Or… your tax dollars at work. As an Oregon resident, I’m all too familiar with state employees (Remember the PERS fiasco with teachers a few years ago – UGH!) hiding under the skirts of their unions and using the blame game as an excuse to raid the checkbooks of the folks they serve. The biggest fans of entitlement spending feel entitled to a retirement package that exceeds that most folks get in the real world.
Oregon residents are not alone. Recently, a friend in California brought my attention to a similar problem emerging there. (Or should I say re-emerging?) Here’s where the outrage begins:
California’s SEIU is pushing a particularly bad piece of legislation (AB 1967) that further politicizes investments by the state’s public employee retirement funds — CalPERS and CalSTRS. They want to force out private equity funds that take passive investments from certain sovereign wealth funds — disregarding the job-creating businesses these funds invest.
Naturally, the investments the left is trying to kill off are among the most lucrative for pension fund retirees. So much so that the Calstrs board (for retired teachers) stuck their neck out in the last week in strong opposition to this bill:
“We can’t eliminate the portfolio’s best performers by banishing the top-tier private equity firms,” Jack Ehnes, the fund’s chief executive, said in a statement.
“This bill ignores the realities of the global financial marketplace where sovereign wealth funds are passive investors in a growing number of the most attractive investment opportunities in the world,” Ehnes said.
The irony is that most if not all of the beneficiaries of state pension fund investments are retired union members, many of them SEIU members. The national and state unions are happy to undermine their former members’ retirements to score a political point. Shocking but not surprising.
The teachers’ retirement board isn’t the only one that thinks the union is putting its interest above that of its members and retirees. California United Health Workers head Sal Rosselli is waging war on SEIU national head Andy Stern over what he calls Stern’s “growth at any cost” strategy that puts scoring political points over measurable benefits for workers. RedState recently covered this HERE.
I will keep an eye on this story, and report back as I learn more. My opinion is my own, and I am actively seeking additional information. However, in the interest of full disclosure: In 2004, I was the California BC04 Delegation Media Director. In that role, I interacted with a lot of folks – including the California BC04 Chairman – Gerry Parsky. He was, and remains, a partner of Aurora Capital which reportedly works with CalSTRS and CalPERS. I also advised a firm that counted him as a client. To be clear, I never provided advice nor was involved in any of his pension works – that material is way outside my field of expertise. Good governance, like good journalism and most ‘good’ things begin with transparency.
The American people deserve some real answers. Now that CalPERS is offering an ‘opt-in’ to National Guard folks – this is looking like a blatant political move by the unions to co-opt a “support the troops” argument, in addition to the standard election year rhetoric and machinations we have all come to expect.