Today’s column in the Ely Times burrows into a district judge’s ruling declaring PERS pension payments are public records that should be available for all citizens to see.
Since the column was filed, I’ve been told by a PERS official that the board of the public employee pension program may decide as early as next week whether to comply with the judge’s ruling and make the records public or file an appeal.
I would recommend the board members read the judge’s ruling closely before choosing to waste time and the money of taxpayers and pensioners on such an appeal. District Court Judge James Russell’s ruling in a suit brought by the Reno-Gazette Journal meticulously spells out the legal, logical and public interest reasons that the names and pension payments of public employee retirees are a matter of public record and concern.
I’m sure the board will be tempted to chance an appeal, because some of the pensions being paid are what we rubes in the private sector would call eye-poppingly embarrassing.
Judge Russell even cites a California court case that specifically found the phrase “individual records of members” of a public pension program — very similar to the language in Nevada law allowing confidentiality of “files of individual members or retired employees” — did not mean names and benefit amounts may be kept confidential.
If the taxpayers are to be able to judge whether their money is being wisely spent by government on those who used to work there, we need to see the actual figures, not some ballpark figures based on a formula. It also will be revealing to see how many retired public employees also hold some new government job — double-dipping.
You know, double-dipping, like James Hunderfund, who, according to a Bloomberg News account, is paid at least $225,000 a year as a school superintendent on Long Island, N.Y., while entitled to draw an annual pension of $316,245 from a prior job public school job.
Show us the money.