The unlikely duo of councilmembers Carl DeMaio and Donna Frye took on a mission to reform city council and bring transparency to local government. Now the two councilmembers share a new cause: pension reform.
Last week, this correspondent reported on DeMaio’s request for David Wescoe, the chief executive officer for San Diego City Employees Retirement Services, to release critical financial information to the City or face a subpoena. Last Friday, the reform-pushing partners released a joint memo in opposition to under-funding the City’s pension payments.
At the July 20 city council meeting, the pension issue was broached by Frye. The District 6 councilmember looked at ways to compel officials from San Diego City Employment Retirement Services (SDcers) to attend more city hearings and in disclosing financial documents.
During a presentation from Stanley Keller, the City’s independent financial consultant hired to bring the City back in good standing with Wall Street, councilwoman Frye had some questions about the participation of SDcers reps at Disclosure Practices Working Group meetings -- the group responsible for fostering communication between City departments and the securities markets.
“Has [the attendance of representatives from SDcers at the Disclosure Practices Working Group] not happened in the past?” Frye asked Keller during Monday’s city council meeting.
“Um, it has, it has not...it has happened...it has happened on more of an ad-hoc basis on telephone calls and the like...” stumbled the Boston-based corporate securities lawyer.
Frye asked Brant Will, Deputy City Attorney, if the City has the legal authority to coerce officials from SDcers to attend and participate at Disclosure Practices Working Group meetings.
“The Disclosure Practices Working Group can request participation from all City offices, including SDcers, to appear at meetings. And we have, from time to time, had [representatives from SDcers] participate,” answered Deputy City Attorney Will, later stating that no requests for SDcers representatives to appear before the Disclosure Practices Working Group have gone unanswered.
“Okay, but there have been many, many times that we request information and they don’t show up,” said Frye. “And they say they don’t have to show up. I know many instances where they won’t show up before this legislative body.”
“This is not specifically about SDcers,” continued Will. “All City offices are required to cooperate and provide information including financial data...”
“Well,” interrupted Frye, “they don’t see themselves in that same light.”
After councilmember Frye requested that the independent budget analyst include stronger language in the municipal code that would compel representatives from SDcers to participate if requested, her council-reform cohort, Carl DeMaio, added his thoughts.
“We’ve had issues with council committees and SDcers,” added DeMaio. “Perhaps we need to explore the legal issue of what rights we have as a plan sponsor to get information from SDcers...for all council committees.”
This correspondent left a message for Rebecca Wilson, communications director for SDcers, but has yet to hear back.