State Court Orders Sonoma County Pension Board to Release Records

 August 29, 2011 ( – A state appellate court has upheld a lower court ruling requiring the disclosure of pension figures for thousands of Sonoma County government retirees, according to an article in The Press Democrat.

The Sonoma County Employees’ Retirement Association, which handles benefits for about 8,000 current and former government workers, has refused to release those records, contending a state law prevents disclosure of individual pension information.

The Press Democrat, which first sought access to the data in public records requests, sued the association last year, arguing taxpayers were entitled to know how public money was being spent.

The county retirement system appealed a November 2010 ruling by Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Mark Tansil that ordered the association to release the pension data.

In a final ruling issued Friday, a three-member panel of the 1st District Court of Appeals denied the appeal and upheld Tansil’s order that the names of pension recipients and the amount of payments be made public.

The article states, the decision follows at least four recent lower court rulings in California that determined pension records are public information. A state appellate court in Sacramento came to the same conclusion in a similar case involving Sacramento County’s pension fund and The Sacramento Bee’s push for access to its records (see CA Court Rules for Disclosing Public Pension Amounts).