To Tom Rhodes who wrote:

Peter, just two items for correction. First, TWO trustees rose to represent the people/participants of the system. Dianne and yours truly and secondly, Mark Sullivan is the police safety elected representative on the CERS board, not the San Diego Police Officers Association representative. Much has been made/connected to union reps on the CERS board and that needs to be clarified. There is no requirement nor has there ever been, to have a union rep on the CERS board. The rules require a sworn police officer for that elected position.

I stand corrected, on the two points you made.

I do recall you voted, along with Diann Shipione, against the increased benefits — I appreciate the courage your vote took, going against the herd and in that it increased benefits for those who elected you and for perhaps yourself. 

I do rank Diann a little higher on the appreciation scale, as she took it upon herself to go out into the public, dodging insults and arrows, to bring the public attention  needed to turn this situation around.. But both of you did your duty as you saw it and I appreciate that.

As for Mark’s official title, I did not know he was the “Police Safety” representative as opposed to the police officers representative. I would guess these are two different organizations, but it would seem both have similar memberships. In any case he does a great job of representing the police officer’s rights and for that matter the rights of all members. As you’re aware, there is a developing policy amongst the board members that police officers who enroll in the DROP program, give up their right to file for disability benefits. Mark is a constant voice of reason on this issue, demanding each case be reviewed on its own merit. And while its perhaps none of my business, his talent, and years of experience on the police force would seem to have earned him a far higher rank then he holds. I would sure hate to lose him to another department with more appreciation for talent.

To BBH, who wrote:

If anyone honestly believes that the pension crisis is over better wake up-this is not dreamland. We have an ongoing problem, and if nothing is done to CHANGE the current pension system then is it not a question of if we go BK-just when. I say 6-8 years maximum.

Your responses are constant. Winston Churchill was once asked “why he seemed to change his mind so often?” He replied “I change my mind when the facts change” and then he added, “What do you do when the facts change?”

Good question, BBH — What do you do when the facts change?

As I believe they certainly have over the last two years with the operation and financial condition of our pension plan.

To Richard Tanner, who wrote:

Your comments are accurate. The lasting problem is there can be no trust of the instution of SDCERS and City Hall until and if the people who caused this mess are held accountable. That may be a long time coming. If you listen to the words coming from City Hall they believe they are victums and did nothing wrong. Until they stand up and say what their role was and they were responsible for the mess, the people of San Diego will not trust the individuals or the instutions. Trust is earned and not given because someone sits on a board or council seat. Some of the new people lack the independence that they stated they would have when they ran.

Thanks for the support on the comments being accurate.

I agree that trust is the issue. I disagree that we need wait for trust to return until those responsible are “held accountable.” I think trust can return when those responsible are replaced. That has happened at the pension board.

 To The Roaming Gnome, who posted:

The City of San Diego has benefited from an increasing stock market and a few assumption revisions in the actuarial reports. Fortunately, even the Mayor and Clowncil can’t stop the roaring stock market; otherwise I am certain they would have messed it up. Look – there’s the City Attorney looking for another windmill to battle!

You’re right. “The stock market has been very, very good to the pension plan.”

Just as it was very, very bad to the pension plan in the years following the market bubble bust a couple years ago. That is the way of the market. In both cases the pension plan’s investment performance was better then the over all market-Which is a good sign and something to be pleased with. It shows the board and staff know what they are doing in this area.

As for “assumption revisions,” you’re also right. But the changes make more accurate the presentation of the state of the plan.

As for city bankruptcy, I no longer sense it will be the pension obligation that would cause it, should it come. The plan has a large deficit, although I suspect it will be again reduced when this year’s financial reports are issued. But a payment plan is in place that will reduce and eliminate the deficit. Remember the deficit is probably under $1 billion. And the plan has close to $5 billion in investments, producing income to help close the gap and the city has an income of general fund revenues of over $1 billion a year. Those are strong financial resources to eliminate the deficit, given 20 years to do it.

That said, we are still waiting for several audits. I feel audits are like annual physical lab tests. You can feel fine, but until the lab tests are in, you don’t really know your true condition. I sense were not being given the complete lab test from the ’03 audit, and wonder what the ones we’re awaiting will show about the city true condition.

 Thanks to all of you for your comments


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