Mark Cabaniss, Chris Reed on Gadfly Radio: Public Employee Pension Costs, and the 50-ton Godzilla in the room

Tuesday Oct 2, 2012, at 10 AM PT, Martha Montelongo, with John Seiler, managing editor at, and Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal welcome  Mark Cabaniss, and Chris Reed. 


Mark Cabaniss is an attorney from Kelseyville, CA. He has worked as a prosecutor and public defender. In September he penned two articles for CalWatchDog:

Yes, we can break public-employee pensions
Sept. 20, 2012

Even if politicians’ pensions are contracts protected by the Constitution, they are still breakable. In pretending otherwise, the politicians are lying. In other words, merely noting that pensions are contracts protected by the Constitution is not the end of analysis, but only the beginning, for all contracts are breakable, and all constitutional rights are subject to limits.

Breaking public-employee pensions: The political path
Sept. 27, 2012

The most important of the contract law doctrines that could be used to get out from under current pensions is the doctrine of mistake. According to that doctrine, the current pensions were granted while relying on mistaken assumptions, specifically, unrealistic projected future pension fund investment returns which have turned out to be too high.

The second contract law doctrine which might be used to get out of onerous pensions is that the money simply isn’t there to pay excessive pensions (the current highest in California is, ha-ha, $302,492 per year). The legal arguments, as well as the political arguments, are the strongest for reforming the very highest pensions, those in excess of $100,000 per year.

Chris Reed, Publisher of, Editorial Writer with San Diego Union Tribune, and contributor to, recently penned two articles concerning CA’s Teacher’s Unions and their power in Sacramento.
The sad reason Steinberg’s right about significance of his education bill
Sept. 28, 2012


The ‘nut graph’ you’ll never see in a state government story
Oct. 1, 2012

Here’s a one-paragraph version that should be the basis of what journos call the “nut graph” of most stories about state spending and state priorities:

“The members of the most powerful political force in state politics, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, get far more money from taxpayers than any other single group. The teacher unions’ power derives from the automatic dues deducted from teachers’ paychecks, meaning taxpayers directly fund the lobbying and political operations of Sacramento’s most influential entity.”

Ben Boychuk has a piece recently published in the NY Post:
Jerry Brown’s tax-hike hail mary

“…Brown might just find a way to hike taxes without Prop. 30, if Democrats can pick up those four legislative seats in November. Earlier this month, he told the editors of The San Francisco Chronicle that if Prop. 30 loses, ‘we’re not going to go out to the people again. Because we’ve tried it.'”

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Bankruptcy is supposed to be bottom, and a new beginning–Unless it’s used to favor and further plunder

LA WATCHDOG – In a stunt that would make South American strongman Hugo Chavez proud, the imperious California Public Employees Retirement System (“CalPERS”) and the bankrupt City of Stockton conspired to give an absolute preference to Stockton’s $147 million pension obligation ($245 million over the next ten years) to CalPERS over Stockton’s remaining creditors who are owed an additional $550 million.

But this sweetheart deal where bondholders and other creditors are treated like dirt will have major ramifications in the markets for California bonds and notes as credit rating agencies will lower their ratings and investors will require greater security and significantly higher rates of returns on these higher risk investments.

Click here to read Jack Humphreville’s latest piece at City Watch, posted Aug 16, 2012 Jack Humphreville

Stephen Downing on Redress for Anaheim, Wayne Lusvardi Outs the Big Ruse–Hidden State Funds? Really? John Seiler on Highway Robbery by Cops

Tuesday, August 7, Retired L.A.P.D. Deputy Chief of Police, Stephen Downing, and Wayne Lusvardi join Martha Montelongo, with John Seiler, Managing Editor at, and Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal.
Stephen Downing, Retired Deputy Chief of Police, L.A.P.D. joins us to discuss the issues with Anaheim. Points to consider for redress. How to foster peace officers to serve and protect, and to work with the communities they serve, and not occupy them.

Wayne Lusvardi joins us to talk about the big magic show acts hailing from Sacramento. John Laird, an old life long progressive from Santa Cruz, now a CA State Senator from the region of environmentalist rulers, appears in the middle of a big ruse, a trick to deceive and dissemble to the pubic. What’s the real story behind all the supposedly “hidden funds?”

John Seiler on The Great Rip-Off. Police Chiefs and other municipal administrators who are earning higher salaries retired, than when they were working. They’re earning six figure incomes, and cities have revolving doors of new hires, and new retirees. It’s like a looting taking place in broad daylight, and no one to stop it, because the people the public would expect to serve and protect us are the ones doing the looting.
Tune in LIVE at 10:00 a.m. PDT on on CRN 1 or on USTREAM TV’s CRNStudioLive!”

If you tune in on CRN, give the player a few minutes to pop up and start streaming. Give yourself enough time so you don’t miss the program.
Sometimes the programing display for CRN 1 is not current, and it may say another program is playing. You can be sure Gadfly Radio is from 10 am to 11 am PT, Tuesdays! You can count on that!

Call in number: 1-800-336-2225

Related Links:
Quiet protest outside Disneyland | police, outside, biggest | The Orange County Register | Aug. 4, 2012 | By Mary Ann Milbourn
Mom to stop marching in weekly Anaheim police protests | The Orange County Register | August 5, 2012 |by Eric Carpenter

Theresa Smith says she appreciates support from peaceful protesters in recent weeks, and she wants to ‘do positive things.’…
…Jaclyn Conroy, of Anaheim Hills, whose nephew Justin Hertl was shot and killed by police in 2003, said she will continue protesting. She marched with other protesters to Disneyland on Sunday.

“It puts a tear in my eye that people from outside the area have come to support us,” she said. “They’ve helped bring a national spotlight and that allows us here locally to talk to people about the problems we’re having with police.”

Anaheim shootings, protests: Anger, politics, power | The Orange County Register | By Doug Irving, Eric Carpenter, Denisse Salazar and Alejandra Molina

In June – a month before the most recent shootings and subsequent protests – three Latino leaders filed suit against the city, demanding changes in city government. Their lawsuit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, calls for council members to be elected by districts rather than at-large; a change they believe would break up the Anaheim Hills’ political dominance and encourage more people from more neighborhoods to run for office.

One of the leaders who filed suit, Jose Moreno, 42, a trustee of the Anaheim City School District and president of the group Los Amigos, said the city and its Police Department have work to do to improve relations with Latinos.

“Police don’t do their work in a vacuum,” he said. “For them to rebuild relationships in our communities, we need to feel like part of the political system – like we are sharing in the resources of this city.

“In the same way, kids don’t decide to join gangs in a vacuum. Those city resources aren’t coming to us.”

Police estimate that 2,500 documented gang members claim turf in Anaheim. They belong to some 35 active gangs – all, police say, are Latino except for one African American gang.

By comparison, the police force arrayed against them is overwhelmingly white. The department has 363 officers; 82 are Hispanic and 249 are white. [ Ethnic make up of the police aside–the City Council can be responsible for police practices, policies and community relations.]

The relationship between Anaheim’s police force and its Latino communities has long been strained.

Mayor takes on Anaheim violence | CalWatchDog | August 6, 2012 | by Steven Greenhut

Unfortunately, in my view, the city’s Police Department has embraced the wrong kind of policing methods — ones that are unkind and tend to undermine people’s freedom. I don’t see police officials there using their brains to handle a situation resulting, in part, from overly aggressive policing tactics and insufficient police accountability and transparency.

Clearly, the cultural changes the mayor is trying to implement in the city bureaucracy need to filter into the police department — a point Tait also makes.

Steven Greenhut: Mayor on right path in Anaheim | Opinion – The Orange County Register | August 3, 2012

In Anaheim, voting by district could alter the power dynamic | Los Angeles Times | August 4, 2012 | Nicole Santa Cruz, Doug Smith and Christopher Goffard, Los Angeles Times

Anaheim is now under growing pressure to switch to district voting, which usually makes it easier for minority groups to win council seats.

Fund transfers are purging earmarks from state budget | CalWatchDog | August 1, 2012 | by Wayne Lusvardi

Park fund scandal a ruse to grab gas tax funds from off-roaders | CalWatchDog| August 6, 2012 | by Wayne Lusvardi

Stockton police chief rips off $204K pension | CalWatchDog | by John Seiler | August 6, 2012

Police Chief’s $204,000 Pension Shows How Cities Crashed | Bloomberg | By Alison Vekshin, James Nash and Rodney Yap | Jul 31, 2012

California’s Legislators play fast and lose with taxpayer money, services, and resources they’re elected to protect

They make Wall St Shysters like JP Morgan’s Jaime Dimon look like alter boys.

In  California’s Bad Bet Makes JPMorgan’s Look Minor,  David Crane writes:

California legislators on Sept. 10, 1999. They decided that investment gains would cover 100 percent of the cost of retroactive pension increases they granted that day to hundreds of thousands of state workers.

The politicians made the wrong bet — and the result has been a penalty to California’s budget that has averaged $2 billion a year ever since and that will cost the state billions more for decades to come.

Promising that “no increase over current employer contributions is needed for these benefit improvements,” and that the state pension fund would “remain fully funded,” the proposal, known as SB 400, claimed that enhanced pensions wouldn’t cost taxpayers “a dime” because of healthy investment returns. The proposal went on to assert that it “fully expects” the state’s pension costs to remain below $766 million a year for “at least the next decade.”

Click here to read the article.

Pleasant Hill police chief retires, says CA pension so lucrative “it doesn’t make sense to keep working.”

Pleasant Hill police Chief Pete Dunbar to retire –

Post CA & WI Primaries Analysis with Wayne Lusvardi and John Seiler of CalWatchDog

Tuesday June 12, on Gadfly Radio,  Wayne Lusvardi joins Martha and John Seiler, managing editor of CalWatchDog, to discuss the election results of the  pension reform initiatives in San Diego, and  San Jose, the failed recall of Scott Walker in Wisconsin, the victorious recall of three sitting city council members and the election of their replacements,  in Fullerton, CA, a spectacular story.   and  some of the hot and contentious candidate races that developed  in last week’s CA Primary Election.

Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal is away, on assignment. 

Tune in LIVE at 10:00 a.m. PDT on or on USTREAM TV’s CRNStudioLive!”


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Pension reform or double-dip storm in San Diego and San Jose?

June 6, 2012 By Wayne Lusvardi A pension reform ballot proposition was passed by the voters in the city of San Diego by a margin of 66.2 percent in favor to 33.8 percent opposed.. A similar pension reform measure in the city of San Jose is lead…

Beware the California Pension Reform Foxes
Liberal downfall of San Diego falsely blamed on conservatives
State voters did the right thing | CalWatchDog
By Steven Greenhut
June 11, 2012 By Steven Greenhut SACRAMENTO — Several years ago, Fullerton Councilman Dick Jones cornered me at a political event, asked my opinion on.

RealClearPolitics – Public Unions’ Icarus Moment
by Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post
The Lauzen Plan: How to Rein In a $3 Trillion Rogue Pension Elephant – Forbes by Ralph Benko

There is a simple, humane and practical solution to Illinois’s threatening insolvency: the “Lauzen Plan.” If tried successfully and emulated it promises to staunch the red ink threatening the viability of many states and municipalities. Lauzen is leaving the state Senate, after 20 years of service there, where he, together with other legislators of integrity, consistently predicted, and tirelessly formulated solutions to, the cascading fiscal catastrophe now manifesting. The officials blithely ignored or aborted the solutions.

My personal message to Travis Kiger, newly elected City Council member  of the City of Fullerton: “Congratulations. I am thrilled with your victory, and the team you are part of.  You’re awesome and inspiring. I thank all of you, and you individually.” and “I want to congratulate you on such a marvelous fantastic thrilling victory. I have followed from before Kelly Thomas, and you had a stage set already. You were able to catch that wave and ride it like champions!
Bravo. I love it.”

CalWatchDog’s Wayne Lusvardi sounds a warning bell not to get comfy with the pension reform measures just passed, even if they hold–the outlook is much worse

A pension reform ballot proposition was passed by the voters in the city of San Diego by a margin of 66.2 percent in favor to 33.8 percent opposed.. A similar pension reform measure in the city of San Jose is leading with 89.8 percent of the vote in favor with 37.7 percent of the vote counted.

But the gnawing question remains: Will voters end up with the pension reforms they voted for? Or are these reforms just the proverbial calm before a possible bigger pension storm? Tentative Results of Pension Reform Measures…
Pension reform or double-dip storm in San Diego and San Jose? | CalWatchDog

California Counties Are More at Risk of Going Belly Up, than Cities…

This is the fifth in a Special Series of 12 in-depth articles on municipal bankruptcy.
April 11, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

“…If the courts rule that existing pension plans are constitutionally protected and unchangeable, then we are likely looking at formal bankruptcy for many local governments.

With the basics of municipal finance explained, let’s look at the fiscal — or budgetary — situation that California cities and counties find themselves in today.
City and County Budgets on the Verge of Upset…”

Many California cities are under fiscal stress due to the protracted contraction of the economy. Many of those cities will be staring down bankruptcy waves as public pension obligations start kicking in during the coming years.

One of the largest prospects for bankruptcy is that of…”

Click here to read the report.