Pension flap

Sep 17, 2012

As more details emerge of the pension overhaul signed recently by Gov. Brown, it is clear that the bill's provisions are not uniform. CSU and UC are prime examples, but there are others.


From Ed Mendel in Calpensions: "Most of the 44,000 employees on the 23 campuses of the CSU system will continue to make a low pension contribution, 5 percent of pay. The state Finance department lost another round with labor-backed educators."


"The largest group in CalPERS, non-teaching school employees, were untouched by cost-cutting reforms bargained by state workers and some local governments. Now schools can impose a contribution increase after five years if bargaining fails."


"How the pension reform bill affects public education varies with the different operational laws covering the parts of the system. A notable example: The semi-independent University of California is excluded from the bill."


The issues surrounding the debate over the death penalty include a deeply disturbing question: What if an innocent prisoner was executed?


From Bob Egelko in the Chronicle: "As Californians prepare to vote in November on Proposition 34, which would reduce all death sentences to life in prison without parole, both sides on the issue agree that the state has never executed a prisoner who was later proved to be innocent."


"Still, doubts persist about the guilt of an inmate who was put to death in 1998. And five men sentenced to death under current California law were later cleared of the murder charges that put them on Death Row."


"Those five cases illustrate "how easily someone who did not commit the murder could have been executed," said John Cotsirilos, lawyer for Lee Farmer, who was freed in 1999 after 17 years in prison."


Speaking of the death penalty, the November ballot measure to abolish it and require instead a life sentence without parole is getting support from the glitterati of Hollywood and some high-rollers in the SIlicon Valley.


From the Mercury-News' Howard Mintz: "With less than two months to go before the election, Proposition 34's campaign has amassed more than $5.4 million to persuade California voters to get rid of capital punishment, dwarfing the paltry $208,000 gathered by a pro-death-penalty coalition of law enforcement and victims' rights groups."


"From Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to actor Ed Asner and rocker Jackson Browne, the Proposition 34 campaign has a glittering roster of the rich and famous putting money behind the first vote on whether to retain the death penalty in California since it was reinstated in 1978."


"If approved, Proposition 34 would replace the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole and clear the state's death row, which now exceeds 720 condemned killers. The measure's supporters say the death penalty system is too flawed, slow and expensive to retain, while opponents insist the cost concerns are exaggerated and that California should keep the ultimate punishment for heinous murderers."


And now we introduce Sky Adams, aka CrossXBones, who provides live coverage of protests and demonstrations from the front lines. He's a newsie, not an activist.


From Rick Rojas in the LA Times: "Instead of being armed with signs or chalk, Adams wore a headset and held a smartphone, its broadband connection linking him — at that moment — with hundreds of others. Adams would be their eyes and ears when it came to this latest unrest."


"I'm not an activist," Adams explained. "I'm just a journalist."

"In many ways, Adams is similar to those spurred to action over their indignation with the status quo — whether it pertains to financial institutions, politics or police behavior. He is a 35-year-old who stepped away from a job that gave him stability but not fulfillment. Now he is constantly moving and putting himself in such precarious places that he often has a gas mask in his pocket and a helmet hooked to his belt loop."


Whatever happens to his tax initiative on Nov. 6, Gov. Brown says it is the last time he goes to voters with such a proposal.


From the Chronicle's Matier and Ross: "Win or lose, Gov. Jerry Brown says his ballot bid to raise the state sales tax for everyone and wealthy people's income taxes will be the last time he pitches such a plan to the voters."


"As Brown sees it, while not perfect, his Proposition 30 "is the only viable step forward. ... There's not another alternative."


"If it goes down, Brown said at a recent meeting with The Chronicle's editorial board, "we're not going to go out to the people again. Because we've tried it."

Most polls show Prop. 30 has about 53 percent support among voters - not a sure bet by any means."


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