Friday, July 18, 2014

Robert Fellner: Would you take a 12 percent pay cut in exchange for a 100 percent reduction in work?

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(Mod: As you likely know, Robert Fellner is a research fellow with the California Policy Center and a transparency researcher for TransparentCalifornia.com. He has also taken a keen interest in the City of Sierra Madre due to our outrageously expensive and likely State of California leading city employee health care plans. An interest that this blog, along with our community, have benefited by. Here is Robert's latest investigative article into extreme government employee compensation in what is for some truly the Golden State. This article has also appeared in California Political Review - link.)

OCERS Retirees Receiving Pensions in Excess of their Highest Salary: Wouldn’t it be nice to receive your full salary even after you retired? For several Orange County government retirees, this isn’t a dream — it’s reality.

For instance, Orange County Department of Education’s former deputy superintendent Lynn Hartline retired in 2013 with an OCERS-reported final average salary of $250,018.92. Hartline won’t have too much trouble adapting to life without a salary, however. Her 2013 full-year pension benefit from OCERS (Orange County Employees Retirement System) was 100 percent of her final average salary – $250,018.

Charles Walters received the second-highest OCERS yearly payout in 2013. Walters was the former Orange County assistant sheriff who retired in 2008 amidst a criminal grand jury probe for the 2006 murder of John Chamberlain in the jails he oversaw. His pension for the 2013 year was also 100 percent of his final average salary — $226,365.

Unfortunately the examples above are hardly extreme outliers, but rather indicative of an underlying trend. For all OCERS full-career retirees — those with 30 or more years of service credit for retirement — the average annual pension benefit received in 2013 was $73,875, or nearly 90 percent of their final salary.

Focusing on only recent retirees prevents older retirees — who’ve received significant cost of living adjustments to their pension benefit — from artificially inflating the comparison of pension benefits as a percentage of final salary. The average pension benefit received by a full- career OCERS retiree who retired in 2004 or later was $81,283, which represents 88 percent of the average final salary.

OCERS retirees who worked for the O.C. Fire Authority received an even larger percentage of their final salary in retirement. The average full-career Fire Authority retiree received a pension benefit of $117,934 in 2013, which was 94 percent of the average retiree’s final salary. Retirees who had retired after 2004 received an average benefit of $119,326, worth 94.5 percent of their final salary. For 2008 or later full-career Fire Authority retirees, the average pension benefit in 2013 was $122,770, which was 94.75 percent of the average retiree’s final salary.

The data from those who retired after 2008 demonstrates that pension benefits worth 94 percent their final salary is indicative of the base pension amount an employee can expect to receive upon retirement. Reviewing the OCERS 2013 data reveals that this problem goes beyond fire retirees. In addition to Hartline’s quarter million dollar yearly benefit, a former social services director, assistant public defender, and sanitation district manager all receive annual pension benefits well over $150,000 apiece.

As salaries rise, so too will future pension benefits for which taxpayers are responsible. Consider the Orange County Department of Education’s current superintendent, Alfred Mijares, who received a salary of $287,500 in 2013. If Mijares retires with at least 30 years of service credit, he will likely receive a pension benefit of over $250,000 his very first year of retirement.

Private citizens usually consider an appropriate pension amount to be what is necessary to cover the cost of living during retirement. Yet for many Orange County employees, pensions have become a continuation of the extravagant salaries they took home during their careers.

This system encourages government employees to retire 10 to 20 years earlier than their private- sector counterparts. Taxpayers are left paying for six-figure government pensions that most can only dream of, while simultaneously trying to fund their own, significantly smaller pensions.

SMRFA President Robert Young Passes Away - Article on Bill Coburn's site. Click here.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

44 comments:

  1. We live in a corrupt one party state where that party is completely in bed with government unions that are given everything they want. And you pay for it.

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    1. Exactly 7:03!

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    2. No wonder people and businesses are fleeing the state.

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    3. this can't last - taxpayers need to revolt against a ponzi scheme

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    4. easier to just leave

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    5. Here is a succinct explanation of how the scam works
      http://www.prageruniversity.com/Political-Science/The-Public-Unions-vs-the-Public.html#.U8l747FXD1U

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  2. This is a scam and the taxpayers are paying for it. Taxpayers are having to work longer and retire later so that these folks can retire at 50 with these incredible pensions and health benefits. They also become instant mult-millionaires. To get a guaranteed $200,000 a year income stream with cost of living increases and full medical benefits, you'd have to have a real estate porfolio of income properties with a value of about $10,000,000 million dollars. That's what the taxpayers are handing these people. It used to be that in exhange for the relatively low pay of government workers, they'd get a reasonable pension. Now they get both. What I have seen too is that most of them don't "retire" at 50. That's because its such a ridiculously low age to retire at. So they take another job which supplements their already extravagant pension. This takes a job away from someone who doesn't have a pension to fall back on. Its a gravy train and the unions and the public employees will keep riding it as long as we, the taxpayers are stupid enought to allow it.

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    1. we can start with SM

      amazing that we are paying for PD officers that "retired" at 48 and started a 2nd career at our expense

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  3. The public employees should never have been allowed to unionize in the first place. If its such a good idea, why isn't the military allowed to unionize. Its the same with the police, fire and other government workers. We should not be held hostage to people who we depend upon to perform vital public services to the residents. That was a big mistake and a fairly recent mistake. Governor Brown allowed public sector employees to unionize in California in about 1973. Its been down hill ever since. The most powerful union in California - the prison guard union of all people. They know they have us by the throat and they use that as leverage in their negotiations. Public Sector employees should never have been allowed to unionize in the first place.

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  4. If you want understand the danger from the public employee unions, go to Amazon and order the book "Plunder" by Stephen Greenhut. It mentions all the tricks in their playbook and explains how their salaries and pensions keep leap-frogging ahead. We now work for them and have to retire at 65 or 70 so that the revenue keeps pumping in to enable the public employees to retire at 50.

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  5. Sierra Madre reminds of what Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Tax Organization said about General Motors: "They stopped being a car company and became an employee benefits company that built cars on the side. Likewise, our city government has become an employee benefits company that provides services to the residents on the side.

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    1. Jon Coupal and the Howard Jarvis Tax Organization deserves all of our support. I donate on line. "HJTA.org".

      We would not be able to afford to live in our own homes without HJTA fighting to save Prop. 13 and keeping our property taxes from doubling or tripling.
      Barry Gold

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  6. Wow. Mr. Fellner's research is devastating. Thank you Tattler for publicizing it. On a topic covered earlier this week, Mr. Love of the San Gabriel Valley Water District (SGVWD Board and his extreme optimism in the face of drought, there is an article in today's Pasadena Star News on Monterey Park (along with Alhambra, Azusa and Sierra Madre, a member of the SGVWD). Monterey Park not only has NO mandatory water conservation measures in place, they have been subsidizing their residents' water - the first six units have been basically free until now. So Azusa and Sierra Madre are doing all the conserving, and Monterey Park is doing all the consuming? Well, I suppose if they have been listening to Mr. Love, they don't see any need to cut back.

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  7. just think... these city employees - a.k.a. as small fish when hired turn into big whales prior to retiring at the taxpayers expense! oh I understand now... we are the taxpayers....

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    1. Think of it as a whole new family for you to support.

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    2. Sierra Madre is a union run city government. The Mayor and Goss are deep in their pockets. The fight over pensions and healh plan costs coming up in September is going to be a war.

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  8. Let's do some PUSD pension and payroll math.

    1. Principal Gaffney retired from Sierra Madre Elementary some years ago (early 2000's? Let's assume his pension is $80,000 a year (cannot verify but it is less than $100k/year since it's not on www.firstpensionsfirst.com's database).

    2. Principal Gayle Bluemel retired as Sierra Madre Elementary's principal a couple of years ago. Her pension (per http://www.fixpensionsfirst.com/calstrs-database/?first_name=&last_name=&employer=PASADENA+UNIFIED) is
    $ 109,842 per year.

    3. Current SM Elementary Principal Esther Salinas makes over $100k per year (it appears PUSD pulled down the supposedly "public" salary report from the internet ).

    4. Let's assume Gaffney's predecessor is deceased and no longer receiving a pension ( I don't know).

    Between retired and active people for SM Elementary Principal, we the tax payers are paying about $ 289,842 for 3 people that were/are in one position!!! And, I guarantee you, my estimate is low.

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    1. Come on Anon, show TransparentCalifornia.com some love! No guessing required! (Although you were right that your estimate was low!)

      2013 Data:

      1. $95k http://transparentcalifornia.com/pensions/2013/calstrs/tyrone-gaffney/

      2. $114k. http://transparentcalifornia.com/pensions/2013/calstrs/gayle-bluemel/

      3. Will be on our site very soon. K-12 and special districts will be added later this month!

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    2. Special Tattler report to follow!

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    3. 10:41, here. Thanks, Mr. Fellner!

      Gee, now its over $309,000 for 1 active and 2 retired Sierra Madre Elementary principals. For some reason I don't feel any better now.

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    4. But not just Sierra Madre tax payers pay these educator's pensions...all of Pasadena residents do and we pay the pensions of other PUSD retirees, too!

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    5. love these examples. I had a very similar conversation with someone in the private sector a couple of years ago. this person is a high level manager at a company and he was complaining about the difficult economic times. he noted that his company had to lay off some people and that because of that he was now doing the jobs of two people yet receiving his same salary. I told him how ironic it was that he received one salary (in the private sector) for doing two jobs while in the public sector, we pay two or three people (because of these overly generous retirement packages) to do the work of one person. nd, we the taxpayer, pay for this. he got rather quiet and changed the topic.

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  9. Not that this will ever happen, because it won't. But if this ballot initiative passes, good portions of California would be freed from the Dem/Public Employee Union axis.
    Forbes: Plan To Split California Into Six States Closer To Reality
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbrown/2014/07/17/six-californias-initiative/

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    1. I'd vote for it. Just to get away from Sacramento.

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    2. Sorry, but retired teachers/administrators who are conservative Republicans are in titis system, too.

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  10. from this day forward, I can't vote for any tax initiatives or increases for the PUSD or SM.

    it's all about pensions for people that are kicked back, relaxing or working a 2nd career at our expense

    I know with my job I won't be getting a $ 100 K annual pension and retiring at 55.

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    1. I agree it is like hostage taking. The PUSD tells us that if we don't vote ourselves a bigger cash hit, children will suffer. City Hall tells us old people will die because there will be no Paramedics. But the real reason that children will suffer and old people die is because our govt employees take all the money forcthemselves.

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    2. Elaine has already started the fearmongering. The SM Weekly has an interview with her and she brings up the ONE MILLION shortfall again. They never quit.

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    3. 1:37 You just figured that out? Well you're kinda slow but welcome aboard the Sanity Train.

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    4. I didn;t know this stuff for years. But once you figure it all out it's as clear as a bell.

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    5. When Elaine mentions ONE MILLION DOLLARS did she do a Dr. Evil impression at the same time?

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    6. So many residents, so little time.

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    7. I used to fall for the union propaganda too. It was like the police union supporting a candidate because the candiate was the "law and order" candidate or was "tough on crime". I realized later that the only reason they supported the candidate was because the candidate promised to increase the salary, pension or benefits for the union members. That's the only reason the police or fire "association" supports a candidate. It has nothing to do with anything else.

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    8. I know a few police officers that have earned the right to retire early. One, whose father lives in town is paralyzed after being shot. Another who lives in town is hunched over like a cripple in his 40s from a destroyed body from work. He might retire at 55, but his quality of life has been destroyed by 20 year with the LAPD. So try not to hate on the police too much.

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. You might want to rephrase that a little.

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  12. the unions are just like aids... who needs them?

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  13. City of Del Rio, California in Humbolt county has declared a stage 3 water shortage!

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    1. We should send them Adele.

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  14. How dry we are.

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    1. And how hosed we'll be

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  15. Dear Mod. RE: SMRFA President Robert Young Passes Away. Neither you or Mr. Coburn tell us what the SMRFA is? Fire Dept? Of course sorry to hear of his passing..........

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    1. Sierra Madre Rose Float Association. Robert did some amazing things with that group of folks. He will be missed.

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    2. RIP, Robert Young. He was a good. I will miss him & his good cheer!

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