Court bans “abusive” spiking, but sticks with pension protections

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

For 65 years, the California Supreme Court has taken a rigid line on pensions for public employees: Any retirement benefits promised to a worker at the outset of a job can only be reduced if they are replaced with something of equal value. That iron-clad precedent has been dubbed “the California Rule.” Today the state’s […]

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Riskier bet: Why CalPERS, the country’s largest pension fund, is getting into banking

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

Retired DMV clerks, former firefighters and aging government bean-counters across California, put on your three piece suits: You might be getting into the banking business. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which manages a nearly $400 billion basket of nest eggs for retired public workers across the state, is wading into the rollicking market for […]

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State AG to probe one of two high desert hangings of black men

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

California’s Justice Department will send officers to Palmdale to investigate the hanging death of a black man — one of two similar incidents in the high desert over the last few weeks, Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced this morning. Last Wednesday, the body of 24-year-old Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree near city […]

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Is now the time to bring back affirmative action in California?

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

Depending on your viewpoint, now is either exactly the right time or precisely the wrong time to take up a proposed change to the state constitution that seems certain to reignite a heated debate about race and justice in California. At issue: a measure pending in the Legislature that seeks to reinstate affirmative action policies […]

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Pension Reform Kicks Off Before California Supreme Court

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

For California Supreme Court watchers, this all may sound strangely familiar: A public agency is being sued by its unionized employees for fiddling with their pensions and the state’s highest court is now preparing to weigh in. At stake in the case is more than a single squabble over retirement benefits, but one of the […]

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Embrace the uncertainty: Waiting for results during California’s “election month”

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

As you read this article, Proposition 13, the $15 billion school construction bond either failed by a historically wide margin, or it didn’t. Likewise, Bernie Sanders bulldozed the competition, beating out California’s second place Democratic finisher, Joe Biden, by hundreds of thousands of votes. Or he didn’t. And turnout might have been historically high — […]

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Shenanigans? Under California’s primary rules, some campaigns boggle the mind

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

Kathy Garcia is not your typical Republican candidate for the California Senate. For one, she only just joined the GOP. A lifelong Democrat, she won election to the Stockton school board member with the backing of the county Democratic party. She changed her affiliation to Republican in June 2019, six months before the deadline to […]

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Why California’s top court just struck down the state’s Trump tax return law

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

Many constitutional law experts, former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Republican Party are now all officially entitled to say, “I told you so.” This morning the California Supreme Court unanimously struck down a new state law that would have required presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns before appearing on the primary […]

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No-shows, endorsement spats and drag queens: What’s on tap at this weekend’s Democratic convention

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

Like Comic-Con for progressive political nerds and consultants, the California Democratic Party’s biannual convention — one of the year’s largest gathering of like-minded partisans — will kick off in Long Beach this weekend with an estimated 5,000 attendees.  Some will be coming to snap selfies with presidential candidates, although for all the predictions of this […]

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Fact check: Do Californians really cool on ballot measures as the election approaches?

Ben Christopher
Contributing Writer, CALmatters

In 2020, California voters will be asked to weigh in on some of the most contentious and consequential issues facing the state — criminal justice reform, rent control, school construction funding and inequality. For those hoping to make sense of the deluge of political polls and they’re likely to see over the next year, consider […]

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