Pension Crisis

Stockton Police Chief's $204,000 Pension Contributes to Bankrupt City's Woes

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Just don't point fingers

Here is a depressingly familiar story about public sector pensions, with perhaps the added attention-grabber of honest-to-God bankruptcy thrown in. From Bloomberg:

Stockton, California, Police Chief Tom Morris was supposed to bring stability to law enforcement when he was appointed to the job four years ago.

He lasted eight months and left the now-bankrupt city at age 52 with an annual pension that pays more than $204,000—the third of four chiefs who stayed in the position for less than three years and retired with an average of 92 percent of their final salaries.

Stockton, which filed for bankruptcy protection on June 28, is among California cities from the Mexican border to the San Francisco Bay confronting rising pension costs as they contend with growing unemployment and declining property- and sales-tax revenue. The pensions are the consequence of decisions made when stock markets were soaring, technology money flooded the state, and retirement funds were running surpluses.

All of which calls to mind one of my favorite bad editorials in the Los Angeles Times: "Stockton bankruptcy: No need for finger-pointing."