Saturday, April 06, 2013

Coral Gables: Mayor's Hall of Blame. By Coral Gables Commissioner Maria Anderson

Former Coral Gables Top Bananas (sans Slesnick who supports Cabrera) Endorsed Cason.  Genius Asks: Is that good or bad?
One of Jim Cason’s last mail pieces shows a picture with three past Coral Gables Mayors who support him. Good for him, but interestingly enough these are the folks who made the pension problem more challenging to fix later.

It hurts me to say this, because these folks gave sincerely of their time in public service, but it needs to be said, that ALL Commissions share in the good and the bad things that happen, individually and collectively. That’s just how it rolls!

We all do the best we can with the information before us, but to let one group take the blame alone, ones that actually did something to enact pension reform is just wrong.

So, while Superhero Jim is blaming the 2001-2011 Commission, let’s analyze some real facts to clear up the falsehoods spread by the Superhero’s campaign.

“Just the facts, ma’am.” said Sergeant Joe Friday…

Mayor Corrigan was Mayor in 1988-89 when the city made the system non-contributory, and then Mayors Raul Valdes-Fauli and Dorothy Thomson were there in the 1990s when  the retirement plan was heavily vested in stocks. These are facts, on the historical time-space continuum, and not accusations on individuals.

Boom, bang, zoom!

In came the 2001 bubble bust where all hell broke loose on the stock market and our plan took a “full metal jacket” and lost oodles of money; money the city had to make up, dramatically increasing the now magic “buzz” word “unfunded liability”.

I can leap tall buildings in a single bound…

After all, Superhero Jim has been the only one who has done anything in the last millennium to fix the city’s pension issue; Mayor Slesnick, Vice-Mayor Kerdyk, Commissioners Cabrera, Withers and I single-handedly destroyed it, sitting on our hands, singing laments and doing nothing.

“For ten years nothing was done other than lamentations…I came in and decided we needed pension reform we could live with…” (Mayor Jim Cason, Candidate Forum, March 21, 2013)

Drum roll please…

Here’s the truth Cason isn’t telling…the heavy lifting to correct the pension issues occurred from 2001-2011!
• From 1989 – 2003, city systems was non-contributory, the city paid 100% of employees contribution
• In 2003, it became a contributory system again, and 2 of 3 unions came on board
• In 2009, the final union began to participate
• Overtime, that people could use towards their retirement calculations, was capped and lowered several times. It used to be unlimited.
• In the 1990s the city paid into pension, and times were good.
• Actuarial assumptions were at 9% that forced the retirement plan to vest heavily in stocks to meet that target number.
• In 2001, the crash hit, and the city had to make up for the difference in the losses, which increased the unfunded liability significantly.
• Over the next 3 – 5 years, the assumption rate of the plan was lowered twice to allow the retirement board to re-balance the portfolio into more stable financial instruments. Lowering the assumption rate was a good thing, but the city had to pay for that lowering.
• It is a long-term issue, and there are no quick fixes and it will take approximately 20-25 years to complete the process due for people retiring and getting paid out of the old plan.
And now for the “piece de resistance” Superhero Jim is going to ask the residents of Coral Gables to vote on $16 million dollars of new debt to pay for downtown street improvements! *

Really Jim, isn’t there a better way to pay for this project?

* (Candidate Forum, 03/26/13)


Anonymous said...

the former mayors look so tired and so old, perhaps it is simply time for them to allow the younger generation to pick the NEW leadership of Coral Gables.

Anonymous said...

Both candidates are weak.

Anonymous said...

The unions and pensions are a big problem in Coral Gables. when everything was flush, they were too generous with our money.

RJ said...

"Commissioner Anderson appears gasping her last breath to keep Cabrera (which is nothing more than an end-run on term limits)on the dias. Considering how he has treated her over the years I'm surprised. Guess politics does make strange bed fellows.

Phil said...

Commissioner Anderson, what's a better way to pay for long overdue infrastructure improvements?

Anonymous said...

Defined Benefit Pensions are one of the reasons the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County have such high tax rates and such high fees and penalties. The massive perks for public sector employees on top of above market salaries are too expensive for the private sector to support. By the way, most Miami-Dade taxpayers have NO pension plan. It is time to make all pensions fully contributory.

Anonymous said...

Here's the deal - Anderson and Cabrera want the Imperial City Manager fired. It's all about that! If they had shown similar conviction to oust the former ethically-challenged City Manager, they'd have more credibility. It's time to move on. Thanks for the dozen years, Maria and Ralph.

Anonymous said...

Better ways to pay for pension packages include not giving stupid tax breaks like this mayor/manager have done, not wasting money on trees and islands on LeJeune, which now give the city fiscal liability for a State Road, and not hiring an additional layer of supervisors who make six figures while laying off rank and file employees because they don't fit into the manager's plan.
Pat Salerno is playing the role of Oz the great and powerful, unfortunately Coral Gables may be fooled again.

Steve said...

Last post sounds like nothing more than a union member that just feels the city owes them. Bet if they lived in Coral Gables they'd want to keep their property taxes low too. If they keep up their attitude Gables could go the way of Stockton CA - bankrupt - then they'll get nothing