CALPERS corruption: A plan to make New Yorkers homeless, and $50M to blowhard Al Villalobos
California taxpayers unknowingly handed a cool $50 million to braggart Al Villalobos, and now the inept leaders of the California Public Employee Retirement System are arguing that they encouraged this possible pay-to-play debacle because they needed Al Villalobos to suggest places for Calpers to invest its vast portfolio of public money.
Christ almighty, people. Calpers has an ENTIRE STAFF paid solely to find places for Calpers to invest its vast wealth.
Too bad Calpers is so obscure to most of the public. It's obscurity is what allowed the arrogant Calpers board of directors to blow $50 million on a notorious blowhard middleman like Villalobos, who -- get this -- is a former member of Calpers' board of directors. In the early 1990s, Villalobos was an L.A. deputy mayor under Richard Riordan. He was impossible to take seriously in that minor job. Now he's a gazillionaire. Makes sense to me!
Here's the other ugly news breaking today about corruption at Calpers: its board of directors poured vast public funds -- your money -- into a scheme in Manhattan to force working-class people out of thousands of apartments on the city's East Side, and rent those apartments to the rich. Sick, sick stuff.
Calpers' board of directors and staff need a massive political and fiscal enema. Here's what these people have been up to:
According to the Wall Street Journal, CALPERS was a very, very big investor in a plan to convert 11,000 apartments that make up the vast "Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town" of 56 (yes, 56) brick high-rises on the city's East Side. Apparently, these 56 towers provide roofs for about 30,000 working-class New Yorkers.
In a plot thick with evil intent -- like forced homelessness and mass evictions -- Calpers poured in cash, along with the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. and others, to own a piece of Cooper Village/Stuy Town, which was built for returning veterans and their young families after World War II.
Calpers' hope -- it's actual hope -- was to force out thousands of working-class residents, and turn the vast brick complex into "market rate" units.
The term "market rate" in Manhattan means housing for the upper-middle-class and the rich.
Add some granite counters, WiFi, poodle doors and snobby doormen, and force thousands of working people out of their rent-controlled homes. But do it 3,000 miles away from California in New York City.
We California state taxpayers paid for this nasty scheme, but we never knew it.
But now, with Calpers mired in intellectual corruption -- and possibly fiscal corruption, thanks to its pals like Al Villalobos -- the WSJ reports that the vast brick Manhattan complex worth $5.4 billion when Calpers bought into it is now worth $2.1 billion and default appears "imminent."
Let's see it blow up in Calpers' face. California voters are not shitheads. California voters have approved bond measure after bond measure to provide affordable housing and house the homeless. California voters would never, ever have backed such an anti-human, anti-family, anti-worker scheme as the one Calpers invested in in New York.
Maybe Californians will put an initiative on the ballot to upend the Calpers board of directors and outlaw its ultra-rich private middlemen, and start over at this troubled pension fund.
As the WSJ reported about Cooper Village/Stuy Town: "The new owners predicted they would be able to convert thousands of protected apartments to higher market rents. These projections convinced Calpers" to jump in. How despicable.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.