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Commentary: Sac County Pensions Should Be Disclosed

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, April 16, 2010

The newly retired Chief of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire district, Don Mette, collects $20,083 a month in pension - that's a staggering $240,999 a year. Mette's pension is so rich, he's made it to the infamous top ten list of the most highly paid public employee pensioners in California. He's at number 8.
The public knows the size of Mette's pension because Sac Metro Fire contracts with the California Public Employee's Retirement System. To its credit, CalPERS voluntarily discloses such information.
The Sacramento County Employees Retirement System refuses. Unlike CalPERS, Sac County is governed by the 1937 Retirement Act. Officials here claim state law bars them from disclosing pensioners names and retirement payouts. But other counties subject to the 1937 Act -- including Fresno, Contra Costa and Stanislaus -- have released the information. Sacramento should too.
Local governments are drowning in pension debt. Soaring retirement costs are forcing Sac County to close mental health clinics and lay off sheriff deputies and social workers. Reform is needed and will come only when county retiree names start showing up on that top ten list.

Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.
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