The List – Fullerton’s $100,000 Pension Club

Fullerton taxpayers are looking down the barrel of a major increase in pension payments next year. The CalPERS agency has lost as much as 37% of its assets in the stock market crash and taxpayers are contractually obligated to make up the difference.

Our Friends at the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility just released a report called the CalPERS $100,000 Pension Club. In their handy database, we located the annual pensions of 26 City of Fullerton employees who are bringing home over $100,000 a year post-retirement at our expense. We believe in an open government where the residents of Fullerton know what they are paying for — so here is the list:

Name Annual Pension Position
JAMES “JIM” REED $163,512.96 Fire
MICHAEL MAYNARD $137,565.84 Police
DANIEL CHIDESTER $136,680.84 Fire
FRANK PAUL DUDLEY $131,197.20 Development Services Director
ALLEN BURKS $131,152.92 Police
ANTONIO HERNANDEZ $124,902.12 Police
H HUNT $124,157.88
RONNY ROWELL $122,712.12 Police
STEVEN MATSON $121,586.16 Police
GEORGE NEWMAN $120,332.76
MARK FLANNERY $118,563.48 Director of Personnel
DAVID STANKO $117,924.00 Police
ROBERT HODSON $117,606.60 Director of Engineering
DANIEL BECERRA $114,625.56 Police
PHILIP GOEHRING $112,821.12 Police
BRAD HOCKERSMITH $111,957.96 Fire
JEFFREY ROOP $111,382.32 Police
NEAL BALDWIN $110,694.12 Police
ROBERT “BOB” RICHARDSON $107,643.48 Police
DONALD “DON” PEARCE $105,858.00 Police
CAROLYN JOHNSON $105,078.48 Library Director
PAUL TURNEY $103,674.36
RONALD “RON” GILLETT $103,431.72 Police
ARTHUR WIECHMANN $102,113.88 Police
JONATHON “JON” MCAULAY $100,036.32 Fire

Though we did our best to identify the contributions these individuals made to our city, some of the names do not ring a bell. Perhaps our loyal audience can fill in the blanks for us.

Say Fran... we really stuck it to those taxpayers, huh?
Say Fran... we really stuck it to those dumb taxpayers.

We are not against paying market rate for talented and motivated professionals to run our dear city — our disdain lies with the cloud of financial uncertainty that pension plans represent to our taxpayers. Historically, pensions are gleefully spiked in rosy times, with little thought given to potential long-term risks.

Out in the real world, we often use a calculation called “Total Compensation” — the sum of all salary, health benefits, taxes and retirement contributions for a given employee. This number allows both the employee and the employer to calculate the exact compensation of the employee and to ensure that it is comparable to that of similar jobs at other businesses. Businesses can see exactly what they are paying for an employee and thus how that will affect their budget for years to come.

With pensions, no such calculation is possible because an employer is making a future commitment based on unlikely investment forecasts stretching 50 years into the future. As we are about to painfully learn, those forcasts can be incredibly wrong. If we don’t change the way we compensate city employees now, we will continue to foot the bill for a very long time.

43 Replies to “The List – Fullerton’s $100,000 Pension Club”

  1. Wasn’t that Dudley bozo responsible for giving away the public sidewalk to the Florentine Family a few years ago? What a fiasco!

    I guess this is how government punishes incomptetence.

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. Joe. Yes Dudley was the guy who stood up (with tears of indigntion welling) and said he did it, he did nothing wrong, and would do it again.

    I can’t remember if he ever did anything right in his 20+ years as planning director.

  3. And let’s not forget unlucky (for us) 13 on the list Bob Hodson whose passing familiarity with the truth was fleeting, at best. He was the one who mismananged the basque Yard project, terminated the contractor, lost the ensuing lawsuit and made the project take twice as long as planned.

    Sheer genius!

  4. This is such a touchy subject because those lined up for them will say, “Fine, find someone else to fight your fires, etc.” There’s no doubt that what they do is of vital importance to the city. But, I think in order to maintain a system of balance, it’s fair to ask questions.

    Why do we pay such high pensions to some (not all) who accrue large sums of overtime, and are already making over 100k a year, plus benefits?

    In business, the owner has to put aside for his or her own retirement out of what they take in each month. Many business owners have put NOTHING aside because they’re paying operating expenses, payroll, taxes –and if they’re diligent, health care insurance. And then there are many who can’t even pay for the latter.

    So I think we really have to look at the big picture. If someone is working loads of overtime, should they get the big pension as well?

  5. That’s right, Miss K. There are plenty of other ways to properly compensate our municipal professionals without the ever-increasing systemic risk of pension plans.

  6. But, Travis, what is “Market rate”? These people set their own standards and then use political leverage to keep ratcheting up the whole scale. If this were a market driven system then all those people standing in line to be firemen would lower the wage scale, right?

    Then you throw in remuneration for bogus MPA degrees and other evidence of “education” and the thing gets whacked from that side, too.

    Plus nobody gets fired, layed off, or even reprimanded for incompetence or misfeasance. Those Redevelopment screw-ups we’ve been posting about all had authors. And some of those authors’ names are on your list.

    All the benefits of high-level managers in the private sector and none of the responsibility. Sweet!

  7. Basque Yard Boy, thanks for reminding me about that one! That lawsuit cost the City something like 2 million bucks. I remember Flory trying to pass it off as chump change to defend her boys.

    That story calls for a special post.

  8. I’m not saying taking away the pensions. After all, I do understand that in many professions their bodies quite simply begin to give out at an earlier state than someone who just has a desk job. Smoke Inhalation, continual physical demands, mental stress including PTSD (if ever you think being in the line of duty isn’t stressful, think again), are valid reasons for having a pension plan that includes long term health benefits for these folks.

    But I do think it’s fair to ask questions, to assess –say, the validity of a teacher getting a Master’s degree from a freeway university vs. one done in the traditional way, or the MBA obtained in the same way (with very little oversight and a minimal thesis without a panel review). And I’ve never supported anyone getting a fly-by-night master’s degree only for a salary increase. I think it has many residual effects, namely completely making less valued a BA or BS, which might have been obtained more rigorously from a real institution.

    I think it’s also fair ask how much to put in if someone has a record of years of overtime pay that has boosted their annual salary into the higher ranges. I mean, certainly they were able to save some of that overtime that they made?

  9. The real scam is “MPA” – Master of Public Administration. They are churned out by diploma mills in the CSU sytem. Hardly any requirements to get in, everybody passes, etc. Look at our esteemed mayor. Bankhead got an MPA degree from CSUF and he can’t even write his own letter to the Observer. But I’ll bet he got a raise as soon as the ink dried on that sheepskin.

    The only reason Bankhead isn’t on the list is because he retired too soon – 1988.

  10. This is criminal – I am so outraged. Last year I heard that these people were trying to raise their pensions again. ANyone know what happened?

  11. what is a csuf cio and a development director? the pensions listed are extreme examples of government abuse. I wonder how many employees of fullerton with minimal education and skills are pulling down comfy salaries. If FFFF made this public then public outrage may force fullerton’s civic leaders to stop this abuse or be voted out of office.

  12. Harpoon and Miss K, it would be interesting to see how many of these people boosted their pension with a fresh masters degree in their final years of employment. It’s time to do some more digging.

  13. How about looking into Dudleys spike just before he punched out as the Redevelopment & Development Services Director right after the Florentine sidewalk fiasco?

  14. How does someone warrant 105k pension for a library that doesn’t have a full collection of John Steinbeck –California’s most famous author?
    Oh, but wait… they do have a lot of that other California novelist –Jackie Collins

  15. snarksnark, when this library switched over to electronic card catalogue, the librarians sloppily input info and most of the time the library patrons would just wander up and down the aisles searching for a desired book. the monument to fullerton library’s inaneness is the golf club sculpture that was pawned off on the dopey librarians as an abstraction of a book

  16. And everyone is wondering why our economy is suffering a hemorrhage?
    Our entire economy and all of the retirement pensions, union and non-union are in the largest Ponzi scheme, this includes Social Security. Madoff was convicted for his largest Ponzi scheme but what about the “legalized Ponzi” schemes?
    We are deluding ourselves that everything will be “allright”, that we will have the young ones ( the backs of our children and grandchildren) coming in to support and contribute to the system with no guarantee they will be able to enjoy any retirement in the future.
    This is why I feel that California needs to go bankrupt, to start on a new slate because the budget and pensioners who abuse the system and abuse our children’s future have no conscience or ethical standards, they feel it is owed to them.
    I understand there are a multitude of reasons on our States lack of budget but by not recognizing that these pensioners are one of the problems and go back to business as usual is a lack of fiduciary responsibility, something needs to be done!

  17. Wow, made the list, I’m so impressed. I worked the streets of Fullerton for 29 years, injuried at least that many times…but made it out alive. I didn’t ask for these benefits, didn’t strike for them, no work slow-downs. Just stood the line for my entire adult life, and now my name has made it to this Hall of Shame….yeah, shame on me for doing the job the rest of you would not or could not do. Excuse the hell out of me.

  18. Amen Sarge… How dare we are given above average retirement??? Answering the call when people are in their most desperate time, wrestling knives away from people attempting suicide, getting in fist fights with parolees at large… God damn us “Blue devils.” We should burn in hell with the rest of the thieves.

  19. Blue devil, you are my new best friend, thanks. By the Way, I am now a charter boat captain and owner of a 40′ sailboat (only way I would ever make captain at FPD). Anyway, hit me up to go sailing and we can talk shit about those who did not chose their careers wisely. (I may have to get another tattoo with your name on it…very cool. Captain Art, of the sailing vessel PIRATE.

  20. Sgt. Wiechmann, this article isn’t about the amount of your compensation or how you earned it. The issue here is pensions themselves as a method of compensating city employees – they have proven to be risky, unpredictable and unsustainable. Pensions pay for services rendered in the past by pushing the costs along to future generations – costs that cannot be measured or contained. As it stands, Fullerton taxpayers will soon be paying out additional tax dollars in the middle of a recession to support your pension that you finished earning over 5 years ago.

  21. Travis, riddle me this, if this article isn’t about the amount of compensation or how it was earned, then why is the amount of compensation and the position held to earn it posted??

  22. Because, blue devil, those dollar figures represent future liabilities for work rendered in the past. Notice how your salary isn’t printed as part of this article?

  23. I think its funny how our financial problems of the state are blamed on goverment workers. Not the legislators who vote to spend money on unnecessary crap year after year, or the federal government (that has been run by both parties) that have let 20 million people drain the resources of our state and nation, or the voters who keep passing every wacky bond initiative on the ballot that our grandkids will have to pay for (talk about future liabilities). No let’s close the parks, the DMV, let the criminals out of jail early, don’t stop the fraud, keep those entitlements coming, raise our taxes and lets screw the people that work for a living.

  24. #36, you raise an excellent point. The blame should be shared by the Legislature; and by all the city councils competing with each other lavishing benefits on employees, particularly the “public safety” kind.

    Let’s examine Garden Grove as a particulary perverse example: that council actually negotiated a deal with the cop union that their police would always be a certain county-wide rank as far as pay and benefits are concerned. Which meant that their pay would be automatically ramped up when any other city below them decided to get too generous. It’s that kind of thinking that got us into the mess we’re in today.

  25. I also agree that the blame lies not with the individual employees, but with the elected officials who pander to the employee unions.

    If our state returned to 2004 spending levels, California would have a budget surplus right now. $26 billion dollars has been added to the budget since then, and $6.3 billion of that came directly from state retirement system pension spending. Much of the rest of it came from other HR-related expenses (education, etc). There are simply too many people being paid too much money in the state of California.

  26. Hi all! I am relatively fresh to this forum. I have already been lurking about around a couple of months and thought i would try and interact a little bit. So once again, hey all everyone.

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