Here are three sets of answers in response to Senator Van De Wege’s request prior to the March 22nd stakeholder meeting. None of the answers were seriously discussed and no answers were provided–at least no satisfactory answers.
Greeting Senator Van De Wege,
Thank you for your inquiry. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the Meeting on the 22nd. However, I think it is appropriate that I provide you with my answers to your proposed questions.
- Is there a way to have a constructive conversation about a merger without you having to agree to the idea?
Yes. The principal problem with having a constructive conversation is that we do not have a clear understanding of the idea, why it is necessary, who brought it forward or how it was proposed. The simplest way to address these issues would be to honor the public records request made for this information and denied claiming legislative immunity from disclosure. It really is a matter of transparency and trust. We need truthful and complete answers to questions.
For example, during the recent hearing on SB 5983 the transfer was referred to as a “down payment” on benefit enhancement. So what happens once the LEOFF 1 surplus is transferred to the fund? What are the long range plan and who is generating the plans? What is the role of LEOFF 1 stakeholders and why were we omitted from the development of the initial idea development?
What is the rush. If it is just money, why not just skip the LEOFF 2 state contributions for a couple of cycles while the stakeholders meet to find a mutually acceptable solution. It would not put LEOFF 2 in deficit and is certainly an approach the State has used before. For the first five years of LEOFF 1 the state did not make pension contributions as required and that actually created a deficit in the account.
So the simplest way to have the constructive conversation is inclusion, transparency and time.
- If draft language was made available would you
provide constructive feedback to ensure that your interests are protected?
Yes we will provide constructive feedback to any draft language. The problem with this approach is that one side of the issue sets the whole agenda instead of a collaborative approach where the language is constructed jointly. It limits the consideration of issues and creates conflict.
- If the $20K payment
and medically necessary dental is not desirable, what would you want?
As for the dental, we believe it is already included as a 41.26.150 benefit. It could be made more universal by declaring dental care as necessary care under 41.26.030. This would remove local control of the issue and I suspect would be resisted by the employers.
As for the $20K payment the calculation is made on a mathematical assumption that has no real basis in fact and produces the lowest possible number. The calculation makes the assumption that the distribution should be made of the basis of the $ contributed but then ignores the fact that all salary negotiations were based on total compensation. That simple fact means the $ contributed by LEOFF 1 members would be 23% not 11.5%. Based on establish law it can also be argued that all of the funds in LEOFF 1 can only be used to enhance the benefits of LEOFF 1 members. That argument would produce a payment closer to $185K per member. So, if this payment figure were to be negotiated it would need to be on a more reasonable basis.
Jerry Taylor, President
Retired Seattle Police Officers Association
Dear Senator Van De Wege:
I will not be able to attend the meeting Friday the 22nd. I do want to provide my input. I have been involved in the past 4 attempts to merger or change the LEOFF 1 pension system. Don’t take this as an attack on you but we have been lied to and misled in the past and that makes it difficult to trust anyone. We the LEOFF 1 organizations have always been transparent even when it may not be in our best interest. We want to trust what we’re being told this time but we are skeptical. What would help resolve that skepticism would be for you to honor our Public Disclosure Request. If you are being truthful then there is nothing to hide and it would help move this along. I want to believe this has not already been decided by some unknown persons and we are only giving credibility to the current process. Transparency is the answer.
Secondly I don’t believe we are going to make any headway with the current process in place. There are too many non- stakeholders involved making it hard to actually get down to the actual issue. Having a real discussion in the interim would be beneficial. Having a series of one hour free for all is not the answer. Maybe by having an interim study all parties may come to a unanimous conclusion. Strangers things have happened.
As for your questions
1.See all the above. I believe we can get there but not under the current format. Short answer is yes.
2.Draft language would be helpful since at this point we really don’t know all the particulars. I would provide feedback.
3. I believe an unknown dollar amount and the dental would be a great place to start the discussion. Opinions on the dollar amount are varied and need a lot of discussion.
Like I said if we can discuss this in the interim, we may be surprised and discover all things are possible or not. At least we can have an honest discussion and agree or agree to disagree.
Ken Crowder, Director Washington State Retired Police Officers Assoc.
Senator Kevin Van De Wege
Re: Answers to Stakeholder questions
- Yes, but this issue is too complex and too difficult to discuss in these one hour meetings. This merger should be put on hold and a legislative study be scheduled during the interim. During the study all previous information, including documents and legal opinions can be reviewed and discussed. All participants can sit around a table in a joint discussion, ask questions, make statements and respond to statements by others. This group or committee would be chaired by a neutral party, perhaps someone from DRS, the Actuary’s office or the SCPP committee. Upon completion of the study a majority and minority report would be drafted and forwarded to the legislature. We can’t reach a conclusion in three or four one hour meetings going around the room allowing each person to make a short statement or to ask a question. There are no agency representatives to assist in answering questions or do the research before the next meeting. In all respect, you as the chair and the author of this merger concept have a special interest and can’t be open minded. To my knowledge you didn’t participate in the previous merger interim. In fairness to the legislators if we are going to evaluate this merger as a group, we should have the responsibility to forward a full report by the legislators to assist them in making a decision. It’s not fair to the legislators who may have to vote on this issue nor to the proponents or opponents who will be expected to articulate their position in a one-minute testimony at a legislative hearing. There is no emergency, both retirement systems are fully funded even after the 300 million dollars transfer out of the LEOFF II Fund. If this is not done correctly it will undoubtedly end up in the courts, costing everyone’s time, money, and hard work.
- Yes, by all means.
- To be determined.
* First, we would need truthful and correct answers to all questions.
- All information and legal opinions regarding mergers received to date.
- All information from the IRS and Ice Miller LLP regarding the Exclusive Benefit Rule.
Richard C. Warbrouck, RFFOWFollow us on Facebook