CSR News

Governor makes key personnel appointments

Posted Oct 22, 2014

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday appointed Richard Gillihan to head the California Department of Human Resources, where he has served in an acting role since February. In his new position, Gillihan will also serve on the CalPERS Board of Administration.

Gillihan, 46, took over after Julie Chapman suddenly stepped down amid criticism that the department lacked leadership. His appointment broke a chain of CalHR chiefs who were labor insiders or bureaucrats who had come up through the department in favor of a technology expert and fiscal manager from the Department of Finance.

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Social Security announces 1.7 percent COLA for 2015

Posted Oct 22, 2014

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 64 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2015, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 58 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2015. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2014. The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Kaiser, Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna get good report cards

Posted Oct 16, 2014

Kaiser Permanente's HMOs are the best in the state for providing recommended care, while Anthem Blue Cross and Cigna are the best at providing recommended care among PPOs, according to new report cards released by the California Office of the Patient Advocate, the Los Angeles Times reports (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 10/16).

The report cards -- which usually go out in January -- were released early to coincide with the state health insurance exchange's second open enrollment period, which begins on Nov. 15 (Shinkman, Payers & Providers, 10/16).

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CalPERS board member stripped of leadership roles because of FPPC violations

Posted Oct 15, 2014

CalPERS board member Priya Mathur was removed from board leadership positions today because of her latest campaign-finance disclosure infractions.

Mathur was removed as board vice president and chair of the Pension and Health Benefits Committee. The decision was announced by board President Rob Feckner. No replacement as board vice president was immediately named. George Diehr was named acting chair of the pension committee.

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Stockton bankruptcy case could hurt public workers

Posted Oct 10, 2014

The investment house Franklin Templeton's effort to knock down the city of Stockton's proposal to emerge from bankruptcy portrays the case as one in which Franklin is defending itself against three big, faceless adversaries.

These are CalPERS, California's enormous public pension agency, and "the City and its organized labor allies." Franklin objects that they're angling to preserve their preferential position in the bankruptcy reorganization, while cramming down big losses on Franklin, which holds more than $36 million in city debt, of which some $32 million is unsecured. The city proposes to pay Franklin about 1 cent on the dollar for that unsecured portion.

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Are state workers resuming their rushing to retirement?

Posted Oct 10, 2014

California’s eight-month streak of declining state-pension applications ended with a 24 percent jump in July, according to CalPERS data. August followed with a hefty 64 percent surge, the largest single-month percentage increase since July 2010. Retirement filings last month rose 23 percent compared with a year ago.

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CalPERS chief executive comments on Stockton bankruptcy case

Posted Oct 09, 2014

The ruling last week by a federal bankruptcy judge in Stockton’s bankruptcy case has caused many to speculate about the future of pensions. Public employees, retirees, employers, lawyers, taxpayers and journalists have legitimate questions and concerns (“Bankruptcy case should be a loud warning to cities,” Editorials, Oct. 3).

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Bankruptcy ruling may be moot

Posted Oct 09, 2014

A federal bankruptcy judge's decision that Stockton could toss out its contract with CalPERS, the state's giant pension fund, may lead to deep cuts in workers' and retirees' pensions, even though the city didn't ask for any cuts at all. It also could lead other cities to use the bankruptcy process to rewrite employee pensions over their workers' objections.

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Theresa Taylor Named CalPERS Election Winner

Posted Oct 03, 2014

The election results indicate CSUEU-endorsed candidate Taylor received 55 percent of the valid votes cast during the voting period, which took place from August 29 through September 29. Unofficial election results also indicate that Mathur received 56 percent of the valid votes cast. More than 40,000 active state and public agency CalPERS members voted in the election.

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Do you want to represent other state retirees like yourself?

Posted Sep 25, 2014

We're having an election, and we want you to run! Eligible members who want to represent and serve CSR members on the Board of Directors must file their Candidate Filing Form for one of two open seats by 5 p.m. Nov. 17.

Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Dec. 1, 2014 and must be returned by Jan. 2, 2015. Only members of California State Retirees in good standing are eligible to vote.

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Former CSEA President Chuck Valdes dies under mysterious circumstances

Posted Sep 24, 2014

Charles P. “Chuck” Valdes, who served three terms as president of the California State Employees Association (CSEA) and 20 years on the Board of Administration at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Board of Administration, died Sept. 2. The man who lived with him is accused of battery, corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant and elder abuse.

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CalPERS open enrollment runs Sept. 15 to Oct. 10

Posted Sep 23, 2014

CalPERS health plan members will notice many new options available to them in the open enrollment package recently mailed by CalPERS.

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CalPERS Dependent Eligibility Verification deadline nears

Posted May 06, 2014

About 40,000 CalPERS state retiree members were asked in December 2013 to verify whether their dependents are eligible to receive CalPERS health care benefits, but about 3,400 dependents remained unverified by May 1 even after several notifications, CalPERS reported May 6.

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Reed's pension measure is scrapped

Posted Mar 14, 2014

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS -- Mayor Chuck Reed on Friday abandoned what was supposed to be his crowing achievement, saying he had admitted defeat in his bid to get a statewide pension reform measure on the November ballot.

The decision was expected after Reed struggled to attract the well-funded allies he needed to raise the millions of dollars to gather the roughly 800,000 signatures required for the initiative to reach the ballot. Meanwhile, organized union groups mounted a campaign to defeat it, and dozens of other California mayors lined up against it.

The San Jose mayor will be termed out of office at the end of this year and had spent months traveling the state and Washington D.C. in hopes of gathering support for his initiative, which was similar to a city pension measure he championed in 2012.

 

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Chuck Reed suffers another legal blow

Posted Mar 14, 2014

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's statewide pension reform initiative was dealt a major setback Thursday when a judge rejected a lawsuit that could have made it much easier for Reed get his measure on the ballot.

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Chuck Reed sues over summary of pension initiative

Posted Feb 07, 2014

Proponents of a pension-change initiative want a judge to edit key language used to describe their measure, contending that it was written to bias voters against it.

The lawsuit filed this week by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and four other local government officials behind the proposal accuses Attorney General Kamala Harris of writing a title and summary that “uses false and misleading words and phrases which argue for the measure’s defeat, is argumentative, and creates prejudice against the measure, rather than merely informing voters of its chief purposes and points ...”

 

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CSR succeeds at stopping CalPERS pension data base

Posted Jan 13, 2014

    After California State Retirees (CSR) took the lead in calling for legislative hearings regarding pension privacy rights, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) announced Jan. 6 that it will rescind its plan to post on its website the names and pension amounts of 550,000 CalPERS retirees.

   In July, CalPERS agreed to postpone the launching of its searchable pension data base when CSR and other retiree organizations argued that public information should only be released upon individual request under the Public Information Act. Posting the pension information of all CalPERS members on a data base would make it easier for solicitors and identity thieves to obtain information, the groups argued.

   The Jan. 6 statement released by CalPERS Spokeswoman Rita Gallardo said: "After many discussions with our stakeholders and partners, we have come to better understand their concerns about posting this public information in a secure database on the CalPERS website. Next month CalPERS staff will report to the [CalPERS Board of Administration] that we no longer believe the intended benefits of posting the database on our website outweigh the risks and concerns to our members and that we should not move forward with our previous plans.

 

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CSR Executive Director Phillip Sherwood addresses CalPERS Board

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Ordinarily, when increases in employer and employee pension contributions are discussed, we would be the first to question the need for such increases.  But the current reality shows it is prudent to adjust contributions in light of the updated actuarial assumptions.  Members are living longer.  Hence the long term stability of the fund outweighs knee jerk objections in our estimation.

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San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed tweaks public pension ballot proposal

Posted Nov 14, 2013

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has revised the public employee pension ballot measure, tweaking its language to fend off opponents’ criticisms that the proposed constitutional amendment circumvents collective bargaining and guarantees proponents a payday in state-subsidized legal fees to defend the measure if the state attorney general declined to fight lawsuits that would certainly follow the its approval.

“In the last two or three weeks we’ve talked to a lot of people,” Reed said this morning in a telephone interview, including the legislative analyst staff and the attorney general’s office. “Some parts of our measure weren’t clear. So we’re trying to make it clear what our intentions are.”

Union opponents seized on the revision -- and a switch in the lineup of the measure’s proponents -- as a sign that the proposal is in trouble. Among other things, Reed’s proposal would change California’s constitution to allow public employee pensions to be lowered prospectively for current workers. A body of case law appears to make that illegal without another form of compensation to offset that loss.

 

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Yolanda Solari is remembered as strong and effective

Posted Nov 04, 2013

For more than half a century, Yolanda Solari dedicated much of her life to fighting for the rights of state workers, state retirees and California citizens in general.

She passed away Oct. 30 at the age of 90.

She held several elected offices within CSEA, which currently has about 140,000 members in four affiliates, including California State Retirees.

She was first elected president of CSEA in 1990 – the third woman to hold the position, and the first to serve three two-year terms.

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