Excessive waste

The cost of meeting California’s public pension commitments always competes with the services taxpayers need and deserve on a daily basis. These services usually lose the battle, because of the legal obligation to pay for the pensions. We are aware that due to the financial crisis and stock market losses, many public pension funds do not have enough money to meet their obligations. That is why it seems to us so out of place that these funds have organized a luxury conference on the Hawaiian island of Waikiki in May, with the objective of “saving the funds”—at a cost of $2,600 per person. At least four pension plans, the ones for the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego and Contra Costa, and the one for the City of Los Angeles, will be sending several representatives of their boards of directors to the conference. They will be there to “network” and take seminars, at least in the mornings, because they will have the afternoons off to enjoy the pools and beaches or the beautiful facilities of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, which has “more pools, more beach, more paradise.” After news of this broke, some members of pension fund boards cancelled their travel plans. Annual conferences are certainly necessary, but having a multi-day retreat at a luxury hotel thousands of miles away in the Pacific does not give the best image in the eyes of taxpayers. Tightening the belt should apply to everyone equally.