Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Tom Curtis: Local union leaders need to be aware of the mess at STRS

From Tom Curtis

September 28, 2022
[___], you said it, the local union presidents and representatives are the ones that need to be educated about the Mess at STRS. In my opinion, the locals could not be blind to what the OEA has allowed to happen. This is not about them forsaking their union relationship with the OEA. They need a union to represent their teachers. It is now about getting the OEA's influence totally off of the STRS Board and keeping them off. It is about the fact that the OEA's control of the STRS Board for 30 plus years has cost every STRS member a lot of money. That is a fact!
The OEA has been in bed with the STRS management, having always been pro-management and allowing the criminal mismanagement and misspending to exist and continue until STRS has become a debt collection agency. This is not conjecture. That is a fact. The worst thing about all of this is that the STRS management has never shared in reducing the debt but has instead increased the debt and has become the only winners. The STRS staff are the highest paid public pension staff in the United States, because the OEA-controlled Board sanctioned that.
Who has been paying the entire bill, the members, both active and retirees and all Ohio taxpayers. All retirees that retired after July 1st of 2012 have yet to receive a COLA! 10 years without a COLA! Has any active teacher gone 10 years without a pay increase? I really don't think so. If the local presidents and representatives don't get behind the removal of every OEA-supported Board member over the next 3 years, they are being traitors to their local people.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Edward Siedle: Your State Pension Hates You

Your State Pension Hates You

Edward Siedle, Contributor
Pension forensics expert and record-setting whistleblower award winner
Sep 26, 2022
State laws mandate that pension fiduciaries have a duty of loyalty to manage retirement plan assets for the exclusive benefit of beneficiaries, i.e., state workers and retirees. Yet all-too-often public pension assets are steered into secretive, risky, poor-performing investments based upon “dark money” contributions by Wall Street to politicians sitting on oversight boards and unions—private investment funds which also ensure outlandish bonuses to pension staffs. Worse still, when pensioners demand disclosure of records which will reveal how their retirement savings are invested, state boards and staffs routinely respond with hostility—as if plan participants were the enemy, as opposed to the owners of the assets. State pension beneficiaries today need to fight to ensure these retirement plans are managed exclusively for their benefit and not for the benefit of elected officials, unions, lavishly-compensated pension staffs and Wall Street billionaires.
Under federal and state pension law—similar to traditional trust law—the duty of loyalty places trustees under a duty to the beneficiaries to administer the pension trust solely in the interest of the beneficiaries. In short, the assets of a pension should never be used to benefit any other party and must be held for the exclusive purposes of providing benefits to participants in the plan and their beneficiaries.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way for state pension participants to ensure their retirement plans are properly managed for their exclusive benefit. In the absence of robust public scrutiny and accountability, state pension investments are frequently selected based upon criteria other than what’s best for the participants. So, for whose benefit are investments selected?
State pensions are overseen by boards dominated by elected officials and union representatives utterly lacking any investment experience or credentials. They wouldn’t know a good investment if they saw one and really don’t care. These board members and the organizations they represent often receive “dark money” contributions from Wall Street firms managing the costliest funds ever devised—hedge, private equity, real estate and venture funds. They are subject to a conflict of interest in that they benefit from steering plan assets to Wall Street firms which secretly pay them. Unlike under federal pension law, there are no prohibitions on self-dealing and other conflicts of interest that would preclude such corrupt decisions.
State pensions holding hundreds of billions in assets also have enormous investment staffs which have agendas of their own. These government workers are compensated based upon performance of the assets. They get paid lavish bonuses when pensions outperform public market indexes, such as the S&P 500, but are not penalized when pensions underperform. Therefore, it is in their interest to steer monies into high-risk secretive investments which are permitted to self-value assets under management and inflate investment performance results.
In most states today, pension investment staffs are the most highly compensated state employees. They receive base and incentive compensation exponentially greater than governors or state treasurers.
Read the rest of the article here.
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