New CalSTRS data: San Diego’s ‘$100K club’ up 90% over past five years

The number of retired San Diego 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, 858 CalSTRS members who retired from agencies in San Diego County collected pensions of $100,000 or more — a 90 percent increase from 2012.

The top 3 San Diego County CalSTRS pensions went to:

  1. Rudy Castruita, San Diego County Office of Education: $288,945.
  2. Larry Perondi, Oceanside Unified: $278,015.
  3. Kenneth Noonan, Oceanside Unified: $274,248.

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 San Diego 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

San Diego Unified School District

142

129%

Sweetwater Union High

84

62%

San Diego Community College District

60

107%

Palomar Community College District

48

100%

San Diego County Office Of Education

47

68%

Miracosta Community College District

41

17%

Poway Unified School District

40

167%

Grossmont Union High

39

56%

San Dieguito Union High

37

118%

Southwestern Community College District

35

75%

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 2017 pension data released: CalPERS payouts approach $21 billion, up 43% over past 5 years

Today, TransparentCalifornia.com — California’s largest public pay database — released pension payout data for the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2017. The data show total pension payouts of $20.63 billion — a 43 percent increase from the amount reported in 2012.

In just the past fiscal year alone, CalPERS began paying out pensions to 25,472 new retirees, at a total cost of more than $1 billion annually. The top 5 largest pensions among those who began drawing a CalPERS pension in the past fiscal year went to:

  1. Former Gardena City Manager Mitchell Lansdell: $258,992.
  2. Former San Jose State University President Mohammad Qayoumi: $225,283.
  3. Former Clovis City Manager Robert Woolley: $221,604.
  4. Former Placer County Sheriff Edward Bonner: $216,388.
  5. Former Santa Clara County Undersheriff John Hirokawa: $215,810.

When broken down by last employer, the dataset reveals 40 agencies or state departments with at least 100 CalPERS recipients drawing pensions of $100,000 or more. The top 10 agencies or state departments with the greatest number of $100,000 or more pension recipients are shown below:

Last Employer

# of $100K+ CalPERS Pensions

Department Of California Highway Patrol

1217

County Of Santa Clara

920

Department Of Corrections

613

City Of Oakland

549

Department Of Forestry And Fire Protection

521

County Of Riverside

499

City Of Long Beach

374

City Of Santa Ana

285

City Of Anaheim

283

Department Of Justice

279

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

CalSTRS data not forthcoming

Update: The CalSTRS data was provided shortly after this piece was published.

2017 data for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) has yet to be provided to Transparent California in a useable format, despite the data already having been compiled and in CalSTRS possession for at least the past 25 days.

CalSTRS has twice mailed badly damaged, unusable CDs which purportedly contain the requested information. The system has refused to deliver the information via alternative means.

“CalSTRS is plainly required to make this information available in an electronic format under the law,” according to Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner. “Sending copies of broken, unusable CDs is not in compliance with the mandates of California’s Public Records Law. Even more bizarre is CalSTRS refusal to deliver the requested information in any one of the less-costly alternative methods suggested by Transparent California. We hope CalSTRS finds a way to comply with their obligations under the state’s public records law and provide the requested information in a useable format, just as more than 2,500 other California governments have been able to do.”

Los Angeles County

New 2017 calendar year data for the Los Angeles County Employees’ Retirement Association (LACERA) is now available on TransparentCalifornia.com.

In just the past two years, LACERA began paying out pensions of $100,000 or more to 839 new retirees — or more than 15 percent of the total new pension recipients over that same time period.

The three largest payments among those recent members went to:

  1. Former Los Angeles County Assistant Sheriff Richard Barrantes: $309,142.
  2. Former Chief Physician Meenal Patel: $276,005. 
  3. Former Sheriff’s Department Chief David Fender: $271,957.

The overall top pension remains former Harbor-UCLA Medical Center Chief Physician Charles Mehringer, who earned $411,443 last year.

The data also reveal a significant difference in the average full-career pension by member type, as shown in the chart below:

Average 2017 full-career LACERA pension, by member type

Non-safety

Sheriff

Fire

$68,318

$107,893

$122,845

To view the entire LACERA dataset, please click here.

San Diego City

The just-released 2017 pension payout data for the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System (SDCERS) reveals an average pension of $85,670 for full-career retirees.

The three largest payments went to:

  1. Former Deputy City Attorney Diane Silva-Martinez: $893,731.
  2. Former Fire Captain Bradley Cronk: $871,599.
  3. Former Assistant Police Chief Sarah Creighton: $854,225.

To view the entire SDCERS dataset, please click here.

Transparent California will be continually updating the site with the 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.

The Palo Alto City Council gets it!

The Palo Alto City Council is in the process of (hopefully) approving a proposal that would add transparency to negotiations with government labor unions.

I wanted to share the below excerpt from Monday’s city council meeting in which the proposal is discussed, as it represents a benchmark against which all other city councils should be measured when it comes to the issue of transparency in government:

The Council’s willingness to try and fix the the status quo of secrecy in government union negotiations is commendable, if not long overdue!

Hopefully more of California’s elected representatives will follow suit.

TransCal helps uncover “hidden” employment

A group called Restore the Delta cited TransparentCalifornia.com for helping to shine light on the past employment history of the newly appointed California Department of Water Resources Director:

STOCKTON, Feb. 22, 2018  Documents acquired by Restore the Delta from a recent a public records act request to Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) confirm that newly appointed California Department of Water Resources Director (DWR) Karla Nemeth was a MWD employee from 2009 to 2014, earning over $900,000 in total compensation.  During her MWD tenure, she was contracted to work for Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) planning under the CalFed program, and then by the California Department of Water Resources. All PRA documents sent by MWD to Restore the Delta can be read here.

Representatives from various state water agencies and policy groups downplayed Ms. Nemeth’s pro-tunnels employment history with MWD in a recent Sacramento Bee report, while Restore the Delta maintained that Ms. Nemeth’s work history should be further scrutinized as a conflict of interest. Specifically, Restore the Delta noted that a report from Transparent California indicated Ms. Nemeth’s complicated employment history between MWD and California Natural Resources Agency.

You can read the full report here.

Transparent California applauds Palo Alto City Council’s transparency initiative

Transparent California — the state’s largest public pay and pension database — commends Palo Alto Vice Mayor Eric Filseth and Councilmen Tom DuBois, Greg Scharff and Greg Tanak for their proposal to increase transparency in collective bargaining negotiations with government unions.

As was first reported by the Palo Alto Daily Post, the proposal seeks to shed light on “wage, benefit and pension decisions [which] are currently reached through essentially private negotiations, without meaningful opportunity for public examination.”

Transparency in labor negotiations is mandatory for a truly representative government, according to Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner:

We applaud the Palo Alto City Council for recognizing that the status quo of secrecy in labor negotiations is incompatible with an accountable and representative form of government. Not only does secrecy in negotiations keep the public in the dark about the expenses they are required to pay for, we’ve even seen examples of councilmembers who have approved labor contracts without fully recognizing the extent of the taxpayer-funded perks provided within.

Providing the public with advance notice of the fiscal impact of proposed contracts provides taxpayers with the information necessary to make an informed decision. The status quo of secrecy, by contrast, requires taxpayers to pay the full costs associated with any labor contract, while denying them the opportunity to have their voices heard. Such a notion is incompatible with a healthy democracy, and the Council deserves tremendous credit for proposing to bring sunlight into their labor negotiations.

The Council’s proposal will be heard on February 26, 2018 from 9:15-10:00 PM, according to the agenda.

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.

Madera resident uncovers city officials’ hefty pay raises

The ABC30 report, Madera resident claim city administrators gave themselves hefty pay raises, is a great example of how TransparentCalifornia.com is used by concerned citizens interesting in understanding how their tax dollars are being spent.

Click here to watch the TV segment.

As it turns out, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The questions about Madera’s hefty pay raises led to a full-length response from the mayor in the Madera Tribune.

But that response only made matters worse, as we documented in our report Madera mayor misleads residents in attempt to hide unjustifiable, excessive pay raises.

 

 

Madera mayor misleads residents in attempt to hide unjustifiable, excessive pay raises

In a recent commentary addressing residents’ concerns over rising employee compensation costs, Madera Mayor Andrew Medellin deceived readers by misrepresenting and dramatically understating the raise granted to city workers in 2015.

The mayor explained that the raise was approved in response to a city-commissioned study which found that the average Madera job paid 4.4 percent less in total compensation than the “market median” of 10 neighboring cities.

Specifically, the mayor claimed that the raise approved in FY2015 was merely enough to “meet the market median.”

While such a raise did occur, the mayor omitted the additional 11 percent cumulative raise provided on top of the increase to the market median.

In addition to increasing salaries to the market median, the FY2015 agreement also provided an immediate and additional 5 percent across-the-board pay raise to all employees, followed by a 3 percent raise in FY2016 and again in FY2017.

unionmm

The mayor’s omission of this fact is an implicit recognition of the excessive and unjustifiable nature of this pay raise, according to Transparent California Research Director Robert Fellner.

“The mayor’s misrepresentation of the true scope of the pay raises he voted for is just as troubling as the excessive pay raises themselves. As our report shows, the so-called market median was already inflated due to the fact that Madera is the poorest of all the cities used in the city’s commissioned salary comparison. But the 11 percent raise on top of that is particularly indefensible, something the mayor appears to recognize by his conspicuous omission of that fact.”

Upon learning that Madera residents were not being provided complete and accurate information by their elected representative, Transparent California, a government watchdog dedicated to improving transparency in government, today published a complete report detailing the full scope of the FY2015 pay raise approved by the Madera City Council.

That report’s key findings are:

  • The cumulative pay raise ranged from an 11 – 44 percent increase over 3 years, with a 20 percent increase for the average Madera job classification.
  • The city projects a general fund shortfall for each of the next five years, rising from an estimated $1.7 million deficit in FY2018 to $3.9 million by FY2023.
  • The estimated aggregate impact of the FY2015 pay raise is $1.835 million annually in additional salary and benefit costs.
  • The city-commissioned salary study was fundamentally biased in favor of higher pay and did not appear to take into account the fact that Madera, when measured on a variety of metrics, is poorer than all 10 cities used in the study’s comparison.

The full report can be read here.

TransparentCalifornia.com is used by millions of Californians each year and has received praise for its ability to successfully improve transparency in government by lawmakers and elected officials, government employees, the media, university researchers and concerned citizens alike.

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. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.