Politics & Government

Retired Firefighters Respond to Laura Miller’s Take on the Pension Director

She says Richard Tettamant 'hid results.' The Dallas Retired Fire Fighters Association begs to differ (sorta).

Kirk, Leppert, Miller: the faces of Taxpayers for a Fair Pension
Kirk, Leppert, Miller: the faces of Taxpayers for a Fair Pension

Last Friday, I put up a post taking former mayor Laura Miller to task. The way I see it, her current public advocacy for a pension fix stands in sharp relief to her lack of action on the matter when she was mayor. For four years, she failed to appoint two of the four pension board members that she could have. I also find it interesting that her lawyer husband is now billing hours to the city of Dallas as he works on a lawsuit filed against the pension board. Read the post for more detail, if you’re not yet up to speed.

Well, today I got a press release from the Dallas Retired Fire Fighters Association in which they respond to something that Miller told me in that first post. She said, “Obviously, if we had known back then that the police and fire pension fund administrator was making poor investment decisions and hiding the results from everyone, we would have done something about it.” She was talking about Richard Tettamant. I’ve written a lot about Tettamant in this space, and Eric Celeste wrote about him in the January issue of D Magazine. Let’s just say that we, as an organization, are not fans of what Tettamant did with the roughly $100 million that the city gave him every year to invest, and we are eager to see if anything comes of the FBI’s visit to the pension offices.

In that sense, I agree with Miller. I’ve asked her for comment on this press release. I’ll update this post if I hear from her. But let me point out one thing. She referred to “hiding results from everyone.” I take that to mean Tettamant and his lieutenants didn’t accurately portray the value of the riskier investments that the pension was making (mainly real estate). But the Retired Fire Fighters Association, in its press release, refers to “this claim of hiding any pension board activities.” That’s not the same thing. Decide for yourself. Here’s the release:

The Dallas Retired Fire Fighters Association Refutes Laura Miller’s Claim of Impropriety by Pension Official

In a February 10 D Magazine interview, former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller made a false and inflammatory claim against the former Dallas Police and Fire Pension administrator.

Miller is quoted: “Obviously, if we had known back then that the police and fire pension fund administrator was making poor investment decisions and hiding the results from everyone, we would have done something about it.”

The Dallas Retired Fire Fighters Association finds this claim of hiding any pension board activities egregious and offensive. What Miller is suggesting amounts to collusion by the former director, the pension board, along with its independent auditor, general consultant, independent actuary and custodial bank. In short, ludicrous.

While Miller was Mayor from 2002 to 2007, she repeatedly failed to appoint council representatives to the pension board. The issue, first reported by WFAA and then in D Magazine, points out that of the 187 board meetings while she was mayor, there were 748 times for her to have had someone at the meeting. However, she had representation there a mere 52 times. While the pension board was conducting its business in scheduled meetings, Miller apparently wasn’t interested.

The DRFFA also finds it disturbing that the city sees no ethical problems or impropriety in the hiring of Laura Miller’s husband, attorney Steve Wolens, in Mayor Mike Rawlins’ [sic] suit against the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Board.

Comments

  • Greg Brown

    Hmmmmm. . . what oversight did the Dallas Retired Fire Fighters Association have members on this board?

  • Steve Thompson

    Whatever position you take on whether anyone was “hiding” anything, this is clear: They didn’t adhere to widely accepted accounting standards that call for pension funds to value real estate based on market value. Instead, Tettamant, the board, the auditor, the consultant, etc all went along with valuing much of the real estate based on what the fund paid for it — which by 2013 had little relationship to what it was actually worth. More here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/investigations/2013/02/16/dallas-police-fire-pension-fund-has-400-million-bet-on-luxury-real-estate

  • Arlie Tater

    I can help you there, 2 retirees plus 6 active police and firefighters = 8 members of the 12 member Board. And going along with the idea promoted by this Tettamant guy that they could sit here in Dallas and blow past the investment performance of virtually EVERY OTHER PENSION FUND IN THE COUNTRY let them vote themselves such outrageous benefits.