Shared from the 1/6/2019 Las Vegas Review Journal eEdition

Open records and government pensions

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Tim Brinton

THERE have been so many incorrect articles and editorials by the Review-Journal on the Public Employees Retirement System that it makes my head spin. Your Dec. 9 editorial, however, compels me to finally speak out.

The assault on public employees and their benefits is nothing new

IN RESPONSE

to the pages of the Review-Journal and, to quote from this latest opinion, I now feel “it’s well past time for aggressive intervention.” It’s time for me to set the record straight.

Nevada’s public pension officials are not throwing away millions in taxpayer money. First, system funds are not taxpayer funds. Rather, this fund is a separate fund created solely for banking the direct payments made by individual employees who contribute one-half of the total benefit. The other half is paid by the employing agency as part of an employee’s approved benefits when he or she is hired. To underscore this point, the Nevada Constitution holds these funds inviolate because they do not belong to the state, but to the employees who have paid into this fund as part of the salary and retirement benefit offered at the time of initial employment.

Retirees do not fear the public knowing what pension amounts were approved by public employers. What we do fear is the lower court ruling on this issue that exposes this vulnerable population to identity theft and personal safety issues by divulging the name of the recipient, gender, beneficiary information, marital status and more. The amount of pension, last employer and years of service provide more than adequate information to the members of the public to keep them abreast of public employee benefits.

The Review-Journal again misstates the facts by stating that a bill to clarify and protect individual privacy information was defeated in the 2017 legislative session. It was not. It passed both houses of the Legislature only to be vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval. Further, this bill did not conceal pension benefit amounts. It reduced the amount of personal identifying information to protect the retiree.

We question the motivation of those who want to forever bind an individual who chooses public service to a lifetime of personal exposure. Why? The financial data to examine benefit levels is already a matter of public record.

Bernard Paolini, president of the Retired Public Employees of Nevada, writes from Boulder City.

We question the motivation of those who want to forever bind an individual who chooses public service to a lifetime of personal exposure.

See this article in the e-Edition Here