Wednesday, April 09, 2014

I Answered My Own Question

(Cartoon by Alfredo Marterina and found here.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Yesterday my post was on the three California state legislators indicted for corruption.  I asked why their salaries and plush benefits weren't enough.  In today's L.A. Times, I learned that even after a finding of guilt for bribery, a Los Angeles city official can continue to receive his pension:

A veteran Los Angeles building inspector sentenced last month to prison in an FBI corruption case will continue to receive a yearly pension of more than $72,000, according to a high-level retirement official.

Samuel In, 66, pleaded guilty last year, admitting as part of a plea agreement that he took more than $30,000 in bribes while working as a senior inspector. He was sentenced last month to 2 1/2 years in prison after a federal prosecutor argued against leniency, mentioning his "substantial" pension.

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure requiring public employees convicted of a felony to give up retirement benefits earned during the period when their crimes were committed.
But the forfeiture requirement doesn't apply to Los Angeles because it is governed by the City Council under a voter-approved charter, and the City Council manages its own pension systems.   [Emphasis added]

It's not just Mr. In who will continue to partake of the city's largesse after shaking down Korean businessmen for favorable reports, miscreants in other city departments (which are subject to the City Council) will also be able to collect their pensions because the state law is superceded by the voter approved Charter.  It will take action by the City Council to change this state of affairs:

Rob Wilcox, spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, said imposing a pension forfeiture requirement on workers at two city pension systems — one for public safety employees, the other for civilians not employed by the Department of Water and Power — would require, at minimum, a vote of the City Council.

If enacted, such a change would apply only to employees hired after the new law took effect, he said.   [Emphasis added]

So, what's to be done?  Well, the City Council is apparently already discussing the issue with the City Attorney's office:

In's pension payments troubled Councilman Mitchell Englander, who said he would support city legislation targeting the retirement pay of employees found guilty of public corruption crimes. "If you are convicted of a felony and were utilizing your position" at a government agency, "you should have to forfeit the entire thing," said Englander, who heads the council's Public Safety Committee.  [Emphasis added]

I would hope that those talks will be fruitful.


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