March 29, 2012
Mattos, Editor and Publisher
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster
The Farsider is an independent publication that is not
affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely
for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does
not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or
RETIRED OFFICER MARIO STEFANINI
Born Jan. 5, 1922
Appointed Sept. 16, 1944
Retired April 1, 1974
Died March 18, 2012
Following is Mario's obituary that first appeared
in last Friday's, March 23, 2012, Mercury News.
Mario Peter Stefanini
Resident of San Jose
Mario lived a full and good life. He was born in San
Jose, California to Pilade (Peter) and Esterina (Ester) Pelosi Stefanini, who
immigrated to San Jose from Lucca, Italy. He is survived by his loving wife of
almost 67 years, Martha. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces and
nephews. Preceded in death by his parents and older brother, Gino.
Mario attended St. Joseph’s Grammar School as a young boy, and later went on to
Bellarmine College Preparatory, where he graduated in the class of 1941. In
2008, he was inducted into the Bellarmine Athletic Hall of Fame, where he
received recognition as a “solid standout for the Bellarmine Baseball Nine as he
was a four-year Varsity starter at first base. He finished his high school
career as a .378 career batting average topping out his time with a personal
best .427 as a sophomore. He has the distinction of being the first recorded
recipient of a white letterman sweater, only worn by four year varsity letter
winners.”Mario was a great baseball player and was drafted into the professional
league, but had to turn it down to work in the family dry-cleaning business.
Mario continued his love of baseball by playing in semi-pro leagues throughout
Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
Mario was an outstanding police officer for the City of San Jose. From 1959 to
1961, he was President of San Jose Police Union Local 170, and also served as a
delegate to the Central Labor Council for Local 170 from 1959 to 1974. He
retired in the mid 1970’s, and then went on to be a court bailiff for the County
of Santa Clara, and later a guard for Bank of America in downtown San Jose.
Mario had a passion for following the stock market. Whenever asked, he would
give advice to his nieces on what they should buy, and why they should buy it.
He loved talking about the stock market and would follow all of its ups and
downs. He was sharp as a tack and could recall all the stocks he ever owned,
what year he bought them, and at what price.
Mario lived in San Jose his entire life. He could always be relied upon to tell
his nieces and nephews the history of San Jose, and would often recount stories
of what it was like to grow up here, noting how much things had changed over the
Mario was always very kind and generous to his family and friends, asking them
how they were doing, even when he was very ill. He will be sorely missed.
Services to be held at Lima Family Mortuary at 10:30 a.m. Monday, March 26,
2012, 466 North Winchester Blvd., followed by interment at Santa Clara Catholic
Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your
ALMOST LIKE FALLING
DOWN ALICE'S RABBIT HOLE
Conjecture by virtually all
of the retirees with whom I associate has it that the Pension Reform measure on
the June ballot will be a slam dunk for the City. But that may not be the case.
Perhaps, just perhaps, it will be turned down by the voters.
Tom Macris called around noon yesterday (Wed.) and brought to my attention a
poll that the Mercury News has been running on its website for at least a couple
of days. When I pulled the poll up, it showed a total of 763 votes. Then, early
yesterday evening while I was piecing the Farsider together, I checked it again
and the vote count was up to 925. And at 7:30 a.m. this morning (a few hours
prior to press time) I checked the results a third time and it looked like
Thinking that the numbers
should be reversed, I stared at the results for half-a-minute. When they didn't
change I felt I might have fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. If you want to check
it out for yourself, click on the link below, then scroll down and look on the
left side of the page. And since you are already there, why not cast your vote
and see if we can spike the results?
MORE PENSION NEWS
Those of you who are POA
members whose e-mail address are on file with the Association should have
received numerous Membership Alerts this past week alerting you to another video
in the on-going investigation by KNTV, the Bay Area's NBC affiliate. The report
aired last Sunday evening. For the clearest video and audio, we're using a link
from the TV station's website as it also includes a written transcription of the
report under the video. The clip may take a few moments to load, so be patient.
And yes, that's David "Baci" Bacigaluppi in the photo below.
(The video was removed from the KNTV website prior to press time. Refer to the
In the event NBC Bay Area
news has removed the video from its website, you can view it here. Again, give
the video a few moments to load.
A MESSAGE FROM THE
PRESIDENT OF THE RETIREES' ASSOCIATION
March 27, 2012
I went to last Wednesday's PBA to visit, eat and have a
drink with those people who I worked with for so many years. As I walked about
the room listening to the various conversations I heard the concerns about what
the future held for all of us as retirees. During the business portion of the
meeting I was asked to speak to the group about the impact of the measure B
ballot measure. As I looked around the room the hundred or so attendees stopped
their conversations and intently turned their attention to my remarks. There are
three major issues involved with measure B (pension reform measure) that would
affect retirees. They are:
* Higher deductible health-care option
• Possible change to the COLA amount if a fiscal emergency is declared by the
• Loss of the SRBR monies
I assured everyone the total amount of their March retirement check would not be
affected by the passage of Measure B. What could change would be the deductions
from the total sum. The largest change could come in the form of a higher cost
healthcare plan for all past and present city employees. Several people then had
questions about healthcare. The healthcare issue is very complex because there
are so many individual choices retirees can choose. The Association of Retired
San Jose Police Officers & Firefighters (ARSJPOFF), Police Officers Association,
and Firefighters Local 230 are all fighting to ensure the continuation of a
health care plan which provides the coverage we all need. I know I can’t answer
the many questions on this issue. The ARSJPOFF is looking for answers to the
many questions we all have by utilizing our attorneys. When we have new
information about this item you will all be informed.
After the meeting the many questions and concerns of all the members started me
to try to put some sense to the current political and pension issues. The one
major question that everyone was asking was how does this affect ME? On the
surface this is a very reasonable question but overall our pension system is not
about ME it's about US.
The ME pension person is the individual who is saying I don't have the benefit
you have so you shouldn't have it either. The ME pensioner is part of the 60% of
Americans who don't have a 401(k) or retirement account. The ME pensioner is the
person who enjoyed the big money at the time but failed to account for or plan
for their future. The ME pensioner has no plan on how not to work for the rest
of their life. The ME pensioner is depending on themselves for investment funds
and investment strategies to make it to the end of life.
Our retirement plan is very different. Our retirement plan is based on US. The
US pensioner has generations of employees who all contributed to a financial
plan which was to assure a healthy life after dedicated public service. The US
pensioner gave up the cash for today for a future of specific retirement
contract benefits. The US pensioner realized the physical and mental strain of
their chosen profession would limit their worklife cycle. The US pensioner
contributed to a system which utilized financial professionals and dedicated
organization leaders to find a system which would grow and last.
By comparing the ME pensioner to the US pensioner I think the US pensioner has a
better chance at a fulfilling retirement. This is the reason why I say we must
fight the Measure B alongside the working US who are contributing to the
retirement system. Many of the working US are taking tremendous cuts in pay
because the City wants them to make up years of the city's failure to plan for
the future. Many of the working US don't see themselves working and retiring
from San Jose with a 30 year pension. Many of the working US are leaving San
Jose for what they see are better benefits and working conditions in other
communities. In order for our system to survive we must stand shoulder to
shoulder retiree and active and fight for US.
President, Association of Retired San Jose Police Officers & Firefighters
RANGE CLOSED FOR
RETIREE QUALIFICATION DURING APRIL
Dan Bullock was asked to pass along a message
advising that the Range will NOT be available to retirees for the purpose of
qualifying during the entire month of April due to Department-wide
Just when you thought the
Birther Movement was taking a long winter's nap, along comes Sheriff Joe Arpaio
and this newscast from a CBS affiliate in Phoenix to wake it up. It also
provided us with fodder for this week's poll. Please consider watching this
5-minute clip prior to taking the poll.
last week's poll...
For the full scope of state and national polling by Scott
Rasmussen, click on this link:
For the most recent releases, click here:
Do you or anyone else remember Ted Sumner? He bills himself as ex-SJPD who has
written a book and appears on radio talk shows saying that he worked deep
undercover in the '70s and infiltrated various drug trafficking organizations.
He was recently on the radio talk show "Coast to Coast" and has taken a position
that the "War on Drugs" is making things worse. The book he has written and is
promoting on the internet is entitled, "Deep Cover Cop." See
I could not remember the name so I called Art Hilborn. He said that he thought
there was a Ted Sumner that was on the P.D. for a short time and that he was
assigned to work the schools when he was straight out of the academy because of
his young appearance. Anyway maybe someone remembers him and would know if his
background was the "real deal" or something less.
As always, thanks to you and Leroy for all your hard work.
If you have a copy of the 1983 SJPD Commemorative Album, look on
page 117 and you will find a photo of Sumner. He was included in Russ Jones'
book, "Honorable Intentions" that I highlighted in the Farsider on two recent
occasions as the two worked together in the Narco unit back in the '70s.
I can confirm what Art said. Sumner did work undercover at one or more high
schools when he first came on because he could pass as a teenager.
• • • • •
I found it somewhat ironic that the film clips of Rita Hayworth (Farsider - Mar.
22) exerting all her physical energies during those marvelous dance routines
were accompanied by an advertisement for "exercising your brain to stay young."
Rita Hayworth (real name Margarita Carmen Casino) died at the relatively young
age (at least from my point view) of 68 from complications of Alzheimer's
decease. Go figure (figuratively speaking, that is).
I have always been
surprised how people from my generation (I was a "war baby") grew up
stereotyping some actors and actresses who were very talented dancers, but are
known today primarily for their acting skills. Lucille Ball is one example.
While most know here as one of America's funniest comics, she was quite a hoofer
before she rose to the top of her popularity with "I Love Lucy." Here's what I'm
talking about. (4 Mins.)
• • • • •
Since you said you may get other corrections to your list of SJPD people who
went on to become chiefs elsewhere, I thought you might want to add a couple to
my history: All total, they include Longmont, CO; Concord, CA; Mountain View, CA
and then Sunnyvale, CA, which was a contract job after retirement.
You don't need to put this note in the Farsider. I'm only sending it in because
you said you were looking for corrections.
However, there is one note that I would like you to share with others: Scott
Seaman just took over the helm as President of the California Police Chiefs
Association. Quite an accomplishment for an outstanding law enforcement
Thanks again for all you and Leroy do.
The list Mike is referring
to has been updated, but I didn't see the need to publish it again as it was
included in the last couple of newsletters. I did see a need, however, to
include Mike's entire message, especially since it included the note about the
former SJPD Capt. and current Los Gatos Police Chief's selection as head of the
California Police Chiefs Association. That is indeed an accomplishment.
• • • • •
I'm Mark Anderson, former SJPD #1285. Received a shout from Jimmie Wittenberg
about your newsletter.
I would be interested in subscribing as I have lost touch with too many of those
who policed the streets of San Jose and would enjoy seeing who is where now. I
was the Chief of Airport Security at San Jose Airport after leaving the P.D. in
1978-1979, then left to become the Chief of Police in Lynden, Wash. from circa
1980-1982. Police work we all know, politics is another story. I retired after
28 years of service with the State of Washington, the last 15 of which was as a
State Investigator with the Division of Fraud Investigations headquartered in
Olympia. I still reside in Lynden about 5 miles from the Canadian Border. It
would be great to hear from you guys. I am in Florida now until the middle of
Happy to have you with us, Mark. When you get to the bottom of this newsletter
you should see plenty of names of other subscribers you will recognize. Welcome
LOCAL NEWS FOR YOU
This item from last Sunday's paper isn't about
pension reform, but it does cover something that was once near and dear to the
hearts of many San Jose cops. We called them "pay jobs."
Cops’ Side Jobs Ripped
program that lets off-duty officers provide security shows conflicts, lack of
By John Woolfolk
Mercury News — March 25, 2012
As a San Jose police officer, Gary W. Drake was among hundreds of city cops
who took advantage of a long-standing program allowing uniformed officers to
work off-duty security jobs for places ranging from shopping centers to schools
to special events.
Too much advantage, prosecutors say. Now retired from the force, Drake faces
theft charges and is accused of double-billing two school districts for outside
Drake’s case was among alleged improprieties uncovered in a new city audit of
the San Jose Police Department’s outside pay job program, which the City Council
is expected to consider April 3.
The audit argued that until a recent crackdown under Chief Chris Moore, the
program was so loosely overseen that the department couldn’t track where and how
long officers were doing outside work, or situations where on-duty assignments
might conflict with secondary jobs. Supervisors allowed flexible hours to
accommodate officers’ outside pay jobs and didn’t enforce rules against working
them while on sick or disability leave.
“San Jose’s system for overseeing uniformed off-duty work to date has provided
minimal accountability,” City Auditor Sharon Erickson told a council public
safety committee this month, questioning whether the program should continue as
structured. “It’s not as clear how the broad public interest is served by it.”
Assistant Chief Rikki Goede said Moore, who has been chief for a little over a
year, had begun a crackdown even before the audit began and that the department
has revised policies “addressing nearly all of the auditor’s concerns.”
But Goede defended the program overall, arguing that abuses were the exception
and that the program benefits the city by effectively putting more cops out in
the community — perhaps an additional 100 officers a day — even if they’re
working for another employer.
Goede acknowledged that “there were some problems in oversight” and that “the
audit did uncover a very small number of issues.” But, she said, “the vast
majority of officers working secondary employment are doing exactly what they’re
supposed to be doing.”
Officers’ outside pay jobs have come under fire before. The city’s police
auditor criticized the program in 1995. Concerns then about potential conflicts
from off-duty officers providing security at downtown nightclubs regulated by
the department led the city to ban that practice in 1997.
But Councilman Pete Constant, an officer at the time who had worked outside pay
jobs and has since retired from the force, said this audit suggests that some
changes aimed at fixing problems highlighted in the 1990s seem to have since
“I’m curious how things just disappear,” Constant said.
Among the audit’s findings:
• Evidence of overlap between hours billed for city and outside work, suggesting
either city taxpayers or outside employers weren’t getting all the police work
they paid for. In addition, records indicated travel time between city and
outside jobs weren’t accounted for, indicating either taxpayers or the outside
employer paid for the officer to drive from one job to the other. The timecard
issues have spawned several disciplinary investigations and some criminal
probes, including the Drake case.
• About 77 percent of the department’s nearly 1,200 sworn officers and
reservists participated in outside work, earning more than $6million total last
year. The audit noted the financial incentive has grown as the city has cut pay
and is seeking pension reductions amid tight budgets.
• The city, struggling with chronic budget deficits, subsidizes outside work to
the tune of more than $500,000 a year. Erickson said city leaders should first
evaluate recent and pending changes the chief has in the works. But the audit
suggests the city consider as an alternative having uniformed officers work
overtime shifts for the city rather than off-duty hours for outside employers.
That’s a model it says is used in Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland and Santa
Police said they are considering such changes but noted that they would affect
not just officers but also schools and other employers that rely on the off-duty
cops for security.
Officials at San Jose Unified School District and East Side Union High School
District, the two involved in Drake’s alleged timecard fraud, said the off-duty
police work program is extremely valuable to them.
“We know exactly the training they’ve gone through and the standards they have
to meet,” said Don McCloskey, director of student services at San Jose Unified,
where officers work daily at each of the district’s middle and high schools as
well as for athletic events and dances. “They become part of our community, they
mentor kids, they make a connection between families.” Officials at both
districts were surprised by allegations Drake committed timecard fraud. East
Side Union Superintendent Daniel Moser said that “in the many years that the
district has used offduty SJPD officers, this is the first instance of alleged
fraud brought to our attention.”
Drake’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. His next court date is
April 18. According to police reports, Drake, who continued working off-duty
jobs as a reserve officer after retiring in 2009, submitted timecards for
simultaneous shifts at East Side’s Yerba Buena High School and San Jose
Unified’s Gunderson High School on four days. The jobs paid $264 at Yerba Buena
and $232.50 at Gunderson each day, totaling $930.
According to police reports, Drake, 56, of Union City, acknowledged the misdeed
in a recorded police interview, telling a detective: “I don’t know why I did it.
It was stupid. I knew better.”
• • • • •
The Mercury News had
nothing this week about our pension reform issue that I could find, but Craig
Shuey came up with two articles, one from the Sacramento Bee, the other one from
the New York Times...
March 27, 2012
Here are a couple of articles that might be of interest about San Jose's
pensions. The first one by Dan Walters specifically discusses San Jose's
retirement fight. Again, because of his influence as a political writer, whether
you like him or not, the article will be read by legislators up here in the
Sacramento region and by other influential politicians throughout the state.
The second article is of interest, me thinks, because the NY Times thought it
was important enough to talk about California cities and their pension issues.
Big Pension Conflicts Ahead in
The Sacramento Bee — March 26, 2012
California's great public pension battles are heating
up, and may be headed for some kind of political explosion.
The Legislature's Democratic majority appears to be doing its best to ignore
significant pension reform, even though Gov. Jerry Brown says the current system
is "unsustainable" and an overhaul is needed to persuade voters to raise taxes
Democrats are reluctant to do anything that public employee unions oppose – such
as passing Brown's 12-point pension reform plan – in a year when they'll be
running in much-changed districts and will need all the union help they can get.
With Brown's plan stuck in neutral and an outside pension initiative dead for
lack of financing, the big action will be in the state's second- and
third-largest cities, San Diego and San Jose, where unions are pulling out all
the stops to prevent voters from even seeing pension reform on their ballots
The mayors of both cities, Republican Jerry Sanders in San Diego and Democrat
Chuck Reed in San Jose, are sponsoring pension overhaul measures, Sanders via
initiative and Reed via City Council action. Unions are trying to keep them off
San Diego union leaders filed a complaint with the state Public Employment
Relations Board, whose lawyer then asked a judge to block the Sanders-sponsored
initiative, contending that it circumvented state law requiring negotiations on
It was a novel legal theory and a judge didn't buy it, ruling that the proper
time to challenge a ballot measure was after voters had acted, not before. And
the unions left no doubt they'll do that if the Sanders measure passes in June.
Meanwhile, unions representing San Jose's city workers directly filed suit
themselves, alleging that placing pension reform on the ballot also violates the
state collective bargaining law that Brown signed three-plus decades ago.
Moreover, union-friendly legislators have sought a state audit of the city's
finances, especially its pension costs, and unions have alleged that Mayor
Reed's assertions about the impact of pensions may violate laws on bond
The unions' drives to prevent pension reform plans from reaching the ballot
indicate they are worried that given a chance, voters will endorse change
because pension costs are hitting city budgets much harder than those of state
and county governments.
Lurking in the wings, meanwhile, is Stockton, which may well file for bankruptcy
protection if negotiations with its creditors falter.
Would federal bankruptcy law supersede state laws that say pension benefits
cannot be lowered for current employees? Vallejo didn't ask that question when
it filed for bankruptcy protection. But unions fear that Stockton might, opening
another front in the pension war.
Read more here:
• • • • •
Untouchable Pensions May Be
Tested in California
The New York Times — March 16, 2012
When the city manager of troubled Stockton, Calif., had
to tell city council members why it was on track to become the biggest American
city yet to go bankrupt, it took hours to get through the list.
Stockton, Calif., which must pay $30 million in annual pension costs, which it
is told it cannot cut even in bankruptcy.
There was the free health care for retirees, the unpaid parking tickets, the
revenue bonds without enough revenue to pay them. On it went, a grim drumbeat of
practically every fiscal malady imaginable, except an obvious one: municipal
pensions. Stockton is spending some $30 million a year to pay for them, but it
has less than 70 cents set aside for every dollar of benefits its workers
Some public pension experts think they know why pensions were not on the city
manager’s list. They see the hidden hand of California’s giant state pension
system, known as Calpers, which administers hundreds of billions of dollars in
retirement obligations for municipalities across the state.
Calpers does not want cities like Stockton going back on their promises, and it
argues that the state Constitution bars any reduction in pensions — and not just
for people who have already retired. State law also forbids cuts in the pensions
that today’s public workers expect to earn in the future, Calpers says, even in
cases of severe fiscal distress. Workers at companies have no comparable
Stockton is in the midst of a mediation process with its creditors that will
determine by the end of June whether it will file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy,
which would allow the city to negotiate reductions in its debt in court.
For Calpers, the prospect of a California city in Federal Bankruptcy Court
portends a potential test of the constitutional mandate that federal law trumps
state laws — in particular, the state laws that protect public workers’ pensions
in California. Such a challenge could blow a hole in what experts consider the
most airtight pension protections anywhere.
“Obviously, what Calpers wants is that it doesn’t come up in the process, which
I think is ridiculous,” said David A. Skeel Jr., a law professor at the
University of Pennsylvania who writes frequently on bankruptcy. “My view is that
even the California Constitution is subsidiary to federal bankruptcy law.”
As the United States population ages and more and more public workers qualify
for retirement, the cost of their pensions is growing fast, turning into a major
drag on many local governments’ finances. The pension contributions that cities
must make every year are rising, but their revenue, which often depends on
property taxes, is not keeping up. Taxed-out residents, many of whom have lost
their own pensions in the private sector, are unwilling to pay more. In
tax-averse California in particular, where every tax increase must be put to a
vote, officials are running out of options and some are considering bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy in America is a collective process, where creditors of a distressed
company or municipality come together under court oversight and negotiate a plan
to share the losses equitably, for the sake of the greater good. Some creditors
may stand more toward the front of the line and others at the back, but there
isn’t generally one big creditor that gets paid in full without having to get in
line at all.
Yet that’s what Calpers appears to be doing.
“They will probably say it’s a statutory right and it can’t be changed by a
bankruptcy court,” said James E. Spiotto, a Chapter 9 specialist with the firm
of Chapman & Cutler. “I think it’s still subject to some question.”
A spokeswoman for Stockton’s city manager, Connie Cochran, said she could not
discuss the city’s dealings with Calpers, citing the confidential mediation
When a company with a pension plan goes bankrupt in Chapter 11, it typically
stops making most of its required pension contributions, just as it can stop
paying many other bills. Some companies, like Northwest Airlines, even declare
bankruptcy the day before a pension contribution is due, to save the cash.
Chapter 11 also permits companies to shed their pension obligations completely,
if they can convince the bankruptcy judge that’s the only way they can
restructure. The federal government, which insures traditional company pensions,
then takes over the defunct plan and pays retirees their benefits, up to
There is no such backstop for state or municipal pensions. But cities, until
recently, have managed to avoid bankruptcy, so there is almost no precedent for
how public pensions will fare in Chapter 9.
The city manager, Bob Dies, in foreground, is focusing on cutting retiree health
Now that is starting to change.
Prichard, Ala., tried to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2009, after its
pension fund ran out of money, but its case was thrown out by the judge, who
cited a rule that Alabama cities must have bonds outstanding to qualify for
Chapter 9. Prichard had no bonds at the time, just a big debt to its retirees.
The city went for nearly two years without paying them their pensions, then
reached an out-of-court settlement that gave them about one-third, on average,
of what they had earned.
Central Falls, R.I., declared bankruptcy in 2011, after its pension fund for
police officers and firefighters nearly ran out of money. The state withheld
aid, and passed a law forbidding any effort to revive the pension plan by
issuing bonds. Central Falls had little choice but to negotiate sharp cuts with
In California, the only precedent is in the city of Vallejo, which declared
bankruptcy in 2008. Unlike Prichard and Central Falls, which had their own
pension plans, Vallejo is part of a state-run system. It kept making all of its
contributions to Calpers throughout its three-year bankruptcy.
“We never shortchanged Calpers,” said Robert V. Stout, Vallejo’s finance
director at the time.
Mr. Stout said he had expected to renegotiate the city’s retirement plans in
bankruptcy, since everything else was on the table. At the time, Vallejo was in
a fiscal tailspin with the mortgage debacle, which hit cities in California
But Calpers drew a line in the sand, warning Mr. Stout and his lawyers that in
California, public pensions can be increased but never decreased, not just for
retirees, but also for workers at midcareer.
What if the city is bankrupt and cannot afford it?
“They made it quite clear that they take that law very seriously,” Mr. Stout
said. Calpers also warned that if the bankruptcy judge ruled that the state
pension laws stopped at the federal courthouse door, Calpers would appeal, and
make Vallejo pay its legal bills.
“We interpreted that as, ‘If we try, they’ll fight us through the courts
forever,’ ” Mr. Stout said. He and Vallejo’s lawyers decided the city couldn’t
The city ended up cutting services sharply, gutting its retiree health plan,
adding a 1 percent sales tax and cutting payments on its bonds. But its police
officers and firefighters still qualify for full retirement at 50, and other
city workers at 55.
Since Vallejo made no effort to cut pensions in bankruptcy, the legal issues
remain untested, said Mr. Spiotto, the Chapter 9 lawyer.
“It’s something that’s in the process of being worked out, not only in
California, but in every state,” he said. “It’s a global issue.”
A Calpers spokeswoman responded to questions by providing a 20-page position
paper on the laws that protect public pensions in California. The report did not
mention bankruptcy but acknowledged that some California cities were struggling.
“It will be vitally important for all interested parties to heed the legal rules
protecting the vested rights of Calpers’s members,” the paper said. Challenges
“may lead only to additional litigation and administrative costs.”
Critics in academic and legal circles say they believe Calpers wants to keep
municipalities in its system because it needs to keep their contributions
flowing in without interruption to cover the payouts it makes each month to
retirees. Gov. Jerry Brown called that situation “a Ponzi scheme” last December,
when he proposed a plan to lower public pension costs gradually, by offering
smaller pensions to the workers that cities will hire in the future. The
governor’s plan was strongly opposed by public employees’ unions, which have a
strong voice in Calpers, and his fellow Democrats in the state Legislature have
let it languish.
After Vallejo’s bankruptcy, Calpers’s board passed another rule that any
municipality wanting to withdraw from its system would have to first pay off its
shortfall, calculated in a way that makes the payment two to three times as big
as in the past.
Stockton’s city manager, Robert Deis, is focusing on cutting retiree health
benefits instead of pensions, because he said the retiree health plan was
completely unfunded — as opposed to its pension being 70 percent funded — and
the cost was growing at a faster rate.
Changing the pensions would also be complicated by the fact that some of
Stockton’s retirees get both pensions and Social Security, and others get only
their city pensions.
Still, the city’s annual contributions to Calpers for pensions, currently $30
million, are greater than its retiree health costs, $9 million this year. Even
before the collapse of 2008, Stockton was struggling with its pension
contributions. In 2007, it issued bonds to raise the cash it needed to send to
Calpers. But then Calpers’s investments took a pounding in 2008, leaving
Stockton with a new pension shortfall to cover — plus about $7 million of
principal and interest to pay on the bonds every year.
Bankruptcy lawyers said that if such issues were not addressed in Stockton, they
were likely to come up elsewhere soon.
“There are a bunch of cities in bad shape, and pensions are part of the
problem,” said Mr. Skeel. “If you have a string of Chapter 9’s, I don’t think
every one of them is going to say, ‘This enormous obligation can’t be touched.’
I think one of them is going to take the plunge.”
DON HALE'S WIFE —
GLORIA — WHO HAS BEEN FIGHTING
ALS/LOU GEHRIG'S DISEASE IS GOING SKY DIVING, READ WHY...
WEEKLY SNOPES URBAN
LEGEND UPDATE AS OF MARCH 24, 2012
The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox
• Screen capture purportedly shows errors in a Fox News
report about the killings of seven people in Toulouse, France.
• Is Abercrombie & Fitch offering "ni**er brown" pants
• Video clip purportedly shows a man flying with human bird wings.
• Is Toms Shoes giving away free merchandise to Facebook users?
• Researchers have found a simple cure for cancer, but
major pharmaceutical companies are not interested?
• Is Pepsi using cells from aborted fetuses to create flavor enhancers?
• Did President Obama mistake the Wisconsin state flag for a labor union
• Did President Obama issue an executive order that gives the president
unprecedented powers in time of national emergency?
• Has the White House ordered a change to military funeral protocol to remove
references to the President of the United States?
• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a
collection of odd news stories from around the world!
Worth a Second Look
• Photographs purportedly show a 17 pound, 3-foot German Giant rabbit.
Still Haunting the Inbox
• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep
abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.
• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes
commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.
THE LIGHTER SIDE &
OTHER ODDS AND ENDS
Remember to click on the
"Large Player" icon on the YouTube control panel in the lower right-hand corner
of the video when you watch the first clip. If you do, all other YouTube videos
should default to the same setting throughout the rest of your session at the
• • • • •
Imagine for a moment that
this Muslim extremist video received from Steve Postier had taken place in San
Jose or another American city instead of London. If scenes like this are not a
wake-up for the country, nothing is. (4 Mins)
• • • • •
In this era of the Internet
and YouTube, one might think someone on the president's staff would caution him
about the repeated us of certain cliches when he meets with foreign dignitaries.
Could this clip prove a wee bit embarrassing for the White House? You'll have to
decide after you see this Danish clip sent in by Lumpy.
• • • • •
I'm not normally
comfortable using the word "adorable" (perhaps that's a guy thing), but there's
no better way to describe this HP Printer commercial Tom Macris dropped in my
inbox. (3 Mins.)
• • • • •
Don Hale (our Navy rep) has
advised that the USS Iowa has been moved to a temporary birth at the Port of
RIchmond and is open to the public for visits and tours until the end of April.
If you have a hankering to
visit the Iowa, the first link below will provide you with all the info you will
need while the second link will take you to an interesting article about the
• • • • •
Dean Janavice calls this
one of the best hidden camera pranks he's ever seen. Watch it and you will see
why he was once known as "Mean Dean." (4 Mins.)
• • • • •
This is basically an ad for
the $185,000 Y2K Super Bike powered by a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter turbine that
makes it capable of 250 mph. After watching this clip sent in by Ron Mozley, I
couldn't decide if it was its power or the cost that made me feel I was about to
wet myself. You motor riders and owners might want to check out it out.
• • • • •
The Mexican drug cartels
don't stand a chance against the Mexican Army, and Bruce Morton has discovered
video evidence that proves it. (1 Min.)
• • • • •
Are up familiar with a
double-barrel 1911? You will be if you click on this link sent in by Tom Cannell
and watch the embedded video. (3 Mins.)
• • • • •
Let's go back almost six years in time to the
July 28, 2006 Farsider, and this item in particular...
Pete Graves says he's never seen so many sheep in
one place at the same time. Some people have to stare at the photo for a few
moments before they realize what they are looking at. And when they finally
figure it out, some of them probably feel like a perfect ass...
Bruce Morton was so intrigued with the photo that he went on a six-year search
to determine how it was made, but the best he could come up with was this
footage of the dress (or undress) rehearsal. (1 Min.)
• • • • •
If you are looking to
increase the mpg your ride gets due to the high cost of dead dinosaur juice,
Lumpy suggests you try a porcelain carburetor. He says he was very impressed
with this clip and is thinking of adapting one to his BMW motorcycle.
• • • • •
Any of you brainiacs care
to write in and explain to Dewey Moore (and us) how or why this phenomena of a
bottle of water freezing instantly occurs? It doesn't look like a parlor trick.
• • • • •
Last week we ran a short
video clip showing a guy who appeared to be able to fly wearing a set of
homebuilt wings and left it up to you to decide if it was real or fake. If you
chose the latter, pat yourself on the back and click on the link below.
(It's also covered in this week's Snopes update above.)
• • • • •
Sharon Lansdowne wasn't
sure what a Living Bridge was until she watched this video that could prove
useful to CalTrans now that California is out of dough and deeply in debt.
• • • • •
Got a minute (actually one
minute and 13 seconds)? Have a look at this short clip about a ridiculous
traffic enforcement sign: (1:13 Mins.)
• • • • •
Damn! Thanks to Sharon
Lansdowne and her computer, every woman in the country will soon learn why we
men like big tool boxes. (1 Min.)
• • • • •
Sharon's not satisfied with
just letting the cat out of the bag regarding big tool boxes, she also wants to
point out how violence on TV can bring out violence on the viewers.
• • • • •
Ever wonder how much of
what you see when you view a dramatic program is real or not? Watch this clip
our Webmaster provided about HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" and you'll likely come
away saying not much was real at all. (4 Mins.)
• • • • •
Our final item this week
came from Bruce Morton. Despite the fact that not a word is spoken in this short
movie, it's as moving as it is poignant. Give it a try.
• • • • •
That's it. Thanks for joining us.
Pic of the Week:
For sale: 2005 Volkswagen Golf,
$8,500, excellent condition, low mileage, call 555-0123
|This is the message box, using the