Former LA Assistant Fire Chief cleared nearly $1.4 million in pension pay last year, new data show

Today, TransparentCalifornia.com released previously unseen 2017 pension data for the Los Angeles Fire and Police Employees’ Pension plan.

This year’s top earner was former Assistant Fire Chief Donald Frazeur, who received a one-time DROP payout of $1,171,994 on top of his regular $212,730 annual pension for total earnings of $1,384,724.

The deferred retirement option plan (DROP) allows an employee to draw a salary and pension simultaneously for up to 5 years, with each year’s pension being deposited into an interest-bearing account. Upon actual retirement, the accumulated balance can be withdrawn either as a lump-sum payment or rolled over into an annuity.

The next 4 highest earners were:

  1. Former Deputy Police Chief Michael Downing: $995,845.
  2. Former Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Castro: $931,636.
  3. Former Deputy Fire Chief John Vidovich: $893,906.
  4. Former Fire Battalion Chief Jack Wise: $893,489.

The average full-career retiree received $101,652 in pension pay last year, according to the data. A full-career retiree is defined as those who retired with at least 30 years of service. To explore the complete dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please click here.

In addition to the police and fire fund, Los Angeles also provides its own pension plan for regular employees. For a press release summarizing the findings from that fund’s 2017 data, please click here: Dubious overtime pay helped boost former LA Port Pilot’s pension to nearly $375,000 a year.

CalPERS

All other cities in Los Angeles County belong to the statewide California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).

The newly released 2017 CalPERS data reveals an average pension of $80,175 for those who retired from a city in Los Angeles County. Of those who just began receiving a pension within the past year, the three largest Los Angeles-area CalPERS pensions went to:

  1. Former Gardena City Manager Mitchell Landsell, who is receiving a $258,992 annualized pension after nearly 45 years of service.
  2. Former Pasadena City Manager Darryl Qualls, who is receiving a $215,173 annualized pension after 36 years of service.
  3. Former Vernon City Manager Michael Wilson, who is receiving a $215,000 annualized pension after 29 years of service.

For an extended version of the above list, please contact Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner at Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

The 10 cities in Los Angeles County with the largest number of $100,000-plus CalPERS pensions are displayed below. The far right column displays the percentage that those $100K-plus cohort represent as a share of total outlays.

City

# of $100K-plus CalPERS Pensions (2017) $100K-plus pensions as % of total outlays

Long Beach

390 21%

Torrance

237 44%

Santa Monica

219 42%

Glendale

212 31%

Burbank

181 35%
Pasadena 171

30%

Beverly Hills 111

41%

Redondo Beach 97

44%

Inglewood 91

29%

Culver City 86

37%

To see the individual amount paid to the retirees of each city, please click on the city’s name in the table above.

Fellner believes the best way to understand the impact of the growing ‘$100K club’ is to look at their pensions as a percentage of total outlays, rather than merely as a percentage of total membership.

“Comparing the raw number of those collecting $100K-plus pensions to total membership is an inherently misleading number, which merely reflects the fact that the vast majority of CalPERS retirees have less than 20 years of service credit at retirement.

“The data reveals that those receiving $100,000-plus pensions represent nearly half of total outlays for several Los Angeles-area cities, an amount which is rising rapidly.”

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with new, 2017 data from the remaining pension funds in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow our blog and Twitter accounts, or sign up for our mailing list, in order to receive the latest updates.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

Dubious overtime pay helped boost former LA Port Pilot’s pension to nearly $375,000 a year

Former Los Angeles Chief Port Pilot Michael Rubino’s $373,156 annualized pension has shattered the record for the highest pension received by any member of the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (LACERS), according to just-released 2017 pension data posted on TransparentCalifornia.com.

Rubino’s pension is a staggering 54 percent larger than LACERS 2nd highest pension of $241,963, which goes to Margaret Whelan, the former general manager of the city’s personnel department who retired in 2014 after a 44-year career.

Whelan’s lengthy career meant she would receive a pension worth 96 percent of her final salary upon retirement. Rubino’s 30 years of service at retirement, by contrast, meant he was only eligible to receive a pension worth 66 percent of his final salary — which makes his outsized pension even more remarkable.

Rubino

Understanding Rubino’s atypically large pension then requires understanding his final salary — which is the amount LACERS uses to calculate an employee’s future pension.

While Rubino’s base salary at the time of his retirement was around $300,000, his “final salary” was nearly $570,000.

There are two main factors that allowed Rubino to boost his final salary so far above his regular pay.

Dubious overtime pay

In addition to sizable bonuses port pilots receive based on the amount of cargo moved, their final salary can also be inflated through a special type of overtime pay known as “callback pay,” which, unlike regular overtime pay, counts towards an employee’s final salary and thus future pension.

In 2016, the Los Angeles Times exposed how callback pay at the port was being wildly abused, citing a practice whereby “pilots on callback collect overtime for roughly twice as many hours as they actually work, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to them each year for time they weren’t on the job.”

And while their contract calls for chief port pilots like Michael Rubino to only get called back when “no other pilots are available,” Rubino was called back a staggering 137 times in just the 2016 fiscal year alone — which boosted his pay, and thus final salary, by nearly $90,000, according to the Los Angeles Times report.

Final Salary = highest one-year salary

Rubino also benefited greatly from LACERS practice of using an employee’s single highest year of earnings as their final salary, rather than the 35 years used by Social Security or the 3-5 years used in most other public pension plans.

Thanks in part due to the boost from callback pay mentioned above, the $580,000 in wages Rubino received in 2016 — his final full year before retirement — was over $100,000 greater than any of the preceding years, and was $210,000 more than his 2012 earnings, according to a review of historical pay data on TransparentCalifornia.com.

Thus, LACERS policy of using the single highest year of earnings for an employee’s “final salary” was particularly beneficial to Rubino, who saw a roughly $75,000 increase to his annual pension as compared to what he would have received if LACERS used the average of an employee’s five highest years of earnings to calculate final salary.

Rubino is a particularly stark example of how California’s public pensions are functionally a wealth maximization program, according to Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner.

“For a state dedicated to representing so-called ‘progressive’ values, California’s public pensions are anything but. The system provides enormous benefits to those already earning some of the highest salaries in the state, while providing lower wage workers — and thus those genuinely in need of retirement security — with much less.”

The average LACERS recipient had 28 years of service credit at retirement and received a benefit of $52,847 — which represents a 34 percent increase since 2012.

To view the entire 2017 LACERS dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please visit TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with new, 2017 data from the remaining pension funds in the coming weeks.

Be sure to follow our blog and Twitter accounts, or sign up for our mailing list, in order to receive the latest updates.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

CalSTRS ‘$100K club’ has nearly doubled over past five years, membership now stands at over 13,500

The number of retired educators collecting pensions of $100,000 or more from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) has nearly doubled since 2012, according to just-released pension payout data from TransparentCalifornia.com.

The 13,527 CalSTRS retirees who collected pensions of at least $100,000 last year marks an 87 percent increase from 2012, according to the data.

The data shows 7 pensioners collecting regular, ongoing pensions of over $300,000 a year:

  1. William Habermehl, Orange County Office of Education: $369,831.
  2. Richard Bray, Tustin Unified School District: $326,882.
  3. Edward Hernandez, Rancho Santiago Community College District: $324,287.
  4. Virgina Shattuck, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District: $320,592.
  5. James Fleming, Capistrano Unified School District: $315,707.
  6. James Smith, Evergreen Elementary: $301,995.
  7. Donna Perez, Alhambra Unified School District: $300,110.

The below table displays the top 15 employers with the most $100,000 or greater CalSTRS pensions, as well as the percentage increase that has occurred since 2012:

Final Employer

# of $100K+ pensions

% Increase from 2012

LAUSD

1370

63%

LOS ANGELES COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT

293

97%

GARDEN GROVE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

178

114%

LONG BEACH UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

158

105%

SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

142

129%

SADDLEBACK VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

141

127%

FREMONT UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

140

97%

SANTA ANA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

136

139%

LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

130

69%

COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT

129

70%

LOS RIOS COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT

118

79%

EAST SIDE UNION HIGH

114

87%

CAPISTRANO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

103

129%

SOUTH ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT

99

32%

MONTEBELLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

99

154%

To view the entire CalSTRS dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please click here. An analysis of the data by region can be found by clicking on the links below:

With the addition of 2017 pension payout data from CalPERS and CalSTRS, TransparentCalifornia.com now has over 20 million public pay and pension records available online, in an easy-to-access and fully searchable format.

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with new, 2017 data from the remaining pension funds in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow our blog and Twitter accounts, or sign up for our mailing list, in order to receive the latest updates.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

New CalSTRS data: Bay Area’s ‘$100K club’ up 83% over past five years

The number of retired Bay Area educators collecting pensions of $100,000 or more from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) has increased dramatically since 2012, according to just-released pension payout data from TransparentCalifornia.com.

Last year, 2,551 CalSTRS members who retired from agencies in the Bay Area collected pensions of $100,000 or more — an 83 percent increase from 2012.

The top 3 Bay Area CalSTRS pensions went to:

  1. James Smith, Evergreen Elementary: $301,995.
  2. Marilyn Miller, Hillsborough City Elementary: $298,646.
  3. Johanna Vandermolen, Campbell Union Elementary: $296,410.

Statewide, 13,527 CalSTRS retirees collected pensions of at least $100,000 last year, which marks an 87 percent increase from 2012, according to the data.

The below chart displays the 10 Bay Area agencies with the most $100,000 or greater CalSTRS pensions, as well as the percentage increase that has occurred since 2012:

School District

# of $100K+ CalSTRS Pensions

% Increase from 2012

Fremont Unified School District

140

97%

East Side Union High

114

87%

San Jose Unified School District

69

53%

San Francisco Unified School District

68

119%

New Haven Unified School District

64

94%

City College Of San Francisco

63

117%

Palo Alto Unified School District

63

66%

Cupertino Union

57

50%

Contra Costa Community College District

51

82%

Pleasanton Unified School District

46

64%

To view the entire CalSTRS dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please click here.

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with new, 2017 data from the remaining pension funds in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow our blog and Twitter accounts, or sign up for our mailing list, in order to receive the latest updates.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

New CalSTRS data: Orange County’s ‘$100K club’ up 97% over past five years

The number of retired Orange County educators collecting pensions of $100,000 or more from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) has nearly doubled since 2012, according to just-released pension payout data from TransparentCalifornia.com.

Last year, 1,989 CalSTRS members who retired from agencies in Orange County collected pensions of $100,000 or more — a 97 percent increase from 2012.

Remarkably, the three largest CalSTRS pensions statewide all went to Orange County retirees:

  1. William Habermehl, Orange County Office of Education: $369,831.
  2. Richard Bray, Tustin Unified School District: $326,882.
  3. Edward Hernandez, Rancho Santiago Community College District: $324,287.

Statewide, 13,527 CalSTRS retirees collected pensions of at least $100,000 last year, which marks an 87 percent increase from 2012, according to the data.

The below chart displays the Orange County school districts with the most $100,000 or greater CalSTRS pensions, as well as the percentage increase that has occurred since 2012:

School District

# of $100K+ CalSTRS Pensions

% Increase from 2012

Garden Grove Unified School District

178

114%

Saddleback Valley Unified School District

141

127%

Santa Ana Unified School District

136

139%

Coast Community College District

129

70%

Capistrano Unified School District

103

129%

To view the entire CalSTRS dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please click here.

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with new, 2017 data from the remaining pension funds in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow our blog and Twitter accounts, or sign up for our mailing list, in order to receive the latest updates.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

 

New CalSTRS data: Inland Empire’s ‘$100K club’ up 95% over past five years

The number of retired Inland Empire educators collecting pensions of $100,000 or more from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) has nearly doubled since 2012, according to just-released pension payout data from TransparentCalifornia.com.

Last year, 1,077 CalSTRS members who retired from agencies in either Riverside or San Bernardino County collected pensions of $100,000 or more — a 95 percent increase from 2012.

The top 5 Inland Empire CalSTRS pensions went to:

  1. Donald Averill, San Bernardino Community College: $270,667.
  2. Herbert Fischer, San Bernardino County Office of Education: $254,427.
  3. Sharon Mcgehee, Desert Sands Unified: $242,324.
  4. Susan Rainey, Riverside Unified: $242,209.
  5. Garrett Rutheford, Desert Sands Unified: $231,652.

Statewide, 13,527 CalSTRS retirees collected pensions of at least $100,000 last year, which marks an 87 percent increase from 2012, according to the data.

The below chart displays the Inland Empire school districts with the most $100,000 or greater CalSTRS pensions, as well as the percentage increase that has occurred since 2012:

School District

# of $100K+ CalSTRS Pensions

% Increase from 2012

Corona-Norco Unified School District

95

94%

Riverside Unified School District

62

100%

Chaffey Joint Union High

58

76%

San Bernardino City Unified School District

57

68%

Ontario-Montclair Elementary

47

88%

To view the entire CalSTRS dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please click here.

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with new, 2017 data from the remaining pension funds in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow our blog and Twitter accounts, or sign up for our mailing list, in order to receive the latest updates.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

New CalSTRS data: LA’s ‘$100K club’ up 82% over past five years

The number of retired Los Angeles educators collecting pensions of $100,000 or more from the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) has increased dramatically since 2012, according to just-released pension payout data from TransparentCalifornia.com.

Last year, 3,850 CalSTRS members who retired from agencies in Los Angeles County collected pensions of $100,000 or more — an 82 percent increase from 2012.

The top 3 Los Angeles CalSTRS pensions went to:

  1. Virginia Shattuck, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified: $320,592.
  2. Donna Perez, Alhambra Unified: $300,110.
  3. James Kossler, Pasadena Area Community College: $299,432.

Statewide, 13,527 CalSTRS retirees collected pensions of at least $100,000 last year, which marks an 87 percent increase from 2012, according to the data.

The below chart displays the 10 agencies in Los Angeles County with the most $100,000 or greater CalSTRS pensions, as well as the percentage increase that has occurred since 2012:

School District

# of $100K+ CalSTRS Pensions

% Increase from 2012

Los Angeles Unified School District

1370

63%

Los Angeles Community College District

293

97%

Long Beach Unified School District

158

105%

Los Angeles County Superintendent

130

69%

Montebello Unified School District

99

154%

Alhambra Unified School District

76

138%

Pomona Unified School District

63

70%

Arcadia Unified School District

60

100%

Mt. San Antonio Community College District

60

62%

Santa Monica Community College District

59

97%

To view the entire CalSTRS dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, please click here.

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with new, 2017 data from the remaining pension funds in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow our blog and Twitter accounts, or sign up for our mailing list, in order to receive the latest updates.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.