Marin IJ & Other Local Coverage
County to provide taxpayers with pension
details. Marin IJ -8/8/13 Editorial: Read
Dan Walters Daily: Marin County makes a
good move - Sacramento Bee 8/2/13
Video Blog - Watch
Critics hail move listing pension liability in
tax mailing - Marin IJ 7/30/13
By Nels Johnson Read
Critics blast county's tax bill decision -
Marin IJ 4/16/13
By Nels Johnson Read
Marin supervisors urged to make tax bill
more informative - Marin IJ 3/19/2013
By Nels Johnson Read
Local public pension forum draws a large turnout - Marin IJ 3/13/2013
By Dick Spotswood Read
A Wake-up call on public pensions in Marin
By Dick Spotswood - Marin Independent Journal
Critics Assail Marin County's 'Pension Roulette'
By Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal 10/7/13 Read
Unions sue to block Marin pension reform
Marin IJ 1/24/13
By Nels Johnson Read
John & Ken Show Discussing Gov. Browns Pension Reform Plan Impact -KFI Radio 8/29 Listen
Taxpayers covering Legislature's bad debt - SF Chronicle 6/19/12
By David Crane. Read
State Politicians and the Public Pension Cookie Jar - WSJ 6/8/12
By Steven Malagna Read
Marin County's escalating pension costs rooted in 1970s
'scandalous' fiscal deceptions
Marin IJ 3/31/2012 Read
Supervisors back governor, giving pension reformers a victory - Marin IJ - 12/11/11 By Dick Spotswood Read
Public pressure needed to push pension reform - Marin IJ -
11/20/11By Dick Spotswood Read
Ford takes on pension reform - Marinscope - 9/21/2011
By Chris Rooney - ". . . pension reform is gradually gaining
Marin County pension reform fight continues
Marinscope Newspapers 8/17/11 Read
Critics flay Marin County pension program
Marin IJ Article - 8/9/2011 Read
Citizens group to county:
Reform pensions or face ballot measure - Marin IJ 7/21/11
Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans in the news. Read
Chuck Reed: A Liberal Mugged by Pension Reality
Mayor Chuck Reed knows the way to San Jose's solvency. Now he wants to take his approach statewide. Public unions aren't happy.
By Allysia Finley, WSJ - 11/29/13 Read
The Pension Fund That Ate California -
City Journal, Winter 2013
CalPERS’s corruption, insider dealing, and
politicized investments have overwhelmed taxpayers with debt. By Steven Malanga Read
How to Stop Courts’ Blockades of Pension
Reform - Bloomberg.com 10/16/13
By Steven Malanga Read
The Democrat Who Took on the Unions - WSJ 3/24/12
R.I. Treasurer, Gina Raimondo, talks about how she persuaded the voting public, labor rank-and-file and a liberal legislature to pass the most far-reaching pension reform in decades. Read
Pension changes can't wait - Sacramento Bee - 8/28/11
By Daniel W. Hancock, chairman of the bipartisan Little Hoover
Catching up hard when pensions are underfunded
David Crane, SF Gate 7/29/11 Read
CSPP Marin Voice & Letters to the Editor
Mosquito district tax looks like a pension bailoutMarin IJ 3/11/15 by Paul Premo of CSPP Read
Giving voters a say on public pensions
- Marin IJ 10/22/13 by David Brown of CSPP Read
An alternative public pension
Marin IJ 8/11/13 by Bob Bunnell of CSPP Read
Public Pensions - From Detroit to Marin
Marin IJ 8/3/13 by Michael Lotito of CSPP
San Rafael's pensions are not in good shape
By Bob Bunnell and Mark Friedlander CSPP
Pensions, Potholes and Leadership
By Michael Lotito, CSPP Founding Member
10/7/13 Read Supervisors want to keep taxpayers in
the dark - Marin IJ 4/13/13
Marin Voice By David Brown, CSPP Read
Missed Opportunities - What the Marin
Board of Supervisors Didn't Do With the
New Pension Reform Tools - 12/18/2012
by David Brown CSPP Read
Demand real Pension Reform - Marin IJ 8/12/12
By Jody Morales Read
Next steps to solve pension mess - Marin IJ 4/10/12
By Michael Lotito Read
Over-the-top overtime pay - Marin IJ - 2/10/12
By Bob Stephens Read
Pension Debate is About Resources - Marin IJ - 11/7/11
By Dave Brown & Jody Morales - Guest Op-Ed. Read
Public Pension Facts and Figures - Marin Voice 9/8/2011
by Bob Stephens Read
The Pension Reform Act of 2014
A group of California Mayors – including San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed (D), San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris (D), Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido (D), Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (R) and Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Kampe (D) – have filed a statewide ballot initiative to provide state and local governments with the tools needed to fix California’s unsustainable public employee retirement plans. More Information.
Ending California’s Numbers Game
New rules and more audits should make the
pension crisis harder to hide. 1/22/13
by Tim Cavanaugh - City Journal Read
Moody's Impact on Unfunded Pension
by John G. Dickerson, YourPublicMoney.com
Moody's Investor Services is one of the nation's
major credit rating firms. This powerful report looks at why changes in Moody's analysis of the creditworthiness of local and state governments demonstrate the major threat to Marin and other local counties due to unfunded pension debt. This report will be presented to the public in an upcoming event! Read
Governor Brown's 12-Point Pension Reform Plan
Released on October 27, 2011 Plan
The Beholden State - How public-sector unions broke California
Vallejo Goes for Broke
Strange Days in L.A.
City-Journal.org Spring 2010 Articles
Public Pensions For Retirement Security
Little Hoover Commission February 2011 Report
Visit and Subscribe to Pension Tsunami
A project of the California Public Policy Center Click
Chronology of David Brown's Challenge to Address the Illegally Granted Pension Increases For Marin County Employees.
On January 14, 2016, David C. Brown, a member of Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans, filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with The First District Court of Appeal of California asking that it take certain actions with regard to the Board of Trustees of the Marin County Employees’ Retirement Association (MCERA). Download Petition. Download Marin IJ
In 2015 the Marin County Grand Jury concluded that four jurisdictions (agencies) failed to comply with the requirements of CA Government Code Section 7507 prior to approving pension enhancements. The four agencies are the County of Marin, the City of San Rafael, the Southern Marin Fire District and the Novato Fire Protection District.
In their required responses to the Grand Jury all of them effectively said they had not fully complied with 7507. Yet, they did nothing. Why? CSPP surmises that it is because they are “political animals” and that doing nothing was the path of least resistance.
Although the Grand Jury did excellent work, it missed one significant opportunity in not requiring a response from the board of the Marin County Employee Retirement Association (MCERA).
In October of this year CSPP picked up the baton and has attempted to convince the Board to do the right thing.
The right thing to do would be to acknowledge (1) that there is, at the very least, a prima facie case that the benefits were unlawfully granted, (2) that it may be prohibited from paying them, (3) to place on its agenda a discussion of the topic, and (4) ultimately, to petition a court of appeal for guidance.
The documents below were received as a result of a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request made by Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans to MCERA. All are public documents. All should be read.
Also publicly available is the audio recording of the MCERA Board meeting dated December 9, 2015 at which CSPP spoke in open time and in public comment after both the "trustees' comments" and "future meetings" sections of the agenda. It will soon be available on this website.
LETTER TO RETIREMENT BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Recently the press has been full of news about former Orinda-Moraga Fire Chief Nowicki and the action taken by the Contra Costa retirement board to reduce his pension and to recapture improper payments.
The following statement caught my eye. “It seemed to us that under the circumstances presented to this board that constituted improper behavior,” said Harvey Leiderman, the board’s attorney. “I’m not calling it illegal behavior. But I’m saying it is improper behavior, in our opinion.” Apparently, even "improper" behavior, behavior that has not been found to be illegal, is sufficient to void a pension increase and to recover overpayments. (READ MORE)
OCTOBER 5, 2015
RESPONSE TO CSPP BY LEGAL FIRM REPRESENTING THE BOARD
The Marin County Employees' Retirement Association (MCERA) Board of Retirement and Retirement Administration received your letter dated September 14, 2015, the Board Chair and Administrator have asked me to respond to you on their behalf.
The reference in your letter to the recent press articles describing actions taken by the Contra Costa County Employees' Retirement Association (CCCERA) Board of Retirement with respect to retirement benefits paid to former Orinda-Moraga Fire Chief Nowicki is interesting in light of MCERA's current challenges with a similar topic. (READ MORE)
DECEMBER 7, 2015
CSPP POINT-BY-POINT ASSESSMENT OF BOARD'S LEGAL RESPONSE
In conclusion, Ms. Dunning’s analysis of my letter to the board was inaccurate and incomplete. She admits she did not have all the facts and did not examine all the relevant points of law. She relied on a “suspicion”, one that was incorrect. She cited inappropriate and irrelevant cases. She made a sweeping generalization that did not allow for any exceptions. She set up a construct that ties the board’s hands so it may not act even when the facts are clear.
Ms. Dunning’s letter was not an unbiased analysis of the issues raised by my letter. It was an advocacy piece designed to make a potential problem go away. Ms. Dunning has disqualified herself from any further participation in this matter. (READ ASSESSMENT)
DECEMBER 9, 2015
CSPP ADDRESSES THE RETIREMENT BOARD
Good morning trustees. My name is David Brown. I am from Mill Valley and I am a member of CSPP. As I am sure you know, a retirement board of trustees may pay only benefits that are lawfully adopted. If a board of trustees has knowledge, or even suspects, that benefits were not lawfully adopted, it is required to petition a court of appeals for instructions.
California Government Code section 7507 lays out very specific requirements in both procedure and timing for disclosure to the public of the future costs of proposed pension enhancements.
The Marin County Civil Grand Jury in April 2015 found multiple violations of section 7507 by four Marin Agencies. Two of the four agencies, The County of Marin and The City of San Rafael, in their required responses to the Grand Jury effectively conceded they did not comply with the requirements of section 7507. The other two, Southern Marin Fire and Novato Fire Protection, either did not respond directly or said they cannot find evidence they complied with 7507. So they, too, effectively conceded the increases were not lawfully adopted.
To put this failure to fully comply with section 7507 in some perspective, CalPERS considers compliance with 7507 so important that it now requires agencies to certify in writing that they have complied with its requirements.
Please note that Calpers does not require certification of partial compliance, substantial compliance, or some other less-than-full measure of compliance. It requires certification of compliance. Period. Importantly, CalPERS will not fund a retirement benefit unless an agency has certified such compliance.
In light of the failure by the four agencies to fully comply with section 7507, what does your fiduciary duty now oblige you to do? Should you continue with business as usual? Should you perform your own independent investigation? Should you petition a court of appeal for guidance? The answers to all these questions are obvious. (READ MORE)
DECEMBER 7, 2015
CSPP IDENTIFIES CONFLICT OF INTEREST AMOUNG RETIREMENT BOARD MEMBERS
The “public service exemption” to conflict of interest rules as described by the court in the Lexin decision relies on members of the board having, in the words of the court, “a shared interest with the entire membership of the retirement system” and with the “membership as a whole.”
For the purposes of this discussion, MCERA’s membership is divided into two mutually exclusive groups, and these groups have different interests. (READ LETTER)
DECEMBER 16, 2015
CSPP PROVIDES LIST OF SPECIFIC QUESTIONS FOR RETIREMENT BOARD
Dear Board of Trustees,
A retirement board of trustees may pay only benefits that are lawfully adopted. California Government Code section 7507 lays out very specific requirements in both procedure and timing for disclosure to the public of the future costs of proposed pension enhancements.
... Thank you for listening attentively to CSPP's presentation on December 9, 2015 regarding the good faith issues raised by the Grand Jury as to compliance with California government code section 7507. These issues raise in our minds the necessity of the Board to agenda the item for discussion purposes leading to an investigation and clarification by a court. We raised a number of reasons for our conclusion and asked questions as well. (READ LETTER)
JANUARY 13, 2016
CSPP ADDRESSES THE RETIREMENT BOARD
Board of Trustees and Mr. Wickman,
Last time I was here I spoke at some length about possible failures of this board in its fiduciary duties to its plan members and possible failures in its duty to the public to minimize employer contributions.
I have since learned that your duty to the public is not fiduciary, my mistake. Rather, it is constitutional, under Article 16, Section 17, paragraph (b), the so-called contribution minimization provision. (READ MORE)
Pension Analyst Presents Devastating Financial Impacts Ahead For Six Northern California Counties Including Marin!
This presentation shows how changes at Moody’s Investor Service and new pension accounting standards will unmask the staggering debt threatening vital community services. John G. Dickerson, financial expert and author of two new reports on government pension accounting, presents his alarming findings.
(Please see "Breaking News, Information and More" section for a copy of his Moody's report.