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Supervisor Campains Should Focus on Solving Unfunded County Debt

Original post made by Concerned Debt, Danville, on Mar 4, 2012

The amount of debt this county owes to its employees should be the main subject of campaigns for Supervisors. The potentially new Supervisors of all open seats should address the public on how they plan to reduce the two billion dollar debt without creative financing or tricks. Every man woman and child in the county owes over two thousand to the county for its overspending to employees.
At this rate services will further deteriorate to dangerous levels without immediate reform. Today all we get from government is new tax proposals. We need tax and debt reform.
If you read this study that was done several years ago tells us that the Supervisors know the problem exists but are failing to correct it before it over runs us. Thanks to reports from Dan Borenstein of the Times News, the public has been slowly provided information to show the depth and magnitude of this problem.
Web Link
New potential Supervisorial Candidates need to explain how they plan to take control of this run away debt before our county becomes the first to file bankruptcy.

Comments (42)

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Dear Readers and Editor,

A significant reality is available in county department budgets that illustrates that the only cash money that exists is in current tax income. The remaider of various tax funds in county budgets are line-items only and do not exist as cash in any account. Such monies have been consumed by county departmental budgets and are only accounting line items.

All sources of monies comes from current income and is many times less than the monies to be available to appropriate to local parcel tax obligations.

There is no "There There!"

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Dear "Concerned",

While I certainly don’t discount the fact that this is one of the most important issues that has faced our County, I do think the way this comment is framed it is questionable and a bit of a set up. In short you wrote, “If you read this study that was done several years ago tells us that the Supervisors know the problem exists but are failing to correct it before it over runs us.”

That statement is completely false.

This WAS a fantastic report that you linked, however it is now outdated (5 years old) and much has changed. The County no longer has $2.3 billion dollar debt and, as the report suggests, much has and did change. Many of the suggestions were adopted, new policies were created, new county CAO's were hired, labor contracts have been renegotiated and the county reduced its debt by nearly $2 Billion dollars since the report was originated.

However, if you choose to believe the theatrics that Mr. Borenstein employs to rile up readership, and not do further research, then I guess it worked on you. There is even a Facebook page dedicated to boycotting the Times due mainly to many of his ramblings and political gamesmanship. His biased whining appears to have cost the CC Times a great deal in lost readership and the paper does not exactly appear to be flourishing. But back to the point...

While it has taken the county several decades to get into this mess, it has only taken 5 years to reverse the trend, cut the debt by over half, build reserves and get on a solid road to recovery. Can more be done? You bet. And the Board of Supervisors and staff are working on it each and every day. The “Tax and debt reform” you are suggesting has already occurred and continues on a positive path. Let’s not also forget all of this is taking place during an unprecedented upside-down economy and reduced county revenues.

Perhaps you should read a County or City meeting agenda or consider attending a meeting. Better yet, you may want to stop getting all of your information from a single reporter who appears to have a large chip on his shoulder toward many hard working public employees. In case you forgot, county employees are also taxpayers and fellow citizens. If you are concerned, which you should be, I suggest you directly follow such matters and learn for yourself instead of taking my word or that of Mr. Borenstein’s.

In the meantime you might find these links and current statements to be counter to what you have insinuated. (I even threw in a few from Borenstein just for you.) I found them by simply doing a Google search under; “Contra Costa Reduction in OPEB liability” (interestingly enough the 5 year old report you posted also showed up).

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

“Contra Costa leaders deserve credit for starting to adjust their spending about five years ago, earlier than many other public agencies.”

“They began trimming employee salaries, reducing benefits and significantly cutting the size of the workforce. These were painful, but essential, cuts critical to bringing annual expenses in line with income. For next fiscal year, county officials feel confident they have a balanced budget that doesn't pull from reserves.” - Daniel Borenstein, Feb. 5th 2012

“Contra Costa County's pension investments fared better than nearly every other California public retirement system portfolio last year, but the return rate still fell far below what is needed to pay the bills.” “The Contra Costa Retirement Association's annual earnings plummeted 26.5 percent into the red in 2008. They rebounded 22 percent and 14 percent in 2009 and 2010, respectively, only to slow to 2.7 percent in 2011.”

“The association's unfunded liability was $1.3 billion as of Dec. 31, 2010.” -Lisa Vorderbrueggen,Feb, 22, 2012

Posted by member
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm

@Informed, You sound like a current politician in Contra Costa.Are you? Are you calling Dan Borenstein a liar? I simply typed "current unfunded liability" in Google and find 2.4 Billion in debt(2/4/12)rather than your quote of 1.2 Billion in debt. Example below;

Moreover, while the budget will be balanced, it includes only minimal payments on the credit card debt. The liability, for employee pension and retiree health care benefits, totals a staggering $2.4 billion. That's roughly equal to five years of base salary for county workers. It works out to about $2,300 for each county resident.

This is shocking information that you have claimed as " theatrics that Mr. Borenstein employs", Please provide factual verification and rebuttal or you should apologize. There is only one real answer to the debt of pension dollars owed. It must be documented somewhere.
Someone is not being truthful. It's either you Informed or it's Dan. What is the truth? Besides 1.2 billion or 2.4 billion, both are unacceptable.

I would like to know which candidates will bring this massive amount of debt owed to zero along with how this will be done logically.

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 7:13 am

Dear Editor,

Excellent consideration in this exchange!

Certainly pensions and benefits are major obligations of county income, but a more local reality for voters' consideration is the availability of parcel taxes for appropriation and how they are consumed in offset of county department budgets. A second consideration for local voters is how budget shifts are impacting public safety including sheriff, certain fire services and district attorney prosecutions.

It would be very interesting to have an accounting of what monies actually exist and are available in comparison to the amount of parcel taxes collected and further consumed in county department operations beyond the intent of such parcel taxes.

Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Mar 5, 2012 at 7:59 am

I was at a meeting last year where County Administrator David Twa categorically stated that the County would * never * opt for bankruptcy - They would just fire 2000 people first.

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:29 am

@ member,

Interesting that you choose to place so much concern about “who I am” rather than the facts that I post. If you are truly seeking the truth, then the former shouldn’t matter as the facts speak for themselves. Additionally, if it helps you with your issue, the answer is no, I am not a current politician in Contra Costa. I also don’t need to call Borenstein a liar, he does a pretty good job all on his own. I, and apparently a lot of other Contra Costa citizens, do however question his ability to report on issues that are way beyond his comprehension and job skills. Web Link

Your reply confirms that you have stumbled onto even more poor information presented as news, rather than the official reports and reliable documentation from the agencies themselves. It is all there for you to peruse. The reports of 2.4 versus 1.2 Billion were from the same newspaper, just different reporters, which I listed. Thanks for demonstrating my point, I do appreciate it. It appears my examples including the “low hanging fruit” of selective reporting caught your attention as they were meant to. The reality remains that the debt figure varies greatly, depending on which reporter you are currently listening too. I thought that example was pretty clear, but apparently you missed it. You see, Borenstein reported it at almost double of what it actually is (possibly referring to all debts within and outside the county’s jurisdiction? Including debts that the County BoS are not responsible for? Frankly, I can’t imagine how he inflated it to that point) and yet Vordebruggen, a reporter for the very same newspaper reported that it was down to 1.3 billion. The reporters for the same paper can’t even agree. Hmmmm, it does make you wonder who is being truthful.

You are almost correct; there “should” be only one real answer to the debt of pension dollars owed. But that answer changes depending on who, and how you “frame” the question. It is a very subjective when coming from editorials, and certain reporters. I think I would rather trust the official reports and documentations which are available from the county as public record. I went ahead and found it for you; or it can be found by going directly to and clicking on “AGENDAS” from April 2010-June 2010. So there you have it in Black and White, a simple document that appears to have eluded Mr. Borenstein and proves him to be wrong. He owes us all an apology, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

In short, “The County’s Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) has declined by 60.3% (from $2.57 billion to $1.02 billion”. So maybe now you know who is being “untruthful”.

The official public record reflects that from 2006 to 2010 the total unfunded liability has DECREASED from 2.6 Billion down to 1 Billion. This is information from 2010 and sources at the County tell me it is currently under a billion, (actually now down into the millions this point). A new and updated report is due out. If you don’t trust me, why don’t you pick up your phone and call the county? Better yet contact your Supervisor or read the agendas. Web Link

(If you are going to ask potential candidates how they are going to solve the debt issue, shouldn’t you know what that debt is?)

More relevant, is the concept that you think any single candidate or candidates can bring the County’s OPEB liability down to zero. It will take a candidate or candidates that are capable to work with the existing board to continue what has already been put in place. Furthermore, it is not the board members themselves that create a plan (or control the economy). The plans are compiled, brought forth by staff and and presented through the CAO’s office for deliberation and vote by the entire Board of Supervisors.

This issue is much more complex than you might wish to believe. Have you been to a City council or County meeting, budget hearing, or public hearing? Perhaps you should start there….or you could just choose to believe everything you read. The choice remains yours.
I have experienced more than you might ever imagine, and am confident that the last person that should be apologized to is Mr.Borenstein. He is no friend of Contra Costa County. So if you haven’t figured that out by now, I really can’t help you much further.

We all want the debt to be zero, but remember most of all; I am not trying to sell you a newspaper.

Posted by East County Watch
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 11:35 am

Dear Author and Editor,

Misinformed is try to sell us that everything is OK. It's not people. If everything was OK informed would not have to write a book attempting to deflect from the poor management of our tax dollars by the BOS. Another commentator stated (and I agree) 1.2 Billion or 2.4 Billion dollars in debt just for pensions is out of control. Informed, your numbers sound like what the state did with its accounting practices. Voodoo accounting just passes the debt to our children and grandchildren. I do not think Mr. Borenstein would blatantly print a lie as you infer. If he did he would have corrected it or you would have cried to the newspaper to change it. I would love to hear from all candidates how they plan to get our debt down to at least less than a couple million in the next few years.

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm

@ East County Watch,

Your statements are qualified by what exactly? More innuendo? Really?
And now you are calling me names, just a few days after accusing me of being "childish"? That is a whole new level of hypocrisy for you.

Once again you do a grandiose job of making yourself look foolish and your hollow accusations even more transparent. I have nothing to sell, however you on the other hand appear to have some sort of agenda, vendetta wrapped up in your infatuation in peddling of bad information. It gets clearer with every post. Mr. Borenstein excuses may just be that he really doesn’t understand the complexities of the issue, his laziness or even his track record of attacking public employees in his quest.
All of that aside what is it about this document below that you don’t quite comprehend? It is simple really-even you should be able to follow the time line and see that from the original report dated July of 2007, that “Concerned debt“ originally posted Web Link to the report (public record), that is currently available @ (then click “AGENDAS” from April 2010-June 2010) that the debt has been slashed.

The document is very simple to read. If you can’t follow it or the link, I will post it below. It has all the answers to your questions. Perhaps this will aid you with your personal misunderstandings of what is fiction and what is fact. More importantly it will supply other readers with pertanent information so that they can judge for themselves.

One last important point…This latest report is now over a year old. The County (Bos) made further significant contract changes last year (2011) so if the report lists an OPEB liability of $1.02 billion in early 2010 under "Present Day" below you can imagine the next report will show even further reduction based on contracts negotiated in 2011. As I previously stated all accounts show it is greatly reduced to a very manageable amount and now is out of the “Billions”...

East Co Watch, you cannot ignore, deny or even begin to diminish the power of the progress that has been made in a few short years without looking foolish.
Perhaps you need to keep Mr. Borenstein more accountable by not subscribing, as so many other County residents have done. Web Link Too bad your Ace Reporter couldn't find and report on this. It did not take me long to find it.

Don’t take my word for it, Here is the report-right from the people that know it inside and out. Enjoy!

Lisa Driscoll


Other Post Employment Benefit Funding Update

County Administrator

David Twa, County Administrator

On April 13, 2010 the Board of Supervisors was presented with the County’s ‘2010 Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) Valuation Report as of January 1, 2010 and Annual Required Contributions for the Fiscal Year Ending June, 30, 2010’. The report describes the County’s opeb liability per Government Accounting Standards Board Statement 45 and projects the County’s liability based upon those specific accounting rules.

The purpose of this report is to describe and document the County’s progress to date in meeting Board established funding goals.


On May 16, 2006, the Board of Supervisors accepted a report from Buck Consultants concerning a preliminary actuarial analysis of the County’s liability for retiree healthcare and other post-employment benefits. This report estimated the County’s then current opeb liability at $2.6 billion. The report concluded by recommending that staff:Prepare an analysis of opeb liability reductions that could be produced through changes to healthcare benefits
Prepare an analysis of the cost associated with funding varying levels of the liability and make recommendations concerning the portion of the liability that should be pre-funded
Investigate unresolved questions concerning State and Federal reimbursement for pre-funding OPEB costs, establishment of an irrevocable trust for the accumulation of pre-funding assets, and options for investment of such assets
Work with California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and other public sector partners to gather data and develop statewide strategies for managing this issue

In the fall of 2006, the County Administrator established an OPEB Task Force to bring together the breadth of expertise available within the County and through professional contracts in each of the following areas: financial, audit, budgetary, personnel, labor relations, benefits, and legal. The importance of incorporating into the ongoing process the perspective of all stakeholders was also emphasized. The first direction to the Task Force was the development of a strategic plan to address the County’s opeb liability.

In March 2007, the Task Force presented a report to the Board that detailed the OPEB challenge, the consequences of inaction, strategies to deal with the issue, and described where the County was in relation to other governmental entities. The report quoted Ken Kurtz of Moody’s Investor Services who said "If you decide you want to continue Retiree Health Benefits as a priority then make a plan and fund it. If you decide that Retiree Health Benefits are not a priority, then don't make a plan, and you don't have to fund it. But don't maintain Retiree Health Benefits with no plan and no funding."

In June 2007, the OPEB Task Force presented an OPEB Update Report to the Board of Supervisors. The result of the Task Force report was that the Board of Supervisors:
established goals to guide the Task Force’s work: 1) Fully comply with Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement 45; and 2) Adopt an OPEB financing plan, which balances our requirement to provide public services with competitive health care benefits for our employees (now and when they retire);
adopted an OPEB funding target of 100% of the potential liability for the retiree population (at that point approximately 40% of the total liability);
adopted a specific allocation of resources to be directed towards the opeb liability; and
directed the County Administrator to begin pre-negotiation meetings with County labor representatives regarding the development of possible plans and models for benefit reform.

The Update Report declared that “the scope of the issue is—as has been noted many times by many individuals—huge, not only for Contra Costa County, but for the nation; however, it is not insurmountable. Contra Costa will address this issue successfully as it does with every challenge. A sound long-term strategy is of uppermost importance. The primary issue is that Contra Costa County has a very large potential opeb liability that is the result of 46 years of retiree health benefit accumulation, combined with the positive demographic of longer life expectancy, and the less positive reality of rapidly increasing health care costs. Preparing to pre-fund this liability will take a multi-decade effort, but can and will be achieved through a combination of revenue redirection, benefit plan changes, and as a last resort, service delivery reductions”. The Board of Supervisors accepted this report and directed the County Administration and staff to begin implementation of its recommendations.

Present Day

Four years after the initial report regarding the County’s opeb liability, the Board of Supervisors has achieved unprecedented results. Continual implementation of the strategic recommendations has allowed the Board of Supervisors to meet or exceed all of their goals.

The County’s Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) has declined by 60.3% (from $2.57 billion to $1.02 billion); the normal cost has declined 78% (from $130.6 million to $29.2 million); the Annually Required Contribution (ARC) has declined by 70.7% (from $216.3 million to $63.3 million); the results reflect negotiated changes to the health care plans, caps on the County’s contributions and the cooperation of the County’s bargaining units; and the County has also pre-funded 2% of its OPEB obligation by depositing funds in an irrevocable trust fund.

Posted by It's not all OK !
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm

We are all being hit with threats of new fees and taxes ! Cleanwater taxes to fund some ill-defined trash reduction goals; fire district taxes to fund current services as well as past and future debt; Governor Brown’s tax proposals to fund services, past and future debt….

Don’t they all amount to an attempt to get more of our money so that our employees (public employee unions, police, fire, teachers, etc…) are able to continue to enjoy greater benefits (salary, retirement, medical) than store clerks, warehouse workers, farmers, secretaries and just about everyone else who doesn’t suckle on the public teat ?

The rest of us have seen our medical insurance, gas price, food prices and tuition go up while our wages have (at best) stayed constant. We can not afford any more tax increases, especially those designed to give our employees (public employee unions, police, fire, teachers, etc…) more of what we don’t have !

There is a new normal that we have had to learn. We get a little less and it costs us a little more. It's time for the government to learn it now !

Posted by East County Watch
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Misinformed now wants to give us a history lesson of excuses why the BOS gave away the bank account and maxed out the credit cards for special interest public employee unions. I read the first couple of sentences of excuses from the theatrical Misinformed miniseries and stopped because the history propaganda Misinformed is selling is all a smoke screen. It is obvious Misinformed that you have or have been instructed an agenda from your self-serving political instructor. I could care less about your laundry list of excuses. You can't brag about being a billion dollars in the hole. One billion dollars or two billion dollars that has been given away to public employees on credit is unacceptable. It is time to cut off the credit card use and get some responsible leaders at the county level. I would like to hear from candidates how they plan to pay off the credit card 2.4 or 2.6 or 1.3 Billion dollar debt that the BOS has created. It is time to throw the bums out as they say. The current board is ineffective against the special interest power. Twa may have to eat his words and lay off 2,000 public employees or file bankruptcy unless we get need leaders at the BOS level. With all the extra money brought in over this last several years of booming tax revenue there is no way we should owe a billion dollars! Poor management and leadership is the only answer.

Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

You just compared store clerks, warehouse and secretaries to public safety professionals? In your mind the compensation should be exactly the same?

This is why the public discussion on these issues is out to lunch. No perspective or proper frame of reference. People think everybody should make the same, especially if they are one of those "lowly" public employees.

About the only thing you had on point in that post is the medical insurance problem. That single issue is consuming all levels of society and particularly government. When the USA pays twice the rate for medical care of any other major developed country for a system that is no better, something is clearly wrong with that picture.

Yours was a nice example of race to the bottom type thinking. You can sugar coat with that "new normal" cop out, but it is what it is.

Posted by It really isn't ok !
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Classic response. I saw nothing about LOWLY public employees, just a sense that they aren't special. Do you disagree?

Why should public sector office staff receive more medical, pension and wage benefits than private sector office staff workers? Is the job more essential? Dangerous?

Why should police receive more medical, pension and wage benefits than farmers? Is the job more essential? More dangerous?

We are all in this together. No one is drafted into "public service". When they overstate their retirement fund returns they send us the bill. What do we do when our returns suffer? Where do we send our bill?

Btw, medical premiums have gone up faster since Obamacare and the early implementation of socialized medicine. Who do you suggest pay my premium increases? The taxpayer?

Is that the new normal?

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm

@ “It’s not all o.k”, aka; East Co. Watch, aka Voter (1-1,000), Smell,

You really exposed yourself this time. I have a few points to make with you, so please try to keep up-I know you are a busy blogger.
The first being; do you think anyone reading your rhetoric doesn’t realize that you are posting garbage under multiple names all over the internet. Here are just a few examples I collected in the last hour. While I could care less “who you are”, I do care that you are trying to play games by using several names. You are not fooling anyone but yourself. You really need to figure out that you don’t need to insert a “space” before your final punctuation (including periods, exclamation and question marks) in each post-Now we can all see a few of your various names. Don’t even need an IP for these…

Posted by It's not all OK !, a resident of another community, 5 hours ago-
“…just about everyone else who doesn’t suckle on the public teat ?”
“…more of what we don’t have !”
“…It's time for the government to learn it now !”
Voter says;
December 26th, 2011 at 9:18 pm
Joel has experience,contacts,honesty, and integrity
Posted by east county watch, a resident of another community, on Feb 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm
Thanks for entering the race. No Van De Brooke, No Piepho !!
Posted by I smell Mary again, a resident of another community, on Mar 1, 2012 at 9:11 pm
I'm not urging anyone to use real names, just pointing out that Piephos poster, while using many names, never uses his real name . Those who oppose her sometimes do .
The real issue is whether the county can afford anther term of Piepho re-writing the ethics rules to suit her personal agenda !

…Maybe if you calm down a bit, you can eliminate such obvious and glaring errors!

Next, many public employees that you refer to as “enjoying” greater benefits than just about everyone else, do so because they contribute MORE to their retirements, and are often exposed to hazardous conditions and work odd/extended hours. This enhanced benefit is made possible so that they can retire while still healthy. I suppose you in your infinite wisdom would rather have public safety workers retiring out on tax free workers comp. claims? I could go on, but from what I can see you really need to do some homework and get back to us with more of your frustrated and nonsensical statements.

…Your responses have become predictably redundant. Same old recycled rhetoric. You continue to ignore history in your attempt to rewrite it.

This was classic as YOU posted; “ I read the first couple of sentences of excuses from the theatrical Misinformed miniseries and stopped because the history propaganda Misinformed is selling is all a smoke screen.”

Really? I post a transcript right from the source and all you can state is it is a “smokescreen”? Wow, “Facts” must just be inconveniences for you. Thanks for exposing yourself for all to see.

You really need to stop blogging and read only one study; Web Link You are the text book example.

Maybe you can come up with something new at some point. Yawwwwwwn.

Posted by PunctuationPeter
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I'll offer a quick note to Ill-informed with no expectation that she will consider it seriously.

No reason to comment on your inane statements regarding punctuation or identity. Your fixation is humorous, but really of no import .

Some (many is a relative concept) public employees do contribute more to their retirement than some private sector employees, but that is irrelevant to the concern being voiced. In the real world our contributions and the returns are based on the realities of the investment market . In your teat-suckling world the returns are based on the Unions' estimates as voiced by their bought and paid for politicians. When the market doesn't match the returns (or the billions invested in land speculation don't pan out) shortfall is covered by me and the other taxpayers .

As for your implication that some public sector workers deserve more benefits because they work odd hours and are exposed to dangers in the workplace, I can only assume you are unfamiliar with the work of farmers, taxi drivers, and convenience store clerks.

As long as you and your public sector elitists are going to claim a right to longer suckling periods at the public teat you are going to offend the lowly taxpayers. Don't worry though, the bought and paid for politicians are still covering for least for now.

And we know you mind is made up. Public employee office workers deserve more benefits than their private sector counterparts because fireman work odd hours. Police and fire deserve more benefits that farmers because all of them are exposed to dangerous conditions and work odd hours. Farmers are more likely to be killed in the line of duty, but they are only farmers so duty is the wrong word for it. It's more of a hobby I guess .

You honestly think that is fair - I have no problem with a gal who is willing to step up and pick winners. I just wish you had respect for hard working taxpayers who aren't "public servants" ! Now shouldn't you run along and occupy Castlewood?

Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2012 at 11:02 pm

@It really isn't

You should start by learning what socialized medicine means. Obamacare isn't it. Second, insurance rates in California are largely controlled by the State. Not Washington DC. Appears you're watching a bit too much Fox News propaganda.

You took it to new heights comparing farming to police or fire work. How many farmers do you know who have been shot in the line of duty? How many run into burning buildings in farms near you?

Public safety compensation is set up for the shorter careers out of necessity. They don't get SSI benefits, in most cases, so their pensions have to compensate for the loss. Or maybe you were just expecting them to give up that benefit while protecting you and receive nothing for it?

Sorry, but the visual of a 65 year old fire fighter lugging a roll of hose up 10 flights or the same 65 year old as a cop chasing down a 20 something punk hopping backyard fences makes no sense. The workman's comp claims alone would cripple the system. Or were you just figuring you would run those people into the ground and then cast them aside with nothing when you forced them into disability situations?

The system is designed for these people for those reasons. The compensation is structured to make up for the benefits given up as noted. Pretty common sense stuff here. But maybe you're one of those types who expect public safety to be working for $10/hr or something.

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2012 at 7:14 am

Dear Gina, Mary and Jessica,

It seems your sponsorship of and contributions to Informed Resident commentary have brought your readers to humorous celebration of the reality, "You are killing yourselves!"

"Insult Dan Borenstein and BANG Research? Really?" seems to sum up readership reaction to this exchange. It is a general question among the e-exchanges in your readership area that questions how a remnant of The Danville Weekly with an out-of-control forum can imagine their sponsorship of insults of Dan Borenstein.

The result will be too obvious. Major news services, broadcasters and news bureaus have gathered resources to examine east bay blogs and on-line tabloid media to answer "who is their audience?" It is quite obvious that exposure will show little serious consideration of your home page and forum content and you will remain "the funny papers" among the very-savvy senior professionals in your readership area.

Nice job!

Posted by East County Watch
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2012 at 9:05 am

Public safety compensation is set up for the shorter careers out of necessity. They don't get SSI benefits.

SAY WHAT ??? Are you serious? There are so many positions in both fields that could use a 65 year olds experience. That comment is just dumb. The pensions these people receive are tenfold compared to SSI. I would love for them to get SSI instead of spiked over generous six figure pensions.

When can we start with SSI for public employees? That itself would take care of the unfunded liability and relieve many municipalities from bankrupt conditions.

Instead of talking about the many (not all) over paid public employees, let's bring in ideas from candidates how to correct it like Say What did. Should we convert public employee pensions to SSI ?

As for schizophrenic misinformed, you really have an imagination like a paranoid addict. Get with reality there are more than the two of us on this blog. Good luck with your handwriting analysis class as your flunking at this point. Get a real life or a new queen.

Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:18 am

ECW, do you even know what the average pension is for say a school teacher or a fire fighter? Or are you assuming all public safety retires at age 50 with a fat pension? Since I have read people complaining about 3 @ 50 my guess is you are using extreme examples as the norm which is the flaw in your logic.

Were you aware that most public safety contribute much higher percentages of their income to their pensions than the private sector does to their 401k's?

Is this a debate of purely semantics and facts are just getting in the way of you attacking public employees?

So you think my assertion that 65 year olds trying to run down bad guys on the streets as not desirable is off-base? Which part of "experience" you refer to will overcome the physical aging process and limitations?

Posted by Say What Idiot?
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:43 am

Public Safety contributes too much taxpayer money is the reality. Any 65 year old can fingerprint, bailiff, records, Desk, Detective, and on and on. Your logic Say What is idiotic.

Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:49 am

What's the problem? Unable to have an adult conversation without insulting people who don't agree with your views?

That turns it from a discussion to a brow beating effort on your part.

How many finger printers do you figure police agencies across the country need? You can't funnel the entire staff through your ill conceived billet plan because you'll end up with too few on the street. The issue raised is very real and simply trying to dismiss it with insulting retorts solves nothing.

Posted by joey
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

back to say what's march 5 post looking for a farmer who lost their life in the line of duty.... Perhaps you spend to much time on your professional talking points. to notice the drug wars on our borders..
if you had paid attention you would know farmers have lost their lives while mending their fence, herding their livestock. if you want more i can and will give them to you..but of course you have a play sheet to go by so you can ignore the fact that you made a dumb statement..
by the way.. no parades and no pensions, and no funeral expenses paid for these farmers..and no one setting up scholarships for their kids

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm

@ East County Watch,

The content of your responses are degrading with each of your posts. You have now slipped into fantasy land and I doubt if anyone could take you seriously-I know I cant.

As far as comparing jobs;

All professions from farm workers to public safety are important and serve vital functions for our communities. The nice thing about living in the U.S. is that people are free to pick a career and train educate themselves. Selecting a career is a personal choice and most consider all of the options, benefits as well as their individual chances of obtaining that job. Comparing one aspect and leaving out all the others is fruitless.

For instance you may argue the dangers of being a Taxi driver, convenience store worker or even Farm worker is compared to that of a Police officer or Firefighter. But you fail to argue the difference of education and training to enter those varying professions because it does not bode well for your argument. Just a guess, but I would think that one could get hired as a Taxi Driver or convenience store worker with a few weeks or months of effort. You think the same applies to that of a Police officer or Firefighter position?

Let’s not forget the job skills necessary and the demands put on each are greatly different. You can argue all day, but it changes nothing. Most people are not fond of running into burning buildings or dealing with bad guys or getting shot at.

If you are thinking all things will be fair and equal, then you are doomed to your frustrations which we all are witness to see you post over and over again. It solves nothing, except to show us how limited your thinking is.

Now let's get back on topic shall we?

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thank you Gina, Mary and Jessica,

It seems you wish to create exactly-informed residents in the manner of your sponsorship and contribution to Informed Resident commentary. Thus, let's take that to definition of what unfunded debt and obligations are to be discussed. Locally, there are exceptional questions about parcel tax funds listed in the $$millions that cannot be confirmed to exist as current cash accounts at the county. Why not start with R-7A current cash balance and then detail how the funds are used each year in CCC-PW and Danville budgets.

There is claimed funds for roadway expansion and maintenance that cannot be confirmed to exist as cash accounts. It is quite likely that this reality exists throughout the county areas of Contra Costa County.

It seems appropriate to say, "Show us the money!"


Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm


Funny you should make such a request. Just came across this straight from your favorite publication written by your favorite Supervisor. Web Link

So now are you going to add the CC Times to your list of conspirators?


Guest Commentary: Mary Nejedly Piepho: Contra Costa County learns to do more with less
By Mary Nejedly Piepho
For the Contra Costa Times
Posted: 03/07/2012 02:23:44 PM PST

In tough economic times and reductions in vital public services, I hope this budget report will help identify where the county is doing well financially, and where we continue to struggle.
When I was sworn in to serve on the Board of Supervisors in January 2005, the county was facing significant increases in Workers' Compensation fees due to significant claims by employees. We were also faced with identifying our unfunded Retiree Health Care Liability under the Government Accounting Standards 45 (GASB) requirements. Lastly, we knew we had significant impacts coming in pension liability cost increases.

This huge financial burden could not be tackled all at once. The pieces fell into place with the board focusing on addressing the Workers' Compensation fee increases first. By working with our employees, developing workplace safety standards and ultimately reducing claims, we reduced our annual liability. Therefore, our contributions to cover costs were reduced saving taxpayer dollars.
With those financial savings, the Board tackled the county's OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefit) liability, the county's long-term retiree health care liability debt. This debt accrued over decades of time with multiple labor negotiated contracts and employee benefit agreements.

The Board of Supervisors secured an actuarial study in 2006 that identified this liability at $2.6 billion dollars. Significant dollars and twice the county's total annual budget.
While the GASB report only requires local governments to identify their OPEB liability, the Board of Supervisors knew this was not enough. We needed to lower this liability and build a funding mechanism to fully fund it over its lifetime. We have done this.
With the identification of the county's OPEB liability, we started working with our employees, educating them on what this debt meant to them, to the county, and to our taxpayers. With no action, this debt could ultimately eat up county revenues to a level that forced significant reductions in our workforce, and ultimately devastate county service delivery. Through a long and difficult process, and significant trust building, we built a plan, and implemented it.
We developed an OPEB Trust Fund, put in some early dollars, and then went to work in renegotiating our labor contracts and sharing the health insurance premium costs with our employees.

In June of 2010, the date of our last Actuarial Study, and four years after the initial report regarding the County's OPEB liability, the Board of Supervisors has achieved unprecedented results. Continual implementation of the strategic recommendations has allowed the Board of Supervisors to meet or exceed all of our goals.

The County's Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) has declined by 60.3 percent (from $2.57 billion to $1.02 billion); the normal cost has declined 78 percent (from $130.6 million to $29.2 million); the Annually Required Contribution (ARC) has declined by 70.7 percent (from $216.3 million to $63.3 million); the results reflect negotiated changes to the health care plans, caps on the County's contributions and the cooperation of the County's bargaining units; and the County has also pre-funded 2 percent of its OPEB obligation by depositing funds in an irrevocable trust fund.
With recently negotiated labor contracts, this liability has been reduced even further. The Board of Supervisors remains committed to meeting the goals and objectives of our OPEB Funding Plan as outlined in 2006.

The significant economic downturn of the last few years threw the County another challenge as the County was already struggling to meet expenditure demands with annual revenues. Not only did our annual revenues stop increasing, they went backward. This placed an extra immediacy on the Board of Supervisor's focus on lowering our expenditures and restructuring our employee labor contracts.

Today, we are not out of the woods yet, but we can see the horizon. With significant efforts of the Board of Supervisors and our employees, we are learning to do more with less. We are all working harder to preserve and protect the vital county services you expect to receive when you pick up the phone to call Contra Costa County. As we approach what is likely to be one of the most fiscally challenging years ever for Contra Costa County, we continue to take a hard look at our cost of doing business, and not spending more than we receive in revenues.

If you have any questions on this or any other County matter, please contact my office in Brentwood at 925-252-4500 or

Mary Nejedly Piepho is chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, District 3.

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Thank you Mary for your response as Informed Resident,

Please note that I didn't ask any question that you answered with your article. The question is "does any of the parcel taxes collected in Alamo, or the fees from developers, actually exist as cash accounts for Alamo projects?" And if so, how much is left over each year when CCC-PW and Danville balance their budgets with such parcel tax proceeds?

It's high school math and you should be up to it. Again, show us the money.

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 5:49 pm


Sorry to disappoint you (I’m sure you get that a lot these days), but I am not Mary.

Actually I did answer your questions. Let me make it a bit clearer for you…

Please review your post; You really did not specifically ask a single question. Since you had a barrage of comments, on a thread that is titled; “Supervisor Campains Should Focus on Solving Unfunded County Debt” ...
I figured I would knock out both with one post.

It appears that once again you missed the obvious-and to think I posted it expressly for you.

Well here it is again, taken right from my previous post; “If you have any questions on this or any other County matter, please contact my office in Brentwood at 925-252-4500 or”

Hal, I didn’t think it needed to be spelled out, but YOURS would be the part about “or any OTHER County matter”. What is wrong, can you not contact the county or your Supervisor? I guess you were too busy preparing for your interview for a position with the CSD of Discovery Bay as a director there? You did apply for a position did you not? Or were you just playing even more games?

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Dear Gina, Mary and Jessica,

After cooperation by EMCEB publishing services, it becomes impossible to simply blame Informed Resident sponsored brutality on the original Informed Resident(s) e-exchanges. Each of you sponsor and contribute to commentary by Informed Resident on the town square forum and are well-documented for your guilt under libel laws applied to media presentation.

The reality that the only editing by Gina and Jessica is to enhance the brutality of attacks makes the self-fulfilling reality that much quicker. “You are killing yourselves!”

Nice work!

Posted by East County Watch
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Misinformed, I just finished reading your tin foil comment on the other blog. I can't help myself but respond on that juicy political sales pitch you posted for Mary Piepho. I wouldn't believe anything she says if she told me it was raining on a rainy day. She is so sweet and innocent on the surface, but her actions this past few years reveal a very different person. Besides, she is only one of five Supervisors. I would bet that John Gioia had much more to do with recent positive actions by the board than the other bought and paid for politicians.

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

@ East County Watch,

Your ramblings are once again a fine example of you distorting reality. I don’t think it can be blamed on ignorance. I hope you have a friend or family that can help you with your denial and anger issues.

Your frame of mind is really disturbing and I hope you get the assistance you need. For the record that is not meant an really are in need of help.

Posted by Brian Dawson
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm

If you people spent ALL this time trying to work together to find solutions to the very pressing problems on our governmental plates as you do acting like cliquish teenagers on internet message boards... imagine what we could accomplish.

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm

P.S. @ East County Watch

I am sorry to break this to you but John Gioia is (and has been) the County Supervisor that sits on the Retirement Board. So yes, Gioia had everything to do with it...just not as you had hoped.

I have to wonder if it is possible for a single individual to be so far off base so much of the time, with his opinions. If I had an award I would most certainly give it to you.

Posted by Say What?
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:00 am


I heard that rumor about the Discovery Bay CSD open seat previously. Now I'm reading it here and Hal is not denying it.

So he actually intends to apply for the open Discovery Bay CSD spot when he currently lives in Alamo? According to Discovery Bay's GM, an inquiry was made to him about moving someone into town specifically for that purpose. Connecting the dots that someone appears to be Hal.

This is a group of control freaks taking it to new heights, in my opinion. ECW and a few other aliases posting here are collaborating with Hal on this effort, from all appearances. What possesses a person to think 1 seat on a 5 member water and sewer agency is the path to power in government?

I find that logic utterly amazing. A bit disturbing at the same time.

Hal, do you have any official comments?

Posted by East County Watch
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 9:17 am

Misinformed, so you are saying that John Gioia is responsible for bringing the unfunded liability down over a Billion dollars and not M N Piepho like you have been bragging. Thanks for admitting this. I hope John Gioia continues to reduce that debt before we go bankrupt or lose half of our emergency personnel. All we have to do now is replace the other Supervisors to get the county back to normal.

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm

@ Hal,
They say ignorance is bliss. Perhaps that is a better word for you to consider instead of “Joyous”. I don’t know if I would be “joyous” about anything if I was in your shoes. jjjj was correct to a fault- I’m not sure if jjjj knows that you are directly connected to several antagonists out in East County. This alone, would raise some stiff competition about which community harbors the biggest fool.

I have little doubt that you continue to seek out other people wherever you can, who share your twisted perspectives. I am sure you have little use for the "majority" at this point. I also find it odd that you have such an infatuation with all things Alamo but couldn’t bring yourself to list that as your home town when you inquired about an appointed position to the Discovery Bay CSD. For a person that makes constant claims of superior intellect and community concern, I find it tremendously hypocritical that you would attempt such a stunt. Web Link
Such a classless move on your part. No matter, you will be instantly disqualified.

Enjoy your extended stay in Thneed-ville.

Time for the rest of us to get back to the real world.

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm

@ East County Watch,

It’s amusing that you are reduced to trying to call me names. Misinformed? Yeah, that is hilarious. The level of your desperation is only equal to that of your ignorance. You are really boosting your fan base by using the tactic of name calling over presenting fact and anything rational. Keep up the good work.

Back to the subject… Let’s review shall we?

John Gioia made up one half of the (Mark) Desaulnier-Gioia team that brought the enhanced retirement “3@50” to Contra Costa County. Not that 3@50 is in itself a bad thing, however for the record I wanted to make sure you knew who carried if forward.

Gioia was elected to the board of Sups in 1998 (14 years ago) and along with Glover (elected in 2000/12yrs) and Uilkema (elected in 1996/16yrs), were ALL seated during the many years that the County continued to generate the debt that you are whining about. A decade and a half spent generating debt without taking action. You might think of it as spending more than they took in.

But let’s not look just at blame-after all this “debt” had been accumulating for 46 years…

Supervisors; Piepho, Bonilla, and Mitchoff’s tenures did NOT include increasing the debt, but instead DID include REDUCING it. The timeline proves that this change of course occurred shortly after Piepho and Bonilla were elected. Insiders know that Piepho brought much needed change not only to the board, but worked with Gioia to improve the overall direction the county was headed in.

Simply put (just for you), Policy and action which INCREASED county debt occurred under current board members; Gioia/Glover/Uilkema and Policy and action which DECREASED county debt occurred under current board members; Piepho/to a degree, Mitchoff.

Try as you might, you cannot change the reality of history or the facts.

Then again I expect you wouldn’t let the facts get in the way of your twisted opinion.

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Dear Mary, supporters and all your fellow contributors to Informed Resident.

The Bluesjays are seldom right, even if you agree with them. Alamo region neighborhoods have relationships with Delta region neighborhoods but no relationships with your vocal opponents in Discovery Bay. Certainly, I have enjoyed my three conversations with Brian Dawson concerning Joan Buchanan’s campaign and the welfare of his family. He has my best wishes.

AS for Alamo? It is a zip code, a community of mail boxes, and doesn’t exist as a community beyond individual neighborhoods. Our neighborhood is truly “another community.”

I have business relationships with your new neighbor in Discovery Bay California and he has decided not to pursue DB-CSD Board appointment due to his support of another candidate that agrees with development of a technology center at the Byron Airport. Beyond that, my only interest in Discovery Bay is near Port Townsend Washington. A long-term business associate operates a semiconductor equipment business in that area. It is truly a beautiful location.

I asked your new neighbor to drop by your office and introduce himself and his Byron Airport project. What day is good for you?

Ignorance does tend to be blissful, don’t you think?

Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Dear Mary and friends,

It is too humorous to ask, "How did it taste!"

Bless you one and all, and thanks for demonstrating a point well taken.

Best wishes..

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Hey Hal,
Since you wouldn’t answer my questions directly. I thought I would run this up the flag pole.

I posted several documents earlier this week. You know the ones…the ones that you and “East County Watch” are in deep denial over.

Well on March 6th at 7:14 a.m. YOUR reply was;
"Insult Dan Borenstein and BANG Research? Really?" seems to sum up readership reaction to this exchange.”

So I can only sum up that in your mind, if it is printed in the paper is has to be true.

Fast forward to today…
And I read this;
Web Link
and this;
Web Link

Discovery Bay board opts to fill vacancy by appointment
By Paul Burgarino
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 03/07/2012 10:05:41 PM PST

The newest director of the Discovery Bay Community Service District will be chosen by appointment next month.
After hearing from nine residents hoping to fill a vacant spot on the town board, the district's four remaining directors voted unanimously Wednesday night that it would pick who will fill the post.
That decision will be made at the district's April 4 meeting.
Since directors invited residents to submit applications for the board last month, 11 people responded.
They are: Hal Bailey, Bruce Hall, Marshall Harris, Jim Mattison, Midge Moser, Bill Pease, Tony Rigoni, Toby Ronquillo, Jonathan Silver, Diane Stewart and Frank Visintin.

So are you by your own rules insulting CCTimes reporter Paul Burgarino?

You can’t have it both ways Hal. Making excuses would only make you a hypocrite.

…and try as you may to erroneously insinuate, I am not Mary. I sure hope you don’t choke on your own humor.

Posted by Harald A. Bailey
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Dear Editor,

Let us return to the questions to be answered, quite simply, "where is the money, locally and at the county level?

Is it possible to focus commentary, as contributive, to that provision of information. In a check with county departments, most but not all had budget and account data to offer. Reasonably, "no official or journalist asked!" was the response. The exception was Contra Costa County Employees Retirement Association that claims the public has no right to know.

So, commentators, and especially editors, are you asking the right questions with the right authority and counsel?


Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm

AS forward to US DoJ:

A message to Paul Burgarino, BANG, and Rick Howard, DB-CSD General Manager

Dear Paul and Rick,

In a quite silly, brutal response from Mary Piepho’s sponsored commentators on the Danville Express Town Square Forum, Web Link that I had applied to be part of the DB-CSD. Clearly, Rick Howard knows that I was supporting an associate, a recent new neighbor in Discovery Bay, in seeking information about application and appointment. Clearly, a political effort to embarrass me was conducted and reported in your article.

Cheap political stunts have been openly portrayed in Discovery Bay to embarrass Safeway and individuals conducting their constitutional and civil rights.

Do you check your story before you report false information? Hal Bailey did not apply.

As Mary, Gina and Jessica continue sponsorship and contributions as Informed Resident, it should be realized that misinformation is their primary product.

"It's Tabloid Time, Let's read the funny papers!!"

Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Really? You would rather “return to the questions” instead of hiding from attempts to try to apply for a position in another community….and worse yet an elected-appointed one where residency is a requirement?

Rather get away from the reality that I am not “Mary”?

Rather get away from the reality that you directly associate with a small group of antagonists from far east county? C’mon Hal, I’ve seen the emails!

Where did your humor go?

Ok, if you want seriousness then why don’t you ask your County “money” questions to your Supervisor. You know, Gayle Uilkema, the one that you have praised numerous times on this site. Would she or her staff be just a phone call away? Last time I checked you don’t need to be a journalist to inquire about any county business. Just ask your friends in east county who have wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money chasing their own tails. You see Hal, the truth never hides.

p.s. You also might want review this thread/blog/post Web Link
And then get all over Candice Anderson for taking endorsements and using the MAC in their titles.
Web Link
• Steve Mick, Alamo Municipal Advisory Council (“MAC”)
Remember Hal, hypocrisy knows NO bounds.

Posted by The Queen
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I think it's time for the Department of Justice to wind it up and indict the corrupt associated with Chicago style politics in this county.

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