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.


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