Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013

CALIFORNIA PUBLIC EMPLOYEES’ PENSION REFORM ACT OF 2013

PENSION REFORM LAW TAKES EFFECT JANUARY 1, 2013

After spending close to a year exploring and debating reforms to public pension systems in California, lawmakers in Sacramento passed AB 340 on August 31, 2012. AB 340, known as the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA), was signed into law by Governor Brown on September 12, 2012. PEPRA takes effect January 1, 2013.

The 60-page law is complex and broad-reaching. Most (but not all) of its provisions affect new members on or after January 1, 2013. Our staff is currently working with the County CEO’s office to analyze PEPRA and determine which sections will apply in Los Angeles County. As you may know, LACERA is governed by the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL). As of January 1, we will also be governed by PEPRA. As we review the language of PEPRA, we are consulting with other CERL-governed retirement systems and communicating with employee groups. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.

AB 197, a companion bill to AB 340, was signed by the governor on the same day. The bill is intended to clarify some of the language in AB 340.

MESSAGE FROM COUNTY CEO

“We understand that there are many questions regarding the new CA Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) and how it will affect both current and future County employees. Please know that CEO and LACERA staff are working together to thoroughly analyze the legislation’s impact on the County of Los Angeles. Due to the complexity of this matter, our analysis will take several weeks.  This will ensure that the information we provide thoroughly and accurately addresses the impact to Los Angeles County employees.

Once the analysis is completed, information will be mailed to all LACERA members. The same information will be available through lacera.com.

Thank you for your patience and understanding while we review this legislation.”

— William T Fujioka, Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles County

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

One provision of the bill is clear: the purchase of Additional Retirement Credit (ARC) will be prohibited as of January 1, 2013. This applies to all members, regardless of their hire or retirement date. If you are considering an ARC purchase, you must take action by December 31, 2012. Only applications received by LACERA by 5:30 p.m. on the December 31st deadline will be honored. Applications received after that date cannot be honored.

Since we expect to receive a high volume of ARC applications, please allow several months for the processing of your request.

Existing ARC contracts are not affected by PEPRA.

Your ARC Application Guarantees You One ARC Purchase Contract

If you submit your application prior to December 31st, you will receive one contract good for 30 days. (Eligibility requirements apply.) If you wish to purchase ARC, you must return your completed contract to LACERA by the contract expiration date. Contracts received after their expiration dates cannot be honored. An application does not guarantee a right to more than one contract.

Additional information regarding ARC is available in the Q&A: Purchasing Additional Retirement Credit brochure or by calling 800-786-6464.

LACERA does not give financial advice. Consult with a professional advisor before committing funds from a 457 or 401(k) plan or other investment savings to an ARC purchase. LACERA is not responsible for investment gains or losses that may occur in conjunction with waiting for LACERA to respond to an ARC application.

CHECK HERE FOR UPDATES

Check this page for the latest information regarding PEPRA and its effect on LACERA benefits. Updates will be posted here as soon as they are available.

via Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013.

Officer files grievance over private duty pay Republican American

MIDDLEBURY — A police officer has filed a grievance with the town claiming he was not paid for working a private duty shift on Independence Day.

Alton L. Cronin, a member of the Middlebury Police Union, filed the claim after he worked a shift at Quassy Amusement Park and later on the holiday at Sandy Beach .

Cronin filed the complaint with Police Chief Richard Guisti’s office, and the complaint was sent to the Police Commission for review. Both Guisti and the commission denied Cronin’s pay complaint, which claims he is owed approximately $439.20 for a four-hour shift.

via Officer files grievance over private duty pay Republican American.

Minnesota Political Notebook: Some politicians wonder if ballot ruling opens new door | INFORUM | Fargo, ND

ST. PAUL – Some Minnesota politicians wonder if a state Supreme Court ballot ruling opens the door for more last-minute changes.

The Republican candidate in a Duluth legislative race argued that if the high court approved swapping names it would allow parties to do that whenever they felt it was to their political advantage. Days after Travis Silvers urged the court to ban the swap, justices allowed it.

In his official comments for a Minnesota Supreme Court case that eventually ended up removing Rep. Kerry Gauthier, DFL-Duluth, from the Nov. 6 ballot, Silvers’ attorney wrote that Democrats wanted to replace the incumbent to have a better chance of winning.

“At the heart of this petition is the DFL’s desire to avoid further entanglements with the actions of Rep. Gauthier and to limit the risk of losing an election,” attorney Sara Van Norman wrote. “If the DFL’s position is adopted, various candidates for various offices will now be able to be substituted by their party throughout the election as they commit errors of judgment and faux pas on the campaign trail.”

In paperwork filed before the court decision, Van Norman wrote that Democrats “essentially argue that they have a right to change candidates throughout the election cycle as they see fit.”

Democrats told justices they just wanted to make the election fair for voters by including the party’s endorsed candidate.

State law gave candidates until June 7 to withdraw from this year’s election. In August, Forum Communications reported Gauthier had oral sex with a 17-year-old male, setting in motion a series of events that ended with the court ordering that Gauthier’s name be taken off the ballot, replaced by Erik Simonson.

The ruling written by Chief Justice Lori S. Gildea did not include an explanation about why the court made the decision; she said that information will come later.

In the wake of the order, a write-in candidate in the same race, Jay Fosle, says his name also should be printed on the ballot. While Democrats revoked Gauthier’s endorsement and voted to back Simonson, no party has endorsed Fosle.

via Minnesota Political Notebook: Some politicians wonder if ballot ruling opens new door | INFORUM | Fargo, ND.

Union contract talks delays release of Warren County budget

Warren County workers postponed a vote on a proposed contract this week, and whether it’s voted up or down will have a big impact on when residents see the proposed 2013 county budget.

So far, there have been no talk of layoffs in next year’s county spending plan, officials said. Details are typically made public by early to mid-September each year, but they have been sparse this year.

That is because the Civil Service Services Employees Association local that represents more than 500 county workers is considering a new five-year labor deal, and county Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty said the county budget team is awaiting a decision on the pact before it releases a tentative budget for next year.

A vote on the contract had been scheduled for later this week, but Gene Rounds, president of the union local, said dissatisfaction at the proposal expressed by members at a meeting Thursday night resulted in it being put off indefinitely.

Rounds said union members were not enthused about the salary increases and the proposed increase in contributions to health insurance the pact would bring.

“The people were very unhappy with it. The raises were not what they wanted them to be and I don’t think they’ll vote for it,” he said.

The Post-Star received a copy of the proposal last week. It shows county workers would receive no raises this year, flat $500 bonuses next year and raises of 2 percent in 2014, 2 percent in 2015 and 0.52 percent in 2016.

Health insurance contributions would rise from 8 percent as it stands now to 10 percent in December, 11 percent in December 2013, 12 percent in December 2014 and 13 percent in December 2015

Anyone hired after the contract was ratified will start at a 20 percent health insurance contribution, and reimbursement of co-pays would also be eliminated.

Rounds said union members wanted more information on the impact before voting. He said many were dissatisfied at the fact the raises do not keep up with cost of living and insurance increases.

Geraghty said whether the pact is in effect next year will have an effect on the 2013 budget, so county leaders need to wait to see if it will be in place before settling on a spending plan.

“We’re working very hard to stay under 2 percent (tax cap),” he said. “It’s going to take some work to get there.”

Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, said county officials were dealing with increasing state mandates, including a $1.1 million increase in what the county will have to pay in to the state retirement system next year.

“That amount alone would put us over the tax cap if we didn’t make cuts,” Stec said.

Cuts will be needed in some areas, but so far they do not involve layoffs.

“There is no talk of layoffs,” Stec said Wednesday.

via Union contract talks delays release of Warren County budget.

Council backs pension cuts for new workers – Los Angeles Times

Despite raucous protests and threats of a lawsuit from labor unions, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to roll back pension benefits and boost the retirement age to 65 for new civilian employees.

The 14-0 vote represented a major victory for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has been pushing pension reform for months in the face of criticism from labor leaders who have compared him to Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor who has battled unions for much of his first term.

For The Record

Los Angeles Times Friday, September 28, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 58 words Type of Material: Correction

Los Angeles pensions: An article in the Sept. 25 LATExtra section about a new pension plan approved by the Los Angeles City Council said that Councilman Eric Garcetti didn’t expect substantive changes to the plan to come from a new round of talks with city labor leaders. Garcetti says he was not predicting the outcome of the talks.

Passage of the plan was shepherded by council President Herb Wesson, who told the rowdy crowd of union members that the pension changes were unavoidable. In a rare, lengthy speech, he noted that after his father died in 1974, members of his father’s union gave him $870 so he could move to Los Angeles.

“If I slit my wrist, I would bleed union blood,” Wesson said. “Do you think I want to do this? No. We have to do this.”

Under the new plan, spouses of retired workers will no longer be eligible for city-funded healthcare. City employees will see their take-home pay reduced in years when their retirement fund takes a hit in the stock market. And workers who retire at the age of 55 after 30 years of city employment will receive pensions that are roughly one-third the amount provided to existing employees.

The changes will only apply to newly hired civilian workers and will not affect the retirement benefits of police officers, firefighters and employees at the Department of Water and Power. It will need a second vote within 30 days to go into effect. In the meantime, the council instructed city negotiators to meet with union leaders to try to find common ground and to avert a lawsuit.

Labor leaders contend that city officials lack the legal authority to impose pension changes without first going to the bargaining table with unions. Victor Gordo, an attorney with the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, said a lawsuit may be unavoidable because council members have already cast one vote on the changes.

“As far as we’re concerned, they’ve moved forward with unilateral action,” Gordo said.

Councilman Eric Garcetti, who is seeking union support as he campaigns for mayor, said he doesn’t expect any substantive changes to the pension plan to come from the talks with city labor leaders.

Villaraigosa commended the council “for tackling the tough but essential issue of pension reform.” The mayor has been pushing the changes since April, when he laid out plans for an even more aggressive change: moving the retirement age to 67.

At a rally outside City Hall on Tuesday, union members donned the “cheese-head” hats favored by Green Bay Packers fans and held up signs that featured photographs of Villaraigosa next to Walker, suggesting the Democratic mayor and the Republican governor were “separated at birth.” Later, union members interrupted the council meeting with shouts of “We are not Wisconsin!”

Bob Schoonover, president of Service Employees International Union, Local 721, said the council will save little money in the next few years because the city lacks money to hire new workers. Other labor leaders contend that the changes will make it more difficult for the city to cover the pension burden of existing employees.

Schoonover argued that there are better ways to cut employee costs, citing council members who engage in so-called double-dipping — collecting retirement benefits from one city job while receiving a salary from another.

Councilman Bernard C. Parks, a former LAPD chief, receives a yearly pension of $290,607, according to city pension officials. Councilman Dennis Zine, a former traffic officer, receives an annual pension of $102,269.

Zine and Parks each earn salaries of $178,789, although Zine voluntarily took an 11% pay cut on that salary last year.

Although most of the testimony from the public was critical of the plan, representatives from two business groups — the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn. — spoke in favor of it. Doug Arseneault, legislative affairs manager for the Valley industry group, said council members were trying to preserve city services and keep from “completely falling off the fiscal cliff.”

“It is simply unjust that residents and businesses must pay some of the highest tax rates in the country and yet city departments are unable to fulfill their responsibilities,” he said, drawing boos from the audience.

Business leaders, working with former Mayor Richard Riordan, have threatened to put a measure on the ballot that would freeze the pay of city workers if pensions rise above a certain threshold. Riordan said the plan approved by the council does not go far enough. Nevertheless, he has not yet decided whether to pursue a referendum.

via Council backs pension cuts for new workers – Los Angeles Times.

Third Duluth candidate wants on ballot | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Supreme Court Friday received a request from the third candidate who wants his name be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot in the race to replace state Rep. Kerry Gauthier, who dropped his bid for re-election after a sex scandal.

Soon after receiving House District 7B write-in candidate Jay Fosle’s letter seeking a spot on the ballot, Justice Alan Page ordered that Fosle notify others involved in the case about his action and set deadlines for them to respond. The district serves the Duluth area.

Page gave Fosle until Wednesday to provide his petition and any related documents to Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, St. Louis County Auditor Don Dicklich, DFL candidate Erik Simonson and Republican candidate Travis Silvers.

The justice gave people who dispute the facts of Fosle’s petition until Friday to file documents with the court. A decision about whether to consider the case would come after that.

Fosle has been running to replace Gauthier, who dropped out of the race last month. Fosle decided to request that his name be printed on the ballot after Tuesday’s court ruling that dropped Gauthier from the ballot, replaced by Democratic-endorsed Simonson.

Simonson, like Fosle, had been running as a write-in candidate before he won the party’s endorsement.

“Petitioner alleges that an injustice will occur if his name is not also on the ballot,” Page wrote about Fosle.

Fosle said the Simonson ruling made the election unfair: “Seeing as the decision was made for one, it should be made for both.”

Few Minnesota write-in candidates have been able to defeat candidates whose names are printed on the ballot.

Silvers’ name has been on the ballot as a Republican all along. Fosle is not backed by a party.

Democrats and Simonson had sought a court order to put Simonson’s name on the ballot after Gauthier admitted to a rest stop sexual liaison with a 17-year-old boy and ended his re-election campaign. The court issued that ruling Tuesday and Dicklich ordered new ballots to be printed with Simonson’s name, at a cost of up to $22,000.

Absentee voters already are casting ballots.

via Third Duluth candidate wants on ballot | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Reader’s view: Duluth should close casino and share the pain | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota

If I understand the casino dispute between the Fond du Lac Band and the city of Duluth, in 1986, city and tribal leaders reached an agreement to give the land and the building to the tribe with the understanding it would establish a casino on the property. The agreement stated Duluth would receive 19 percent of the profit from this venture. Duluth also agreed to build a parking ramp next to the casino. It looked like a win-win for all parties.

In 2009, the tribe unilaterally stopped making payments to the city. Both parties made the original contract in “good faith” and now that “good faith” was broken. If it was a bad deal, so be it: Cancel the deal and take back the building and land. The city will lose $6 million a year, and the tribe will lose approximately $24 million a year, if my math is correct. If the court now says the original contract was illegal the land and building were always contingent on the revenue-sharing contract with the tribe. If the contract is void, the land and building goes back to the city. No harm, no foul.

The point is: Do something! Right now there is no downside for the tribe to drag this out in court as long as we allow it to operate the casino. It just keeps banking the money. The city should immediately, with no notice, close down the building, padlock the doors and cut off the utilities. Confiscate all equipment in the casino and hold it until the tribe makes good on the $24 million past-due revenue owed the city since 2009. The only way to get resolution to this issue is to let the tribe feel the pain also.

Michael Nash

Duluth

via Reader’s view: Duluth should close casino and share the pain | Duluth News Tribune | Duluth, Minnesota.

Education Minnesota: Specht to challenge Dooher for teachers union’s top spot – TwinCities.com

Denise Specht

The president of Minnesota’s teachers union has a challenger for the top spot of one of the state’s largest lobbying organizations.

Tom Dooher has been president of Education Minnesota since 2007. Both Dooher and Denise Specht, currently the group’s secretary-treasurer, have filed to run for president of the 70,000-member union. The election is scheduled for April 27, 2013.

Specht, who has been in her current role since 2007, declined to detail why she’s running against Dooher and said she’s trying to focus her message to members at this time.

“Elections in organizations like ours are very healthy. We get to talk about where we are and where we’re going,” Specht said Friday, Sept. 28. “Right now, I’m trying to focus on doing my current job as secretary-treasurer and work on getting candidates who are pro-public education and pro-working families elected.”

Dooher echoed those comments, saying he thinks competition is a sign the union is healthy. He also dismissed the idea that a challenger means the union is fractured or in turmoil.

“Any time you have competition, you refine your message and you become more clear on what your vision is and how you want to execute that,” he said “I’m running on my record and continue to work things we’re doing well. We’re more relevant with our communities and more relevant with our members than ever before.”

Dooher said he wants to continue getting “pro-education” lawmakers elected to the Legislature and expand

the union’s new community outreach program, which is in its first year.

Specht was president of her local union, the Centennial Education Association, before taking on her statewide role. She is on leave from her position as an elementary teacher in the district.

Dooher also headed his local, the Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers. He’s on leave as a physical education teacher at the district’s Sandburg Middle School in Golden Valley.

Education Minnesota, the state’s largest lobbying force besides the Chamber of Commerce, has been a favorite target of Republican lawmakers, who allege the union has been a roadblock to overhauling the state’s education system. A few of its Democratic allies even have publicly criticized the union for stances it has taken on particular issues like alternative teacher licensing and seniority-based teacher layoffs.

Dooher repeatedly has said the union isn’t opposed to education reform — teachers know what affects student learning, and they just want to make sure changes are done right.

The filing for the election opened June 1 and closes Dec. 14. About 500 to 600 delegates, each elected by his or her local union, will attend the April 27, 2013 representative convention to elect its leadership team. Vice president Paul Mueller, from Brooklyn Center, is running unopposed at this point. Three candidates have filed to fill Specht’s secretary-treasure position.

Although Dooher and Specht are not divulging many details about the election — neither are many local union leaders — Specht’s challenge could be a sign of some divisions within Education Minnesota.

Specht’s campaign website lists a host of supporters, including at least 24 of the 40-member governing board at the union. Almost 70 other local leaders and members are listed on the site. She has almost 200 likes on her Facebook page.

Specht’s message is positive on both sites and makes no reference to her opponent.

“In the current climate of education, we need an offense. We need solutions. Let’s move away from the distractions and work forward with a narrative that speaks to what we stand for and what we want — the best education for our students and the best workplaces for our education professionals,” according to her website.

Dooher’s salary totaled $168,000, according to an Education Minnesota annual report for fiscal year 2011.

via Education Minnesota: Specht to challenge Dooher for teachers union’s top spot – TwinCities.com.

Link

Duluth cop involved in alleged assault was on ‘last chance’ (with video)

A felony assault charge against a man who struck a police officer at the Duluth Detoxification Center last week was dismissed Friday after the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office watched a video of the officer repeatedly striking the man who had lashed out at him from a wheelchair.

By: Mark Stodghill, Duluth News Tribune

    • Video sequence
image
A sequence of images from a video released by the Duluth Police Department shows the interaction Sept. 21 between Officer Richard Jouppi and Anthony Jon Jackson at the Duluth Detoxification Center. The top frame shows Jackson striking Jouppi. The middle frame shows Jouppi punching Jackson in the face. The bottom frame shows Jouppi dragging Jackson out of his chair. (Duluth Police Department images)

A felony assault charge against a man who struck a police officer at the Duluth Detoxification Center last week was dismissed Friday after the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office watched a video of the officer repeatedly striking the man who had lashed out at him from a wheelchair.

Duluth police Officer Richard Jouppi, 34, a two-year member of the department, faces potential criminal charges for his role in the Sept. 21 incident.

Police placed Jouppi on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation and have forwarded their reports and videotape of the incident to an independent prosecutor. Deputy Police Chief Mike Tusken said police are asking that fifth-degree misdemeanor assault charges be brought against Jouppi.

The charge against the man transported to the detox center, Anthony Jon Jackson, 50, of Duluth, was dismissed.

“The case was reviewed by (Assistant St. Louis County Attorney) Kristen Swanson, who originally charged the case, and other members of our staff, who reviewed the supplemental reports and video of the incident, and after further review a dismissal was filed in the interest of justice,” St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said. He declined to elaborate.

Duluth attorney Shawn Reed, who serves as Hermantown city prosecutor, is the independent prosecutor who will review the case against Jouppi to determine if criminal charges are warranted. Reed did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.

If Jouppi is found guilty of a crime, it could cost him his job. Personnel records indicate that on March 12, he and the city reached a “Final and Last Chance Agreement,” in which he signed a document that included the language: “Any future acts or omissions which violate public trust and/or violate (police policy) will be deemed an act of gross insubordination justifying termination.”

Jouppi is being represented by Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Legal Defense Fund attorney Fredric Bruno.

“This is not a helpless guy in a wheelchair,” Bruno said of Jackson on Friday. “He had trashed his room in the public facility he was living in. He was taken forcibly to detox and alluded to the fact that he had a .38 pistol and a .45 pistol. He punched Officer Jouppi, disorienting him. He was a subject being subdued. He’s (Jouppi) got some concerns about him. The guy (Jackson), at a minimum, should have a disorderly conduct at the facility, probably a terroristic threat against detox staff and probably a fourth-degree assault against Officer Jouppi. He’s not exactly a sympathetic character as he’s being portrayed.”

Bruno said he hasn’t yet seen the video of the incident. “I’m going to look at the video and wait to see what kind of charges they’re going to come up with,” he said.

Jouppi and another officer were dispatched to Jackson’s residence at the San Marco Apartments at 10:09 p.m. on Sept. 21 to transport him to the detox center. It was reported that Jackson had been extremely intoxicated and had been in two fights that night. According to police reports, Jackson is able to walk, but he was in a wheelchair when officers arrived at his apartment.

Jouppi wrote the following about what happened at the detox center in his official police report of the incident:

“I controlled his right arm at the elbow in order to prevent Jackson from (following) through with his threat to strike a staff member. Jackson quickly swung his left hand and struck me in the face near my left eye forehead area which caused me to experience pain. I sought to take Jackson into custody and delivered two strikes to Jackson’s face as it was the only target presented to me at the time and in order to keep him from delivering more strikes. I flipped the wheelchair onto its handles which brought Jackson’s back down to the ground. Once on the ground we were able to turn Jackson over and place him into handcuffs.”

Jouppi wrote that Jackson had a previous laceration that had been medically glued shut but reopened during the scuffle. Another officer at the scene wrote in her report that Jouppi had two small marks under his left eye where it appeared small blood vessels had broken.

The officer included in her report that when Jackson was transported to the St. Louis County Jail, he told her numerous times that he wished his hands were free so that he could punch her. He also said that Jouppi “got what he deserved,” the officer wrote in her report.

Jouppi, a Duluth native, worked for the Omaha (Neb.) Police Department from November 2001 to February 2008, and from March 2008 to January 2010 for the St. Paul Police Department. He joined the Duluth force in January 2010.

Jouppi was one of four Omaha police officers honored for bravery and lifesaving in 2005 for risking their lives to rescue a family from a burning home. He has not received any honors or awards while a Duluth officer.

Personnel records indicate that five complaints have been filed against Jouppi, but only one was sustained. In the case that he was disciplined for, the city found that Jouppi violated public trust by providing confidential information about a case to a suspect, violated an order by discussing a case without being assigned to it, and was insubordinate. The “Final and Last Chance Agreement” indicated that Jouppi eventually provided a complete and accurate statement after repetitive urging by investigators.

In that case, personnel records indicate that Jouppi was conflicted by personal and professional interests. He provided information to someone he knew, a suspect in a case, about evidence that police would be looking for and what evidence was needed for a conviction.

The name of the person Jouppi was trying to help was redacted from the reports. Jouppi told an investigator that he had never been involved in a situation in which he had “his two worlds collide,” referring to his personal and private lives.

As a result of that incident, Jouppi served a 30-day suspension without pay and was ordered to attend a class on ethics in policing.