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City Pensions: Kolin Responds to Courier

The Beverly Hills city manager takes issue with the newspaper on a couple of points in a recent article about the budget surplus and employee pensions.

City Manager Jeff Kolin sent a letter to the Beverly Hills Courier last week challenging the newspaper's reporting on the city's budget surplus and employee pensions.

Kolin focused on two points in a Feb. 8 front-page article headlined "City Of Beverly Hills Short $106 Million For Pensions" with a subheadline that read "Mayor Willie Brien’s 'Surplus' Fake; Debt Jumps $23 Million Since 2009."

"To say there wasn't a surplus because the City still has unfunded pension liability is like saying someone who received a raise at work didn't really get a raise because they still have a home mortgage," Kolin wrote.

The city manager also challenged the Courier's claim that the pension fund for government employees in California, known as CalPERS, returns less than 1.5 percent on its investments.

"A better indicator of long-term results can be found by looking at CalPERS' historical rates of return since 1990," Kolin wrote. "Not counting 2012, the average rate of return over that 22-year period was approximately 8.5 percent. It is debatable whether such a return can be achieved in the decades going forward, but by any measure long-term earnings have far exceeded the 1.5% reported by the Courier."

The newspaper defended its reporting in a website posting Friday:

"The Courier relied on as the source for its article, as well as information directly from City Hall. ... The Beverly Hills Courier stands by its reporting of the current pension deficits, future deficits, and its questioning of the alleged City 'surplus' for the current year."

Kolin's letter, which the newspaper has not published, is posted above as a .pdf file.

Click here to access the Feb. 8 Courier article.

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cutop February 19, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Thank you, Mr. Kolin for once again (http://beverlyhills.patch.com/articles/city-manager-writes-open-letter-to-courier-calling-for-retraction) standing up to the lies which the Courier spews. Clif Smith, owner and self-appointed publisher of the Courier, has a beef with certain council members, including Dr. Willie Brien, because they voted not to give as much taxpayer money to his paper as he was demanding for city advertising (http://beverlyhills.patch.com/articles/city-to-advertise-on-beverly-hills-patch). He is also bitter about the votes concerning his favored Rose Bowl Parade float (http://beverlyhills.patch.com/articles/city-council-declines-to-back-rose-float) and a Taste event which was sponsored by the L.A. Times (http://beverlyhills.patch.com/articles/bhef-receives-28-000-donation-from-taste-festival). Enough is enough. We, as a city, cannot let Clif Smith use his paper as a bully pulpit any longer. He extorts our politicians by warning them that if they don't vote his way, he will serve up bad press for them and attempt to turn the city against them. Now, Smith is turning his pen against Dr. Brien, one of the brightest, diplomatic and most dignified people to grace the mayor's chair. It would be a shame to lose Brien now. We need rational and thoughtful people occupying all of the council member chairs – not volatile, paranoid reactionaries who bow to the demands of the Courier.

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