I’ll spare you all the bad COLA jokes this time. But I can no longer ignore the latest attempts to obtain COLA.
I said it before. I’ll say it again. I challenge anybody to find me on the record (or off the record) saying anything different: The primary reason to take the PFRS system from the state was to restore COLA faster than previous legislation would have ever come close to allowing.
I might know because I was on the board that was enacted after the system hit an 80 percent funding ratio. Period. End of story. Simple fact. We were able to pass monumental legislation that was discussed at the State PBA since the 1970’s to – I’ll mention it again – PRIMARILY TO RESTORE COLA!
So as discussed in my message in the June issue, and an incredibly important part of the legislation to legally protect the integrity and health of the PFRS system, the current members of the PFRS are fiduciaries. In a word, they are legally responsible for the health of the system. Legally responsible. Another important fact that can’t be ignored no matter how much some may want to.
If somebody prefers another way to protect the system, please let me know. Blank checks? Retroactive COLA with a huge increase? Maybe a 100-percent pension benefit after 20 years? Hell, might as well make it 15 years. All exciting ideas if you aren’t remotely interested in the system being around for very long. That, I can say, was not our intent.
Another fact that seems to be lost on the latest attempts to restore COLA is that PFRS Trustee Board Chair Ed Donnelly, myself, and every single current member of the PFRS will eventually retire. And, as I’ve said a thousand times, I want COLA restored as quickly as possible in a responsible way. Nothing different has ever passed my lips.
So where is this going?
I am literally stunned at the incredible division caused by a small group attempting to restore COLA. A group that has resorted to attacking family members of PFRS trustee board members, making threats of doxing board members by revealing home addresses, producing buttons calling the chairman a sellout, making consistent personal and professional attacks on social media and submitting time-consuming (and expensive) OPRA requests.
And what has it accomplished so far? Not much. If you wanted to divide the PFRS Board, mission accomplished. If you wanted to chase away some of the management votes, mission accomplished. If you wanted to cheapen the responsible fight for COLA, mission accomplished. If you wanted to give thousands of retirees some false, premature hope, mission accomplished.
The real disappointing issue is that the leadership of that group never made any attempts to reach out to those who can help the most before they resorted to those attacks.
And now, with a couple of years wasted in personal attacks, threats and grossly miscalculated legislative attempts, the near-term PFRS financial outlook isn’t looking to improve anytime soon thanks to current fiscal issues and inflation.
So, I suggest resetting the clock to work collaboratively and professionally. If you want to keep up the personal and professional attacks, that’s up to you. But my commitment continues to be to retore COLA as soon as practical and as soon as it can be done responsibly.
We’re all on the same team last time I checked.