Dallas Police and Fire Pension Board making changes after multi-million dollar loss

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 8:03 PM

DALLAS -- The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System Board cancelled a contract with a former Dallas city councilman Thursday, and moments later, approved a pay cut for a fund manager.

It's all a part of what some are calling a "new age of transparency and accountability." Problems with the Dallas Police and Fire Pension fund became noticeable two years ago, the same time of their troublesome real estate investment, Museum Tower.

The controversy became a metaphor for problems percolating the pension fund. News 8 began to shed light on some of the risky real estate investments and lavish expenditures, including conference trips around the globe.

Dallas City Councilman and then board member Dave Neumann is among the top spenders. He spent nearly $40,000 in 2009 through 2011 traveling on pension-funded trips. Now Neumann is back to explain why he was also being paid $10,000 over the past two months working as a consultant.

"I’ve been hired to explore the viability of creating a community relationship plan for the fund," Neumann said.

It turns out Neumann's hiring was mostly hidden from the Pension Fund Board, the same board that last week forced the resignation of long-time Chief Administrator Richard Tettamant.

A board now populated with four Dallas City Council members who say their mission is clear.

"This pension fund is taking a new direction,” said Dallas City Councilman Lee Kleinman. “That direction is transparency.”

When Neumann declined to provide Kleinman with details of his services during the meeting, the board cancelled his contract.

The Pension Fund Board was later briefed on multi-million dollar losses being incurred by a series of risky investments made in boutique properties in Hawaii.

Board members were upset to learn the fund had been paying the property manager more than $300,000 a year; that amount was scaled back to $60,000 a year.

Dallas City Councilmen Phillip Kingston, Tennell Atkins, Scott Griggs, and Kleinman tell News 8 the changes will continue.

"We've got to kind of get back to being able to do what we do best,” Kleinman said. “Just pay benefits and make sure that the money is there to pay benefits for a long, long time."

The board voted Thursday to begin a search for a new chief administrator. Fund Chairman George Tomasovic could not be reached for comment.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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