Glad to see you back Rich. Hope you got some fishing in during your hiatus.
No other comment other than we'll see if Tejon Tech weighs in.
Europe is suffering from imposed austerity. America is not suffering as much, thanks to the meager stimulus the Republicans allowed Obama to implement.
Fiscal conservatives are hoping a Romney-Ryan administration will impose harsh austerity measures here in America, which will definitely bankrupt our economy overnight. Thoughtful observers, however, do not discount the idea that Romney will himself, with the full cooperation of Congressional Republicans, pass a massive stimulus just to get re-elected to a second term. Republicans do not really care about the size of the deficit, as the example of our former VP, the Dick Cheney, proves. They only use the idea as a club for beating Democrats over the head when Democrats are in power.
Republicans quadrupled the deficit in the 12 years before President Bill Clinton took office, and doubled it in the eight years after he left office, but President Clinton balanced the budget. As large as the deficit is today, it is not any larger than it was when former President Bush junior left office.
COLORADO PERA: WHAT GIVES COLORADO SPRINGS? . . . ONLY WE ARE ALLOWED TO REPUDIATE PENSION DEBT!
Colorado PERA has filed a countersuit seeking a preliminary injunction against the City of Colorado Springs’ proposal to lease Memorial Hospital and repudiate their contractual PERA pension obligations.
From a recent Colorado PERA new release:
“On Friday, August 31, the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) filed a lawsuit against the parties to the Memorial lease transaction in order to have the court take control of the funds from the transaction. This lawsuit is in response to the suit filed by the City of Colorado Springs on August 15 which asserts that nothing is owed to PERA for the retirement benefits already earned by Memorial employees, despite the payment by University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) to the city of $185 million earmarked for the PERA liability.”
(My comment: PERA has a point here . . . why did Colorado Springs set aside $185 in the lease agreement if they really believe they owe PERA nothing? This does not demonstrate a high level of confidence in their case. In my opinion, they really have no case. I believe the Colorado Springs attempt to escape their PERA debt outside of bankruptcy is a colossal waste of time and tax dollars. It feels good to support PERA here. I wish the PERA Board had never decided to attempt to breach retiree contracts, and I could have been a staunch PERA supporter for the last three years. I’m happy to see that the PERA Board of Trustees voted to meet their fiduciary obligations in this situation. Given their support for SB 10-001, I had limited confidence that the board would determine that it was their fiduciary duty to make the Local Government Division trust funds whole in this situation.
How will Colorado PERA’s actuary calculate the unfunded liability? Actuaries, when you begin this calculation remember that Colorado PERA has provided the following written statement during testimony to the Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado General Assembly:
“The General Assembly cannot decrease the COLA (absent actuarial necessity) because it is part of the contractual obligations that accrue under a pension plan protected under the Colorado Constitution Article II, Section 11 and the United States Constitution Article 1, Section 10 for vested contractual rights.”
Disclaimer: By pointing out the hypocrisy of Colorado PERA in this blog post I don’t mean to imply that PERA’s in-house and external attorneys did not do an admirable job in preparing their brief in this Memorial Lease case. Also, I mean no personal offense to the attorneys forced to defend an untenable PERA Board decision in backing SB 10-001.)
“PERA is asking the court to determine that in order for Memorial to terminate its affiliation with PERA, the parties must comply with the law, which includes paying for the retirement benefits already earned by Memorial employees.”
“In particular, the law calls for reserves to be created for the payment of benefits earned as of the disaffiliation date by the employees of the disaffiliating employer. The law requires that the reserve be sufficient to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the remaining employers in the division.”
“PERA believes this is unfair because these benefits have already been earned as a result of work performed for the disaffiliating employer.”
Here’s a link to the full Colorado PERA news release:
Here’s a link to article about the countersuit in the Colorado Springs Independent:
Here’s a link to a PDF of the 39-page countersuit filed in the Adams County District Court:
(My comment: It looks like many of the same attorneys hired for the Justus V. State case have been retained for this Colorado Springs legal battle.)
From the lawsuit:
“In 1988, the Colorado legislature provided a limited, proscribed method for Local Government
employers to terminate affiliation with PERA that ensures the protection of employees and the
financial health of the trust fund . . .”
(My comment: I think PERA’s attorneys meant to say “prescribed method” here, rather than “proscribed method.” Reader take note that payment of the total, fully-vested, contracted PERA retiree benefit by means of a COLA escalator is also a “prescribed method” set forth in Colorado PERA statutes. The choice of the Colorado General Assembly to enact laws requiring the payment of the defined PERA benefit by means of a “COLA method” does not allow PERA or PERA-affiliated employers to escape their contractual obligations. The General Assembly could just as well have written statutes requiring that the total, defined PERA benefit be paid in larger monthly installments, rather than by means of a “COLA method.”)
From page 13 of the brief:
“In no state may an employer unilaterally leave a public pension plan without following a
proscribed statutory procedure.”
(My comment: Is this a repeat of the earlier solecism? To “proscribe” is to “forbid.” Am I missing something? Did they let the paralegals draft this? Did the attorneys fail to give it a close read? Just teasing paralegals.)
“ . . . a goal which is eviscerated if employers are allowed to unilaterally leave without paying their share of the actuarial liability.”
(My comment: Only Colorado PERA is allowed to eviscerate pension actuarial liability. Stay off of their turf!)
“ . . . those requirements include: (1) a vote of Memorial’s employees with 65% choosing to leave PERA; (2) payment for an actuarial study to determine Memorial’s unfunded liability for its current and future retirees; (3) payment of Memorial’s unfunded liability—last calculated at approximately $220 million; and (4) approval by the PERA Board.”
(My comment: I believe that this “unfunded liability” will be recalculated when PERA’s legal contrivance is eventually overturned in court in the case Justus v. State, and that this event will increase the Colorado Springs PERA debt by an additional (approximate) 25%. That will make some Colorado Springs heads explode!)
“Congress, through ERISA, likewise prohibits a private employer from withdrawing from multi-employer pension plans without paying its unfunded liability.”
“For multiemployer plans, ERISA ‘assigns a withdrawing employer immediate liability
for a fixed and certain debt owed to the plan, which is known as withdrawal liability.’”
(My comment: When I read these sentences from the Memorial Lease lawsuit brief I observe an impressive level of hypocrisy on the part of Colorado PERA. Why? Under ERISA, the taking of vested retiree COLA benefits is “proscribed.” ERISA includes an “anti-cutback” rule preventing the retroactive taking of a contracted COLA benefit. To ignore the ERISA “anti-cutback” rule in the case Justus v. State, and then rely on ERISA provisions in this Memorial Lease case is the height of hypocrisy. PERA attorneys, you have to agree with me here.)
“The General Assembly set up a specific, detailed statutory provision for withdrawal . . .”
(My comment: I wonder, does this detailed statutory provision employ the word “SHALL”? I seem to recall Colorado PERA recently arguing that the word “SHALL” is not quite as absolute as is commonly understood. The PERA COLA provisions were “specific and detailed” prior to the enactment of SB 10-001.)
PERA’s legal brief includes the following argument: “The fact that no such provision exists in
either Chapter 9-15 or Chapter 3-12 leads directly to the conclusion that the Legislature did not
intend to permit withdrawal.”
(My comment: Similarly, the fact that no provision exists in Colorado law allowing the General Assembly to retroactively take contracted COLA benefits from retirees with fully-vested pension contracts [there was no reservation of this right] leads directly to the conclusion that the Legislature did not intend to permit such takings of fully-vested pension benefits.”)
Back to the PERA brief:
“The bill’s Senate sponsor, when she presented the bill to the Senate Finance Committee . . .”
(My comment: In 1988, Senator Bill Schroeder was prime sponsor of the legislation Colorado PERA refers to here. He will not be pleased to know that PERA questions his gender. PERA the sponsor wasn’t Pat.)
“Defendants Have Repeatedly Acknowledged Their Responsibility for the PERA Liability.”
(My comment: Likewise Colorado PERA, you have acknowledged the contractual nature of the PERA retiree COLA benefit. You have done so in testimony before the Colorado General Assembly, and you have done so by including the fixed “automatic” 3.5% PERA retiree COLA benefit in the actuarial assumptions of your CAFRs for many years.)
“The City and Memorial’s current claim that the withdrawal statute does not apply to the
contemplated transaction is contrary to their repeated statements over the past two years
acknowledging that Memorial’s PERA liability must be paid as a condition of the transaction.”
(My comment: Now PERA, to be fair, the initial decision in the case Justus v. State is also contrary to your organization’s assertions two years ago that the retiree COLA benefit is a PERA contractual obligation, and yet, your organization persists with the lawsuit in Justus v. State. Double standard anyone? Making claims contrary to earlier statements is not acceptable for the City of Colorado Springs? But, this is acceptable behavior for Colorado PERA?)
“ . . . city officials, including the City Attorney, stated that $185 million of the $259 million that Memorial and the City would receive as upfront proceeds from UCH will be placed in a segregated account to address the PERA liability.”
(My comment: PERA, now is it really fair that you hold the Colorado Springs City Attorney to his word? After all, your own PERA General Counsel has been quoted in the newspaper as follows:
Denver Post Article, November 30, 2008:
Greg Smith, Colorado PERA General Counsel: “The attorney general's opinion seems clear that fully vested employees — those retired or with enough years of service to retire — cannot see any benefits reduced, including cost-of-living adjustments.” (Link: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_11105271…)
“PERA is statutorily directed to act in the best interests of its members and must enforce the statutory provisions as written.”
(My comment: Those statutes, prior to the unconstitutional SB 10-001, stated that PERA “SHALL” pay the retiree COLA benefit.)
“She urged the city council members to talk to Memorial employees because they were going to suffer a significant financial loss and had been ignored.”
(My comment: PERA, where was your concern for PERA retirees with fully-vested pension contracts in 2010? These retirees suffered “significant financial loss” as a result of your unconstitutional scheme to take up to one-quarter of their contracted PERA benefits.)
“For example, Memorial employees are being forced to decide now whether to purchase service credit in order to become eligible to retire prior to the stated October 1, 2012 closing date.”
(My comment: Many PERA members purchased service credit under the assumption that the PERA COLA benefit was a “contractual obligation” of PERA. PERA, these are the words your organization used to describe the PERA COLA benefit in testimony before the Colorado General Assembly. These PERA members kept their end of the bargain, they sent in checks to cover their obligations. After receiving the checks, the PERA Board of Directors voted to attempt to diminish the value of the service credit purchases that were made. Where was Colorado PERA’s concern regarding service credit purchases of PERA members in 2010?)
“ . . . a full retirement but that benefit will be 50% of a final salary that will have been earned 20 years earlier and thus diminished by inflation.”
(My comment: Colorado PERA, where were your concerns regarding the impact of inflation on PERA retirees when the PERA Board voted to attempt an unconstitutional reduction of PERA retiree’s contracted “inflation protection” in 2009?)
“This is the reason why the Colorado General Assembly mandated that affected employees be protected from their employers’ financial motivations that could be at odds with their retirement benefits and rights.”
(My comment: “Protected from their employers’ financial motivations?” When one recognizes that SB 10-001, and its COLA-theft provisions, was intended primarily for the financial benefit of PERA-affiliated employers, and that this fact was acknowledged by the bill’s sponsor, one sees that this statement achieves a new pinnacle of hypocrisy.)
“The City’s desire to leave PERA is not being caused by an outside force over which the City and UCH do not have control, but rather by the City’s desire to realize the largest, shortterm
profit without concern for the long term impact of this action on Memorial, its employees or
other PERA employers or members.”
(My comment: PERA, can you blame the City of Colorado Springs for attempting to reduce a tax burden through breach of contract? This public policy objective was endorsed by the Colorado General Assembly, with the enactment of PERA-supported SB 10-001!)
“PERA is a body corporate and instrumentality of the state under C.R.S § 24-51-201. PERA thus is also considered an arm of the state.”
(My comment: I agree that PERA is an arm of the state, and I am glad to have this fact acknowledged by Colorado PERA. Recall that state governments cannot declare bankruptcy under federal law . . . as long as Gingrich doesn’t have his way.)
Wow, wolf. That's the best news I've heard in awhile. Please ask your friends to do more than merely "contemplate". And, just out of curiosity, what would "many of us" consider "safe shores"? Cuba, China, Russia, or perhaps somewhere in one of the states in the Middle East.
Wait..... I know, Europe. Their democratic socialism is driving them to bankruptcy even faster than Obama. Of course, they had a head start, but we are catching up fast.
Rich, a truly accurate and bullseye take on the idiocy of Akin, Ryan and Romney-these people are insidious and dangerous and WILL NOT BE ELECTED! Romney is a vacillating snake in the grass !
Great article, Rich- from some of the comments, there are a lot of sad, vindictive people out there in your readership- fortunately for us, there are so many more that love and respect your work, and are glad you have the guts to say what you think!
I reallly think Ranger Rich is very politically astute- if the Republicans get in, many of us are contemplating a move to safe shores.
You're the man! Ugh, I mean The Ranger. Still chuckling.
K: you are just wrong on so many levels......(call it a stand alone clause, if you must) ...
Okay let us go back to plagiarism or, as you refer to it - stealing and/or robbing.
In your statement "I don't need no stinking links.", you are either a complete moron (like your little sis, sniff) or you failed to give credit to borrowing (and butchering) a phrase from the writers of "Treasure of the Sierre Madre". (I'm sure you will rationalize it by calling it a "clause".)
So, which is it, a thief or a moron?
Give it up, smartestman. You are becoming tiresome. That is a clause, not a phrase. The commas are appropriate. The only thing dangling here is your sanity, and it is dangling by a thread.
K: Stinking link? Penetration? Abusive? Weenies? Dr. Freud would have fun with you. I do believe you are psychologically deranged and obviously sexually frustrated. But, that aside...
I'll give you - If I said "You is a pinhead" it would be factually true, but grammatically awkward. I would like to see the rule in writing. Your word has long since lost any verity.
I'm also curious, you separated the "you" and "who" with a comma making "who babble incessantly..." a stand alone phrase. Let's see, what would Sister Verona say?
smartestman, you need to get your mind out of the gutter. You remind me of the joke about the psychiatrist who was testing a patient. He holds up a picture of a square and asks, "What is this?"
The patient says, "It is a window into a bedroom and inside there is a naked couple making whoopee."
The psychiatrist holds up a picture of a circle. The patient says, "It is a porthole on a luxury liner and inside there is a naked couple doing the deed."
The psychiatrist holds up a picture of a triangle. The patient says, "It is a keyhole and inside the house there is a naked couple..."
The psychiatrist pronounces his diagnosis solemnly, "You are obsessed with sex."
The patient (i.e., smartestman) protests loudly, "I'M obsessed! After YOU showed me all those dirty pictures!"
If there is anyone out there reading this exchange, besides Mr. Tosches, you can tell when smartestman has no intelligent comeback. He gets ever more desperate and abusive. Incest? Really!
You want a link, smartestman? I don't need no stinking links!
Let's try it one more time. In English we say, "The man who runs for office," and "The men who run for office." Once again, the verb agrees with the subject, not with the pronoun, "who."
Hope this helps. Hell, hope this penetrates.
K: In deference to all the youngsters in the audience as well as most adults, I would ask that you keep your methods of gratification private. "Pounding our weenies on the table is just about all we can do with them that's any fun..." Is that really what happens to dried up old liberals?
Per chance your idiotic, brain dead little sis, sniff, can help. A little incest certainly wouldn't bother you open-minded, free-spirited liberals.
K: Are you sure you didn't mean "... unlike youse, who babble incessantly..."?
Please provide the link which addresses the "you" issue specifically. If indeed you are correct, I will give you your due.
As to my point, you obviously missed it because youse also acts and thinks like a spiteful, pre-pubescent little girl (as do most liberals).
And to the Ranger - if you went fishing more often you would not be so vengeful.
smartestman, about that "minor detail," the "(sic)" is out of place anywhere in quoting my message. Time for a lesson in conjugation.
In English we say, "you babble," and "he babbles." Therefore, it is correct to say, "you, who babble," and "he, who babbles." The verb agrees with the subject, not with the word, "who." It is true, smartestman, that you are singular in more ways than one, but "you" is plural, and you are wrong.
Were you able to follow the clever way I mixed the singular with the plural in that last sentence?
smartestman, you write, "My comment had nothing to do with plagiarism..." Which is the main point of the column. I thought maybe you missed it.
You continue, "...or Ed Jones or being a conservative." No, you did not. Your buddy, TejonTech, wrote that in the news blog about the crook, not in this one. It's not always all about you, smartestman.
So, now you are defending robbery, and when those who are being robbed protest, all you can say is they are "taking cheap shots out of pure vindictiveness."
Thank you, Rich. I feel honored that you took notice.
When we are very young and very old, pounding our weenies on the table is just about all we can do with them that's any fun, as you learned when you were researching those very old men at the Y.
Dear Smartest and K
Thank you for the entertainment. I havent seen two guys in an actual let's-slam-our-weenies-on-the-table contest since 4th grade. (The three best years, by the way, of my life.)
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