TEXPERS: Mayor Rawlings’ Tramples on the Rights of Dallas Voters
STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TEXPERS: Mayor Rawlings Tramples on the Rights of Dallas Voters
“Writing on behalf of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and the city council, Interim City Attorney Christopher J. Caso recently notified two Dallas Employees’ Retirement Fund board members that they are ineligible to serve another term. The letter is the latest by Dallas’ city leaders in a year-long attempt to ignore the governing IRS approved plan document of the retirement fund and weaken the effectiveness of the plan’s trustees,” says Max Patterson, the Executive Director of the 80-system-member Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems.
In letters dated September 21st, Mr. Caso informed the Dallas Employees’ Retirement Fund’s Board Chair John Jenkins and Vice-Chair Tina Richardson that they are ineligible for another term and will have to give notice by Friday, September 28th, that they must resign at the end of the year. In the letters, Mr. Caso says if either city employee chooses not to resign when their current terms expires and instead seek re-election, the city will pursue legal action against them.
In view of this action, Patterson made the following statement:
“The Board is fulfilling their fiduciary duty by protecting the rights of the City of Dallas voters and the members of the plan because the City Council’s decision to impose term limits is a direct violation of plan document and State Law. Any amendment to the Dallas Employees’ Retirement Fund requires approval of three parties - Dallas ERF Board, City Council AND the voters of the City of Dallas.”
“No other public employee pension system in Texas has imposed terms limits on their employee-elected trustees because it is counterproductive to good pension fund governance. Dallas should abandon this idea.”
“These arbitrary term limits the Dallas mayor and city council want to make will wind up in court and found to be at odds with current statutes while costing Dallas taxpayers hundreds of thousands in legal fees.”
“Trustees across Texas spend years learning about investment decision-making and benefits administration. They are held to the highest standards for fiduciary responsibility in the Texas statute. They invest assets for the long-term and each board benefits from trustees’ continuity and experience. And it’s not just learning about investments but also benefits administration such as handling disability decisions, and working with actuaries, bankers, consultants and other professionals.”
“And, it is my understanding that a nominating committee comprised of over 50 City of Dallas employees voted to place Tina Richardson on the ballot on September 21st. On September 23rd, Mr. Caso threatened Ms. Richardson with legal action if she ran including potentially losing her job. Why?"
“Per the Texas Constitution Article 16 General Provision Sec. 67(f) The board of trustees of a system or program that provides retirement and related disability and death benefits for public officers and employees shall be responsible to administer the system or program of benefits.”
Dallas City Council passed an ordinance August 9, 2017, amending sections of Dallas City Code, Chapter 8, Boards and Commissions, retroactively instituting term limits on trustees of the Dallas Employees’ Retirement Fund in opposition to the plan document. Mr. Jenkins is the deputy director for the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department. In addition to his roles with the city and the pension fund, Mr. Jenkins serves on TEXPERS’ Board of Directors as Second Vice-President.
Patterson may be made available for interview by contacting Joe Gimenez, 713.478.8034 or firstname.lastname@example.org.