Public BLAWG Blog

Judge Rejects CalPERS’ Second Attempt to Appeal San Bernardino’s Bankruptcy Eligibility To Ninth Circuit

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CalPERS is the City of San Bernardino’s largest creditor, with the City owing the pension fund $17 million, plus growing interest, late fees and penalties. In August, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury ruled that San Bernardino is eligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.  In November, Judge Jury denied without prejudice CalPERS first attempt to take a direct appeal from Judge Jury’s ruling. On Friday, November 15, 2013, Judge Jury rejected a second CalPERS motion for leave to file a direct appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, a party must seek leave to appeal an interlocutory eligibility determination to a federal appeals court. See FRBP 8001(b). Judge Jury’s decision isn’t the end of the road for CalPERS; it can still ask a U.S. District Court judge to review the bankruptcy court’s eligibility ruling, which the Sacramento Bee reports it has already done.

More Municipalities Consider Eminent Domain to Fight Foreclosure

Irvington, New Jersey, is moving forward with plans to become the second municipality in the nation to use eminent domain to buy mortgages that are in foreclosure (see November 15 New York Times story).  Irvington will be performing a legal study of the proposal.  Since 2008, nearly 1,800 homes have been foreclosed in the city of 53,000.  It has an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent.  Even the New Jersey chapter of the ACLU backs the Irvington plan. 

Pension Reform Litigation & Legislation Roundup

New developments include a key ruling in cases challenging California's pension anti-"spiking" law (AB 197); the passage of a San Francisco measure aimed at reforming that jurisdiction's retiree health care trust fund plan; and arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a closely watched matter that will provide important federal precedent regarding how the legal standard for vested rights should be applied in practice. Read our full analysis.

Tomorrow in the U.S. Supreme Court: Prayer and Local Government

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In a case that local governments are watching closely because of the impact it could have on the practice of opening city council meetings with prayer, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in Town of Greece v. Galloway. The matter involves the town of Greece, New York, where two citizens challenged the town council’s years-long practice of beginning its monthly meetings with prayers that were almost exclusively Christian. The practical effect has been to endorse Christianity as the town’s religion—a violation of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, the citizens argue. The town contends that its practice has been sound; its brief to the Supreme Court leans heavily on the Supreme Court’s decision 30 years ago in Marsh v. Chambers, which found that the state of Nebraska had not violated the Constitution by employing a Presbyterian minister for 16 years to lead the legislature in prayer. Meyers Nave presented on this issue at last month’s annual International Municipal Lawyers Association conference and will be monitoring tomorrow’s arguments and providing analysis when the Court hands down its decision (due by June 2014). On Friday, a complete audio recording of tomorrow’s arguments will be available here.

Governor Brown Signs and Vetoes Important Employment Bills

In October, Governor Jerry Brown capped off this year's legislative session by signing or vetoing the remaining bills on his desk.  The following is a brief summary of the most notable labor and employment related bills from the past session relevant to public agencies:

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