By Tom Moutes, RLACEI Legislative Director
Now that the terms in office for the mayor are based more closely on the calendar year instead of the fiscal year, it’s time to examine whether the current LACERS board member terms make sense.
The LACERS board consists of seven members: four are appointed by the mayor – one of whom must be a LACERS Retiree; two are elected by active employees; and one is elected by Retirees. The terms of the appointed board members are five years in length and are staggered so they don’t end at the same time. Because recent mayors have required LACERS board members to sign undated letters of resignation, some board members are replaced prior to the expiration of their terms.
At least in recent times, every new mayor has replaced almost all of the existing appointed members of the LACERS board, regardless of the lengths of their remaining terms. The appointments of new LACERS board members tend to take some time as the mayor typically fills more high-profile board positions – such as the paid Board of Public Works, the Police Commission, and the LADWP board before getting to some of the other boards, such as LACERS.
When a new mayor replaces all of the LACERS appointed board members at once, that means a majority of the LACERS board lacks the knowledge needed to make educated decisions on behalf of the active and Retired members. Depending on the backgrounds of the appointed board members, learning what they need to know to be an effective board member can take a year or two, and sometimes even longer.
Based on the new terms in office, the mayor will begin serving in December 2022. He or she will serve an initial term until December 2026. Because of this timing, it would make sense for two of the appointed LACERS board member terms to expire in June 2023 – which would be around the time new mayors typically make replacements. It would further make sense for the terms of the other two appointees to end in June 2024. Having newly appointed board members start their terms approximately six months (for two) and one year and six months (for the other two) after the new mayor comes into office allows the new members to learn their roles and serve (one hopes) well during one mayor’s term. It would also allow the board to always have a majority of the board to have the knowledge necessary to make educated decisions on behalf of the active and Retired members.
The terms for the appointed board members should be changed to four-year terms to line up with the mayoral administrations, and board members should be allowed to serve out their terms unless they are let go for cause – meaning no more pre-signed letters of resignation.
The board terms for the elected members can also be changed to four years or left at five years. The terms for these board members do not need to line up with the mayoral administrations. Also, because of the churn of appointed board members, the elected board members frequently have the most experience. This is a good thing.