Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CalSTRS Fails

Press Release from State Controller John Chiang


SACRAMENTO – State Controller John Chiang today released his review of the California State Teachers' Retirement System's (CalSTRS) ability to detect and prevent pension spiking. The review found CalSTRS does not adequately audit more than 1,900 reporting entities (including school districts), has missed opportunities to reduce instances of suspicious or unjustified salary increases and also failed to adequately use existing electronic systems designed to identify cases of pension spiking. It also includes recommendations to address each of those shortcomings.


"Starting with more rigorous auditing and better use of existing technology, CalSTRS must fortify its ability and resolve to crack down on those seeking unjust enrichment at the expense of their fellow educators and taxpayers," said Chiang. "These recommendations aimed at strengthening CalSTRS' anti-spiking efforts will complement the recently-enacted pension reform package and shut down this form of public theft." 

The review specifically examined the electronic methods that CalSTRS uses to detect and prevent pension payments based on unusually large or excessive final compensation amounts, the auditing processes the system uses to oversee the state's school districts, and the efforts conducted by its newly-formed Comprehensive Review Unit during the review period of July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2011. The scope of the review was expanded to include records from three school districts, one community college district and one county office of education.

The review found that the CalSTRS audit program did not adequately detect or deter pension spiking. Although more than 1,900 agencies are a part of CalSTRS, the pension plan averages only 40 audits a year. During the review, CalSTRS was implementing a new stand-alone Compensation Review Unit charged with specifically detecting pension-spiking activity, which should result in more audits. However, the Controller said more auditors are needed to provide adequate oversight of the reporting by districts to CalSTRS.

The review evaluated pay increases granted prior to retirement to determine whether they were adequately approved, justified and documented. A geographically diverse sample of five local education reporting agencies was chosen: Pajaro Valley Unified School District in Santa Cruz County, the San Francisco and San Diego unified school districts, Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Santa Clara County, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Two of the five, or 40 percent, lacked documentation to justify pay increases granted to their employees immediately prior to retirement, such as board or executive approval or written performance evaluations. 

For example, at the San Francisco Unified School District, one executive received a 26% pay increase six months prior to retirement, and another executive received a 20% increase one year prior to retirement. The district was unable to provide any documentation supporting those raises.

After similar and repeated requests were made to the San Diego Unified School District, officials ultimately responded that documentation supporting raises was missing from their files.

CalSTRS uses a system that electronically identifies instances in which an employee's monthly pay increase exceeds a certain percentage, or in which an employee's "special compensation" exceeds a specific dollar amount in one year. However, the review found that during the period evaluated, CalSTRS did not review, verify or follow up on pay increases that were flagged by the system. The Controller urges CalSTRS to review all of the cases that were flagged by the system, require the agencies to provide adequate documentation supporting those increases and better determine if the pay increase thresholds are appropriate to detect pension spiking. 

The findings and recommendations from this review will be presented at the September meeting of the CalSTRS Audit and Risk Management Committee. The Controller also plans to perform a similar review of pension-spiking prevention measures at the state's largest pension system, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS).

Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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