Skip to comments.CalPERS board picks Feckner as next president
Posted on 02/16/2005 3:31:40 PM PST by NormsRevenge
SACRAMENTO (AP) - The California Public Employees Retirement System board picked Rob Feckner, a 27-year school employee and statewide union official as its president Wednesday.
Chosen in a 12-0 vote, Feckner replaced labor leader Sean Harrigan, who had led the board since 2003. Feckner said he would continue the $183 billion pension fund's traditional activism in corporate governance, while spotlighting high executive salaries and publishing a CalPERS "focus list" of long-term underperforming companies.
"One thing should be abundantly clear to corporate wrongdoers who are hurting shareholder value," Feckner said as he took over the nation's largest public pension fund with 1.4 million members. "We will not retreat from our fiduciary duty to protect our share owners' interest."
The CalPERs board is largely dominated by Democrats and union officials. Feckner's vote did not include that of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who was absent.
Feckner, the board's vice president since 2003 and chair of its key investment committee, promised a more focused approach to corporate reform and said he would be less visible nationally than Harrigan, who had called CalPERS' presidency "the greatest bully pulpit in the world."
"I don't think it serves anyone well for one person to be all over the country on this issue or that issue," Feckner said, separating himself from his controversial predecessor. He promised to become "laser focused and less scattershot in our corporate governance activism. We'll pick our shots and do so carefully."
Harrigan, a United Food and Commercial Workers union official, traveled widely and led numerous initiatives critical of corporate America, including moves to unseat chief executive officers of Disney and Safeway. At one point last year, CalPERS voted to withhold support from directors of 2,400 companies, including investor and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger adviser, Warren Buffett at Coca-Cola. Afterward, some board members complained CalPERS had gone too far in its reform agenda, while major Wall Street publications labeled the pension fund a "corporate scold."
Harrigan, who joined the CalPERS board in 1999 and was elected president in February 2003, was ousted from his post in December by fellow members of the state Board of Personnel. Harrigan charged that Schwarzenegger, along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Disney and Safeway officials, led a behind-the-scenes move to remove him - a charge denied by Schwarzenegger.
Feckner, 47, also a CalPERS board member since 1999 as a representative of school employee members across California, is a maintenance worker with the Napa Valley Unified School District. A statewide board member of the California School Employees Association, he has also been a school bus driver and instruction assistant for special-needs students.
Feckner called CalPERS "biggest challenge" a Schwarzenegger proposal to begin privatizing the state's major public pension systems after 2007 by making new public employees use 401(k)-style investment accounts common in the private sector.
Saying the governor's plan "relates to the very survival of CalPERS," Feckner joined the board shortly afterward in a 9-3 board vote formally opposing Schwarzenegger's vision, which he wants voters to implement later this year, possibly in a special election. The $126 billion California State Teachers Retirement System voted similarly on Feb. 3.
The three dissenting votes at CalPERs included Debbie Endsley, representing the governor's Department of Personnel Administration; Marjorie Berte, a California State Automobile Association vice president recently appointed by Schwarzenegger; and Ron Alvarado, the state Board of Personnel member who replaced Harrigan.
"I think it's appropriate for us to engage in debate about the long-term future of these plans," said Berte, who was attending her first meeting.
The board also elected Robert Carlson as vice president. Carlson, elected by CalPERS retired members statewide, was board president from 1976 to 1985 and vice president from 2000 to 2002. Before retiring in 1985, he was chief counsel to the California Department of Transportation.
On the Net:
FRom th Sac Bee (EXCERPT)
Governor dealt pension setback
CalPERS committee opposes call for shift to 401(k)-style plan.
By Rachel Osterman -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Stepping up its opposition to one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature pension proposals, a CalPERS committee voted Tuesday to oppose legislation that would create 401(k)-style accounts for new state workers and recommended that the full pension board do the same.
The vote was 5-1, with Michael Navarro, the governor's appointee as chief of the Department of Personnel Administration, casting the dissenting vote. The full board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System will take up the measure today. Schwarzenegger has influence over just three of the 13 trustees.
In making their recommendation, the five CalPERS committee members said that a shift to private accounts would threaten the financial security of future retirees and that CalPERS professional staff achieve far higher returns than do administrators of most 401(k)-style plans.
The trustees also cited a staff report that showed private retirement plans could cost the state, schools and local agencies more than $1 billion during the first 10 years of implementation if contributions for new employees were placed in 401(k)-style accounts.
Committee members blasted a pension overhaul bill sponsored by Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Northridge, and supported by the Republican governor. Schwarzenegger also has indicated he might support a similar ballot initiative if legislation is not enacted.
Just what we need: another failed school teacher in charge of a huge pension fund. Great going, CalPERS! I thank God I'm self-employed.
Just what we need here in California: another failed school teacher in charge of a huge state pension fund. Great going, CalPERS! Thank God I'm self-employed.
You must really enjoy your work. If you are better at investments than CalPERS (Average return 8+% over the last 10 years) then you've probably been independently wealthy for years.
Care to share your success formula with the rest of us?