The latest controversy in the Dallas Pension Fund tragedy, which one retired Dallas cop said was like getting a knife in this heart, was the slick mailer sent out to the people of Dallas from a group co-chaired by three former mayors who are promising to “salvage Dallas’ broken pension system.”
Called the “Taxpayers for a Fair Pension,” the new group is co-chaired by Laura Miller, Tom Leppert and Ron Kirk. The problem is when these people had power to appoint members to the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Board, they were “missing in action,” according to Kelly Gottschalk, the executive director of the fund.
The reaction among people who have retired after careers with the Dallas Police Dept. has been intense.
“It’s piss poor management from prior mayors that put us in the situation,” Paul Ellzey, a retired homicide detective, told the board.
We all know that these pension woes could be solved immediately by raising property taxes on the wealthier citizens of Dallas, but no one is expecting that to be part of the solution.
The three former mayors are giving their full-throated support to the plan touted by the city to try to save the fund without raising property taxes. That plan involves taking back interest earned by retirees on special investment accounts known as DROP accounts that were created to retain police officers and firefighters.
Gottschalk told retirees at the meeting that State Rep. Dan Flynn, chair of the House Pensions Committee, is suggesting an alternative to the claw back. That would involve turning the balances in DROP accounts into annuities that would be paid out over time.
That didn’t sit well either with the retirees.
“I come here today to listen as you discuss how you are going to take the money that I was promised and issue it to me like it’s an allowance,” said Ray Bennett, a retire dofficer. “I stopped getting an allowance when I was about 15 years old. We need the money now to live on.”
Then there is the matter of the city council members’ lawsuit against the pension. When retirees got wind of this plan they loudly and publicly told the council members on the board what they thought of them and it wasn’t good.