WatchSonoma Watch

Brown’s pension overhaul could apply to cities, counties


The details remain murky, but local government officials in Sonoma County said Tuesday it appears Gov. Jerry Brown’s pension deal will have an impact on local workers.

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses his proposal to rollback public employee pension benefits earlier this year during a news conference at the Capitol. AP PHOTO

The City of Santa Rosa expects to get clarification today from its attorneys specializing in pension issues, but the plan appear to affect not just state workers but future municipal workers, said Human Resources Director Fran Elm.

“It can’t affect existing workers, but it could affect new hires,” Elm said.

A release from the governor’s office refers to the changes as “unilaterally” rolling back retirement ages and formulas for “local miscellaneous employees” and “local fire and police employees.”

That means the state would be requiring even lower pension benefits for new workers than the “second-tier’ benefits that took effect in Santa Rosa July 1.

Instead of being able to retire at age 50 with 3 percent of salary for ever year of service — known as 3 percent at 50 — workers hired by Santa Rosa after July 1 get 3 percent at 55. Brown’s plan lowers that standard further to 2.7 percent at 57.

Similarly, non-public safety workers, called miscellaneous employees, once received get 3 percent at 60, but the new second tier dropped that to 2.5 percent at 55 for new hires. Brown’s plan would make workers wait until 67 to get full benefits.

Allan Schellerup, president of the Santa Rosa Police Officers Association, said the governor has the power to make changes affecting new state workers, but doubts he could impose such changes without bargaining with the local unions who would represent those future workers.

“We’re several steps removed from him being able to get to us,” Schellerup said.

Jack Thomas, president of Santa Rosa Firefighters IAFF Local 1401, said the union was “deciphering all the information and trying to figure out how it affects our employees at this time.”

Part of the problem is the governor’s public statement doesn’t make clear distinctions between which public employees – state, municipal or county — would be affected by which changes.

Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt said he believes many of the governor’s changes will affect the county. Many county government retirement systems, including Sonoma’s, operate separately from massive state Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS.

But he said he couldn’t be certain because only one bullet point in the governor’s statement refers specifically to county plans, one giving them more ability to deal with pension spiking.

“It does look like it moves things in the direction that we were seeking,” Rabbitt said. “It does allow us additional flexibility.”

Whether and how certain provisions, such as the cap on pensions above $110,000, would be applied locally remained unclear, he said. The county hasn’t been seeking caps on pension, but rather is proposing to reduce soaring costs through salary reductions, anti-spiking provision and other measures.

“Hopefully, by tomorrow afternoon, we’ve have much more clarity,” Rabbitt said.

18 Responses to “Brown’s pension overhaul could apply to cities, counties”

  1. 3 Stooges says:

    @ Snarky, Follower, and R.B. Fish

    It seems to me what you all have to say is only liked by you and few others. You might consider talking amongst yourselves and spare the rest of us your scripted posts. I know a shill when I see one! We are on to you.

    A shill or commonly referred to as a stooge is any person who secretly is in league with another person or organization. Often employed by professional marketing campaigns these plants pretend to be neutral but are actually a part of the organization they are planted in, such as a magician’s audience, a political party, or an intelligence organization. If the shoe fits boys……………….

  2. John Galt says:

    Boy, looks like the public employee union folks have been instructed to come rate down any comment that isn’t pro-union.

    The readers of this website normally rate things in a center-right manner, but this one is completely different.

    Which makes sense- the public employee unions see the writing on the wall, and are fighting hard to keep the status quo…. at least until the current leadership and membership retire, and then they can claim that it’s illegal to change or reduce their retirement benefits.

    Of course, if the whole system comes crashing down, it won’t matter what benefits they thought they were going to get.

    Echos of Greece here in California…..

  3. Juvenal says:

    @Big Jim

    “We have a $500 billion unfunded liability for pensions in CA now!”


  4. Union Guy says:

    Ban Public Employee Unions.
    They have no use, they are evil…
    Ban Public Employee Unions.
    Ban Public Employee Unions.
    Ban Public Employee Unions.
    If you say it enough, they still wont do it but you will sound like a broken record. Some people like that…
    Ban Public Employee Unions. Yaaaawwnnn.

  5. R.B. Fish says:

    @ Follower. I like your comment regarding the hyprocisy of the baby “boomers.” Great examples are the drug induced acid heads the Chicago Seven. I met Abbie Hoffman at New Years Party with his stoned out yentals in tow. What a pathetic person. As you may recall he became a cocaine dealer and was busted. Skipped bail and was a teacher for some 12 years before turning himself in soon to commit suicide. Jerry Rubin after his ranting about”fascist Pigs” wanted to be an investment banker and (probably stoned)in his $1000 Pierre Cardin suit stepped in front of a car in LA and was killed. Tom Hayden ahs alsways a pay to play and was married to communist Jane Flounder and the rest have lived useless capitialist lives. An we can’t forget the Kennedy Catholics!

  6. Terry says:

    Vinyl Rules:

    Taking time to “study” a proposal has never stopped Susan Gorin before in posting some news article with a lame quick comment on Facebook. She understands the issue, but the point is she will wait until this proposed bill by the governor is gutted by her union boss friends at the SEIU. State an opinion now Susan before it gets to safe to take a lame position. A simple request that will unveil her true loyalty…To us the people, or to those that help fund her campaign.

  7. John says:

    @ Snarky – Which 3 california cities are you referring to?

  8. Follower says:

    I would like to have a cop posted at the end of my driveway 24/7.
    I wouldn’t like it if there were no cops at all.
    We seemed to do just fine finding a happy medium up until the 60’s or 70’s.
    What happened?

    JFK allowed Public Employee Unions to form. He opened the can, dumped the worms out on us and began filling it with fresh new Democrat voters!

    Then the boomers decided they didn’t like people telling them how to live their lives and decided to start challenging authority.

    “FASCIST PIGS” if I recall the correct terminology. (…oh, the IRONY!)

    Then they grew up & began infesting Government, passing new laws & regulations making it impossible for a cop to do a cops job.
    All the while pacifying the Union reps (voter base/campaign staff) with fat contracts and all the latest toys tax money can buy.
    And it’s all worked out quite well for everyone.

    Except us.

    Ban Public Employee Unions.

  9. Union Guy says:

    Since she wont be voting it doesnt matter. The county is loving this, saves decisions and they wash their hands of it.

  10. Andy Swenson says:

    John Sawyer is the one who made a back room deal with the Santa Rosa Police and gave them all raises. Terry, I think if you look at who is endorsing him you will see it’s the same public safety officers being quoted in today’s article. Mr Sawyer has no problem buddying up with his friend Ernesto Olivares who has his own huge pension as a former cop. Susan Gorin is the adult in the room who told employees that everyone had to share in sacrifices. John Sawyer plays favorites with cops and public safety. Check out his endorsements and see for yourself.

  11. Snarky says:


    I had to laugh at your post because it was spot on.

    Tell us, Susan Gorin, what your position is on public pensions which have already bankrupted three California cities with more expected to file in the near future.

    Don’t stall, Susan. Hold a press conference and tell us NOW.

  12. Big Jim says:

    We have a $500 billion unfunded liability for pensions in CA now! They are talking about saving up to $30 to $60 billion over 30 years! In other words, a drop in the bucket and not a real fix.
    At the same time, the legislature just passed a bill with almost unanimous support to greatly extend the worker’s comp claims for safety workers, adding huge costs to the system immediately.
    Pretend to curtail while adding more gravy to the train for public employees!
    All while holding a virtual gun to our kids heads and saying “raise taxes or the kids get it” through school cuts – sickening extortion.

  13. Grapevines says:

    Just a lot of posturing by the Governor so he can point to it and say he tried.

    This way he can claim a “feel good” moment as he tries to sell us his snake oil proposal to raise taxes even higher.

    VOTE NO ON prop 30!!! They’ve got more than enough of our funds to waste as it is

  14. Reality Check says:

    Since “the details remain murky,” how about we know more before demanding everyone take sides.

    There may be more to this than meets the eye, or it may be mostly eye wash for the masses. The cap on high pensions will prove hugely popular, but it doesn’t significantly reduce the public’s pension obligations.

    When a puffy press release precedes the small print, it’s best to be wary.

  15. Vinyl Rules says:

    Ya Susan, don’t wait. Give us an answer now! Don’t you dare study this massive change to one of the most fundamental and expensive government programs. Just give us a knee-jerk reaction! Now!

  16. Terry says:

    Does Susan Gorin agree with the governor’s plan? Susan, what say you? Don’t wait, what do you say? Go on record, do you agree with the proposal or not?

  17. Snarky says:

    Social Security for the private sector workers.

    Social Security for the public employees.

    Dismantle public employee pensions.

  18. 4G says:

    Le’ts wait until SEIU and the other public unions who pull the strings in the state legislature decide what pension modifications they will allow before we hire the hall and the band to celebrate.

    The Vegas money is on no changes but lots of fluff talk before the November election.

    Brown knows this is just an election tool to get the public off backs of the state legislature and governor and makes them seem like they are doing something. In point of fact, this whole charade is going nowhere.

    It give the liberal press something to write about to make the politicans seem serious when nothing could be further from the truth.