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Present and Former Public Officials Take It on Chin From Irate Taxpayers

January 26, 1992

Taxpayers and PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) rank-and-file membership should be outraged at the recent disclosure of unethical conduct by retired public officials of the city of Anaheim and seven other cities.

The PERS retirement benefit formulas already clearly favor administrative positions at the expense of the rank-and-file worker. But these generous benefits weren't enough for Anaheim's former city manager (William O.) Talley and former fire chief (Bob) Simpson. They wanted more. So they purposely padded their last year's compensation to unfairly increase their own pensions. In doing this, they knowingly cheated the retirement system, rank-and-file workers, and the taxpayers of the city of Anaheim. Their unscrupulous actions also cast a shadow of doubt over the integrity of other city employees and breeds contempt for government in general.

The sorry fact is that the bulk of, and most blatant, pension abuse was committed by well-paid administrators. Just like the S&L debacle, BCCI, Executive Life, and so on, the very people who were hired to provide moral and ethical leadership ended up cheating the system.

The PERS pension probe is years overdue. All sorts of pension padding has been practiced for years to a lesser degree. The current crop of pension cheaters is just the tip of the iceberg. Talley and Simpson and the other bunch did only what they knew others did before them. Greed was their mistake. They took too much. It was the level of their greed which finally forced the PERS Board into action.

State Controller Gray Davis has now raised the banner of pension abuse-buster. But where was he years ago? After all, he has been a PERS board member for years.

PHILIP KNYPSTRA, Anaheim

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