VETO TEXAS SENATE’S VERSION OF BILL TO FIX DALLAS POLICE/FIRE PENSION
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Due to corruption and mismanagement of pension funds the City of Dallas' firefighters and police officers are facing an uncertain future for their families as their pension funds are depleted further and further. This affects those public servants, their families, and the general public. The way numbers of police officers and firefighters are dwindling is leading to a potentially devastating effect on the city as whole. No one wants to see a repeat of what happened in Detroit happen in Dallas. So what is going on? This is the reason behind this bill and the reason the pension is being harmed.
This amended bill places the responsibility for repairing this pension primarily on the shoulders of the police and fire employees. The breakdown is 75% /25% (City’s portion). Mayor Rawlins and the City deny any culpability and their contributions are for only 7 years. After 7 years, the pension will be just as weak as it is now and will become insolvent quicker. This is not a fix. He has used his friendship with Senator Royce West to dismantle the House version of the reform bill which holds both parties equally (50/50) responsible for repairing the damage. It appears Mayor Rawlins’ intent is to do away with the pension and replace it with a 401K program which would destroy the current living retirees and the people who are close to retirement. Mayor Rawlins, through the media, has besmirched the members of police and fire leading the public to believe they are greedy, incompetent, and are asking the citizens to pay for their mismanagement of the pension. Comments on television such as “The police are pistol whipping the citizens of Dallas” and stating that “he (the Mayor) wants his pound of flesh” are inflammatory. Before the State had to intervene, every member came to realize that they are responsible for monitoring the elected Pension Board members, City Council members (appointed by mayors and responsible for oversight of the pension), Tettemant (pension administrator) and the actuaries. Pension members had no way of knowing that all of the above people were taking lavish vacations with their families on the pension’s dime or that the City Council members attended, on average, less than 80% of the Board meetings. For blindly following the recommendations of these people they trusted, they must be held accountable. The new Pension Board tried to negotiate a fix with the Mayor and City Council. The Mayor refused everything that was presented such as increasing member contributions to the plan from 8 ½% to 13 ½% for active members and from 4% to 13 ½ % for DROP members and limiting the length of DROP. These are only a few examples of what was presented to show pension members were serious about taking responsibility for fixing the pension. Everything that was presented was rejected by the Mayor and City Council. Mayor Rawlins does not want to address the pension issue or the Second Driver Lawsuit because he doesn’t want to have to do anything to resolve these issues which could affect his political aspirations. Below are examples of what the Mayor is failing to tell the public.
The City’s contribution to the pension is high because they didn’t want to pay higher salaries up front to retain civil servants. Therefore, they promised a pension for these men and women. Because Mayor Rawlins is trying to dismantle the pension, the City is losing its public safety servants at an unprecedented rate. New employees are hired and trained on the City’s dime only to leave to go to a city that pays more upfront and has a stable retirement plan. How much fiscal sense does this make for the citizens of Dallas? Secondly, the DROP Plan the Mayor maligns is a product of the City. It was designed to retain seasoned veterans because the City had on several occasions implemented hiring freezes for Police and Fire, creating shortages. The people with big DROP accounts have been in it for 23 years. Most members stay in it just long enough to gain a nest egg to cover a potential catastrophic event and to supplement their pension.
The City is no stranger to wasting money and misappropriating funds.
Mayor Rawlins keeps bringing up that it will bankrupt the City to fix the pension and deal with the Second Drivers’ Lawsuit. In negotiations, the Pension Board made it aware to Mayor Rawlins that the members would forgive the lawsuit if the City helped fix the pension. This lawsuit was started in 1992 when the City refused to follow its own policies to maintain a 5% difference in pay between ranks. It could have been resolved back then for 300-400 thousand dollars, but the City chose to fight it, losing time after time and continually appealing up to this day. Now, it would take about 2 billion to resolve it. Here’s the list of mayors who refused to address the situation: Steve Bartlett, Mary Poss, Ron Kirk, Tom Leppart, Laura Miller, and Mike Rawlins.
The 911 tax on cell phones (owned by Dallas citizens) generates 18 million a year and was dedicated to keeping the infrastructure for 911 Communications Departments up to date. The recent problem with T Mobile shows this is not happening. All of the 911 equipment is antiquated and can’t process the new technology. Where’s the 18 million a year going? It’s certainly not going to fix the City’s streets. Is the City’s accounting process that broken or is this tax money being re-appropriated and used for pet projects of the City Council?
Mayor Rawlins wants to manage the Pension for Police and Fire. The City has already had to bail out its civilian pension twice. About 20 years ago, it was a total bailout and just recently, they had to restructure it with a bond program. Why can’t a bond be issued for this pension?
Mayor Rawlins has ties to an investment/development consortium. He tried to give Fair Park away to this group last year but was stopped by a Council Member who informed the Mayor of a city policy. The city planned to build a park and an ecofriendly group designed it. Again, Mayor Rawlins tried to influence giving this project to this consortium of wealthy people in the city who wanted to build a bridge and put a park on it. It would have cost the city millions and millions of dollars more than the ecofriendly one did. Read about both instances in “The Observer”.
You, the tax payer, and citizen of Dallas are being cheated by your local government. They are lying to you and trying to pass the blame instead of dealing with the situation they created. Through their actions they are showing they do not care about the future of the people who keep you safe and they do not care about your safety either. Sign this petition and help the city own up to their mishandlings and misdeeds and keep Dallas safe and strong.
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