The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 19, 2011
Pension fund investment initiative author responds to questions

Thumbnail image for 110819 signature collector petition 1.JPGWe've heard back from Michael Lee Madsen Sr., a political activist who has received the secretary of state's permission to collect signatures for a pension fund investment initiative.

Here's the email we sent Wednesday followed by the unedited reply we received from Madsen on Thursday. We're publishing it with Madsen's permission:

From: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 2:41 PM
To: ''; ''
Subject: Why this measure?

Hi Mr. Madsen:

I'm writing about your pension initiative. A few questions:

What is your interest in pension fund investments?

Are you a public employee? If not, what is your line of work?

Cal Watchdog has reported that you live in North Highlands. Is that accurate?

What is your response to the LAO report that said the measure would likely hurt investment returns?

Do you have money backing you to gather signatures for qualification?

Have you written other ballot measures and submitted them for certification?



Jon Ortiz
Reporter and Columnist
The State Worker
The Sacramento Bee

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 6:46 PM
To: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: Re: Why this measure?

Dear Mr. Ortiz,

Do I have to be a public employee to care about California? No!

This one initiative will fix a lot of problems that California is experiencing.

It will create jobs, revenue, and opportunities for every Californian.

Revenue created from the investments will allow the rehire of police, firefighters, teachers and other professionals that Californians depend on for a quality of life.

I am, currently, unemployed, but determined to have my voice heard, because too many people are getting hurt by this dismal economy.

There are doomsayers that feel I am trashing the labor movement, but that is far from the truth, because this initiative will allow public employees and the taxpayer to come together once and for all and build a better California. No one loses.

The LAO are nice people, but they are wrong with their critique. The significance of this Initiative is simply, where we invest California's pension funds. We invest in some other State, some other country, we create opportunities for businesses and employment there for their citizens, while California's citizens continue to struggle.

We have a chance to invest billions of dollars in California and with each dollar we invest here, instead of elsewhere, we remove an obstacle to fair competition and strengthen California's standing in the World.

There is no greater danger to Public Pension funds with my initiative than is, currently, being experienced with the Doom and Gloom economy Worldwide and, in fact, this initiative could allow a better return for the Pension funds, because California would be better able to invest their own money here.

I wrote the initiative to Repeal Mandatory Car Insurance for the election in 2010 but pulled it when the political environment got ugly and this initiative if enacted would have cost California over 200 million in lost revenue.

I have three other initiatives that I have written and could put in the system for 2012, but at the moment, I am just concentrating on getting this initiative passed.

I am an individual. I have no organization. I have five months to get 800 thousand signatures and no finances to do it.

Will I succeed, yes, if people view this initiative in the right light and wish to help!

Do I care what you think? Yes!

This initiative will help to create much needed employment in California where every citizen will finally be able to benefit.



PHOTO: A man solicits petition signatures on K Street in Sacramento. (Sacramento Bee 2007 file photo / Brian Baer).

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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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