By Tom Moutes, RLACEI Legislative Director
Recently, an election was held for one of the active member (currently working) LACERS Board seats. Only 5.47 percent of eligible voters cast ballots – that’s right – about one of every 18 eligible members! This is by far the lowest turnout in recent LACERS history.
Reasons Why Members May Not Vote
Here is a partial list of reasons why some members may not vote:
- Didn’t pay attention to the mail with the ballot until it was too late;
- Didn’t know who to vote for or were uninspired by the candidate choices;
- There are many retirement issues over which the LACERS board has no or little say, like the level of benefits a member may be eligible for; and/or
- Everything seems to be working okay already.
Reasons Why Members SHOULD Vote
The mayor selects four of the seven LACERS board members. Active members get to elect two members, and Retirees get to elect one member. The mayoral selections frequently are a mixed bag of good, okay, and bad board members. If you want the LACERS board to have a majority of good members, you need to vote to make sure the elected representatives are good members!
It is true that there are many things related to LACERS benefits over which the board has no or little control. However, there are many things over which the board has a lot of control – such as the investments LACERS makes. Those investments help ensure there will be adequate funds to pay for all of our retirement benefits. The LACERS board also selects the general manager, and the investment, actuarial, audit, and healthcare consultants. Further, the board adopts the annual COLA – I almost didn’t include this as the COLA adoption is almost automatic based on the actuary’s calculations, except that fairly recently a board member suggested not adopting the annual COLA! The board also adopts actuarial assumptions – such as pay, life expectancy, etc., all of which help ensure our plan’s fiscal health.
Don’t just assume that you can just trust what is going on! Before I worked at LACERS, I just assumed I could trust the system. I didn’t hear about anything bad going on, so I just assumed everything was okay. Also, I didn’t understand much about LACERS, so how would I even know?
To help minimize the possibility of bad board decisions and inappropriately influenced board decisions, we need very good board members. The only board members we get to have a say in are the elected board members – so we have to vote!