Jon Ortiz

The State Worker
Jon Ortiz chronicles civil-service life for California state worker
By Jon Ortiz
04/15/2015 – 2:50 PM

He’s at it again.

This time CalPERS maverick board member J.J. Jelincic is taking on his colleagues and Attorney General Kamala Harris over a policy that excludes him from performance and pay decisions for the fund’s top executives. Harris says that Jelincic shouldn’t participate in those decisions to avoid conflicts of interest.

No other board member has similar limitations, but none have Jelincic’s employment history: 25 years in CalPERS’ investment office, including several working directly under current executives until he went on full-time leave to work on board business.

On Wednesday, Jelincic hand-delivered a letter to Harris’ offices in downtown Sacramento that asked how excluding him from high-level personnel decisions squares with his legal obligation as a board member to make decisions in the best interest of CalPERS members.

“What lower levels of fiduciary standards and fiduciary liabilities apply to me?” Jelincic wrote in his letter to Harris.

Harris press secretary Kristin Ford referred questions to CalPERS. Fund spokesman Brad Pacheco said that the board wants to support Jelincic’s legal authority and responsibilities while ensuring it avoids conflicts of interest posed by his unique circumstances.

“It’s a balance of policies,” Pacheco said.

Jelincic’s 2009 election upset that balance by placing a CalPERS cubicle dweller among the 13 people who oversee a fund with current assets of $300 billion. How could managers judge Jelincic’s work and then give account to him for theirs? How can one person be both policymaker and policy follower?

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