Tag Archives: Toby Schindelbeck for City Council 2012

CalPERS headed for a cliff?

29 Oct

From Chico News & Review 10/25/2012

“The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) has made a disturbing announcement for many of its long-term-care clients.

CalPERS has proposed an 85 percent premium increase for 115,000 of its 150,000 long-term beneficiaries, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. Earlier this month, CalPERS officials were considering a 75 percent premium hike, which organization spokesperson Bill Madison called ‘a work in progress’ at the time.

The raised premiums, which would take effect in 2015 and be phased in over two years, are in anticipation of budget shortfalls in the future. Unlike its pension-benefits program, CalPERS’ long-term program is not funded by taxpayers.

‘At current course and speed, we would not have enough money … to pay anticipated claims,’ said CalPERS deputy executive officer Ann Boynton.”

I didn’t know CalPERS offered “long-term-care” insurance. What a scam. They take these premiums fully expecting you to DIE before you collect.  Read more below, from the CalPERS press site.

CalPERS site:  http://www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp?bc=/about/press/pr-2012/oct/ltc-premium-increase.xml

Press Release

October 17, 2012

External Affairs Branch
(916) 795-3991
Robert Udall Glazier, Deputy Executive Officer
Brad Pacheco, Chief, Office of Public Affairs
Contact: Bill Madison, Information Officer
pressroom@calpers.ca.gov

 

CalPERS Approves Long-Term Care Premium Increase

Three alternative plans offered to ease impact on policyholders

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration today approved an 85 percent premium increase for early purchasers of its Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance Program policies. The increase, to be spread over two years, is being implemented to help stabilize the Program’s underlying Long-Term Care Fund and will take effect July 2015. Members who opt to cover the increase in a single year will pay only 79 percent.

Policyholders affected by the increase purchased two types of policies between 1995 and 2004: policies with lifetime benefits with inflation protection, and policies with lifetime benefits without inflation protection (California Partnership policies will be excluded).

The premium increase is necessary to offset the effect of higher-than-expected claims, lower-than-expected investment income, the Board’s adoption of a more conservative LTC Fund investment mix, and a lowering of the Fund’s investment discount rate to 5.75 percent to align with the more conservative investment portfolio.

The Board also approved three new optional alternative benefit plans that will provide the affected CalPERS LTC policyholders with options for relief from the financial impact of the 2015 rate increase. These new alternatives will allow policyholders to avoid further premium increases by converting to policies that will still provide adequate protection and possibly lower their premiums.

“We took great care to listen to the concerns of our policyholder constituent groups and weighed staff proposals for these options carefully before making our decision,” said Board President Rob Feckner. “We are taking these actions to ensure the sustainability of the Long-Term Care Fund and the availability of benefits for our policyholders.”

Affected policyholders will be given the opportunity to convert their policies to these new options in the spring of 2013. The policy changes will take effect July 1, 2013. View a list of the proposed new policy conversion options (PDF, 87 KB).

“We feel the plan options we will offer our policyholders make this a win-win situation, especially for those with lifetime benefit policies,” said Priya Mathur, Chair of the Board’s Pension and Health Benefits Committee. “With the average length of stay in a care facility a little over three years, we think the 10-year conversion option will provide more than adequate coverage when our policyholders need it.”

The CalPERS Long-Term Care Program began in 1995 and currently has more than 150,000 members and approximately $3.6 billion in LTC Fund assets. The LTC Program is a voluntary, self-funded, not-for-profit program funded entirely by policyholder premiums and investment earnings.

CalPERS is the nation’s largest public pension fund with approximately $243 billion in assets, providing retirement benefits to more than 1.6 million State, public school, and local public agency employees, retirees, and their families, and health benefits to more than 1.3 million members. The average CalPERS pension is $2,332 per month. The average benefit for those who retired in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011, is $3,065 per month. For more information about CalPERS, visit http://www.calpers.ca.gov.        

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ### end of press release ###

There it says, “The premium increase is necessary to offset the effect of higher-than-expected claims, lower-than-expected investment income, the Board’s adoption of a more conservative LTC Fund investment mix, and a lowering of the Fund’s investment discount rate to 5.75 percent to align with the more conservative investment portfolio.”

“higher than expected claims” – that means, people are actually living to collect! How could they NOT have expected that? They sell you insurance, and then they don’t provide for you?  Again I will say, what a SCAM.

lower than expected investment income” – yes, like the pensions, they’ve gambled this fund on the stock market, and where they predicted they’d be getting somewhere between 7 and 20 percent returns, they’ve been lucky to get ONE PERCENT. They’ve lost millions.

Which led to “the Board’s adoption of a more conservative LTC Fund investment mix” – oooo, I’ll bet!

“”and a lowering of the Fund’s investment discount rate to 5.75 percent to align with the more conservative investment portfolio.” This means, CalPERS clients will pay more toward their own benefits, for the “long-term-care” coverage anyway.

http://www.calpers.ca.gov/index.jsp?bc=/about/press/pr-2012/sept/discount-rate.xml

These articles are like boxes within boxes – every time I read more, I have more questions than I had before. See this link, here above – this article tells how  CalPERS got public employees to buy into this scam by offering them a “discount rate.”  Suckers – anybody who thinks they can get something for nothing deserves to be had.   How could they believe they could pay so little, and then be taken care of indefinitely in some rest home? How could they believe that the stock market, which has behaved very poorly and been outrageously volatile these last ten years, would pay consistently enough to float thousands of retirees who aren’t paying anything?

But it’s not just the employees – we, the taxpayers, are also  the suckers here. A lot of public employees get “long-term-care” paid for by their employer. I haven’t seen the city of Chico contracts – have you? I’m guessing we pay for “long-term-care,” but I’d have to see the contracts. 

This is part of the perfect pension storm. CalPERS is in trouble, they’re just trying not to let on. Right now they are hitting lower level employees, like my friend who earns less than $40,000 a year with Butte County, to pay their own “employee share.” Sounds like no big deal, huh? Well, it’s the beginning of a big deal, so watch it. The lower level county employees – “classified staff” – those making less than $50,000/yr – have been TOLD over the last year that they would be paying their own 7 percent share of their benefits. That’s the deal at the county, at the city it’s 9 percent. Then the employers pay a matching amount – 7 percent for the county, and 9 percent for the city.  I don’t know all the details perfect, but here’s the bottom line – City of Chico employees, with the exception of the fire department,  pay only a small portion toward their health benefits, and NOTHING on their pensions. 

And the other thing is, that’s only 14 and 18 percent. The rest of the pension premiums are riding on the stock market. And the market is not paying fast enough to keep up even with the pensions currently being paid out, not to mention the pensions that will be paid to our current employees. So Jerry Brown is trying to get CalPERS to raise the payments – whether the employees pay them, or WE pay them, they’re going to have to be paid. We’re talking BILLIONS in unfunded pensions.  

The problem – the giant defecating elephant – is that thousands of people  currently work for public entities, thinking they will be taken care of for life having only paid a couple thousand dollars a year toward that care. The average premium, according to Cal Pers, is $2500 a year, while the average pension benefit payment is $3200 a month. How could that possibly be sustainable? 

CalPERS convinced the public employment sector, as well as our governor and our  legislature, that they could sustain these outrageous pensions with only 14 – 18 percent of the premium being paid by the employee/employer. They promised they could make these crazy, 20 percent returns on the stock market, and our corrupt and lazy legislators gave them the go ahead to do it. 

The city of Chico does not have to remain on this road to Perdition. The contracts are being hashed over right now. Some of them are already done deals – with all the perks and benies, and even some raises! How nice! But there are still contracts on the table. We must lean on our elected leaders to make our employees pay more of their “share.” Whoever you vote for in this election, take some responsibility for them – like you would your own child. When your child does something wrong, you have to point it out, you have to tell them it won’t be tolerated – not only by you, but more importantly, not by society at large. We have to take our elected officials off to the corner too, tell them when we feel they are not doing their jobs, not listening, not taking correct action. You can tell them sweet or sour, but you should tell them. We need some sort of benefits reform HERE IN CHICO. We don’t have to continue like helpless lemmings off into the Pacific with Governor Moonbeam and his horde. 

“NO on J” signs will be delivered soon – let me know if you want one!

8 Oct

I’m sorry I forgot to post this month’s “First Sunday” meeting – I was so excited about the signs I ordered, I wasn’t thinking. I just notified the usual suspects and we had a quick meeting to compare notes. We’ll have another meeting or two before the election, watch the skies. 

We have all been working in our own way to spread the word about Measure J. Sue and Stephanie walked out at the closing night of Thursday Market to hand out fliers about Measure J. They reported what I had suspected – people don’t know about Measure J, and when they find out, they are angry about it. “What?!!!!” was apparently the general reaction. 

It is always dumbfounding to me how little the public knows about their government. I’d bet my last five dollars most Chicoans couldn’t name the Mayor if they were given a shot of Vitamin B6.  In fact, some council candidates I’ve spoken to have demonstrated an alarming ignorance of the city code, the employee contracts, salaries and pensions.  One candidate I spoke too actually believed it was necessary to close Station 5.  

That’s why the only candidate I’ve endorsed or asked the other members of the CTA to endorse is Toby Schindelbeck. Schindelbeck has worked hard, familiarizing himself with the city charter, going to all the committee meetings for months now, finding his way around the maze Downtown. I know I won’t always agree pointblank with Schindelbeck, but he’s not going in there just to heat a seat cushion two nights a month. 

Another candidate asked for our endorsement, but I haven’t got any solid support from the rest of the members, and this candidate has not done anything lately that I can endorse him about. I’m not campaigning against anybody but Schwab – she’s the stinking fish head in this basket –  but if you want my endorsement, or my support in any way, you need to work for it. Schindelbeck is the only one I’ve seen consistently at meetings, and he’s spoken forcefully on our collective behalf to get finance records and other murky city affairs out in the public eye.  For example,  Scott Gruendl was on the committee that was to lay out the guidelines for  choosing a new city manager, as well as, the guidelines for replacing a council member when they stepped down before their term was up,  when he was himself a candidate for city manager. Schindelbeck pressured Gruendl to either step down from the oversight committee or remove himself as a candidate for city manager, and Gruendl was forced to do the latter. If it hadn’t been for Schindelbeck, Scott Gruendl would likely be our city manager right now, hand-picked by himself, and we’d watching his anointed appointee led to his chair on the dais. 

I’m still waiting for the signs to come back from the printer – sorry to wait til the last minute, but they will look really nice, I’ll promise you that! Let me know here if you want one – I won’t print your response, but I’ll keep track. Give me some address to deliver the sign, one per customer, as long as they last. I’ll post a picture of a sign when I get them, some time in the next couple of days. 

What can you do about Measure J? Please talk to one or more of your neighbors today. I know, it’s tough, neighbors aren’t as friendly as they were 10 years ago. But, for every asshole you encounter, I swear to gawd you’ll meet a nice person. 

Hennessy is using city funds like walnut shells to hide and move money

29 Aug

I had a dentist appointment yesterday morning, bright and early, so I thought I’d drop in on the Finance Committee meeting.   There I watched Toby Schindelbeck try to dig a monthly finance report out of Jennifer Hennessy – and that was like pulling teeth.

I’ll tell you something about Jennifer Hennessy – she’s used to getting her way, Daddy’s little (?) girl. When Schindelbeck pressed for those reports, in a very polite and businesslike manner, she started acting like a petulant child, bickering with him about her “interpretation” of the code. She acted as though the code was written by Joseph of Arimathea.

I would recommend everybody read the Charter and Code for the City of Chico, it’s not rocket science. Get a dictionary, just for those $64,000 words. But, it’s very clear, it’s very direct:

“The finance director shall submit to the council through the city manager monthly statements of receipts, disbursements and balances in such form as to show the exact financial condition of the city. At the end of each fiscal year the finance director shall submit a complete and detailed financial statement.” (Article 9, Section 908)

What do you guys read there, any comments? I hear it loud and clear – she’s supposed to show us how much came in, how much went out, and how much is left, EVERY MONTH. She acts as though that’s an unreasonable request, even after the Station 5 fiasco.

How soon we forget? In January of this year, Hennessy had told us everything was DANDY! Then by March we were in DEFICIT.  In July we were closing a fire station that sat watch on the entire east side of town, including all the east side grasslands (meadow foam!) that this council allowed developers to squat on over the last five years. 

Schindelbeck had gone to a lot of trouble, read over reports, graphs, charts, and found figures that don’t match. He had different reports from different staffers that listed different balances in the same funds. He had reports that indicated  questionable transfers between those funds, and he had a report that showed $taff had undertaken a project with a fund that was completely inadequate to fund it.

But, our council seems to have drank Hennessy’s Kool-Aid.  With the spectre of mismanagement standing firmly behind him, Scott Gruendl defended Jennifer Hennessy’s adamant, and I’ll say, BITCHY and CHILDISH, refusal to DO HER $165,000 A YEAR JOB. 

Scott Gruendl went on to explain the practice of “deficit spending.” In his world, spending other people’s money you don’t really have is considered a high art form. In fact, did you know, council members used to get credit cards? Gruendl made such fast use of his credit card, wining and dining at little nooks and crannies all over the Bay Area, that council voted to tear up those cards. Nobody else was using them, Gruendl was partying with his, and then using excuses like, he had to go pick up the “Sister City” plaque that could easily have been shipped for a fraction of the cost of putting him up in a chic boutique in San Fran and sending him to all the  snootiest little eateries. Gruendl is a pig, and he likes to be kept nice and fat.

So, he says, there’s nothing wrong with spending in deficit on stuff like a bike path, buy some guy’s property to run a bike path across, everybody does that when they are poised on the brink of bankruptcy. It’s called an investment in the future – yeah, that property owner’s future just got a lot brighter, wouldn’t you say? 

Did you know, they spent General Fund money finishing up that Hwy 99 bike path – the privately contracted workers were in my neighborhood all one weekend.  Having freshly paved only the exact bike route through my neighborhood of otherwise shredded streets, they sent in a crew to stencil the magical protective bicycle people in the brand new oily surface.  People, not cyclists, but people who occasionally like to be seen on a bike,  seem to think those stencils are magical.  They seem to believe  they can ride right out in the street and those stencils will protect them from the congregation of the Evangelical Free Church over on Filbert! Good luck! 

Hennessy and the rest of them need these projects to attract grants to bring in revenues to pay their salaries and benefits. The grants don’t even start the job – for example, already over $1 MILLION  has been granted on that Downtown remodel, and SPENT, and you see how far it’s gotten. They’re already out of money, and the job will wait until there’s more.  They used the money not for construction – it PG&E you’ve seen hashing up the streets. Construction is really a pittance of the actual cost of these jobs – they spent most of this money on their own salaries and benefits. Ask Hennessy – the entire gas tax, which is legally supposed to be reserved for  capital projects, is spent on salaries and benefits. 

Furthermore, in order to get these grants, the city has to spend money, oftentimes matching the amount of the grant. So, every time you hear they got a grant, what they aren’t telling you is, it’s going to cost you the same amount of money to get it. And, don’t you love the way they act as though these grants just rain like manna from heaven – no, they come out of the taxes you send to the state and feds every year. 

Hennessy said that when Fred Davis ran our town, he only had 10 “funds”. Now there are over 250 funds. Know why? Cause all those “funds” act like walnuts shells – you can HIDE MONEY that way, and transfer it from one “specific” fund to another. That’s the way they will take the phone tax they expect to get out of you and use it for whatever art project or Sustainability scam they please. 

The conversation was getting pretty hot when I noticed the clock – I had to be at the dentist for a good reaming at 9am. Gruendl was telling Schindelbeck, very rudely, that his comments didn’t have anything to do with the subject at hand. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I asked to speak. I told them I agreed with Schindelbeck  – that for exactly all the reasons Miss Malfeasance listed for NOT doing her job, she needed to do it.

They are using this confusing mish-mash t0 move money around to pay their salaries and benefits, that’s what I know. We need to demand not that Hennessy DO her job, but that Hennessy LOSE her job. 

And Gruendl needs to go in 2014, let’s make note of that.