By John Hagen
Posted: 04/15/2011 06:53:41 PM PDT

I just witnessed a $40.6million theft and it appears that I can’t do a thing about it except voice my concerns.

Being in law enforcement for 30 years with the job of safeguarding the public against thieves, it is disturbing to me to actually witness something like this with my hands tied.

I know in this day and age that public pensions are a hot topic. Most of you only know what the press tells you. It’s not all pie-in-the-sky as they would lead you to believe. Try $1,600 a month for health insurance, which goes up every year.

Whether or not you feel pensions are out of line, what should concern you is the underhanded, corrupt way this county’s Board of Retirement does business. With all the press about corruption in the county you would think that the board would be mindful about the way they conduct business, but here is another example of the carefree and untouchable attitude of the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Retirement.

The retirement system has a general subsidy fund with $40.6million in it. This fund was supposed to be paid out to retirees in monthly installments until the money is depleted. This money belongs to the retirees of the county.

The retirement board is made up of four members voted in by the employees and retirees, four members appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and county Treasurer Larry Walker. The board also has two alternates, one for safety and the other from the retirees who only vote if a regular member is absent.

The first problem I see is that Mr. Walker is in charge of the funding, and he also has a vote and advisory position as to what happens to the retirees’ money.

The county has a deficit of more than $40million in its budget to overcome. Mr. Walker proposed a motion to give the county the $40.6million that is left in the retirement subsidy account, thereby depleting it. His vote, along with the four other appointed puppets, would deprive the retirees of their money.

In the meeting it was suggested that a new appointee abstain from the vote, as this appointment was made just two days earlier.

Needless to say he did not abstain and the vote carried 5-4 in favor of gifting the $40.6million to the county. How does that benefit the retiree?

If this is not a theft of retirees’ funds, I don’t know what is. There was testimony given by numerous retirees as well as input from the elected board members as to why this should not occur and how it would affect the lives of so many, but to no avail. There was even a suggestion that the matter be tabled until November when the new actuarial figures come in and the new appointee could be brought up to speed on the issue.

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