Pension plan

Aug 26, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor adopted a ruling Thursday that will allow states to set up retirement plans for private employees with no access to personal plans.


The Chronicle's Kathleen Pender reports: "The U.S. Department of Labor adopted a landmark rule Thursday that will let states set up retirement accounts for private-sector workers who don’t have access to employer-sponsored plans, such as a 401(k)."


"The move could have a resounding impact on California, where the Legislature is on the verge of passing a bill that would create this type of state-run plan. The Assembly passed the bill 52-26 Thursday. It previously passed the Senate but must go back to the Senate for final approval."


"California is the largest of eight states that are working to create such plans, so the legislation has been closely watched — and criticized by some, who fear taxpayers could be on the hook if returns or participation fall short of expectations, something proponents say will not happen."


Meanwhile, speaking of workers, protests by California farmworkers outside the Assembly has prompted a Monday vote on the bill.


KQED's Katie Orr writes: "Hundreds of California farmworkers filled the hall in front of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s (D-Paramount) office and spilled into the Capitol rotunda. They chanted and sang in protest after a bill they had traveled to Sacramento to support failed to get a vote in the Assembly."


"AB 1066 would allow workers to be paid overtime after they work 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. Right now they must work 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week to get extra pay. The bill faces tough opposition. Supporters knew it could be close, but they were shocked when it wasn’t even put up for a vote after Assembly leaders were unsure whether it had the 41 votes needed to pass."


"After the Assembly adjourned for the rest of the week, the farmworkers gathered near Rendon’s office. United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez insisted the votes were there."


Here's a twist: CTA employees rallied Thursday for pension security from their own entity -- which is itself a poweful advocate for teachers' pensions. 


Anshu Siripurapu reporting for Sac Bee: "Employees of the California Teachers Association held a rally outside the union’s headquarters on 10th Street Thursday, calling on the union to “secure” their pension benefits."


"CTA employees are represented by two unions, the California Staff Organization and the California Associate Staff, and both are pushing CTA management to go back to the table to hash out concerns over the employees’ pension trust."


"Chuck King, the president of the CSO, said both sides agreed to put their pensions in the “red zone” during the bargaining process to address issues of future funding. Pension funds are designated in the red zone when they are projected to pay out more money than they take in."


SEE MORE related to Education: California teachers union to push bilingual education proposition -- Alexei Koseff with Sac BeeCal State system pushes students to graduate four years, improve low completion rates -- Larry Gordon with EdSource


Aaron Persky--the judge who resided over the 'Stanford Rapist' case--will no longer be handling criminal cases at his own behest


East Bay Times' Tracey Kaplan reports: "The Santa Clara County judge who faces a recall threat for giving a light sentence to a Stanford student convicted of sexual assault will no longer handle criminal cases -- at his own request."


"Judge Aaron Persky asked to be reassigned from hearing criminal cases at the Palo Alto courthouse, where he has been under intense fire since early June for sentencing former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail rather than a longer term in state prison for sexually assaulting an intoxicated, unconscious woman outside a fraternity party."


"Ever since, critics have vowed to remove him from the bench, with some, including Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, pushing for a recall election in November 2017 and others complaining to the state agency on judicial performance."


Skid Row is the latest place in the nation to be flooded with a toxic form of 'spice', a synthetic marijuana that caused more than 50 to overdose over this past week. 


Soumya Karlamangla with L.A. Times reporting: "When paramedics arrived at downtown’s skid row last Friday in response to a 911 call, they found dozens of people who looked as if they’d overdosed. Many were on the ground, passed out. "


"Ambulances and police cars flooded the area. Firefighters closed roads and set up a temporary command station at 5th and San Pedro streets to triage patients. The sickest people were lifted onto gurneys."


"“I’m walking down the street — it looks like a war zone,” said Georgia Berkovich, who works at the Midnight Mission, a block from the intersection."


SEE MORE related to Cannabis: Emergency motion banning 'spice' headed to L.A. City Council -- Mike Roe with KPCC


The most dangerous railroad crossing in California will get a $15 million revamp


Laura J. Nelson reporting for L.A. Times: "Los Angeles County railroad crossing that’s been called the most hazardous in California will receive a long-planned overhaul, including a flyover ramp to separate traffic from trains, transportation officials said Thursday."


"At a news conference near the Santa Fe Springs crossing, officials said they had secured the final $15 million needed to construct a $137.2-million overpass that will route car and truck traffic above the country’s second-busiest passenger rail corridor."


"The tracks slice diagonally through the intersection of Rosecrans and Marquardt avenues, a design that experts say is particularly dangerous because drivers and pedestrians can’t always see oncoming trains."


Numbers over the past 5 years are nodding at the notion that realignment for non-violent non-felons is successful -- recidivism rates for inmate populations are reducing drastically every year--but unfortunately, convict recidivism rates for felons remain relatively stable.


AP in Sac Bee: "Corrections officials say former California prison inmates are being arrested and convicted of new crimes at a relatively steady rate after release."


"But more are going to county jails instead of state prisons under a law that took effect nearly five years ago."


"The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Thursday that 45 percent of inmates released five years ago were back in prison within three years. That's down from 54 percent last year and a high of 67.5 percent a decade ago."


Millions of dollars in 'funny money' has the Secret Service interested in the Bay Area -- the possible wellspring of the counterfeit currency.


Mercury News' Mark Hedin reports: "The local U.S. Secret Service office, sitting on almost $6 million worth of counterfeit currency confiscated this year alone, believes a big source of the increase in funny money circulating these days is right here in the Bay Area."


"The Secret Service is on the trail of the printer making $100 bills. In recent years, $5 million in counterfeit $100 bills have turned up, some as far away as Miami, but most in Northern California."


"When we talk about an uptick in counterfeit currency in the Bay Area, this particular note is pretty significant," said Special Agent David Thomas. Of the $5 million collected so far, he said, "the majority has been in the Bay Area."

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