WatchSonoma Watch
Allen loses bid for second term

Despite having a massive financial advantage and the backing of powerful Democratic Party and union allies, Santa Rosa Assemblyman Michael Allen lost his bid for another term to a relative political unknown.

Brown’s pension deal to have big local impact

After spending a day digesting the details of Gov. Jerry Brown’s complex pension deal pending in the Legislature, local officials say it would impact not only future local public employees but thousands of current workers, too. By enacting ‘anti-spiking’ provisions for existing workers, requiring employees to pay half the cost of their pensions and shifting the landscape for labor negotiations, it is becoming clear that the governor’s plan goes beyond state employees and would have wide-ranging implications for local governments. Future employees would face caps on pensions and less generous pension formulas.

Healdsburg facing ‘bleak’ public pension outlook

Healdsburg city officials learned Tuesday that they face a $26 million gap for funding public employee retirements, a situation described as “bleak” and “grim” by City Council members. In what Mayor Gary Plass said was a painful, but necessary exercise, the council heard the analysis by Joe Nation, a Stanford professor and former North Bay assemblyman, whom they invited to scrutinize city’s pension plans.

State treasurer responds to PD editorial; calls Nation’s numbers ‘snake oil’

On Monday, we wrote an editorial criticizing state Treasurer Bill Lockyer for resigning from the advisory board of a Stanford research group, headed by former North Bay legislator Joe Nation, that says putting off pension reform is costing the state $3.4 million a day.

Healdsburg may turn to Stanford for pension analysis

Healdsburg city officials may turn to academia in an attempt to get a better handle on burgeoning employee pension costs.

A Nobel laureate’s video on Sonoma County’s pension problem

During his talk about pensions in Petaluma on Thursday, former Assemblyman Joe Nation showed this satirical video concerning the county’s pension obligation bonds. It left some county employees grumbling. You may be surprised who created it.

GULLIXSON: What are the odds of winning this ‘gamble’?

The man who came in out of the cold to deliver some chilling news to a Sonoma County audience Thursday morning was no stranger — and he was not your average Joe. Joe Nation has about as much credibility on the issue of pensions as anyone can hope to have. And he deserves to be heard.

Public pensions compared to Ponzi schemes

Are public sector pensions Ponzi schemes propped up by taxpayers? That’s the opinion of political consultant Brian Sobel and SSU economist Robert Eyler, who used the term Thursday to describe the pension system for government workers. Officials with the county’s pension system and largest union took issue with the description. See what created all the buzz at SSU’s annual Economic Outlook Conference.

GUEST OPINION: Study, editorial dramatically misstates local pension shortfall

Gary Bei, administrator for the Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association, says projections that suggest the county pension system faces a $2.3 billion funding shortfall are a dramatic misstatement. He takes issue with a recent Close to Home column by former Assemblyman Joe Nation and a PD editorial on the topic.

GUEST OPINION: Sonoma County faces deep hole on pension promises

Sonoma County will need to dedicate 50 to 55 percent of its payroll to fund its pension promises, according to estimates by Joe Nation, a former state assemblyman who has studied pension funding for the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. He suggests that critical county functions will have to be dropped or cut severely because of its pension problems.