If I took a shot of tequila every time county Supervisor Dianne Jacob claimed that the only problem with the county’s pension is the stock market, I would not be a healthy person.
The latest incident occurred Wednesday in a report from KPBS. You see, every couple of months, another reporter discovers the enormity of the county’s pension burden. The city gets all the love and hate about its pension problem, but the county watches hundreds of millions of dollars leave its budget to fund a system that used to demand almost nothing.
That’s money that among other things could be cleaning our air, fighting fires and repairing its holey social services safety net.
Here was Jacob on KPBS:
“The problem with the county pension fund is the losses on Wall Street,” Jacob said. “That’s the primary problem with the county pension fund right now.”
What she doesn’t like to talk about is the massive pension enhancement she and her colleagues gave themselves and their employees in 2002. It was a 50 percent boost. That would have been one thing if it was a boost from that point going forward. No, it was a retroactive increase, a gigantic giveaway for time already served. While benefits usually are meant to recruit and retain employees, the new, higher pension actually pushed hundreds of them to immediately retire.
A system that was fully funded was immediately pushed into a shortfall. I summarized the history of the pension fund last year in 350 words for just this sort of occasion.
She can complain that the stock market and the county pension’s risky hedge fund investments didn’t fund their generous gift to employees. But that doesn’t fit with a Republican’s mantra of personal responsibility. And the longer the local GOP keeps training its sights on the city’s pension problem, the longer it looks like they only care about pensions when it’s a Democrat who’s defending them.
I would propose that we all drink a shot of tequila every time Jacob makes a garbage claim like this. But that would probably overly strain the county’s health system.
You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!): twitter.com/vosdscott.