Archive for May, 2014

What Are The Others Doing About Pensions And OPEB?

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

May 29, 2014

What Are The Others Doing About Pensions And OPEB?

 

Memphis is struggling with what to do about their unfunded liability in pensions, OPEB (retiree health care) and general fund finances. I have talked about what Memphis has done compared to the Shelby County government and pointed out that due to past actions and good management, the County is in relatively good shape compared to the City of Memphis. Memphis must make hard decisions or possibly the State will step in and do it for them.

Then I wondered about Germantown, Bartlett and Collierville. This is quite interesting. They are all over the ball park. Germantown has a defined benefit plan. Collierville had a defined contribution plan and went to a defined benefit plan in 2007 (a year before the crash). They also have two other plans, a defined contribution and a state plan.

Percentage of pension and OPEB funding.

Pension Funding Percentage: Memphis 72.6%, SC 87.4%, Germantown 76%, Collierville 80.4% and Bartlett 67.1%.

OPEB Funding Percentage: Memphis 1.7%, SC 25.7%, Germantown 32%, Collierville 58.8% and Bartlett 9.9%.

Here is more of what I found.

Germantown amended the retirement plan in 2001. All employee retirement benefits are provided through a single employer, defined benefit plan. Under the Plan, all full time permanent employees at least 18 years of age (age 21 for Emergency Services Employees) participate and are vested after 10 years of service, 5 years if the employee was hired before January 1, 2003. Benefits are calculated at 2.25 percent of Average Monthly Earnings multiplied by the number of years of service subject to a 30 year maximum. The maximum accrual is 67.5 percent of base salary.

 

In addition, to the pension benefits, Germantown provides certain post-retirement health care benefits to employees who retire from the City under the provisions of PERS (Public Employee Retirement System). The City, in conjunction with PERS, has established benefit provisions and contribution obligations. The premium charged retirees is a percentage of the group rate. Prior to January 1, 2008, the City’s insurance became secondary to Medicare Insurance. After January 1, 2008, the plan was changed whereby future retirees could only obtain the City’s dental and prescription drugs.

 

Collierville’s long-range financial plan is to provide retirement and post-employment benefits to employees. The Town provides (more…)

Family Is Everything

Monday, May 26th, 2014

 

May 26, 2014, Memorial Day

 

Family Is Everything!

I get discouraged when I read day after day about the destruction of the basic unit of our culture, the strong family. Most of our national problems (education, poverty and crime) can be traced to the breakdown of the strong family unit.

Then on the eve of memorial day and after attending church, I ran into a high school classmate, Joe Garbuzinski and he told me the following remarkable story.

He had just returned from a graduation ceremony at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His twin grandsons, Zachery and Alexander Johnson, had both just graduated. They grew up in Memphis and attended Christian Brothers High School. They were top students and both were state wrestling champs.

While at the Naval Academy, they attended summer training camps for Navy seals and finished in the top 5% of those classes. Now after graduating they will enter into the notoriously difficult Navy Seal training.

Joe is very proud of these wonderful grandsons and I am thrilled at their accomplishments. Joe and I both feel that the majority of this country still loves America, thinks that America is special and that there is hope to turn the culture back to freedom, individual responsibility and love of country. With young people like Zachery and Alexander, there is cause for great hope for the future of this wonderful country.

 

A Heartbreaking Story About Education And Opportunity!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

May 22, 2014

A Heartbreaking Story About Education And Opportunity!

I have known a lot of great teachers. They are very important in improving the education of our children. However politicians and heads of teacher unions do not always act like their slogan, “Put The Children First”.

Take a few minutes to watch this video. It is heartbreaking.

It tells the true story of an actual ongoing event in New York City. Here you have the new mayor of New York, Bill de Blazio, acting to close down three charter schools in Jamaica, Lower Manhatten and Harlem. It is tragic. Watch this true story about a mother of a young girl who won the lottery for Success Academy. http://www.glennbeck.com/2014/05/08/will-cain-exposes-nyc-mayor-bill-de-blasios-war-on-charter-schools-in-new-docuseries/

These parents pray for a miracle (a lucky draw from a parent lottery for limited positions in these prized schools). Watch her tell her story about winning and then her reaction to the Mayor and his plan to block three of these charter schools.

Mayor de Blazio, who is Mayor due to the full support of the NY City teachers union, is closing 3 of these great schools. Look at the contrast. The math proficiency of the school that her daughter would have to go to, if the charter school she won is closed, is 3%. Her selected charter school has a math proficiency is 82%. 105 NY City schools have a math proficiency of less than 5%. It makes me mad to see such actions. Why do they do this? They cannot stand the competition and the exposure of their education failure.

What do you think?

An Open Records Update

Monday, May 19th, 2014

May 19, 2014

An Open Records Update

During the last 10 years I have been an advocate of open records. I have had my ups and downs with the City of Memphis, Shelby County, the old Memphis School System, he MLGW and any number of other affiliated organizations. Here is my open record scorecard.

  • Shelby County and MLGW                                                                      A
  • The Old Shelby County School System                                                            B+
  • City of Memphis                                                                                         C
  • Old Memphis School System and the new SC School System       F

I have never had to file a lawsuit against Shelby County, the MLGW or the Old Shelby County School System. I have filed 5 lawsuits successfully against Memphis and the Old Memphis School System. The City of Memphis has become less responsive and difficult about providing access to information. The new Shelby County School System (SCS) seems to be little different from the old Memphis School System.

I am asking Memphis and SCS for information and will take whatever action is necessary to enforce my Tennessee citizens’ legal rights and access to information.

Now I see the Common Core as the greatest threat to our freedoms and the future of our local education. I am asking the public to join with me in a debate on common core and how it is being implemented locally. I will publish a series of questions and provide answers to be debated and facts provided.

The basic purpose of common core is to impose thru a national program a uniform curriculum on K12 public schools. As a result of this uniform common core, they want to collect an immense amount of student data and use it to plan each student’s future education (university, community college or trade school) and eventually their slot in society. This plan would disregard the parents’ and the students’ rights and desires. This amounts to Federal control of education, freedoms and parental rights.

I agree that public education needs upgrading as we have had over 60 years of failure of public education. I agree that there should be a rigorous broad based national testing standard to which students, schools and teachers should be measured. However I believe in competition. Each state and even each City and County should develop their own curriculum and teaching methods with the full involvement of parents and taxpayers. Those states and cities that measure up and surpass the national measure should share their programs with others that do not measure up. Let the best ideas and results win. More federal money and one size fits all is not the answer. Let there be no less than 50 state experimental education laboratories competing with each other for top student achievers. Let education flourish in public, private, home schools, church schools with parents making a choice financed by taxes and vouchers. Let the competition begin with parental choice of what is best for their children, not what is best for Bill Gates, Pearson Publishing or DC politicians.

In future posts I will point out hard facts about common core, who is financing it, and who benefits. I welcome your comments.

The Handling of Appointed Positions

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

May 13, 2014

The Handling of Appointed Positions

 

As the Memphis City Council discusses the problem of unfunded liability and possible solutions I hope they do not forget the handling of appointed positions and their action in January 2001 and their action in 2004. But more on that later.

 

What are appointed positions? I recently asked Shelby County Government for their list of appointed positions. As you will see this goes from the Assessor’s office all the way to the Trustee’s office for a total annual salary of $36.6 million. The latest list that I have from the City of Memphis shows a total annual salary of $21.7 million for appointed positions.

 

The difference here is that in January 2001 the City Council proposed and passed a resolution that allowed elected and appointed people to retire after 12 years regardless of age. This disastrous decision by the City Council and the mayor has added millions of dollars to our unfunded pension liability. After a city council member stated that this resolution would help keep and retain good (more…)

Pension Comparison, City Vs County

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

May 6, 2014

Pension Comparison, City vs County

I have put together the essential information on the pension provisions of the City of Memphis pension plan and the County pension plan. This is shown in the attached spreadsheet. These provisions are in the new county plan D (adopted in 2012) and the new City plan adopted in 2013. I will comment on various provisions in the City plan that still need to be changed. However here is the bottom line.

The annual cost per retiree at the City of Memphis is $32,518 versus $19,218 at the County.

The unfunded liability at the City of Memphis is $709 million versus $161 million at the County.

The ratio of retirees to active employees at the City of Memphis is .79 versus .57 at the County.

The inescapable conclusion is that City of Memphis has had a loose system with rules that allowed too many people to get pensions for too much money and the County ran a much tighter system. The January 2001 pension resolution allowing elected and (more…)