Kamala Harris’ Misuse of Power

Steven Greenhut: I know it’s naive, but state attorney generals are supposed to provide fair ballot summaries for proposed initiatives, but in recent years AGs use their power to destroy initiatives they don’t like by describing them improperly and even employing utter falsehoods. Former AG Bill Lockyer was notoriously bad in this manner, which not only spoke volumes about his character, but undermined the electoral process. Now Kamala Harris is showing herself to be even worse than Lockyer. If she can’t even try to be fair in providing a ballot title, what’s the chance she is fair in promoting justice as the state’s top law-enforcement official?

Here is a statement from California Pension Reform regarding Harris’ despicable misuse of power regarding a pension reform initiative:

Dan Pellissier, President of California Pension Reform (CPR), today responded to the Attorney General’s title and summary of CPR’s initiative proposals.

“Californians know our public pension system is broken and voters overwhelmingly support pension reform.   Our measures are a responsible way to rein in out-of-control government pensions that are robbing services like public safety and higher education. We are confident that voters will see through the Attorney General’s biased and misleading ballot statement. A vast majority of Californians, including union members and the Governor, support pension reform and we look forward to providing voters an opportunity to fix our broken pension system.”

While the Attorney General accurately describes parts of the initiatives, she provides other statements that are either provably false or grossly misleading:

1. “Reduces pension benefits for current and future public employees…”

This is an absolutely false statement. The proposals do not change pension benefits for current employees. The proposals simply require current employees to pay more for future benefits and then only if the fund is at risk of not being able to pay the employees the benefits they are due.

2. “… including teachers, nurses, and peace officers, but excluding judges.”

The AG selectively lists three positive poll-tested jobs out of thousands of government employee job classifications when both measures apply to all public employees, except constitutionally-protected judges.

3. “Prohibits public retirement systems from providing death or disability benefits to future employees.”

The AG includes the words “prohibits” and “death or disability benefits” in the same sentence when our measures actually specifically provide for those benefits. To avoid any confusion about death and disability benefits, both initiatives say:

“Sec 12 (d) All government agencies that provide pension or other retirement benefits for their government employees may also separately provide death and disability benefits for the benefit of their government employees, regardless of the date of hire.  The cost of such death and disability benefits is not subject to the cost limitations established in this section.”

 4. “Over the next two or three decades, either increased annual costs or annual savings in state and local government personnel costs, depending on how this measure is interpreted and administered.”

The AG repeats the LAO’s misleading analysis that would require the state to maintain a system that Governor Brown rightly calls a “Ponzi scheme.” The LAO acknowledges that the proposals do not necessarily increase costs and fails to recognize that these proposals would immediately begin to pay down the state’s hundreds of billions of dollars in pension debt. The mounting debt would be paid off by shifting more of the costs to the employees, not the state.

JAN. 10, 2012


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  1. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 10 January, 2012, 14:14

    What do you expect? These leeches will do whatever it takes to fight legitimate pension reform even if it means putting propoganda and falsehoods in official ballot summaries that are supposed to be protected and held sacred by law. They want you to survive off social security in your old age while they live the high life on big 80%, 90% or 100% pensions – so you can finance both your retirement and theirs simultaneously.

    Even if the initiatives are approved there’s a better than not chance that the courts will strike them down. After all, California judges are part of the pension system too. They were able to dismiss the retroactive pension suit, right??? What makes you think that they won’t strike this down too???

    Reply this comment
  2. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 10 January, 2012, 16:34

    Let’s hope the courts sort out the wording. But this is another indication that California has been teaching North Korea how to govern.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  3. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 10 January, 2012, 19:34

    John, Steve and the gang wouldn’t be happy unless Attorney General Harris copied the language for the initiative directly from the pages of CalWatchDog. And then they’d bitch because she didn’t do it sooner.

    Maybe the real reason they don’t like Ms. Harris is because she has the courage to go after white collar criminals and government contractors who are robbing taxpayers of billions of dollars a year

    Here’s an example: Last year, Ms. Harris nailed medical laboratory giant Quest Diagnostics for more than $240 MILLION for overcharging taxpayers through the MediCal program.

    But while the good folks at the Watchdog and their supporters will howl with indignation at the first suggestion of someone getting Food Stamps illegally, there was no mention of this huge fraud against the people of California–until now. I wonder why.

    Reply this comment
  4. Oliver
    Oliver 12 January, 2012, 10:26

    If I have learned on thing it is that the wording of the ballot measure means nothing. What matters in CA is who has the most money to put the most ads on TV. Generelly speaking the unions win because they have the most money and no ethics. They lie on TV about ballot measures and use any and all types of propaganda to sway voters.

    Sadly this has been a very effective tactic in our once great state. The ignorance of the voting public has allowed theses leaches to amass great wealth and power at the expense of the ordinary citizen.

    RIP California it was great knowing you.

    Reply this comment

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