21 June 2006

Minneapolis - You're Soaking in it!

In Minneapolis, the shills that ran the teachers' pension fund have mismanaged it so thoroughly that now, in order to meet its obligations, the fund will have to be rolled into the State of Minnesota statewide pool. All Minnesotans now get to pay for this board's inaptitude.

Now, that sort of failure, shockingly, didn't result in any prosecution. In fact, the board is so misguided and insulated, they gave fat severance payoffs to the dopes that ran it into the ground in the first place, knowing that the board was going to cease to exist.

On top of that, again with the board's end looming, the board has decided to squirrel away $1.5 million into some kind of trumped-up trust fund, just for the hell of it, so it seems.
The state auditor has accused board members of the failing Minneapolis teachers pension fund of creating an illegal $1.5 million trust for themselves and a top manager shortly before the fund is scheduled to merge with a larger state pension operation. Auditor Pat Anderson directed aides to secure records from the Minneapolis fund, but they retreated Tuesday after a confrontation with pension officials at the fund's downtown offices. "They told our staff to get out," Deputy Auditor Tony Sutton said. "They kicked our staff out."

Anderson and others have criticized the Minneapolis fund's leaders for contributing to a financial crisis that left it with only 45 percent of the money needed to meet obligations to 13,500 current and future retirees. That forced the bailout and merger, which the Legislature approved last month with the help of $18 million a year in state taxpayer money for the next three decades. An attorney for the $1.5 million trust, Tom Heffelfinger, defended its legality. He described it as a way to ensure that the Minneapolis fund pays creditors and meets other legal obligations that might survive the merger, and to insure board members and executive director Karen Kilberg against potential lawsuits.
How about that: Using taxpayer money to indemnify the frauds from their well-documented failures with taxpayer money.

"It's pretty well-established that government can't be setting up trusts like this," said Attorney General Mike Hatch, whose office is opposing the pension fund's efforts in Hennepin County District Court to legitimize the trust. "You have to have specific authority to undertake such an action, and they don't have that kind of authority." In April Anderson denounced the ($330,000) severance package for Kilberg, calling it "a brazen act by the board to provide a golden parachute to an outgoing employee at taxpayer expense." Kilberg did not return telephone calls Tuesday, and Ann Downing, president of the fund's board, said about the accusation of illegal conduct: "I don't want to comment on anything until I've seen it," and hung up the phone. The Minneapolis fund has asked the court to approve the trust and indemnify board members and Kilberg.
Congratulations, Minneapolis, you've really got yourself a fine operation here. I'm thrilled that my wallet will be used to prop up all this jive.

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