10/25/11 UPDATE: Looks like it worked, for the most part. NO WAY could the pension commissioners go against the mayor's "Layoff-Armageddon" cries, if they reduced the L.A. City Pension fund expectations down from 8% to 7.5%. (Not like it matters anyway...in '09 they projected 8% return, but resulted in a -20% loss. (Only 28% off!) SO WHO REALLY CARES ABOUT THE PROJECTIONS, ANYWAY!) But you SURE DON'T WANNA BE THE ONE WHO CAUSES IT ALL...just in case. SO BOTTOM LINE: They voted to reduce the LACERS (pension fund) projections down to 7.5%, but over a five year period, instead of all, next year. The difference between $200 million, next year...and now, only $4.3 million...but it's SO BAD, it doesn't even matter. And if you live in L.A. City...make sure you aren't anywhere in the County by 2013! [MEANWHILE, what caused this whole pension mess...including the -20% loss (BILLIONS THAT ARE NOW BEING PAID OVER THE GENERAL FUND)? PENSION FRAUD! And ZD's blog posts on the topic are ON FIRE, considering they are YEARS OLD? WONDER WHO IS SUDDENLY READING??? (Subliminal man, #SEC!)
Worried about the prospects of a new round of budget cuts during his last two years in office, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has grown increasingly bold — some say too aggressive — in his attempts to influence panels that guide the city's huge retirement funds.
Two weeks ago, Villaraigosa warned a seven-member board overseeing pensions for civilian employees that a new round of layoffs would "almost certainly" occur if the panel scales back income projections for its $11-billion portfolio.
The week before, the mayor's lawyer called on the Fire and Police Pensions board to disregard a legal opinion on potentially costly health benefits owed to retired police officers and firefighters. And in recent months, Villaraigosa has removed two pension appointees who took positions or cast votes that he opposed.
The forceful approach is raising questions about how far a mayor should go in efforts to sway decisions by public pension boards, which under state law are supposed to remain free of political interference.
Retirement boards are charged with investing billions of dollars and safeguarding benefits for tens of thousands of city retirees. Villaraigosa appoints a narrow majority on the two boards, one for police and firefighters and another for other employees. Labor representatives hold a narrow minority of seats.
One dramatic example of political involvement has been playing out at the civilian City Employees' Retirement System board. The panel is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a hotly debated plan to lower the long-term projection of its investment return from 8% to 7.75% annually. The change would increase the city's payment to the fund by nearly $27 million next year.
Similar adjustments already have been made by other public pension agencies during the economic downturn. But Villaraigosa wants the decision delayed for one year to lessen the effect on the city budget.
"This request is completely reasonable … given our own financial situation," he said Monday.
City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana, who advises the mayor, warned that the city would need to lay off at least 400 employees if the pension board refused to go along with the delay. If the board ignores the mayor's request, it should at least spread the cost over five years, he said.
The issue first came before the board two weeks ago. Board President Roberta Conroy said she was driving to the meeting to cast a vote on the investment projections when she got a call from Matt Szabo, Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff.
Szabo had a meeting that morning with the mayor and four council members, Conroy said, and wanted to know where she stood.
"I indicated that it would be difficult" to ignore the agency's actuarial firm, which concluded an 8% annual return was unrealistic. That firm warned the board that the figure may have to drop to 7.5% next year, she said.
Three days later, Villaraigosa's lawyer told Conroy she was being replaced.
The mayor's involvement disturbed some labor representatives on the pension boards, including Ruben Navarro, a firefighter who sits on the nine-member Fire and Police Pensions board. Navarro said his fiduciary duty is to ensure his agency delivers benefits to the next generation of police and firefighters, not to balance next year's budget.
KEEP READING full article at LA Times...
ALSO FROM TODAY: (VERY COMPELLING! OUCH!:) Zuma Dogg 10/24/11 Update: He is CRANKY! THAT MEANS HE BLOGS ABOUT #FBI INVESTIGATION INTO CITY HALL (Villaragiosa, Herb Wesson, Jose Huizar AND THOSE WHO LINK TO THEM!) AND, HUGE PENSION VIEWS, TODAY=#SEC IS BUSY! YOU R SO FUCKED, CITY COUNCIL!
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