Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece challenging a recent study by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System:
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has a well-deserved rap as a taxpayer drain. So to rehabilitate its image, the pension fund has produced a “study” purporting that public-worker pensions are California’s biggest jobs generator.
California Math Test – The state pension fund has some unbelievable facts” (Review & Outlook, April 11, 2014). Within days, CalPERS responded by posting this piece declaring the WSJ “wrong about public pensions.”
The fact that CalPERS quickly picked up the gauntlet should come as no surprise. The pension fund closely monitors its public image. The agenda for its Board of Administration meetings includes a strategic communications report that tracks media mentions and rates them as positive, negative or neutral. In March, CalPERS counted 213 mentions with 13% positive, 76% neutral and 11% negative.
CalPERS is not shy about challenging its critics. For example, CalPERS in declaring another critic wrong warned that it should “choose words wisely” and “We don’t take it lightly when people call us liars.” That post ended with:
Unfortunately, much of this could have been avoided through a rational conversation instead of the self-important rhetoric which is typical of some in the blogosphere.
The CalPERS Board of Administration also receives reports on the status of Public Records Act requests.