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  #711  
Old 09-02-2013, 09:05 AM
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NEW YORK

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/...beginning.html

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David Halbfinger has a great piece in the New York Times about former city comptroller William Thompson's habit of investing pension fund money he was supervising with investment vehicles controlled by fund managers who donated to his campaigns. The fund managers get fees, some of the fees get turned into campaign contributions, and everyone wins.

Everyone, that is, except for taxpayers who ultimately need to make good on pension promises out of their own pockets if the funds' investments don't perform. Alternatively, maybe taxpayers will get fed up and city workers will end up receiving less than they thought they would.

Either way it's bad business. But while this certainly reflects poorly on Thompson, it's worth noting that this is a very systemic problem. Thompson's predecessor as comptroller, Alan Hevesi, moved upstairs to become New York State Comptroller before ending up in jail for corruption related to his management of state pension funds. Academic research on California cities has shown that across the board jurisdictions with elected rather than appointed treasurers face systematically higher borrowing costs than those where it's an appointee. But the Hevesi problems and the Thompson ones (where, to be clear, there's no evidence of criminal conduct) are probably best viewed in this context. There's a range of misconduct from the felonious to the sleazy to the merely inept along which this kind of situation can play out, but "effective stewardship of public funds" isn't likely to be on the list.
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  #712  
Old 09-02-2013, 10:22 AM
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UNNAMED CITY, ARIZONA

(I assume they mean Phoenix, being the only sizable city in Arizona, but still - would it have killed them to mention =which= city at least once?)

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt...4b0c5291e.html

Quote:
A change in the city’s pension plan designed to attract and retain quality employees could wind up costing taxpayers millions, a Star analysis shows.

The city recently reduced the amount employees hired after July 1, 2006, contribute to their own pensions in order to leave them with more take-home pay.

City officials said the plan wouldn’t add a dime to the already overburdened budget. But a Star analysis shows that without a huge surge in the investment markets, it will likely cost taxpayers at least $107 million over 20 years to make up the difference.

After reviewing the Star’s analysis, city officials responded that they believe the taxpayers would only be on the hook for a maximum of $22 million extra.

In 2006 the city significantly increased employee contributions for new hires as a way to combat rising pension-plan costs. It was legally prohibited from raising rates for existing employees. Newer employees were paying about 14 percent into their retirement while older employees were paying a fixed 5 percent rate.

Last March, in a nod to fairness and an effort to keep talented newer employees from leaving, the City Council approved a plan pitched by the City Manager’s Office to cut some non-public-safety employee pension contributions between 5 and 7 percent, depending on the year hired.

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  #713  
Old 09-02-2013, 10:26 AM
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NEW JERSEY

http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/a...0a9fc6f8b.html

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Two years after GOP Gov. Chris Christie signed a law requiring public workers to contribute significantly more toward their benefits, 151 lobbyists and insurers remain in the state pension system, their pensions and lifetime health care being subsidized by state taxpayers.

The employees are from six groups that either do business with the government, like the New Jersey League of Municipalities, or insure government entities, like the New Jersey School Boards Association, according to the Treasury Department, which oversees the pensions division. Despite several legislative attempts to wean nongovernment employees from the Public Employee Pension System, agreement has been elusive and the effort has stalled.

"Public pensions are for retired public employees who worked hard to serve the taxpayers of New Jersey," said Assemblyman Parker Space, a northwest Jersey Republican who is co-sponsoring the most recent attempt to shed the outsiders from the state retirement system. "It's outrageous to think that already overburdened residents are being asked to foot the retirement bills of private-sector lobbyists."
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  #714  
Old 09-02-2013, 10:27 AM
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NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA

http://www.benefitspro.com/2013/09/0...ns-from-canada

Quote:
Searching for answers to address the public pension crisis, the Canadians are turning to the Dutch – and the Americans might have something to learn.

A two-tier, shared-risk system put in place by the Canadian province of New Brunswick and its unions offers base benefits to retirees. More benefits are granted, though only if the fund reaches certain financial benchmarks.

The plan is the first of its kind in North America and, so far, has received little attention in the U.S.
....
The New Brunswick plan has three key elements, as delineated in a recent paper produced by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College: “a new design that splits plan benefits into highly secure ‘base’ benefits and moderately secure ‘ancillary’ benefits; 2) protocols that require pre-determined actions to change future benefits, contributions, and asset allocations in response to changes in the plan’s financial condition; and 3) a new risk management regulatory framework to keep these plans on track.”

Combining the Netherlands approach with a regulatory framework based on the stress tests Canada uses to oversee banks and insurance companies was “the key innovation” of the New Brunswick panel, the paper said.

The two tiers of benefits come into play depending on the financial strength of the pension fund. Base benefits are only affected if the funded ratio drops to less than 100 percent two years in a row. If that occurs, contributions to the fund would rise by 1 percent, with employees and employers each paying half. Also, base benefits would be reduced and formulas for calculating payouts would change.

On the flip side, benefits would be added if the funded ratio were to rise above 105 percent.

Three large unions in the province – the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees and the New Brunswick Nurses Union – signed on to the new pension format.


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  #715  
Old 09-02-2013, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by campbell View Post
The New Brunswick approach is not that similar to the dutch. Albert/BC also do target benefits and their legislation is more in keeping with how TB plans ought to work as true risk sharing. New Brunswick only shifts a small amount of risk to the employees.

Ontario's legislation has allowed this for much longer, but only for teachers.
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  #716  
Old 09-02-2013, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by campbell View Post
UNNAMED CITY, ARIZONA

(I assume they mean Phoenix, being the only sizable city in Arizona, but still - would it have killed them to mention =which= city at least once?)

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt...4b0c5291e.html
When I worked a summer job at the post office at a large sorting facility, I would see mail addressed with just the word 'City' instead of the name of the city, state and zip code. The sender presumed that since the letter was being sent locally, it would never leave the city & the address would be clear.
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  #717  
Old 09-02-2013, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Dan Moore View Post
When I worked a summer job at the post office at a large sorting facility, I would see mail addressed with just the word 'City' instead of the name of the city, state and zip code. The sender presumed that since the letter was being sent locally, it would never leave the city & the address would be clear.
Were they right at that time? I doubt they would be right now.

My father used to use just
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Box xyz
nnnnn
where nnnnn=his zip code, as a return address in the 1970's. I don't know whether it ever worked. I never tried mailing him anything using that as an address.
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  #718  
Old 09-02-2013, 04:30 PM
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Were they right at that time? I doubt they would be right now.

My father used to use just
where nnnnn=his zip code, as a return address in the 1970's. I don't know whether it ever worked. I never tried mailing him anything using that as an address.
Just the PO box & the zipcode would work. I worked on the manual mail sorting cases, where most of the mail was kicked out of the automatic sorters. I think the practice of just typing 'City' was a throwback to an earlier time & it probably doesn't work anymore.
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  #719  
Old 09-03-2013, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by campbell View Post
UNNAMED CITY, ARIZONA

(I assume they mean Phoenix, being the only sizable city in Arizona, but still - would it have killed them to mention =which= city at least once?)

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/govt...4b0c5291e.html
The Arizona Daily Star is a Tucson paper (where's MathinTucson when we need him?), so they probably mean that city.
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  #720  
Old 09-03-2013, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Don Quijote View Post
The Arizona Daily Star is a Tucson paper (where's MathinTucson when we need him?), so they probably mean that city.
Ah, thanks. I had forgotten about Tucson.
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