Obscure state agency continues assault on direct democracy

jerry.brown.peopleFeb. 13, 2013

By Chris Reed

Jerry Brown’s nonstop self-accolades for his alleged genius in bringing California back to solid ground are rather dubious. But it is with pensions that Brown’s self-congratulation is most incoherent. While he congratulates himself for achieving moderate pension reform via the Legislature last summer, his appointees continue their anti-reform rampage on the state Public Employment Relations Board.

On Tuesday night, the latest PERB outrage arrived with the release of a ruling from a PERB administrative law judge which gives labor unions a leg up in their push to invalidate Proposition B, the unprecedentedly ambitious pension reform measure approved by San Diego voters in a landslide last June. The judge held that state courts should find the measure illegal because city officials should have engaged in collective bargaining with city labor unions before pursuing a ballot initiative, a ruling in keeping with PERB’s emerging view that collective bargaining trumps state law.

Brown appointees go where no bureaucrats have gone before

As I detailed for CalWatchDog.com in September, the radicalization of PERB came as an unexpected consequence of the California Nurses Association’s war with Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The CNA was furious with PERB for preventing illegal strikes at UC hospitals as a tactic to win raises, and the union got Brown to install former CNA counsel M. Suzanne Murphy as PERB’s general counsel, and to appoint union-beholden members to the agency’s governing board.

The result of this turnover has been much more than the CNA getting its way on a new contract. Instead, it’s resulted in a widening of the war on direct democracy from the California Attorney General’s Office, whose Democratic occupants always write dishonest ballot language to undercut initiatives that unions don’t like; and from a previously obscure government bureaucracy:

“In February 2012, PERB’s radical change in course first became apparent when the agency for the first time in California history sought to keep a pending San Diego pension reform ballot measure from going before voters in June. Murphy’s argument held that, because elected officials in San Diego were involved in drafting the measure, it amounted to an attempt to circumvent and thus violate union collective bargaining rights — even though the San Diego City Council had taken a stand against the measure and it had been organized by private groups.

“This argument, if upheld, arguably would set a precedent under which elected officials could never join in ballot petition campaigns to try to force changes in government policies, because such changes would have affected employees, and thus needed to be collectively bargained.”

Dan Borenstein’s recent column underscores another example of Brown’s incoherence on pensions. In his bizarre effort to declare California’s structural deficit as having vanished, the governor simply ignores the vast underfunding of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. By doing so, he makes the problem more intractable, as Borenstein detailed in his Bay Area News Group op-ed:

“Gov. Jerry Brown’s claim that he balanced his proposed 2013-14 budget ignores that he’s driving the state teacher pension system deeper into debt by shortchanging it at least $4.5 billion.

“Teachers will almost certainly receive retirement payments they have earned. It’s our children, the next generation of taxpayers, who will suffer. They will be stuck with an astronomical bill we should be paying now.”

But at least Brown doesn’t have to stop patting himself on the back if he ignores CalSTRS’ woes.

San Diego city attorney: Real judges will do right thing

As for PERB, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith predicted in an email Tuesday night that the administrative law judge’s ruling would be seen as a rogue act and wouldn’t hold up in court — a real court, not the PERB kangaroo court.

“We expected it. Barely mentioned are the 120,000 voters who signed petitions to get Prop B on the ballot and had a constitutional right to have it placed on the ballot or the voters who approved it last June,” Goldsmith wrote. “We look forward to returning to the courts where the constitution and the rule of law applies. Recall that PERB filed a lawsuit to stop the city from placing Prop B on the ballot and proceeded to lose three attempts to get an injunction in court; then, PERB dismissed its lawsuit.”

Goldsmith did a good job in an op-ed last summer of exposing the absurdity of the PERB stance:

“Citizen initiatives have been around for over 100 years. Yet never before has any initiative that qualified for the ballot through petition signatures been deemed a ‘sham’ citizen initiative. Governors (including Jerry Brown on his current tax initiative), mayors and other political leaders have regularly supported citizen initiatives and never has that support rendered those citizen initiatives ‘shams.’

“Since 1911, the right to place citizen initiatives on the ballot through voter petitions has been a constitutional right in California reserved by the people to bypass politicians and special interests. This right is not conditioned upon the approval of those special interests and is not something to be bargained over.”

The issue the San Diego city attorney identifies is even bigger than pension reform. It’s likely that the Yale Law School graduate who governs this state understands this.

But Jerry Brown would rather pretend he’s figured out how to make California thrive than acknowledge the undemocratic ways his appointees are behaving at the state Public Employment Relations Board.


Write a comment
  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 13 February, 2013, 15:06

    Gosh, some labor union patronage appointee has ruled against reining in runaway public employee pensions. I’m stunned!

    Who could’a seen THAT coming?!?!

    Reply this comment
  2. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 13 February, 2013, 15:06

    If the agency is stacked with public union cronies then there is a problem, because judges, even ALJ’s, take an oath to uphold the law, apply it fairly and without prejudice.

    ALJ’s are not part of the judicial branch, they are executive branch and as stated only advisory.

    Reply this comment
  3. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 14 February, 2013, 20:46

    The PERB made the correct decision and I hope the Court follows suit.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 15 February, 2013, 07:46

    seesaw, you are such a laugh!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  5. Tough Love
    Tough Love 15 February, 2013, 07:50

    Richard ….. well stated !

    Reply this comment
  6. Tough Love
    Tough Love 15 February, 2013, 07:54

    No Rex, SeeSaw just doesn’t understand that “needing” the full amount of her pension to pay her bills (and hers being modest in dollar terms) still doesn’t justify a pension that is likely AT LEAST double what the pension of the comparable Private Sector worker would be.

    Reply this comment
  7. eatingdogfood
    eatingdogfood 15 February, 2013, 08:13

    If The Democrats Didn’t Give ” Sweetheart Deals ” To Your Public Service Union.
    Goon Employees To Get Reelected; You Would Have Plenty Of Money and The.
    Taxpayer would have Some Spare Change in His Pockets! Democratic Hustler
    Politicians + Corrupt Union Goons = BANKRUPTCY BABY! Time To Bring.
    RICO Conspiracy Charges Against The Hustler Corrupt Democrats and the.
    Criminal Unions!

    Reply this comment
  8. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 15 February, 2013, 08:40

    You shouldn’t continually try to mix apples and oranges, TL. The private sector is free to begin bringing the pensions of their workers up to the standards of the public sector, anytime. Meg Whitman pocketed fifteen million dollars in stock options last year, while her company did not make a profit. That is what you should be talking about. Let the corporations start sharing some of those profits with their employees.

    Reply this comment
  9. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 15 February, 2013, 09:03

    I don’t understand about pensions, TL? You have been in New Jersey too long. You sit up there in your crow’s nest with your little binoculors, spying on us in California, and think you have a right to judge how much or not how much we deserved or did not deserve. You are just a wannabe dictator.

    Reply this comment
  10. Tough Love
    Tough Love 15 February, 2013, 09:18

    SeeSaw, the grossly excessive pension problem isn’t just in CA and NJ and Ill, etc.

    It’s universal to all States & Cities & municipalities with self-interested politicians negotiating DB plan benefits (supposedly) on behalf of the Taxpayers.

    A radical re-set … 50-75% lower than current benefits is necessary EVERYWHERE, and the soon one BIG Plan fails the sooner these re-sets will take place. I’m doing my part to help make that happen ASAP.

    Either we do so or we become Greece.

    Reply this comment
  11. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 15 February, 2013, 10:05

    I just love it when Chris Reed gets his panties in a knot! Even tools like Jan Goldsmith know that state laws, such as the Meyers-Milius-Brown Act, have legal precedence over local municipal ordinances. That is true even if the local ordinance was voted on by 100% of the voters.

    This whole issue was caused because Mayor Sanders and his lawyer Jan Goldsmith intentionally bypassed the meet and confer requirements of state law and tried to do the old “end around” via a local ballot proposition, which they both drafted and supported with the resources and status of their elected offices.

    A “real court” will uphold the ALJ decision. Count on it.

    Reply this comment
  12. Tough Love
    Tough Love 15 February, 2013, 13:36

    Skippy, When Taxpayers here the words “meet and confer” in the context of Public Sector Union negotiations, they know they are about to be screwed again.

    Public Sector Unions are a CANCER on Society and should be outlawed.

    Reply this comment
  13. Gary Felien
    Gary Felien 15 February, 2013, 17:44

    This disgusting ruling at least has the positive side of showing gov unions contempt for voters and democracy. When this case goes from the kangaroo union court to a real court, democracy will prevail.

    Reply this comment
  14. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 15 February, 2013, 20:26

    TL: PREJUDICED!!!!!!!!!!!!! HATER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  15. Tough Love
    Tough Love 15 February, 2013, 20:54

    SeeSaw, Your “entitlement mentality” has no bounds.

    Reply this comment
  16. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 15 February, 2013, 23:18

    I’m surprised by you, Tough Love. When I hear the words “end around,” I always think it’s you preparing for some love….

    Reply this comment
  17. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 16 February, 2013, 05:41

    Hahahhaa….Skippy is a funny guy-hey Skippy hoew is that lawsuit going lil buddy>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> BTW Nice pad you have there.

    Reply this comment
  18. Tough Love
    Tough Love 16 February, 2013, 05:43

    Skippy, “Love” is ALL Public Sector workers (Current included) with ONLY DC Plans with a Taxpayer “match” no greater than that typically granted Private Sector workers by their employers.

    Reply this comment
  19. Tough Love
    Tough Love 16 February, 2013, 10:52

    Skippy, Follow-up …. “Exceptional Love” is a re-set (by a reduction of at least 50%) of the pensions of Public Sector retirees to the level which would likely have been granted in true arms-length negotiations (with one side at that “bargaining table” truly looking out for TAXPAYER interests) and in the absence of the collusion between the Public Sector Unions and our self-serving, vote-selling, contribution-soliciting Elected Representatives.

    Reply this comment
  20. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 17 February, 2013, 13:20

    TL – It is fortunate that our laws prevent the kind of knee-jerk solutions you continually advocate on these boards. Even your home state of NJ rejects the ideas proposed by you and Bury, so it’s no surprise they have no purchase anywhere else.

    Reply this comment
  21. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 17 February, 2013, 14:27

    Hey another brilliant reply from Skippy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  22. Tough Love
    Tough Love 17 February, 2013, 16:38

    Skippy …. Give it some time. Many of my proposals will be put in place, because they are just and appropriate and because there are no other choices.

    Reply this comment
  23. Skippingdog
    Skippingdog 17 February, 2013, 17:08

    I don’t think it’s likely any of us will live long enough to see the things you’ve proposed make it into either law or practice in the U.S. If you’re the least bit realistic, you don’t think so either.

    Reply this comment
  24. Tough Love
    Tough Love 17 February, 2013, 17:21

    Skippy, All it took in RI was for the employees of one small town loing much of their pensions for the Treasurer (a Democrat no less) to work her magic.

    As soon as one CA city succeeds in stiffing CalPERS (with CalPERS then reducing the pensions of that city’s workers) change will begin in earnest …. because the choice will either be voluntary MATERIAL pension reform, or forced Material pension reform of even greater magnitude.

    Don’t know how old you are, but I certainly expect to see many of my proposals implemented way before my clock runs out.

    Reply this comment
  25. Skippingdog
    Skippingdog 17 February, 2013, 17:59

    If your hopes are riding on San Bernardino somehow twisting out from under its legal obligations, I doubt it will be the RI model you’ll see implemented. What is far more likely is that the ability of municipalities to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection without the direct permission and supervision of the state itself will be eliminated.

    The SB and Stockton BK filings have already prompted some movement in that regard. With a super-majority in both legislative houses and a Democratic governor, it’s quite likely that the ability of a city to independently seek bankruptcy protection will disappear in California’s near future. At that point, the outcome you seek will have to arise from the state’s receivership of the financially troubled municipality.

    Reply this comment
  26. Tough Love
    Tough Love 17 February, 2013, 19:42

    Quoting Skippy …..”What is far more likely is that the ability of municipalities to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection without the direct permission and supervision of the state itself will be eliminated.”

    Which of course translates into permission “FROM THE UNIONS” (who own the Legislature).

    It’s this king of Union interference why I say that Public Sector Unions are a CANCER on Society.

    Reply this comment
  27. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 18 February, 2013, 11:36

    Wow Skippy, you sound like such the legal scholar.

    Why don’t you litigate your OWN legal cases if you’re such a legal whiz??????????? I cannot wait until that day comes.

    Oh wait, you are not a legal scholar, you’re just some yahoo who thinks he is anonymous on the internet and can shoot his mouth off with impunity.

    How did that work out for ya Skippy?????

    Reply this comment
  28. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 February, 2013, 12:21

    It won’t be the unions that push to limit the ability of local municipalities to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. It will be the municipal bond holders who recognize the threat a Chapter 9 bankruptcy poses to their own assets. The non-filing municipalities will support the limitation as well because their borrowing costs increase with any level of disruption in the state bond markets, such as that caused by a municipal bankruptcy.

    Reply this comment
  29. Tough Love
    Tough Love 18 February, 2013, 16:05

    Skippy, When a municipality is “considering” a bankruptcy, two of the biggest expenses contributing to the Municipality’s financial woes are (1) Pension & healthcare costs and (2) interest (and principal payout, if any) on outstanding debt. In other words, their ability to continue paying BOTH (on top of fixed regular expenses) no longer exists. Considering the huge Union & Political pressure not tp short the pensions, I’m betting the Bondholders (actually the Bond Insurers) will SUPPORT (not fear) bankruptcy and opt for FEDERAL Court bankruptcy to …. where the Unions and State Courts have much less sway.

    Reply this comment
  30. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 February, 2013, 20:22

    I suppose we’ll have to see if your plan works out in San Bernardino, TL. I am still confident that California will soon join the ranks of most other states in requiring specific and prior state level approval before a municipality can legally file for Chapter 9 protections. That’s as it should be.

    Reply this comment
  31. Tough Love
    Tough Love 18 February, 2013, 20:41

    Skippy, I’ll bet that IF that happens, a municipality in dire straights, perhaps even before requesting such approval,(or after, if it is denied) will simply file in Bankruptcy papers in Federal Court, and request that the court declare as unconstitutional (or unenforceable) the State requirement for prior approval.

    When you step back from you Union-headed piggishness, you likely agree that passing laws and regulations that get in the way of a local gov’t trying to fix it’s financial problems … simply to protect the interests of Public Sector workers … is un-American.

    Reply this comment
  32. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 February, 2013, 21:05

    If you’ll review Chapter 9 of the Bankruptcy Code, TL, you’ll quickly find that it requires a filing municipality to obtain approval from the state in which it is located before any court can accept its petition. In California, we have a statutory scheme that provides prior authorization to municipalities by the state for Chapter 9 filings. It was recently tightened up to require a cooling-off period and fact-finding, but it could easily be reversed by use of a new state level statute. Most states don’t allow their municipalities to file Chapter 9 cases without specific state approval, if they are allowed to file them at all.

    Municipalities are nothing more than legal subdivisions of the state in which they are located. Their actions might easily have a broad affect on other state subdivisions, so the state has both the right and duty to provide oversight.

    You’re supposed to be someone with claimed expertise in municipal bankruptcy and finance, so it’s surprising that you don’t seem to know the basic requirements of Chapter 9. What else are you exaggerating in your posts?

    Reply this comment
  33. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 February, 2013, 21:11

    Here’s a nice review of the Chapter 9 process in California, TL. Please note that the same permission now extended to municipalities to independently file Chapter 9 cases could just as easily be withdrawn by the state. That’s where where headed.


    Even your home state of New Jersey doesn’t allow a municipality to file for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy protection on its own.


    Why don’t you know this stuff?

    Reply this comment
  34. Tough Love
    Tough Love 18 February, 2013, 21:26

    Skippy, I was unaware of the Fed Ch 9 provision requiring prior approval. So what happens when a municipality runs out of money?

    It stops paying it’s creditors. I’m quite certain that in short order the shorting of pensions (CalPERS, CalSTIRS, a County Plan, etc.) will occur.

    While you can’t get money from a stone (meaning I’m quite sure some of these Plans will get stiffed), I’m hoping for a more formal Court decision affirming the right to do so … as that will provide an avenue for so many many other gov’t entities buried by these unjust pension burdens a way out …. pay what you can w/o oppressive taxes, and the BENEFITS get reduced accordingly.

    P.S. my expertise is certainly NOT in Public Sector Bankruptcies, nor in “public sector” financing. I try to stay out of that sewer.

    Reply this comment
  35. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 February, 2013, 21:54

    In New Jersey, for example, an insolvent municipality would be put into state receivership. The receiver would then have the authority to create and manage the same kind of workout plan that might be available through a Chapter 9 case. If the creditors don’t agree to the workout plan, or if the state has some other method for addressing the workout issues, the receiver may be authorized by the state to file for Chapter 9 to gain the court’s authority over the creditors, take advantage of the stays on judgments, etc.

    I don’t disagree that there should be some orderly system that addresses a municipal insolvency. That’s far different from using Chapter 9 as nothing more than a tool to avoid legal obligations or as a weapon to be used against public employees or their unions, which is the true subtext contained in many of your posts.

    Reply this comment
  36. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 February, 2013, 22:11

    BTW, TL – none of our recent discussions have be the least bit germane to this post. The real point is that state law takes precedence over any local ordinance, even one that has been supported by the majority of local voters.

    The role of the California PERB is to apply the state laws about public employee labor relations in a legal and consistent manner. That’s exactly why the local grandstanding by Mayor Sanders and City Attorney Goldsmith won’t survive the courts any better than it survived the ALJ. If the mayor had followed the law, he could have reached the same result legally by engaging in the required process of meet and confer negotiations. As many other cities have done, the city’s labor negotiator could have held fast to the requirement to change the existing pension system for new employees, completed the legally required impasse procedures, and then implemented their plan over the objection of the labor groups. That would have been legal and it would have survived both PERB and judicial review.

    It never pays to allow the heat of local politics to encourage legal shortcuts, and that’s exactly what happened in this matter.

    Reply this comment
  37. Tough Love
    Tough Love 18 February, 2013, 22:53

    Quoting Skippy …”I don’t disagree that there should be some orderly system that addresses a municipal insolvency. That’s far different from using Chapter 9 as nothing more than a tool to avoid legal obligations or as a weapon to be used against public employees or their unions, which is the true subtext contained in many of your posts.”

    I don’t hide from the fact that I advocate for an outcome that significantly reduces promised Public Sector Pensions …… because such reductions are eminently justified by how such excessive promised pensions were obtained (collusion between the Public Sector Unions and our elected representatives).

    As far as PERB …. please, it’s become a tool of the Unions.

    Reply this comment
  38. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 18 February, 2013, 23:12

    If PERB was nothing more than a tool of the unions, the decisions it reaches would regularly be overturned by the courts. They’re not.

    Reply this comment
  39. Tough Love
    Tough Love 19 February, 2013, 07:18

    Skippy, And what are CA’s courts ?

    Reply this comment
  40. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 19 February, 2013, 07:37

    So now you’re claiming any agency that won’t allow you to reach your goals for public employees is nothing more than a union tool? You’re as delusional as some of the more strident nuts here if that’s your claim.

    Reply this comment
  41. Tough Love
    Tough Love 19 February, 2013, 07:56


    Example from NJ …… the Judges ruled that THEIR pay (exclusive of all other NJ Public Sector workers) could not be reduced via the payment of greater health insurance premiums and greater pension contributions. It ticked a lot of NJ’s citizens off and they approved a Constitutional Amendment to allow such increases for these judges.

    Now while this wasn’t a “Union” issue, my point was that the “Courts” are run by Judges who get the same (usually better) pensions and benefits than other Public Sector workers and are hardly “disinterested parties” who should be ruling on whether or not their benefits can be decreased or their premiums increased.

    The judges (the “Courts”) have a vested interest in keeping this gravy train rolling just like all other Public Sector workers, which is why I like the idea of such matters be adjudicated in FEDERAL court. While Federal judges are certainly not completely disinterested parties, they’re quite a step way from the mess in CA and won’t be personally impacted by decisions which help fix that mess by appropriately reducing the overstuffed pensions and benefits of CA’s Public Sector workers ….. in fair and balanced Bankruptcy proceedings.

    Reply this comment
  42. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 19 February, 2013, 17:27

    For the moment, TL, a California municipality that meets the Chapter 9 requirements of insolvency can still seek the relief you describe. That’s why it will be interesting to see the outcome of the San Bernardino and Stockton cases over the next year or two.

    You libertarians and anarchists are usually all over the claim of state’s rights and limited federal intrusion into state affairs. It’s amusing to see how quickly you’re willing to introduce federal oversight of state and local finances when you believe it might work out in your own personal favor. So much for any argument you might make about principles.

    Reply this comment
  43. Tough Love
    Tough Love 19 February, 2013, 17:45

    Skippy, Just curious, while I know that the Federal Bankruptcy Court cannot “structure” the particulars of SB’s Bankruptcy (if it is allowed to proceed), what would be your next step if the outcome is an equal haircut for equally-positioned creditors (the bondholders and CalPERS) and CalPERS then makes the determination that SB’s pensions must be reduced accordingly ?

    Reply this comment
  44. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 19 February, 2013, 22:02

    Your question has nothing to do with my own preferences, since CalPERS has a well developed protocol for dealing with agencies that exit their retirement programs. The existing CalPERS retirement funds for SB would, as I understand the process, be placed into their closed plan fund. CalPERS would continue paying the contracted retirement benefits for as long as the funding held out, at which point I have no idea what would happen.

    SB will have a hard time attracting or keeping any employees once it becomes clear the city can’t be relied upon to keep its contract agreements, and a defunct pension plan caused in large part by the city’s failure to make their full annual contributions for decades will lead to additional scrutiny of the elected leaders, etc. Who knows what will happen then?

    I suppose it’s always possible that the city of SB will just disincorporate and transfer its responsibilities back to the county, along with all of the city’s assets.

    It’s far more likely that the city would be placed into either receivership or some other form of supervision that takes actual governance out of the elected officials hands.

    Reply this comment
  45. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 19 February, 2013, 22:07

    It’s also beneficial to remember that Chapter 9 is designed to create a workout plan that addresses the liabilities of the filing municipality, even if that plan does things like restructuring payments and extending the time over which obligations may be paid. That’s really the most likely outcome. SB will effectively have a CalPERS mortgage for the next 30 or 40 years. I understand that there will be howls about intergenerational equity, but all of us end up paying for the financial sins of our parents.

    Reply this comment
  46. Tough Love
    Tough Love 19 February, 2013, 23:04

    Skippy, Quoting from your 10:02 pm response …”The existing CalPERS retirement funds for SB would, as I understand the process, be placed into their closed plan fund. CalPERS would continue paying the contracted retirement benefits for as long as the funding held out, at which point I have no idea what would happen.”

    I’m VERY surprised that this would be their policy … essentially no cuts in payouts, and a run-down of assets to zero. Seems the WORST of options for the “actives” who will lose all of their contributions. Seems like a proportionate cutback in payouts is fairer to the actives (but when the Sh*t hits the fan, we both know that the retirees will throw the actives under the bus).

    And that “difficulty in attracting …” is bogus. Offer fair “cash pay” and a Private-Sector-comparable DC Plan and they’ll get plenty of qualified workers.

    Responding to your 10:07 comment … I agree that a “workout plan” may result, but it will be the most unfair of options by attempting to pass the burden even further out into the future to those who won’t even be born for decades. In reality, it will be just another example of kicking the can down the road and a failure to address the structural issue of excessive pensions. While the Bond Insurers may go along if their share of the cuts are acceptable to them (and they consider it a shared sacrifice), it will just delay the inevitable for a later day … as Plan assets will still run down to zero, just a bit slower (than with no contributions at all).

    Reply this comment
  47. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 20 February, 2013, 10:22

    TL – A workout plan wouldn’t likely be approved if it provided no contributions to the pension obligations. The workout itself would extend the payment period, reduce the interest rate, or perhaps have some other combination of long-term accommodations to provide an “acceptable” outcome for the creditors, including CalPERS.

    As you know, TL, governments don’t generally cease to exist, so your preferred outcome of a chapter 7 type liquidation simply won’t happen. All of the existing obligations will either be paid, or there will be some agreement between the municipality and its creditors to pay them on other terms than currently exist, neither outcome producing the punitive policies you prefer.

    Reply this comment
  48. Tough Love
    Tough Love 20 February, 2013, 10:28

    Skippy, So you are COMPLETELY discounting the possibility of reduced pensions?

    If so, you are the one who is delusional.

    Reply this comment
  49. Skippingdog
    Skippingdog 20 February, 2013, 12:48

    Not at all, TL. I’m just putting them in the context of what is most likely to happen, not what you personally want to have happen.

    Reply this comment
  50. Tough Love
    Tough Love 20 February, 2013, 13:08

    Skippy, No pension reductions sounds more like what you (as a retiree) are praying for as the outcome, as the fallout from SB may spread far and wide.

    Reply this comment
  51. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 20 February, 2013, 18:24

    I’m very fortunate, TL. The government agency from which I retired is currently rated AAA and the retirement system is funded at 95% plus. I also have a federal pension, as does my wife. We’ve made a number of very safe and profitable investments over the years, so I’m not worrying or praying about my own financial status at all.

    I have worked with many good people who aren’t as blessed as I am, and I am certainly concerned that their financial security be maintained as promised when they exchanged their lives and labor for it.

    Unlike yourself, I am not a Randian objectivist, so therefore don’t believe in the “everyman for him self” school of economics. You would probably be a much more happy and productive person if you were to abandon that chimera as well.

    Reply this comment
  52. Tough Love
    Tough Love 20 February, 2013, 21:36

    Skippy, A re-calculation with Moody’s chosen (as appropriate) liability discounting rate of 5.5% will likely drop that “official” 95% funding ratio to about 70-75%, still better than most, but to put that 70-75% in the proper perspective, a Private Sector Plan with such a rate would be forced (by Gov’r regulators) to implement certain Plan restrictions.

    Quoting … “I also have a federal pension, as does my wife.”

    Wow … a family affair (all on the Taxpayers’ dime).

    And PLEASE …. Public Sector workers are the epitome me of the “everyman for him self” school of economics.

    Reply this comment
  53. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 20 February, 2013, 23:04

    We have both given many years of high quality service to the public, even people like you, TL. I suspect we both have as much or more education than you, and substantially more than 90% of the public, so your “family affair” barb doesn’t really make much contact at this end.

    We all make our choices and live with the results. I’m fortunate that mine have been personally prudent and professionally satisfying over the years. Perhaps you’ll be able to make the same assessment someday.

    In the meantime, it’s always possible that the world as we know it will come crashing down around us, but that’s not a high-probability event. Moody’s recalculations may or may not occur and, if they do, may or may not have the impact you predict at any significant level. I have been involved with large, complex systems long enough to know they don’t tend to change radically over a short time, and anyone serious about real changes waits to see what impact each incremental modification has before prescribing more.

    Reply this comment

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Democrats on Election Day have a very real chance at winning a two-thirds “supermajority” in the California Legislature. While that would

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If you believe Jerry Brown is a governing genius, then forgive me for laughing until I injure myself. What I