San Jose pension reforms ruled violation of rights

A superior court ruling announced last week overturned key parts of a voter-approved San Jose pension reform: an attempt to cut employer costs for pensions earned by current workers in the future.

As the city struggled with large deficits during the last decade, the court was told, annual retirement costs more than tripled to $245 million while basic services were cut and the number of police and firefighters dropped.

Mayor Chuck Reed and other Measure B backers argued that cutting the cost of pensions earned by current workers in the future, while protecting amounts already earned, is needed to get significant savings.

But a series of state court rulings are widely believed to mean that the pension offered current workers on the date of hire becomes a vested right, protected by contract law, that can only be cut if offset by a new benefit of comparable value.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas said in her ruling the question before her court is “one of law, not of policy,” referring to a state Supreme Court response to city and county briefs on an Orange County attempt to cut retirement costs.

“The legal question is whether and to what extent Measure B violates vested rights,” Lucas said of the union lawsuits challenging the measure approved by 70 percent of San Jose voters in June last year.

Judge Lucas

Judge Lucas

San Jose attorneys argued that two provisions in the city charter, which allow the city to “amend” or “repeal” retirement plans at any time, prevent the creation of vested rights for employees in the two city-run pension systems.

The city cited language in an appellate court ruling in support of its position. The judge cited contrary language in a state Supreme Court ruling and a footnote in the appellate court ruling saying it should be limited to the peculiar facts of that case.

“Accordingly, this court concludes that a reservation of rights (to amend or repeal the pension plans) does not of itself preclude the creation of vested rights,” Judge Lucas ruled.

The key part of Measure B gave current workers an option: 1) Increased pension contributions of up to 16 percent of pay, but no more than half the cost of paying for the “unfunded liability” debt. 2) A much lower pension for future service.

Lucas rejected city arguments that workers have no vested right to city payment of all of the unfunded liability and that, at times, unions have regarded pension contributions as compensation, which the city can regulate.

A lower pension, avoiding a contribution increase, was similarly rejected with a mention that the plan lacks IRS approval. Orange County has been waiting since 2009 for IRS approval of a lower pension-higher contribution option negotiated with unions.

And a cut of San Jose retiree pension cost-of-living adjustments for up to five years, if the city council declares a fiscal emergency, was overturned by Lucas as a violation of vested rights.

After a five-day trial in July and some follow-up action, the judge ruled on a consolidation of six suits filed by public employee unions and retirees challenging 10 of the 15 sections of Measure B, with 11 different causes of action.

Among the parts of the measure upheld by Lucas is the authorization of pay cuts to get equivalent city savings if the lower pension-higher contribution option is ruled invalid.

The city and unions have agreed to delay pay cuts until at least next July 1. Major savings from pay cuts reportedly could be difficult and are likely to face a legal challenge from police, one of the biggest city costs.

“The City Council earlier this month approved 10 percent pay raises for cops, after police officers began fleeing the department for better-paying cities,” the San Jose Mercury-News said last week. “The cop exodus has coincided with a huge increase in crime, above the California and national averages, while arrests have dropped in half in recent years.”

The judge also upheld tighter eligibility for disability retirement and an elimination of the “13th check” bonus payment to retirees when investment earnings exceed the forecast. A mixed ruling on retiree health care allowed some cuts and rejected others.

Mayor Reed said the ruling protects $20 million in current budget savings from elimination of the bonus check and retiree health care changes. But the invalidation of parts of Measure B “highlights” the lack of flexibility in controlling retirement costs.

“That’s why I believe that we need a constitutional amendment that will empower government leaders to tackle their massive pension problems and negotiate fair and reasonable changes to employees’ future pension benefits,” he said in a news release.

Reed and others are proposing an initiative to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would give state and local governments the option of cutting pensions current workers earn in the future, while protecting pension amounts already earned.

A title and summary for the proposed initiative, based on a cost analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, is being written by the office of state Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“Breaking the promise by eliminating the vested benefit rights of police officers and other public employees is a non-starter in the courts and with the public,” Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, said in a news release.

The leader of the labor coalition said the “more than $3 million in taxpayer dollars” spent on the Measure B legal battle will be the “tip of the iceberg of the legal costs” if the proposed initiative moves forward.

Low said Reed should join “nearly 400 leaders across the state” in negotiating cost-cutting agreements with unions. Reformers say not enough savings result from the typical agreement, higher worker pension contributions and lower pensions for new hires.

Warning that pension costs could “crush” government, the bipartisan Little Hoover Commission said in a 2011 report: “The Legislature should give state and local governments the authority to alter the future, unaccrued retirement benefits for current public employees.”

A pension reform approved by San Diego voters last year, Proposition B, was designed to bypass the vested rights issue. All new hires, except police, were switched from pensions to 401(k)-style individual investment plans.

For current workers the initiative called for a five-year freeze on pay used to calculate pensions. Unions agreed to the freeze, expected to reduce the $275 million city pension payment this year by $25 million, U-T San Diego reported.

But the city pension board declined to immediately include the freeze in cost projections, so current year savings were lost. The city retirement system has projected that Proposition B will save $949.5 million over 30 years.

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune. More stories are at Calpensions.com. Posted 30 Dec 13

49 Responses to “San Jose pension reforms ruled violation of rights”

  1. spension Says:

    The Countdown starts for guys like Tough Love saying some contracts (the ones they don’t like, like pension obligations) can be broken, while others (like, say, bonus contracts to the elite of Wall Street where taxpayer bailout dollars paid the bonuses in 2009, which guys like Tough Love like) must be honored.

    California & San Jose pensions are too high. No doubt. There is a clear way forward… bankruptcy for the State of California, known technically as Sovereign Default.

    But Sovereign Default would knick all sorts of wealthy investors, so they don’t like it. They only want to blast public pensioners and seek to get 100 cents on the dollar for their State commitments.

    Anti-public-pension folks just want public pension contracts broken, and want other contracts respected. They say public pension contracts were corrupt, but want their own corrupt contracts honored. They see the splinter in the eye of public pensioners but overlook the plank in their own eye.

    The problem is *NOT* defined benefit pension systems… Wisconsin, Washington, and North Carolina do just fine with defined benefit pension systems. California got grossly careless with its DB systems, but other states have done just fine with them.

    The solution is *NOT* DC plans, which are corrupt through and through (I know, that is where my retirement money is).

    Comparisons to the private sector retirement system are irrelevant/ the private sector systems have been raided by the con artists that brought you the 2008 (and 1929) financial meltdowns, as documented by Ellen E. Schultz of the Wall Street Journal in her book `Retirement Heist’.

  2. spension Says:

    Quoting from Ellen Schultz, who explains how the private sector looted its own pension system (and there which provides no legitimate basis for comparison today):

    “The masterminds of this heist should take a bow: They managed to take hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement benefits that were intended for millions of workers and divert them to corporate coffers, shareholders, and their own pockets. And they’re still at it. It might not be possible to resuscitate pension plans, but it isn’t too late to expose the machinations of the retirement industry, which has its tentacles into every type of retirement benefit: profit-sharing plans, 401(k)s, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), and plans for public employees, nonprofits, small businesses, and even churches. The retirement industry has exported its tactics, using them to achieve similar outcomes in retirement plans in Canada, Europe, Australia, and elsewhere, and has big plans for Social Security and its overseas equivalents as well. Unless it is reined in, the global retirement industry will continue to capture retirement wealth earned by many to enrich a relative few.”

    From a *WALL STREET JOURNAL* reporter, quoted in *FORBES*.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/10/19/retirement-heist-how-firms-plunder-workers-nest-eggs/

  3. Captain Says:

    Spension, part of the problem is as you stated in your second paragraph:

    “California & San Jose pensions are too high. No doubt. ”

    When you combine the highest pension formulas in the nation with the highest wages in the nation – and they compund the problem, it’s little wonder why we are in the financial noose we’re in. Add to that the unions that literally control our state legislature while also controlling many a city council and it is what is – a hot mess!

    I reject- again, your lame sovereign default argument. To accept your argument requires me to believe that this state can only correct its problems by first going bankrupt/defaulting on its obligations.

    How dumb is that?

  4. Captain Says:

    Hope everyone had a nice Christmas & wishing all of you a Happy New Year!

    TL, during the Holiday season I think a lot about what I’m grateful for. Over the past several years what I’m most thankful for is my young daughters continued determination to fight back against Cancer – she is beyond inspiring. Things like Faith, Family, Friends, and Health, are always on the top of the list (and she is a part of all of all those things). When I venture beyond those core values to things like community is when I think about you.

    I appreciate you immensely and share your concerns about the importance of pension reform. We owe it to both current and future generations to correct the mistakes of the past. Thank You, Tough Love, for all you are trying to do.

  5. Captain Says:

    “But a series of state court rulings are widely believed to mean that the pension offered current workers on the date of hire becomes a vested right, protected by contract law, that can only be cut if offset by a new benefit of comparable value.”

    Why not pay the employees the value of the benefit in cash/compensation? At least then taxpayers won’t be stuck paying for the failures and abuse of the employee pension systems, at least going forward, at the hands of the employee unions that can care less how much they abuse the system knowing taxpayers will have to pony-up. Then let the employee pension system thrive or dive on its own.

  6. spension Says:

    Captain, I don’t accept your contention that unions control the State legislature. Plenty of non-union groups wield enormous clout.

    Interest group politics has been the American way since the late 1700′s. Whining about it does no good. The only effective actions are to organize and win equivalent influence.

    As to calling the sovereign default argument `lame’ without evidence, or saying default is `dumb’, recall that pensioners have very strong contracts that by the US Constitution probably must be upheld. So do bondholders, businesses who have done contract work for the State, etc. If we don’t have the funds to cover all the contracts, well, we should go bankrupt just like a private business. Only for a State that is Sovereign Default.

    Cutting one contract preferentially over another implies that the US Constitution is invalid. That sounds lame and dumb to me.

  7. Captain Says:

    “(JUDGE)Lucas rejected city arguments that workers have no vested right to city payment of all of the unfunded liability and that, at times, unions have regarded pension contributions as compensation, which the city can regulate.” … And a cut of San Jose retiree pension cost-of-living adjustments for up to five years, if the city council declares a fiscal emergency, was overturned by Lucas as a violation of vested rights.”

    - You just can’t make this up. A judge is now declaring that even during a fiscal emergency San Jose can’t cut Cost of Living increases. So the TAXPAYERS will continue to pay the very generously compensated San Jose employees that have been siphoning money from their own pension plan – in the form of a thirteenth check costing taxpayers hundreds of millions? Aren’t the pension plans in SJ about 64% funded? And don’t they receive some of the highest Cola’s in the state at 3% annually. And this Judge (?) comes to the conclusion that … what influence is she processing?

    The judge’s decision is an endorsement of Mayor Reed’s proposed ballot initiative. I never thought I would have so much distrust in our government but I do. Between this Judges decision and the Attorney Generals track record I have lost all confidence in our elected and appointed officials to do the right thing. I hope San Jose appeals this judges decision, and I also Kamala Harris does the right thing. I’m not holding my breath.

    ““The legal question is whether and to what extent Measure B violates vested rights,” Lucas said of the union lawsuits challenging the measure approved by 70 percent of San Jose voters in June last year.”

    - for the UNION ENDORSED, FUNDED and ELECTED Democrats in the state of California it doesn’t really matter that 70 percent of San Jose voters approved the pension reform. The UNIONS just see the overwhelming majority vote of the public as a small hurdle easily overcome by demanding payback from their BOUGHT elected officials.

  8. Ed Towner Says:

    “Captain”– I find it curious that you now distrust the government because an Article 3 judge has followed the law? Enforcement of which other parts of the Constitution engender feelings of distrust?

  9. Berryessa Chillin' Says:

    As a lifetime San Jose resident, I’m dreading the future. Mayor Reed will be term-limited out and his most likely successor is in deep with the public sector unions. With Measure B being gutted– and with the “CA special” judicial precedent that future pension accruals are somehow sacrosanct– I don’t see any future but bankruptcy for the “Capital of Silicon Valley.”

  10. Ed Towner Says:

    Is “Chilin” really your last name?

  11. spension Says:

    Captain said “The UNIONS just see the overwhelming majority vote of the public as a small hurdle easily overcome by demanding payback from their BOUGHT elected officials.”

    Or maybe they Unions believe they have a legal contract that is subject to enforcement by Article I, section 10, clause 1 of the US Constitution.

  12. Ed Towner Says:

    Spension you are correct and the gloom and doom crowd only selectivly supports the Constitution– they HATE Article 3 for instance…

  13. Berryessa Chillin' Says:

    Mr. Towner: It’s a moniker referring to the neighborhood of San Jose in which I live.

  14. Ed Towner Says:

    281.3 Billion as of today! Calpers baby!

  15. Ed Towner Says:

    I understand Mr. Chillin— Thanks—- I should get out more!

  16. Captain Says:

    Ed Towner Says: “281.3 Billion as of today! Calpers baby!”

    What does that mean, Ed. Can you put that number into some sort of context? For example, does CalPERS 281 Billion in assets mean we’re all rich, or all poor?

  17. Captain Says:

    Captain said: “The UNIONS just see the overwhelming majority vote of the public as a small hurdle easily overcome by demanding payback from their BOUGHT elected officials.”

    Spension says: ” Or maybe they Unions believe they have a legal contract that is subject to enforcement by Article I, section 10, clause 1 of the US Constitution.”

    Captain says: what about all the articles and sections of the state constitution that says it’s illegal to provide retroactive compensation and pension benefits. What the unions believe is that they can manipulate both sides of the bargaining table at the local level. And if that doesn’t work they will use their influence at the state level to derail any efforts at the local level. That’s happening as we speak.

    The good news; public employee union support is at an all time low.

  18. spension Says:

    Captain says “what about all the articles and sections of the state constitution that says it’s illegal to provide retroactive compensation and pension benefits. ”

    Go ahead and provide a reference to the details, Captain. Personally I think the retroactive actions were wrong, but I’m not sure that they violated the State constitution.

    Captain says “What the unions believe is that they can manipulate both sides of the bargaining table at the local level. And if that doesn’t work they will use their influence at the state level to derail any efforts at the local level. That’s happening as we speak.”

    Every interest group in the US… private sector, military contractor, LGBT groups does exactly the same thing as unions do. If you are against that process, you are anti-United States. That is the way our system works.

  19. SeeSaw Says:

    The Amicus Brief that, then, AG Jerry Brown filed with the LA Superior Court on behalf of CalPERS members regarding the lawsuit of the Orange County Supervisors vs. the Orange County Sherrif’s Deputies explained why it was not illegal to give the retroactive pension enhancements during, at that time, the 97-year history of the defined benefit pension systems in CA. Captain, why don’t you read that Brief! The Public Pension Reform Act of 2013, passed by the CA State Legislature abolished the practice of retroactivity for all pension upgrades going forward. We need to move forward–you can’t change the past.

  20. Berryessa Chillin' Says:

    spension, I give you Article IV Section 17 of the California Constitution:

    “The Legislature has no power to grant, or to authorize a
    city, county, or other public body to grant, extra compensation or
    extra allowance to a public officer, public employee, or contractor
    after service has been rendered or a contract has been entered into and performed in whole or in part, or to authorize the payment of a claim against the State or a city, county, or other public body under an agreement made without authority of law.”

    The retroactive benefits given by SB400 and its local equivalents should have been ruled unconstitutional.

    SeeSaw: I couldn’t find the AG amicus curiae brief, although reading the OC decision made me sick. “Pensions” are not considered compensation? The judicial rot of this state is something to behold. I now officially consider this state to be a banana republic.

  21. Ed Towner Says:

    “Captain”— Seriously? You honestly need someone to explain the “context” of the fund balance?

    oh my

  22. Ed Towner Says:

    LOL Mr. Chillin– What you now need to do to is to look at the cases cited on this issue citing to the Section 17 part in question— THERE—- you will find the answer distinquishing pensions in this limited context— you can do it little buddy GO get em!!

  23. SeeSaw Says:

    Chillin:

    Court of Appeal of the State of CA; Second Appellate District, Division One; Case No B218660, entitled “Application to File Amicus Curie Brief by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and Proposed Amicus Brief in Support of the Respondents”.

    The document was filed with the Court on June 1, 2010.

    If you read the Brief you might learn while pension enhancements are not considered extra compensation. However, you haters got your way with the PPRA of 2013–pension enhancements are no longer retroactive.

    The Courts, both this one and the State Supreme Court, that refused to hear OC’s appeal, seemed to agree with this Brief–those judges only interpret our laws. Perhaps they don’t do as much reading as you and Captain?

    Sorry about your perception of our beautiful state. I can’t imagine living in a state that I hated.

  24. Berryessa Chillin' Says:

    Ed Towner: I think the context Captain is looking for is how CALPERS should have on-hand now to pay for the pensions that have already been accrued. From this missing figure we could then reckon the funding ratio. I went over to CALPERS site and could not find that number. We do know from the 6/30/13 figures that CALPERS was tens of billions of dollars short last summer from being properly funded. That is why major increases in the participating governments’ rates are scheduled for upcoming years.

  25. SeeSaw Says:

    Its all relative, Chillin. My Anthem Blue Cross medical insurance premium, which is only secondary to Medicare, has increased from $400 to $1000/mo. in just six years since my retirement. Pension payments are but one thing in the complete scheme of things–you people put way too much importance on the condition of CalPERS–can you even state what your own personal liability is to that pension plan, or any other pension plan?. The most recent funding figures, percentage-wise, on the CalPERS site are for 2011, so how do you know the plan was tens of billions of dollars short last summer?

  26. spension Says:

    How can an enhancement of pensions *not* be considered extra compensation?

    On the face of it, looks like retroactive pension increases *are* in contradiction with the State constitution. Thanks Chillin’.

    Of course attorneys what the meaning of `is’ is. That is what they get paid for. But looks to me like this cigar is just a cigar.

  27. SeeSaw Says:

    spension, how do you come to such conclusion based on “the face of it”? The Amicus Brief I referred to is loaded with examples of precedent from other court cases on the subject, proclaiming that enhanced benefits during a public employee’s career are not in violation of the State Constitution.

  28. SeeSaw Says:

    to elaborate further and quote from page 17 of the Brief: “Thus increases in benefits during the course of employment is a part of the employee’s original bargained-for employment benefits, and not a form of “extra” compensation barred by article XI, section 10(a). (Nelson v. City of Los Angeles (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d 916, 918-19,)

  29. spension Says:

    Seesaw… increases in benefits during the course of employment are one thing… say, in 1999, a negotiation that the annual multiplier for a year of service is increased from 2 percent to 3 percent for for years of service *after* 1999.

    However, suppose the annual multiplier for years of service ***PRIOR TO 1999*** is negotiated in 1999 to increase from 2 percent to 3 percent.

    That situation seems like a retroactive compensation increase to me….

  30. SeeSaw Says:

    The OC v. OCSD lawsuit was in a court three times before OC lost and then the CA Supreme Court refused to take up the OC case, for a fourth time. Orange County spent millions (my memory is foggy, but I think it was eight million) trying to renege on the 3% at 50 that had been granted to the OC Sheriffs in 1999. Don’t you think that money would have been better spent by supporting of the pension benefits that OC had freely granted than spending all those years trying to take those benefits away?

    There were 947,000 CalPERS pensions at risk, if OC had won the case. That was the reason for the AG’s Amicus Brief on behalf of the members of CalPERS.

    The retroactive enhancement was not the first such increase of that type in CA–it might have been the largest. But, we go right back to the Amicus Brief–such upgrades were routine and legislated by the State of CA for 97 years prior to SB400.

    So spension, it matters not how the situation seems to you–judges in three court cases disagreed with you and the fourth, the CA Supreme Court, would not take it up one more time for OC. Case closed!

  31. spension Says:

    Seesaw, was the multiplier (2 or 2.5 or 3 percent) changed for service prior to 1999 in 1999? Or was the increase to 3% only for years after the passage of the increase?

  32. SeeSaw Says:

    No–all pension enhancements allowed throughout the state for the entire life of the DB pensions system were allowed to be enacted retroactively. The 3% was very rare except for safety, and, yes, it was changed for all years prior to 1999. After local entities were given to the go-head to adopt a 3% at 60 formula, a few years after 1999, not all entities adopted it–I don’t believe that the State ever went beyond 2.5% for its miscellaneous workers.

  33. Captain Says:

    “SeeSaw Says: No–all pension enhancements allowed throughout the state for the entire life of the DB pensions system were allowed to be enacted retroactively.”

    Without having the laundry list of retroactive pension enhancements it’s difficult to tell if ALL enhancements were retroactive. I don’t believe that to be the case but, if I’m wrong and that’s quite possible, meaning you are right, then maybe they were all illegal based on the CA constitution.

    Spension, I appreciate your comments.

  34. Berryessa Chillin' Says:

    SeeSaw: Thanks for the detailed reference to the brief you provided. I won’t have a chance until the weekend to take a look, but I will.

    Mr. Towner and SeeSaw: I’m not a lawyer but a historian by trade. I admit to knowing virtually nothing about the formation of the California Constitution, but I’m more than familiar with the formation of the federal Constitution. I’ve been disheartened by how some plainly-understood federal clauses have been perverted by the courts against the original intent of the Framers (ex post facto laws being a prime example), so it wouldn’t surprise me to find the same on the state level. But I’ll take a look at the brief and see how it came about that pensions are not considered part of compensation by the lawyers guild.

  35. spension Says:

    Seems to me that in 1999 changing the multiplier up to 3% for anyone (including safety) for service years prior to 1999 was on the face of it a retroactive compensation increase.

    I’d be interested in understanding how it could be argued otherwise.

  36. Berryessa Chillin' Says:

    SeeSaw, if you go to the “Quick Facts,” you can find the most recent ratios listed go to June 2012, not 2013 I mistakenly believed. In any case, they are more recent than the June 2011 figure you cite on the CALPES front page.

    Link here– http://www.calpers.ca.gov/eip-docs/about/facts/facts-at-a-glance.pdf

    Since there are three ratios given (66.1/75.5/68.9%), I’m going to use a 70% ratio as an average. With $233.4 billion in assets, that means assets should be about $333 billion, which means a $100 billion shortfall. That works about to a shortfall of about $2,600 each for the 38 million California residents (2012 US Census).

    I don’t hate my state. I hate the mismanagement of my state by venal politicians and bureaucrats who don’t have the common good of the Golden State in mind.

  37. SeeSaw Says:

    spension, if you read the Amicus Brief on behalf of CalPERS, the arguments you say you want to hear are in that brief. The decisions have already been made by the courts that the retroactive upgrades were legal at that time. Such upgrades are now illegal, because they were made so by statute in the PPRA of 2013.

    Chillin, I am not an actuary and no CA resident has to pay such shortfall as you describe in a lump sum–they might pay it out over time in pennies. You can drive yourself crazy with all those financial prognostications. (I am one to know how I am not getting rich with my CalPERS pension. Federal and States taxes, and ABC and Medicare medical insurance premiums take 70% of my gross pension check.) Everything you say is subjective, according to your own political opinions. There are all kinds of people, crooked and honest, in this world and, statistically, you are going to find politicians and bureaucrats in the mix too. I love my state–you are free to feel how you want to feel too.

  38. Captain Says:

    spension Says: “Seems to me that in 1999 changing the multiplier up to 3% for anyone (including safety) for service years prior to 1999 was on the face of it a retroactive compensation increase.

    I’d be interested in understanding how it could be argued otherwise.”

    - As would I , spension. Again, than you for your comments.

  39. spension Says:

    SeeSaw, can you provide a link to the Amicus Brief?

    All I’ve found are news reports, and they don’t give the basis for the argument that those benefits were not retroactive. All Brown seems to say in press releases is that there would be a bad effect.

    http://legalnewsline.com/news/215407-brown-joins-fight-over-orange-county-deputies-pensions

  40. Captain Says:

    CALIFORNIA CONSTITUTION ARTICLE 11 LOCAL GOVERNMENT SEC. 10. (a)

    “A local government body may not grant extra compensation or extra allowance to a public officer, public employee, or contractor after service has been rendered or a contract has been entered into and performed in whole or in part, or pay a claim under an agreement made without authority of law.”

    CalPERS is CORRUPT!

  41. SeeSaw Says:

    You are citing a clause in the CA Constitution, Captain. The courts interpret those clauses as to just what they mean, and the courts decided that the upgrades were not “extra” compensation and were legal. You can probably read the whole court case if you contact the Los Angeles Superior Court.

    spension, I had hoped that if I gave all the case numbers and other identifying information I have, on the Amicus Brief, people could find it. I originally found it on the OCR in 2010, and hi-lited and printed it for my own information. It is 30 pages. I have the Brief on my desktop as an Adobe Reader file–there is no link with it. If I get more computer training, when I am able, and find a way to get a link, I will probably see you on a future thread and do what I can.

  42. SeeSaw Says:

    Further Captain, CalPERS is not a court of law. It is an arm of the State and follows the laws as put before it, by the Legislature of the State of CA. It abides by, or lawfully appeals, decisions of the courts!

  43. spension Says:

    Well, SeeSaw, tell us what the key argument is as to why a multiplier increase for service that took place prior to the change is not a retroactive compensation increase, if you can read it right from the Amicus Brief yourself.

  44. SeeSaw Says:

    P-6: “More recently, the Legislature has again authorized CalPERS to increase pension benefit formulas for existing public employees, and to apply these mew formulas to prior years of service. In 1999, the Legislature enacted Senate Bill 400 which created new pension benefit formulas for existing university workers, state industrial workers, school workers, state peace officers, and firefighters, and applied these new formulas for prior years of public service. (Stats. 1999, ch.555.) In 2001 and 2004, local agencies were also authorized to increase their benefit formulas and apply this increase to the prior service o various existing employees. (Stats. 2004, ch.654; Stats. 2001, ch. 782.) Thus, including prior years of public service to calculate benefits has been a fundament part of public employees’ pension benefits for at least the past 97 years.”

    P-17: “Thus, increases in benefits during the course of employment is a part of the employee’s original bargained-for employment benefits, and not a form of “extra” compensation barred by article XI, section 10(a). (Nelson v. City of Los Angeles (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d916, 918-19.)”

  45. SeeSaw Says:

    spension, I quoted from the Amicus Brief itself which was one CalPERS argument. You could probably look up the case and read the judicial decision, giving the reasons why the final decision was in favor of the Defendant and Respondent, the Assoc. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs et al. The Case went through a first trial, and two appeals, and ended when the CA Supreme Ct. refused to give it a fourth hearing. OC kept on squandering money when consultants told them they were spinning their wheels. I am one of the 947,000 CalPERS annuitants that would have been impacted by another decision, thus my interest in the case. And, I sure ain’t getting rich–why don’t all of you who are so anxious to see old people with pensions lose their shirts go find some other axes to grind. Its a big world out there and there really are people who are suffering and need help. You and your cohorts don’t begin to know how lucky you are to live in America!

  46. spension Says:

    Thanks, SeeSaw, so, the argument is that it has been going on for 97 years and there are clauses in contracts that permit it, so precedent supports it.

    I don’t want anyone to lose their shirts, but when I see calls for public pension contributions to rise above 20% of salary I think that infuriates the large majority in California who don’t get that deal.

    I don’t think anyone in CalPERS or CalSTRS or any other public system wants to ask for contributions above 20% of salary, either.

    The fact that we are in that situation means something has gone wrong, sorry about that.

  47. SeeSaw Says:

    Perhaps its time for those who have been bombarding the pensions to avert their attention to the 2008 economic collapse and the causes. There are a few documentaries and fictional movies out there that give one a pretty good idea of what went down and what resulted. My pension calculation yielded me 96% of my final salary after deduction for my beneficiary. Since taxes and medical insurance premiums amount to 70% of that gross check, its is not hard to see that something is very wrong indeed, and it is certainly not of my pension check. The detractors can’t see the forest for the trees!

  48. spension Says:

    Seesaw, volatility in the US securities markets is nothing new. CalPERS, CalSTRS, etc should never have assumed that volatility was absent.

    Until maybe the 1970′s, memories of volatility of the stock market kept public pension systems in bonds, which are more reliable but give lower returns.

    When the transition out of bonds into wider securities occurred, CalPERS and CalSTRS somehow assumed that stock market gains were as reliable as bonds, but did not account for the ups and downs that are intrinsic to the stock market. And so we are in this mess.

    It isn’t reasonable to ask taxpayers to make up for the volatility of the stock market.

    Financial misdeeds definitely contributed to the 2008 collapse. My point is that historically (think 1974, 1929, and many others that are beyond our current collective memory) similar things are entirely predictable. If you don’t like it, you stay in bonds, as public pension systems used to.

    If you choose to invest in stocks, you undertake responsibility for the volatility. CalPERS and CalSTRS want the returns of stocks with the low volatility of bonds, where the low volatility is obtained by charging taxpayers for stock market crashes. That just isn’t right.

  49. Captain Says:

    Thank You, Spension.

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