Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What is Los Angeles County Hiding About Its Employees' Pensions?

In recent months, appeals courts have ordered the public employee pension systems in Sacramento and San Diego counties to comply with public records requests for information on the pension packages of retired workers. In response, many counties with pending appeals in similar cases have abandoned their resistance to requests for pension data. But one county is standing firm. That would be one of California's most corrupt, Los Angeles County.

Apparently, the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association plans to continue refusing the LA Times' requests for the names and pension packages of its retirees. The most recent such refusal came with this statement from the pension's attorney: "Our member records are deemed confidential by statute, and may not therefore be disclosed to anyone except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction or by written authorization of the member." For those keeping score at home, this is pretty much the exact argument that the judges rejected in the Sacramento and San Diego county cases. In both of these counties, the forced disclosures revealed abuses of the pension system, and given that this is LA County we're talking about, we'd guess the abuses are absolutely breathtaking there. Yet the pension fund's lawyer says that, until a pending appeal regarding Sonoma County's retirement plan is resolved, there's no reason why LA should feel compelled to act. We'd think, given that the county spends about $1 billion every year on pensions, that the public interest of the taxpayers would constitute such a reason. But then we'd remember that this is Los Angeles County.

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