Half the sorrows of the world, I suppose, are caused by making false assumptions.
H. L. Mencken; Selected Prejudices, page 78
The Christie-Freeze roadmap to pension reform in New Jersey breaks down to three steps with the first two both necessary and possible:
- Get rid of the defined benefit concept with the state picking up the $200 billion shortfall which they will get from….
- Moving the cost of teacher pensions and health benefits back to the localities who will pick up the $200 billion needed from…..
- Saving on the cost of health benefits for their employees.
Yes defined benefit plans need to go away for public sector employees since politicians and their enablers will always underfund them. Likewise localities should be picking up all costs for their school districts rather than negotiating benefits that oblige income-tax payers.
But believing that local governments will generate their $200 billion to kick off this process by a combination of higher employee contributions and instituting wellness programs is nuts. There is a better way.
There apparently is now a state investigation and $11,000 to be repaid and MY9 is still chasing and coming up with Linda Stender intimidating the Habitat for Humanity folks and ratting out her husband to Jerry Green:
Neil Cohen, Joe Cryan, and now Linda Stender. Are there any depths of depravity to which our elected representatives in this county will not sink to embarrass their constituents?
Politicians occasionally take on the responsibility of developing the economy of the region they are supposed to govern as if that were in the job description. It’s not. The job of government is delineated (policing, cleaning streets, etc.) and if those jobs get done well then the economy will develop naturally.
However ‘economic development’, with the broad interpretations possible for that term, allow far more flexibility in the political-payback game. For example, you could give a no-bid contract to a non-profit which provides employment to political operatives and does nothing beyond mailing out a campaign flyer twice a year. That is exactly what has been going on with the Union County Alliance for years and today the Office of the State Comptroller called them out.
It’s that time of year again when elected officials who are also government employees and in the New Jersey retirement system look over the smorgasbord of benefits available to them and chow down.
Linden will get a new mayor tomorrow who today is also a county employee but is now having second thoughts about a campaign promise he made to leave that job according to an nj.com story:
Union County paid Brown & Brown $20,000 to do a GASB 45 valuation for 2007 and the accountants have been using that report ever since.
The 2013 audit is now out and after I pointed out how comical the 2012 OPEB numbers were:
Note 15 on OPEBs changed considerably this time. No interceding actuarial valuation seems to have been done so the accountants were left to their own devices and this is what they came up with.
The concept of lawyers bending the law to their clients’ whims is fascinating to me. We have that in Union County where lawyers told the freeholders it was OK to steal from the Open Space trust fund and that the county’s seal could be trademarked. Obvious blunders only one of which has been corrected.
Three things that I, and at least one other person, take away from all this:
For years now the only pieces of fiction I have been reading are either by Christopher Buckley or the auditors for Union County. Whether it’s fudging OPEB disclosures or failing to mention raiding the Open Space Trust Fund (a $10 million annual tax that sunsets in 2020) to pay operating expenses this deceptive reporting (I mean by the auditors not Buckley) have kept investors, who heretofore have accepted as gospel that municipalities would somehow always pay back their bonds, in the dark and eventually out of luck and money.
Then came Detroit with their deceptive pension numbers and the SEC started worrying.