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California County Pension Debt

Articles in Mendocino County Papers

Read Grand Bargain or Bankruptcy to the left for description of these articles. Click title of already published articles.

Article 1

Published 7/21/16 - 7/24/16
Article 2
Employees & Retirees -
Your House is On Fire!

To be published 8/4/16 - 8/7/16
Article 3
Grand Bargain or Bankruptcy -
Which Do You Prefer?

To be published 8/17/16 - 8/21/16

Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Grand Bargain or Bankruptcy - Which Do You Prefer?

Top Story

Version 4 of This Website


A Very Good Man
Fighting Our Fight
Needs Our Help


Recent Media & Reports

John Dickerson -
Three Articles -
July - August 2016
John Dickerson

I started digging into Mendocino County's unfunded pension debt 11 years ago. I had no idea how much bad news I'd find.

I stepped back over the past few months to write three articles to the People of Mendocino County and our County's employees and retirees. The first will appear in newspapers around the County beginning July 21 (2016). The second and third will hit at two week intervals.

I'm trying to convey:
•what I think is the most fundamental cause of this debt,

•why I believe no group is more responsible for creating this debt than the County's Retirement Board,

•that employees and retirees have a moral duty to the People of our County to help clean up the mess their reprentatives on that Board made,

•what I believe the fundamental goals of a resolution of this threat must be,

•that by far the best fair resolution would be to reach a "Grand Bargain" among the key stakeholders in our County,

•but I believe the most likely future is our County will be driven into federal bankruptcy and a huge write-down of pension benefits will be imposed on retirees and employees.

It could take a surprisingly long time to get there. The longer it takes to confront this threat the worse the ultimate cost will be.

Click the links at the upper right of this page to see these articles with links to the analysis that supports them.


7/17/16: Today I'm introducing Version 4.0 of this website -

The first edition of "YPM" went live 10/8/2008 to tell my fellow Mendocino County citizens what I'd learned about our County's unfunded pension debt. Twice I had to restructure the site to accomodate expanded content.

Once again content has outgrown the structure of YPM. But I also wanted to start integrating information relating to all 21 California counties with independent Pension Funds.

Without major changes in Sacramento we won't get the reforms we need. But the best road to Sacramento starts in counties and cities with independent Pension Funds rather than being part of .

Local government Pension Funds are much more easily understood than the giant statewide systems (CalPERS, CalSTRS, etc.). They are far less complex and distant. It's much easier to organize reform groups locally than statewide.

But we're junior high teams playing the Green Bay Packers. What real progress has been made in pension reform in California counties and cities except where strong leaders have been in key elected offices? No local reform group has the resources needed for success. And we're going to have to come together before we can help change Sacramento.

A major goal for Version 4 is to begin to include all 21 California counties with their own Pension Funds.

This is not yet the "complete" Version 4. But there's enough done to pull back the curtains.

I'll be adding more information and sections over the next several months.

  David Brown - Marin's Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans

David Brown is a core member of Marin County's Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans (CSPP) - one of California's most active County pension reform groups.

David's trying to help all of us. We need to help him.

Twenty-one counties have independent Pension Funds. Grand Juries in 3 produced reports showing the process their counties used in granting massive pension increases in 2002 - 2004 violated key California laws designed to protect the public's right to know and be heard.

This is a BIG DEAL. Another example of the desdain of County and Retirement officials about legal obligations to the People. And - illegally granted pension increases might be reversable in court.

David is filing suite in Marin Superior Court to force Marin County to admit it's failure to obey the law. If they do - or the Court rules they did - Round 2 gets really interesting.

Marin County is spending big bucks to fight David and has filed a motion that David must PERSONALLY pay all their legal costs.

Please visit David's explanation of what he's trying to do - and give David what you can to help this good man fight this fight that needs to be won.

Click for the Grand Jury Reports and Responses from Counties: Marin (4/16/15), Sonoma (June 2012), Sutter (5/18/16 - report only - no responses)

The Daily Headache - recent press and analysis worth reading

Courtesy of American's best public-pension news source - (the date is when the story appeared in PensionTsunami - link opens new window).

7/25/16 - Urgency Needed in Addressing Sonoma County Pension Crisis (editorial - Press Democrat)

7/25/16 - California's Politicians Ignore Long-Term Effects as They Seek Instant Payoff (column - Dan Walters / Sacramento Bee)

7/15/16 - Bad CalPERS Earnings Worsen $93 Billion Taxpayer Debt (column - Daniel Borenstein / Mercury News)

7/11/16 - Sonoma County Pension Report Is a Must-Read (editorial - The Press Democrat)

7/5/16 - California's Public Employee Pensions Are an Enormous Problem (op-ed - Kerry Jackson / Orange County Register)

7/5/16 - California Pensions Take Above-Average Tax Bite (blog - Ed Mendel / Calpensions)

7/5/16 - REPORT: California's Pension Crowd-Out (pdf - Wayne Winegarden / Pacific Research Institute)

7/1/16 - A Tale of Two California Pension Funds -- First in a Series (David Crane / Medium)

6/28/16 - California Faces Fiscal Ruin From Unsustainable Government Pension Programs (pdf - Chuck Reed / Daily Journal)

6/27/16 - On Paper, Nevada County, California Is Technically Insolvent (op-ed - Rich Ulery / The Union)

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