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The Farsider

May 2, 2013


Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>


The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.



Many of you living locally may have seen this story that appeared on the front page of the local section of last Friday's paper. For you out-of-towners and others who missed it, you can relax. We didn't see anything in the story that negatively impacts current retirees...

Police Pension Deal Struck

—San Jose, union end lengthy fight over cuts in retirement benefits for future officers—

By John Woolfolk <jwoolfolk@mercurynews.com>
Mercury News — April 26, 2013

SAN JOSE — San Jose and its police union struck a deal on reducing pensions for new officers late Thursday, ending a months-long battle over efforts to cut costly retirement benefits at least for future officers.

The settlement with the San Jose Police Officers’ Association came on the eve of what would have been the city’s first open arbitration hearing Friday to settle the dispute under terms voters approved in 2010 requiring arbitrators to weigh the city’s ability to afford union pay and benefit requests. The two sides still plan to meet Friday morning with the retired judge acting as arbitrator to formalize the settlement.

“We deeply appreciate the work that the POA has put into these negotiations and the positive outcome avoiding arbitration,” said City Manager Debra Figone.

San Jose has been locked in a bitter dispute with its employee unions over retirement benefits, whose costs have more than tripled in a decade, devouring funds for staffing and services. Voters have overwhelmingly backed the city in a series of ballot measures aimed at checking those costs. But unions are fighting in court to overturn the most recent, Measure B, passed last June. It limits new-hire pensions and asks current employees to pay more toward the benefit or choose a reduced plan for their remaining years on the job.

The settlement comes at a critical time as the city is furiously recruiting officers to replace a rash of retirements and resignations over the past year. The Police Department, with approved staffing of 1,109 sworn officers, has fewer than 1,000 on full duty, well short of the nearly 1,400 on the force a few years ago.

John Robb, the officers’ association vice president, blamed Mayor Chuck Reed for the officer exodus and said the deal on lowering pensions for new officers will only make it worse.

“This agreement provides little incentive for a police officer to come to work in San Jose when all they have to do is step over our city border and work for an agency that pays substantially more and provides a retirement plan commensurate with the risk of doing police work,” Robb said. “Unfortunately, under the legally challenged Measure B, this represents the maximum benefit that we could have negotiated, and neighborhood safety will pay the price for Mayor Reed’s stubbornness.”

San Jose has already reduced the pensions offered to 118 new city hires outside the police and fire departments, as called for in Measure B. But San Jose could not do the same for new police officers and firefighters without union consent because of arbitration rights voters approved in 1980 to settle pay and benefit disputes with the city.

Voters, however, limited those rights with Measure V in 2010. It requires arbitrators to hold open hearings and consider the city’s ability to afford compensation hikes without cutting services.

Reed said earlier this week that the limits he called for in Measure V would encourage a settlement favorable to the city.

“We have new restraints on the ability of arbitrators to come into town, give away a bunch of money and leave,” Reed said before the settlement was reached. “It will all have to be done in public, and they can’t spend money we don’t have.”

Reed has blamed the shrinking police force on soaring pension costs, noting the Police Department lost a fifth of its officers while its budget grew by $96 million over a decade.

City correspondence with the officers union showed the two sides agreed on the basics of a new-officer pension plan. It would raise the minimum age for full retirement benefits from 50 to 60 and lower benefit formulas. The maximum pension would be 65 percent of pay instead of 90 percent, with cost-of-living increases capped at 1.5 percent instead of the current 3 percent.

Disagreements centered on the city’s right to amend the plan in the future and whether the reduced benefit should remain or be renegotiated for new hires if Measure B is blocked. It was unclear late Thursday how the settlement resolved those issues.

To date, none of Measure B’s provisions have applied to city officers pending the outcome of legal challenges. Unions argue that Measure B violates employees’ “vested rights” to the same or better retirement plan in place when they were hired. But the vested right protections only apply to current employees, giving government employers much more leeway in reducing retirement benefits for new hires.

San Jose officials have yet to reach an agreement with firefighters on new-hire pensions, and the city is asking a judge to compel arbitration.

The city and police still are scheduled for arbitration starting May 6 at City Hall on renewing the police officers’ contract. The officers are seeking to restore 10-percent pay cuts and additional raises, while the city is seeking limited raises. The two sides have chosen retired Judge John A. Flaherty as the neutral arbitrator.

The following was a sidebar to the article above...

San Jose Police Pensions: A Few Facts

San Jose and its police officers settled a dispute over reduced pensions for new officers on the eve of the city’s first scheduled open arbitration hearing. Some facts about the dispute:

■ San Jose voters in 1980 approved binding arbitration rights for police officers and firefighters to settle pay and benefit disputes with the city.

■ San Jose voters in 2010 approved Measure W, allowing smaller pensions for new hires.

■ San Jose voters in 2010 approved Measure V, calling for open arbitration hearings on police and firefighter pay disputes and limiting awards based on the city’s ability to afford them. The first such hearing was to begin Friday.

■ San Jose voters in June 2012 approved Measure B, calling for smaller pensions for new city workers and for current employees to either pay more for pensions or choose reduced benefit for remaining years of work. San Jose police officers and other unions sued to block it.

■ San Jose and its officers in 2013 agreed on the basics of a new-officer pension plan, raising retirement age from 50 to 60, lowering benefit formulas and cost-of-living increases and capping pensions at 65 percent of salary instead of 90 percent.

■ The officers and city settled Thursday afternoon. But they still will convene for the 9:30 a.m. Friday arbitration hearing in the San Jose City Hall committee rooms, 200 E. Santa Clara St., to formalize the settlement as an arbitration decision.



Police Chief Chris Moore's last minute memo prior to his recent retirement ordering patrol officers to document all stops where "curb-sitting" took place was referred to by some cops as the "Do Nothing Memo." Larry Esquivel, who replaced Chris, withdrew the memo immediately after he was appointed acting chief, which apparently irked Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell. This article from last Saturday's paper is a supplement to the article in last week's Farsider on the same topic...

‘Curb Sitting’ Rollout Urged

—Auditor wants police to begin documenting pedestrian stops—

By Robert Salonga
Mercury News — April 27, 2013

SAN JOSE — Community activists have long accused San Jose police of disproportionately “curb sitting” minorities during routine stops and searches, but there has never been data to confirm or dismiss the charges.

Sometime in the next few months, after some internal wrangling, police say they will start collecting information that could shed light on the debate over alleged racial profiling by city police.

Since the beginning of the year, the breakthrough policy has been batted back and forth within police ranks. In one of his final acts as police chief in mid-January, Chris Moore sought to tackle the question head-on, ordering officers to start documenting age, ethnicity and location in traffic and pedestrian stops.

But soon after that, acting Chief Larry Esquivel suspended its implementation. The department said it needed to retool the plan, a move that came under fire this week when the annual report from the city’s independent police auditor lamented Esquivel’s decision.

LaDoris Cordell, the auditor and a retired judge, challenged the department’s assertion that the original policy was overly broad and would be difficult to implement. Its adoption was a milestone in police-community relations, she said, and the suspension ran the risk of eroding trust from minority groups.

“I respect acting Chief Esquivel. He has immediately established a positive working relationship with our office,” Cordell said. “While I disagree with his decision to suspend (the policy), I remain hopeful that he will re-enact it without delay.”

San Jose police Sgt. Jason Dwyer questions a man about a
facial tattoo during an uninitiated stop in East San Jose in 2009.

Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a police spokesman, said the delay was necessary to update police computer systems to capture the data so it can be queried, and to narrow its focus to the most-frequent instances. The department hopes to roll out the system over the next few months.

“If we have to experience a delay upfront to do that, it’s a small price to pay for something that will be very useful in the future,” Dwyer said.

Moore’s act would add a section to the department’s duty manual, which guides police conduct. The addition, L-5108, mandates officers record the “justification, manner, duration and scope of the detention and/ or search” even in instances where no one is arrested, according to the memo. It also requires officers to record ages and races of those who are searched and detained without arrest.

“The primary purpose for documenting the detention and/or search is that it provides a record that can be used if the detention and/or search are the subject of a complaint, concern or questions from a member of the public,” according to a memo Moore issued.

Moore issued it Jan. 14, five days before he retired. Ten days later, Esquivel suspended it “until further notice.”

Moore understood the technological dimension wasn’t yet in place, but he declared the policy “effective immediately” in his memo because he wanted his officers to get in the habit of taking down the information, according to city officials familiar with the drafting process. Moore declined to comment for this story.

Some in the rank-and-file initially balked at the breadth of the policy, which covered a wide array of detentions and searches. It was criticized as over-reaching and encroaching on the judgment of an officer, being referred to as the “Don’t-do-anything memo” in some circles. Critics said it would discourage officers from making stops to avoid burdensome paperwork. Dwyer said the policy is being narrowed to find a workable solution.

“The original memo covers everything,” Dwyer said. “As far as detentions go, this is something that occurs a lot. We don’t want to put officers in a position to de-police because it’s too cumbersome and time-consuming to do that.”

Dwyer said the revised policy will address three kinds of non-consensual searches and detentions: when a person is handcuffed, ordered to sit in the back of a patrol car or ordered to sit on a street curb.

Curb sitting has had a particular resonance in San Jose after “communities of color” complained about being targeted, Cordell said.

“They perceived an officer’s order to curb sit as demeaning, humiliating and unnecessary,” Cordell said.

The police auditor’s evidence is anecdotal; she pushed for the new policy to remedy that.

Documenting events like curb sitting is new in law enforcement. Recording information about traffic stops has been widely practiced, but pedestrian stops were often considered informal acts by patrol officers looking to proactively keep the peace.

“It’s a newer field of data gathering. It’s a very unexamined area,” said Robert Weisberg, law professor and co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

Raj Jayadev, coordinator of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a media, social-advocacy and business collective based in San Jose, said the policy and its execution are being closely watched.

“It’s critically important for building trust between communities and police to have quantitative data and measurements for those interactions to move us beyond anecdotes and entrenched political positions,” Jayadev said. “The community has been waiting for something tangible to hang their hat on to say this approach of working collectively with police creates a better environment.”



If you are a member of the POA and the Assn. has your current e-mail address, you likely received the following membership alerts over the past six days. We are listing them in chronological order for those who didn't receive them and are interested in what they have to say...

April 26th

Tier 2 Arbitration Result

This morning we participated in an arbitration regarding new employee (Tier 2) pension benefits. Retired Judge John Flaherty settled the remaining issues about the Tier 2 plan. Although this plan provides the highest benefits allowed under Measure B, we take no pleasure in acknowledging that this plan is indisputably the worst second tier plan in the State of California. It will do nothing to retain new officers. But that is what the voters enacted with Measure B.

There was no "win" to be had in this arbitration. The arbitrator could not have exceeded Measure B's limits without voter approval.

The continuing fight to invalidate this second tier will be focused on our quo warranto action, which seeks to invalidate Measure B in its entirety, including Tier 2. As we explained last week, we took a major step forward to that end when California Attorney General Kamala Harris GRANTED the POA's application to sue the City. Our lawsuit against the City will be filed next week.

In the final days, just before interest arbitration began, our disagreement with the City centered on the language of the agreement, the level of survivorship benefits, Retirement Service Credit, and amongst other items, what would occur if a court issued a final decision invalidating Measure B for new employees. The timeline was such that we were locked into an arbitrated award. Once we worked through the last issues with the City, there was nothing more to arbitrate other than to finalize Judge Flaherty's stipulated award. Because it was an award under Charter Section 1111, neither the membership nor the City Council were entitled to vote on the final language.  

This award will remain in effect until such time as a court rules on the validity of Measure B. Should the court invalidate Measure B, where it involves Tier 2 pension benefits, we would begin meeting with the City to design a new Tier 2 pension plan more in line with industry standards.  

Listed below is a partial summary of the benefits contained in Tier 2. The complete agreement can be found here.

1. Two percent accrual per year with a maximum benefit of 65%
2. A normal retirement age of 60
3. Final compensation will be base pay only
4. Final average salary will be based on 3 highest consecutive years
5. Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) max of 1.5% per year
6. The City and Plan members will share equally (50/50) all in plan costs
7. Tier 2 employees will receive the Tier 1 retiree healthcare benefits

As we move through the litigation process involving Measure B, we will keep you updated on our progress and how it will affect both Tier 1 and Tier 2 plan members.

Jim Unland
John Robb

• • • • •


April 26th

San Jose's Tier 2 Pension Now the Worst L.E. Benefit in the State of California



• • • • •


April 29th

Negotiations Update

We received another proposal from the City today.  Essentially, it is a one-year deal with a 2% raise for everyone or a new top-step of 2.5% for senior officers.  Since the negotiations team has not had a chance to even review it yet, we have not given the City a response.  There are a few other changes from their last offer.  You can view it here. <http://tinyurl.com/d5sgu3x>

We are still schedule for arbitration next week.  We met today to work through some of the scheduling details for that process.  We should have more for you later in the week.

Jim Unland
John Robb

• • • • •


April 30th

Press Release

People of California vs. City of San Jose Lawsuit Filed Over Controversial Measure B

—Attorney General Kamala Harris Joins SJPOA In Litigation—

San Jose (CA)--On behalf of the People of the State of California, the San Jose Police Officers' Association and Attorney General Kamala Harris have filed a lawsuit against the City of San Jose for not complying with the law prior to placing their controversial Measure B on the ballot.

"The Attorney General has granted our Quo Warranto request to bring before a judge the important question of whether or not the City met its statutory requirements prior to placing the controversial Measure B on the ballot," said Gregg McLean Adam, from Carrol, Burdick & McDonough LLP. Adam went on to say, "If the courts agree with our facts then Measure B will be struck down."

Click here to read the filed complaint:

"Once the Attorney General authorized the POA to sue on behalf of the People of California we did not want to waste any time before filing with the courts," said Jim Unland, President of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.

Unland also said, "The sooner the unlawful Measure B can be set aside the sooner real, honest and legal pension reform can be negotiated that will save money and put more cops on the street."


• • • • •

Monthly Membership Meeting

April 30th

As contract negotiations have continued, there is now a very strong likelihood we will be engaged in Interest Arbitration next week. All of the Executive Board and the negotiation team will be involved with that process. As a result, we are rescheduling our May monthly meeting to Tuesday, May 21st at 7:30 AM.

We will keep you apprised of any developments as they occur.

Jim Unland
John Robb

• • • • •


April 30th

NBC Bay Area News Report (video)

AG Approves Measure B Lawsuit Citing NBC Investigation Attorney
General Kamala Harris has authorized a pension reform lawsuit
against the city of San Jose that cites an NBC Bay Area investigation.




Last Week's Poll Results

For the most recent Rasmussen Reports releases, click here:





Clicking on the link below will download the latest edition of the Billy & Spanner to your desktop. You can then open it and read it with a double click of your mouse...




The Board of Directors of the Keith Kelley Club is gearing up for this year's Summer Barbecue. It will be held on Wednesday, June 5th, at the Elk's Lodge at 444 W. Alma and starts at 1500 hours.

All retired Keith Kelley Club members attend free of charge. This is a stag affair; guests are not allowed. There will be sausage with garlic bread served at the start of the festivities. Dinner will feature Filet Mignon, Chicken and Ribs, Salad, Beans, Bread and plenty to drink.  A Taco Bar will open at 8:00 p.m. serving Carne Asada, Chili Verde, Tortillas and Salsa.

This will be a great time to enjoy good company and food while you unwind and have fun! We will have Keith Kelley Club T-shirts for sale for $15 each.
If you have a question about the barbecue or your membership, please contact me.
Margie Thompson
<sssq@aol.com> or 408-891-3760
Office Manager, Keith Kelley Club




April 26th

So You Want to Join the San Jose Police Department?

Today the San Jose Mercury News published an article reporting, "San Jose officers settle dispute over new police officer pensions."

For those of you who read this blog to gather information on this once great police department and are considering applying for a job with the SJPD, you should read this article and inform yourself before either committing yourself (eyes wide open)  to the task or spending your time in a more productive manner by applying to just about any other police agency in the State. I will save you some time and tell you to steer well clear of agencies like Stockton, San Bernardino and Bell, CA as they are in dire straights along the lines of SJPD.

In a nut shell, current SJPD officers contractually earn 2.5% of the highest years BASE PAY (doesn't include overtime or premium/specialty pay) for each of the first 20 years of service, which equates to 50% of the highest year after 20 years service. The earliest age that an officer can retire with 20 years service is AGE 55.

For every year worked after 20 years on the job, the officer earns a little less than 4%. At 30 years total service the officer can retire at just under 90% of the highest years base pay.An officer with 30 years service could retire "at any age," which for all intents and purposes is age 51 as all current officers were hired at age 21 or older. Currently, retirees contractually earn a 3% annual cost of living increase.

The Mercury News article is announcing that the City and the San Jose Police Officers Association have reached an agreement on pension benefits for all new hires. This is the "Second Tier" that the voters approved in 2010 after the City Council promised that it would begin negotiations immediately upon passage, and in no case allow to continue beyond 2 years.

This Tier 2 plan for all new hires  raises the retirement age from 55 years to 60 years and caps the annual cost of living increase at 1.5%. It also caps the maximum benefit at 65% of base pay (about 2.17%/year).

So the question you have to ask yourself is "Why would I go to work for SJPD when I could go to work for almost any other agency in the State that has the new CalPERS standard Public Safety retirement benefit formula of 2.5% @ Age 57 (max benefit 75% @ 30 years service)? 

Consider in your  decision the fact that you will pay about 21% of your pay towards that retirement with San Jose versus anywhere from 0-9% elsewhere, depending on the department that hires you. San Jose is one of the lowest paid departments in one of the highest cost-of-living areas in the state.

It is pretty clear that SJPD is not a place to work unless you don't mind long hours, low pay and limited financial security at the end of your career.



The Night of the Stones and the Screaming Mimi's

Back in 1965 — long before the McEnery Convention Center and the HP Pavilion were even conceived — the Civic Auditorium was the center of downtown activity where most of the events of note were held. They included Richard Nixon's visit (and subsequent riot by some), wrestling matches, Tuesday night boxing matches, roller derby events, SJ State vs. SC University basketball games as well as dances and musical performances that provided entertainment for the masses of what would later become known as Silicon Valley. One particular event of note will be remembered by at least a few local coppers.

It was the night the Rolling Stones came to town and performed in front of a full house at the Civic. The overflow became known as the "Screaming Mimi's." It was comprised of an out-of-control group of young individuals whose goal in life was to see who could scream the loudest. I'm not talking about a loud hum or chant, I'm referring to combined ear-shattering screams that would shatter the glass on an audiometer that measures decibels. Combine their excitement with an exceedingly strong desire to actually touch any of their perceived idols during their exit from the building and the cops had a definite problem on their hands.

A plan to thwart the anticipated chaos and mayhem that would likely take place after the concert was for the cops to escort the Rolling Stones out the back door of the Civic and directly into a paddy wagon for their trip to San Jose Municipal Airport. Other than the land that it sits on today, it bore little resemblance to today's San Jose International Airport.

SJPD had only one paddy wagon back then. Designated Car 2, it was a black, one-ton, extended Chevy van with a set of duals on the rear and bench seats along both sides of the interior. It also was equipped with dual cargo/panel doors in the rear that swung out, a large step-bumper and vertical bars on each side that officers could hold on to. The benches inside could seat from 22 to 24 individuals back then depending on their girth. (Probably 18 to 20 in this day and age, but I digress.)

The Stones were hustled out the rear door of the Civic and into the paddy wagon for their ride to the airport without problem. The wagon master (driver) that night was none other than Officer Pete Guerin, who went on and retired after an exemplary 30-year career. Pete was a third-generation San Jose cop who followed his father and grandfather's law enforcement careers; both were also San Jose police officers, as well as an uncle.

Somehow, the Screaming Mimi's got wind that the Rolling Stones were to be evacuated out the rear of the Civic and showed up in what seemed to number in the thousands while Pete slowly and carefully maneuvered the paddy wagon with its celebrity cargo out of the parking lot and onto S/B Market St. against traffic with two officers standing on the step-bumper and holding on to the vertical bars with a death-grip for the "somewhat scary" ride to the airport.

If the Rolling Stones were to return to San Jose for a reunion gig today, it's entirely possible that Pete Guerin would make himself available to again take the wheel of the paddy wagon. Unfortunately, one of the step-bumper officers (Lloyd Meister) is no longer with us, but the other one is, and I have it on good authority that Officer Robillard (Ret.) is willing to make the trip again providing someone would approve the overtime.

Ahhh, memories.



You don't have to read all of this syndicated New York Times article from last Sunday's paper to get the gist of the message...

Pension-backed Loans are Taking Toll on Many Retirees

—Predatory lenders fail to disclose interest rates—

By Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times
Mercury News — April 28, 2013

To retirees, the offers can sound like the answer to every money worry: Convert tomorrow’s pension checks into today’s hard cash. But these offers, known as pension advances, are having devastating financial consequences for a growing number of older Americans, threatening their retirement savings and plunging them further into debt. The advances, federal and state authorities say, are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans that require borrowers to sign over all or part of their monthly pension checks. They carry interest rates that often are many times higher than those on credit cards. In lean economic times, people with public pensions — military veterans, teachers, firefighters, police officers and others — are being courted particularly aggressively by pension-advance companies, which operate largely outside of state and federal banking regulations but are now drawing scrutiny from Congress and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The pitches come mostly via the Web or ads in local circulars.

“Convert your pension into CASH,” Lump-Sum Pension Advance, located in Irvine, says on its website. “Banks are hiding,” says Pension Funding of Huntington Beach on its website, signaling the paucity of credit. “But you do have your pension benefits.”

Another ad on that website is directed at military veterans: “You’ve put your life on the line for Americans to protect our way of life. You deserve to do something important for yourself.”

Ronald Govan, a retired veteran from Snellville, Ga., file
a federal lawsuit that raises questions about the costs of
pension advances. Pension advances, authorities say,
are not advances at all, but carefully disguised loans.

A review by the New York Times of more than two dozen contracts for pension-based loans found that, after factoring in various fees, the effective interest rates ranged from 27percent to 106 percent — information not disclosed in the ads or in the contracts themselves. Furthermore, to qualify for one of the loans, borrowers sometimes are required to take out a life insurance policy that names the lender as the sole beneficiary.

Lump-Sum Pension Advance and Pension Funding did not return calls and emails for comment.

While it is difficult to say precisely how many financially struggling people have taken out pension loans, legal aid offices in California, Arizona, Florida and New York say they recently have encountered a surge in complaints from retirees who have run into trouble with the loans.

Ronald Govan, a Marine Corps veteran in Snellville, Ga., paid an interest rate of more than 36 percent on a pension-based loan. He said he was enraged that veterans were being targeted by the firm, Pensions, Annuities & Settlements, which did not return calls for comment.

“I served for this country,” said Govan, a Vietnam veteran, “and this is what I get in return.”

The allure of borrowing against pensions underscores an abrupt reversal in the financial fortunes of many retirees in recent years, as well as the efforts by a number of financial firms, including payday lenders and debt collectors, to market directly to them.

The pension-advance firms geared up before the financial crisis to woo a vast and wealthy generation of Americans heading for retirement. Before the housing bust and recession forced many people to defer retirement and to run up debt, lenders marketed the pension-based loan largely to military members as a risk-free option for older Americans looking to take a dream vacation or even buy a yacht. “Splurge,” one ad in 2004 suggested.

Now, pension-advance firms are repositioning themselves to appeal to people in and out of the military who need cash to cover basic living expenses, according to interviews with borrowers, lawyers, regulators and advocates for the elderly.

“The cost of these pension transactions can be astronomically high,” said Stuart Rossman, a lawyer with the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group that works on issues of economic justice for low-income people. “There is profit to be made on older Americans’ financial pain.”

The oldest members baby boomers became eligible for Social Security during the recent housing bust and recession, and many nearing retirement age watched their investments plummet in value. Some now are sliding deep into debt to make ends meet.

The pitches for pension loans emphasize how difficult it can be for retirees with scant savings and checkered credit histories to borrow money, especially because banks typically do not count pension income when considering loan applications.

The combined debt of Americans from the ages of 65 to 74 is rising more quickly than that of any other age group, according to data from the Federal Reserve. For households led by people 65 and older, median debt levels have surged more than 50 percent, rising from $12,000 in 2000 to $26,000 in 2011, according to the latest data available from the Census Bureau.

Financial products such as pension advances, which promise quick cash, appear especially enticing because their long-term costs are largely hidden from the borrowers.

Federal and state regulators are spotting fresh examples of abuse, and both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions are examining these loans, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Although the firms are not directly regulated by states, officials from the California Department of Corporations, the state’s top financial services regulator, filed a desist-and-refrain order against a pension-advance firm in 2011 for failing to disclose critical information to investors.

That firm, Structured Investments, has since filed for bankruptcy, but a department spokesman said it remained watchful of pension-advance products.



The facts behind the legends, information and

misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox

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• Did Juval Aviv correctly predict upcoming terrorist attacks against the UK and U.S.?

• About a ten-year search for a counterfeiter of one-dollar bills.

• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!

Worth a Second Look

• Does Bill Ripken's 1989 Fleer baseball card feature a hidden obscenity?

Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.

Fraud Afoot

• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.



Click on the Large or Full Screen button when you watch the first YouTube video...

• • • • •

Don Hale's wife, Gloria, who suffers from ALS, took to the air for the second year in a row and followed last year's skydiving adventure with this one. The e-mail containing the video link arrived late last night and included a message that read:

"Thanks to all for your support. Although Gloria's ALS has left her unable to move or speak and care for herself, she has made her second skydive to get more awareness for the disease and to raise funds for research Here is the video made 27 April 2013."



Contact Don Hale at
<samhaleceo@pacbell.net> for more information about ALS.


• • • • •

Much ado has been made over the failure of the $100,000+ Fisker Karma extended-range hybrid, but it wasn't the first so-called "clean energy" car that went belly up — at the cost of $529 million in taxpayer dollars we might add. Do you not remember that the 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sports Edition also laid an egg? Here's an ad from a couple of years ago that promoted the car. (4 Mins.)


• • • • •

According to Leroy the Webmaster, Evian has followed up last year's famous Roller Baby commercial with this new one. Check out these cuties. (1 Min.)


• • • • •

Sorry, boys and girls, the ease of qualifying at the Range for the 832 CCW endorsement by firing 15 rounds at 15 feet may be over. If the rumor is true, you may have to take a partner with you when you go to qualify. The first minute-and-a-half of this classic 1936 film of the Los Angeles S/O Pistol Team received from Glenn Bytheway shows the new qualification requirements the City is considering. (15 Mins.)


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I never cared much for spiders. In fact, I get the heebie-jeebies when I see one crawling up my arm or leg, even if it's a friendly Grand Daddy Long Legs. Having said that, I don't have a problem with the big ugly creepy crawler on this website as it is easily controlled by grabbing a leg and dragging it around with your mouse. You can even feed it with a double-click of your mouse which will drop a bug on the floor. You can then watch the critter go after the tasty morsel. Whoever created this website is both a genius and more than a little weird.


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The last time we presented this clip about anvil shooting was in the Feb. 10, 2011 Farsider. Bruce Morton said it was so much fun when he tried it that it was time for us to show it again, so let's git 'er done. (3 Mins.)


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Are the Chinese going a little too far with their Visa commercials? Alice Murphy reports, you decide. (3 Mins.)


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Donating to charities like the Red Cross or the Wounded Warriors Program are all fine and good, but there is a segment of our population that also needs your help. Have a box of Kleenex handy if you choose to watch this short ad. (2 Mins.)


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So what happens when you try to wring out a water-soaked washcloth aboard the International Space Station? First, you have to open a hockey puck to get to the washcloth, then soak it with water before you wring it out. (3 Mins.)


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Speaking of science, here's a short and simple primer (pronounced 'primmer') on how the Internet works that even a caveman and the Farsider Editor and Webmaster could understand. (3 Mins.)


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And that brings us to this piece of startling news: if you don't believe Global Warming is real, Bruce Fair says you should read this AP article that appeared in the Washington Post...

Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt

The Arctic Ocean is warming up. Icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulafft, at Bergen, Norway.

Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm.

Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts. which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.

Oops. Bruce neglected to mention that this AP article was from the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of the Washington Post (90 years ago) and confirmed by Snopes...



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Pic of the Week

Noel Lanctot claims this photo proves Lou Costello was right after all...


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