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Old Mendocino County Courthouse Around 1915

California County Pension Debt


Mendocino County's Pension Debt

What Happened - Really?

Fundamental Causes

Fundamental Causes of Unfunded Pension Debt

Choices -

Immediate v. Fundamental Causes

Failure of County Government

Perverse Incentive & Conflict of Interest

Profound Lack of Accountability


Before you can solve a big problem you first need to recognize you have one, then you need to really understand what the problem is.

We've Got the Medical Report - But What Was the Real Cause?

  A Patient Out Cold

Here's the wounded patient brought into the hospital - out cold.

  Mendocino County's Failing Pension Fund

And here's the debt Mendocino County's Pension Fund has imposed on the County - the picture of a failing Fund over the last 2 decades.

  Medical Report - the Immediate Cause for the Patient's condition

We've got the Medical Report about what specifically happened to the patient. (Shot - stabbed - feinted - whatever)

  Three Main Immediate Causes of Mendocino County's Pension Fund

And - each of these three factors caused roughly 25% of this debt:

  • The Pension Fund's rate of return was below target
  • The Fund didn't have enough money to invest
  • Use of "Excess Earnings" to pay Retiree Healthcare

A bunch of other things caused the last quarter.

Sherlock starts an investigation

But what really happened to the patient? Was it an accident? Attempted suicide? Or attempted murder?

And - what really happened to Mendocino County's Pension Fund? Is Mendocino County's unfunded pension debt an accident - an "Act of God"? Did someone or something outside the official structure do this to the Pension Fund as in attempted murder? Or did someone or something inside do it as in attempted suicide? Or negligent manslaughter?

This is a "heavy" section. First - I'll lay out what I firmly believe are the fundamental causes of Mendocino County's unfunded pension debt. Then I'll give a number of examples of specific actions and events I believe support these findings.

In my presentations I do it the other way around. I give a number of examples of actions that led me to my conclusions - then lay out what I think are the core causes of the debt.

You can go that way if you want by first reading "Examples" then "Conclusions".

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