It seems everyone wants to scam the system. Now even the guardians of our laws are trying to get in on Contra Costa's illegal pension spiking by boosting retirement pay for court commissioners up to 25 percent for the rest of their lives.
Faced with budget cuts, Superior Court officials are offering four commissioners an early retirement incentive of one week's salary for every year worked, up to a maximum payout of 13 weeks' compensation.
At court officials' request, the Contra Costa County Employees' Retirement Association board will determine Wednesday whether the one-time bonuses should be considered income for purpose of pension calculations. Since the pensions are usually based on compensation from the final year, this would allow the court commissioners to add another three months' salary to that number.
The use of one-time termination pay in pension calculations violates two state appellate court rulings, the retirement board's attorney advised in 2009. The board ignored that advice and allowed then-current employees to spike their pensions when they retire, but disallowed it for future workers. Now the pension board will consider a similar deal for court commissioners.
It gets worse: Ninety-two percent of the cost would be borne not by the state-financed court system, but rather by Contra Costa residents. That's because pension accounts for court workers and a large group of county employees are pooled together.
It's outrageous. Presiding Judge Diana Becton is warning potential retiring commissioners that they must abide by the pension board's ruling. But shame on her for considering facilitating such a taxpayer rip-off.
The pension board must say no this time. Enough is enough.