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Vivian Farmer For Pension Administrator !

http://dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubsectionID=1&ArticleID=147278

The Daily Courier – 7-5-2015     Vivian Farmer

Letter to the Editor:  Pensions

Regarding the Public Safety Pension Retirement System article in the Courier, I am demanding our city and state elected officials do something immediately.

Has a letter been written to the department that oversees this system that says “our city will not be held hostage because of their (PSPRS’) mistakes,” has our Mayor and County Supervisors written letters to every affected city and township in the state asking them to stand with us, if this has been done let the citizens of Prescott know about it.

It seems you are just caving in to this state department because they are part of the state, make the PSPRS cover the short fall.

This is not how this works, we “the taxpayers and voters” hired you to do a job and now you say OOOOOPPPPP’s and expect us to roll over and just take it.

Don’t worry Vivian, the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System just hired another media consultant to ensure their political “spin” gets thoroughly published in local and national papers and, more importantly, ensures that your voice is NEVER HEARD!

Not only will you “take it,” the PSPRS Board of Trustees is ensuring that you take it with a smile, because you have no other choice.

– Pensioners First

Prescott City Council show me what you are doing in this situation to warrant a yes vote on this upcoming ballot (tax) measure, don’t just threaten me with cutting my services. Let the people know what you all are doing to correct this situation.

Sorry Vivian, the Prescott City Council can’t do much to correct the past and current public safety pension liabilities; however, cities and municipalities can change the future by demanding reform from Governor Doug Ducey’s office and their representatives in the legislature.

Governor Ducey appoints the PSPRS Board of Trustees.  These Trustees can be removed and replaced with reformers willing to tell the truth, and who are not there for union representation or political gain.

PSPRS will not change until the Governor feels the heat and the Arizona League of Cities and Towns brings the heat (PS – Prescott is a member of the League).

– Pensioners First

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Courier, Yavapai County Supervisors, Mayor and Prescott City Council, Governor Ducey, our State Senator and our State Representatives.

Lets hope we see some action.

Don’t hold your breath Vivian

– Pensioners First


Vivian Farmer

Prescott

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ADOA Whistleblower Seeks $1.5 Million For Wrongful-Termination

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/04/18/former-arizona-official-fired-brewer-seeks-millions/25976277/

Former state official fired by Brewer seeks $1.5 million

Craig Harris and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, The Republic | azcentral.com April 17, 2015

Story Highlights

  • Ex-Department of Administration director seeks nearly $1.5 million for wrongful termination.
  • Brian McNeil’s claim alleges former Gov. Jan Brewer’s administration engaged in unethical behavior.
  • Former Gov. Jan Brewer declined to respond to the allegations.

Brian McNeil, former director of the Arizona Department of Administration, is seeking nearly $1.5 million from the state in a wrongful-termination claim that alleges former Gov. Jan Brewer’s administration engaged in unethical conduct.

Among the allegations in the 94-page claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — is that high-ranking officials within Brewer’s administration engaged in a “legislative ploy” to overturn a $3 billion mental-health contract.

The claim also accuses Brewer of quietly giving staff raises that were outside state policy, despite publicly cracking down on large raises given to certain employees of the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System pension.

The claim further contends Brewer staffers deliberately dragged their feet on the release of public records to the media, as opposed to an attempt “to be in compliance with the letter and spirit of Arizona law.”

Brewer, who left office in January, declined to comment on McNeil’s claims.

McNeil, whom Brewer fired in late October, also says in his claim that he was terminated without explanation and was denied the opportunity to respond to “unfounded” allegations of racist behavior and sexual misconduct toward a female employee.

RELATED: Brewer fires agency head who exposed wrongdoing

MORE: Brian McNeil subject of ‘racial and sexual discrimination complaint’

Shortly after Brewer fired McNeil, her spokesman, Andrew Wilder, released a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint by that employee that alleged McNeil had discriminated against her.

McNeil’s claim contends the state’s decision to “disclose the unsubstantiated and false allegations” to the media was motivated to discredit him because he had fought the Brewer administration over the misuse of public funds and government waste.

McNeil declined comment when reached by phone Friday.

The claim asserts McNeil, who also served in the military, had his reputation damaged by the firing, tarnishing a long and distinguished career in state government.

The claim seeks $1.46 million, including $500,000 for damage to reputation and $250,000 for emotional distress.

In addition to seeking monetary damages, the claim provides a rare public peek into the inner workings of the Governor’s Office and allegations of bare-knuckle politics in which Brewer rewarded friends while overlooking public policy or state law.

One of the biggest controversies centered on a $3 billion state mental-health contract awarded to Mercy Maricopa rather than former provider Magellan Health Services.

The claim contends that Brewer had been upset that Mercy Maricopa had won the bid. In March 2014, according to the claim, a lobbyist told McNeil that Brewer’s chief of staff, Scott Smith, authorized a legislative ploy to get the contract overturned and awarded to Magellan Health Services.

In late March 2014, Magellan made a last-minute attempt to have the Legislature derail the contract, but it didn’t work.

The claim also alleges Joe Sciarrotta Jr., Brewer’s legal counsel toward the end of her tenure, tried to influence the decision-making process in favor of a Magellan contract. Brewer at the end of her term appointed Sciarrotta as a judge to Maricopa County Superior Court. Sciarrotta could not be reached for comment.

The claim also contends that Brewer engaged in a “bait and switch” in regard to her personnel-reform initiatives, which imposed strict procedures to follow in granting raises for state employees.

In summer 2014, McNeil ordered a rollback of inappropriate raises that had been given to some staff members at the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System without ADOA approval. The raises were first uncovered by The Arizona Republic, forcing the retirement of PSPRS Administrator Jim Hacking.

McNeil claims he discovered through his office’s investigation of PSPRS that other state agencies, including the Governor’s Office, also had given out improper raises without ADOA approval. His claim says Kathy Peckardt, Brewer’s deputy chief of staff and a key player in advancing the governor’s personnel-reform agenda, pushed him to “suppress” those records.

Contacted by The Republic, Peckardt declined to answer questions except to say, “I can’t comment on pending litigation.” Brewer elevated Peckardt to head of ADOA after she fired McNeil. Peckardt retired at the end of March.

The claim describes “significant friction” between McNeil and the Governor’s Office over her state parks director’s nepotism. The Republic reported at the time that then-Parks Director Bryan Martyn had hired his three sons and increased the pay for their positions.

McNeil’s claim says Brewer had no intention of disciplining Martyn over the matter, but she eventually gave him a three-week suspension after McNeil expressed outrage and pushed for harsh discipline. Newly elected Gov. Doug Ducey did not retain Martyn as parks director.

Kraig Marton, McNeil’s attorney, wrote in response to questions from The Republic that McNeil had “an extremely limited relation” with Brewer during his tenure as ADOA director. Marton wrote that McNeil’s relationship with Smith “started off positively, but in time their relationship became strained.”

Asked why McNeil did not speak publicly before he was terminated about the improper behavior he now alleges, Marton wrote, “It is true that things happened that troubled Mr. McNeil while he was in state government, but he did not react or act at the time because he hoped they would get better. Also, on a number of occasions, bad results were avoided based on the hard work and diligence of McNeil and some other state employees. McNeil’s intention in discussing the matters now is to share some perspective on the additional impact on him resulting from the poor behavior and practices of the governor’s most senior staffers.”

Securities And Exchange Commission Now Investigating Arizona Public Safety Pension

http://psprs.com/Admin_common/FundManager/Board%20of%20Trustee%20Meetings/Agendas%20BOT%20Meetings/2015/PSPRS%20BOT%20Agenda%2004-22-15.pdf

The Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System pension discloses that it is now the subject of a United States Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

This is a new and previously undisclosed Federal investigation of the Arizona PSPRS pension system.

 

SEC Investigates PSPRS Pension

SEC Investigates PSPRS Pension

 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is an agency of the United States federal government. It holds primary responsibility for enforcing the federal securities laws.

The SEC has a three-part mission: to protect investors; maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets; and facilitate capital formation.

The enforcement authority it received from Congress enables the SEC to bring civil enforcement actions against individuals or companies alleged to have committed accounting fraud, provided false information, or engaged in insider trading or other violations of the securities law. The SEC also works with criminal law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals and companies alike for offenses that include a criminal violation.

Pensioners First – Somebody isn’t playing nice with others!

Does The Arizona Police and Fire Pension Mirror The Dallas Police and Fire Fund?

LINK: Dallas Police And Fire Pension   vs. Arizona Public Safety

Review of Dallas police-fire pension confirms overvaluation of real estate

DallasNews.com

Updated: 21 January 2015 -By STEVE THOMPSON

First, the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System plunged into risky real estate ventures at the height of last decade’s bubble.

Then, when the city wanted to audit the value of those investments, pension officials refused to hand over documents, and the standoff threatened to spiral into a lawsuit.

Finally, after a year of wrangling and delay, an independent review of the $3.3 billion fund has confirmed what many suspected: accounting problems.

The review, which focused on the fund’s real estate holdings in 2013, estimates that it overvalued some properties by tens of millions of dollars.

Those least shocked may be police officers and firefighters. They saw their fund suffer about $96 million in losses on risky real estate investments in 2013. Much or all of these losses were write-downs that followed new appraisals of real estate properties.

The new appraisals and the city’s push for an audit came after The Dallas Morning News flagged problems with the fund’s accounting. The News reported in early 2013 that the fund valued many of its real estate ventures by what it had invested, rather than by appraisals or other methods. This was contrary to widely accepted standards.

“This report shows we need better governance and more transparency into our pension fund so we can address issues as they come up — not years after the damage has been done,” said Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins, reading from a statement at a news conference he called Tuesday.

Atkins was one of several City Council members whom Mayor Mike Rawlings installed on the pension’s board as he shook it up in mid-2013. The board consists of four council members and eight current and retired police officers and firefighters.

Rawlings took a keen interest in the fund’s heavy investment in “alternative” assets — such as real estate — that often don’t have clear market values like stocks and bonds.

The fund’s real estate investments surpassed $1.5 billion in the middle of 2012 — equivalent then to about 50 percent of the fund’s net worth. That investment strategy is unusual. Among large public pension funds, the median share invested in real estate was then less than 5 percent.

The News reported that much of the fund’s real estate consisted of risky ventures such as a luxury resort and vineyard in Napa County, Calif., ultra-luxury homes in Hawaii, and large tracts of land in Arizona and Idaho.

Rawlings knew that state law requires the city to audit its pension funds every five years. The next was due in 2013. So the mayor pushed to include a review of the fund’s alternative assets.

Pension officials fought the add-on review, saying it was not within the scope provided by state law. The fund, which has significant autonomy from the city because it is organized under state law, refused to hand over documents. The city and the fund edged to the brink of a lawsuit.

That’s where Atkins came in. Because he was a fund trustee, its officials could not avoid turning over documents to him if he demanded them. Over months of wrangling, attorneys for the city and the fund, as well as Atkins’ personal attorney, hammered out a deal under which Atkins would direct an auditing firm to do the review. The pension fund and the city split the cost for Atkins to hire an affiliate of the firm Deloitte.

Atkins released a summary of Deloitte’s report Tuesday. The firm focused on $1.287 billion in alternative assets held by the fund at the end of 2013.

Of these, Deloitte found that $772 million in assets were at risk of being overvalued “because the valuation approaches or methods … appear to have been improperly applied and/or inconsistent with commonly accepted valuation practice.”

From this pool, Deloitte selected nine large assets that the fund had valued collectively at $585 million. The firm estimated the actual value of these assets instead to be between $507 million and $559 million.

Overvaluing assets on a fund’s books can create a falsely optimistic picture of its overall health, leaving police, firefighters and taxpayers on the hook for the future.

Fund officials, in a statement released Tuesday by their public relations firm, called the overvaluation flagged by Deloitte “financially immaterial when measured against DPFP’s entire investment portfolio.”

“However, we understand that even a small variance is unacceptable since our mission is to protect the financial futures of the police officers and firefighters who protect us,” the statement said.

Atkins declined to say which of the fund’s real estate investments were included in the review, but he said the fund’s controversial Museum Tower luxury condominium building was not among them.

“The report will speak for itself — but I can tell you there are significant problems at the [pension] system,” Atkins said. “I challenge the board and the system’s administration to address these problems.”

The mayor, reached by phone Tuesday, said the review’s findings come as no surprise.

“We just needed to confirm this,” Rawlings said. “The good news is we’ve made progress.”

The pension fund’s board ousted its top staffer, Richard Tettamant, last year after real estate write-downs helped prompt poor investment returns. The fund is searching for his replacement.

The fund’s chief financial officer left his post as the city’s audit got underway. The new CFO pushed for accounting changes that are likely to have already corrected the valuation problems pointed out by Deloitte’s review. Atkins could not confirm this.

Board members, meanwhile, have aligned around more conservative investing strategies.

Still, the fund’s financial situation concerns city and fund officials. This is in part because of real estate losses but due more to a lucrative pension perk — the deferred retirement program known as DROP.

Fund members voted last year for significant changes to DROP, but several beneficiaries sued, and a judge said the changes violated the Texas Constitution. The board then voted to suspend new entrants to the program beginning April 1. But its benefits to those already in the program will continue to sap the fund.

MORE:  Dallas Fund Is Ticking Time Bomb

MORE:  Pensions A State Embarrassment

MORE:  Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, now has burned a hole in the pension system’s pockets

Pensioners First – The parallels between the Dallas Police and Fire Pension and the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System are scary…

Where Are AZ PSPRS’ 2014 Financial Reports?

The Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System’s “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” or CAFR for fiscal year 2013-2014 was due to be published no later than December 31, 2014, yet it has still not been made public.

What is going on with the PSPRS pension’s financial reporting?

AZ Auditor General Conducting Performance Audit Of PSPRS

Arizona seeks performance audit

The [external auditor] will also determine if the pension funds have adequate processes and other controls for selecting, monitoring, and terminating contracts with alternative investment managers and valuing these investments, identify the reasons for and impact of any inadequate controls and make recommendations for improving controls.

The final reports due on or before Sept. 30, 2015.

 

Arizona Office of the Auditor General, Phoenix, is searching for a firm to conduct a performance audit of the $33.7 billion Arizona State Retirement System and $7.9 billion Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, both in Phoenix.

The performance audit is required by state law to take place about every 10 years, said Laura Long, performance auditor, in a telephone interview. Both retirement systems are on the same cycle, she said. The state’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee put together the parameters for this audit in a resolution on Oct. 3, 2013.

The chosen firm will “determine ASRS’ and PSPRS’ investment performance during the past 10 fiscal years (2005 through 2014), identify the causes for and impact of any underperformance and make recommendations for improving each agency’s investment performance,” according to the RFP posted on the auditor general’s website.

The firm will also determine if the pension funds have “adequate processes and other controls for selecting, monitoring, and terminating contracts with alternative investment managers and valuing these investments, identify the reasons for and impact of any inadequate controls and make recommendations for improving controls.”

The final reports by the selected firm would be due on or before Sept. 30, 2015.

Watchdog Reporting and The Public Safety Pension

Watchdog reporting is one of The Arizona Republic’s priorities

Cherrill Crosby, The Republic | January 10, 2015

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/investigations/2015/01/10/watchdog-reporting-one-republics-priorities/21529841/

The Truth Is, Actual Investment Returns Pay The Bills

Pensioners First – Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System’s Chief Investment Officer Ryan Parham recently posted a press release touting the PSPRS pension’s superior “risk adjusted” investment returns.

Let’s not forget that CIO Parham is the chief investment officer for the worst performing public pension system in the State of Arizona.

His press release is a puff piece designed to provide political cover in advance of the coming legislative session where PSPRS’ investment returns, mismanagement, and political shenanigans are going to be scrutinized by Governor Doug Ducey, a new legislature, and all the cities in the State of Arizona that have to pay for PSPRS’ underfunded public safety pensions.

Only investment nerds care about “risk adjusted” returns.  The rest of us care about “actual” returns.  Actual returns, plain and simply put, are your ACTUAL INVESTMENT RETURNS!

No one gives a damn about a risk adjusted paycheck.  You can only spend your ACTUAL paycheck.  Hey public safety retirees, try spending those investment returns or cost of living adjustments you DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE!

See how that goes over at Wal-Mart.

Chief Investment Officer Parham’s press release was published by the Arizona Capital Times, the same mouthpiece that Board of Trustees Chairman/ Deputy Fire Chief Brian Tobin uses to tell the intelligentsia that nothing is wrong at PSPRS.

Once again, the truth about PSPRS can certainly be found, but it won’t be found in anything that PSPRS’ leadership and management publishes.

The following link is about a treatise written by a Princeton University professor that most accurately analyzes Chief Investment Officer Parham’s press release:

Princeton Professor Processes Parham’s Pontification

More on CIO Ryan Parham’s press release as written by PSPRS.info

 

 

 

Harvard Study: Arizona State Government Most Corrupt

Arizona’s the Most Corrupt State in America, According to Survey

Kutak Rock & PSPRS Board: “Breach of Fiduciary Responsibilities”

The Firm

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2014/10/22/arizona-public-safety-pension-fund-legal-costs/17756231/

Pension fund told to cut legal cost after $1.7 mil bill

Craig Harris, The Republic | azcentral.com  October 22, 2014

PSPRS told that large outside legal tabs would no longer be tolerated

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