• Same story, different day...........year ie more of the same fiat floods the world
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BarnacleBob

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#43
Excellent article, the pension scams are just scrapping the surface on the "two sets of books" scheme... Its no wonder TPTB are militarizing the civilian police power, when this blows up, and it will, theres gonna be some very enraged pensioners & their families, .gov servants of every kind, teachers, policeman, etc.... the real questions is "where did all the money dissappear to?" I suspect most of it can be attributed to the entrenched bureaucrats, namely the "administrative .gov elite" attempting to grow their departments for pay raises, power & prestige while they are underfunded... so they "cook the books" presenting a false financial picture.... I dont think its a conspiracy per say, just hu-man nature thats been institutionalized by defacto means...

From the Article....

"It turns out that Calpers, which managed the little pension plan, keeps two sets of books: the officially stated numbers, and another set that reflects the “market value” of the pensions that people have earned. The second number is not publicly disclosed. And it typically paints a much more troubling picture, according to people who follow the money."
 

Zed

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#49
I heard of this BS before, it was some video on youtube and the first thing I caught was their (mis)calculation of gasoline tax. They gave some absurd number of gasoline tax revenue, but I checked the stats and looked up the taxes, did the math, and they were WAY WAY off. If all cities and states were doing this, there would be a massive amount of "missing" money that would just be too big of an amount to hide from everyone. I don't get the incentive. Politicians love to spend money, they wouldn't have a load of it sitting around collecting dust.
Yeah, they are hopeless spenders... NO WAY on god's green earth that they keep a surplus, not unless it is their money.
 

Aurumag

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#50
CALPERS - too BIG to be honest
 

Montecristo

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#53
I don't know. There are so many people involved in a city government. People getting elected then being replaced at the next election. Mayors, treasurers property tax board......just so many people involved and coming and going I find it hard to believe they can all keep quite about two sets of books.

I chalk it up to bureaucratic waste and the prevailing thought by the elected leaders "Hey, it's not my money, let's spend it!"
 

searcher

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#56
Here's an interesting take on things. Seems this school district not only thinks it's ok to take your tax dollars and do with them as they please but they also think it's none of your dam business what they do with your money.

Media attorney: Council Rock within its legal rights to keep appraisals from public



Council Rock School District administrators and school board members, on the advice of their solicitor, will not share with the public the real estate appraisals completed on six district-owned properties.

And that's legally OK, said Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.

Melewsky said section 708(b)(22) of the state's Right to Know Law allows agencies to deny public access to real estate appraisals up until a decision to sell or lease them has been made. The Council Rock school board is weeks and perhaps months away from making such decisions on any of the properties.

"They don't have to (deny access to public), but they can," Melewsky said on Tuesday.

At Monday night's Council Rock master capital planning committee meeting, Director of Business Administration Robert Reinhart shared small parts of the appraisals, but said the full reports are being withheld from the public. Reinhart said the decision is in the best interest of school district residents because revealing too much about the appraisals could jeopardize Council Rock's negotiating position and might reduce the amount of money it would get from selling any of the properties.

"It gives us the best opportunity to get the most for the public," added school board member and master capital planning committee Chairman Andy Block.

But board member Mark Byelich disagreed.

"We spent public dollars on these appraisals and they should be shared with the public," he said. "I think keeping them secret is highly inappropriate."

Board member Kyle McKessy said she respected the decision but was also somewhat troubled by keeping the appraisals from the public.

"I'm torn," she said. "I know it's probably the right move, but it feels very muddy to me."

Council Rock paid Indian Valley Appraisal Company $20,600 to appraise the six parcels. The properties are the undeveloped 72-acre Howes tract and Wrightstown Elementary School in Wrightstown, the Chancellor Center administrative headquarters in Newtown Borough, and Richboro Middle School, Rolling Hills Elementary School and the Twining Ford Road maintenance facility in Northampton.

The school board will close Richboro Middle School after next school year and eventually must decide whether to sell the property or convert it to another use. The board is scheduled to make a decision on whether to close either Wrightstown or Rolling Hills Elementary fairly soon, possibly by the last day of school on June 13.

Because it' also possible the board could eventually sell the other three properties, it wanted appraisals done on all six to aid them in making decisions.

Reinhart said he and other school district officials went against the advice of Cox by presenting even the limited information from the appraisals that was shown to the public at Monday night's meeting.

The business administrator's presentation showed low and high values for each property as contained in the appraisals, which represented roughly the best and worst price the district could get for them.

Many factors come into play, said Reinhart, including zoning and historic restrictions and the willingness of municipal officials to grant relief from any restrictions if the school district decides to put any of the properties on the market.

As one example from the appraisals, Reinhart said the low price of $2.09 million for Richboro Middle School represented the estimate the school district would get if it first paid to demolish the building and sold the vacant land. The $3.55 million high figure was the appraiser's estimate on the best price Council Rock would get if it sold the property as is.

Enjoying our content? Become a Bucks County Courier Times subscriber to support stories like these. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 44 cents a day.

Chris English: 215-949-4193; email: cenglish@calkins.com; Twitter: @courier

http://www.buckscountycouriertimes....-8d2f-9f52ac028b94.html?hp=mid-moretopstories
 

searcher

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#58
Hoarding money, yet raising taxes
  • 8 hrs ago


School boards across the county and state are performing their annual magic act. You know the routine: Early budget talks result in dire predictions of a massive tax hike. Several meetings later officials announce — magically, it seems — a much smaller increase than anticipated (or perhaps no increase at all) thanks to careful budget cuts produced by diligent administrators working hand in hand with dedicated board members.

Whew! Thankful taxpayers breathe a sigh of relief, happy that their elected board members found ways to make that big tax hike disappear without deeply hurting their treasured schools. Lower the curtain.

As much as we'd like to join in the applause, we can't help but focus on what doesn't disappear; in fact, they get bigger. We refer to those whopping budget surpluses pretty much every school district in the state keeps on hand. School officials prefer calling their surpluses a "fund balance" because it doesn't connote unneeded money like the word "surplus" does. Either way, school districts keep a lot of surplus money around.

According to the Commonwealth Foundation, a government watchdog organization, school districts across the state had accumulated $4.4 billion in surplus tax money for the last fiscal school year. That was up $126 million over the previous year.

Local districts with the biggest bank accounts include Central Bucks, which ballooned its $23.2 million surplus to $30.5 million; Pennsbury, which went from $14.2 million to $17.1 million; and Bristol Township, whose surplus grew to $8.1 million, way up from the previous year's $4.5 million. At $37.8 million, Neshaminy's "fund balance" actually shrunk from the previous year's $41.3 million surplus. But it still ranks among the state's top 10 hoarders.

"We constantly hear the drumbeat demanding more school funding, yet while total school spending reached $28 billion in 2015-16, up $1 billion from the previous year, schools are holding $4.4 billion, or almost 16 percent of total spending, in reserve," commented James Paul, senior policy analyst with the Commonwealth Foundation. "When school districts request carte blanche permission to hike taxes on residents while storing millions of dollars in the vault, Pennsylvanians have a right to question how districts are managing taxpayers' money."

State Auditor General Gene DePasquale agrees. "It's a mindset that says they have to hoard money," he said, adding, "You start to question it." Or should.

That's our recommendation. Attend your next school board meeting and ask the folks you elected to manage your tax money wisely why they're raising your taxes even a little bit when they have a giant pile of money creating a sinkhole in the vault.

And don't buy the usual rhetoric about needing the cash to offset state budget delays, leaky roofs, rising pension costs and to keep money lenders happy. Those are legitimate reasons to keep some extra cash around, but the bulging sacks of tax loot districts have in hand far exceed what they actually need. If they say it's not true, tell ’em to prove it.

Enjoying our content? Become a Bucks County Courier Times subscriber to support stories like these. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 44 cents a day.

http://www.buckscountycouriertimes....cle_70382b68-f50e-5a67-9f97-70ee15e3fc1d.html
 

searcher

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#60
The secret to better deals
  • Jul 11, 2017 Updated 7 hrs ago

If Pennsbury taxpayers were surprised to learn that school district support staff will contribute less for health benefits in the last year of their new contract than in the first four, it's probably because school district labor contracts are worked out in secret.

This might be an issue for taxpayers because most of them work in the private sector and contribute around 35 percent of the cost of their health benefits. Meanwhile, their elected school board just sealed a deal that will lower contributions from unionized district support staff, in some cases to 12 percent depending on the plan they pick. This means taxpayers will pay more.

Taxpayers learn of secret details such as this only after union members approve a deal and school board members, behind closed doors, arrive at some sort of consensus that doesn't require an official vote.

Only after that will an agreement be posted on the district website. Or maybe not. Sometimes just a summary is posted.

Maybe taxpayers will get a week or a few days to review the deal. Or maybe not. Sometimes, they don't get more than a day or so to look over a complicated agreement — that they have to pay for — before the school board holds a public meeting to consider what voters think. Or maybe not. Sometimes taxpayers aren't given much time to express their views. If they're allowed to speak or ask questions, board members mostly sit mute. Then they hold a vote to rubber-stamp a decision essentially made behind closed doors.

And they call this democracy?!

We don't. We call it a sham and also a shameful way for public officials to conduct the public's business.

But that could change. As we noted in this space last week, state Sens. Scott Martin, R-13, and Ryan Aument, R-36, both of Lancaster County, have authored legislation that would allow public access to contract negotiations with public unions. It also would make documents related to negotiations available through a right-to-know request.


We called the proposal the "Best idea ... ever!" We're even more convinced of that in the wake of our follow-up story in which every union official we spoke to hammered the legislation, saying it is unworkable and would complicate and slow negotiations.

Our view and that of taxpayers we talked to is that public negotiations will force both sides to open discussions at a reasonable starting point, with no extreme demands that would paint one side or the other as irresponsible or adversarial. That should shorten the process.

In fact, one of the school board presidents we interviewed, Quakertown's Paul Stepanoff, embraced the idea. "When both sides know the public is watching," he said, "both sides behave and you end up with easier contract negotiations...."

And no expensive surprises such as those employee benefits contributions in Pennsbury that will boomerang while taxpayers' own health care contributions will undoubtedly continue to rise. It's a bad idea that might have evaporated had it been exposed to a little sunshine.

Enjoying our content? Become a Bucks County Courier Times subscriber to support stories like these. Get full access to our signature journalism for just 44 cents a day.

http://www.buckscountycouriertimes....cle_0a04596c-5db9-51c5-8161-04c24ede395f.html
 

BarnacleBob

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#61
The CAFR Swindle - The Biggest Game In Town:

 

searcher

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#62

searcher

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#63
A bit dated and not the best quality but it's worth 3 minutes...........

Two Sets of Books
sheehancan


Published on Oct 7, 2007
Sorry for the bad quality of the video - I didn't record the CNN part, as you can tell. The Clinton and Bush administrations have been using two different sets of accounting books. Illegal as sin.
 

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#64
Lawsuit seeks removal of Lower Merion school board
Updated: October 24, 2017 — 12:10 PM EDT

by Kathy Boccella, Staff Writer @Kathy_Boccella | Mail icon kboccella@phillynews.com


A lawyer who successfully sued the Lower Merion School District for exaggerating multimillion-dollar budget deficits to justify large tax increases now wants the court system to remove the entire school board and force the return of $300,000 it paid to lawyers.

Arthur Wolk of Gladwyne filed the lawsuit Friday in Montgomery County Court on behalf of 18 residents calling for the removal of the nine board members and the appointment of substitutes, which is permitted under the Pennsylvania School Code. Wolk maintains the board has not followed the orders of Judge Joseph Smyth, who in August 2016 ruled that the district withdraw a 4.4 percent tax increase for the 2016-17 school year.

The district fought that ruling, but its appeal was dismissed; the district is now seeking a hearing before the state Supreme Court. In the meantime, the 4.4 percent tax increase remains in effect.

“It was clear to us that the school board was not changing its practices in spite of the other lawsuit,” Wolk said in an interview. “They continue to violate the law, and they continue to be arrogant about it.”

In a brief statement, the school district said its lawyers had not yet had a chance to discuss the most recent suit with the school board.

“The petition contains no new allegations that have not been already made in Mr. Wolk’s prior court filings and other public statements from the last year,” the statement said. “The facts alleged do not in any way support the removal of a democratically elected school board.”

The 8,600-student Lower Merion School District has come under intense scrutiny for its budgeting practices, which have seen taxes raised nearly 60 percent in the last 13 years. It is among the richest public school systems in the state and its teachers are the highest paid, according to the Department of Education.

On the original lawsuit, Smyth said the district could increase its taxes by 2.4 percent for 2016-17, the maximum amount allowed under state law, but he noted that even that amount was likely more than was required to balance the budget for 2016-17.

When asking state officials to approve the tax hikes, the school district said it needed money for special education and employee pension costs, but Smyth found that the district had a surplus of money each year for special education, as well as $15.3 million in a retirement fund that apparently wasn’t used to pay pensions. The district also had $50 million to $60 million stored in reserve since 2006, according to testimony from its business manager.

In addition to mismanaging taxes, Wolk’s new suit alleges the school board misrepresented the amount it paid a law firm, Wisler Pearlstine, to defend the district against Wolk’s original lawsuit. The suit also asks that the school board return $300,000 paid to the law firm Drinker Biddle & Reath to represent board members, who were not named in the original suit.

“They charge $300,000 … to the [school board] to represent them and they aren’t even sued and the [board] authorized the district to pay the bill,” Wolk said. “These guys are out of control.”

Under the Pennsylvania School Code, the County Court can remove school board members if they fail to organize — electing a president and vice president in December and a treasurer and secretary in May — or fail to perform their statutory duties.

“It’s just those two reasons that an entire board can be removed, failing to organize or performing their duties,” said Steve Robinson, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. “It would be very rare that an entire board failed to do their duties.”

Robinson said staff attorneys could recall only one case in recent history of a board being replaced. In 2009, eight members of the North Schuylkill School Board were removed for failing to hire a new superintendent after its school chief resigned in 2007.

He also said the association’s chief counsel said it wasn’t unusual for school board members to retain their own lawyers even if they were not named in a lawsuit.

http://www.philly.com/philly/educat...al-of-lower-merion-school-board-20171024.html
 

searcher

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#65
Why Are The Taxpayer-Funded Salaries Of A Quarter-Million Federal Employees, A State Secret?


by Tyler Durden
Wed, 02/21/2018 - 17:09


Authored by Andrew Andrzejewski, op-ed via FoxNews.com,

Why is the U.S. government withholding salary information on nearly 255,000 employees whose salaries are paid for by American taxpayers?



Over the past 11 years, our organization, OpenTheBooks.com, summed up and posted online the salaries and bonus information for nearly every person employed in federal government agencies – a tally that mostly keeps growing and growing.

This year, our auditors filed our standard Freedom of Information Act request for the same information in Fiscal Year 2017 – and we got a big surprise.

For the first time, the government’s response involved massive and targeted deletions of salary data. A total of 254,839 federal salaries were removed from the Civil Service payroll. That’s a huge increase from the 3,416 salaries redacted in total in Fiscal Year 2016.

Considering that there are 1.35 million people employed by executive agencies, about one out of every five salaries are now hidden from the public.

In military terms, that’s the headcount equivalent of 17 Army divisions. It’s about equal to the urban population of Buffalo, New York, or Madison, Wisconsin.

Worst of all, it’s an affront to taxpayers who have the right to know who makes how much and in what position in the federal bureaucracy. It’s our money, and we should be able to follow it.

What we can’t follow now is truly a mammoth sum. We calculated – using median salaries for the departmental numbers the government did cough up – that's about $20 billion in total federal payroll costs now lacks transparency. The number could be lower, of course – but it could also be a lot higher.

The disappearing people and money came from all over the government: no fewer than 68 federal departments redacted salaries. Even small agencies like the National Transportation Services Board and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation joined the disappearing act.

The biggest numbers, however, came from areas like the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Office of Personnel Management. In the past, the feds produced nearly all the salaries from these agencies.

These redactions didn’t blackout secret positions at the CIA or other intelligence agencies (we didn’t even ask for those) – but rather staffers employed by non-secret agencies. They include 51,000 “compliance inspectors and support staff” who work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

In other words, many of the employees whose salaries are being kept secret are TSA agents performing airport baggage screenings and pat-downs. Disclosing these salaries – or any of the others – doesn’t trigger national security concerns.

Here’s a sample of other positions with hidden salaries: 13,000 Internal Revenue Service agents and officers; 7,500 miscellaneous program administrators, clerks, and assistants; 5,800 lawyers; and 1,500 information technology managers.

The feds redacted salaries even in more innocuous positions: 267 student trainees at assorted agencies, 92 public affairs officers and 62 photographers.

We strongly believe that transparency in government is crucial – especially at agencies where performance and hiring priorities have come under scrutiny.

This year, more than 6,600 salaries were redacted at the often-stumbling Department of Veterans Affairs. Over the past few years, just one in 10 of newly added VA positions were actually doctors. In Fiscal Year 2017, just 6 percent of the VA’s 8,727 new hires were doctors – according to the data not blacked out.

Less transparency means less government accountability. These redactions hinder your ability to examine the salaries of civil servants in your own neighborhood. Over the past two years, we literally mapped the bureaucratic swamp by ZIP code, pinning all federal disclosed bureaucrats by employer location on our interactive map for Fiscal Year 2016.

Not this year. We can’t map what we can’t see.

Who made the call to redact these salaries, at a time when President Trump has been calling for a downsized federal workforce and a greater emphasis on performance?

It wasn’t a Trump appointee. The president doesn’t yet have an executive nominee in place at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where the salary numbers reside. Acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan, a 25-year staffer, heads up the office because she was next in line – not because the White House appointed her.

In their closing letter to our salary request, OPM made no legal argument in passing along the abbreviated information to us. Only after we asked the agency about the missing information did a representative issue a response.

In essence, it said the government wouldn’t release the information because it was, well, too local. As the reply put it, in far too many words:

“On an ongoing basis, OPM reviews its methods for creating data files to ensure consistency with its Data Release Policy governing the release of records related to federal employees in positions or agencies that require location information to be redacted. Because the Adjusted Basic Salary field (in those records) contains locality pay, OPM recently began redacting this information for certain classes of employees, hence the drop that your IT department noticed.”

This didn’t make much sense, so we asked again. You can read the agency’s next attempt at a response via its spokesperson here.

Last December, we showcased the bureaucracy President Trump inherited: 1.97 million Civil Service employees costing about $137 billion a year (including the U.S. Post Office). That expense worked out to $1.1 million per minute.

We also found a 165 percent growth in bureaucrats making $200,000 or more; 30,000 rank-and-file employees out-earning all 50 governors at $190,000; and the average salary at 78 agencies exceeding $100,000.

Now, with its newly minted excuses, the bureaucracy itself is trying to fight back against open government. We don’t think taxpayers, legislators or the president should allow them to get away with it.

* * *

Adam Andrzejewski is the CEO & founder of OpenTheBooks.com, a non-profit, nonpartisan government financial watchdog group.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018...uarter-million-federal-employees-state-secret
 

Goldhedge

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#69
Catherin Austin Fitts recently exposed the $23 trillion in 'missing' funds from the government.

Tell me... how do you do that without a 2nd set of books??
 

the_shootist

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#70
Catherin Austin Fitts recently exposed the $23 trillion in 'missing' funds from the government.

Tell me... how do you do that without a 2nd set of books??
23 TRILLION dollars!!!! How can that much value simply disappear like that? How is it that people are not executed in the streets for this level of theivery? I can't understand it!