Sunday Reading – 10/20/15


The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

4 Ways to Take Better Breaks at Work – Your aching back or burning eyes may tell you that taking a break from your work is a good idea, but there’s very little research to suggest when, how often, or how long you should break for maximum benefit. To fill this gap in knowledge, two associate professors of management at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business set out to investigate what exactly constituted a “good” work break. Emily Hunter and Cindy Wu surveyed 95 employees (ages 22 to 67) over a five-day week, and analyzed 959 break surveys. Their results were published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. “Everyone knows breaks are helpful, but there’s surprisingly little research on what makes the best break,” Hunter says.

Hunter and Wu defined breaks as “any period of time, formal or informal, during the workday in which work-relevant tasks are not required or expected, including but not limited to a break for lunch, coffee, personal email or socializing with co-workers, not including bathroom breaks.”

…The only two characteristics of break to replenish energy and reduce symptoms were taking break earlier in the day and doing something you prefer.” They found that the content of the break didn’t matter—whether it was exercise, eating, or simply walking away from one’s desk; what mattered was that it was “something you enjoy and choose to do.”

…The one finding that did not surprise either researcher was the confirmation that breaks are helpful. “They did replenish energy, concentration, and motivation. They decreased symptoms of headaches, eye strain, lower back pain and so on,” Hunter says. They determined that people who took these smaller breaks had higher job satisfaction, more citizenship behavior (helping others, going above and beyond in the workplace), and lower burnout—all important criteria for employers. Read More > at Mental Floss

Carly the Conqueror – The second Republican presidential debate, main-stage version, ran as long as this season’s finale of The Bachelorette—but, unlike that prior piece of epic reality television, no single candidate emerged at the end with a bright red rose. Another difference: while The Bachelorette finale flew right by, or so I am told, the GOP debate was such that, as the always-waggish Alex Wagner suggested on Twitter, everyone who endured the entire thing deserved “to reward themselves with a long toke of Jeb Bush’s 40-year-old pot.”

The debate’s format was designed to “highlight differences” among the 11 candidates who made the top-tier cut, and moderators Jake Tapper and Dana Bash of CNN and Hugh Hewitt of Salem Radio did their best to stir the pot. And indeed there was conflict aplenty at the Ronald Reagan presidential library, with Donald Trump, as expected, at the center of it. Pretty much everyone (save Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and John Kasich) threw at least a little, and often more than a little, shade at Trump. The question is whether any of the attacks will stick, or if we’ll find in the days ahead that he remains the Teflon Don.

One of the lessons of the first debate is to avoid jumping to conclusions in the minutes immediately following the melee. Nearly all of us in the political analysis racket knocked Ben Carson’s performance in Cleveland, but the verdict delivered by Republican primary voters was vastly different. With that caveat in mind, herewith a handful of immediate takeaways to be taken for what they’re worth (which is to say, with a sack full of salt).

No candidate took the stage with a greater opportunity, or higher expectations, than Carly Fiorina. That she proceeded to steal the show was the insta-conventional wisdom—and, in this case, it’s difficult to argue the contrary. Former Obama communications maven Dan Pfeiffer has posited that the explosion of social media has turned debates into communal experiences in which big moments matter most of all. And Fiorina’s riposte to Trump’s “look at that face” insult in Rolling Stone was clearly the moment of the night: two sentences that were not only composed, concise, and potent, but that roused the crowd in the hall and online, and actually, amazingly, forced Trump into the closest thing (creepy and condescending though his response was) to an act of contrition we’ve seen from him yet.

Fiorina was by no means perfect, and if she now rises in the polls, the oppo hits on her tenure at Hewlett-Packard and Lucent will come hard and fast. But her performance overall proved beyond a doubt that she deserves a place on the main stage, and is a growing force to be reckoned with. Read More > in Bloomberg

Why Americans Still Think the Economy Is Terrible – The median American household in 2014 had a lower income, in inflation-adjusted terms, than it did in 2013. The $53,657 the household in the middle of the income distribution earned last year was down 1.5 percent from the year before, though the census said that shift was not statistically significant.

But even if that drop is a statistical blip and you assume that middle-class incomes were really flat, flat isn’t anything to celebrate in the current environment. The 2014 real median income number is 6.5 percent below its 2007, pre-crisis level. It is 7.2 percent below the number in 1999.

A middle-income American family, in other words, makes substantially less money in inflation-adjusted terms than it did 15 years ago. And there is no evidence that is reversing. Those families lost ground in 2014. And as we’ve reported previously, the data on wages in 2015 so far does not suggest there is a meaningful acceleration on the way. Read More > in The New York Times

Uber Case Highlights Outdated Worker Protection Laws – …Uber’s critics say the company is exploiting workers by not paying the benefits of employment. The sharing economy, some of them say, is doomed to further enhance inequality in the United States. Uber would appear to be another example of how the average worker in America, particularly the unskilled one, can no longer make a living wage or even get a real job.

Uber and its supporters, however, contend that its drivers want this system. Uber is a technology service for matching drivers and customers and therefore is a middleman no different from, say, eBay or Etsy.

With Uber, drivers are independent contractors who pay 20 percent of the fare to the company. The drivers pay all their expenses and receive no benefits, like health insurance or unemployment benefits. But in exchange, they don’t need to show up if they don’t want to, don’t have set hours and are basically their own bosses. From this perspective, Uber is empowering drivers, allowing them to earn money on the side or more money than their other job without the inconvenience of a boss.

Who is right?

Well, this is not the old story of labor versus capital that drove a push for workers’ rights for many years. In that narrative, capital exploited less powerful workers to its benefit, so worker protections were necessary. Laws were passed and workers organized unions to ensure that there was a balance of power. In the system that has been built up from this old conflict, the benefits of employment go largely to full-time workers.

Yet if you are Uber’s chief executive, you wake up every day not knowing if your work force will even show up.

In the traditional economy, workers need to quit one job to take another — and there are significant costs to that.

…Now the courts are trying to figure out whether Uber’s drivers are contractors or employers from a standard rooted in 19th-century labor law. It’s a standard that has many variations as the law tries to separate workers who need protection from independent contractors who can fend for themselves. Read More > in The New York Times

Google’s ‘Self-Driving Toaster’ Finally Rattles Automakers – …Meanwhile, Google seems deadly serious about doing exactly that, telling the California Public Utilities Commission that its vehicles will have no human controls beyond a “go button,” a “please slow down and stop” button and a “stop pretty quickly” button. According to Sarah Hunter, head of policy at the GoogleX innovation lab, “the intention is that the passenger gets in the vehicle, says into microphone, take me to Safeway, and the car does the entire journey.”

By removing driver input almost entirely, Google is enabled to re-imagine the car from the ground-up, potentially yielding a final product that is dramatically lighter, more efficient and yet safer than anything on the road today. And with traffic deaths ticking upward for the first time in decades, likely due to increasing driver distraction, Google’s goal cutting the more than 30,000 vehicle-related fatalities each year gives it a sense of social mission that could put the auto industry back on its heels.

As Google’s threat becomes more credible, the traditional carmakers are circling the wagons: Last week, 10 automakers announced a voluntary commitment to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to install automatic-braking systems as standard equipment in new cars. The manufacturers’ hope is that by offering some of Google’s promised life-saving advantages with this incremental improvement, they can create a kind of Counter-Reformation that keeps buyers firmly in the driver’s seat for years to come. Read More > at Bloomberg

If Kim Davis should enforce law she opposes, what about AGs Brown, Harris and Prop. 8? – Most office-holders outside of the Republican presidential campaign — and practically all public figures in California — agree that Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis violated her oath of office by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her personal religious views. After five days in jail, Davis seems to have reached a shaky truce with a federal judge and members of her staff, who are ignoring her disapproval and issuing licenses to all comers. But there seems to be a consensus among serious commentators and public officials — again, excluding one party’s presidential contestants — that an elected office-holder who can’t or won’t carry out her sworn duty should resign.

So what about Jerry Brown and Kamala Harris, who as state attorneys general both refused to defend Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment approved by California voters in 2008 that banned same-sex marriage?

As governor in 1977, Brown signed the state’s first law against same-sex marriage, and as attorney general 30 years later he defended that law and a similar 2000 ballot initiative all the way to the state Supreme Court, which struck down both measures in May 2008.

But when the voters overturned that ruling six months later by passing Prop. 8, Brown changed sides and argued that the ballot measure violated “inalienable rights” to liberty and privacy in the state Constitution. It was an issue he hadn’t mentioned in the earlier cases, and none of the state Supreme Court justices agreed with Brown’s argument when they upheld Prop. 8 under state law.

…One open-government advocate, Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, argues that Brown committed much the same act of legal defiance as Davis, the Kentucky clerk — refusing to support a law he was supposed to defend as part of his job.

In a posting on his organization’s website (http://firstamendmentcoalition.org/2015/09/the-rowan-county-ky-clerk-has-no-right-to-refuse-marriage-licenses-to-gay-couples/), Scheer says Brown, Davis and other public officials cannot put their personal preferences, whether religious or political, above the law: “They have to perform their official duties or step down.” Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

California Legislature Approves Ban On ‘Redskins’ Mascots – The California State Assembly voted Thursday to ban the state’s schools from using “Redskins” nicknames and mascots, a move that could soon make it the first state to specifically prohibit schools from using the name that continues to spark controversy across the nation.

The California Racial Mascots Act, which Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D) introduced in December, would force four of the state’s high schools that still use the name to change it by the start of 2017.

The state Senate approved the bill in a 25-10 vote Tuesday evening, sending it back to the Assembly for final approval Thursday. The Assembly, which had approved a slightly different version of the bill in May, voted 59-9 to pass it. The legislation will now go to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

“As the state with the largest Native American population in the country, we should not continue to allow a racial slur to be used by our public schools,” Alejo said in a press release. “It’s time for California to do the right thing and phase out the use of this, dictionary defined, racial slur.”

Though California would be the first to specifically ban “Redskins” should Brown sign the bill, other states have sought similar policies in the past. Minnesota’s board of education recommended that its schools stop using Native American mascots in 1988, and the New York state board of education later followed, as Native American activists and organizations argued that the nicknames perpetuated stereotypes that are harmful to their communities and students. (The American Psychological Association and American Sociological Association also recommended dropping such names for the same reason.) Read More > in the Huffington Post

Top 100 Best Places to Live – Our third annual ranking of the best small to mid-sized cities in the U.S.

We ranked more than 2,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000 to come up with our third annual Top 100 Best Places to Live. This is a data-driven list based on more than 40 data points. This year we are proud to have collaborated with world-renowned urbanist Richard Florida and assistant clinical professor Steven Pedigo from the Initiative for Creativity and Innovation in Cities at NYU School of Professional Studies, our new data partners EMSI and our stellar board of advisors in shaping our proprietary methodology and the framework by which we rank the cities. See if your town made this year’s list (or the 2015 and 2014 rankings). Get ready to plot your next move, and make one of these best places your best place.

The top 15 were as follows:

1. Rochester, MN

2. Bellevue, WA

3. Madison, WI

4. Santa Barbara, CA

5. Boulder, CO

6. Palo Alto, CA

7. Bismarck, ND

8. Ann Arbor, MI

9. Iowa City, IA

10. Sioux Falls, SD

11. Walnut Creek, CA

12. San Mateo, CA

13. Fort Collins, CO

14. Overland Park, KS

15. Fargo, ND

Read More > at Livability

Salinas Councilman José Castañeda facing charges of domestic violence, false imprisonment, kidnapping – Embattled Salinas Councilman José Castañeda was arrested and booked into Monterey County Jail on Thursday on suspicion of felony domestic violence, false imprisonment and kidnapping.

The arrest follows an incident Sept. 4 shortly before midnight, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin said during a press conference.

McMillin said the alleged victim, described as a young woman, was coming home from visiting friends when she found Castañeda waiting in her front yard. Castañeda then forced her into his van, locked her inside and drove her to another part of the city. Inside the van Castañeda and the woman held a “lengthy conversation,” during which time he struck her several times, McMillin said. When she reported the incident four days later she still had bruises, McMillin said.

Detectives issued a “be on the lookout” for Castañeda on Wednesday after unsuccessfully trying to contact him. Castañeda’s attorney made contact with the police and agreed his client would turn himself in after a news conference Castañeda was scheduled to hold Thursday morning. Read More > in the Monterey Herald

DraftKings, FanDuel could face first significant legal challenge after hearing request – A ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested a hearing about the relationship of fantasy sports to gambling, potentially the initial step in what is believed to be the first direct legal challenge to the exploding daily fantasy sports industry.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) requested the hearing in the panel that oversees professional sports and gambling Monday afternoon. He wants to scrutinize the difference in gambling on sports and playing fantasy sports and to examine the close ties between professional sports leagues and teams and the fantasy sports industry, including daily fantasy titans DraftKings and FanDuel.

DraftKings and FanDuel have received hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, money the daily fantasy sites used to purchase advertisements. Sports television viewers last weekend were pummeled by commercials for the sites, which in part promoted Pallone’s request for a hearing.

In a short period of time, daily fantasy sports have become embedded in how fans consume sports. Major League Baseball owns a small equity stake in DraftKings, and the National Basketball Association owns a share of FanDuel. Both DraftKings and FanDuel sponsor a cadre of individual professional teams.

FanDuel and DraftKings offer real-money contests that can last as short as a few hours. Users pay an entry fee to choose a “team” with a “salary cap” and win cash prizes or lose their entry fee based on how players perform in real-life games. DraftKings offered a $2 million first prize for an NFL contest during the first weekend. Read More > in The Washington Post

Self-driving cars: from 2020 you will become a permanent backseat driver – …When we reach the autobahn on the way to the airport, however, and he presses a button near the gear stick, the change feels a little more revolutionary than that. Aeberhard takes his hands from the steering wheel, and, Herbie-like, the car takes on a sudden, apparently joyous, life of its own. It shifts lanes in dense traffic – a lorry slightly alarmingly close to my passenger window – and accelerates up to its optimum speed of 120kph.

Aeberhard lets it go through the gears, confident, after five years of refining this minor miracle through simulator and test track, that the car knows precisely what it is doing. And for the next half hour we sit back and enjoy the ride.

Or at least I do. Aeberhard remains alert for the unexpected: roadworks, lane alterations, emergency vehicles, whatever. When any of these are on the horizon the car signals its approaching confusion and he returns his hands to the wheel and takes over. He does this seamlessly three or four times, in a spirit that suggests his close knowledge of the limitations of what he calls the “highly automated driving project” and in a way that seems to prefigure a new kind of relationship between driver and car – one of mutual co-operation rather than continuous control.

In contrast to some other autonomous projects, the BMW car does not have conspicuous sensors and radar bolted on to its exterior. “The idea at the very beginning was that we wanted the car to look like a normal 5 Series,” Aeberhard says. “Unless you know where you are looking, it is difficult to spot the 12 sensors.” Most are repurposed versions of technology already available. The radar sensor in the front bumper is the same one that currently enables “active cruise control”. The camera system is similar to the lane departure cameras already in use (though the software allows it to recognise speed limit signs as well as lanes). Lasers are in the bodywork near road level; there are, as a result, also only four, as opposed to 64 in some versions of the roof-mounted technology, because they “see” more laterally than downward. Read More > in The Guardian

Is 2015 the Year of the Underdog in College Football? – …Every year, you get an example of one of the little guys (FCS is a sub-level of the major college level) pulling an upset. But already this season we’ve been introduced to a lot of new little guys. Some are winning and some, like Cal Poly on Saturday at Arizona State, are only coming close.

But the sheer number of them has stood out. And on top of that, some of these games have come not only against major college programs from the Power Five conferences, but also against the nation’s elite.

Cal Poly went into the fourth quarter tied with Arizona State but lost in the end, 35-21. But also, Toledo (an underdog at the FBS level) beat Arkansas, Texas-San Antonio almost beat Arizona, Arkansas State scared Missouri, Portland State beat Washington State, South Dakota State beat Kansas, Lamar stuck with Baylor—and most shocking of all: Jacksonville State took Auburn to overtime before losing.

…”There’s so many kids that want to play college football, and they want to play right now,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told Bleacher Report. “There’s not room for all these players at every (big) school. If they can get an opportunity to play early and play as a freshman, they will choose to go to a school that will give them that opportunity. Read More > at Bleacher Report

Whatever happened to the Toyota Prius? – …The collapse of oil prices has not been kind to gas-electric hybrids. Their 50-miles-per-gallon performance, which once doubled that of most models, is now being challenged by standard cars that get 40 mpg without electricity. Hybrids “have gone mainstream,” writes Alex Davies of Wired. “They’re no longer radical, or even all that different.”

As a result, Prius sales have suffered. In 2006 Toyota sold 150,000 of them, and the company overtook General Motors as the largest auto maker in the world. Now that honor goes to Volkswagen, which has a wider variety of hybrids and other fuel-sipping models. Sales of the Prius were down 16.8 percent during the first eight months of this year, compared with the same period last year. Although brand loyalty is still significant, there doesn’t seem to be much headroom for future improvement.

But that may be about to change. Last week on the roof of the Linq Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Toyota roustabouts hoisted a 2016 model 60 feet in the air in front of a crowd of journalists and auto analysts in order to launch a sexy new version of the Prius designed to attract a new generation of followers.

The four-door sedan has a stylish look that has no hint of fuel economy about it. Davies wrote in Wired: “The edgy (and, really, this car is nothing but edges) new look is an effort to stand out again, to reinvigorate sales of a model that has seen its popularity slip in a market that doesn’t place as great a premium on fuel economy.” Read More > at Fuel Freedom

Lake County’s nightmare summer of fire and fear – For weeks, wildfires stalked the small, tight-knit towns of Lake County, a smoky haze lingering through the hot, drought-dried summer.

Residents became accustomed to red skies, fire engines on the roads, helicopters in the skies, and evacuation orders — some forced to leave their homes three or four times before returning, if warily. They pulled even closer, neighbors pouring coffee and providing beds for those waiting out the worst as firefighters beat back the massive Rocky and Jerusalem fires in July and August.

But now, after the Valley Fire ravaged Middletown and the smaller village of Cobb, burning hundreds of homes in one of the state’s most damaging blazes, Lake County residents aren’t just frustrated and scared. They’re shell-shocked.

…She and her husband only rented the house after their newly constructed home in Lower Lake — which was still uninsured — burned to the ground in the Rocky Fire, which ignited July 29 east of Clear Lake and scorched nearly 70,000 acres and 43 residences.

The couple had been about to move in at the time, and they lost their dream of living in an off-the-grid solar home for a few years, saving money to eventually buy a home in Sonoma County.

Then on Aug. 9, the Jerusalem Fire kicked up northeast of Middletown. It burned 25,000 acres and leveled six homes. People were tired of living under a state of emergency in Lake County, but they were unaware the worst was yet to come. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Some shoppers actually like Christmas creep – Whine and moan all you want, but the Christmas creep isn’t going anywhere.

In fact, two separate surveys released Tuesday indicate that a slew of consumers actually embrace retailers’ ever-earlier holiday push, with many having already started—and in rare cases, already finished—purchasing their holiday gifts.

The first study, conducted by CreditCards.com over Labor Day weekend, found that roughly one in seven, or 32 million Americans, have already begun buying for the holidays. The study also found that 2 percent of all consumers—accounting for about 4.6 million people—have already crossed everything off their list.

The second survey, issued by the Rubicon Project technology firm, found that an even more robust one-third of shoppers across the U.S., UK and Canada have already kicked off their holiday spending. Read More > at CNBC

College Graduates Don’t Know Basic Facts About the Constitution – The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) today released a survey that shows how little college graduates and the general public know about the Constitution.

According to the study, nearly 10% of college graduates think Judith Sheindlin — commonly known as Judge Judy — is on the Supreme Court; one-third of college graduates can’t identify the Bill of Rights as a name given to a group of Constitutional amendments; and 32% believe that Representative John Boehner is the current president of the U.S. Senate. Shockingly, 46% of college grads don’t know the election cycle — six years for senators, two years for representatives. Turning to the general population, the report finds that over half (54%) of those surveyed cannot identify the Bill of Rights accurately, and over 1 in 10 (11%) of those ages 25–34 believe that the Constitution must be reauthorized every four years.

The survey coincides with the upcoming commemoration of Constitution Day, September 17. Nearly a decade ago, Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) spearheaded the designation of the day, mandating that all publicly funded educational institutions provide educational programming to improve knowledge of the Constitution. Just this year, higher education leaders called on Congress to eliminate the Constitution Day educational requirement as undue interference in a university’s autonomy. Read More > at Go ACTA

California’s Climate Change Revolt – The environmental lobby has tried to turn climate change into a social justice issue even though its anticarbon policies disproportionately harm the poor. Honest Democrats are starting to admit this, as we saw in this week’s stunning revolt in the California legislature.

Jerry Brown doesn’t have much to show for his second turn in Sacramento, and of late he has focused his legacy attention on reducing carbon emissions. The Governor hailed California as a model of green virtue at the Vatican this summer and had hoped to flaunt sweeping new anticarbon regulations at the U.N’s climate-change summit in Paris this year.

But now his party has mutinied. Democrats hold near supermajorities in both legislative chambers with 52 of 80 seats in the Assembly. Yet this week 21 Democratic Assembly members representing middle- and low-income communities—including 11 blacks and Latinos—joined Republicans to kill a bill mandating a cut in state greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Democrats also forced Mr. Brown to scrap a measure that would have given the California Air Resources Board plenary authority to reduce statewide oil consumption in vehicles by half by 2030. Imagine the EPA without the accountability. “One of the implications probably would have been higher gas prices,” noted Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper. “Who does it impact the most? The middle class and low-income folks.” Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

Valley fire spread with ‘mind-boggling’ speed, experts say – When the Valley fire broke out Saturday afternoon in Lake County, it quickly became clear that firefighters would not be able to keep up. .

As they evacuated homes in its path, the fire would jump ahead of them, threatening more homes before firefighters could advance.

“Ashes, embers would rain down a quarter, half mile behind them,” said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. “As fire crews would make progress – hold the fire – it would burn right past them.”

Experts said the Valley fire moved faster than any other in California’s recent history. In fewer than 12 hours, it had scorched 40,000 acres.

“There aren’t very many fires in California’s history that have done that. I don’t know if there really is a precedent for it,” said Daniel Swain, climate scientist at Stanford University. “This fire sort of broke the rules even relative to this incredible season that’s already occurred.”

In some ways, the Valley fire was the blaze officials have been worried about all summer: The product of drought conditions made all the more dangerous because it burned through dense terrain dotted by small communities. While other fires this summer have also spread quickly, this fire’s path took it through several rural communities that were left defenseless against the blaze’s speed and size.

In addition to the effects of the drought that have exacerbated fires this year already, the Valley fire was a perfect storm of bad fire conditions, experts say. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

Wind-Power Producers Find Profits as Elusive as a Summer Breeze – Power producers who invested billions in turbines are finding that making money off the wind can be as unpredictable as the energy source itself.

NextEra Energy Inc., NRG Yield Inc. and Duke Energy Corp. all said a lack of sufficiently windy days cut into second-quarter sales. And neither power generators nor forecasters seem to know exactly why.

Wind, once a marginal resource for power suppliers, has begun to matter. Installations surged sevenfold in the U.S. last year, making it the largest market for the technology worldwide after China, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Spurred by tax incentives and state clean energy standards, wind accounted for 4.4 percent of U.S. power generation in 2014, up from 1.9 percent five years ago, the Energy Department said.

…Reduced wind in the Western U.S. led to electricity production that was consistently below the previous five-year average during the first five months of 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Nationwide, January through May wind output was 4.2 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Whatever the reason, turbines aren’t turning as much as their owners would like. Companies that own wind get federal tax credits based on power production, so lower speeds mean reduced benefits. Read More > at Bloomberg

Pension of Spiking ‘Poster Child’ Cut After Review – A Moraga-Orinda fire chief drew national attention six years ago for retiring at age 50 with a pension much larger than his base pay. He went back to work as chief the following Monday, hired as a consultant with full salary.

“People point to me as a poster child for pension spiking, but I did not negotiate these rules,” Peter Nowicki told the Wall Street Journal.

Last week, the Contra Costa County pension board, following a review by its law firm, voted to reduce Nowicki’s initial pension, $240,923, to an amount, $172,818, that is below his final base pay, $193,281 — a cut of $68,105 or 28 percent.

The board also voted to recover a $617,458 pension overpayment to Nowicki during the last six years, including cost-of-living adjustments and interest. An actuarial estimate of the future pension system savings from the pension cut is $1,289,331. Read More > at Public CEO

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About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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