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CALPERS says Borenstein is “Shortsighted and Wrong”

Daniel Borenstein

I’ve gone through how wrong Contra Costa Times Columnist Daniel Borenstein has been many times and now  CALPERS  has gotten into the act of correcting him as they issued a response to his latest column “CalPERS planning to gut a key cost-control provision of new pension law”. CALPERS accuses him of being biased, ignored facts they provided, and absurd interpretation.

This is no different than when Chief Louder provided documents to Borenstein about Measure Q and the County EMS plan–Borenstein failed to share that with readers.  Borenstein also ignored history, facts, and showed biased behavior during his endorsements for many City Council races such as Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley.

I applaud CALPERS for the response, more people should issue corrections to his distortions of reality instead of blindly following him.

Here is what CALPERS had to say:

Dan Borenstein’s Crusade Against Public Pensions Gets the Best of Him and Misleads Readers
January 12, 2013

Dan Borenstein is one of the few columnists that understands many of the complexities of public pensions but his personal bias and crusade against public employee pensions once again got the best of him, thus misleading your readers, in his January 11 column (“CalPERS planning to gut a key cost-control provision of new pension law”).

He attacks CalPERS preliminary interpretation of the new pension law that went into effect January 1 and the types of compensation that can be used toward calculating pensions. Contrary to Borenstein’s snide comment that CalPERS operates “in a parallel universe,” our interpretation of this provision is the agreed upon intent of those who wrote, passed and signed the bill into law. What he neglects to tell readers – a fact which CalPERS explicitly shared with him during multiple attempts to try to help him get the facts straight, which he nevertheless failed to do – is that during the legislative process, CalPERS worked with the legislative committee consultants to answer their questions and enable them to write the bill according to their intent. They agree that the intent was to eliminate some special compensation but not all of it. Further, as we prepared our preliminary interpretation in recent weeks, we based it on conversations with officials in the legislature and the administration.  In spite of Borenstein’s most fervent personal desires, the legislature’s intent was never to limit pension calculations to base pay only. Additionally, CalPERS will seek broad public input on the issue of compensation before any interpretations or regulations are finalized.

Borenstein’s view that our interpretation of the law will lead to pension spiking is both shortsighted and wrong. The abuse of pension spiking, by significantly increasing an employee’s base pay in the final year of their career, has been addressed in changes CalPERS instituted years ago for public agencies and school employees. In fact many of the items specifically called out in the new legislation have not been reportable to CalPERS. Pension spiking is also addressed in the new law through a cap on compensation that can be used to calculate a new member’s pension as well as requirements to use the average of an employee’s highest salary over three years of their career for public agencies and schools.

Lastly, Borenstein is again wrong when he condescendingly claims that CalPERS “absurd interpretation of the new law will … erode untold billions of dollars of savings that … CalPERS previously claimed the new law would produce.” The only absurd interpretation here is Borenstein’s complete ignorance or disregard of what CalPERS actually said in our cost analysis of the bill. CalPERS never claimed that the restrictions on what is included in pensionable compensation would result in significant savings, let alone “untold billions.” Instead, CalPERS wrote in our cost analysis: “We have not reviewed or been able to assess the potential impact of any such changes. To the extent that savings are realized as a result of additional restrictions on pensionable compensation, the savings will be greater than quoted in this analysis.”

CalPERS is committed to implement and administer the laws as they were enacted. Borenstein has done nothing more than rush to judgment and yell fire. If his readers believe his rhetoric, they will likely only get burned by the misinformation.

Read the full column.

Here is the CALPERS link

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8 Responses »

  1. Danny just got burned. He should be put on time out for good.

  2. He should stick to plagiarizing LA Times pieces. Better odds of at least getting the facts right.

    CALPERS just reported a 13.3% return for 2012. Dan is probably busy writing his mea culpa from when he insisted 3% should be their stated target. But I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting that to ever show in print.

    When you are conversing with CALPERS people for your piece and then you deliberately edit out what they told you as fact, it becomes pretty clear you are no longer a reporter with any journalistic integrity. You are a shill.

    • Their is a pattern of this Jigs… he did the same thing with both fire measures.

    • SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) today reported a 1 percent return on investments for the 12 months that ended June 30, 2012, falling short of its benchmark that returned 1.7 percent. CalPERS assets at the end of the fiscal year stood at more than $233 billion.

      “falling short of its benchmark that returned 1.7 percent”

      WHAT DOES THIS MEAN ?

      This came straight off the cal pers site. I hope my pension is there when my time comes. Where did the Jigs get 13.3 % returns from ?

  3. Borenstein is simply a sour little guy with a large chip on his shoulder. It’s unfortunate that the CCTimes allows him to air his personal frustration (pension envy). Then again, they have become desperate to sell papers.

    He isn’t very bright, however as long as the National Enquirer has a following so shall he. He has abused his responsibility by printing hand picked by-lines instead of providing the readers with an entire story and letting them draw their own conclusions.

    The dirty little secret that really needs to be exposed is that he makes up 1/2 of the editorial board! Yep, he is one of two, that uses the editorials to sell readers on an agenda. He takes advantage of the fact that most readers assume editorials are written by responsible executive journalists. If the readers only knew who was hiding behind the masthead of the CCTimes they would cancel their subscriptions and discard the “opinions” which they trusted.

    Don’t take my word for it. Go meet the editorial board or better yet Borenstein himself. It’s no wonder the paper is circling the drain.

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