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August 13, 2005 08:00 AM UTC

Free Research For The Vote No Crowd

  • 25 Comments
  • by: Red Hawk

The Rocky is now in the midst of a series on PERA (Colorado’s Public Employees’ Retirement Association) and its very obvious spending mishaps.

In the fist installment, the Rocky uncovered practices like:

(it) gave its own employees unusual perks: 52 weeks of personal leave to bank and then cash out at retirement or resignation; 12 weeks of sick leave a year for top execs; and, for some, 20 percent “longevity bonuses” every three years on top of annual bonuses.

No matter what sort of spin the PERA lobbyist and executives offer, there is no better time for this sort of story to break; with TABOR and Referenda C & D on every active voters mind  the vote no crowd must be chomping at the bit right now

Since 1995, PERA has spent $429,000 on new cars and car allowances for executives. PERA bought 16 cars – Jeep Grand Cherokees, Chrysler Town & Countries and Ford Explorers among them – for the executive director and three top deputies, who typically traded them in after 50,000 miles. Other top executives, up to five per year, chose to take a car allowance that paid them $1,125 a month. The program appears to have been designed to hide PERA executives’ true compensation from anyone who looked only at salary figures.

Fire up the presses, Caldera

Colorado taxpayers contributed $563 million last year to PERA’s pension fund and retiree health care plans through the employer contributions of state and local governments and schools.

According to its own ED, Meredith Williams,


“I’ve never heard of anything like this.

Comments

25 thoughts on “Free Research For The Vote No Crowd

  1. Great – well, at least we aren’t investing in coins.  Are we?

    This certainly doesn’t help the fact that we’re already underfunding the PERA accounts.

    This should not be a political football for C&D; it’s a serious issue, but like the $5,000 dildoes, ~$50,000 per year is not exactly going to make up the $300-400 million shortfall next year.  My question is, where are the auditors on this?  Oh, and: pay for your own **** car – we do.

  2. I don’t think the “Yes on C&D” folks are under any illusions that government is perfect.  Audits need to happen (that takes money, too), but the fact of the matter is that even with the money saved at the Community Colleges (the biggest chunk I’ve seen so far), all the “found cash” doesn’t come up to 10% of what’s needed to balance the budget next year.

  3. Phoenix – all those auditors were either at the Boulder Public Library or taking government funded “personal days”. We have waste – even still – and yes, the voters see it.

  4. This is bogus!
    The RMN article says this program was meant to attrach “good talent”. “Good Talent”? Even you Phoenix, say that PERA is underfunded under this “Good Talent”. Phoenix this is total waste! You may say that this has no bearing on C & D, but every part adds up to the whole!
    Tell you what, I own and run my own business… Even I have not yet earned 52 weeks of vacation!
    Yet the good civil servants of our state (as long as they are “executives”) have earned it. Great! Yeah, we need more money for roads and schools. Maybe the Car dealership can kick in a little there too.
    Let’s just write this off to bad GOP management of the State…
    The answer is still NO ON C & D!

  5. This whole PERA thing is scandalous! It just makes me sick.  But, I am considering spending some time looking up the political affilliations of those named in the expose.  I have a good idea of what I will find.  I am betting they are affilliated with the party that is always talking about wasteful spending!

    Absolute Power corrupts absolutely. I am sure that hypocrisy will rule the day.  It’s taxpayer money until its theirs!

  6. How about the FACT that ALMOST ALL of our so-called deficit is being spend on illegal aliens in CO? Yep, $300 million dollars. http://www.CASPAC.com is about to release a paper backing that up and it is solid. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, pro-C&D greedmeisters!

  7. Bear in mind that PERA employees are not civil servants. I’m a long-time state employee and believe me, we don’t get the perks that the PERA executives get. We are paying for those perks, though. It has been 4 years since I got a pay raise that covered my insurance premium increase; I’m sure glad that PERA is spending my pension money on car allowances and cashouts for their executives.

  8. So whenever the no on C and D crowd needs an out they are always going to be blaming illegal immigration…Wow good strategy.  Why don’t you try blaming Clinton…gays…abortion…any other hot button issues that you can use to distract from the issue at hand?

    I am sure if we stop giving tax exempt statuses to crackpot shadow campaign organizations like Independence Institute we could also balance the budget.

  9. Becky – just become an executive or director at any private-sector company of any size.  That is what the statement of “attracting good talent” means; it’s “expected” to compensate people at this level of the private sector with little goodies like this; after all, these people are entrusted with millions and billions of civil servants’ retirement investments.

    Ask yourself why CEOs and other executives of major companies all have ridiculous golden parachute clauses that make the PERA perks look pathetic in comparison.  They don’t have to do well, and even if they’re tossed out on their keister, they still get to cash out at the company’s expense.  Any wonder why the PERA contracts look as craptacular as they do, then?

  10. Any wonder why the PERA contracts look as craptacular as they do, then?

    I’ve heard, and probably made this argument before.  However, some of the executives profiled in the articles seem to have worked their way up from the bottom.  I didn’t notice any mention of these executives having been lured away from well-paying positions in the private sector, but even if there were such officers the presence of (presumably) competent in-house folks undercuts such excuses–especially now that PERA has attracted journalistic busybodies.

  11. The overwhelming point remains, the government is rife with wasteful spending.  You can debate the merits of funding illegal aliens all you want, but the bottom line is this: if you put it to a vote, the majority of Colorado voters would say “stop”.  To come and ask hardworking taxpayers for more money, when they are unabashedly spending it on items that voters don’t support, is asinine.

    I’d gladly give up my refund, if I thought for one second that the state would use it effectively.  But to ask me as a taxpayer to throw good money after bad like this just won’t fly, I’d much rather spend that money on school supplies for my kids.

    Its time the government bucks up, tightens the belt, and trims the fat.  When thats done, if we need money, ask and I’ll vote for it, but not before then.

  12. Goldwater,

    If you’re debating support or not of C&D, ask yourself how much the State has already cut out of its budget…  The government has been tightening its belt for the past 13 years, or at the very least hasn’t been fattening up in any given year.  They’ve cut – or at least not increased to keep pace with prices – higher education spending, K-12 spending, healthcare spending, and capitol spending.  And recently, because they haven’t been able to find that much more to cut, they started playing accounting tricks to find one-time offsets to the State’s budget crisis.

    Listen to Owens (and Andrews on a good day) – we’ve reached the point where we need to fix the monetary intake side of the equation.  The outflow side has already been tightened where room to tighten has been found.

  13. Kevin,

    I’m not excusing the PERA perks, just explaining them.  It’s groupthink corporate reasoning; “everyone else is doing it, we have to, too…”  I don’t support it, and I think PERA needs to clean its house of this kind of crap.

  14. Phoenix, I am constantly amused by your posts.  No matter what, you always take great pains to sound informed and reasonable.  You never fail to spout factoids parroted everywhere (including the lefty research sites you frequent).  Then you deliver what is designed to sound like a scientific conclusion but really just amounts to nothing more than your own political opinion.  Which is just like everyone else on this blog, except that the likes of Peter don’t feel compelled to be pretentious about it.  You liberal?  You like government programs?  Great, that is a position and there is nothing wrong with it.

    However, in the middle of all your rhetoric about capital spending, higher ed, K-12, and yadda yadda yadda, you yak about accounting tricks, but can you name one government entity that has been eliminated?  Can you name one that should be?  Like, an actual section on the Colorado government org chart gone?  I’m thinking you cannot find a government program that should be eliminated, because you are like most democrats and think government is good, and adding to it can only help, and reducing it is always bad.  Of course that makes sense.  My tax dollars should be spent on programs that you deem appropriate.

    So your support of C and D is kind of like a pacifist objecting to a war. 

    Admit it, you love government, you hate that some people earn a lot while others earn practically nothing, and you would love to limit the amount of income the wealthy can obtain.  And when you want to sound reasonable, you pretend that you don’t mind people who are wealthy and that you love capitalism.  But in the end, you are a socialist at heart.  You don’t want to depend on the generosity of the wealthy.  You want to force it, through government and other available means.

    If I am wrong, I look forward to seeing how.

  15. Why do people keep asking me to smack them down?

    Admit it, you love government:  I think government serves a useful purpose (as opposed to anarchy, which does not…)  I don’t like it in my life any more than my fellow American and I don’t love taxes, but I’ll pay to have certain things done for me.

    you hate that some people earn a lot while others earn practically nothing, and you would love to limit the amount of income the wealthy can obtain:  I think there is a certain health to having a base level of income (failure to maintain this base level leads to an increase in welfare programs and dependence on government); I do not believe in capping wealth gained honestly.

    And when you want to sound reasonable, you pretend that you don’t mind people who are wealthy and that you love capitalism. But in the end, you are a socialist at heart:  I think the example of the government in France is sufficient deterrent from Socialism.

    You don’t want to depend on the generosity of the wealthy. You want to force it, through government and other available means:  We have plenty of examples of the generosity of the wealthy and its effectiveness in covering the poor through history – it hasn’t worked.  We need a middle ground, and the best solution I’ve seen continues to be a progressive income tax.

  16. Hey Phoenix, give it a rest, you might catch your two pointer fingers on fire from all the frantic typing, and that little brain…well, never mind. I’d rather respond to Marshall, who thinks it’s just CRAYZEE to tell the FACTS about $300 million THIS YEAR being spent on illegals in CO. According to part of a paper leaked by http://www.CASAPAC.COM,

    “those 300,000 illegal immigrants who make their homes in Colorado pay into the government an average of $4,212 per illegal immigrant household, which comprises 2.7 persons. However, these same households extract $6,949 annually in government services. The deficit totals
    $2,736 per year, or almost exactly $1,000 per person in government services.”

    $300 million, genius, and counting. If we wern’t handing it over to non-citizens, we could do something worthwhile, like give it to the Independence Inst.

    Better yet, we could export all you tax-loving socialists to France.

    NO DEODORANT FOR YOU!

  17. Dear P.Dying,
    I still want to know why no proposals to punish the demand side of the illegal immigrant equation are proposed?  If you severely punish those who EMPLOY the illegals all the rest of the dominoes will fall! Oh…but…that would be BAD for Business.  Couldn’t have a system like that, eh?

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