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Letters to the Editor

H.B. City Hall, not CalPERS, decided how much to guarantee in employee pensions

Huntington Beach Councilman Billy O’Connell’s contention that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System “failed” Huntington Beach ignores the central role he and his city play in paying for pensions (“CalPERS’ pension fund ‘shortfall’ will cost Huntington Beach $23 million more,” May 2).

Elected leaders like O’Connell decide what benefits to offer the employees who serve their communities, not CalPERS.

We’re the administrator of the pension plan, not the creator of it. Employers like the city of Huntington Beach and its employees then join together to pay for it – a shared responsibility that’s been the foundation of public pensions since CalPERS opened its doors 85 years ago.

O’Connell can see the pension contributions Huntington Beach is required to make in the actuarial valuation report the city receives from CalPERS every year, including future projections and an analysis of costs should our investment returns perform less than expected.

All employees, whether in the private sector or in public service, deserve retirement security. That’s CalPERS’ mission – and we strive every day to fulfill it.

Brad Pacheco

Deputy Executive Officer, CalPERS


Profit motive requires jails to be at capacity

Intellectual honesty is a rare commodity in our civic discourse these days, where the other side is increasingly viewed as a mortal enemy. Simple logic and verifiable facts are the inevitable victims of this mindset, with the absurd outcome of having to embrace simultaneously two mutually exclusive propositions.

Take, for example, the conservative mantra of “small government” combined with their love affair with “privatization.” The privatization of jails is a classic example of small government being at odds with private enterprise. I do not dispute the notion that competitive, market-driven, for-profit, private enterprises provide more efficiency and associated cost savings than does a bureaucratic government enterprise.

However, the business model of every private enterprise is based on “growth.” With the privatization of jails, we have seen a huge increase in the number of jails and the jail population. For private jails to be profitable, they have to be kept fully populated and growing in numbers. So the lobbyists for the jail industry help draft legislation that ends up criminalizing non-criminal activities, retains people in jail for longer periods of time and every other gimmick to increase the jail population.

And they finance the election of craven politicians who will do their bidding. So there goes the mantra of “small government,” unless you believe that jails are not part of government, if they are privately owned and operated.

Privatization, in its present incarnation, is nothing more than the plundering of our national treasury, enabled by mercenaries in the employ of and financed by private, for-profit enterprises. In the end, efficiencies of the marketplace are not handed back to the taxpayer, but go into the pockets of stockholders.

This trend is bound to escalate with all three branches of government with one party. The only remaining bulwark against tyranny is a free press. Not surprisingly, it is under severe attack by our president and his minions.

Jamshed Dastur

Newport Beach

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