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California Pen$ion Nightmare Wor$en$

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 9, 2012 7:04 AM |

What is the best part of a nightmare?

When you wake up and it is over.

The folks in California do not have that luxury as they get to live the nightmare that defines their public pension system everyday. In fact, the nightmare is getting scarier. How so?

The “not so exclusive” California $100,000 Club continues to experience explosive growth. Let’s check in on this club which since last we checked a year ago has seen close to a 25% increase in size. 

Thanks to the folks at Fix Pensions First for this fabulous expose,

12,199 retired California government workers receive pensions in excess of $100,000

They’re all listed here.

The information below was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). This list may be be updated periodically with more pensioners as more data is obtained.






Malkenhorst, Bruce V




Fuster, Joaquin M



UC Los Angeles

Gerth, Donald R



CSU Sacramento

Garret, William



El Cajon

Stahl, James F



LA Co Sanit #2

Schlag, John D



UC Los Angeles

Southard, Glenn D




Adams, Randy G




Newell, George T



Santa Clara County

Schachter, Julius



UC San Francisco

When we checked in on this club a year ago, it had 9,812 members. The club is going to need a bigger tree house as the last report just recently released counts the membership at a staggering 12,199 individuals. How does a club like this grow so large so fast? I maintained a year ago and repeat today,

What makes the entrance into this club so special is the ability of the members to curry favor with those controlling the purse strings. Smell a little funny? Just a little? See the real entrance into this club is effectively a circuitous system of ‘payoffs’ and ‘kickbacks’ with the ultimate costs borne by average American citizens.

Juxtapose the recent headcount of 12,119 next to the at 9,812 released in June 2011. That mental image of California sliding into the Pacific Ocean under the weight of these pension obligations is becoming ever more real. Look at thes trend lines.


No way to run a state . . . let alone a country!!

What do readers on the left coast have to say about this nightmare?

What do readers everywhere think about the public pension nightmare in your own states?

Larry Doyle

Isn’t it time to subscribe to all my work via e-mail, an RSS feed, on Twitter or Facebook?

I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • Paul

    The only reason the number of monthly pensions below $4,000 looks as high as it does is the number of old pensions of people who did not work during the inflation-packed years when salaries and COLAs escalated dramatically.

    This distribution will look very different in 5-10 and 20 years.

  • Bill

    Just wait until CA goes to the US taxpayers for a bail out. I’m sure Obama and his dem pals would be more than happy to open the federal spigot a little wider.

  • Donald

    Hello Sense on Cents!

    These numbers are frightening indeed, but there is much too little detail given about the nature of their employment, education, qualifications, experience, and other sources of income, &c. to assume it is the end of the world compared to those in the private sector, e.g., those who get 100’s of millions in golden parachutes (at the expense of powerless shareholder- owners), and whose firms are bailed out by taxpayers, as but one example.

    This only scratches the surface of comparative compensation viz a viz qualification and would appear to demonize publicly achieved agreements.

    Those who grant these compensatory agreements should also be included in the report. Fair compensation across the board is a tricky, complicated business with doctors, lawyers, pharmaceutical industries and many, many others that have had laws passed in order to shut out competition, thusly increasing their own compensation.

    I don’t feel that singling out one group gives a clear picture of the overall unfairness of compensation.

    I only wish to see fairness when discussing compensation.

    i follow your work always,

    • LD


      There has been all too much evidence that a lot of public unions have received egregious benefit packages as a form pf payoff for voting support. Perhaps not a blatant quid pro quo but a strong resemblance.

      You do make many good points. Some of these numbers (specifically this guy Malkenhorst taking down close to 500k) do seem to be criminal.

  • Obsvr-1

    In Oregon, there are over 10K double dippers, many of those working in the same job that they “Retired” from.

    Seems if you go back to work for the state, county, city then you are not retired and all Pension disbursements end.

    The call that Meredith WHitney made about the coming apocalypse in Municipal Defaults may just come true after all.

  • Michael

    The question is not if, but how and when many of these pensions are renegotiated. Oh, that can never happen. OK, we simply play the Greek game, knowing the other 49 states will kick in to fund the unfunded liabilities.

    This is disgusting, and will not end up pretty. In a bankruptcy, all guarantees are on the table. How were the politicians serving the people with these absurd levels of compensation? 96 members of the Sacramento Fire Department?

  • Steve

    Soon. Very soon. All this will come crumbling down.

  • NH

    It appears that the closer one is to Imperial Rome, in this case, Sacramento, the more likelihood of a six-figure pension.

  • Cali

    This is why I vote no on every single tax hike, bond etc. Crash the system first.

    Default on the unions and bondholders if that’s what it takes

  • DK

    This is crazy……. I wonder if I can withhold my taxes to protest this…… no one should be making over 100K in pensions!

    Come on, are they really worth that much? I hope California goes bankrupt so we can change the system.

  • Theft

    They can dress it any way they want. It’s theft.

    California will send you to jail you for life for minor drug offenses. But robbing millions of dollars from taxpayers while the state is going to hell is perfectly OK.

  • Max

    In the private sector, investors and stock holders looking after their own money and risks.

    In the government, no checks, no balances, just political campaign contributions by government sector unions.

  • LD

    In light of the enormous increase in the pension costs then it should not be a big surprise that California has a massive deficit…

    The state budget shortfall in California has increased dramatically in the last six months, forcing state officials to assemble a series of new spending cuts that are likely to mean further reductions to schools, health care and other social programs already battered by nearly five years of budget retrenchment, state officials announced on Saturday.

    Shortfall in California’s Budget Swells to $16 Billion

  • LD

    Ideas on what California might do to address it’s $16 Billion fiscal deficit:

    So that said, are there any out-of-the-box things California might do to save or make a few billion dollars, other than the obvious measures of slashing spending and dismantling burdensome regulations?

    1) Slap a user tax on the some $10–15 billion that is estimated to leave the state in remittances to foreign countries, or at least through executive action make foreign cash remittances grounds for disqualification from state public assistance.

    2) Cancel high speed-rail asap.

    3) Open up immediately the estimated now off-limits 35 billion barrels of oil off the central California coast, the vast majority of which can be safely and cleanly exploited by on-shore horizontal drilling.

    4) Cap the amount one can receive from a California public pension, or multiple pensions at $100,000.

    5) Eliminate three-quarters of the thousands of public California board members, who stymie commerce and are mostly costly and unproductive term-limited insider politicians.

    6) Mandate one official language for state publications and office business.

    7) Cut by 75 percent the number of administrators at the UC and CSU systems (their numbers from 1993 have grown by 212 percent), and pay them at the commensurate twelve-month faculty rate.

    8) Clamp down on the vast underground and untaxed cash economy that has exploded to the point that one can buy tax-free almost anything needed, from a new lawn mower to a four-course meal, at roadside emporia and canteens.

    9) Deport the 20,000 plus illegal-alien felons now in California state prisons to their countries of origin.

    10) Have George Clooney do another $40,000 per head Hollywood fundraiser, but with Sacramento, not Barack Obama, as the beneficiary.

    Read the entire article at Can California Be Fixed?

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