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Hiltzik: The CalPERS board is wasting time hunting wizards

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Hiltzik: The CalPERS board is wasting time hunting wizards

From time to time, the CalPERS board seems determined to make us think of it as a kindergarten group playing with adult clothes.

In the past, we have documented internal overheating on J.J. Jelincic, whose main violation seems to challenge the satisfaction of other trustees about what they know about the giant retirement fund investment strategy.

There was the board’s penchant for CalPERS CEO Margie Frost, who in 2018 was given a 4% increase (to $ 330,720) and a generous $ 84,873 bonus even after questions were raised about whether he had misrepresented the credibility of his education and led a spectacular detonation of exceptions without exception. appointed to the job of chief financial officer.

This is just a way to silence me.

Trusted CalPER, Margaret Brown

Now there is what appears to be a disciplined campaign carried out against other dissident councils. He is Margaret Brown, who was elected in 2017 as a broad representative of CalPERS members – that is, civil servants and retirees – and has since urged the board and staff for their shortcomings.

On December 20, Council President Henry Jones notified Brown via email that he unilaterally imposed “personal discipline” on him, as if he was using “CalPERS” as part of his social media hand despite being advised that it violated California law and CalPERS policies .

Jones’s power to discipline Brown is clearly plenary. It does not require approval or even consultation with anyone on the 13-member administrative council, and cannot be appealed. If you think “his personal discipline” sounds like “Double Secret Trial” collected by Dean Wormer on the fire-resistant brothers of the Delta frat in the film “Animal House,” you will not get an argument here.

But it is played to laugh. This is very serious. Jones’s actions provoked Brown to file a lawsuit on June 16 in the Sacramento High Court. He seeking a court order forcing the council to cancel its discipline and give him an administrative appeal hearing before a neutral judge.

Jones’s disciplinary order prohibits Brown from accepting reimbursement for CalPERS business trips until the end of this month, except for attending board and committee meetings. That means he will be refused reimbursement for meetings with the public or his constituents, or professional conferences on important issues for the fund, such as health financing conferences.

“This is just a way to silence me,” Brown told me.

Jones also warned he would “take [her] into account in 2020 when I consider the appointment of the committee. “Indeed, he has already expelled Brown from the council’s investment committee as part of the council restructuring committee which was passed last summer.

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Jones instructed Brown to undergo a new member orientation again, even though he participated in the program when he was first elected. He criticized him for “engaging in behavior that failed to meet the standards of ethical behavior anticipated by Government Policy” – that is, “improper use of the name CalPERS.”

Brown insisted there was more to it. “Sometimes my opinion does not support what the staff and majority of the council wants,” he told me.

One can sympathize, to a certain extent, with 13 board members who try to solve problems like outspoken members, especially those who value politeness less than they like. But one might also think that the CalPERS board is more worried than the alleged missteps of members.

The CalPERS investment portfolio, which is the largest public pension fund in the country, has anything but sterling players in recent years.

As of December 31, the fund’s public equity investment, which accounts for about half of a portfolio of around $ 400 billion, lagged behind their benchmark indexes in the five years, three years, one year and fiscal year to date (since July 1) timeframe.

Private equity investments, which comprise almost 7% of the portfolio, do much worse, yielding only 1.6% from July 1 to December 31, compared to the benchmark goal of 4.4%. One bright spot is real estate, which generated 6.3% in 2019, or about 1.75 percentage points above its benchmark index.

But overall, CalPERS is ranked consistently in the middle of the package 49 public pension funds tracked by the Pension & Investment bulletin. That performance may be an artifact of mere fund size, because beating the market average is more difficult for large portfolios. But that only makes it more important that the council focus on Job 1, which protects the financial interests of its members.

There is no question that Brown has become a thorn in the side of the council. On several occasions, he chose as a minority.

In 2018, he was the only board member to vote against raising salaries and bonuses for Frost. Even the then State Treasurer John Chiang, who sat on the ex officio board, choose to agree to Frost’s compensation, although he also requested an inquiry into whether Frost misrepresented his educational experience.

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As we report, Frost does not have a college degree. That has been known since he was appointed as CEO in 2016. The problem is whether he misrepresents his registration in a program at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, which aims to obtain a bachelor’s degree and a double master’s degree in public administration. The Evergreen administrator, however, said that there were no such dual programs.

Brown upset fellow board members again in April through his sharp criticism of CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Ben Meng over financial hedges that would reduce losses to pension funds during the stock market associated with the corona plunge virus earlier this year.

At a March 18 board meeting, official transcripts showed, Brown asked Meng how hedges do – specifically, do they work as expected.

“They have to perform well in this kind of bottom market, because they are designed to do so,” Meng answered. “And from what we know … most of this strategy went as expected.”

But Meng did not voluntarily say that CalPERS had actually removed one of the hedges just weeks before the decline. That removes the pension fund from an estimated profit of more than $ 1 billion. Meng said later that hedges were expensive and throwing them away seemed a good idea at the time.

“We must strongly reject the ‘resulting bias’ – look at recent results and then use those results to assess the benefits of a decision,” he said later in his defense.

Instead of examining Meng’s negligence on information that was clearly relevant at the March 18 meeting, the board members then piled up at Brown. In April 20 meeting from the board’s investment committee, members denounced Brown by name for allegedly bringing his criticism to the public – after “forcing and helping others get … wrong information,” in the words of Investment Committee Chairman Theresa Taylor.

“I think it is our duty to call bad behavior when we see it,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s complaint implicitly refers to a financial blog nakedcapitalism, whose owner, Susan Webber, has expertly controlled CalPERS investments and administrative failures for years. Webber, a financial analyst who writes under the name Yves Smith, said Brown was not the source he reports about Meng’s management from hedging.

What he stressed was the council’s strange misunderstanding about his own responsibilities. At the April 20 meeting, Taylor commented that “the board and staff … work as a team.”

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As Webber observed, that doesn’t make sense. The board is here to oversee the work of staff, not to make fun of its employees. “In fact,” Webber stated correctly, “the only legal duty of the council is to the beneficiaries.” Sometimes that will involve calling out bad behavior by staff when they see it – like blurring the truth about hedging strategies.

Recently, Brown questioned the policy to be increase CalPERS investment in private equity and private debt through leverage – that is, effectively by borrowing to make investments. That strategy can increase the risk of the fund’s position.

All of this made Jones’s actions against Brown seem trivial. CalPERS said the council took action only after Brown warned several times that the use of the fund’s name on his social media violated the law and its rules. Brown said he changed his grip in response to the “stop and stop” warning from the council, but that never seemed to be enough.

“I don’t see this as retaliation,” said board member Rob Feckner, a former council president, who was appointed to speak for the council. Feckner observed that other board members had been disciplined, and generally accepted their proceedings without announcing them to the public. “That doesn’t bother anyone,” he told me. “We have protocols in place and we all try and follow them. When you are one of the 13 who choose not to do it, you can either let it be or overcome it. ”

That said, the council seems to take a rather crab view of the sanctity of the CalPERS name. It is true state law prohibits individuals or companies that use government agency names or badges without permission, but the law applies to abuse with the aim of implying support for “products or services,” which Brown did not do.

This law also makes exceptions for anyone who has an “explicit relationship” with government institutions – such as, for example, membership in the CalPERS administrative council?

CalPERS, like other institutional investors, is facing a long period of portfolio uncertainty thanks to the corona virus outbreak. Brown may not be as polite and tactful as his colleagues want him to be, but he raises an important problem – sometimes alone. The council must listen to what he says, and pay less attention to how he says it.

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Nintendo’s official arrival brings physical media in Portuguese to Brazil

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Nintendo's official arrival brings physical media in Portuguese to Brazil

Nintendo officially enters the Brazilian market with physical media in an announcement at BGS.

  • Games include classic console games such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild;

  • The recommended price of each game will be 349 reais;

  • Sales will take place in selected stores.

Nintendo wasn’t kidding when it set itself the goal of increasing its presence in Brazil. In addition to opening dedicated social media accounts for the Brazilian public, the company will also introduce physical versions of its games by the end of this year.

Each of them will be accompanied by a national age rating, a description of the title in Portuguese, and illustrations and information on the back cover, also in our language. The novelty was presented during the opening of the Brasil Game Show. “Bringing smiles to Brazilian families is part of our mission in the country,” said Bill van Zill, Nintendo of America Senior Director and General Manager Latin America.

The first games to hit the Brazilian market will be a great choice. They will be present from classic games on the console to even recent releases. They are:

  • Super Smash Bros: Ultimate;

  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus;

  • platoon 3;

  • Mario Strikers: Battle League;

  • Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Rage;

  • Mario party superstars;

  • Super Mario Odyssey;

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild;

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons;

  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

“The arrival of select physical Nintendo games for the Nintendo Switch in Brazil symbolizes our commitment to offering consumers a variety of options to access Nintendo products and content.”

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Each of them will be offered at a suggested price of 349 reais and will be sold in selected stores. Nintendo has also released an exclusive package for the Brazilian market, consisting of the Nintendo Switch and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe digital version.

The package is on sale from September 30 at a price of 2599 reais. In addition to the console and game, the consumer will also receive a three-month subscription to Nintendo Switch Online.

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Real Hospital Portugus promotes Pink October campaign

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Photo: Divulgao.

In order to promote the prevention of breast cancer, the most common type in the world, surpassing lung cancer, Real Hospital Português is running the Pink October campaign. Early diagnosis is essential for quality of life, successful treatment, and increased chances of a cure. Thus, the October Rosa do Real Hospital Português will be divided into three areas: social action, an educational campaign and a running and walking circle.

With the completion of 50 biopsies in patients from the public network, the institution will facilitate access to the main examination for the diagnosis of breast cancer. “We will positively impact the lives of these patients with our work. Real Hospital Português is a center for the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, and together we will take an unprecedented initiative by providing services to the community,” emphasizes Luciana Limongi, a mastologist. The campaign will be held in partnership with the Real Instituto de Mastologia (RIMA), Real Patologia and Real Imagem, which have recently received the PADI Seal – Accreditation Program in Diagnostic Imaging.

Rosa’s October Run and Walk Scheme aims to warn of the importance of early breast cancer detection and encourage physical activity. According to the National Cancer Institute (Inca), about 30% of all cancers diagnosed in Brazil can be avoided through lifestyle changes. “Behavioral risk factors such as obesity and lack of physical activity are directly linked to the occurrence of breast cancer. That is why it is so important to develop healthy habits,” emphasizes the mastologist. The sporting event will take place on October 29, starting at 16:00, from Cais da Alphandega and will cover a 5 km route. Registration is open to the public at soucorredor.com.br.

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In addition, the educational campaign “To be strong, you must have a chest, take care of yourself and overcome yourself” painted the institution and social networks in pink, recalling that early diagnosis increases the chances of successful treatment by 90%. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct regular examinations and consult with a mastologist.

    (Photo: Reveal
Photo: Divulgao.

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Another Portuguese club declared insolvent

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Cova da Piedade x Estoril Campeonato Português

After Académica OAF, another Portuguese club is in a delicate position.

SAD CD Cova da Piedade, a team that played in the Portuguese Second League until 2021, has become the latest Portuguese sports organization to file for insolvency.

After being relegated due to failing to submit all legal paperwork to play in the Segunda Liga in 2021/2022, Margem Sul’s SAD ended up playing in Ligue 3 and decided to suspend seniors this season and juniors. football 19.

In a conversation with Lusa, club president Paulo Veiga said he was waiting “further position from the club’s legal department.” However, the club, which is also one of the largest creditors of SAD do Cova da Piedade, is confident of a football asset as early as next season: “Guaranteed next season we will have a senior team and a junior team representing the colors of Cova da Piedade.”

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