Former Vallejo city manager who decried fat pensions now fighting for his own retirement package

Vallejo city manager Joseph Tanner was on the frontlines in 2008 when the city was headed toward bankruptcy in 2008.

At the time, the then-top administrator said out-of-control pensions for public safety workers were to blame for the city’s fiscal woes.

That was then. Now, Tanner, 66, is retired. And he’s locked in a fight with CalPERS officials over, you guessed it, his pension.

Tanner argues his retirement should be based on a $300,000 salary. That compensation package includes the cash value of his car allowance and a series of other added benefits. CalPERS is arguing Tanner is trying to pad his pension.

Pot, meet kettle.

As the Bee’s John Ortiz reports, “According to Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang’s Jan. 8 final ruling, Tanner earned $170,000 per year as Pacifica’s city manager when a recruiter approached him in 2006 about the Vallejo job.

He wanted a “substantially higher salary than Vallejo was offering for the position,” Chang wrote in her decision, at least $300,000 that could be counted toward his CalPERS retirement. Vallejo paid its former city manager $198,000 per year.”

The city forwarded the agreement to CalPERS for review. The fund sent back a Jan. 26, 2007, letter that said the law excludes the extras from pension calculations.

 “When shown the letter,” Chang wrote, “(Tanner) told Vallejo staff to ‘fix it.’ ”

Now, pension watchers are watching the case of the city manager who went after police and firefighters, even as he was actively working to feather his own nest. 


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