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— Frustration with their fellow retirees' optimism caused Gleason and Wood to become plaintiffs in the suit in which Conger negotiated a favorable settlement. "I tried my damnedest" to get the association to hire a lawyer, says Wood. "I was turned down by the association. The leadership seemed to be more aligned with the City than the retirees. It's easy to fleece older people of their money."

Says Gleason, "The loyalty to the City became ingrained in those people. They had their heads in the sand." But in the Gleason/Wood settlement, the City pledged to put assets into the pension fund, and now Conger has two more suits pending -- one for $166 million and another for $600 million. He wants the City to sell real estate and boost its tax revenue. "If a household has five cars, why not sell four of them and pay off bills?" he asks. Such advice may not resonate with younger city employees, but it should make sense to the older retirees.

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