Government held to far lower standard than private sector

Government held to far lower standard than private sector

corruptionThe gap between the standards seen in the private sector and the public sector have never seemed bigger.

In the corporate world, post-Enron, we see steady pressure on companies to put out honest numbers that play fair with shareholders and potential investors. But in government, we see cities lying about the health of their pension systems and statewide pension systems like CalPERS saying benefits can be sharply increased with no long-term financial consequences. If these things happened in the private sector, there would be criminal prosecutions and shareholder lawsuits.

Now we have a fresh example of how the public sector has far lower standards than the private sector. It has to do with lecherous San Diego Mayor Bob Filner

Would Filner last in corporate America? No way!

This is from a recent U-T San Diego story:

‘The public outrage isn’t subsiding. But neither is Mayor Bob Filner’s ironclad stance to keep his job.

“If he were the CEO of a private company, a board of directors probably would not give him a choice. The allegations released Monday by Irene McCormack Jackson of Filner’s requests not to wear underwear and ‘Filner Headlocks’ would likely be grounds to oust him in Corporate America. Since Monday, two more women have come forward with claims of improper behavior by Filner.

“But for the mayor, only a lengthy public recall can force him out of office, despite the jarring allegations.

“’That’s pretty much the definition of a hostile work environment,’ said Lonny Zilberman, an employment attorney with Wilson Turner Kosmo. ‘You could walk up to 100 people on the street and I bet 99 of them would find that conduct both offensive and inappropriate in the workplace.’

“McCormack Jackson received a ‘right to sue’ from the state, but outside of that, charged public statements with no recall signatures behind them might as well fall on deaf ears. The City Council can’t fire Filner, who is free to quit. In the private sector, even the person at the top isn’t immune to punishment for wrongdoing if the system works as intended.”

It’s not just groping — Filner’s other shenanigans

Meanwhile, the San Diego mayor is also demonstrating the lunacy that public sector executives get away with on the pension front.

San Diego was the first major city in the U.S. to face a huge pension crisis because of crazy decisions in 1996 and 2002 by the City Council to pay far less that actuarially required toward pension costs while preserving a very generous pension plan that allowed some employees to get more in retirement than they did while on the job. After years and years clawing back, the city’s pension system is now in better shape than many other large U.S. cities’.

So what does Filner want to do? You guessed it. He wants to underfund the pension! This is from my U-T San Diego editorial about Filner’s ouster of Herb Morgan, the president of the San Diego city pension board:

“Morgan was the key figure in the pension board’s decision not to reduce the amount it billed the city for 2013-14 for the cost of city pensions. The $275 million charge blew a $20 million hole in the city’s budget; city officials had expected a smaller bill because of new long-term labor deals. Now Morgan is getting the boot as a result. …

“Had the SDCERS board accepted the city’s numbers and reduced its charge, the system would still only be 70.5 percent funded — the percentage of assets versus liabilities — not the 80 percent minimum recommended by actuarial experts.

“But in Bob Filner’s San Diego, members of an independent city board are to be punished if they actually think they’re independent and not subject to the commands of the city’s imperial leader. And then the mayor has the gall to dissemble about why he would veto his own nominees.

“This hammers home a point that may have been lost in the uproar over Filner’s personal scandal. His governance has been scandalous as well.”

In the private sector, Filner would be out of his job and fearful of jail. But not in the public sector.


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  1. The Ted Steele Conceptual Abstraction Unit
    The Ted Steele Conceptual Abstraction Unit 26 July, 2013, 09:00

    Good point Greeny– there has NEVER been sexual harrasment in the private sector, never.


    Reply this comment
  2. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 26 July, 2013, 09:19

    Wow, talk about selective memory. No mention of the Enron crowd, or Bernie Madoff, or Michael Millken, or any of the other assorted criminals and scam artists who have thrived for years in the private sector. And when these crooks were finally brought down, it wasn’t the private sector that did it; it was the government.

    OK, Chris, I’ll make a deal with you: I will consider Bob Filner the poster boy for government if you recognize Bernie Madoff as the poster boy for the private sector. OK? I didn’t think so.

    Reply this comment
  3. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 26 July, 2013, 10:07

    We also see school districts lying about test scores and FNMA (I know they technically aren’t government) execs lying about profits to garner bonuses they’ve never been required to disgorge. We see lots of pension fraud by government pensioners which I am certain they will never be required to repay.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 26 July, 2013, 12:03

    The standard is every man for himself. Greed is Good. If you can stand the heat stay in the pork trough. Wake up and smell the money!

    Doomers… your excused for recess! What naive saps.

    Reply this comment
  5. Let It Collapse
    Let It Collapse 26 July, 2013, 21:38

    I agree with Chris that the cities and pension funds are cookin’ the books when it comes to calculating the true unfunded liabilities going forward and future sustainability with the pension payouts. Eventually we’re just going to have to let it collapse (default the debt) and start over (see Detroit). The nation just can’t keep printing and accumulating deficits that have grown into a public national debt of $17T (not to include medicare or social security debt). We just can’t continue growing the debt with the idea of passing it off to the kids to solve. That is so, so wrong.

    But I think Chris missed the boat on the financial shennanigans orchestrated by Wall Street. You’d have to have your eyes closed not to have seen the tremendous amount of criminal financial fraud perpetrated on Wall Street that caused the 2008 meltdown. Not to mention the trillions of narco dollars that were laundered by the too big to fails without one banker going to the big house. It’s really important to understand and acknowledge the crookery that happens both in the government and on Wall Street. Unless we do that we’re just digging a deeper hole for our kids. This is no time to play favorites. Btw, Bernie Madoff was a piker compared to the big boys on Wall Street who walked away unscathed. Bernie was used as an example because he bilked some influential rich people who live in Manhattan out of millions. Had he bilked poor people he’d still be on the streets, probably managing a hedge fund somewhere. We need to be painfully honest if we are going to find a way out of this mess.

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