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By January 31, 2017 Read More →

Look Hard at Your Pension Fund

Image: Peter Hermes Furian / Getty Images

Via the Dallas Observer:

Of course Dallas cops and firefighters are furious over the public tone of the pension fund fight, because so much of it accuses the ordinary members of the fund of somehow being at the bottom of the debacle. All of the talk about pension fund millionaires, for example, makes it sound as if the city’s rank-and-file first responders are a bunch of grifters.

I think most of us know that’s stupid. It’s like saying I’m some kind of co-conspirator because Social Security is in trouble. It took me a full year and a letter to the White House to get my Social Security card replaced. That’s how much power I have. It’s about the same for members of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System.

But before they assume that everybody is just out to get them — that we all hate cops and firefighters because we’re idiots — the honest members could also look back and ask themselves some very serious questions about the people who have been running that fund for them.

The questions the members of the fund need to be asking themselves are these: How did managers of the fund decide where to invest the fund’s money over the years? Who made the decisions, based on what? To this very day, are the board and the fund’s top management and consultants doing everything they can to clear the decks, or are they still trying to sit on secrets?

If they are still sitting on secrets, how good a position can the fund be in when it asks the taxpayers for help? I don’t know about firefighters, but I know most cops have pretty good noses for what I have sometimes heard described as the “anomalous response.”

That would be like you say, “Sir, do you have any firearms in the vehicle,” and I say, “None that I have been informed of.” That’s side-of-the-road get-out put-your-hands-on-the-car time, right? Right now.

Well, same thing if you tell the taxpayers the pension fund is short $3 billion or whatever, and the taxpayers ask, “How come?” If you say, “The Texas Public Information Act does not require me to answer your question,” we can’t make you get out and put your hands on your car. But we can say, “Ask us for more money again after you’re ready to answer our questions.”

Especially troubling in all of this are claims being made about the fund’s management in unresolved litigation (see below) between the fund and a forensic accountant, Sandy Alexander, with whom the fund has been doing battle for more than a decade. The fund hired Alexander in 2002 to gather evidence about an employee who had stolen money. They amended his contract to give him a broader investigative mandate, so that’s what he did.

But when Alexander began to delve deep into the way the system made its decisions about money, the pension fund cut the lock off his file cabinet at pension fund headquarters and made off with all of his files. Not good, right? Then they said all kinds of bad things about him to the media.

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Posted in: The Enemy

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