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December 3, 2013 | By Alana Semuels and Michael Muskal
After a federal judge ruled Tuesday that Detroit was eligible for bankruptcy protection and cleared the way for municipal pensions to be cut, city officials were upbeat, called for unity and urged residents to look ahead with optimism. But for the city's employee unions, whose members, current and retired, are likely to face benefit reductions, the decision signaled the start of a new legal round - their appeal of the ruling to a higher court. The disparate reactions were symptomatic of what lies ahead for Detroit.
November 8, 2013 | By Jeff Gottlieb and Ruben Vives
Angela Spaccia, the former second-in-command in the city of Bell, told a jury Thursday that her goal working in the city of Bell was to retire at age 50, earning enough to receive a $100,000 annual pension. Spaccia, one of eight former Bell officials accused of looting the city's treasury to pay themselves out-sized salaries, took the witness stand in her own defense, at times tearfully recounting her years working in the city. In 2010, Spaccia earned more than $500,000, while Rizzo received more than $1 million.
November 8, 2013 | By Paul Pringle
A union leader whose members helped construct Disney Hall, Staples Center and other signature Southern California buildings is under investigation over allegations that he let employers skip payments to workers' health and pension funds, spent dues money on an extramarital affair and retaliated against whistle-blowers. Scott Brain represents about 1,650 workers as head of Cement Masons Union Local 600, based in Bell Gardens. The union is a force in local and state politics as a regular donor to election campaigns.
November 4, 2013 | By Rick Rojas
Dwarfed by the looming seal of a troubled city, a group of nearly a dozen candidates crowded on the City Council dais, shoulder to shoulder, taking turns explaining why they should be the next mayor of San Bernardino. There was the retired coach who said he could whip the city into shape like the boys on his wrestling team. The developer who wanted to make it easier to build. The real estate broker running on a platform of prayer, transparency in government and turning a languishing shopping mall into the world's largest skate park.
November 1, 2013 | By Jeff Gottlieb
When Robert Rizzo pleaded no contest to corruption charges last month, many of the trappings of his former life as Bell's highly paid city manager were gone: the house near the ocean in Huntington Beach, the horse farm outside Seattle, the stable of racehorses. But Rizzo still has two lucrative streams of money from his days in local government that neither Bell nor prosecutors can touch: his 401(k)-style retirement account that once held more than $1 million and an annual pension of $116,628.
October 27, 2013 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: I'm in my late 60s and plan to retire in about two years. I have a pension that will pay close to my current take-home income. I also have about $500,000 in annuities and IRAs. These plus Social Security make retirement look good. But right now finances are tight. Should I continue to put $1,300 a month into my retirement plan or use that money for expenses and travel now - while we're still relatively young? Answer: You appear to be in the fortunate position of being able to try a "practice retirement.
October 22, 2013 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO -- Ex-Mayor Bob Filner will lose about $1,704 a year in pension payments if the judge who sentences him on charges of mistreating women accepts a pension reduction clause in his plea bargain with prosecutors, according to figures released Tuesday by the San Diego pension board. Filner, who resigned Aug. 30, will receive about $18,934 a year in pension payments if San Diego County Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta accepts the pension reduction part of the plea bargain.
October 17, 2013 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO -- As part of his guilty plea on charges of mistreating women, ex-San Diego Mayor Bob Filner agreed to forfeit most of his mayoral pension. The plea bargain calls for Filner to lose that portion of his mayoral pension earned from the date of his first offense in March until the date of his resignation in August. But the pension issue is apparently complicated by differing legal interpretations. The two laws undergirding the provision that Filner lose most of his mayoral pension may not apply to him. A state law calling for stripping convicted felons of pensions may not apply to a charter city with its own pension plan such as San Diego, according to lawyers for the San Diego pension board.
October 16, 2013 | By Christine Mai-Duc
The city of Long Beach is announcing that it has achieved pension changes for all city employees after reaching a tentative agreement that asks four of the city's bargaining units to increase the amount employees pay into their retirements. The contracts represent the final piece of nearly three years of negotiations with nine unions that sought to lower pension costs as the city struggled financially. Since 2007, the city has eliminated 786 positions and slashed $134 million from its general fund.
October 16, 2013 | By Paloma Esquivel and Joseph Serna
Orange County district attorney's investigators have raided the offices of an Upland law firm accused of bullying civic leaders across Southern California in its aggressive representation of police and their unions. The search of Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir comes after the firm announced last month that it would be dissolving following a series of scandals and a lawsuit filed by Costa Mesa city leaders who alleged that the firm was harassing them for political gain. The firm has represented dozens of police unions in Southern California and has a reputation for its bare-fisted tactics and attacks on city hall.
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