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It was almost exactly six years ago that the City of San Diego was forced to admit that it had been cooking the books since 1996, and that unless it raised taxes or cut worker benefits, it would have to slash services. It has raised fees, modestly trimmed worker benefits, and deeply slashed services. So what is the state of the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System six years later? No better. Here are some numbers from the SDCERS board meeting Jan. 22, 2010: As of mid-2009, the funded ratio was a meager 66.5% and unfunded actuarial liability $2.11 billion. In 2004, when the horrible news hit, the ratio was 65.8% and the unfunded actuarial liability was a more manageable $1.37 billion. At mid-year 2009, the market value of assets was $3.5 billion. That was down from $4.4 billion a year earlier. There was a big rally in financial assets beginning in March of last year. But as of November of last year, the SDCERS fund assets had grown to $4.4 billion rounded off -- actually slightly less than the figure from mid-2008. Meanwhile, the City's ARC (annual required contribution) due July 1 has jumped 50% from a year earlier to $231.7 million.

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JustWondering Jan. 27, 2010 @ 9:46 a.m.

Yes it's true...the world wide great recession took a toll on SDCERS' funding ratio. It's June 30, 2009, valuation took a hit.

As you mention there has been a partial recovery in the equities market so today's valuation has improved but we will not know the true value until the next full valuation is done on June 30, 2010. Even then the actuaries take six months to calculate the amount due from the City on a myriad of data points.

But let's not forget the root cause of the system's funding ratio was the City's insistence of underfunding and the City's taking of investment returns to fund promised retiree health benefits. One, a very questionable practice, some call it mismanagement by City Leaders. The other ruled illegal by the IRS and endangered the Systems' Tax Qualified status. Both actions were reckless and initiated by the City to hide the incompetence of its financial management.

Many of these facts are clearly articulated in City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's 2010-1 sixty-one (61) page Legal Analysis and Opinion. You'll find it by following this link: http://docs.sandiego.gov/legalopinions/LO-2010-1.pdf

Take the time to read it for yourself. I think you'll find Goldsmith has carefully researched and analyzed the data. He offers his client, the City of San Diego, many options on how to proceed. It's important to note, as you've mentioned in your piece, the City has already trimmed worker benefits. Additionally the City has negotiated higher pension contribution rates from its employees and is in negotiations this year to do more to lower its future pension obligations.

In addition the recent ruling by the California Supreme Court dismissing the criminal Conflict of Interest charges against five of the six defendants underscores the points above. The sixth defendant, Ron Saathoff, SDCERS Board Member and Local 145 Union President will stand trial for the "Special" benefits he received.

Are we seeing light at the end of this long dark tunnel? Well it's hard to tell at this moment. It may be a sustainable light or a just flickering candle down there. If this recession double dips as some predict, the candle could be extinguished and we could be in for a lot more pain. If our economy rebounds, and the City gains more reasonable concessions balanced with new sources of revenue, the storm which has battered Enron by the Sea for so many years, may be subsiding.

But no matter how you see it progress is being made.


Anon92107 Jan. 27, 2010 @ 11:25 a.m.

This mornings U-T reported that "Nero" Sanders is decimating fire and public resources in San Diego so he can maintain his royal class retirements and add to his record for death and destruction throughout San Diego.

Apparently Nero didn't immolate enough innocent children and families in San Diego with his 2007 Sanders Firestorm when he tried to outdo the 2003 Murphy Firestorm.

Together, Murphy's 2003 Firestorm plus Sanders' 2007 Firestorm cost 22 innocent lives, and burned about 25% of the county including about 7000 structures.

I can still remember Nero Sanders forcing out Chief Bowman because Bowman wanted to have enough firefighting equipment to save lives.

Sanders latest hellacious cutbacks continue to prove that ruling class corruption still rules San Diego threatening never-ending losses of lives and property due to that corruption and greed.


SurfPuppy619 Jan. 27, 2010 @ 11:48 a.m.

In addition the recent ruling by the California Supreme Court dismissing the criminal Conflict of Interest charges against five of the six defendants underscores the points above.

The dismissal of the criminal charges does not underscrore anything-it is purely a legal point and has no relationship to any future unfunded liabilities.

The public pensions, throughout the state, pay too much money at way too early of an age and are unsustainable.

Pension costs will keep rising to double-digit billions per year — and the SDCRS and Calpers assumes the stock market will double in ten years, and keep on doubling to pay the bills. If it doesn't, the costs will be even higher.

SB 400 in 1999, what started the pension arms race, was a gamble so big and so reckless that it threatens funding for every program except K-14 education unless the Dow Jones gets all the way to 600,000 by 2049 and 28 million by the end of the century.

Guess what, that is not going to happen.



Don Bauder Jan. 27, 2010 @ 12:24 p.m.

Response to post #1: Donna Frye and Carl DeMaio came out for more pension cuts this morning (Jan. 27). Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 27, 2010 @ 12:26 p.m.

Response to pot #2: Corruption and greed still rule the roost. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 27, 2010 @ 12:30 p.m.

Response to poSt #3: Pension payments are too high and retirements are too early. Best, Don Bauder


JustWondering Jan. 27, 2010 @ 12:36 p.m.

Oh Johnny Johnny Johnny... so the Supreme Court's ruling that no Conflict of Interest was violated has no bearing. How many times have you argued that very fact, that is it was always a conflict of the greed filled employees their labor organizations that caused the pension shortfall.

Soon the US Supreme Court will render its decision on the some similar criminal issues (Honest Services Theory) with some of the same defendants under their jurisdiction. Do you think they'll follow the lead by the Cal Supremes? http://voiceofsandiego.org/government/thehall/article_b24e2888-09ff-11df-a6b3-001cc4c002e0.html

Along with them the SEC is on the brink of settling its ongoing litigation. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/20/settlement-possible-ex-sd-city-officials-sec/

By the way, in the interest of fairness, the OP/ED piece you copied and pasted above was written not by the staff of the Mercury News. It was written by David Crane, a Special Advisor for Jobs and Economic Growth to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. At least the Mercury News posted the piece on its OPINION/EDITORIAL page in the context of Governor's budget proposal.


Anon92107 Jan. 27, 2010 @ 12:59 p.m.

Response to pot #5: RECOMMENDATION FOR BAUDER BOYCOTT #1 to end the era of "Corruption and greed still rule the roost"

Don, how about making a trial run with the first Bauder Boycott by applying it to "Nero/Sewerwater" Sanders?

The goal should be to eliminate the position of San Diego Mayor, San Diego's #1 most powerful position of corruption and greed that Golding, Murphy and Sanders have used to create Enron by the Sea, Firestorms holocausts, and Draconian public safety and service cuts that threaten the lives and health of every child and family in San Diego.


Don Bauder Jan. 27, 2010 @ 1:27 p.m.

Response to post #7: The state supreme court's ruling in that case was questionable -- other than on Saathoff. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 27, 2010 @ 1:29 p.m.

Response to post #8: If San Diego dumped the job of mayor, who would be in charge? Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 Jan. 27, 2010 @ 1:52 p.m.

Response to post #10: "If San Diego dumped the job of mayor, who would be in charge?" Gee Don, is this really a question that needs to be asked?

NO MAYOR AT ALL has got to be better than Golding > Murphy > Sanders who have created Enron by the Sea, Firestorm holocausts, and Draconian public safety and service cuts that threaten the lives and health of every child and family in San Diego.

Let the City Council take over, a group of 8 councilpersons cannot possibly govern any worse than "Strong Mayor" Nero/Sewerwater Sanders.

It's time we demanded that the 8 City Council persons perform a Bauder Boycott against Sanders and ignore him completely.

Will the READER dedicate the next issue to Bauder Boycott #1 to


to see if we can make your fight back concept work to restore Democracy at the grass roots level first.


JustWondering Jan. 27, 2010 @ 2:03 p.m.

I agree with your conclusion regarding Saathoff, a full hearing and decision by a jury needs to be held.

Care to articulate some reasons for disagreeing on their ruling on the ones who were dismissed? Seems the general logic used by the court and cited by news reports, combined with the exemptions within the 1090 statute points to that body getting it right.

A unanimous decision by any appellate court now-a-days is a rare. Are you implying they, all of the Justices, are corrupt?


Don Bauder Jan. 27, 2010 @ 4:43 p.m.

Response to post #11: How does one boycott a mayor? Ignore, possibly. Boycott? Tough. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 27, 2010 @ 4:47 p.m.

Response to post #12: There is evidence that at least one of those that got off sent an email indicating a realization that Saathoff's vote was being purchased. I expect to have more on that. Best, Don Bauder


JustWondering Jan. 27, 2010 @ 8:31 p.m.

Yes I agree. But none, other than Saathoff, gained any benefit greater than what others working for the City received.

I believe it was greed and ego that motivated Saathoff. Here he was the leader of a IAFF Local 145 and a SDCERS Board Member. His ego told him he deserved more than the others. His city salary as a Fire Captain, (1st line supervisor) was not fair compensation for his work or his retirement calculation. What he lost sight of was both his additional "jobs" were voluntary. He forgot his ethics, became a political animal, and let greed be the driving force in his life.

A full jury trial and a decision by the triers of fact, his peers, is the only way to determine if the conflict of interest statute was violated.


Don Bauder Jan. 28, 2010 @ 8:47 a.m.

Response to post #15: You have a lot of faith in jury trials coming to fair conclusions. Best, Don Bauder


JustWondering Jan. 28, 2010 @ 1:07 p.m.

Well maybe.... but it is the best justice system, bar none, in the World. All Americans should feel secure knowing their Government MUST prove guilt BEYOND a "REASONABLE" doubt.

Our founders knew how governments, monarchs, dictators or self-proclaimed rulers could abuse those subject to their laws. Forcing our Government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt is one of the best safeguards against oppression.

If the government falls short of this requirement, or, in rare cases there is jury nullification, so be it. Our system is light years ahead of justice systems in other large nations such as China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and on and on...


Don Bauder Jan. 28, 2010 @ 1:46 p.m.

Response to post #17: Definitely we are ahead of those countries you named. I'm not so sure of some of the more mature European countries. Best, Don Bauder


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