Pete Bailey served as an officer for the Dallas Police Department for 27 years. He retired in April of this year and had enjoyed the time away. But he tells News 8 what has transpired over the last several months, and mainly this last week, has him very concerned.
"The people that are being hurt...the large majority are the little guys. And I mean the little guys that have retired," he said.
Bailey does not hold back on the topic of the police and fire pension fund. He admits he uses the fund to supplement paying the bills each month. He says there are retired officers in much worse positions going "month to month" on the pension check they receive.
He is strong and vocal in his criticism of Mayor Mike Rawlings. The Dallas Mayor first sued to halt withdrawals from the pension fund.
"The great news is that it gives us a chance to save this fund and I believe we can do this," Mayor Rawlings said last week after learning of Thursday's pension board vote. "So now the bleeding has stopped, we can turn this ship around."
"The city of Dallas, particularly the Mayor of the city, is presenting the men and women of the police and fire department as a group of folks that did some kind of shady deal and pulled the wool over the city's eyes to make a bunch of money," said Bailey.
The board froze $154 million in withdrawals from pensioners' Deferred Retirement Option Plan, also known as DROP. Bailey wants to remind people that the DROP account was a means to retain officers.
It would essentially put their pension check in an interest savings account. But the high-interest rates could not be sustained.
"Officers went to the board. I'm one of them who went down there and said 'listen we can't sustain this kind of rate," Bailey said.
He says it's an issue he brought up before 2010 and says the board didn't take action then.
Bernard Weinstein is an economist. The SMU professor from the Cox School of Business says it's more than just a pension problem.
"There's a perception problem in the ability to recruit new police and fire personnel. If they think there's some problem with the pension, which is one of the benefits of employment, they're gonna be reluctant." he said.
Weinstein says you can't forget the city's national image. That takes a hit too.
If there weren't enough issues, on Friday, Moody’s downgraded Dallas’ general obligation bond rating from AA3 to A1.
"With the interest rates so low, a downgrade in the bond rating may not mean very much," he said.
Bailey says he will do anything and everything in his power to protect his money, his investment. He calls the Mayor's latest move "a strategy"; calls this a political ploy.
"He has gone about systematically to destroy our pension plan in order to create such a bad picture to the legislature in Austin that he has to come over and look like a savior that's going to fix it," Bailey said.
DROP withdrawals will be halted until at least January's pension board meeting and could be off limits beyond that.