A Response to “Open Record” Requests from News Media

Rick Salinas

Rick Salinas

Deputy Vice Chairman and FireTrustee

At the Pension System we believe in what Supreme Court Justice William Douglas once said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant…it’s transparency that counts.”

Over the past weeks and months, your Pension System has received an avalanche of “open record” requests from local news media seeking documents, mostly concerning Board Member and Staff travel. We are working tirelessly in responding to those requests, and have produced thousands of pages of documents for the news media’s scrutiny.

The Board of Trustees has a fiduciary duty and responsibility to protect the financial future of the Police Officers and Firefighters that protect and serve the citizens of Dallas. While many pension systems passively manage their portfolio, we have chosen to take a more active role in managing our investments. This hands-on approach by our Administrator, Staff and Board Members is one reason why our Pension System was named “Mid-sized Public Pension Plan of the Year” in 2010 by Money Management Letter.

The Pension System investment portfolio is very complex and global by design; it does not put all of its eggs in one basket. The Pension System’s investments are spread around the globe for the purpose of avoiding being corralled into any asset class or investment that would negatively affect the overall performance of the fund. Reflecting our core value of accountability, the Pension System Staff and Trustees travel only when necessary to perform due diligence.

The Board instituted a budget limit for travel for themselves and they approve a travel budget for the staff. Every year we come in under budget. Travel is important because it allows us to do site visits and due diligence ourselves based on information and guidance from our managers and consultants. It gives us a much higher level of confidence in our investments and the organizations we work with when we can personally view the property and meet the property’s management staff.

Continuing education is also a fiduciary duty of each Board Member. Pension conferences are timely, on target, and the educational content very beneficial. They let us know what’s going on in the investment world, helping us to make better business decisions.

As a net result of our management mandate to spend only what is necessary to accomplish our responsibilities, the cost of travel to assess and manage assets on behalf of the Pension System is small. During 2012 for example, the Staff, Administrator and Trustees of the Pension System spent a total of $185,000 on travel to assess and manage the Pension System’s $3.6 billion dollars in assets. The annual cost of travel to managing these assets amounts to 0.005%. Moreover, the work that our Administrator and Staff do on the road saves your Pension System approximately 4 million dollars in management fees every year.

No matter what the news media reports, I am extraordinarily proud of the success, commitment and world-class standards of your Board of Trustees, Administrator and Staff. I want you to have an accurate understanding of just how frugal and hard working your Pension System’s Administrator and Staff are. In my opinion, and the opinion of many other leaders in the pension world, these are the hardest working professionals I know, working tirelessly to protect you and your families’ financial future.

Rick Salinas
Board of Trustees

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