Longboat Key Firefighters Pension Board members Gerald Feder and Shannon Gault are frustrated with a $50,000 investigation of the firefighters pension plan. They believe the investigation is not producing what town tax dollars are funding.
Feder and Gault make up a minority on a board that includes three firefighters.
Feder, who has been vocal about the concerns he has had from the start about a pension investigation being performed by Edward Siedle, said he has “continuing concern” after reviewing a preliminary report that was presented to the board last month.
Although Siedle originally suggested there could be breaches of fiduciary duty, the preliminary report shows none of that initial concern, Feder said.
“He constantly uses the word ‘may’ in his report,” Feder said. “Everything ‘may be wrong.’ Well, what is wrong?”
Proper conduct, Feder said, between the actuaries and others is what everyone was worried about.
“We haven’t seen any inclination of that so far,” Feder said. “It’s all about Morgan Stanley and what they did wrong.”
Feder is referring to a $209,000 payment made to Morgan Stanley that Siedle doesn’t believe was properly disclosed and investigated in 2004, even though the pension board’s attorney brought the matter up at that time.
And although Feder believes an investigation is appropriate, he doesn’t think it should be given priority over finding ways to finance the pension plans moving forward.
Gault, meanwhile, says she also has the same concerns about the investigation and the preliminary report.
“The preliminary report is devoid of fact,” Gault said. “He only found a $209,000 payment that the board’s attorney had already investigated.”
Gault said she is “deeply concerned” the entire nine-page report was written in a general fashion.
“‘Maybe this happened’ or ‘maybe this happened,’” Gault said. “We didn’t hire him (Siedle) to speculate. We hired him to investigate. So far, all he has found is something that someone else found in 2004.”
In response to Feder and Gault’s comments, Siedle told the Longboat Observer that he’s only receiving a flat fee ($50,000) for his investigation.
“Whether it takes me weeks or months, that’s my fee,” Siedle said. “There is no incentive to draw this out.”
To date, Siedle said there is nothing more important than focusing on the plan’s investment manager.
“We rushed out an interim report out because there is something there immediately,” said Siedle, who said Morgan Stanley is still being less-than-forthcoming with a request for documents.
Siedle believes the final report could be issued to the board when it holds its quarterly meeting in May.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org