California Pensioners Urge Lawmakers to Reject Harmful Divestment Measure

Today, thirteen members of Protect our Pensions from California submitted a letter to the lawmakers of the California Assembly Committee on Appropriations, urging them not to resuscitate Assembly Bill 20, which was intended to divest public employee retirement systems from their investments with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Assembly lawmakers have since put the bill on hold after some amendments, but its passage is still possible.

The letter highlighted the widespread opposition to the bill:

Since its introduction, this bill has been strongly opposed by various respected voices throughout the state. The editorial board of The Los Angeles Times, a critic of the DAPL project, panned AB20 calling it “ill-considered,” “attention-getting,” “flawed,”, and “dangerous.” CalPERS staff issued an equally strong rebuke of AB 20, asserting that “divesting is an ineffective strategy for achieving social or political goals.” In April, the CalPERS investment committee formally voted to reject using divestment as a policy for achieving social goals, explaining that “divesting appears to almost invariably harm investment performance.”

 The coalition members from California stressed the fact that pension funds exist for the benefit of their members, not politicians or activists:

We believe that pension investments should not be politicized in any way. CalPERS and CalSTRS should be free to make investment decisions based on their fiduciary duty, not political influence. Ultimately, California’s public employee retirement systems should answer to the people that they serve, not activists or special interests.

Members of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations have scheduled a hearing to review bills places in the so-called “suspense file” on May 26. These bills, which would have a fiscal impact, were set aside by the Appropriations Committee, but could be passed later on.

Signers of the letter from California include:

  • Jerry Amante, Former Mayor, City of Tustin
  • Tim Brown, Mayor Pro Tem, City of San Clemente
  • Carolyn Cavecche, President & CEO, OC Taxpayers Assn.
  • Doug Davert, Former Mayor, City of Tustin
  • Carl DeMaio, Former Councilmember, City of San Diego
  • Reuben Franco, CEO, Hispanic Chamber of Orange County
  • Jon Lopey, Siskiyou County Sheriff
  • Jim Righeimer, Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa
  • Tim Shaw, Mayor Pro Tem, City of La Habra
  • Christine Shingtleton, Former Assistant City Manager, City of Tustin
  • Carlos Solorzano, CEO, Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of San Francisco
  • Beth Swift, Mayor, City of Buena Park
  • Bruce Whitaker, Mayor, City of Fullerton

Read the full letter here.

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