CalPERS: hey, let’s revive pension spiking!

Sure, why not? Pension spiking helped drive three California cities into bankruptcy. It’s part of a pension package driving municipalities and the state itself into the red. It’s such a bad actor the governor specifically outlawed it in a reform bill a couple years ago. Let’s do it!

As expected CalPERS, the state pension hogzilla, approved pension increases to 99 categories of public employee yesterday. The one getting all the lightning involves giving higher pensions to public employees for temporary jobs.

So, if your co-worker goes out sick for a while, and you take over some of his duties, you pay goes up temporarily — which is fair — but your pension goes up permanently, which is … so CalPERS.

Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement. “Today CalPERS got it wrong,” he said. “The vote undermines the pension reforms enacted just two years ago. I’ve asked my staff to determine what actions can be taken to protect the integrity of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act.”

What does it tell you when a pro-labor, Democrat governor denounces CalPERS and explores suing it? It tells you CalPERS is a threat to the state.

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What Robin told Steve

Steve Carrigan, Stockton’s economic development director until 2009, writes:

“My good friend, Steve Pinkerton, was very close in his description of the elusive Robin Williams connection to Stockton but I want to clear up a few things up.

“Let history show that Robin Williams married Marsha Garces-Williams, his children’s nanny. They hired a new nanny and that’s the girl I dated for three years. During this time period, Robin was at the top of his game with Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji in the theaters and both had  gross ticket sales over $100 million each, a record at the time.

“I once asked Robin to give me some advice on life and he stopped, thought for a second, said in his gentle warm voice, “Be bold, Steven. They’ll remember you.’”

“He was a good man, and one of a kind.”

Carrigan is now city Manager of Los Banos.

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Speaking of vultures …

…which we are in today’s column, a French woman fell off a cliff. Vultures picked her carcass clean in under an hour.

That story here.

Vultures perch in a tree on Hammer Lane.

So watch your step when you’re in Colonial Heights.

Mel Stagnaro sends along a copy of a letter to the editor:

“There needs to be some balance to Micheal Fitzgerald’s mostly negative column on Turkey Vultures before someone starts a Citizen’s posse armed with mylar balloons.  What Fitzgerald and those he interviewed did not mention is the incredible air show that these birds put on, twice daily. Each morning the birds leave their perch and glide effortlessly in circles as they catch wind thermals that take them higher until they set off to work a more rural area. In the evening, when they return, you get the same show in reverse as they circle lower and lower until they land. It is astonishing show with sometimes 15 to 20 birds in the air at once. And these birds are huge, almost the size of eagles. Many nature lovers would drive 30-60 minutes outside of town to view a take-off and landing of a flock the size found on Hammer Lane. And the fact that this show is right here in the middle of Stockton is, well, “special.”

“Okay, I admit that I may have a different opinion if they were perched in trees over my driveway …” he adds.

I let neighborhood residents set the tone of kvetching. But Stagnaro is right. Vultures are natural wonders.

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Why the water bond looks OK

State Sen. Lois Wolk spells it out in a SacBee op-ed piece:

“The Delta community won strong protections in this bond:” she writes.

“• It will have a voice in every Delta habitat project. This bond specifies that the state will coordinate and consult with the city or county in which a project occurs.

“• It funds the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy and gives it the opportunity to deliver on the important charge it was given in 2009.

“• It includes protections that ensure that funds will not be used for the design, construction, mitigation, operation or maintenance of Delta conveyance facilities.

“• It ensures that any bond funds used for environmental flows will be long-term, will not supersede any regulatory requirements, and will not be used to support the Delta tunnels.

“• Furthermore, the Delta region will receive funding for levee improvements, water supplies and ecosystem restoration.”

Wolk is the senator from Davis. She represented part of San Joaquin County for years. When the state pushed Delta reps out of the room on the first go-round of the BDCP, Wolk was foremost among those pushed out. But she authored this bill.

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The Gravy Train

CalPERS, the state pension monster, is trying to subvert the will of the governor and public opinion and reverse pension reform. It is expected to approve rules today increasing pensions to 99 new categories of new public employees.

Writes the SacBee editorial board, “Officers could get more if they are physically fit or a good shot. Shouldn’t all cops be fit and shoot straight?

“Officers could get higher pensions if they are assigned to Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs in schools (studies show DARE does not work–MF), regularly enforce laws against drunken driving and drugs, find fugitives, fight gangs, direct traffic or work at the front desks at jails.”

And on and on. The SacBee editorial here. A Union Democrat story here.
CalPERS needs to be seen for what it is. It is not a pension management system. It is a virus in the software of state government, continually trying to corrupt the system for its members’ profit.


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A revealing union questionnaire

One thing we learned from Stockton’s bankruptcy is to better understand the relationship between government and unions. Towards that end, check out a typical labor questionairre arriving now in the e-mail of public figures and candidates.

Among other things, it asks the recipient if they support “labor peace agreements.” A government that supports labor peace agreements applies economic pressure on employers so they will grant organizing concessions to unions. Government becomes labor’s advocate, in other words.

Here’s the union questionnaire.

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Why we share Delta water

Fifty-two years ago today, President John F. Kennedy dedicated the San Louis Reservoir. 

Delta residents jaded by the failure of state institutions to properly steward the Delta might think of that reservoir as just a big tank for the politically connected exporters who take too much Delta water, under policies that have driven the Delta onto a sickbed.

But Kennedy had another view.

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When Robin almost played Stockton

Fans add to an impromptu Robin Williams shrine in Tiburon on Saturday.

Steve Pinkerton, Stockton’s former redevelopment director, writes:

“Was glancing at your always informative blog over the weekend — saw that you were seeking out that elusive Robin Williams connection to Stockton.
” … Way back in the spring of 2004, one of our top priorities was to find a great opening act for the grand re-opening of the Fox Theater. Steve Carrigan, our then Economic Development Director and now City Manager of Los Banos, was tasked with getting Robin Williams as the opening act.  
“Steve’s wife and Marsha (Robin’s wife) were good friends back when Marsha was the nanny for Robin in the late 80s.  They lived in the same apartment building in San Francisco.
“In any case, Robin was all lined up — but then had another obligation that day — and Mark wouldn’t change the date as he had already been selling tables for that date.  At that point, your good friends at IFG were tasked with finding another top performer — and that is how Seinfeld got the gig.”

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Dissent of the day

Sunday’s column roused the expected outcry from a local enviro.
But first, for the record, this reaction from state Sen. Lois Wolk: “You got it exactly right.”
Now, on to a lashing from Bill Jennings of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance:
“So, the public will now be able to repurchase its own Constitutionally granted water for the enrichment of special interests thereby undercutting the principle of the public trust.  And this new water that we’ll purchase back from ourselves at inflated prices, will become “abandoned” in the Delta and be available to exporters for free to make up for BDCP’s shortfall.
“The principle of “beneficiary pays” is out the door, as the dam lobby, which refused to pay for their own dam projects, has now “persuaded” our legislators to pay for their low-yield environmentally destructive dams. And they achieved this without specifying who will own the dams, where the water will come from or conducting environmental review (or in the case of Sites, even a feasibility analysis).  And they even got a continuing appropriation so there will be no legislative check should things go south. 
“In order to return to low yield, environmental destructive big dam building supply side failures, Brother Brown cut 36% of funds to recycling and groundwater remediation that would create near-term “new” water, promote regional self-sufficiency, create more jobs and reduce dependence on the Delta.   But hey, we’re more comfortable with 19th century supply side failures than 21st century demand side strategies.
“The principle that projects should mitigate their adverse impacts is also out the door, as the state and federal projects have now been relieved of having to fully mitigate the enormous damage they’ve already done to the Delta.  
“And for a state staggering under $777 billion in debts, where voters have already authorized $128 billion in general fund bonds, we now add another $7 billion that crowds out other critical investments in public schools, public roads, public health and safety and decaying infrastructure.
“But, other than these, and another dozen minor reasons, our fiscally responsible environmentally caring legislators really stood up and protected our interests.”
I don’t want to argue over the dams. They’re dumb. The purchase of water bears closer scrutiny, if only because Jennings and other local environmental champions put the darkest interpretation on it. We need to understand before November if they are right, or whether years of dealing with the state on water have irreperably jaundiced their view of any state water bill. I wouldn’t blame them.

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“I am a pest control technician …”

And, “I would strongly advise to wash all clothing in HOT water.”

Lodi Cinema 12′s Facebook page is acrawl with comments about the bedbug story. One thread has 77 comments.

“Everyone is freaking out,” says one. 

Not since felon-crush Jeremy Meeks’ mugshot blew up on the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook Page has local social media been so abuzz.

When your Facebook page goes completely south here. 

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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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