time, to earn the full $62,500 benefit, one would have to retire at age 58 or later, a DECADE earlier than social security recipients retire.

    That, plus an increased employee contribution to fund what would still be a quite precarious financial arrangement, would go a long way towards solving the problem without eliminating defined benefits entirely. To cap pension at $100K does nothing but sound good.

    Reply this comment
  22. Robert Mitchell, Pension Actuary
    Robert Mitchell, Pension Actuary 28 September, 2012, 11:22

    Ed Steele: you have no sense of ownership here. My account at the bank is much lower than the money they have, (duh), but they won’t let me use other people’s money to pay my bills. Well, CalPERS has lots of money, just like my bank, but it already belongs to others, and there is not enough to pay all their liabilities without taking money from others. Underfunded pensions: figure out what that means.

    Reply this comment
  23. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 28 September, 2012, 12:08

    “And for the record, over HALF of that 2% are GED educated cops, prison guards and firewhiners-not “high-level management positions”.

    OK Rex, put up or shut up. Where is the documentation for your statement, quoted above. I will bet you that there is not one retiree in that category that never had one day of education past a GED–it would be a very doubtful circumstance, I believe.

    I hope the day comes, when I can see the look on your face, if it turns out that “Ted” is a retired judge. I would love it!

    Reply this comment
  24. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 12:56

    Actually seesaw, 80% OF all cops hired in major metro areas have only a HS diploma or a GED-ask Mark Furman of LAPD how he was hired with JUST A GED!!!!!!!!!

    If Teddy is a retire judge I am a monkey uncle 😉

    Reply this comment
  25. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 12:57

    cause of the problem is fornication. Abortion is just the result. But nobody want to reason from cause to effect. Loving the sin, but hating the sinner

    Oh brother-Teddy you have crossed the line here with your new gimmick account 😉

    Reply this comment
  26. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 28 September, 2012, 13:37

    Rex, you show no documentation to support your claim that over half of the two percent of CalPERS retirees, earning $100,000+ retirements were those who had no more than GED educations. Hiring is one thing; retiring as a high-level manager is another thing. Opnions are one thing; facts are another.

    Reply this comment
  27. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 28 September, 2012, 14:13

    Accounting Avenger, where is documentation that shows 50% of all the pensions are over $70,000/yr? The average pension amount for over 500,000 CalPERS beneficiares is $2332/mo. I don’t see how that could be, if over half make $70,000+. You can’t take the pensions of those making over $100K and cut them down ro $62,500 without cutting down the lower pensions too. You would see my $50,000 pension cut down to $30,000. Sorry–no can do. The pensions that were earned and caluculated legally are what they are–you cannot cut them down now. The cap recently put on future pensions by the Legislature is proper, and will prevent future mega pensions. All the current actives have been paying more–are going to be paying still more. You have drawn all the blood from actives and retirees that you are going to get.

    Reply this comment
  28. John Dickerson
    John Dickerson 28 September, 2012, 14:32

    The political path to reform is pretty clear. Fairly strong reform – nearly as strong a possible in a local California government – passed in San Jose and San Diego 70% to 30% this past summer. Here in Mendocino County a couple years ago the County tried to raise the sales tax 1/2% for 10 years “to preserve vital public services in these tough economic times”. We demonstrated the tax increase would be ENTIRELY consumed by increased unfunded pension debt payments within 3 years. (Turns out it would have been consumed in 2.) We converted the issue into a vote of no confidence in our County’s financial management – and the tax increase lost, yes – 70% no to 30% yes.

    Over HALF the people who voted for Barack Obama and Jerry Brown in those 2 cities and in Mendocino County voted FOR pension reform and AGAINST tax increases when they were seen as PENSION TAXES.

    THAT’S THE POLITICAL PATH TO REFORM. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in California by about 2 million if I recall correctly. Moderate Democrats are the political center of gravity in the state. You can’t get Moderate Democrats to simply vote against unions, and they will vote again for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney this year – they won’t follow the Ayn Rand or Tea Party line.

    BUT – here’s what they will accept.

    Government officials have these duties to all the people:

    1) Tell us the important truths about our government finances.
    2) Manage Our Public Money competently and transparently.
    3) Protect and build our governments’ financil strength.
    4) Don’t screw our kids.

    These aren’t conservative, liberal, libertarian or progressive values. They are so “Mom and Apple Pie” that most people no matter what their politics accept them on face value.

    Each has been spectacularly violated by public officials all across California for decades and this huge irresponsible destructive debt is the result.

    The political path to reform is to recast these issues as “good government” issues – and make reform in the same spirit as those of the “real” Progressive Era in the 1890’s into the 1900’s.

    The longer this issue goes on the more the Democratic Party will be torn in half with the dominant union leaders demanding continued subservience of most leading statewide Democratic Party leaders and reformist Democrats more and more resentful of the destruction of our governments’ ability to provide the services that we as Democrats value because of the failure of public officials to do their duty to all the people.

    The recent AB340 signed by Jerry Brown is trivial compared to the scale of the problem. The Legislature is fated to have this crisis thrown right back in their faces.

    Gina Raimondo – Rhode Island’s Democratic Treasurer who led the most amazing pension reform effort in this country’s history – said it took the very real crisis such as in the City of Central Falls to bring it home to public employees, retirees, and the public that things were about to go off the cliff. Services were slashed and the city CUT PENSIONS IN HALF!!!

    The RI Legislature passed 4 “pension reform” bills since 2005 – none of them solved the crisis. That’s what we’re going to see in California.

    Our crisis will get worse and worse – and there will come a day maybe 5 years from now – maybe sooner, maybe later – when millions of Californians will finally “get it” that we are about to go off the cliff.

    That’s when real change will happen.

    History is full of examples that when a debt is too big to be paid – it doesn’t get paid. Most of today’s public union leadership is myopic, self-centered, intentionally blind, arrogant, bullying – and is leading their members deeper and deeper into disaster.

    Pension debt IS GOING TO BE WRITTEN DOWN. And – there will be fewer public employees than would have been getting lower salaries, some taxes will go up, and one way or another employees must take on much more of the risk associated with the failure of Pension Funds to perform.

    Ten years from now people will look back and view California’s dominant politicians and union leaders of today as playing Nero – fiddling while Rome burned.

    John Dickerson
    http://www.YourPublicMoney.com

    Reply this comment
  29. Accounting Avenger
    Accounting Avenger 28 September, 2012, 15:51

    SeeSaw – your average, a number intentionally spread by the pension funds and the public sector union spokespersons, is based on including people who only worked a few years and barely qualified for a small pension, as well as people who retired 15+ years ago before the base pay and pension formulas were elevated to today’s levels.

    If you want to consider the average going forward, which is what we have to fund, you have to look at today’s benefits for people who completed a 30+ year career in public service. Here is the data:

    CalPERS Annual Financial Report FYE 6-30-2011, page 153
    http://www.calpers.ca.gov/eip-docs/about/pubs/comprehensive-annual-fina-report-2011.pdf

    CalSTRS Annual Financial Report FYE 6-30-2010, page 149
    http://www.calstrs.com/help/forms_publications/printed/CurrentCAFR/cafr_2011.pdf

    If you go to the referenced pages you will see that the AVERAGE pension for people who retired after 30 years work (private sector workers typically log more than 40 years before retiring), and who retired in the past few years after benefits were enhanced, is nearly $70,000 per year.

    Reply this comment
  30. Dexter Ward
    Dexter Ward 28 September, 2012, 16:09

    As the citizenry begins to feel the effects of diminishing public services and a corresponding decrease in public safety, even the $50k to $99.99k public pensioner will be seen as an unjustly rewarded beneficiary of past fiscal misfeasance. At that point, it will be argued that those public employees are not unlike accessories to theft. Those “inviolable” contracts will then be voided by duly elected, or appointed, courts.

    Reply this comment
  31. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 16:17

    BUT – here’s what they will accept.

    Government officials have these duties to all the people:
    1) Tell us the important truths about our government finances.
    2) Manage Our Public Money competently and transparently.
    3) Protect and build our governments’ financil strength.
    4) Don’t screw our kids.
    These aren’t conservative, liberal, libertarian or progressive values. They are so “Mom and Apple Pie” that most people no matter what their politics accept them on face value.

    Best post I have ever seen here………….

    Reply this comment
  32. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 28 September, 2012, 18:20

    John Dickersen is way more correct than the lawyer who posted out here hungry for clients with his stone cold loser legal ideas of contract relief. The ballot box with lawful reforms for newer employees and col bargaining is where the pol process lives. It does not live in the courtroom almost by definition.

    Reply this comment
  33. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 28 September, 2012, 18:24

    …although jeeeesh John….you are a bit over the top doom and gloomy re the bigger funds…………

    discuss

    Reply this comment
  34. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 28 September, 2012, 18:28

    Poodle– Can you please retype this so normal humans with educations can read it?

    The change is here Teddy- or did you miss the Stockton BK where the BOND HOILDERS are contesting the BK b/c the city did not negetiate with CalTURDS, AFTER he rukled healthcare CAN be cut…opppsss..there goes that “contracts clause” being broken agaion ?????

    YIKES

    The sky is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    0 for 13 ™ lol

    Reply this comment
  35. Ted Steele
    Ted Steele 28 September, 2012, 18:59

    As in Vallejo, much of the savings sought in the Stockton bankruptcy plan would come through eliminating bond payments

    oh my

    0 for 14 on 11-7-12 ™

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  36. Tough Love
    Tough Love 28 September, 2012, 19:22

    Wow Teddy, 4 in a row. Is this how your envisioned spending your twilight years ?

    Reply this comment
  37. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 28 September, 2012, 19:22

    Why should the little guy government employee get ripped off losing his health insurance and pension?

    Republicans like dropping the innocent off cliffs????

    Reply this comment
  38. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 19:32

    #1- Vallejo did not stiff bond holder 100 cents on the dollar, which is what Stockton is doing.

    #2- Stockton has bond insurers who will spend $10 million on legal fess at the blink of an eye and not think twice about it. And will win-cutting pensions, just as the cut the healthcare, same legal theory GED boi!

    62-0 BABY! 😉

    Reply this comment
  39. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 19:36

    SeeSaw – your average, a number intentionally spread by the pension funds and the public sector union spokespersons, is based on including people who only worked a few years and barely qualified for a small pension, as well as people who retired 15+ years ago before the base pay and pension formulas were elevated to today’s levels.
    If you want to consider the average going forward, which is what we have to fund, you have to look at today’s benefits for people who completed a 30+ year career in public service.
    If you go to the referenced pages you will see that the AVERAGE pension for people who retired after 30 years work (private sector workers typically log more than 40 years before retiring), and who retired in the past few years after benefits were enhanced, is nearly $70,000 per year.

    LOL..seesaw knows this, dont bother her with facts, her brain cannot compute them 😉

    Reply this comment
  40. Douglas
    Douglas 28 September, 2012, 19:37

    I hope “accounting avenger” is just a screen name and not a profession.

    A 30+ year career in state service represents only about 20% of retirees. The AVERAGE retiree has only 20 years service and will be more representative of future costs.

    And most state workers also have 40 year careers before they retire, they are just not all in state service.

    Reply this comment
  41. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 19:40

    Robert Mitchell, Pension Actuary says:
    Ed Steele: you have no sense of ownership here. My account at the bank is much lower than the money they have, (duh), but they won’t let me use other people’s money to pay my bills. Well, CalPERS has lots of money, just like my bank, but it already belongs to others, and there is not enough to pay all their liabilities without taking money from others. Underfunded pensions: figure out what that means.

    KaBAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Robert knocks Teddy out for the 10 count!!!!!!!

    Teddy-read Roberts last sentence and go educate yourself son. Here, let me quote it for you ; “Underfunded pensions: figure out what that means.

    Reply this comment
  42. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 19:44

    Accounting Avenger says:

    The real liability is not the 2% of pension over 100K per year, but the 50% of pensions that are over $70,000 per year. That is where real money is being committed.
    When discussing solutions to the pension crisis, a viable option would be to cap all pensions, for current retirees, existing employees, and new hires, at $62,500 per year. That amount is not selected randomly – it is exactly TWICE the MAXIMUM benefit someone can earn under social security. At the same time, to earn the full $62,500 benefit, one would have to retire at age 58 or later, a DECADE earlier than social security recipients retire.

    Damn Accounting Avenger-you have come up with an AWESOME plan, never saw or heard of it before and it is an excellent solution.
    You are the smartest person here-Kudos and Props.

    Reply this comment
  43. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 28 September, 2012, 20:00

    Do you actually think by demeaning government service workers your respected by fellow posters?

    Your rants are a disgrace and ugly.

    Reply this comment
  44. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 28 September, 2012, 20:05

    Accounting Avenger–That average group of new retirees, that you state are getting $70,000 yr, is a cherry picked group which is a small percentage of all of the those who retired at the same time. The average pension for all those retirees, who retired in 2011 is $3065/mo. What really matters to the pension providers is the bottom line–What is the total outlay? One person might be getting $70,000, but hundreds more are getting $30,000, and thousands more are getting even less.

    Reply this comment
  45. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 28 September, 2012, 20:07

    Way to stay classy Rex–just make a personal insult when you are at a loss for anything else to say. I did make it through two years college and I have pretty good reading comprehension–I am all about the truth with facts–not spinning the facts.

    Reply this comment
  46. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 September, 2012, 20:27

    My God it’s fun to spin up the trolls!

    Reply this comment
  47. Tough Love
    Tough Love 28 September, 2012, 20:42

    Ulysses Uhaul said …”Why should the little guy government employee get ripped off losing his health insurance and pension?”

    Taxpayer reneging on 50+% of your promised pensions & retiree heathcare is both just and appropriate because:

    (a) The value of your pensions & benefits, when added to your cash pay (i.e., your “Total Compensation”) far exceeds that of a similarly situated Private Sector worker. That is unnecessary to attract and retain a qualified workforce and is grossly unfair to taxpayers
    (b) all of your pension contributions (INCLUDING investment income earned thereon) rarely accumulates to a sum at retirement sufficient to buy more than 10-20% of your VERY generous pension. TAXPAYER contributions (and the earnings thereon) pay for the 80-90% balance.
    (c) NEITHER side at the “negotiating table” is appropriately looking out for TAXPAYER interests. The more management gives YOU, the more THEY get.
    (d) Public Sector Union Campaign contributions and election support are traded for favorable votes on pay, pensions, and benefits. In any other venue, this would be criminal bribery.
    (e) The cost to fully fund your grossly excessive promised pensions cannot be paid for with any combination acceptable tax increases, further service cuts, or employee contribution increases.

    Your Pensions & Heathcare benefits must be cut, and for CURRENT, not just new workers.

    Reply this comment
  48. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 September, 2012, 21:26

    T Lovey—

    A- who said there had to be ANY relationship between public and private pay when the contracts were signed and BEFORE the work was done? LOL NO ONE! I love these clownish ideas. Are we in a post legal common sense age with the tea bag set?

    B- The system worked for 80 years…..75% is paid from the fund….new members come in every day…

    C- Management bargains hard for the tax payer– you are whining after the fact– run for something and get to the table little fella!

    D-I guess you want to curtail Constitutional freedom of association doctrine– good luck with that!

    E- Reforms, new tiers, increased employee contributions will do the trick.

    Sorry— You live in a land of laws. Work it out.

    Reply this comment
  49. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 21:31

    T-Love= +1
    Teddy Steals= 0

    Set game and match to TL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  50. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 21:32

    D-I guess you want to curtail Constitutional freedom of association doctrine– good luck with that!
    ==
    LOL…first contracts-now Teddy Steals is a con law expert…I LOVE it.

    There is no constitutional right to public employee unions or collective bargaining.

    ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz……..

    Reply this comment
  51. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 21:33

    And TL you’re a fool to even engage Troll Teddy……………

    Reply this comment
  52. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 28 September, 2012, 21:50

    Poodle knows it’s foolish because I have owned him for years! OUCH!!!!

    0 for 13! ™

    Reply this comment
  53. Ted Steele, toilet cleaner
    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner 28 September, 2012, 22:08

    However, a mere two weeks later on April 12, 1937, in the case of N.L.R.B. v. Jones & Laughlin Steel upholding the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act, the Court referred to the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively as a “fundamental right.” Again writing for the majority, Chief Justice Hughes first quotes Section 7 of the N.L.R.A. and then describes its meaning:
    “Section 7. Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
    Thus, in its present application, the statute goes no further than to safeguard the right of employees to self-organization and to select representatives of their own choosing for collective bargaining or other mutual protection without restraint or coercion by their employer.

    That is a fundamental right. Employees have as clear a right to organize and select their representatives for lawful purposes as the respondent has to organize its business and select its own officers and agents. Discrimination and coercion to prevent the free exercise of the right of employees to self-organization and representation is a proper subject for condemnation by competent legislative authority.

    POOR POODLE— 0 for 14 ™ !!!

    Reply this comment
  54. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 23:12

    Teddy, copy and paste is so boring, and of course your comment and case are not on point……

    Reply this comment
  55. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 23:14

    The National Labor Relations Act, NLRA, or Wagner Act (after its sponsor, New York Senator Robert F. Wagner) (Pub.L. 74-198, 49 Stat. 449, codified as amended at 29 U.S.C. § 151–169), is a 1935 United States federal law that protects the rights of employees in the private sector to engage in concerted activity.

    God I am so ashamed of spanking you so badly in public so many times, it hurts me 🙂

    Reply this comment
  56. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 September, 2012, 23:15

    75-0 😉

    Reply this comment
  57. Ted Steele, toilet cleaner
    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner 29 September, 2012, 06:53

    too bad you missed the point and understand little con law.

    Reply this comment
  58. Ted Steele, toilet cleaner
    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner 29 September, 2012, 06:57

    You have to ask yourself, if you don’t know, –Chapter 9 section 903?

    oh my

    0 for 14 ™

    Reply this comment
  59. Ted Steele, toilet cleaner
    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner 29 September, 2012, 07:11

    I think you spanked yourself again little buddy!

    Darn!

    Reply this comment
  60. Tough Love
    Tough Love 29 September, 2012, 07:14

    Teddy, Looks like the Stockton Bankruptcy Court action will wait till early next year, but if the 2 Bond insurers win their fight and the Pensions are cut (the future service of current workers and/or the pensions of retirees), the floodgates of such actions will open wide.

    But even if they lose, the endgame will be that the older workers and retirees such as yourself, by taking WAY more that a fair share, will have royally screwed the younger actives (that they claim to support) out of their pensions as Plan failure is mathematically all but assured.

    Reply this comment
  61. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 09:17

    “Teddy, Looks like the Stockton Bankruptcy Court action will wait till early next year, but if the 2 Bond insurers win their fight and the Pensions are cut (the future service of current workers and/or the pensions of retirees), the floodgates of such actions.”
    ==
    If they are cut???????????????/
    You KNOW they will be CUT, and I have $100 backing that up 😉

    Reply this comment
  62. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 09:41

    68-0 BABY! 😉

    Reply this comment
  63. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 09:44

    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner says:

    September 29, 2012 at 6:53 am

    too bad you missed the point and understand little con law.
    ======

    🙂

    I know it is hard to admit you were spanked as to the NLRB, Jones and PRIVATE SECTOR companies Teddy, and that is why I love you mil buddy, you can NEVER admit when you’re wrong, which s basically evertime you post lil buddy 😉

    Reply this comment
  64. Ted Steele, toilet cleaner
    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner 29 September, 2012, 10:28

    LOL A Poodle melt down! Again! Poodle—- Do you get paid by the melt down?

    Reply this comment
  65. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 10:35

    Teddy, you were PROVEN wrong lil buddy, you know it, I know it and everyone else does too.

    Go back to GED cop school and educate yourself 🙂

    Reply this comment
  66. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 10:36

    That brings me up to 69-0!!!

    Reply this comment
  67. Queeg
    Queeg 29 September, 2012, 11:02

    Poodle is the joke of CWD. His laborious posts are not worth your time…roll on by them to Teddy’s posts of substantive analytical analysis on topics relavent to a better collective life for all Californians.

    Reply this comment
  68. Ted Steele, toilet cleaner
    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner 29 September, 2012, 12:46

    Queeg– You are too kind.

    Reply this comment
  69. Queeg
    Queeg 29 September, 2012, 12:53

    Teddy. Keep it going. Insult the apricot poodle and there will be over 100 posts.

    Reply this comment
  70. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 13:07

    Love it-Teddy having a convo with his sock puppet!

    I WIN AGAIN 77-0 baby 😉

    Reply this comment
  71. Ted Steele, toilet cleaner
    Ted Steele, toilet cleaner 29 September, 2012, 13:43

    I love that you think the folks who run this blog are so stupid they have missed that I violate there rules by multiple accounts! They’re not.

    You are so paranoid you think about 4 of the people out here are me! LOVE IT !

    If you win in November you’ll be 1 for 14 ™ little buddy! You remain THE most consistently wrong poster on the blog! You provide alot of humor value for the rest of us…Carry on!

    Reply this comment
  72. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 16:08

    81-1 on Nov 6 BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Say hello to your sock puppets for me.

    Reply this comment
  73. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 29 September, 2012, 18:34

    LOL Like a box ‘o rocks!

    Reply this comment
  74. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 29 September, 2012, 22:14

    🙂

    Reply this comment
  75. Queeg
    Queeg 30 September, 2012, 00:37

    Does not take much to get the natty apricot poodle to whine and beg for attention from the truly gifted and enlightened posters like Ted the Sage.

    By the way #30 and #38 are win win for California. They are just dang winners!

    Reply this comment
  76. Tough Love
    Tough Love 30 September, 2012, 06:53

    Quoting Queeg ….”…the truly gifted and enlightened posters like Ted the Sage.”

    Thanks …. the laugh of the day !

    Reply this comment
  77. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 September, 2012, 08:23

    **By the way #30 and #38 are win win for California. They are just dang winners!**

    $100 Teddy-put up or shut up 😉

    BTW TL, Queeg is Teddy’s sock puppet.

    Reply this comment
  78. Queeg
    Queeg 30 September, 2012, 13:52

    Poodle::::: YAP YAP YAP……whine……moan…..YAP YAP YAP…..no ideas….no solutions….a ZERO in the grand scheme of events.

    Reply this comment
  79. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 30 September, 2012, 16:23

    Yes Queeg– to be exact….. he is………………….wait for it……………………0 for 13 ™ !!!

    Reply this comment
  80. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 September, 2012, 16:54

    88-0!!!!!!!!!!!!11

    89-0 Nov 6, 2012 😉

    Reply this comment
  81. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 30 September, 2012, 19:09

    LOL He is having delusions again! I may have to keep beating him with the archives of his 13 failed predictions— yet again!!!!

    0 for 13 ™

    Hey Poodle— Who’s going to win the Pres????? LOL

    Reply this comment
  82. Tough Love
    Tough Love 30 September, 2012, 19:40

    I can’t wait until the elections are over.

    Perhaps you guys will go into hibernation for a few years.

    Reply this comment
  83. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 September, 2012, 21:06

    Tough……lighten…..how on earth can you take all these dark articles and demented posts seriously?

    Take a few at the Poodle…..you will have life burdens lifted almost instantly….you will even sleep better!

    Reply this comment
  84. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 September, 2012, 22:42

    Teddy- glad to se you took sock puppet Uhaul out for a spin today 😉

    Reply this comment
  85. Justin Wonder
    Justin Wonder 10 October, 2012, 07:46

    The irony of Rex accusing others of using surrogates when it was Rex who was caught red handed in a San Diego Reader blog doing just that a few years ago…Rex, A.K.A. JohnnyVegas AND BillyBobHenry finally decided on using Surfpuppy619 on that blog, On other sites he’s uses the current persona of Rex… I give him credit for being able to keep all those different accounts straight in his head. It’s akin to some type of multiple personality disorder.

    Reply this comment
  86. PenT
    PenT 7 April, 2015, 09:40

    Your entire article is a delusion. Your knowledge of public contracts is nil and your conclusions defy logic. Good luck with your quest to destroy public pensions you are on a long a frutiless journey.

    Reply this comment

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