Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A July 1, 2015 open letter to Greensboro City Councilman Tony Wilkins from some anonymous City employees invested in ICMA-RC's 457 Retirement Plan, who fear retaliation, without a response from the City

Dear Councilman Wilkins;

We have contacted George Hartzman concerning Greensboro's ICMA-RC 457 plan, as we have no way to lodge concerns, grievances and/or report wrongdoing within the City's management chain of command for fear of harassment and/or retaliation.  We don't want to lose our jobs and pensions.  We don't want to get demoted.  We certainly don't want Jim Westmoreland, Mary Vigue, Connie Hammond, Donnie Turlington, Rick Lusk or Larry Davis to know who we are.  If Westmoreland and Vigue are members of ICMA, and ICMA is affiliated with Greensboro's 457 plan providers, and the rest mentioned appear to have helped keep the plan more expensive with lower returns, having our names released or known to these individuals puts our jobs and family's financial futures at risk.

Our concerns center around Mr. Hartzman's February 24, 2015 presentation to a City Council work session which you attended, which first became available last week on the City's website.  George has been advocating for Greensboro's employees on the subject since 2013.  Before Donnie Turlington, who appears to represent the City manager's office ahead/instead of Greensboro's employees, officially put the presentation on the City's servers, we were not certain the contents of the presentation were actually presented.

Council member Wilkins, the following are questions we have agreed to ask, which Mr. Hartzman says you promised him you would find the answers to for us;

1.  Is the basic concept Mr. Hartzman presented correct/plausible/doable?

2.  Does the Deferred Compensation Committee have an Investment Policy Statement, and if so, when was it approved and what does it say about investment and administrative fees?

3.  Mr. Hartzman is saying last he asked, that Rick Lusk and Larry Davis had not reviewed his February 24, 2015 presentation.  Is it true that they hadn't reviewed it?  Have they reviewed it? If they did review it, when did they do so?  What were their conclusions from their review?  If they have still not reviewed it, why?  Has the Deferred Compensation Committee reviewed the information?  Has AON Consulting?  Has the City's ICMA-RC representatives reviewed it?

4.  As Mr. Hartzman has asked for someone other than City staff to review the presentation for plausibility, would you please facilitate an outside review with a third party of your choice, without suggestions or input from City management, AON, members of the Deferred Compensation Committee or ICMA-RC?  If you haven't used up your City expense reimbursement allocation, please consider using some of the money for our benefit.

5.  Mr. Hartzman asserts AON Consulting was paid more than $6,000 for work product associated with the plan in January, 2015.  Is this correct?  If so, why is there no documentation of AON's involvement other than the bill, or is there?  What did AON conclude concerning Mr. Hartzman's proposal for all that money?

6.  Why did it take so long for the City to put the presentation on Greensboro's website?  Why isn't Hartzman's presentation attached to the work session agenda?

7.  Did the private meetings held with City Council members refute Mr. Hartzman's assertions concerning the costs of the plan?  If so, why has the information been withheld from the plan's participants?

8.  Is there any documentation from the City, AON or one of Greensboro's vendors rebutting the veracity of what George presented?  Has ICMA-RC responded?

9.  Does the Federal Government's Thrift Savings Plan really cost that much less?

10.  Is it true, even if Greensboro is under a long term contract with ICMA-RC, that the funds can be changed by the Deferred Compensation Committee acting in the best interests of the plan's participants?

11.  Did Greensboro choose to charge the City's employees to pay a surrender penalty to the former provider, if we could have waited for the surrender charges to disappear without payment?

12.  Has anyone with the City attended 'conferences' paid for by ICMA-RC?

13.  Has anyone at the City been taken out for golf, dinners or any other relatively expensive relationship building events by ICMA-RC representatives?  If so, how many times, when and how much was spent on Greensboro retirement plan decision makers?

14.  If Zack Matheny stated George Hartzman's arithmetic concerning our retirement plan was incorrect during a City Council meeting, what was he referring to?  If low cost index funds are clearly less expensive than the higher cost funds in the plan, what reasoning was given to keep the higher cost, lower performing funds?

15.  Is it true the City's Deferred Compensation Committee is not in possession of ICMA-RC's managed account returns sold to Greensboro's employees by ICMA-RC representatives?  Were ICMA-RC representatives given quotas to sell the higher cost managed plans to our participants?Have ICMA-RC's managed accounts outperformed the rest of the plan's funds?

16.  Is it true ICMA-RC's local representative lived/lives a couple houses down from Zack Matheny?  If so, was there contact between the two concerning our money?

17.  Is it true other municipalities pay much lower expenses for some of same plan choices, specifically the VT PLUS Fund?

18.  Is it true the City has not asked ICMA-RC to lower their fees to benefit ourselves and our co-workers?  If ICMA-RC has been asked to lower the fees, when and by whom and what was the outcome?

19.  Was Mr. Hartzman correct in citing ICMA-RC Deputy General Counsel Angela C. Montez, who told him municipalities have the latitude to negotiate fees and switch funds as fiduciaries deem prudent and in the best interests of participants?  Is the Deferred Compensation Committee considered our fiduciaries?

20.  Does the City pay a custodial fee for the VT PLUS Fund?  Is the plan's software infrastructure provided by SunGard?

21.  Are the plan's administration fees dependent on how many plan participants are invested?  Are there actually other municipalities with fewer participants and asset values who pay less than we do for the same thing?

22.  Please explain how an ICMA-RC "Administrative Allowance" works.  Please explain why Greensboro's plan doesn't have an "Administrative Allowance", which lowers administrative costs.

23.  What is the City's ICMA-RC 457 plan "Minimum Annual Administrative Revenue Requirement"?  How should the "Minimum Annual Administrative Revenue Requirement" be used to keep our costs down?

24.  Is there actually a "fund line-up", which George Hartzman says Mary Vigue told him she would acquire, which contains funds with lower fees that could replace some of the current funds ICMA-RC has recommended, and if so, where is it and what's on it?

25.  If the fund list exists, and Madam Vigue didn't provide it if she said she would, why not?

26.  Is the City in possession of the fund list?  Can you call ICMA-RC and get it from them, if it exists?

27.  Is Greensboro paying the same level of fees as Charlotte, even though our plan is about twice as big, and if so, why are we paying more if we have more money invested?

28.  If what George Hartzman is saying about our plan is incorrect, why hasn't the City or ICMA-RC asked for a retraction and/or apology?  Shouldn't ICMA-RC have taken legal action by now?

29.  If the federal government is doing what Hartzman is suggesting with $397 billion for about 4.6 million participants, why would it be a bad idea for Greensboro's employees to do the same?

Please help us clear this issue up Councilman Wilkins.  We put our jobs and pensions at risk by contacting Mr. Hartzman, and remain at risk if our identities are revealed and there is no response from you.  If what George is saying is true, we have not been served well by the decision makers at the City.  If Hartzman is wrong, please say so.

Please tell us the truth about this whole mess.

Please act in our best interests.


Some anonymous City employees invested in ICMA-RC's 457 Retirement Plan, who fear retaliation if their names were to be made known to some of the City of Greensboro's executive management.
Submitted by George Hartzman