I have a piece on San Diego’s pension fund discomforts and budgetary woes today in the analog edition of CB. Check it out here.
And what’s all the pension fund hoo-haw about, anyway? I thought that fiasco was over? I mean, wasn’t it only the chicken little likes of fringe thinkers at Voice of San Diego or The Reader or the whacko lefties at at CityBeat who cited—get this—official facts and figures to foolishly warn that the pension was still heading full-bore into multi-billion dollar oblivion? After all, banishing Mike “The sky is falling and bankruptcy still looms” Aguirre from public life was by itself supposed to solve any lingering pension problems. Did you hear our now erstwhile city attorney Jan “the Ferret man” Goldsmith saying anything a pension crisis during last year’s campaign—or ever since?
Back when Mad Mike was warning the pension deficit could drown the city in red ink the total magnitude of the problem as around a billion dollars. Now we awaken from slumber (or, better said, personal financial nightmares) to discover that the deficit has swollen to over two billion dollars? Where was the screaming along the way? True, it was little less than a year ago that Joe Esuchanko, a consulting actuary for the City of San Diego, dropped his little bombshell about the pension deficit exploding four times faster than local home prices were imploding. But the city council spent more time taking one last opportunity to bash Aguirre back then for running hundred thousand dollar office benefits than deal with Esuchanko’s stark numbers so how serious could the problem be?
I seem to recall reading a piece by local icon of intelligence Don Bauder last spring in which he was pointing out how bad the pension fund already was—and how much worse it was going to be—but then the fund’s actuary (I think it was) stood him up for an interview and never got back to him. Correct me on this if I’m wrong—I’ve been going through back issues of the Reader looking for the exact quote. But that was months ago. We’re only having a kinda public awareness of this now?
Meanwhile Pension Fund Hefe David Wescoe seems complacent about two billion dollar deficits. According to him, the chasm of debt due to the crash of the pension fund portfolio is simply a natural fluctuation of the market which will no doubt right itself in the long term. Of course that is what the pension fund management said back in 2002—when the pension debt was half of what it is now. Inspires confidence, doesn’t it
And the worst Jay Goldstone is worried about is laying off another 300-400 jobs because they had to kick the $30 million they had to give to the Pension kitty in any event? The city’s required pension fund contributions may routinely top a quarter billion per year over the next decade to maybe 20%-25% of their total unrestricted general fund outlays! At the rate things are going in a few years, the city may only be able to employ 300-400 people, total.