Beverly Johnson had been on Alameda’s City Council for less than two years in 2000 when city staff approached her and other council members about upgrading public safety workers’ pensions.
Three months earlier, Governor Gray Davis and the state Legislature had authorized cities, counties and other agencies participating in the CalPERS retirement system to negotiate new public safety pensions that would allow workers to retire at 50 with 3 percent of their top salary for each year served. The new rules were approved almost unanimously after state leaders were told by CalPERS – which co-sponsored one of the bills authorizing the benefit increases – that the pension fund had a surplus of cash and that municipalities paying into it wouldn’t pay a cent more in contribution rates in the decade to come.
After receiving assurances from city staff that the changes wouldn’t cost the city anything, Johnson said, the council – unanimously and without debate – approved the benefit bumps, first for police and several months later, firefighters. But eventually, she said, she learned that all those assurances were for naught.
Read the Full Story Here