This is a placeholder for some archived material on CalPERS. I am finally taking down my PERSwatch site and will maintain what remains of value on this site as time allows.

For several years, using the internet site, James McRitchie worked together with other CalPERS members to make CalPERS responsive to its members. We worked to enact Article 16 of the Constitution, making CalPERS independent from politicians. We insisted the Board release minutes from closed door investment sessions. How else could we hold them accountable for their votes? We exposed wasteful spending on $750 coat racks for CalPERS cubicles and the common practice of many Board members of accepting gifts of fine dining and entertainment from contractors.

We pointed out that CalPERS kept reducing the State’s contribution (8 times in 11 years) but did little to increase our benefits; in fact they were eroding. McRitchie ran for the Board several times and ran ads in Capitol Weekly reminding the Board that, according to the Constitution, their primary duty is to members, not employers. Toward the end of 1998, we finally got the Board’s attention and they addressed “equity” issues with SB 400, which raised our retirement substantially through an imperfect vehicle with plenty of flaws.

In addition, we worked to reform the election process. Beginning in 2002, CalPERS began holding a runoff vote if no candidate wins a majority. There will be no more directors elected by 5.5% of the vote. That rule was enacted because board members first voted to prohibit ballot statements which include “candidates’ opinion or positions on issues of general concern to the system’s membership.” We fought that move by contacting members, unions and the Sacramento Bee, which ran an editorial CalPERS muzzles critics: Ballot rules protect board, keep others in the dark. Then we won real reforms. We are still working to avoid the $1 million cost of runoffs by getting CalPERS to use an instant runoff (IRV) system for elections.

McRitchie’s work in government, business, non-profits, cooperatives and universities led him to understand that accountability isn’t something easily imposed from the outside; it must be built into the governance structures of our organizations themselves. Not only has he worked to transform the governance structures of CalPERS, he’s also done the same with corporations. (see

CalPERS has tremendous transformative potential in creating a sustainable economy by seeking triple bottomline returns – excellent financial returns, as well as social and environmental benefits. Research demonstrates that companies with good environmental practices, diverse boards, worker ownership, employee participation in decision-making and democratic corporate governance earn substantially better returns. CalPERS should be encouraging all of the corporations it invests in to have these characteristics and they should use an enhanced indexing strategy to invest more heavily in such companies while reducing investments in companies with poor practices.

If you have ideas on what the CalPERS Board should be doing for members and beneficiaries, please call send me an e-mail at If we can identify just one or two members at each department, board, office, campus, union or association chapter interested enough in the issues to spend just a few minutes each month, we can accomplish a great deal.

CalPERS Legal Resources from

LawFind Laws: statutes, regulations, or legislative bills; contact members of the California Legislature using the links below. See important legal decisions impacting CalPERS members.

CalPERS Stakeholder Opinion

CalPERS Stakeholder Opinion

CalPERS Stakeholder Organizations Representing Individuals

Organizations who’s members are also members of CalPERS. If yours isn’t listed, please let me know. Suggest a link or correction by e-mailing me at

Links of Interest to CalPERS Members

Links to other sites of interest to CalPERS members follow. Suggest a link by e-mailing

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Individual Investors

Mutual Funds


Pension Advocates 

Pension Funds

Retirement Research

United States Government

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