Walking on air

Feb 16, 2011

A new wrinkle in the escalating debate over public pension abuses: State employees have been able to add up to five fictitious years onto their pensions in order to boost their benefits, a process known as "air time." The LAT's ANthony York and Jack Dolan tell the tale.


"Air time offers a return nearly twice as generous as a similar benefit — known as an annuity — that can be purchased on the private market, said Dan Pellissier, who advised former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on pensions. Pellissier, who as a state employee purchased five years' credit, is now pushing to eliminate air time as president of California Pension Reform…”


"Hanson said he gets calls about air time frequently and advises nearly all state employees to sign up. It offers a guaranteed 7% to 8% return, as opposed to a 3% return available for similar investments in the private sector, he said."


Meanwhile, speaking of state employees, Gov. Brown has ordered a hiring freeze for the government workforce, and he dropped an earlier effort by the Schwarzenegger administration to pay workers minimum wage. 


From the AP's Judy Lin: "Brown announced what he said was a comprehensive hiring freeze that applies to vacant, seasonal, full-time and part-time positions. The administration estimates it will save $363 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1, about $200 million of which will be in general fund savings..."


"Brown is allowing for certain exemptions that are critical to public safety, revenue collection and other core functions. An example includes positions that respond to disasters or life-threatening situations. He also will continue to make senior-level appointments to form his new administration."


State Auditor Elaine Howle reports that some local governments are improperly spending the money that is intended to mitigate the impacts of tribal casinos. The Press Enterprise's Jim Miller has the story.


"The audit called for legislation that would force agencies to forfeit tribal-mitigation grants if state officials concluded that money went to projects lacking a quantifiable link to casino-related impacts."


"It is the second report by the California Bureau of State Audits that raises concerns about the handling of money from the so-called special distribution fund. In 2007, auditors concluded that some agencies, including those in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, misspent grants on things like a boat and a program for troubled students."


Sharon Runner, Ted Lieu easily win a pair of special elections, reports the LAT's Jean Merl.


"In the South Bay's 28th Senate District, where the death of Long Beach Democrat Jenny Oropeza created a vacancy, Lieu, 41, a former assemblyman, jumped into the race even before a special election could be called. He quickly lined up enough backing to discourage other prominent Democrats from running..."


"In the 17th Senate District, Runner, 56, a former Assembly member from Lancaster, was heavily favored from the start to defeat her only opponent, Democrat Darren W. Parker, 51, also of Lancaster. The district consistently votes Republican, and Runner is half of a popular political couple: The seat opened after her husband, George, was elected to the Board of Equalization."


And from our "Where's Mr. Blackwell When We Need Him?" file, we read the tale of the woman who was outraged at another woman's cleavage. She took the matter into her own hands.


"Laura Campanello, 43, was leaving a meeting with her 17-year-old son’s guidance counselor at Bayshore High School when she passed a woman whom she believes was too scantily clad. After Campanello asked the woman--who was visiting the Bradenton school with an enrolling student--to cover up her chest area, an argument broke out."


"According to a Manatee County Sheriff Office affidavit, Deputy Greg Jenkins, the school’s resourse officer, arrived on the scene and advised Campanello that the other woman “was an adult and that I could not tell this lady how to dress.”"


“Oh then I can…just do this,” Campanello responded. As detailed by Jenkins, Campanello then allegedly “pulled the front of her blouse down reached in with both hands and pulled both breast out and squeezed them together.” The impromptu display in front of several onlookers resulted in Campanello’s arrest for disorderly conduct."


Stuff like this never happens when I'm around....


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