Norberto Santana, Jr. has raised an interesting question in his article yesterday;Â “The $64,000 Question: Can Shawn Nelson Get Out of His Pension?.” Santana writes:
However, there seems to be a chance that Nelson could opt out based on a technicality. The key is the date that he made his selection into the system.
Under the state law that governs county retirement systems, elected officials actually have to decide to opt into receiving public benefits. But the law isn’t clear on when someone actually becomes an “elective officer.”
Is it the day a candidate wins the election, or when they are legally sworn in?
So a big question will focus on when Nelson filled out his paperwork. A potential argument being that Nelson wasn’t actually an elected official when he filled out his papers so he gets a do-over.
Either way, Nelson still can redo his pension choice in November if he wins. OCERS General Counsel and Assistant CEO Julie Wyne confirmed that OCERS views November as a clock reset.
“That’s new elective office, so he [Nelson] has the opportunity to opt out of OCERs again,” Wyne said. “Each new election to the office is a new period of time that you have to opt in or out of OCERS.”
First, there is no wiggle room for Nelson regarding whether or not he was an elected official when he chose to select the 2.7% @ 55 pension option. He signed the forms the week following his swearing in on June 22nd. The revelation that should Nelson win election to a full term in November that he gets to choose whether or not to opt-out raises a very interesting dilemma for 2nd District Supervisor Moorlach.
For years Moorlach has been hammering on and on about how if he had the choice, he would not be in the County pension plan. He has claimed that he tried, once he had decided he was against public employee defined benefit pension plans, and was told that once he was in he was in for good. The statement by Assistant CEO Julie Wyne at OCERS that his new term resets the option clock opens the door for Supervisor Moorlach to opt-out of the pension plan he has participated in since 1995.
Let’s see if Chicken Little will put his pension where his mouth is?
So here’s the $100,000 question: John Moorlach will you opt-out of the county defined benefit pension plan once you are sworn in for your new term on the Board of Supervisors?