L.A. County Retiree Group Standing Firm against Pension Disclosure

July 27, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association is refusing to disclose how much its retirees are receiving, even as other counties have agreed to make pension information public.

In the last two months, appeals courts have ordered retirement associations in Sacramento and San Diego counties to disclose the information (see CA Court Rules for Disclosing Public Pension Amounts), and agencies in other California counties are complying with requests to release information on the pensions of retirees, the Los Angeles Times reports. But the Los Angeles County retirement association has had a long-standing policy of refusing to identify by name how much county retirees are receiving.  

“Our member records are deemed confidential by statute, and may not therefore be disclosed to anyone except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction or by written authorization of the member,” Christine Roseland, the association’s attorney, said in a letter to The Times.

Roseland argued that disclosing the records “poses a significant threat to retirees’ privacy rights and safety but reveals little if anything about the workings of government.”

Los Angeles County’s retirement association is not reconsidering its stance. According to the Times, in the letter, Roseland said another court case involving the Sonoma County Employees Retirement Assn. is being considered in the 1st District Court of Appeal. “If this case were to reach a decision contrary to that in the Sacramento and San Diego cases, the issue would almost certainly have to be finally decided by the California Supreme Court,” Roseland wrote.

Two L.A. County supervisors said the information should be released. The Board of Supervisors appoints four of the nine members of the association’s board.

“It’s fairly common for that information to be released. I don’t know what the argument is against disclosure, and whether it’s persuasive,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It’s probably just a matter of time” before the information is ordered released, he added.