One reason not to fight CalPERS

Because the pension bully has made San Bernardino’s bankruptcy all about CalPERS.

Getting Stockton’s public employee unions on board for necessary cuts was hard enough. San Berdoo’s experience shows how much harder it would have been had CalPERS been in the picture. The pension giant has pushed the unions to the sidelines while it negotiates with the city — which, until recently, it was suing, too.

One thing that would be interesting to know is whether CalPERS is negotiating — in good faith, now that it has dropped its suit — out of desire to work with San Bernardino or because it fears a court battle in which its self-proclaimed sanctity may be eliminated by a federal court. If it is playing nice, in other words, because it fears being treated it like any other creditor. If the latter, then San Bernardino has leverage.

ADDENDUM: A reader says CalPERS changed its tune towards San Bernardino because the council that supported cutting pensions was voted out and a labor-friendly council was voted in. So CalPERS has friendly negotiating partners. The pension giant only bullies cities that propose to treat it like everyone else.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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