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Cypen & Cypen
NEWSLETTER
for
JUNE 30, 2011

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

1.      CUSTODIAN/BANK CANNOT LAY-OFF LIABILITY ON TRUSTEES: The Board of Trustees of the California Winery Workers Pension Trust Fund filed suit against Union Bank NA, alleging that it had violated its fiduciary duties under ERISA and violated the parties Custody Agreement and Securities Lending Agreement, by engaging in investment activities that involved inappropriate risk, led to inappropriate losses and were in direct violation of the terms and conditions of said Agreements.  In response, Union Bank filed a counterclaim against the Board and a third-party complaint against the Trustees individually, asserting that the Board as well as the individual Trustees violated their fiduciary duties to the Fund by failing adequately to monitor and review Union Bank’s investments.  The Bank also sought to hold the Board liable for indemnification or contribution under ERISA and the Agreements.  The Bank’s claims were based on its assertion that the Board and Trustees failed to complain to Union Bank about the method by which Union Bank calculated and applied portfolio concentration limits.  Union Bank claimed its method for calculating portfolio limits was fully disclosed to the Board, yet the Board failed to notify Union Bank of its position until the Fund had suffered losses. The federal district court dismissed the Bank’s counterclaim and third-party claim, the former with prejudice.  The Court found that Union Bank could not bring claims that sought indemnification or contribution from the Board or Trustees or otherwise seek to minimize its own potential liability by implicating the Board and Trustees.  The Court also found that the relief the Bank sought, to force the Trustees to bear some portion of liability for investments made by the Bank, were barred under ERISA. The Court gave the Bank leave to amend its third-party complaint against the Trustees, at least to the extent the Bank was able to allege that they engaged in conduct separate and apart from Union Bank’s alleged conduct, and to plead facts supporting the Trustees’ liability that was not derivative of the Bank’s actions.  The Court has now dismissed the Bank’s amended third-party complaint with prejudice. The factual allegations supporting the Bank’s claim that the Trustees breached their fiduciary duties to the Fund are, as in the original third-party complaint, that the Trustees failed to review or understand Union Bank’s statements disclosing the method the Bank used to calculate concentration ratios, failed to assess or understand investments and otherwise failed to take any steps to protect the Fund from what the Trustees now allege were imprudent violations of the Fund’s investment guidelines. Again, these allegations are all derivative of the Bank’s conduct. Union Bank is still attempting to shift responsibility for its actions, which is foreclosed. The Board of Trustees of the California Winery Workers Pension Trust Fund v. Union Bank NA, Case No. C 10-02240 (ND Cal., June 21, 2011). 

2.      MORE THAN ONE-IN-TWO U.S. EMPLOYEES DISSATISFIED: Over half of all U.S. employees are really not happy.  That message comes through loud and clear in Mercer’s new What’s Working survey, which found 32% of U.S. workers seriously considering leaving their organization at the present time, up sharply from 23% in 2005.  Meanwhile, another 21% are not looking to leave, but view their employers unfavorably and have rock-bottom scores on key measures of engagement (a term that describes a combination of an employee’s loyalty, commitment and motivation). Employees’ concerns about work are pervasive, reflecting an evolving employment deal they have seen as a series of takeaways, plus further cuts made during economic tough times: 

  • Only 43% of U.S. employees believe they are doing enough financially to prepare for retirement (down from 47% in 2005), and just 41% believe their employers are doing enough to help them prepare, up slightly from 38%.  
  • Sixty-eight percent of employees rate their overall benefits program as good or very good, down from 76%, while 59% say they are satisfied with their health care benefits, down from 66%.  
  • Base pay is the most important element of employment, by a wide margin, but U.S. workers show lower satisfaction with base pay (53% satisfied, down from 58%). 
  • Just 42% of employees today agree that promotions go to the most qualified employees in their organizations, up from 29%, and 46% agree that their organization does an adequate job of matching pay to performance, up from 33%. 

As a result, overall scores are down consistently across key engagement measures, while intention to leave is up across all employee segments. Mercer’s survey also drives home the importance of knowing what is going on inside employee minds, which changes over time.  Often, a change in mood or sentiment is not spotted until it becomes a full-blown issue. Employers must periodically take the pulse of their own employees to identify their specific areas of concern and link employee opinion to outcomes such as productivity and retention. 

3.      DAMAGES NOT REMEDY AVAILABLE UNDER FIREFIGHTERS’ BILL OF RIGHTS:  Curtis brought a claim under Firefighters’ Bill of Rights, alleging that the City of West Palm Beach failed to advise him of his rights prior to imposing disciplinary action, and that failure to do so violated FBR.  The remedy sought for these alleged violations was various forms of monetary damages.  The trial court concluded that damages were not available as a remedy under FBR, and that the undisputed evidence established that Curtis had never been subject to an “interrogation,” as that term is defined in Section 112.81(6), Florida Statutes.  The District Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing that FBR does not create a cause of action for damages. Under FBR, if an agency employing firefighters fails to comply with requirements of FBR, a firefighter employed by such agency who is personally injured by such failure to comply may apply directly to the circuit court for an injunction to restrain and enjoin such violation and to complete the performance of his duties. A reading of the plain language of the statute makes it abundantly clear that injunctive relief is the only available relief for violations of FBR. Although FBR does not limit any other cause of action available to firefighters, that provision does not create a cause of action for damages. Because its ruling on this point was dispositive, the court did not have to determine whether or not Curtis had ever been subject to an interrogation, as defined. Curtis v. City of West Palm Beach, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D1330 (Fla. 4th DCA, June 22, 2011). 

4.      FEDERAL PENSION REFORM 25 YEARS LATER: The July 2011 Issue Brief (No. 359) from Employee Benefit Research Institute contains a piece entitled “Twenty-Five Years After Federal Pension Reform.” Congress created the Federal Employee Retirement System in 1986, in the most sweeping overhaul of retirement benefits for civilian workers in modern times. The law is now 25 years old, has changed little (other than modest expansion of investment choices) and remains the basis for retirement benefits provided to some 3 million civilian federal workers. With state governors and legislators currently grappling with many of the same issues Congress faced in 1986, FERS may provide useful background for their deliberations.  The report provides a legislative history of the arduous five-year effort to overhaul the federal retirement system by enacting FERS, and how various forces affected passage of the law. This landmark legislation resulted in large part from the need to shore up the Social Security system by broadening its base (mandating coverage of the federal civilian work force), along with pressure from then-President Ronald Reagan to reduce federal spending.  Through a remarkable combination of bipartisanship and trust among key players in both the House and Senate (then controlled by different parties) and shrewd legislative strategizing, lawmakers enacted a sweeping and cost-cutting law that fundamentally restructured retirement benefits.  Success of the law can be seen in the fact that, in the current debate over cutting federal spending, no sweeping proposals have been made to cut federal retirement benefits (although there is a proposal to raise workers’ contributions to their retirement plan). Congress created FERS with three basic elements:

  • Mandatory Social Security coverage of civilian federal workers as a base. 
  • A basic and mandatory defined benefit pension plan, but with a lower level of benefits than the rich plan that existed at the time.
  • A new voluntary thrift savings 401(k)-type plan (patterned after the private sector) where worker contributions matched by the employer would be invested in a limited variety of investment funds.  The changes applied to most federal civilian workers hired after 1983, including the foreign service and intelligence agencies. 

Despite initial opposition from labor groups and veto threats, Congress ultimately enacted a plan that reduced federal spending and eventually won strong support from federal workers, particularly because of the Thrift Savings Plan.  Lawmakers deliberately and carefully insulated TSP from political manipulation and minimized impact of the federal workers’ investments in the financial markets. At 25 years, FERS stands as a strong testament to the foresightedness and five-year-long process that led to its enactment. Potential Social Security changes being considered today by those trying to reduce the budget deficit, such as raising the Social Security normal retirement age, will not require changes to FERS like those forced on the existing federal retirement system at time of the 1983 Social Security Amendments.  Still, FERS benefits would likely be affected by such changes. A more significant proposal being floated today to curtail federal budget deficits is an increase to employee contributions to the defined benefit component of FERS. Increased employee contributions would reduce the government’s projected normal cost contribution amounts.  Currently, FERS employees contribute 0.8 percent of pay to FERS.  Some proposals recommend increasing contribution amount to one-half of the projected cost, or 6.25 percent of pay. The most interesting question is whether federal pension reform as embodied by FERS can provide useful background for state pension programs.  There are currently 15 states whose employees are not covered by Social Security.  Public pension reform must be done with a great deal of forethought, inclusion of relevant parties and appropriate studies, showing likely impact of such changes.  Clearly, federal pension reform proved to be a highly successful model of those approaches.  It may also provide background for governors and legislators as they seek to address their own public employee retirement program structures and issues of whether to include all state and local workers in Social Security. EBRI is a private, nonprofit research institute that focuses on health, savings, retirement and economic security issues.  EBRI does not lobby and does not take policy positions. 

5.      IRS INCREASES MILEAGE RATE TO 55.5 CENTS PER MILE: Internal Revenue Service has announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rates for the final six months of 2011. Taxpayers may use the optional standard rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and other purposes. The rate will increase to 55.5 cents a mile for all business miles driven from July 1, 2011 throughDecember 31, 2011, an increase of 4.5 cents from the 51 cent rate in effect for the first six months of 2011. In recognition of recent gasoline price increases, IRS made this special adjustment for the final months of 2011. IRS normally updates mileage rates once a year in the fall for the next calendar year. The optional business standard mileage rate is used to compute deductible costs of operating an automobile for business use in lieu of tracking actual costs.  The rate is also used as a benchmark by the federal government and many businesses to reimburse their employees for mileage. The new six-month rate for computing deductible medical or moving expenses will also increase by 4.5 cents to 23.5 cents a mile, up from 19 cents for the first six months.  The rate for providing services for charitable organizations is set by statute, not IRS, and remains at 14 cents a mile. IR-2011-69 (June 23, 2011). 

6.      INTERNATIONAL FIRE CODE PROVISIONS “CONFUSING MAZE”: Suspended from firefighting duties after his EMT certification was placed on probationary status for unlawful use of nebulizer, Preston, a volunteer firefighter, sued based on the International Fire Code’s protection of fire code officials. However, just because he, at times, had conducted fire inspections does not mean that he was such an official. The concurring opinion expressed dismay at the confusing maze of International Fire Code provisions relevant to who may be considered a fire code official entitled to the protections of the Due Process Clause. Preston v. City of Pleasant Hill, Case No. 10-1899 (U.S. 8th Cir., June 21, 2011). This summary is from Chuck Carlson. 

7.      NEW FLORIDA LAW WILL LIMIT BONUSES, SEVERANCE PAY: Chapter 2011-143, effective July 1, 2011, will affect public employee compensation in several ways. Any policy, ordinance, rule or resolution designed to implement a bonus scheme must: (a) base the award of a bonus on work performance; (b) describe the performance standards and evaluation process by which a bonus will be awarded; (c) notify all employees of the policy, ordinance, rule or resolution before beginning of the evaluation period on which a bonus will be based; and (d) consider all employees for the bonus. On or after July 1, 2011, a unit of government that enters into a contract or employment agreement, or renewal or renegotiation of an existing contract or employment agreement, that contains a provision for severance pay with an officer, agent, employee or contractor must include the following provisions in the contract: (1) a requirement that severance pay provided may not exceed an amount greater than 20 weeks of compensation and (2) a prohibition of provision of severance pay when the officer, agent, employee or contractor has been fired for misconduct. On or after July 1,.2011, an officer, agent, employee or contractor may receive severance pay that is not provided for in a contract or employment agreement if the severance pay represents settlement of an employment dispute. Such severance pay may not exceed an amount greater than 6 weeks of compensation.  The settlement may not include provisions that limit ability of any party to the settlement to discuss the dispute or settlement. “Severance pay” means the actual or constructive compensation, including salary, benefits, or perquisites, for employment services yet to be rendered that is provided to an employee who has recently been or is about to be terminated.  The term does not include compensation for earned and accrued annual, sick, compensatory or administrative leave; early retirement under provisions established in an actuarially-funded pension plan; or any subsidy for cost of a group insurance plan available to an employee upon normal or disability retirement that is by policy available to all employees. 

8.      TOO BIG TO PAY FOR THEIR BREACHES?: If the government will not hold senior executives and companies responsible for criminal wrongdoing by igniting the subprime meltdown, then private lawsuits must be used to try to fill the void. Writing in Economist’s View, Chad Johnson says that two-and-a-half years removed from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the investing public has grown increasingly frustrated with lack of criminal prosecutions of, and absence of truly significant fines levied against, senior executives and companies responsible for igniting the subprime meltdown ... despite significant evidence of intentional misconduct. For decades, the public’s trust in integrity of U.S. capital markets was a source of economic stability and unparalleled prosperity.  To maintain this trust, investors must believe that they compete on a relatively equal playing field, and that laws governing markets will be strictly enforced.  In furtherance of these goals, violators of federal rules face civil penalties from the Securities and Exchange Commission or criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice.  Now, more than ever, private lawsuits are needed to supplement the existing regulatory structure, both to ensure that shareholders are adequately compensated for their losses and to send a strong message that fraudulent conduct will not be tolerated.  Indeed, institutional investors continue vigorously to prosecute suits against companies and executives at the heart of the mortgage crisis, well after SEC and DOJ have shuttered their civil and criminal investigations.  While SEC has reached several settlements in connection with misconduct related to the financial meltdown, those settlements have been characterized as cheap, hollow, bloodless and merely cosmetic. DOJ has faced similar criticism for its lack of prosecutions.  It has increasingly fallen to institutional investors to hold mortgage lenders, investment banks and other large financial institutions accountable for their role in the mortgage crisis. For example, sophisticated public pension funds are currently prosecuting actions involving billions of dollars of losses against Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Countrywide, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, among many others.  In some instances, there have already been significant recoveries for defrauded investors. Historically, institutional investors have achieved impressive results on behalf of shareholders when compared to government-led suits.  Indeed, since 1995, SEC settlements comprise only 5 percent of monetary recoveries arising from securities frauds, with the remaining 95 percent obtained through private litigation! 

9.      SEC ANNOUNCES 10 LARGEST SETTLEMENTS IN FIRST HALF OF 2011: Apropos the above item, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced its 10 largest settlements in the first half of this year. They are, according to citybizlist.com: 

Defendant                                                           Amount (millions)

1. Milowe Allen Brost & Gary Allen
    Sorsenson                                                     $310

2. US Pension Trust Corp & US College
     Trust Corp.                                                     $113

3. Jacob “Kobi” Alexander – cofounder,
     Converse Technology                                   $54

4. Alcatel-Lucent, S.A.                                                $45

5.  Joseph P. Nacchio, former CEO, Quest
     Communications Intl.                                     $45

6. Daniel Spitzer, controller, eighteen
     Entities                                                           $44

7. Banc of America Securities                          $36

8. AXA Rosenberg Group                                $25

9. BNY Mellon Securities LLC                          $24

10. Pride International                                       $24

SEC settled with 344 defendants in the first half, putting the agency on pace to settle with 688 for the full year, compared to 681 settlements in fiscal year 2010. While total SEC settlements have remained stable, there has been a substantial shift in their composition.  The number of company settlements increased 43% to 114, for an annual pace of 228, compared to 160 company settlements in 2010.  However, individual settlements declined 12% in the first half to 230, an annual pace of 460, compared to 521 last year. One other interesting factoid: For companies where settlements included a monetary amount, the average amount declined to $6.0 Million from $18.5 Million, although the median increased to $1.4 Million from $0.8 Million. 

10.    HEDGE FUND RETURNS $230 MILLION HELD IN OFFSHORE ACCOUNT TO U.S.: In a case that might eventually effect the Securities and Exchange Commission’s statistics on settlements, its lawyers told a federal court that $230 Million held in an offshore account by a hedge fund has been returned to the U.S., and will remain frozen pending completion of SEC’s Ponzi scheme lawsuit against the fund’s adviser and its principal.  SEC said the money was returned as a result of a court order obtained by SEC in its case against Francisco Illarramendi and his firm Highview Point Partners LLC, which managed three hedge funds. SEC Release 2011-135 (June 28, 2011). 

11.    CALIFORNIA LAW RESTRICTING SALE OR RENTAL OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES TO MINORS DOES NOT PASS CONSTITUTIONAL MUSTER: Entertainment Merchants Association, representing the video-game and software industries, filed a preenforcement challenge to a California law that restricts sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The Federal District Court concluded that the Act violated the First Amendment and permanently enjoined its enforcement.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed. On certiorari proceedings, the United States Supreme Court upheld the appellate court, determining that the Act did not comport with the First Amendment.   Video games qualify for First Amendment protection.  Like protected books, plays and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium.  And the basic principles of freedom of speech do not vary with a new and different communication medium. The most basic principle -- that government lacks power to restrict expression because of its message, ideas, subject matter or content -- is subject to a few limited exceptions for historically unprotected speech, such as obscenity, incitement and fighting words.  But a legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test. Because the Act imposes a restriction on content of protected speech, it is invalid unless California can demonstrate that it passes strict scrutiny, that is, it is justified by a compelling government interest and is narrowly drawn to serve that interest.  California cannot meet that standard.  Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, Case No. 08-1448 (U.S., June 27, 2011). 

12.    ARIZONA ELECTION MATCHING FUNDS SCHEME VIOLATES FIRST AMENDMENT: The Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Act created a public financing system to fund primary and general election campaigns of candidates for state office.  Candidates who opted to participate, and who accepted certain campaign restrictions and obligations, are granted an initial outlay of public funds to conduct their campaign.  They are also granted additional matching funds if a privately-financed candidate’s expenditures, combined with expenditures of independent groups made in support of the privately-financed candidate or in opposition to a publicly-financed candidate, exceed the publicly-financed candidate’s initial state allotment.  Once matching funds are triggered, a publicly-financed candidate receives roughly one dollar for every dollar raised or spent by the privately-financed candidate (including any money of his own that a privately-financed candidate spends on his campaign) and for every dollar spent by independent groups that support the privately-financed candidate. Past and future Arizona candidates and two independent groups that spend money to support and oppose Arizona candidates, challenged constitutionality of the matching funds provision, arguing that it unconstitutionally penalized their speech and burdened their ability fully to exercise their First Amendment rights.  The District Court entered a permanent injunction against enforcement, the Ninth Circuit reversed, concluding that the provision imposed only a minimal burden and that the burden was justified by Arizona’s interest in reducing political corruption. On review by the United States Supreme Court, the appellate ruling was reversed. Arizona’s matching funds scheme substantially burdens political speech and is not sufficiently justified by a compelling interest to survive First Amendment scrutiny.  Evaluating wisdom of public financing as a means of funding political candidacy is not the Court’s business.  However, determining whether laws governing campaign finance violate the First Amendment is.  The government may engage in public financing of election campaigns, and doing so can further significant governmental interests. Nevertheless, the goal of creating a viable public financing scheme can only be pursued in a manner consistent with the First Amendment.  Arizona’s program gives money to a candidate in direct response to the campaign speech of an opposing candidate or an independent group, and does so when the opposing candidate has chosen not to accept public financing, and has engaged in political speech above a level set by the State.  The scheme goes too far; and Arizona’s matching funds provision substantially burdens speech of privately-financed candidates and independent expenditure groups without serving a compelling state interest.  Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, Case No. 10-238 (U.S., June 27, 2011). 

13.    BACK-STORY ON WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT DECISION: Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers earlier this month, according to readersupportednews.org. But theMilwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted sources saying Prosser made contact with Bradley to defend himself after she charged toward him. Details of the incident, investigated jointly by Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, remain sketchy.  However, sources say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a law to curtail collective bargaining by public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices (see C&C Newsletter for June 23, 2011, Item 1).  Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands. (Apparently, his hands were not very Learned, either.) The matter has also been called to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which investigates allegations of misconduct involving judges.  Prosser, 68, a former Republican legislator who served as Assembly Speaker, was appointed to the court in 1998 by Gov. Tommy Thompson.  He won a high-profile April election that was described as a referendum on GOP Gov. Scott Walker -- including the collective bargaining changes.  Prosser, after a recount, defeated his challenger by 7,000 votes out of 1.5 million cast. The controversial decision was released eight days after the court heard oral arguments on the case and the day after the current Assembly Speaker suggested the court could rule on the matter soon, adding his party intended to introduce the changes as a budget amendment the following day if the court did not act by then. In March, in a disagreement over a different case, Prosser called another justice a “total bitch”, and threatened to “destroy” her. For his part, Prosser confirmed the remarks, saying he “probably overreacted” while accusing both other judges of being “masters at deliberately goading people into perhaps incautious statements.” Nice example of judicial restraint. 

14.    IS THERE A FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO VIDEOTAPE AN ARREST?: Whether there is a First Amendment right to videotape police officers conducting their public duties dominated oral argument at the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month. As reported by law.com, the hearing was over an appeal by the city of Boston and three police officers of an order from the U.S. District Court for the District ofMassachusetts that denied their motion to dismiss the videotaper’s lawsuit against them. Last year, Massachusetts lawyer Simon Glik sued three Boston police officers and the city for arresting him because he used his cell phone to videotape a 2007 arrest near the Boston Common.  Glik alleges that one of the officers approached him after placing the suspect in handcuffs and said, “I think you have taken enough pictures.” Glik responded that he was recording the arrest and had seen that officer punch the suspect.  The police charged Glik with violating the Massachusetts Wiretap Act (which bars secret audio recordings by unlawfully intercepting oral communications), aiding in the escape of a prisoner and disturbing the peace. The Boston Municipal Court dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause, finding that Glik’s recording was not secret because he openly held out his cell phone while recording the officers making the arrest. Glik filed a civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983, claiming the officers were liable for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights.  The officers’ motion for dismissal claimed they had qualified immunity for the arrest on several grounds: one, Glik did not have a clear First Amendment right to use a cellular phone to videotape the police and, two, the arrest did not violate Glik’s Fourth Amendment rights because it was lawful under the Massachusetts Wiretap Act.  Even if the arrest was not lawful, the police were “reasonably mistaken” in their belief that Glik had violated the Massachusetts Wiretap Act. Glik argued that implications of a ruling that he had no right to make the recording would be “staggering,” but he did not specify in what way. 

15.    S&P 500 REPORT ON PENSIONS AND OTHER POST-EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Standard & Poors has issued a report of its Indices for 2010 of S&P 500 Pensions and Other Post-Employment Benefits. The 12.4% global market rebound of 2010 improved the S&P 500 pension funding rate to 83.9% from 81.7%. The discount rate declined to 5.31% from 5.81 % and expected return rate declined to 7.73% from 7.83%. Other findings include: 

  • Funds transfer equity profits to reallocate asset positions, affirming equity’s allocation at a reduced 51%, and safety concerns. 
  • Corporate pensions have become an acceptable and manageable expense, well within income and asset levels. 
  • For baby boomers, few options remain for a comfortable retirement, and there are fewer years for boomers significantly to add income to their retirement resources, outside of staying in the workforce longer. 

Clearly, the new reality replaces the American dream of a golden retirement. Too bad. 

16.    THE MOST UNKINDEST CUT OF ALL: A nationwide debate about circumcisions for newborn boys, combined with cash-strapped public health budgets, has Colorado taking sides with 17 other states that no longer fund Medicaid coverage of the once widely-accepted procedure. The Associated Press reports that Colorado lawmakers have long considered doing away with funding for circumcisions under Medicaid -- a move that would save the state $186,500 a year. Now facing a budget shortfall estimated to be $1 Billion, lawmakers have finally approved the change, which takes effect July 1, 2011. The matter of circumcisions has gotten contentious in California, where San Francisco will be the first city to hold a public vote in November on whether to ban the practice. Jewish and Muslim families are challenging that proposal in court, claiming it violates their right to practice their religion and decide what is best for their children.  Supporters of the ballot initiative say male circumcision Is a form of genital mutilation that parents should not be able to force on their children. (Right…wait until they are adults.) 

17.    IT’S GOOD TO BE KING, UH, MAYOR: During the four decades he held public office -- as mayor of Chicago, Cook County state’s attorney and Illinois state senator -- Richard M. Daley paid a total of $394,000 into his government pension plans. He will get all of it back within 26 months, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Daley has begun collecting his pension, which, for now, comes to $184,000 a year.  Next year he will start getting automatic cost-of-living raises that will boost his pension by 3 percent every year.  Daley chose to retire under the state’s most lucrative government pension plan, the one that Illinois legislators set up for themselves.  It provides Daley with a pension equal to 85 percent of his final mayoral salary of $216,000.  The state pays two-thirds of the pension.  The city (which also provides the former mayor and his wife with two cars and bodyguards) picks up the rest.   

18.    INVESTORS MAY FUND SOCIAL PROGRAMS: Boston.com reports that Massachusetts could be among the first states in the country to raise money for social services by offering investors the chance to earn profits on programs they establish. The approach is known as “social impact bonds”’ or “pay for success.”’  It is based on the idea that if programs backed by investors succeed in reducing, for example, the number of inmates in prison or the homeless population, governments will realize big savings, which they can tap to pay off investors with healthy returns.  If the programs fail, the government would owe little or nothing. The state is already sifting through more than two dozen suggestions from nonprofits on how to create such performance-based programs. One example is a Chelsea nonprofit that works with high-risk young adults, which has proposed an intervention program that would work with an estimated 650 young offenders and cost about $11 Million over four years.  But the entity estimates the program would save $25 Million-$38 Million in prison costs during that span by reducing the incarceration rate. 

19.    RAMBLINGS: Business News:  according to the latest reports, medical marijuana sales in this country are now approaching $2 Billion a year. We had no idea that so many people had glaucoma.  

20.    PARAPROSDOKIAN: (A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect.):  You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice. 

21.    QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” General George S. Patton

22.    ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: In 1988, Chicago agrees to build a new stadium so White Sox won’t move to Florida. 

23.    KEEP THOSE CARDS AND LETTERS COMING: Several readers regularly supply us with suggestions or tips for newsletter items. Please feel free to send us or point us to matters you think would be of interest to our readers. Subject to editorial discretion, we may print them. Rest assured that we will not publish any names as referring sources. 

24.    PLEASE SHARE OUR NEWSLETTER: Our newsletter readership is not limited to the number of people who choose to enter a free subscription. Many pension board administrators provide hard copies in their meeting agenda. Other administrators forward the newsletter electronically to trustees. In any event, please tell those you feel may be interested that they can subscribe to their own free copy of the newsletter athttp://www.cypen.com/subscribe.htm. Thank you. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.


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