Don’t overlook CalPERS election

James McRitchie is an Elk Grove resident, state employee and candidate for the CalPERS Board of Directors

Election to the CalPERS board shouldn’t be a lifetime appointment, but that’s the net result if unions, the press and members remain complacent.

When I requested the SEIU Local 1000’s endorsement in the current CalPERS election, an official asked if the incumbent “had killed his mother or something.” The union wasn’t about to switch, unless the incumbent was completely unelectable.

When I asked The Sacramento Bee to consider making an endorsement, it told me the fall elections would “demand our full attention during the political season.” The paper only had time to focus on elections of importance to its readers.

But CalPERS members are readers of both the Bee and SN&R. A large number of CalPERS members live in the Sacramento area. Further, CalPERS invests a disproportionate amount of its $205 billion here. The recent $100 million stake in The Towers at Capitol Mall is an example. CalPERS forced tens of thousands of Sacramento residents to change health-care providers when it dropped Sutter hospitals.

Decisions by the CalPERS board obviously have a tremendous impact, not only on CalPERS members, but also on all taxpayers. We all benefit from local investments, and we all help fund pension and health-care programs administered by CalPERS. Yet, neither SN&R nor the Bee has ever endorsed a candidate in these important elections.

Most CalPERS members only see short ballot statements written by the candidates and campaign materials from their own union. The public sees even less. The press should provide an independent analysis of candidate positions on the issues and then should endorse candidates who will best serve both members and the public.

Review the candidates and their records. I am the only candidate with a clear record of challenging the board, when necessary, to protect the rights of members and the public.

Additionally, I am the only candidate who has spelled out plans to create a trust fund to eventually pay most health-care costs through investment earnings; increase health-care choices and decrease expenses by fostering competition among a greater number of providers; and increase earnings by tilting investments in favor of companies with excellent environmental, corporate-governance and workplace-practice records, and reducing investments in those with poor records.

The press is failing its readers and its important public-service function when it fails to make endorsements in CalPERS elections.