WatchSonoma Watch

Two scoops?

Anyone who knows me can tell you I’m prone to double dipping … with the ice cream scoop.

My old colleague Patrick McGreevy and Shane Goldmacher have on a story about another type of double dipping in the Los Angeles Times today.  Here’s a link to their story about Jerry Brown appointees who are collecting public pensions and public paychecks. One of them is Ann Ravel, the chairwoman of the Fair Political Practices Commission, who told the Times she’s “committed to public service.” That wouldn’t sound quite so hollow if she followed the example of Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, who voluntarily stopped collecting her county retirement benefits when she took office in January.

As the Times story points out, rank-and-file state employees aren’t allowed to simultaneously collect wages and pensions. There’s an exemption for political appointees. Double-dipping isn’t limited to political appointees, however. An employee with a CalPERS pension from state or municipal government can retire, start collecting benefits and go to work for a county, such as Sonoma, that has an independent pension system. That’s pay, pension and the prospect of qualifying for a second pension if they stay long enough. A triple dip?

– Jim Sweeney

12 Responses to “Two scoops?”

  1. Inside Source says:

    There are numerous examples of County retirees including elected’s going back to work for the County, some as very well paid consultants.

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  2. NOTUTOO says:

    The County of Sonoma does not allow for a retired worker to re enter the workforce after retirement in any capacity where they could draw a second pension from the County. Hiring retired workers is a big money saver to the County. When a retiree is hired it’s always in an extra help position where no benefits are provided. Usually it’s in a capacity where they are needed sporadically, usually less than 28 to 16 hrs a week.

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  3. sarkyfish says:

    Mockingbird thee mock yourself. Just because somebody carries a clipboard and checks up on the sex habits of, say, delta smelt, does not mean they are working.

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  4. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Sarkyfish is apparently an expert on public employees who hardly work at all.

    I personally don’t know any. The ones I know are hard working and can’t retire until past 60 and will have only one pension.

    This article is again talking about NON UNION management. Many ways to bump up your retirement when you are in a position to help make the rules.

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  5. County Worker II says:

    I also agree with Rick re double dip.

    The problem is massive unfunded pension obligations being redeemed at early age.

    There should be NO defined benefit that is not fully funded the year given. Where we stand today in Sonoma County is in order to fund the retirement we should be setting aside $1/$1 salary/pension; but we’re setting aside 30-40%. Which is still 10 times that of the private sector’s matching 401k contribution, over and above the Social Security(3.6%).

    The remainder becomes a high interest debt paid for decades ahead by the next generation of taxpayers and public servants. It can’t go on…what’s the solution?

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  6. Steve Klausner says:

    Agilent laid people, paid their retirement, and hired them back through an employment agency.

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  7. Jim says:

    Doesn’t matter. These pensions are subsidized by the taxpayer (refer to the $500B unfunded liability). The taxpayers in CA, i.e. Sheeple, keep voting in those who think the tax pool is endless.

    In a decade or so, when businesses have left the state in droves, when individuals leave the state to avoid paying any CA state tax on their 401ks, the Sheeple will see who is left to pay for these leeching government workers.

    Won’t be me.

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  8. jody hampton says:

    Before I retired from the Navy, people transferring to the fleet reserve could forego their pension and go into civil service, put in another 10 years and retire as a GS Oh My God with 30 years total. They eventually stopped this, referring to it as “double dipping” however anyone holding any elected office gets a pension, one for each office held. When Pat Brown was governor he set the COLA for these pensions to the govenor’s salary, however Jerry took a cut in salary the first time he was elected. That’s why he and Dad didn’t get alone too well, Jerry probably cost his Dad about $40K. That’s why I voted for Jerry this last election even though I’m a Libertarian.

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  9. Reality Check says:

    Agree. The problem is allowing full retirement benefits at an early age. That Ravitch could collect a pension at age 53 make so-called double dipping inevitable.

    Reform the pension system and this issue will disappear.

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  10. sarkyfish says:

    Rick makes a valid point, the issue is not multiple pensions for eager-beavers who like to work, the issue is bloated pensions for public employees who hardly work at all.

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  11. Dan Delgado says:

    I have to agree with Rick on this one. While our public employee pension system is a disaster in serious need of reform, the double-dipping issue strikes me as a red herring. If someone puts in his/her time and qualifies for a pension, the fact that he goes to work somewhere else and draws a second paycheck and may even at some point earn a second pension is just fine. Hard work should be rewarded. One could even argue the arrangement is good for the second employer who gets to take advantage of the employee’s knowledge and skills developed from the first career.

    Having said that, I acknowledge the issue of an employee continuing work for the same employer from whom he is also drawing the pension. That seems contrary to the purpose of a pension in the first place. And in the case of government employment where such a wide variety of careers are offered under the single umbrella of government service, the issue warrants further consideration. In Ravitch’s case, where she is back working for the same department or agency from where she earned her pension, it would seem inappropriate to draw a pension and paycheck at the same time (and kudos to the D.A. for recognzing this and voluntarily declining the pension check). But if instead of becoming the D.A., she were to have been elected as say a judge, I think a different result is in order. I realize the slippery slope I tread as I write this and acknowldege further thought is required, but a blanket rejection of “double dipping” is not the answer.

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  12. Rick says:

    If a person works for 20 years for the state and qualifies for a retirement, he qualifies for a state retirement. It shouldn’t matter where anyone works after that. If a person puts in a career in the military and retired, then works another 20 or 30 years for a company or a local gov’t, why would anyone care if they were receiving two retirements? My father in law served 25 years in the Navy, retired and started a company. He invested and put away money that is paying him dividens today… What is the difference? This seems to be a none issue. People’s income streams are their own busniess. I have a full time+ job and own 2 businesses. Should anyone have the right to tell me I should only have one income stream? I don’t think so.

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