Pension tension, Part III

Mar 19, 2012

One effect of the economy's painful and lingering downturn is the impact on CalPERS, the nation's largest public pension fund. An analysis put together by a Wilshire consulting firm shows that nearly all the large pension funds have done better with their investments than CalPERS during the past few years. That's not good news, and CalPERS has been making changes to deal with it.


From CalPensions' Ed Mendel: "A conceptual change that emerged from a study two years ago is intended to use “risk” as a way to classify and monitor investments. The shift has begun, but it’s still evolving amid a search for more answers."


"Another change would build up the CalPERS investment staff and rely less on outside managers. A new proposal would add 44 investment positions at a cost of $6.5 million, offset by reducing fees paid outside managers by $100 million to $200 million."


"The biggest loser, real estate, has moved toward predictable leases and away from speculative developments. A new private equity manager, Real Desrochers, brings more internal management to key investments expected to yield above-market returns."


The tax-initiative compromise reached last week between the governor and rivals for the November looks like it's going to carry hefty price tag -- just for the signature-gathering. By one estimate, gathering the 808,000 signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot may cost a whopping $7 million. That's right, $7 million. Aye, Carramba!


From Marisa Lagos and Wyatt Buchananin the Chronicle: "Once the attorney general clears the measure for takeoff, supporters will have about a month to gather signatures - and that urgency drives up the cost that signature-gathering firms charge. It's looking like a whopping $7 million. Typically, it costs between $1 million and $3 million to hire a signature-gathering firm."


"Who's going to be raising all this money? Apparently Assembly Speaker John Pérez, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and their new partners from the former millionaires tax campaign (namely the California Federation of Teachers and the Courage Campaign). We hear the governor will reserve his war chest for his original tax plan - just in case the new, compromise measure can't get on the ballot."


Meanwhile, that revised initiative may cost more money at the front end, but it will raise less money once it's in place, according to the Legislature's nonpartisan numbers crunchers.


From KQED's John Myers: "The new analysis continues a months long disagreement between the state's top fiscal forecasters, one seemingly rooted in different perspectives on the investment incomes of California's most wealthy taxpayers. Everyone agrees that they hope for some clarity, and narrowing, of their numbers once tax receipts are tallied in April."


"As for what the new analysis does to the messaging for Brown Tax Initiative 2.0, the likely answer is not much. For now, at least. Backers will continue to insist it would bring in needed dollars for K-12 schools, higher education, and the overall unbalanced state budget. But the early flourish of stories calling it a $9 billion budget fix will be hard to maintain now that there's a more conservative estimate as part of the official analysis."


"And that leads, perhaps, to the still relatively quiet budget debate under the Capitol dome. Legislators continue to hear budget proposals and ideas in various committees (though not as explicitly as GOP legislators would like), but Democrats no doubt realize they may ultimately have to weigh in on the $2 billion revenue debate. If they're ultimately inclined to use a more conservative number, then that means deeper cuts now; if they choose to be more optimistic and that optimism doesn't pay off, it means deeper cuts down the road."


Republicans are trying to make inroads into heavily Democratic San Francisco, and the GOP field of contenders reflects the diversity of the town itself.


From the Chronicle's Carla Marinucci: "The attorney acknowledged that the San Francisco GOP faces daunting odds in its efforts to elect Republican legislators and grow the party in a city and county where 56 percent of voters are registered Democrats, compared with 9 percent who are Republicans."

"The party's fortunes don't look much better at the statewide level: Voter registration figures show the California Republican Party is fast losing ground in the nation's most populous state, where GOP voter registration lags behind Democrats by more than 13 percentage points."


"Still, up-and-coming party leaders like Dhillon say that's precisely why the GOP must take some bold moves to make new inroads."

And finally, from our "Flatfoot" file, comes the tale of the Memphis police officer who was having sex in the back of his squad car -- and forgot to turn off the two-way radio microphones. Yep, it appears that it all got taped.


"There's no word yet on which microphone our sources say broadcast Officer Dion Anthony having sex in his squad car while on duty. But there is a recording because Sgt. Rudolph says every radio communication is recorded..."

Anthony joined the force back in July 2007. He works the 2pm to 10pm shift out of the Mount Moriah precinct. The controversial broadcast of him having sex in his squad car went out between 8:45 and 9 p.m. Monday night. Our sources say it was on an open channel that could be heard by not only the 30 to 35 officers working that precinct. But by anybody with a police scanner."

Book him, Dano....

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