Monday, November 16, 2009

Sacramento Bee Runs Front Page Story on CalPERS' Predatory Equity Investments in East Palo Alto and New York City

We were very pleased to see the Sacramento Bee covering the story of CalPERS' predatory real estate investments on the front page of today's paper.

Read the full article: "CalPERS realty deals and image take a beating" by Dale Kasler

The Sac Bee story follows an excellent recent piece, "The pension fund evictions," from Ryan Riddle in the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Tenants and advocates in East Palo Alto and Tenants Together have been working for more than a year to get the mainstream media interested in this story, and today's article is an encouraging sign that those efforts are starting to pay off. It appears the media is beginning to connect the dots between these reckless and greedy investment schemes and the devastating impact they have on low and moderate income communities.

This media attention wasn't soon enough to mitigate the awful impact that CalPERS' predatory equity investments in East Palo Alto and New York City have already had on countless tenants, but perhaps the light finally being shed on these issues will help move the public pension fund to reform its investment policies and prevent future debacles.

Here's a excerpt from today's article:

Advocates for tenants' rights say the California Public Employees' Retirement System didn't merely blunder into a couple of bad deals.

Rather, they say the $200 billion investment fund was party to a pair of schemes to jack up rents at the expense of thousands of working-class and middle-class tenants.

"There's absolutely no reason a public employee pension fund ... should choose to invest in that," said Dean Preston, executive director of San Francisco advocacy group Tenants Together.

The controversy could become another public-relations headache for CalPERS, which is struggling with heavy investment losses and a possible influence-peddling scandal. The system manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million California public employees, retirees, and their families.

We were also pleased to see that the article included quotes from tenants and allies in East Palo Alto including Mayor Rubin Abrica, Juliet Brodie of the Stanford Community Law Clinic, and tenant activist, Chris Lund.

Once again, we call on CalPERS to take responsibility for its involvement in these schemes and work with tenant advocates to adopt predator-free investment policies that will prevent it from ever again entangling itself in schemes of these type in the future.

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