The pensions received by California’s public employees have erupted into a very hot political issue, so hot that it has become one of the key issues in the state budget stalemate.

Scarcely a day passes without some new anecdotal revelation of seeming pension excess, such as quarter- or even half-million-dollar pensions for some retirees, including those who face criminal charges.

In Sacramento, The Bee and others have sued to gain access to specific pension information from the county’s retirement system. A similar battle is under way in San Diego.

A pension reform group is noodling with a 2012 ballot measure, while unions are running a media campaign to oppose big changes.

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