CALAPRS back then and three decades later
By Mark Hovey, Administrator, San Diego City Employees' Retirement System; CALAPRS President 2016
As president, I’ve been asked how CALAPRS got its start and its relationship to SACRS (the State Association of County Retirement Systems), an organization for county systems. So I turned to one of CALAPRS’ Founders, Richard Goss, for a history lesson and here’s what I learned.
Newly appointed Retirement Plan Manager at the Los Angeles Water and Power Employees’ Retirement Plan, Rich Goss wanted to meet with other retirement administrators to share ideas. In 1984, Rich contacted Bob Logan at the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System, Granville DeMeritt at the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, Jerry Bardwell at the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System, and Gary Mattingly at Los Angeles Fire and Police about the idea of getting together periodically. Dick Yankee at the San Bernardino County Employees’ Retirement Association heard from Jerry Bardwell about the idea of starting an association of the public retirement systems in California, and he joined the conversation. At the time, there was an organization for county systems (SACRS) but nothing for city systems.
Dick Yankee made contact with Sid McCausland of CalPERS, and Sid contacted Bob who had run the 1984 election campaign for Proposition 20 that added constitutional language giving public retirement systems the “prudent person” rule for investing. The success of that proposition changed the way retirement systems could structure investment portfolios and how retirement boards should act as a “prudent person.”
In late 1984, a meeting was held to discuss the framework of this association for public retirement systems. Attending that meeting were Sid McCausland, Bob Toigo, Granville DeMeritt, Bob Logan, Rich Goss, and Dick Yankee, along with Robin Miller from CalSTRS, Carol Stick (Sacramento County Treasurer) and John Descamp of Sacramento County Retirement. All agreed to form an educational “brown bag lunch/roundtable organization,” and then began talking about the organization’s structure bylaws for presentation to the retirement systems in California. Toigo offered $15,000 of leftover Proposition 20 campaign funds (gathered from the investment management community) as seed money to start the new organization.
During this 1984 meeting, Sid McCausland made two points that would end up guiding the future direction of CALAPRS:
1. The larger retirement systems would pay higher dues than would the smaller systems, and
2. The organization would need to solicit financial support from the providers of services to the member public retirement systems in order to be able to present quality programs.
At a follow-up, November 1984 meeting in Sacramento, approximately 30 California public retirement system representatives jammed into a meeting room to take the next steps. The group voted to establish CALAPRS, with a formal vote on the bylaws to be held at the first regular meeting. Nominations were opened from the floor for elections to the first five-person board with two alternates:
- Jerry Bardwell, Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System
- Tom Bogdan, Orange County Employees’ Retirement System
- Richard Goss, Los Angeles Water & Power Employees’ Ret. Plan
- Betty Lanoue, Contra Costa County Employees’ Ret. Association
- Sid McCausland, California Public Employees’ Retirement System
- Carol Stick, Sacramento County Employees’ Retirement System
- Dick Yankee, San Bernardino County Employees’ Ret. Association
After the meeting, the Board members met and elected the first officers, with Rich Goss selected to be President.
In April 1985, the first CALAPRS General Assembly meeting was held in the lunchroom at the East Bay Municipal Utility District in Oakland. Sid McCausland brought attorney Ian Lanoff who talked about prudent person requirements.
In May 1985, Bob Toigo had an attorney file the incorporation and tax-exemption documents for CALAPRS; CALAPRS was incorporated, and an IRS Section 501(c) 6 tax-exempt organization filing was made.
In September 1985, Rich Goss was invited by Irene Lange, Mendocino County Treasurer and President of SACRS, to an SACRS meeting to speak about CALAPRS. Rich emphasized the education and information exchange nature of the new organization, and that it was inclusive of cities, special districts, and any open public retirement systems in California, including the county systems that were also members of SACRS. He emphasized that CALAPRS was not intended to be a competing organization with SACRS, and would be inclusive to all who could benefit from participating.
By 1986, CALAPRS had started holding an Administrators’ Roundtable. In June 1986, CALAPRS tried to start a Trustees’ roundtable in Sacramento (it was held on the day after the CalPERS, and CalSTRS boards met) and an Attorneys’ Roundtable with a meeting at the new CalSTRS office in Sacramento. Neither gained critical mass to keep going. However, the Attorneys’ Roundtable gained traction later after Richard Koppes became the chief legal counsel at CalPERS and spearheaded the group. The Trustees’ roundtable didn’t get off the ground until Sid McCausland started a trustees steering group in the mid-90s. The Benefits roundtable took off in the late ‘80s, and the Accountants’ roundtable sputtered along, propped up by Rick Koehler of the Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association. The Administrative Assistants’ roundtable, also started in the late ‘80s, was held together by Jackie Hyde of the LA Water and Power Employees’ Retirement Plan and Toni Warren of the Contra Costa County Employees’ Retirement Association.
After the untimely death of Bob Toigo, in 1993 CALAPRS instituted the Robert Toigo Award in his name for outstanding service to public retirement systems in California. There have been seven recipients: Sandra Ahn, UCRS in 1994; Sid McCausland, SamCERA in 2005; Robert Palmer in 2007; Claire Murphy, SFERS, and Rich Goss, CALAPRS in 2010; Tony Petruzzi, San Luis Obispo County Pension Trust in 2014; and Stan McDivitt, Fresno City Retirement Systems in 2015.
There have been several CALAPRS administrators assisting the CALAPRS Board and organization over the years:
1986 - early 1990s: employees of the Sacramento County Treasurer assisted the CALAPRS Board
Early 90s to 1995: William Conway and Carol Gale
1996 – 2000: Dennis Batchelder and John Spittler
2000 – 2009: Rich Goss, assisted by Jackie Hyde
2010 – present: Kerry Parker and Alison Corley, of management company Holland-Parlette Associates, Inc. (HPA) located in San Francisco. The two have a strong team supporting CALAPRS, including meeting manager Chezka Solon, membership/programs assistant Sean McClure, and accounting manager Kam Choy.
Today, CALAPRS is a thriving and financially sound organization comprised of 40 member systems. It is governed by a 10-person board of system administrators meeting in person three times per year. CALAPRS holds an Annual Business Meeting during the Administrators’ Institute where systems representatives vote on association matters and have an opportunity to voice questions and concerns.
CALAPRS presents approximately 35 educational and networking programs each year across the state. It publishes an online membership directory and conducts a salary survey that is published every other year as a service to the systems. The CALAPRS website provides a forum for member interaction and is currently being redesigned and enhanced.
System administrators are deeply involved in guiding CALAPRS’ educational program content and course design. Members of the CALAPRS Board serves on committees that develop programs and serve as liaisons to roundtables and staff training. Within many of the programs CALAPRS offers, administrators volunteer their time to serve as facilitators, moderators, and course deans where needed. This involvement assures that CALAPRS’ programs maintain a high level of consistent quality and relevance to address the needs of system members.
The CALAPRS Principles of Pension Management for Trustees Course was held at Stanford for over 15 years. The course was designed and run by Sid McCausland, who should be credited for its thoroughness in covering the topics new trustees need to know and for which you can't find training anywhere else. Following the success of the Principles class, in 2013 CALAPRS launched an Advanced Principles of Pension Management for Trustees Course with the Anderson School of Executive Education at UCLA. In 2015, CALAPRS relocated its Principles of Pension Management for Trustees from Stanford to the Pepperdine University Campus. In 2016, CALAPRS held its 31st General Assembly at Indian Wells attended by over 300 system and sponsor representative attendees. Planning is now underway for the 32nd General Assembly taking place in Monterey, March 4-7, 2017.
As you can see by reading this history, recounted in large part by Rich Goss, the vision and mission of our CALAPRS founders more than three decades ago continues to be delivered as strong as ever today: CALAPRS’ mission is to educate and inform the trustees and staff of the member systems through its forums for sharing information and exchanging ideas.
To all those mentioned in this article and to those who may not have been mentioned here, but who have contributed to CALAPRS along the way as a trustee, an administrator, a staff member, a board member, a teacher, a mentor – THANK YOU! You are responsible for creating this exceptional resource for public retirement systems and making CALAPRS the valuable and relevant organization it is today.