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NEW: Raimondo’s Office Responds to Rolling Stone Article

Thursday, September 26, 2013

 

Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's office has responded to today's Rolling Stone piece by Matt Taibbi, which focused on Raimondo and pension reform in Rhode Island.  

Statement from Raimondo

Joy Fox, spokesperson for Raimondo, issued the following statement this afternoon.

“This is clearly a political propaganda piece driven by the critics of pension reform, including those who are paid by local labor leaders to discredit the state’s reforms and its investment policies. The author does not appear to have a clear understanding of the 2011 pension process and its goals, and conveniently omits many important facts.

The Treasurer stands by the work of the General Assembly to provide retirement security for hardworking public employees and retirees.

This story also unfortunately glosses over what actually happens to people when leaders do not make tough choices. The retirees of the City of Central Falls saw their pensions cut in half. Leaders do not want the same to happen again to public employees and retirees in the state system.

In 2011, Rhode Island had a choice. It could have done nothing and been dishonest about its problem. Instead, Rhode Island leaders came together, courageously put politics aside, and made the tough decision to protect the retirements of hard working public employees and retirees.”

It is important to remember:
- The treasurer fought to always keep a defined benefit pension, and always respected collective bargaining.
- Reform passed overwhelmingly in a Democrat-controlled General Assembly
- There were countless hours of labor-attended pension advisory group meetings, legislative hearings and town hall-style meetings with the Treasurer and Governor
- All but one vote to approve the hedge funds were unanimous. The only vote to approve hedge funds that was not unanimous was due to one abstention – again, showing strong SIC support to execute this investment strategy."

 

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Comments:

The pension system is far too complicated for the average state or municipal worker to comprehend, that's why they elect their favorite democrats to make sure things are funded properly and that the monies are invested a wisely as possible. (assuming their local democrats DO fund them)

Comment #1 by David Beagle on 2013 09 26

Well well, who is surprised at what is being paid to these hedge fund managers? Raimundo is a puppet for Wall Street and everyone knows it. All you have to do is a little research on how other states invested their monies and the average returns compared to L'il old Rhody and you'll see that we pretty much took it in the shorts. I work with a guy who has a friend in his 40's who is a retired millionaire from a hedge fund he helped manage. His advice: you don't invest in a hedge fund unless you are aware that you could loose it all. Is this where we hard working people want to put our money? Raimundo is dispicable!

Comment #2 by Mark Barboza on 2013 09 26

The facts speak for themselves. RI pension fund fees totaled about $70M in FY13, first full fiscal year with hedge funds - up from $46M in FY12: http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20130925-ri-state-pension-fund-earned-11.1-percent-after-paying-70-million-in-fees.ece

Comment #3 by Jan ODonnell on 2013 09 26

I call BS.
Word of advice, don't read the full article until you have a bin handy to hurl into.


"In Rhode Island, over the course of 20 years, Siedle projects that the state will pay $2.1 billion in fees to hedge funds, private-equity funds and venture-capital funds. Why is that number interesting? Because it very nearly matches the savings the state will be taking from workers by freezing their Cost of Living Adjustments – $2.3 billion over 20 years.

""That's some 'reform,'" says Siedle."

"They pretty much took the COLA and gave it to a bunch of billionaires," hisses Day, Providence's retired firefighter union chief.



Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/looting-the-pension-funds-20130926page=4#ixzz2g2Qbrd6Q
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

Comment #4 by Tim Roberts on 2013 09 26

Mark Barboza, you are obviously a state employee. Only state employees would believe this article. This comes from a magazine that made the Boston Marathon bomber a sympathetic figure. If Democrats are so good for the working man, why is the smallest state in the country so screwed up when Democrats have controlled this state with an overwhelming majority for decades?

Comment #5 by Chris Connors on 2013 09 27

Index funds will always win when investing for the long term as it with pension funds. Raimondo is just throwing some money to her benefactors and trying to post some impressive returns in the short run. Now that the costs and return on investments are being made public, she is beginning to back off.

"In 2008, Warren Buffett famously placed a million-dollar bet with the heads of a New York hedge fund called Protégé Partners that the S&P 500 index fund – a neutral bet on the entire stock market, in other words – would outperform a portfolio of five hedge funds hand-picked by the geniuses at Protégé.

Five years later, Buffett's zero-effort, pin-the-tail-on-the-stock-market portfolio is up 8.69 percent total. Protégé's numbers are comical in comparison; all those superminds came up with a 0.13 percent increase over five long years, meaning Buffett is beating the hedgies by nearly nine points without lifting a finger"

Comment #6 by Johnny cakes on 2013 09 27

Her comments show a political animal in the making. The complaint against her is not pension reform but how she blew the savings from the reform in her investment scheme.
When she refers that the GA approved everything, that is another admission that she is full of it, it is pretty evident that the GA is full of incompetence.

Comment #7 by Gary Arnold on 2013 09 27

Taibbi's article has many shortcomings, among them he wastes paragraphs gassing off about his favorite subjects, the evil Ronald Reagan, the Koch Brothers, 'right-wingers', blah blah blah.

His article doesn't begin to cover the issue as have many articles in GoLocalProv and Forbes, among others.

Taibbi makes this one giant 'Wall Street' plot, because that plays well to Rolling Stone readers, supposedly.

Well, there must be at least two or three, perhaps even four people on Wall Street who are ethical and not in the 'plot'. How do we know this? Because when many citizens invest in decent Wall Street investment vehicles, they receive good returns. And they don't have their contractually owed benefits stolen from them by someone who implemented a Chicago-style fix: looting retirees to enrich a few cronies who happen to work on Wall Street.

Taibbi's article could have been exquisite. He does hit many fine points easily missed, such as RI being used as a Petri dish. But he ignores obvious areas worthy of exploration, long and deep roots of organized crime, the Credit Union and RIMFHC scandals, and similar scheme by which politicians relieved citizens of what belongs to them.

He's so busy demonizing his old Left boogiemen, he can't see the new breed of perfumed parlor snake hoodlum right in front of him.


And for goodness' sake, Arnold of ENRON is not a 'right winger'. He's a big backer of leftist politicians and Taibbi omits that ENRON collapsed with Gore's candidacy in 2000, as ENRON was cobbling the Carbon Credit scam to 'stop global warming', another of Taibbi's favorite myths now long debunked.

He should have stuck to the topic: Raimondo & Co. unlawfully withholding contractually owed COLA's to retirees, and demonizing them to make it their fault. Keep it simple.

Comment #8 by paul zecchino on 2013 09 27

PS -

Small point, but do you think from now on, by way of illustrating the absuridity of someone who doesn't mind taking from Rhode Islanders but who cannot face them, the headlines might be adjusted to read, 'Joy Fox responds...' rather than the usual, 'Raimondo responds to criticism....'?

Thanks. I don't know who Joy Fox is and I don't care. Apparently, as has been our experience with another favorite Rhode Island financial reduction scheme, those who brazenly take from citizens can't speak to them directly, but have to hide behind hired PR flacks.

Perhaps Joy Fox could give us her impressions of the wonders of hedge fund 'investing' in PayDay loansharks and similar fine 'investment vehicles'...

Comment #9 by paul zecchino on 2013 09 27

Notice the half-clever shifting of blame here? It's not Raimondo who did this, but rather it was 'all the hard work of the general assembly' which unlawfully withheld contractually owed COLA's from retirees. How very clever. By half.

Notice as well, the implied threat by claiming the Treasurer kept this a defined pension? In other words, retirees are just so lucky to have lost their COLA's, because it could have been worse, the pension could have become undefined, i.e., retirees receive a few crumbs every month after hedge fund cronies and Arnold of ENRON finished stuffing their gubs.

Comment #10 by paul zecchino on 2013 09 27

The title of this article should be renamed: "Raimondo's office does not dispute findings of Rolling Stone article." Matt Taibbi is well known as a serious investigative journalist, he gathers facts THEN writes the article. Raimondo's minions trying to attack the messenger doesn't work in this instance. She doesn't deny the fact that 14% of the state fund, roughly $1 billion dollars, is being funneled to Wall Street hedge funds. Nor does she deny the fact that the firms being given the business are also major donors to her war chest for a run at the governorship. Or that some shady 501(c)4 group spent $740 million promoting her ideas nationwide. Must be a lot more money to be made on the backs of workers if they are betting so much money on her master plan.

Sit Matt Taibbi and Gina Raimondo at the same table in a no holds barred, televised interview and he would shred Raimondo and show her to be the fraud who has put the final nail in the RI pension coffin. She would be sweating like a guilty man holding the murder weapon in a sauna. But that will never happen when she can just call him names and not answer the factual evidence he presented.

How these people look at themselves in the mirror every day is beyond me. Their pillage and thievery knows no boundaries and operates void of any moral conscience.

Comment #11 by Rob K on 2013 09 27

Rob, its your lie don't let the facts get in the way. $740,000,000 spent nationwide promoting her plan. Are you just dumb and illiterate, or a dumb liar. Next time have somebody read the article to you so you can comment on things that were actually in the article.

Comment #12 by Redd Ratt on 2013 09 27

Hey Redd,

How was the temperature in the Treasurer's office yesterday? A little warm?

Comment #13 by jojo banana on 2013 09 28

"Raimondough" Lies Lies And more Lies out of "Ponocchioette"

Her Nose grows every time she speaks!

Publish the Lists of Engage RI and her Campaign.GINA for all to see.

She will not be the next Governor of Rhode Island.

The truth is out on her dirty shell game against retirees and State workers. She illegally used her office to pad her wall street cronies and Enron thieves.

3% cut to retirees 4 1/2% FEES TO WALL STREET HEDGE FUNDS

Even Aaron can do the math and see the MONEY GRAB

Stephen T. Day

Comment #14 by Donna Day on 2013 10 02

Paul Z

Is Raimondough's NOSE growing in that photo or what???

Must be airbrushed off for her new Campaign.

GINA LIES and her NOSE is GROWING to show it.

YOU ARE VERY RIGHT ON YOUR TOPIC SELECTION OF RAIMONDOUGH BREAKING LAWS.

THANK YOU FOR THIS FACT I APPRECIATE IT IN PRINT.

GINA BROKE THE LAW

He should have stuck to the topic: Raimondo & Co. unlawfully withholding contractually owed COLA's to retirees, and demonizing them to make it their fault. Keep it simple.

Stephen T.Day

Comment #15 by Donna Day on 2013 10 02

"The author does not appear to have a clear understanding of the 2011 pension process and its goals, and conveniently omits many important facts."

its all part of a purposeful campaign to continue enriching the public employees at the expense of taxpayers ...89% of Rhode Island does not receive these unbelievable guaranteed benefits. Why should cities and towns go broke supporting guaranteed million dollar retirements to the 11% elite public workers?

Comment #16 by michael riley on 2013 10 04




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