No longer a reason for East Bay pols to fear pension-buster Daniel Borenstein; he was wrong, you were right

BANG editorial writer Daniel Borenstein led the 
pension reform debate for years, but it failed to 
scare East Bay officials to join his calls for austerity.

Prola: ‘I don’t respect him. I don’t respect his paper’

By Darwin BondGraham and Steven Tavares

PENSION REFORM DEBATE | “Dan needs no introduction,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt at an April city council meeting, as Daniel Borenstein, an influential columnist and editorial page writer for the Bay Area News Group, walked up to the microphone to talk to city leaders about Richmond’s retirement debts. “For people on the city council who have had to run for office, we’ve all been out there to [Borenstein’s] inquisition where he has thrown obscure terms at us, and quizzed us on what we’re going to do about it, where he’s thrown fear into the hearts of all of us,” Butt said with a smile.

Borenstein quickly launched into his Power Point presentation. He warned that Richmond’s unfunded retirement debt was $446 million, or $4,150 per resident, calling it the “biggest enchilada.” The city’s retiree medical benefits debt totaled another $125 million, he said. His essential argument — one that he has repeated dozens of times in columns and editorials — was that, over the years, Richmond, like many cities, contributed too little to its retirement fund, building up an unfunded liability that could lead to financial catastrophe. “It’s like charging last night’s steak dinner on your home mortgage,” he told the councilmembers, using one of his favorite folksy sayings.

For much of the past decade, Borenstein has been waging a campaign against what he views as the financial irresponsibility of elected officials and public sector labor unions, zeroing in on one issue in particular: public employee pensions. In columns and editorials, he has warned that looming debts threaten to “strangle,” “choke,” and “bankrupt” communities. He’s called public employee pension systems “unsustainable,” and scolded cities such as Oakland for “living beyond [their] means.”


Categories: austerity, Bay Area News Group, Corina Lopez, East Bay Express, Hayward, imposition, Jean Quan, Jeff Del Bono, Jim Prola, pensions, recession, Tom Butt, Zac Unger

12 replies

  1. Daniel Borenstein is pompous and arrogant. He needs an economic lesson from Paul Krugman. Remember the average public employee CALPERS pension is a little over $33,000 and that small amount is usually spent out of necessity, and contributes to the economy where the pensioners live.


  2. Lol even the Mayor of Richmond chimed in the comments on EBX to remark what a shoddy “investigative” piece this is.


  3. Actually someone pointed it out, that number includes retirees who only worked a few years (5 for instance). The number for recent retirees is $66k. Lol. Amateur hour @ EBX


  4. My favorite is from the former editor of the Bay Are News Group
    “As the former executive editor of Bay Area News Group I oversaw the work of both Dan Borenstein and the current editor of the East Bay Express, Bob Gammon. Dan's standards as a journalist are impeccable. He's fair, thorough, unbiased and smart as a whip. He digs until he uncovers the truth. And his work on underfunded pension systems has been groundbreaking. This hit-piece from the EB Express isn't journalism at all — and Gammon, who knows better, should be ashamed. It throws labels at Borenstein hoping one sticks, and only quotes pro-labor sources who clearly have a stake in the game. The reporter clearly came at this story with an agenda, and the result is a work of fiction that wouldn't see the light of day in any respectable publication in the country. Gammon owes Borenstein an apology. And everyone else owes Borenstein their gratitude. — Kevin Keane


  5. Oh sure Kevin! You are always on the the side of right wing a-holes like Borenstein and right wing newspapers like BANG. Surprise, surprise. Borenstein is a quack and that's a fact.


  6. Borenstein is an idiot. No wonder the City of Hayward elected officials praise him. The hysteria he attents to create behind pensions make it easier for cities to take more money from their employees. Pensions are earned, they are not a gift. Those same elected leaders that he praises for being fiscally responsible, are the same people who caused the problem by giving generous raises & benefits in the past.


  7. I don't care about the pensions that are in the 30 0r 60 thousand dollar range, but I do care about the pensions that are over the 120, 240, 360 thousand dollar range. They should have a cap 10,000 dollars a month. If you can't live on that in retirement, you are part of the problem. I do agree Borenstein is a right-wing newspaper hack though, and a one sided arrogant one at that.


  8. Borenstein's endorsement in the Bay Area will probably hurt you more than help, at least in Alameda County. He is just a puppet of the one percenters, and his nose keeps growing longer.


  9. Borenstein is a joke on a newspaper owned by a very conservative Republican. Don't know which is worse, FOX News or BANG newspapers? Neither is factual, and only present one sided news and reports. Thank you EBCitizen for exposing this wanna be bully. Great article in the Express.


  10. I'm surprised anyone shows up to his biased interview. He is irrelevant and way too full of himself.


  11. The City of Hayward bases its Budget on Nostradamus' predictions an Daniel Borenstein's Chicken Little “the sky is falling” predictions. He may have failed to convince most of the Bay Area' s elected officials but he duped Hayward's politicians and City Manager. Not a difficult task, because BANG endorsed most of those boobs for City Council–Jones, Kendall, Peixoto and Halliday (mayor). Brand a dunce “fiscally responsible” and they will go far–only not far enough out of Hayward Fran David wanted o cut workers pay and raise her own pay and benefits. She banged the same old, tired pension drum that Borenstein's beats on every Sunday in his dooms day editorials. Too bad she had to complain about being underpaid. Otherwise she would have kept her big bucks salary and benefits on the down low. Guess she's gonna get one of those giant pension checks that Borenstein is always crying about. Note to Fran, dummy up about what you make, if you earn more than Jerry B.


  12. Fire Fran David!


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