Client Successes Oct 05, 2017

Connections the Key for Resolving CalPERS Issues

BB&K Partner Isabel Safie Helped Two Public Agencies Overcome Problems

Best Best & Krieger LLP Partner Isabel Safie recently represented two special district clients in mitigating potential negative impacts related to CalPERS findings.
On behalf of the Oxnard Harbor District, Isabel was successful in obtaining a reversal from CalPERS on a determination that would have adversely affected the District’s management employees, and exposed the District to impairment of vested rights claims. The initial position taken by CalPERS was that a benefit change constituted an impermissible conversion of non-PERSable compensation into PERSable compensation. Over the course of two years, Isabel worked with District staff and CalPERS to resolve the issue favorably, utilizing both her CalPERS connections and understanding of its laws and procedures — the product of her years of experience with CalPERS and its governing law. This issue underscores the importance of consulting with subject-matter experts before moving forward with a change in compensation and benefits that could impact retirement benefits.
Isabel’s connections to CalPERS also led to a great outcome for her client, the Apple Valley Fire Protection District. Following a CalPERS audit that resulted in adverse findings, the District was facing a long and taxing correction process during a time when resources were thin. When the District informed CalPERS how long it would take to implement the corrections, CalPERS threatened the District with substantial fines. While CalPERS refused to change the finding despite the fact that its finding was the result of erroneous guidance in CalPERS regulations, Isabel was able to utilize her connections to secure a reduced corrections burden for the District, along with ample time to complete them.

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