Treasurer’s Message

Marcelo Blanco
Marcelo Blanco
Pension Hacking: Coming to a City or
County Near You

If you have not heard, Chuck Reed and his buddy DeMaio have unveiled their 2016 Pension Hacking Act. If you have not had a chance to read it, I would recommend that you do.

When our members made the courageous decision, during the November 2014 Conference, to increase our dues by $2 dedicated toward combating any proposed pension initiative, they saw the writing on the wall. Chuck Reed was not content with decimating the City of San Jose; now he wants to decimate all public employees’ retirement systems. And I mean all — there are not exceptions in this initiative. It will affect CalPERS, CalSTRS, ’37 Act counties, and charter cities or counties. But there are numerous associations that have opted out of this $2 contribution. I would urge everyone to check with your association leadership and ensure that your association is participating. This initiative is not something we want to take lightly, and it will cost a hefty sum to mount an offensive. I hate to sound like an infomercial, but I can’t imagine any of us losing sleep over $2 per member, per month. However, I can imagine losing sleep over having the pensions we spent an entire career working toward being severely curtailed, all because I was not willing to pitch in $2 a month. I realize that getting a dues increase passed through the membership may be very difficult; however, some associations have opted to make a lump-sum contribution to PORAC via their Political Issues Accounts (PIC) — yes, it has to come from PIC because this is a political issue.

While I don’t think these folks will encounter any difficulty in gathering the needed signatures for this initiative or any other initiative to get on the 2016 ballot, this is a good time to educate anyone who’s willing to listen about being informed as to what they are signing when leaving their favorite shopping establishment. The folks gathering signatures may not always be up front as to what your signature is supporting for the ballot box.

With that being said, as I monitor our investments, I have a firsthand view of the good days and the challenging ones. Fortunately for PORAC, we are very well diversified and managed. It is this diversification, based on the investment policy established by the Board of Directors and expert management by Mark Sikorski, that has kept us in the game during the challenging times. Obviously, Mark is constantly monitoring the health of our funds to ensure that we are in the best position possible to lessen the precipices and take full advantage of the peaks in the market. The key lies in constant monitoring and management of the funds, along with some “tweaks” throughout the process to keep us on the right track. Mark and I recently had an in-depth discussion and made some significant changes to our investments account based on his recommendation of some funds that are outperforming his staple choices. Mark has had a paradigm shift in his thought process about exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and believes they are a solid addition to our portfolio. If your organization uses Mark Sikorski in managing your investments, I would give him a call and pick his brain, because this may be your next investment adjustment.

If your association does not have access to a financial/investment advisor, visit your local chapter meeting and inquire; you will be amazed at the wealth of information available there. If you still have trouble finding an investment planner, contact me — I know a really good one.

On the topic of good financial footing: If you shop at Amazon, you have an opportunity to help PORAC’s Peace Officers Research & Education Foundation by signing up with AmazonSmile. There is no added cost. While logged in to your Amazon account, go to www.smile.amazon.com, type “Peace Officers Research & Education Foundation” into the search box and select the result as your chosen charitable organization. With every eligible purchase, you will now be helping PORAC members’ kids get money for higher education. Who knows? You may be contributing to your own child’s future scholarship.

Be safe and have fun.