SLO County’s $100,000 plus pension club

July 10, 2009


California’s Public Employees’ Retirement System (CaLPERS) lost nearly $67 billion in the last 12 months prompting critics to question the steep pensions paid to some government retirees such as former Cal Poly administrator Robert Detweiler at $181,697 per year.

Ideally, employees pay a percentage of their income into CaLPERS, funds are invested, and the program largely supports itself. However, the plan is contractually guaranteed, which means, should CaLPERS run short due to problematic investments, the taxpayers of California are responsible for making up the deficiencies.

In all, nearly 5,000 retirees receive more than $100,000 per year from CaLPERS, according to California Pension Reform.

Critics contend that while local and state government leaders are handling budget shortfalls by cutting jobs and chopping salaries, CaLPERS continues to spend as if the economy is booming.

Facing a massive budget shortfall, officials from Cal Poly informed all lecturers they may not have a job this fall. Meanwhile, teachers and staff are facing cut backs of three to four percent along with mandatory two days per month unpaid furloughs for a total paycheck reduction of approximately 13 percent.

Following a 10 percent pay cut in March, prison guards received another five percent cut this month.

Meanwhile, CaLPERS continues to hand out six figure bonuses to its top employees, according to a Forbes magazine article. In addition, CaLPERS sticks by its commitment to provide two-percent annual pay hikes to retirees, many of who will be receiving benefits for 20 to 30 years.

Police and fire fighters are permitted to retire at 50 years of age, receive retirement benefits, and then work another full time job.

Concerned that lofty pension plans are bankrupting state and local governments, California Pension Reform began posting six-figure retirees. The following members of the SLO County club are from the group’s $100,000 pension club data base. Some members of the local club are missing from this list. As they become available, CalCoastNews will update the list.

California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo:

Robert Detweiler $181,697

Ernest Gerard $131,640

James Landreth $127,283

Paul Neel $113,501

Peter Lee $113,214

V Holland $112,770

Alfred Amaral Jr. $110,382

Joseph Grimes $108,421

Euel Kennedy $107,023

Francis Lebens $103,069

Arthur Rosen $100,837

San Luis Obispo:

James Gardiner $129,005

Thomas Zeulner $107,721

Barton Topham $105,072

Josef Hazouri $104,384

Paul Lesage $103,337

Robert Neumann $102,426

Arroyo Grande:

Lester Terborch Jr. $127,796

Anthony Aeilts $107,043

Terence Fibich $106,521

Paso Robles:

Dennis Cassidy $122,470

Robert Lata $117,120

Atascadero State Hospital:

David Bourne $101,428.44

California Men’s Colony:

Joan Thompson $149,709

Daniel McCarthy $114,839

Cheryl Pliler $105,678

William Duncan $105,477

Billy Diebold $105,166

Lonnie Watson $101,643


John Couch $105,874

Cambria Community Service District:

Vernon Hamilton $105,086


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Member Opinions:

By: HonestyPlanet on 7/20/09

If we indeed wish to level the playing field….why not keep everyone even at Social Security levels, and let anyone who wishes to privately invest in their own retirement do so? Works for me…..why doesn’t it work for you?

By: rogerfreberg on 7/17/09

All this wouldn’t be so shocking if one didn’t realize a bigger jolt… Cal Poly ( our county’s leading employer?) is talking about reductions in faculty … while they are hiring more administrators at a 100k or more. Very reckless, indeed.

Did anyone see that great Forbes article out just yesterday called “Bureaucratic U.?” The out of control growth of college administrations?

There are simple solutions.


By: SanSimeonSam on 7/16/09

I imagine that Kenny is the stereotypical prison guard. He is clearly illiterate, abusive by nature and overprotective of his protected job. We Californians can no longer afford Kenny and his clan. We need to recalibrate and revamp the entire state salary and retirement program at all levels. It is not necessary to cut services or even eliminate positions, we need a complete salary overall. My plan is simple, its a graduated salary reduction. Employees making 60,000 a year are not affected. Employees making 70,000 a year receive a 7 % pay reduction. Employees making 125,000 a year receive a 12.5% reduction. Employees making 250,000 a year receive a 25% salary reduction. (you get the picture) This would make a major dent in the 24 billion shortfall. As for retirement benefits, an overall reduction of 25 % for everyone and then a graduated reduction similar to the salary reduction. And No double dipping like these scumbags in our county that are ripping off the taxpayers. I will never vote for tax increases until we level the playing field

By: SanSimeonSam on 7/16/09

There are 2200 state employees who manage the state employees retirement plan. The top 2 guys make over 600,000 a year. There are about 20 more that make over 250,000 a year. The combined salary for this department is over 220,000,000 a year. So California taxpayers are paying 220,000,000 a year in salaries to manage an outrageous retirement program mostly funded by guess who, the taxpayers. I would like to remind you at this point that the entire budget for the state parks and recreation program that seems to be on the chopping block is 175,000,000 a year. Make the state employees pay for the management of their retirement program (the least they can do with our money) and we can save the parks. This of course doesnt include the state teachers retirement program but thats another can of dead fish.

By: Saveslocounty on 7/15/09

The Tribune hasn’t gotten a real scoop since Sandy took the helm. Get real and learn to accept that the print media is under hospice care as death is immenenant. Their reduced advertising revenue has cut staff to a fraction of its former glory and created an inability to actually provide any investigative reporting. I still subscribe, but actually receive most of my news from other reliable sources. The times are changing and every industry must adapt or die, unless bailed out by Obama.

By: Truthbeknown on 7/15/09

It’s too bad CCN chooses to focus on non-stories like this while The Tribune gets the real scoops:

By: starvingmexican on 7/14/09

And you complain because my wife and I have to survive on food stamps to realize the great American dream.We have to do without so these gringos can live the high life.Quit complaining that I make $15. per hour and need some help with my rent,food and health care.Look at these bums then you can thank a Mexican for his sacrifice.

By: Atasl on 7/14/09

There is nothing better than bleeding the taxpayers as those who live off county and state jobs. Look at the local doctors, dentists, pharmacists, etc. who have office hours and work at state jobs so they can retire with premium benefits. If Cal-pers is low on money, why not tap into the millions that are being held at Cal Poly’s general fund account. It could go a long way into helping so taxpayers aren’t stabbed again

By: Saveslocounty on 7/14/09

The retirements are based on a simple formula providing 3% of your salery for each year of service with a cap of 90%. A person could work 30 years and receive 90% of their salary through a forced saving program that is costly to the employee as well so this story doesn’t blow my skirt up. Most worked for many years at an agency and earned the retirement based on a negoitiated formula. To come back and have an issue now is a little late. The only one the sticks out as a royal buggering was Anthony Aeilts who worked in Arroyo Grande for one year to bump his salary up from his previous Cal Poly salary. His trick skirted the years of contribution to support the higher retirement benefit. Arroyo Grande got ripped off by falling for his line of garbage and creating a burden on the system. Sham on him. I now wish I had worked 30 years for the government, but life is full of choices.

By: onnyang on 7/14/09

Insanity at it’s worst…

Taxpayers pay the difference…

Who would agree on that?

By: JorgeEstrada on 7/14/09

Again, I’d like to see the $48,000 plus pension club so that I can better understand the relationship between a pension, retire and senior living. That which we/they afford others.

By: rogerfreberg on 7/13/09

I think there might be some confusion… it is possible for someone to be working and still collecting a pension from somewhere else… and I am sure that few realize that some –if not all– are or will also be collecting social security.

In the case of the Cal Poly folks, a typical thing happens when someone is about to retire… they are bumped up to a higher position and collect at that higher rate on retirement. Of course, that presupposes that the individual is one of the honored few…. it doesn’t happen to everyone.

Hey, everyone is worth more than they are paid in someone’s mind… but that’s not the issue. The key is to look at administrators who are currently taking down big numbers and asking if they are worth it? However, this will never happen because the faculty and staff at places like Cal Poly will voluntarily submit to cuts without ever seeing the big picture.

For example, do you think Warren Baker will cut his pay by 25%? Don’t hold your breath.

By: paperboy on 7/13/09

I doubt Bart Topham is collecting a pension right now. Doesn’t he run Cuesta’s Police Department, which would mean he’s still working.

If he makes more at Cuesta than he did in SLOPD, then his final pension will be even higher than the $105,072 reported here.

By: hotdog on 7/13/09

EDS57 , I knew Art Rosen (and his wife, Marie) too, since about 1970. A good man, and I wish I could spend a few minutes alone with his assailant. It wouldn’t be pretty.

I noticed that Art was on the list. Either the list is out of date or perhaps there is another person with that name.

However, the issue remains. Is this Calpers thing legit, can we afford it (since it is alleged the taxpayer must step in if funds fall short) and so on? The good or bad of any recipient isn’t really the issue.

By: rogerfreberg on 7/13/09

Oh, I remember a while back when all the wisdom in pension fund folks ( especially government) wanted to dive into real estate and the stock market to get those very yummy returns. At the time, I thought it was stupid because things look great when things are going up… but going down is another matter… which they are now experiencing.

The second issue of why our elected and unelected folks dived for those now elusive higher returns… the high the return , the lower the amount of principal needed on hand. They then could (choose your word) ‘borrow or rob’ the pension fund of the additional capital and use it for more worthwhile ventures… like exotic travel and perks.

There is a problem in the public compensation system… especially in academic administrations where — apparently– they get their friends to sit on the right controlling boards.

Looking at pensions is a good idea… but looking at the folks who are currently running the public sector and in academic administrations would bare more savings.

Roger Freberg

By: EDS57 on 7/13/09

Art Rosen is not collecting his pension anymore because he’s dead.

Before he died this year he taught at CalPoly for over 40 years. After his retirement, he continued coming into work (unpaid)five to six days a week, running a project related to the Diablo plant that measures radiation levels in our County. He supervised student assistants on that project and collected data on the radiation levels in animals (mostly fish) since Diablo went on line. He only stopped work on that project a couple years ago when he was severly injured (a man in his late 80s) during a home invasion robbery. He was pistol whipped by the intruder who has never been apprehended. He never recovered enough to come back to work after that. He gave a lot as teacher and a scientist, contributed to Cal Pers for over forty years, and he was worth every penny he received. Just sayin.

By: JorgeEstrada on 7/13/09

I’m curious how long the list is for public servants that are now being served a pension that is greater than $4000 a month. I know most of us make more than that by driving to work, having to comply and perform some un-natural acts. We can’t afford the cut in pay, lets say $129 to never drive to work anymore and enjoy the beach.

It is said that you can count your friends, you can count your money but never count your friends money. Although, if my taxes are used as seed money or in any way connected to the outcome of public employee pensions, wages or any benifit recieved, it is then the business of all tax payers, especially the voters.

Sorry guys at the kennels, this is how it gets when socialism gets tight.

By: hotdog on 7/12/09

Kenny, if you could write in literate English (your first language?) and supported your wild comments with facts you might have some credibility. There are a lot of whiners who blog on this site, did you think we needed another?

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 7/12/09

Hey Kenny.

I know you guys out at the prison are so busy watching your portable DVD players while watching convicts and don’t get time to read much but here is a reality check for you. Go read this article.,0,824316.story

You pension boys don’t want to wake up to the facts that Calpers is in troble. Bet your union rep. said no problem? Yea their is someone you can believe.

By: Kenny on 7/12/09

As a PERS member your story is not only worthless, but leaves reader misinformation many at the Prison said your site is one of Non-facts but gossip and speculation. I researched 6 of your stories at random found all 6 to contain false information, misleading or are ripe with B.S. or just plan Lies and crap, your certainly NOT a reporter of any news worthiness, now I know why everyone at work laughs at your silly stories. It is fun to read and get a good laugh, or cheap thrills for the minute.

By: mccdave on 7/11/09

This article doesn’t answer one crucial question: is CalPERS solvent? I don’t believe they’re yet having to receive support from the state treasury.

A more pressing question is the losses CalPERS has suffered and the management of the fund. Of course Velie doesn’t express their losses as a percentage of assets under management, so readers can’t put $67B in context, and every large fund out there has been hammered. But the WSJ has covered CalPERS’s heavy investments in property that are now looking very dumb and the fund’s reputation has taken a beating of late.

Seconds before the WSJ article appeared, Julie Lynem at the Tribune typically wrote a “don’t worry, be happy” piece that unquestioningly transcribed CalPERS’s official line.

There’s a huge overall problem with pensions in the U.S. that was brewing long before last year’s crash and it’d be interesting to compare CalPERS’s legacy and ongoing obligations to that of other pension schemes. Is CalPERS more generous than other pensions, public and private?

This article is lacking so much context, it might as well be in the Tribune.

By: Paso_Guy on 7/10/09

This article leads the reader to believe that current employees and retired employees are paid from the same source, even though it states that “idealy” a pension plan is funded and invested. So, which is it?

If it’s a seperate fund and is flush enough to pay out the contractual retirement income, then who is to complain. sa it the retirees fault that the Bush/Obama show has beed a failure?

I don’t see where the problems of the current employees who are taking paycuts has any bearing on those who are recieving their retirement as long as the retirement is arms-length from the general fund. If that is the case, one has nothing to do with the other.

By: Newsome on 7/10/09

Kinda concur with SJ660 — why the “outing?”

It’s just a list of people who lucked into, or worked hard for, a comfortable retirement. In hindsight, We The Broke Taxpayers wish we hadn’t made those compensation arrangements, but the fact is that we made them and now we are honoring them.

These people’s retirement is THEIR business.

By: sj660 on 7/10/09

I don’t understand what’s wrong with that. These people worked, the paid into the system, and this was what it told them they got. It’s certainly not their fault.

If you’re going to print lists, why not list the legislators that enable this. These people are just getting what they were promised.

By: JorgeEstrada on 7/10/09

This is that topic my family, friends and neighbors hate to discuss. I’m speaking of their pot of gold, their earned lifestyle, their tax dollars too! Something is going to give, certainly not more taxes…

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 7/10/09

One more point to this. When the average worker is making a five figure income in the private sector and limited benefits in retirement, and we half tons of people in Gov. jobs with high five figure salaries, and large benefits, how long does anyone think this can go??

By: BeenThereDoneThat on 7/10/09

Until we get the unions and their pension plans under control this is only going to get worse.

Just like Social Security keeps bumping up the minium age on retirement because of longevity, they need to bump up pensions to 25 or 30 years service before collecting, if they are going to stay this route. You can’t have people retireing in their late 40’s or early 50’s and living 25 to 35 years more at almost full pay and not have the system go bankrupt.

When Social Security was introduced years ago most people lived less than five years on it collecting.

Case in point on the bankruptcy. The city of Vallejo, north or Oakland, already reached this point 18 to 24 months ago.

Now California is catching up. I am not trying to saddle or blame the good folks (policemen & firefighters etc) I blame the politicians who let this happen in the first place.

This is happining all over the U.S. In the last 30 years the ratio of Goverment jobs to private sector has grown enormously. A Goverment job is a taker. A private sector is a maker. Private sector makes goods. What does the Gov. job make?? Gov. can only make money taxing the private sector. We can’t get to a 50-50 balance. It won’t work. The system will collapse. That is what I believe we are starting to see the beginings of.

By: itneverends on 7/10/09

Without showing the calculations for how long these people were employed, how much they contributed into the system, how much their employers contributed; and what benefits were exchanged, and when, for pension benefit enhancements along the way, the above numbers are meaningless to me.

I have never been in the Cal-Pers system. I agree that the defined benefit plans are impractical in these economic times, and should be replaced for new employees with defined contribution plans. It should be remembered that while the stock market is down right now and the plans like Cal-Pers are losing money on an annual basis, the opposite was true in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Cal Pers made a ton of extra money. The problem is that many Cal-Pers agencies, cities especially, put the extra money into enhanced benefits and other General Fund programs instead of building their pension reserves for leaner times.

I don’t think the story is about how much a few people make in seemingly high pensions. The more important story is what the agencies are going to do in the future with now obsolete pension plan concepts. The Governor has called out this problem for some time now, but has had a difficult fight with the unions in getting any changes moving. Thanks for listening to my views on this.