In response to a Editorial article from Ron Littlepage on the Times Union’s publication, Randy Wyse has issued a response to the Florida Times Union on the validity and shortcomings of several erroneous statements made by the article. To see the opinion article by Ron Littlepage click the attached link.
President Randy Wyse’s response to the Times Union,
As I read your column this morning, I have a sense that you don’t understand (or purposely omit) a few things that are key to the pension debate.
You quote John Keane saying “We’re not going to make any changes for current employees.” The part you get right is that Mr. Keane’s job is to administer the fund. In administering any fund, it is the responsibility of the administrator to abide by any court ruling that tells the fund the benefit structure and how the fund is run.
The part you get wrong is that pension benefits are set through collective bargaining with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters. The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters has maintained that the 30 year contract between the City of Jacksonville and the Police and Fire Pension fund is binding. If you look back through the collective bargaining agreements over the last 4 decades, you will not find any language that relates to pension benefits. Any agreement over pension reform must be between the City of Jacksonville and the Pension fund. The Pension Fund and the City of Jacksonville have come to two agreements over the last 3 years as it relates to pension reform. One agreement with Mayor Peyton and one agreement with Mayor Brown. There were several reasons why neither of these agreements were accepted by the City Council, most of them political.
The unfunded liability is the biggest cost driver as it relates to the City’s annual payment to the Police and Fire pension fund. The Mayor’s Task Force has done great work identifying ways to pay down the unfunded liability. I hope our city leaders will choose to use some of these ideas which will greatly assist with the annual contribution to the fund.
I think it is time to unlatch your simple mind on the thoughts that Police Officers and Firefighters are unwilling to help fix the pension problem. The Times Union would be well served by assisting the citizens of Jacksonville on understanding the whole pension problem.
Jacksonville Association of Firefighters