Change will not come naturally to corporate boards without diversity quotas, according to Ursula M. Burns, the former chairman and CEO of Xerox. She was the first Black female chief executive of a Fortune 500 company.
“I was dead set against quotas, but now I think quotas are absolutely, positively acceptable,” Burns said in a keynote panel for the California Conference for Women. “They’re the punishment that you get when you don’t do the right thing by yourself.”
She noted how a change in the Golden State’s laws spurred the naming of female directors, in a conversation with California first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who helped found gender equity nonprofit California Partners Project, directed the documentary film “Miss Representation,” and moderated the panel. Burns pointed out that public companies in California were quick to find women for their directorships when it was mandated by law in 2018, despite previously insisting that there is too little female talent in the pipeline.
However, there is no significant budgetary reform in the offing, and California’s cities and counties feel no compunction to address the issue. In fact, these days several municipalities are taking steps that will ultimately serve to exacerbate the shortfall by bringing in all of their emergency services “in house,” rather than contracting out emergency services to a private entity.
The rationale typically given for such steps is that doing ambulance and fire services completely in house helps coordinate emergency responses and creates efficiencies, improving services and saving them money.
However, such efforts rarely manage to help towns—or the state, for that matter—to save money. Contracting out ambulance services is typically done by smaller communities that don’t have the demand to support a full-time ambulance crew, which can be expensive—a tricked-out ambulance alone costs over $150,000. Combining with another nearby community generates economies of scale.
Certain occupational sectors have been associated with high excess mortality during the pandemic, particularly among racial and ethnic groups also disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In-person essential work is a likely venue of transmission of coronavirus infection and must be addressed through strict enforcement of health orders in workplace settings and protection of in-person workers. Vaccine distribution prioritizing in-person essential workers will be important for reducing excess COVID mortality.
Author(s): Yea-Hung Chen, Maria Glymour, Alicia Riley, John Balmes, Kate Duchowny, Robert Harrison, Ellicott Matthay, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo
Teachers are upset at the Marin County Board of Education for discussing pension reform in the middle of a pandemic without any feedback from labor unions. The county board considered a resolution last month that calls on state legislators to enact pension reform, proposing several possible solutions—including weakening pensions by reducing benefits and raising the retirement age. Teachers spoke out against the nonbinding resolution, which was tabled in response to their concerns.
School districts and employees have no say in how much they pay. At Shoreline, about 10 percent of the general fund is paid to retirement funds.
The required contribution from districts has steadily risen following the passage of A.B. 1469, which was intended to fully fund CalSTRS. When the bill passed in 2014, the state required districts to pay 8.88 percent of their payroll to the teachers’ retirement system. This year, they are required to pay 16.15 percent. Mandated CalPERS contributions have risen from 11.77 to 20.7 percent of payroll costs in the same timeframe, leaving less money within districts for direct education costs.
The rising liability caught the eye of the Joint Legislative Advisory Committee, a countywide group of elected school board members and superintendents created to advocate on behalf of public education in Marin. Pension reform has been a priority for the committee since 2014, and it’s been the number-one goal since 2017.
Despite the stark difference in policy, both countries saw remarkably similar COVID-19 trends this winter. According to Worldometer’s numbers, the seven-day average of new cases peaked in the U.K. on January 9; it peaked in the U.S. two days later. That number then fell sharply in both countries. As of yesterday, it was down 81 percent in the U.K. and 73 percent in the U.S.
Daily deaths are also falling in both countries. As of yesterday, the seven-day average in the U.K. was down 61 percent from the peak on January 23. In the U.S., it was down 43 percent from the peak on January 26. Given the dramatic drop in daily new cases that began more than a month ago, daily deaths should continue to fall.
The same story of starkly different policies and similar outcomes emerges from a comparison of Texas and California, the two most populous states. While California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a new lockdown on December 3, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did not impose new restrictions, and the state remained largely open. Yet since mid-January, the two states have seen almost the same drop in the seven-day average of newly reported cases, which has fallen by 85 percent in California and 81 percent in Texas.
That is what happened in San Francisco, where voters passed a wealth tax beyond efforts for the state or federal level. It is described as an “overpaid executive tax” which would apply to those firms in the city which pay their officers more than 100 times the median worker salary. While decisions on whether to enact tax hikes are best left to local residents instead of to the bureaucrats in Sacramento or the District of Columbia, the new wealth tax in San Francisco could now create unintended negative effects, including a significant exodus of rich earners who move out of the city.
The Bay Area is home to the widest income gap in California. Those local residents in the top 90th percentile earned over 12 times more than those local residents in the bottom 10th percentile. The combination of historic market policies and current socialist policies established such separation of classes in the state. The success of the technology industry in tandem with high tax rates and building restrictions created this situation where someone could earn over $100,000 a year and live in his car.
A record 699 people died of overdoses from January through December in 2020, according to a new report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. This number may seem surprising amid the global COVID-19 pandemic when San Francisco has shuttered schools and businesses to prevent deaths. In S.F., 235 people passed away from complications of the coronavirus in 2020.
From March 1 through August 22, 2020, 146 557 deaths were recorded in California, with an estimated 19 806 (95% prediction interval, 16 364-23 210) deaths in excess of those predicted by historical trends (Table). Per capita excess mortality was highest among people aged 65 years and older, men, Black and Latino residents, and those without a college degree. Comparing deaths in March through April vs May through August, Latino residents and those without a high school degree or general education development (GED) certificate had the greatest increase in excess deaths, with Latino deaths tripling (from 16 to 51 excess deaths per million) and deaths in those without a high school degree/GED increasing by a factor of 3.4 (from 21 to 72 excess deaths per million). Across age groups, younger adults had the greatest increases in excess death, with rates more than doubling between shutdown and reopening (age, 25-54 years: from 4 to 11 excess deaths per million, 55-64 years: from 12 to 30 excess deaths per million).
In most weeks of the pandemic, Black residents had higher per capita excess mortality than other racial/ethnic group (Figure). Late in the shelter-in-place period, White, Asian, and Black residents had a decline in excess per capita mortality. In contrast, Latino residents and those without a high school degree/GED saw a substantial and sustained increase in per capita mortality.
Author(s): Yea-Hung Chen, PhD, MS1; M. Maria Glymour, ScD, MS2; Ralph Catalano, PhD, MRP3; et al
California is pushing shots into arms at a much faster clip than it was just a month ago — closing in on the national average, with vows to accelerate even further — but the pace of COVID-19 vaccinations varies greatly from county to county within the Golden State.
A Southern California News Group analysis of state data found that smaller counties with fewer people and less complicated logistics are leading the pack in vaccinating their residents: Little Mono, with 14,526 residents, ranked No. 1, managing to vaccinate one out of every three residents. On its heels was tiny Alpine, population 1,209, getting shots into 27 percent of its residents.
Author(s): TERI SFORZA, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
That hasn’t deterred governments. Nationwide, cities and states issued $6.1 billion in pension obligation bonds in 2020, more than in any year since 2008, according to data compiled by Municipal Market Analytics, a research firm. States with significant new pension borrowings last year included Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Texas. In California, cities borrowed more than $3.7 billion to squirrel away at various public pension funds, breaking the old state record of $3.5 billion, set in 1994.
It’s a major comeback for this type of debt, said Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics who has been writing about the deals for years. “They’re borrowing money and basically putting it into the market and gambling,” he said.
Mr. Fabian said his firm’s tally almost certainly missed the borrowing by municipalities that took West Covina’s approach, because those bonds used different names. Flagstaff rented its City Hall, libraries and fire stations last year to back a pension deal marketed as “certificates of participation.” In January, Tucson did the same, leasing two police helicopters, a zoo conservation center, five golf courses and the bleachers at its rodeo grounds, among other things. And a Chicago suburb, Berwyn, used “conveyed tax securitization bonds” to help fund police pensions.
As stark disparities emerge in vaccination rates, L.A. County officials are jump-starting efforts to improve access for people of color. Strategies include creating more vaccination sites as well as better public messaging campaigns, improving access to transportation and reserving spots at neighborhood vaccination locations before people from other parts of the county can scoop them up.
“We have a lot of work to do to fix this,” L.A. County public health director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday at a county Board of Supervisors meeting. “However way you cut this data, it’s clear that in some of our hardest-hit communities, there are populations that are not getting vaccinated at the same rate as other groups.”
On Tuesday morning, Darby stood in line yet again, this time at a vaccination blitz in South Park aimed at administering doses to 800 seniors, particularly Blacks and Latinos, as well as healthcare workers in four days. Though there are historical and cultural issues that may make Black residents skeptical of vaccines, the biggest issue in L.A. County thus far has been access, said Councilman Curren Price, who helped plan the event.
Author(s): RUBEN VIVES, JACLYN COSGROVE AND SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA, LOS ANGELES TIMES
The public pension system lost $1 trillion, a 21 percent loss for the fiscal year, following the COVID-19 lockdowns in March. In turn, these losses have added an overwhelming amount of stress on our public pension systems, as state and local pensions were already facing a $4.1 trillion shortfall. Public pension liabilities are on track to increase to $1.62 trillion this year, up from $1.35 trillion in 2019. These numbers are alarming as many governments now have less capacity to defer cost hikes or take mitigating actions because their non-asset cash flow has greatly declined.
Two of America’s most dire pension plan systems are in California and Illinois, two of the country’s largest states with large numbers of workers in defined contribution plans. In California, the economic effects of the virus are evident on the already strained public pension system. At the end of the first quarter, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, reported that their asset value had dropped 10.5 percent since June 2019 — a loss of $35 billion. Matters have only gotten worse in Illinois and could soon hit a level of catastrophe if aid does not come forth. Moody’s estimates that Illinois’ pension liability will rise from $230 billion in 2019 to $261 billion in 2020.
Author(s): Kevin O’Connor
Publication Date: 28 January 2021
Publication Site: Institute for Pension Fund Integrity