Leading Off (1/29/13)

Brett Shipp Looks Into Travel Budget of Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. The lead of Shipp’s story: “Amsterdam, Rotterdam, London, Zurich, Brazil, Florence and Milan. While that itinerary may sound like a vacationer’s dream, it’s just part of the travel schedule of the head of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System. That’s the group that built and owns Museum Tower in downtown Dallas.” He found that of the $185,000 spent on travel last year, more than $21,000 of it was on the tab of chief administrator Richard Tettamant. I find it hard to work myself into high dudgeon over this. The fund has $3.6 billion in assets all over the world. Is it fun to go visit the hotel investment in Hawaii? Of course it is. But it’s also probably necessary. Shipp ends his report thusly: “The trip to Abu Dhabi in 2009 was a costly one. Seven people from the pension system went — at a cost of more than $100,000 — to attend an energy conference. We wanted to ask Pension Fund staff members about the details of that conference on Monday, but they were all in Washington, D.C., at a conference.” Not Washington! That’s all the way over on the East Coast!

Plano Looking To Go Wet. Yesterday a group supporting liquor sales in Plano turned in their petitions at City Hall, and WFAA says the folks likely have enough signatures to force a vote. Don’t screw this up, people.

Arlington ISD Looks at Arming Teachers. Last night at Coker’s Barbeque, two Arlington ISD board members (Peter Baron and John Hibbs) met with two gunners (Bill Sandlin and David McElwee) to talk about allowing teachers to carry concealed handguns. Read that sentence a couple time, just to let it really sink in.


  • sooieeehog

    $100,000 trips to the Middle East are no big deal? Any openings at D?

    (But for the record, I would probably prefer one of the 18 trips to Napa Valley that were taken over the last 5 years.)

  • Steve Zimmerman

    Hey when is Brett Shipp’s CPRIT corruption investigation? Not holding my breath, but wondering.

  • Wylie H.

    $630/night suites for the pension fund administrator…. Seriously???

    Also, why doesn’t he ever seem to visit the fund’s less glamorous investments— surely they own industrial properties and garden apartments located in the heartland that are worthy of scrutiny?

    SEVEN fund staffers need to attend the same fund conference in Abu Dhabi?? Tettamant can’t find an airfare cheaper than $13,000???

    Prospective investment managers and partners sometimes pay their travel costs— many funds view that as a form of disguised bribery or kick-back.

  • Mari

    The Pension Fund is a disaster – you have an administrator with access to more than $3 billion of taxpayer money with no contract, no bylaws and no accountability. I wonder how many trips he’s taken to visit the apartment complexes and non-luxury properties where the Fund has investments? My guess is none.

  • Robert

    The bigger questions about the Police and Fire pension are 1) what percentage of their portfolio is in real estate and what is the risk? 2) how much are they investing in downtown/uptown development and why? 3) which of the usual commercial real estate suspects does the downtown/update investment benefit?

    As a taxpayer, these questions are more important to me than the damage caused by the museum tower or the benign travel costs incurred by the fund.