Saturday, April 8, 2017

Councilman Kleinman, Chairman Flynn & Me

“Some words when spoken cannot be taken back” –Nothingman
Now that I have had almost a week to calm down and let the pension hearing in Austin sort of filter and percolate in my head, I really can’t let some of that testimony go unanswered. 

So many comments were thrown around like strands of spaghetti against a wall in the hopes that they might stick.

Like most of you, I was especially appalled by Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman’s comments. I was also especially grateful for Dallas District 114 Representative Jason Villalba for his empathy towards first responders.

A particularly low point in the pension hearing testimony came in an exchange between Kleinman and Villalba:

Dallas City Councilman Kleinman: “Can you tell me where in this plan there is shared sacrifice on the part of the retirees?”

State Representative Villalba: “Are you kidding me?… They have no access to drop… They’re going to have a situation played out in the course of their lives. They die at 58 and a half… Interest rates are gone. COLAs are gone. These are real situations with real people. I’m just asking you in this process tonight to think about people. Get away from the numbers… Get away from this political grandstanding. Think about the folks.”

Villalba also chastised Kleinman, telling him, “You’re not being constructive by bringing additional junk to this process.”

That wasn’t the only time Kleinman was scolded at the April 3 state hearing.

State Pension chair Dan Flynn questioned whether the Dallas councilman really supported saving the pension. That’s what happens when you call our pension an “egregious enrichment scheme” and throw out comparisons to Bernie Madoff and Ponzi schemes. That’s what happens when you begrudge the recent and long-overdue raises recently given to active first responders. You get questioned about stuff like that.

Geewillikers, it sure was difficult to stay seated. If Kleinman kept talking unchecked like that, I was indeed going to have to call for lawyers, guns and money.

But Chairman Flynn did manage to rein Kleinman in a bit when he asked about Kleinman’s attendance on the DPFP board. Of course, Kleinman insisted he was there.

“I would venture to say I showed up for 95 percent of those meetings,” Kleinman told Flynn and the state pension committee.

Hmmmm… 95 percent?

OK… I’ll give him credit for 100 percent perfect attendance in 2016. But let’s see how the rest of it looks…
  • 2013 shows 67 percent in attendance
  • 2014 shows 76 percent in attendance
  • 2015 shows 74 percent in attendance
Chairman Flynn also asked Kleinman if he believed the city should start a new plan, which would effectively abandon everyone in the old plan.

Kleinman’s response was chilling.

“I think the city should have that as an option,” he told the chairman.

Chairman Flynn then noted, “What you just suggested will not fix this plan… That would kill the whole thing.”

So there it was. Out in the open. I think everyone there that day realized that Kleinman and Mayor Mike Rawlings really do want to kill the whole thing. All of it. Droppers and non-Droppers. Everyone in it. Kill the whole thing.

Another interesting tidbit was Kleinman’s rant about how he didn’t “have a million dollars" in his bank account for his retirement or a defined benefit plan like first responders or state legislators. Now, I don’t know if any of that is true, but let’s look briefly at what he does have:

  • A 7,154 square foot home situated on 1.95 acres
  • A home valued at $2.5 million or so on the tax rolls
  • A spouse gainfully employed as a physician
Let’s briefly look at what I have:
  • A 1,922 square foot home situated on 1.3 acres
  • A home valued at $172,370 on the tax rolls
  • A retired spouse with two bum knees, no social security and a pension fixin’ to go belly up.
Kleinman could probably sell his home for closer to $3 million in today’s market and downsize and still have a nice chunk of change to survive on.

And me? Well, I could probably sell my house for $220,000, but then how would I live and where would I go? I’m not very good at math, but I know enough to know that $220,000 isn’t enough to get me anywhere.

I’m left with placing my faith in God (always a good thing) and my hope in Villalba and Flynn (an unsure thing).

“These people have been promised something,” Villalba told Kleinman at the hearing. “We owe them that promise.”

Yes, indeed.

#backthepension #savethepension #PoundOfFlesh


Anonymous said...

Got another flyer from Kleinman today claiming he was the only one with a constructive pension fix

James R. Pool said...

Does Kleinman really actually think the average Police or Fire pensioner are millionaires? I hate to be the one to burst his bubble, but I know of none who have earned that much in DROP. Most of us retirees have no DROP and earn only a livable pension without the benefit of social security as a backup due to being a member of the DPFPS, which required that we not pay into social security due to it being a private governmental retirement system. That was not due to our having a say in the matter. It was required as a condition of employment with DPD or DFD. In Kleinman's world we are greedy and apparently deserve to have our defined pension benefits lowered to whatever he feels we "deserve" so as not to burden working taxpayers. Here's a question for him. How would you feel if you had retired on your 401k plan that guaranteed you 4% return on your investments and they suddenly decided that, inflation and the economy being what it is and all during the 10 years since your retirement, they were going to have to deny your further 4% interest and lower it to 1% retroactive to when you retired; don't worry, however, you won't have to pay what clawback we demand up front, we'll just take it out of your future retirement checks? You, sir, are quite disgusting in your attempts to further your own political standing with future voters at our expense. It appears you might have more empathy for those engaged in the homeless lifestyle than for those who put their butts on the line for your safety day in and day out. Shame on you! Losing even 10% of my retirement would force me to seek employment at the age of 70. We all retired on the lifestyle of our minimum retirement checks, not on the "break glass if the economy gets bad" scheme you advocate. Put your bridge to nowhere and Central Park SW pie in the sky up your self-serving a$$ and do what is right. Fix our damn pension so we can continue to live on the pension promised us. I've got scars all over me for living your nightmares for you for decades. Show me a little respect when I need it.

Anonymous said...

as noted, the
" Ponzi scheme from the beginning" comments , kleinman knows to be is political grandstanding, designed to inflame citizens....the transparency of rawlings and kleinman's motives make you they really think they are that much smarter than all those listening?