The region’s major daily newspapers today delved into the pension data released last week by the Orange County Employees Retirement System on pensioners that receive annual pensions in excess of $100,000.
In different ways, both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register highlighted the fact that the list is dominated by top executives and high-level people in the public safety ranks.
The Times story by Paloma Esquivel focused mainly on the more notorious pensioners on the list, including convicted former Sheriff Mike Carona and former county Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert L. Citron, whose investment led to Orange County’s bankruptcy in 1994.
Meanwhile, the Register’s Ron Campbell and Tony Saavedra did a detailed analysis of the list, which showed that the $100,000 club represents just 4 percent of all pensioners but get 13 percent of the money sent out by OCERS each month.
The Register also showed that besides the top-tier executive dominance of the list, more than 35 percent of the high-end retirees come from the Sheriff’s Department.
Voice of OC first published a story detailing the list and it’s implications last Wednesday when OCERS released the data. Since, we’ve focused most of our coverage on the policy implications of the disclosure.
Top tier executives are likely to receive heightened pressure to contribute more to their pensions.
And there’s even talk by County CEO Tom Mauk about asking Sacramento to change state law and allow public agencies to impose higher contribution requirements on employees at the negotiating table. Mauk says he’ll be talking to county supervisors, union leaders and legislators to seek the change.
That’s already drawn attention to the fact that Mauk and county supervisors could make executives pay more for their pensions without having to sit down at the negotiating table because the top-tier executives are at-will positions.
The supervisors’ first chance to address this issue will be at their July 20 meeting. It will be interesting to see how they handle it.
— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.