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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.
December 8, 2013 | By Tony Perry
SAN DIEGO - In what could be the final act in a long-running drama, ex-Mayor Bob Filner is set to appear in court Monday to be sentenced on three counts of mistreating women, the kind of accusations that drove him to resign. The judge is widely expected to approve a plea bargain that includes no jail time, three months of home confinement, a reduction in his city pension, mandatory mental health counseling and a bar against seeking public office. A probation report will describe Filner as a hard-driving perfectionist with an abrasive manner and a patronizing, retrograde attitude toward women who, under the pressure of being a "strong mayor" and after giving up on his mood-stabilizing medication, engaged in boorish, assaultive behavior for which he is now deeply apologetic and admits he needs therapy.
December 7, 2013 | By Alana Semuels
For 34 years, Gwendolyn Beasley worked as a clerk at the Detroit Public Library and paid a portion of her salary into a fund that would someday help pay for her pension. Now retired, Beasley, 67, receives $1,500 a month from that pension. But she's cutting back on spending after a judge ruled last week that Detroit's pension funds, like other city creditors, may have to take a hit as the city reorganizes its finances under bankruptcy. "I think it's so very unfair," Beasley said.
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.
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