Calpensions identifies poster child for pension reform initiative

VCTAsqBackers of an initiative that would give new Ventura County employees a 401(k)-style plan, rather than a pension, sometimes mention a lawsuit filed last fall by a former sheriff.

Bob Brooks, whose salary as Ventura County sheriff was $227,600 a year when he retired in January 2011, received an annual pension of $283,000. He filed a suit last September seeking an additional pension of $75,000 under a supplemental plan.

If Brooks were in the California Public Employees Retirement System, his combined pension of $358,00 would be No. 2 on the current list of largest CalPERS pensions posted by a pension reform group.

BrooksBobHis total pension would top the largest California State Teachers Retirement System pension, $302,064 for a Modesto elementary school official, and the largest University of California pension, $337,346 for a UCLA retiree.

In 1997 a state Supreme Court ruling in a Ventura County deputy sheriffs suit expanded the final pay used to determine pension amounts for 20 independent county systems operating under a 1937 act, ranging in size from Los Angeles to Mendocino.

What became known as the “Ventura decision” said in addition to the salary, county pensions should be based on special pay received for other things, such as unused vacation time, bonuses, health care, education and car and uniform allowances.

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Foy2Supervisor Foy on Pension Reform 

After a disease is discovered and isolated, medical researchers search for the first person who got sick to hopefully provide a clue about how the disease was spread. That single individual is always known by one name: Patient Zero.

If Sacramento leaders take forensic awareness of the state’s overwhelming pension and obligation costs and search for how it all began, they’ll trace them straight to Ventura County – the Patient Zero of California’s $500 billion (and growing) unfunded liabilities.

This is because of the “Ventura Decision” – a unanimous 1997 California Supreme Court ruling that dramatically altered the way so-called “37 Act” counties tabulate pensionable salary, expanding it to include bonuses, health care costs, uniform allowances and other forms of pay.

The original case was filed by Ventura County deputy sheriffs arguing that in addition to salary, several additional items (like selling back accrued vacation time), must be counted in every individual pension. The ruling was made despite many years of collective bargaining that this compensation would not be treated as pensionable.

Overnight, the ruling spawned a massive pension shortfall that has forced many counties to spend from hard-earned reserves or fall further and further behind in meeting their pension obligations.

While Ventura County has managed its finances far better than the state and other counties, pension costs as a percentage of Ventura’s budget have grown from one percent in 1999 to 17 percent today. This is not an increase of 16 percent. It is 1,600 percent. Today, more than $160 million is spent only on county pension costs.

Why so much? Although the state’s 10th largest county, Ventura is home to more public retirees making $200,000 than any other county. Two former officials are now collecting almost $300,000 annually, an amount that not only has an annual cost-of-living guarantee, but is greater than their highest-ever salary.

Think about that. Ventura pays these two individuals more in retirement than they ever made in work.

Ventura County Taxpayers Association

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relevant: http://calpensions.com/2012/04/16/county-legacy-court-ordered-pension-spiking/

2 Responses to Calpensions identifies poster child for pension reform initiative

  1. Stefan Djordjevic February 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Very interesting. Thanks for the report.

    Reply
  2. Me January 29, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Under the new common core standards, I should be able to enter any number I like for 2 x nine = – correct?

    More to the point – one should investigate the connections of the patient zero – because I think you will find that this was in no way, shape or form a fluke. This is all part of an elaborate plan to bankrupt the United States at every level – in order to move us to global government – under a psychopathic global elite. The overall plan is an extremely well financed, well researched and carefully executed plan, using of below-average intelligence, easily manipulated stooges as the executives (meaning those who carry out the plans) – ie Stupid people, purposely placed in positions of power. This may or may not be the case here, but one must take this into account. Then arrest all involved and send them to jail for the rest of their lives – unless high treason charges are warranted.

    Reply

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