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Jon Fleischman

Skelton Omits From Column That GOP Tried, Without Success, To End Public Pensions For Felons

This morning veteran political columnist George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times has a column, Commit A Crime, Collect a Pension, in which he spotlights the fact that current law in California allows people convicted of felonies with a nexus to their government jobs to continue to collect their pensions.  He cites the accused teachers in the sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School in the Los Angeles Unified School District as just one example.

In the piece, Skelton refers to the fact that one of Jerry Brown’s pension reform proposals would end this unfortunate status quo.  Also in the column, Skelton quotes Senate President Darrell Steinberg as saying he does not a problem with Brown’s proposal in this regard.

Nowhere in Skelton’s piece, however, does it mention that last year Republican Tony Strickland actually authored legislation, Senate Bill 115, that was a modest proposal that said that a public employee convicted of any of the following felonies would lose their pension, similar to an elected official:  accepting, giving, or offering to give a bribe, embezzlement of public money, extortion or theft of public money, tampering with a witness, money laundering, preparation of false documents, or conspiracy to commit any of these crimes.

Nowhere in Skelton’s piece does it mention that SB 115 never made it out of its first policy committee in the Senate because while two Republican Senators, Walters and Gaines, voted for the bill — all three Democrats on the committee, Negrete-McLeod, Padilla and Vargas, all conveniently chose not to vote at all, dooming the bill to die in committee.

Now it is entirely possible that some version of “commit a felony, forfeit your pension” might pass this year.  But it will only happen because the public employee union bosses that control the Democrats in the legislature decide that a minor concession here might be a better strategy for them than defending the indefensible.

That having been said, I think it is fair to negatively critique Skelton for taking the time to write this entire column but yet omitting the fact that Republicans have been trying to solve the very problem he identifies in his column long before Governor Brown decided to pursue it.

4 Responses to “Skelton Omits From Column That GOP Tried, Without Success, To End Public Pensions For Felons”

  1. Robert Bosich Says:

    Do felons lose their social security?

    Do corporate bad guys lose their vested pensions?

  2. Jeff Greene Says:

    Assemblyman Jeffries introduced a bill to do that in 2008!

    Unions And Democrats Protect Pensions Of Felons And Defeat AB 1858
    For Immediate Release

    Today Democrats in the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security (PERS) Committee voted against legislation that would have stripped the publicly funded pensions of public employees convicted of serious felonies. AB 1858 would have revoked the publicly funded pensions of a public employee convicted of any felony involving accepting or giving, or offering to give, any bribe, the embezzlement of public money, extortion or theft of public money, perjury, or conspiracy to commit any of those crimes arising directly out of his or her official duties as a public employee.

    “I shake my head in disappointment at the fact that some legislators and union representatives feel that we should be protecting convicted felons at the expense of taxpayers,” Mr. Jeffries said. “This bill is good policy that the general public strongly supports. It’s too bad that union politics got in the way of good policy.”

    This bill was prompted by a series of incidents in which public employees stole and embezzled from the taxpayers and violated the public trust. Speakers from a variety of unions spoke against the bill arguing that felonious public employees should not be further punished for a “mistake”.

    “In my own district we recently had a school employee accused of stealing as much as $300,000 from the school lunch money funds, but under the current system, this person could still be eligible for taxpayer-funded retirement benefits for her service while she was ripping off taxpayers and children,” Assemblyman Jeffries said. “That’s the real mistake.”

    “Unfortunately, the political leadership of the unions has once again proven that they care more about coddling the criminals in their membership than they do about promoting the rights and protecting the reputations of the overwhelming majority of their membership that would never dream of stealing from the communities they serve,” Assemblyman Jeffries remarked.

    Since AB 1858 was killed on a 2-5 party line vote (with Republicans voting ‘Yes’) the bill can not advance further. Mr. Jeffries plans to address the issue again next session.

  3. Dave Mulligan Says:

    Our liberal union apologist friends should learn the difference between the public and private sectors and should stop trying to defend the indefensible by changing the subject.

    If you do not like the way private sector companies or “Corporate bad guys” behave you are free to sell your shares in the company and take your business elsewhere, and urge your friends to join you. If you are aware of any illegal activity you should contact the authorities.

    Public employees are paid with the peoples’ property that has been confiscated by the state under threat of force. This creates a higher standard of responsibility to protect the public interest and maintain the public trust.

    These concepts of acting in the public interest to maintain the public trust are foreign to the governance of California.

  4. Robert Bosich Says:

    Couple of irritating thing about Republicans….they love to join hopeless dead end do gooder groups and waste their gold; make as many laws, rules, impediments as libs for the sake of bedroom morality and public trust; listen/see talk shows until their ears bleed!