The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 16, 2009
Retiring CalPERS' 'potato guy' collected tons of spuds

They're getting ready to say goodbye to the "potato guy" at CalPERS.

Research program specialist Tom Peterson is retiring at the end of this month. In the four years that he has run the fund's annual food drive, the event has taken in 361,000 pounds of potatoes.

Hence the nickname.potato.jpg

That's more than 180 tons o' spuds. Put another way, that's the same weight as Cleopatra's Needle, a 68-foot-tall granite obelisk in Whitehall, London. It's also about 30 tons more than a blue whale weighs, according to this fact sheet by the American Cetacean Society.

The CalPERS food drive under Peterson's leadership has also collected $52,172 in cash and 458,137 pounds of food, an average of 114,534 pounds per year.

Good work, Tom. You'll be missed.


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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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