This time it is spreading misinformation and errors of omission about the serious public pension problem. It does not help one iota in the effort to educate — or collaborate — on complex public policy issues. Instead, it just sounds like a bunch of grumpy, or outright angry, ideologues.
No one denies that we need to tackle pension reform — that’s old news. Stockton may file for bankruptcy — something that has been anticipated for years, largely because of the city’s overly ambitious growth strategy (which imploded when the housing bubble burst and tax receipts dried up). If anything that should be the cautionary tale — just as in the City of Lincoln, which faces its own financial challenges because of unbridled growth.
And in Southern California, the City of Bell’s financial mismanagement — almost laughable — also is well documented.
But the good (and recent) news is that many governments are taking steps to address public pension reform — and they are collaborating:
•In fact, our Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has called for public pension reform, with support from Republicans. Both sides are working together to get a measure on the November ballot for voters to approve. “GOP backs Jerry Brown’s plan on pensions” in the Sacramento Bee is here.
•Our local governments — in Grass Valley, Nevada City and the county — have all been working to reduce their pension obligations. They also are negotiating cost cutting plans with their public unions. Nevada City, where a SES Foundation supporter is the ex-City Treasurer, has adopted a two-tiered benefit program for medical insurances and pensions.
But “Rebane’s Ruminations” (AKA, “Rebane’s Rant”) missed all of this in it’s “old-saw” report this morning on pension reform. None of the positive developments were mentioned — it was all negative. (Creepy, anonymous personal attacks by George’s like-minded friends occur regularly on his blog too — further undermining its credibility for rational dialogue).
In his post, Rebane quoted from the group’s alarmist report “Unfunded liabilities — our community’s fiscal time bombs,” which I’ve brought up before.
“The County of Nevada’s pension plan is underfunded by approximately $48.137 million (as of June 30, 2006),” the report said. “The cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City have an undisclosed debt of over $4 million and $677.000, respectively.”
But in an article in The Union in 2008, public officials suggested the report left out some key points:
“Deputy County Executive Officer Joe Christoffel said McDaniel’s figure of $48.1 million represents what the county would be short if it had to pay off all its pension liabilities immediately.
“The county actually has $188 million in market value assets in its CalPERS pension fund and pays its required contributions to CalPERS every year, Christoffel said.
“I envision it will continue to be met, and things are stable at this point,” Christoffel said. He added that county employees can only go through CalPERs for a savings program at work.
After throwing the county officials under the bus, Rebane concedes (in parenthesis) toward the bottom of his report that it is a “very well run county.” So what’s the point then?
“Sierra Economics and Science Foundation was created to bring reason and clarity to the issues facing Nevada County,” according to its website.
The Board members are:
George Rebane, PhD, Director of Research
Mike McDaniel, AAMS, Director of Public Relations
Russ Steele, Lt Col USAF (Ret), Executive Director and Director of Information
Ronald Knaus, PhD, Director of Environmental Research
Barry Pruett, Esq, Director of Legal Research,
Gil Mathew, Director of Economic Research
Memo to SES Foundation: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
The group’s status has been listed as “delinquent” with the state Attorney General’s office because its accounting dates were wrong for five years — an elementary mistake.
Instead of bashing government with broad brush strokes, let’s continue to work together to address the pension crisis.
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