CA Dem lawmakers figuring out something rotten in CalPERS

March 19, 2013

By Chris Reed

On Monday, the day that finally saw criminal charges filed over CalPERS’ brazen pay-to-play bribery scheme, there were signs that some Democratic state lawmakers finally are figuring out that believing California’s pension status quo is ridiculous isn’t just partisan right-wing posturing.

Ed Mendel, one of a handful of elite reporters on pension machinations, has the scoop at Capitol Weekly:

“Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, an upset victor last fall in a new election process, has introduced a bill containing Gov. Brown’s stalled proposal to restructure the CalPERS board, adding financial expertise and loosening labor control.

“The proposal to change the board, which needs voter approval because of a labor-backed initiative in 1992, would double the number of gubernatorial appointees to six, matching the number of labor representatives.

“’In the past, the lack of independence and financial sophistication on public retirement boards has contributed to unaffordable pension benefit increases,’ said the 12-point pension reform proposed by Brown in October 2011.

“The proposal said pension boards need members with ‘independence and sophistication’ to ensure that retirees receive promised benefits ‘without exposing taxpayers to large unfunded liabilities.’”

‘Unsophisticated’? Or union double agents?

Journalistic decorum requires Mendel to pretend the problem is a lack of sophistication on board members’ part, not the fact that they are union tools. Why is this problematic? More from Ed:

“CalPERS sponsored legislation, SB 400 in 1999, that gave state workers a major retroactive pension increase. A deep pension cut in 1991 was rolled back. Retirees received a 1 to 6 percent increase in their pensions.

“Highway Patrol pensions increased 50 percent, setting a costly bargaining benchmark for local police and firefighters that critics say is unsustainable. All of this, CalPERS erroneously said, would be paid for by investment earnings, not costing taxpayers ‘a dime.’”

Here’s a factoid that goes a long way to explain why California is so screwed up. Who is the president of the CalPERS’ Board of Administration?

Is it a UC Berkeley economist? A CEO of a thriving Califoria firm? A respected former statewide official considered an independent straight-shooter?


feckner-72wIt’s this guy.

“Mr. Feckner is the Past President of the California School Employees Association. He also serves as an Executive Vice President of the California Labor Federation.”

How insane that a guy with such preposterous and extreme conflicts of interest is CalPERS’ board chairman.

How … California.



Write a comment
  1. Douglas
    Douglas 19 March, 2013, 07:47

    Highway patrol pensions did not increase 50%.

    The formula increased to 3% at 50.

    Those who were able to retire at 50 with thirty years service, did get a fifty percent increase. This was about one percent of retirees. Most highway patrol pensions increased by around five percent.

    Reply this comment
  2. CalAl
    CalAl 19 March, 2013, 10:35

    And your point is? Gov’t pensions are unsustainable, overly generous, and just plain wrong. Gov’t employees should NEVER receive higher compensation or benefits than their civilian counterparts … NEVER!

    Reply this comment
  3. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 19 March, 2013, 12:02

    Chris – Maybe there IS some merit to the “lack of sophistication” argument…..(Not that it’s any less damnable.)
    Mr. Feckner is in his 34th year with the Napa Valley Unified School District, where he is currently employed as a glazing specialist. He has also worked as a school bus driver and instructional assistant for special needs students.

    Just the kind of guy you want heading a Board overseeing @ $230B in assets.

    On the other hand – maybe he stayed at a Holiday Inn last night…… lol lol….

    Reply this comment
  4. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 19 March, 2013, 12:31

    If the formula went from 2.5% to 3.0%, that is a 20 perecent increase. If the age was lowered or the years required for the pension were decreased(Don t know if those would apply) that would compuund the increase. Another contributor to the increased cost is we are all living longer, more time to enjoy boating, motorcycles,,,,

    Reply this comment
  5. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 20 March, 2013, 07:37

    A public employee, a Wal-Mart clerk, and a CEO are sitting around a table with a plate that has a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the clerk and says: “Watch out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”

    Reply this comment
  6. Donkey
    Donkey 20 March, 2013, 09:34

    What you are missing you your skewed story steve is that the CEO’s organization created the wealth that made the cookies possible, the Walmart worker is working to sell the cookies, while the RAGWUS feeder does nothing of worth, but demands more than both. 🙂

    Reply this comment

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