CalPERS Must Release Investment Records

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A judge has ordered California’s public employees’ union to turn over records related to a failed $100 million investment in an East Palo Alto apartment complex, saying the documents are not privileged material.

     Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard said the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) must release the files to the First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit watchdog group, after the union refused to comply with the group’s Freedom of Information Act request.
     Although CalPERS insisted the documents were privileged, Judge Woolard found they were not confidential and contained no trade secrets.
     “On the facts of this case, where the entirety of a $100 million investment was lost, the court finds that the interest in disclosure far outweighs any asserted interest in non-disclosure,” Woolard wrote.
     Woolard ordered CalPERS to release its documents on the complex, called Page Mill Properties II, by the end of the month.
     “In this case, the public interest in disclosure is very high, because, ‘It is difficult to imagine a more critical time for public scrutiny of its governmental decision-making process than when the latter is determining how it shall spend public funds,'” Woolard wrote.
     CalPERS is the largest public employees’ union in the state. In addition to the $100 million loss in 2006, the First Amendment Coalition claimed that CalPERS invested $1.12 billion in Mountain House, a housing community in San Joaquin. According to the group, that investment is now worth $200 million.

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