In today’s Board Governance meeting, CalPERS voted against a staff recommendation to get rid of its decades-old practice of having a court recorder transcribe its board meetings.
I have to confess that I did not watch the discussion and vote, but I had several accounts of what happened from people who saw it live. I will amend or correct this post if necessary when CalPERS publishes the video.
This victory for transparency and accountability in no small measure was the result of pushback by CalPERS beneficiaries, including those who read Naked Capitalism.
I am told that prominent members of the retiree organizations had contacted board members before the committee meeting to object to the plan to end transcription of meetings. Several also spoke out against it in public comments. One was Jim McRitchie, who described how transcripts had been essential to him preparing testimony to the legislature, making appeals to the Office of Administrative Law, changing the regulations to increase the word count of statements, and requiring a majority vote in Board elections. One of his arguments was to contest the staff’s claim that it was just too expensive to keep preparing transcripts by mentioning our plan to launch a transcript portal: if Naked Capitalism could figure out how to do it on the cheap, why couldn’t CalPERS?
Board member Theresa Taylor set the tone, starting the discussion by saying she wasn’t too comfortable with the idea. The issues presented included that the videos were too cumbersome to use as a record, and that the auto-generated transcript wasn’t adequate because it did not identify speakers.
Board President Priya Mathur tried defending the scheme, and even suggested that the Board Governance committee reconsider it at a later meeting. But the support was clearly so weak that even Matt Jacobs tried ludicrously tried claiming the “kill transcription” plan was not a staff proposal. You can see from the embedded agenda item below, Jacobs was willing to present himself as being the responsible adult. As one reader noted:
According to Matt “Roy Cohn” Jacobs this is NOT a staff recommendation.
Reminds me of the Family Circus and Not Me.
Whose name is on it? I thought they were staff? If not, why do they get pay checks?
The committee voted unanimously to keep preparing transcripts.
Victories for open government are all too rare these days, so kudos to everyone who contributed to this outcome.CalPERS Agenda Item 8, March 20 board meeting