Early withdrawal

Feb 9, 2012

A group that hoped to overhaul California's public pension system by capping employers' contributions and putting new hires into a Wall Street-based, 401(k)-style system has halted its campaign for a November ballot initiative, citing a lack of money and contending the formal ballot language adopted by the attorney general was prejudicial.


From the AP's Judy Lin: "The group submitted two measures that qualified for signature gathering. One would have put new public employees into defined contribution plans, while the other would have put new workers into a hybrid plan that blends pensions with a 401(k)-style system."


"The group wanted to emphasize that the measures would stop pension system abuses and reduce pension costs. The attorney general's title and summary said the initiatives would reduce "benefits for current and future public employees, including teachers, nurses, and peace officers, but excluding judges."


A move pushed by right-wing Republican Shannon Grove to return California's Legislature to part-time status has drawn opposition led by a former Assembly majority leader, who says California's part-time Legislature -- which voters abolished in 1966 in favor of a full-time body -- was corrupt and ineffective. The LAT's Patrick McGreevy has the story.


"Grove’s initiative would have the Legislature meet 90 days a year and cut members’ pay from more than $7,900 a month to $1,500. That, Grove said, would "get them away from the seductive atmosphere of the Capitol dome, get them back home with family, neighbors and work, and give them a better chance, as a citizen legislator, to serve their constituents best interests."


"The proponents, who include Ted Costa of People's Advocate, have 150 days to collect 807,615 signatures of registered voters to qualify the measure for the ballot."


"Frommer, who served in the Assembly from 2000 to 2006, will be ready to campaign against it if it qualifies. The state's problems will not be solved by having the government of one of the world's largest economies "run by a part-time commission," Frommer said. "In fact, you are going to make it worse and give special interests even more sway than they hold today.''


The fight over Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that a federal appeals court just tossed out, likely will wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the swing player in that eventuality is Justice Anthony Kennedy. The LAT's David G. Savage tells the tale.


"Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, 75, often holds the court's deciding vote on the major issues that divide its liberals and conservatives. More often than not, that vote has swung the court to the right. But on gay rights, Kennedy has been anything but a "culture wars" conservative."

One of his opinions lauded the intimacy between same-sex couples and demanded "respect for their private lives," provoking Justice Antonin Scalia to accuse him of having "signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda."


California has more seniors living below the poverty level than any other state, and women are particularly at risk for economic hardship.


From Callie Shanafelt at HealthyCal: "...Half of all California workers will spend their final years in poverty if nothing changes with our retirement system."


"But women are particularly at risk for economic hardship because they generally live longer and earn less than men over the course of their lives. These sobering statistics come from a recent study of retirement in the state from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education."


And if the geezers are suffering from the harsh economy, how about the young adults? They are really getting hit hard.


From the LAT's Rebecca Trounson: "As the nation climbs slowly out of the Great Recession, young adults appear to be having the toughest time of any age group gaining a foothold in the recovering economy. Those difficulties, in turn, are shaping their decisions about careers, schooling, marriage and parenthood, according to a new report."

"The analysis by the Pew Research Center, released Thursday, examines the effects of the recession on the lives and attitudes of young Americans ages 18 to 34."


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