Chris Cassidy reports in the Salem News that the state has appointed a replacement for Essex Regional Retirement Board chairman Timothy Bassett, whose reign of error may finally be drawing to a close — although Bassett, naturally, is fighting it in court. (Here’s just a small taste from the archives.)

Andrea Estes reports in the Boston Globe that Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson is passing out enabling taxpayer-funded pensions as if they were bags of popcorn, in one case awarding greasing the skids for a nearly $47,000 annual pension for someone who’d worked full-time for only three years.

And Mary Williams Walsh reports in the New York Times that states across the country are taking enormous risks with their public-pension funds, gambling that junk bonds and other dubious investments will help them catch up with their ballooning liabilities.

The question that doesn’t get asked often enough: Why are public employees still receiving pension benefits when virtually everyone hired in the private sector for the past 10 or 15 years has been diverted to a defined-contribution plan such as a 401(k)?