Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council President Criticizes Pension Board Reps; Yarborough Says Herbert and Bussells Are Not Communicating with Council Members

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council President Criticizes Pension Board Reps; Yarborough Says Herbert and Bussells Are Not Communicating with Council Members

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

City Council President Clay Yarborough said Monday he will recommend City Council replace both of the city's appointees to the five-member Police and Fire Pension Fund board.

If supported by City Council, the two new appointees would replace Walt Bussells and Adam Herbert on the five-member board, which oversees the Police and Fire Pension Fund, an independent city agency.

The pension fund will be facing a critical, upcoming vote on Mayor Alvin Brown's pension reform legislation. Brown and the pension fund hammered out a tentative agreement, but City Council is poised to vote on an amended version of the bill, so the pension fund would have to approve any changes for it to take effect.

Yarborough said Bussells and Herbert have not communicated with City Council members about issues facing the pension fund.

"It's like me getting elected from Arlington and I didn't communicate with the people who put me there," Yarborough said. "I'm not asking them to do something beyond what their duty is - only to communicate."

City Councilman Stephen Joost said Bussells and Herbert have done a good job as board members, acting within the constraints of what's possible to do.

The City Council president appoints two members of the pension fund board, who are subject to City Council confirmation. Two other pension fund board members are elected by police and firefighters. Those four members then jointly select a fifth member, who is Nat Glover, the former sheriff who is president of Edward Waters College.

Yarborough said one potential candidate for the pension fund board is George Robbins, a retired business executive. City Councilman Matt Schellenberg previously filed legislation asking Yarborough to select Robbins. Yarborough said he is open to other suggestions.

Yarborough said the tipping point for him involves how the pension fund board has handled a special pension plan that was set up in the late 1990s for Executive Director John Keane and a couple of others.

Yarborough said the pension fund board has failed to heed a 2012 opinion by the city General Counsel's Office that said the Police and Fire Pension Fund board lacked authority to create that special plan. …

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