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January 30, 2014 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO - A legal dispute may postpone a campaign battle over public pensions, which was poised to become one of the most high-profile and expensive fights this year. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and his allies are filing a lawsuit saying that the official description of their proposed ballot initiative was innaccurately worded by the state attorney general's office. Such descriptions can be highly contentious because they are sometimes the only information voters receive about far-reaching issues on the ballot.
January 27, 2014 | By Soumya Karlamangla
This post has been corrected and updated. See the note at the bottom for details. A city panel charged with deciding the next step in a labor union challenge to a benefits rollback for city employees postponed their vote Monday, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars hanging in the balance. In October 2012, Los Angeles City Council members voted to scale back pension benefits and increase the retirement age for city workers hired after July 1, 2013. The move was intended to save the city $4.3 billion over 30 years.  However, the Coalition of L.A. City Unions argue the council violated the city's labor relations law by approving the changes without formal negotiations.
January 17, 2014 | By Robert Krol and Shirley Svorny
The recent report from the Los Angeles 2020 Commission paints a bleak picture for Los Angeles, with a laundry list of ills facing the city. Our concern is that the commission will recommend options, to come within 90 days, that mimic those of the past: policies that favor specific industries, aim for growth in only particular geographic areas, lend money to firms turned down by banks or target specific types of jobs. We can't say this firmly enough: An important objective must be to make adjustments that give investors security about the future of city services and tax rates.
January 13, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
A group of foundations has pledged to give Detroit $330 million, a contribution designed to prevent the sale of the city's art, freeing that money to help ease threatened cuts in benefits for retired municipal workers. The charitable effort, announced Monday by mediators in Detroit's bankruptcy proceeding, aims to keep artwork in the prestigious Detroit Institute of Arts from being sold. Officials have asked the museum to raise $500 million to help the city, which could then use the money to deal with other expected cuts as it seeks to work its way back from the nation's largest municipal bankruptcy.
January 13, 2014 | By Chris Megerian
SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget proposal would continue to improve California's finances, but his plans for financing bullet train construction and a lack of new money for the cash-strapped teacher pension system are troublesome, the Legislative Analyst's Office said Monday. A report from the office, which provides nonpartisan budget advice to lawmakers, said Brown's $155-billion spending blueprint correctly emphasizes paying down debt incurred during state budget crises.
January 13, 2014 | By Marc Lifsher
SACRAMENTO - California's huge pension fund reported a 16.2% return on its investments in 2013 - its best results in more than a decade. The California Public Employees' Retirement System, which provides benefits to about 1.7 million state and local government workers, retirees and their dependents, said its total investments were worth $282.6 billion as of Friday, the highest ever. Better known as CalPERS, the country's biggest public pension fund was especially helped by the stock market's best year since 1997.
January 7, 2014 | By Kerry Cavanaugh
Let the California public employee pension war of 2014 begin. On Monday, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris released the ballot title and summary for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's pension initiative, which would allow government agencies to negotiate changes to current employees' future retirement benefits. He's now free to poll on the language and begin collecting the signatures needed to put in on the ballot. Advocates on both sides of the pension debate have been waiting for Harris' title and summary because those 100 or so words can make or break an initiative.
January 2, 2014
Re "California is no Detroit," Opinion, Dec. 29 John D.R. Clark's explanation of the state's pension problem was easy for even a regular guy like me to understand. He tells us that because of the post-1999 enhanced retirement formula, public employees with 30 years of service can retire with 90% of their salary. He mentions that bankrupt Detroit had no way to meet its pension promises, but that the vast majority of cities and counties in California are not on a path to bankruptcy.
December 18, 2013 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
Even in deep blue California, where Democrats dominate, organized labor is losing public popularity. That's a general statement, based on nonpartisan polling. Specifically, public employee unions are tarnishing all labor, according to the pollster. He pinpoints pension envy: public employees pulling down generous retirement benefits that private sector taxpayers began losing years ago. That's the long-term public gripe. And recently in the traditional labor stronghold of the San Francisco Bay Area, voters have especially soured on unions because of two very annoying public transit strikes.
December 12, 2013 | By David Zahniser
A Los Angeles employee relations officer delivered a stinging defeat to the city's labor leaders Thursday, saying that they failed to meet a procedural deadline for challenging a hotly contested rollback in public employee pension benefits. Hearing Officer Luella Nelson recommended that the Employee Relations Board, a five-member panel that decides labor disputes at City Hall, dismiss a challenge to the City Council's decision to cut pension pay for employees hired after July 1. Council members voted to scale back pension benefits and increase the retirement age in October 2012.
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