WatchSonoma Watch

Critics question Allen’s role on pension reform panel

Michael Allen


Assemblyman Michael Allen’s selection to a high-profile state committee that will address a crisis with public employee pensions is drawing concern given the Santa Rosa Democrat’s long history of advocating on behalf of unions that support those employees.

“Who’s guarding the henhouse?” said Bob Andrews, the former owner of a benefits consulting firm who this year served on the city of Santa Rosa’s Pension Reform Task Force.

Allen, who is the former general manager of the Service Employees International Union Local 707 and executive director of the North Bay Labor Council, was heavily backed by labor in his bid for state office.

However, he insisted this week that he can stake out positions that are not union-friendly.

“Absolutely,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re trying to do what’s best for everyone. I wasn’t just elected by union members. I was elected by the public at large and I recognize that.”

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, selected Allen to serve on a joint legislative committee that according to a press release is tasked with “examining the current public pensions systems, the efficacy of recent reforms, and options going forward to help bring fiscal stability to the systems in a way that’s fair to both workers and the citizens of California.”

The committee, which includes four Democrats and two Republicans, is tilted toward Southern California interests. The committee has two Northern California representatives, both of whom are Democrats: Allen and Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto.

The committee will hold three public hearings, with the first set for Oct. 26 in Carson.

Allen said he has expertise in pension and labor issues and believes that is why he was selected. He said his goal for the committee is to identify pension changes that “not only work for the public, but also for employees.”

Asked for examples of what he would support, Allen cited a cap on pensions, a need to identify how much compensation can be devoted toward pensions and requiring employers and workers to increase contributions.

He said a bill that he introduced in the most recent legislative session that would have prohibited employers from taking so-called pension holidays was held in committee along with other pension-related legislation.

Allen said Gov. Jerry Brown, who will provide input to the pension committee, requested the hold because Brown favors a comprehensive approach to the pension problem.

“I think he wants to make sure we’re not trimming around the edges,” Allen said.

Critics of Allen’s appointment say they fear the committee’s work will not lead to bold action.

In 2002, Allen was among labor leaders who lobbied the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors to approve a more generous set of pension benefits for all current workers. The change, combined with salary increases and combined with other workforce trends, now is seen as driving the upward spiral in pension costs.

“If there is a problem with qualified retirement plans for public employees, would you expect him (Allen) to have a neutral stance, or a stance that we should preserve as much as possible for employees?” Andrews said.

Guerneville resident and county planning commissioner Tom Lynch said he’s concerned that Allen, 64, won’t represent the interests of younger Californians who Lynch said will bear the brunt of the pension crisis.

“He’s not representing the interests of the generation of cops, firefighters and students who will have these massive unfunded pension obligations,” Lynch said.

At a speech in Beverly Hills on Friday, Brown said that he will propose pension changes requiring a constitutional amendment and a public vote. The governor did not elaborate.

17 Responses to “Critics question Allen’s role on pension reform panel”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I happen to like Tom Lynch. He says what he believes and he’s an honest man. But he is not a liberal progressive. He’s more like the Republicans of old, honorable, intelligent, willing to work through problems, trying to find neutral ground, wanting to put people to work.

    Allen is a liberal progressive. He is in the state assembly to protect workers rights whomever they may be. If anything, he’s a master of the negotiaion process unlike every Republican in the California legislature who signed Grover Norquiest’s pledge and honor it over their pledge to do an honorable job for the people of California.

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  2. Unfounded Speculation says:

    Allen is an Agenda 21 agent of change.
    Like ALL of the prominate political figures that I can think of, especially in Sonoma County.
    They groom and install ‘em based on a track record of ‘playing ball’, the amount of ‘training’ they’ve had. Then Herb Williams with the benefit of other cronie endorsements and an alignment with ‘special interest’ funding; unions,
    ‘stake-holders’ involved in their ‘public-private partnerships’ make it happen. It’s so apropos that William’s firm is named Delphi. The delphi technique is a proven method invented by the Rand corporation in the late 60s to manufacture consensus and used to great effect by the New World Order in a public setting to steer opinion to a predetermined outcome utilizing trained ‘facilitators’
    (been to a ‘neighborhood summit’, that’s classic delphi technique;Google it, worth knowing about).
    If someone outside wants in, it’s full blown dirty politics, smear hatchet job. Invariably with the PD’s help, sorry guys-but it’s true.
    (Ask Don Taylor about his council runs)
    Once elected, a kind of ‘indoctrination’ takes place. At this point ideology is imposed persuant to their fascist totalitarian Agenda, e.g.; ‘the end justifies the means’, ‘the greater good’,'go along to get along’, individual conviction takes a back seat to the ‘collective’, more ‘green’ crap, and an assurance that their political career will be ‘sustainable’.
    I personally beleive that brainwashing and even hypnosis are employed. This is very much in keeping with the globalists M.O.. What else would possibly make these people complicit in such a dark Agenda?

    However someone has to run, with a credible high profile effort that will put the truth in the limelight.
    Even if you don’t win, the illumination that a richeous campaign speaking out about Agenda 21, Smart, Sustainable Development, ABAG, The Wildlands Project etc. will REALLY show the citizens wassup.
    The resolve against this candidate would truly open our eyes.
    Actually the manner in which the RepealSmart petition in being handled gives us a glimpse.

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  3. GAJ says:

    Just remember that many of those marching in the streets are laid off government employees sacrificed at the altar of maintaining benefits for the “chosen,” (ie. Public Safety and management).

    A lot of other marchers are students who have seen huge increases in fees and subsequent loans as the State has chosen to spend an ever increasing amount on on prisons and prison guards than on higher education.

    The above are a direct result of decisions made by Allen and his ilk.

    He and his kind have done enough damage and should be kept as far away from discussions on how to move forward in a sustainable fashion as possible.

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  4. Juvenal says:

    The Right wingers of WatchSonomaCOunty have no problem with the Chamber of Commerce–business people–participating in politics, but woe betide us if Labor does the same.

    Michael Allen is a good choice for the panel because he possesses the intellect and experience to understand the issues, and because he know that the best way to preserve retirements is remedy any defects and to place them on sound financial footing.

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  5. County worker says:

    LBR said it best. Look at it from the public employee position. All you have is people screaming for their heads and wanting to take away what they have worked for for 20,25, or 30 years. If someone attacked you that way, would you roll over and wet yourself? I think not. You would fight unreasonable attacks. Very few have suggested fair and reasonable solutions. Most involve draconian cuts and the elimination of pensions. After 30 years, I for one, will not let you take is all from me without a vicious fight. If you would, you probably haven’t achieved much in life if you let someone walk in and take everything from you. Things are going to be changed, we all know that. Sensible solutions will be welcome. The sledge hammer approach will be faught tooth and nail.

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  6. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @GAJ – actually, those are just the kind of people to hire. They do it to fight cyber hacking, counterfeiting etc. The system needs fixing, and someone who understands the system, can better fix it, assuming that is what they want to do. You and others are blowing this out of proportion. Yes, we need to go back to what pensions were at the end of the 90′s. How to get there fairly is the question.

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  7. GAJ says:

    While I completely agree that Allen is absolutely the wrong guy for this job, (you don’t hire the person who helped start a forest fire to set policy on fire prevention), State Legislators have no pension plan whatsoever, (unless you were in office in 1999 when those benefits were rescinded).

    He’ll be playing defense for the Unions; of that there is little question.

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  8. Non Violent says:

    I can’t resist the observation that Allen’s photo is exactly the kind of government person we all hate and despise.

    As someone has posted, how much money does HE get from us in his pensions when he leaves government employment ?


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  9. Anthony Walters says:

    Michael Allen has done an amazing job his first term. He has improved safety at Napa State Hospital, passed legislation codifying impound law and been appointed to a high profile and important pension reform committee by the Speaker himself. Instead of being proud to have him as our representative named to such a position of high importance as a freshman, the Press Democrat and the negative naggers on this site attack him for his work and experience in supporting workers during his career. Something tells me that when Doug Bosco or other BUSINESSMEN, REAL ESTATE AGENTS or COMMERCIAL LAWYERS were elected they were not attacked for their biases or self interest in their job history. No one wondered aloud whether they could do the work of representing all the people after a career spent enriching themselfs in private industry. Why does the PD hate unions so much? I’ll bet their workers (except for right wing hack Derek Moore) could tell us why..

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  10. On To Truth & Justice says:

    Allen is not the first name that comes to mind when one thinks fair and balanced. He is a union hack who is in his first term in the Assembly.

    But what is new with the cabal of the state legislature and governor in California? SEIU and the other unions run the show in Sacramento so why not put one of their own on a committee to review state pensions?

    The bottom line, the committee will kick the can and nothing will happen to upset the public unions. Allen will ensure that happens. That is his role in this little comedy. Make the public believe that something is being done when nothing is really changing.

    Meanwhile California continues to lurch onward toward bankruptcy.

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  11. Dave Madigan says:

    @Stephen A. O’Leary said:

    “Poor Deerk must be bored since Noreen Evans is out of the country.”

    Stephen, how in the world can Noreen be out of the county? I thought she could barely afford to drive around in her district without a free car and free gas?

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  12. truth in news says:

    How much is Allen making when he retires? Why is he trying to strip law abiding citizens of their pensions while providing money to illegals? LETS START A RECALL VOTE ON HIM AND BROWN NOW BEFORE THEY SIGN THE WHOLE STATE OVER TO MEXICO!

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  13. Joseph says:

    Allen exhibits the type of tyrany our forefather rebelled against. Time to use paraffin as Adams once said again and again. He has become the definition of absurd.

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  14. jamison says:

    After Allen’s bill to protect ILLEGAL immigrants, I don’t want him making any decisions for anybody.

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  15. Stephen A. O'Leary says:

    PD Wastes no time in sending their attack hack Derek Moore after the Assemblyman. Poor Deerk must be bored since Noreen Evans is out of the country. The PD’s bias is so obvious here. Notice the assumption that anyone who bargained or worked for a union can not be fair and balanced but if a businessman or employer was on the board they would automatically be considered nuetral. And who is this Mr Andrews but a flack for employers? How about a little fairness in reporting? Objectivity? No, just the same attack and vilification of any progressive legislator so their Tea Party anonymous posters on Watch Stupid Conservatives can start frothing at the mouth about “union bosses” The PD meanwhile shores up and protects their business buddies like Sawyer, Olivarez and Batley who are lining their cronies pockets with our tax dollars.
    Also, who made Tom Lynch an expert on pensions or government and why does the PD continue to solicit has same tired ideas over and over. He has no education, experience or expertise in the area of pensions or pension reforms but he is contstantly used as a source because his partisan pro business blather agrees with the paper.

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  16. john Lennon says:


    Its whats wrong with this county. Both democrats and republicans have been bought and sold before they even get into office

    Allen is a scumbag.The fact that he is in office says a lot about sonoma county politics

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  17. Money Grubber says:

    “”Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, selected Allen to serve..”

    That sentence worries me.

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