On July 9, one day after the Budget and Finance Committee meeting at which councilmember Carl DeMaio accused representatives from San Diego City Employees Retirement System of withholding financial data on the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP), this correspondent placed a phone call to the office of David Wescoe, CEO for the retirement system.
A day later, after no response to a request for comment from Wescoe, retirement system communications director Rebecca Wilson called to clear things up.
“[Representatives from the retirement system] would undoubtedly provide data to whomever might conduct a comprehensive…study,” said Wilson in the July 10 phone interview.
The Deferred Retirement Option Program, a plan that allows city employees to receive a lump-sum payment if they choose to enroll and work beyond their retirement age, is once again the target of the mayor’s office as it looks for ways to drop the City’s swelling pension deficit.
During the brief phone call, Wilson emphatically expressed the agency’s willingness to cooperate with the City, but also added that it is not the duty of the San Diego City Employees Retirement System to conduct that study.
“Actually, neither [the retirement system board] nor its actuary is the appropriate party to take the lead in that study. And we have spoken with the mayor’s office on this and they are in complete understanding, at least with that particular aspect.”
As to the allegations from councilmember DeMaio, Wilson added. “We [carbon copied] all councilmembers with that exact memo. Mr. DeMaio has that memo in his office somewhere. It just didn’t quite resonate or it didn’t get to him or whatever. It is important that the record be corrected, that, in fact, we have been very open, and we have no problem with [providing all financial data]. Essentially, we are working with the City, and as this study comes about we will absolutely be giving data.”