•Pension Boards: Unanimous vote and Board policy

Pension Boards:
When is a unanimous vote by a duly appointed Board or Commission not become the policy of that Board?
(Statement to City Council, April 25, 2011)

   When is a unanimous vote by a duly appointed Board or Commission not become the policy of that Board? 

   I can think of no instance in which this would be the case, but it has been for the Uniformed Pension Board as of last January 25, 2011… Boards, which manage $40M for the city.  As of this very minute and in spite of multiple requests from a Trustee of the Pension Board to adhere to Board Policy, the acting secretary of that very important Board either refused to or has failed to follow Board policy. 

   Perhaps I should go back to the beginning and explain.  On November 9, 2010 the Uniformed Pension Board met to correct a motion they had passed at their previous meeting, which contained an illegal provision.  That vote was unanimous. AFTER that meeting was adjourned, the chair convened an “informal meeting" between herself, an employee representative (a voting Board member), Ms. Watson, the Treasurer and acting secretary of the Board (a non-voting Board member), and Mr. Glickert the Council Liaison to the Board (a non-voting Board member) to make a policy decision to add an executive summary authored by the Employee Representative and attach it to the ordinance that would go to the Council for a vote on Dec. 13, 2010.  Of the 7 voting members of this Board, only two were present when this policy was decided and carried out.  This is a violation of the Sunshine Law on many levels (see explanation below).

   About 36 hours later, the Chair first sent an email to the rest of the Board first informing them that this policy had been decided in “an informal discussion" – and that the summary would be prepared for their review and POTENTIAL approval.  In the investment industry the word potential means there are no guarantees, and indeed, no members of the Board ever saw, let alone approved the attachment to the ordinance of this position statement – the Executive Summary.

   From this moment on, I personally witnessed the anguish that one Board member experienced with a very flawed and misrepresented position put forth to the Council – what to do considering that he felt this was a violation of ethics in a field in which he had been a conscientious and honest broker for over 25 years – not to mention the legal implications.

   As the fates would have it, citizens and some board members strongly objected to the contents of the ordinance and executive summary by an employee and the City Manager pulled the bill (link).  Where it is now, we do not know.  The story does not end here.

   In an effort to accurately document what happened the Uniformed Pension Board voted unanimously to append (audio available) -without an explanation of the Chair’s intent -  the emails from the Chair along with the executive summary that had been prepared by the employee representative under the direction of the chair – but never seen or approved by the board – and the following emails from Ms. Watson and the Chair with follow-up explanations. 

   Having passed, this became board policy, yet in spite of repeated requests it has not been posted; the chair sent an email thanking this trustee for his input on “these issues,” and stated, “Due to their complexity and the limitations of email, I recommend we move this discussion to our next Board meeting....” He wrote to Mr. Walker who is the official Secretary of the Pension Boards by ordinance – and to date he has received no answer at all… imagine the City Manager failing to respond to a Trustee of the Pension Boards!  The documents are still not appended to the Nov. 9, 2011 minutes posted on the website – and the policy of the board is still not been manifested.  It should be done post haste!

   The State Auditor cited University City for its failure to maintain minutes of Boards of Commissions.  In many cases, they are so lacking in detail of what actually took place that they fail to provide an accurate record of the proceedings.  Maybe this is passable for some boards and commissions, but for these Boards, which are not advisory to the Council and administer $40M, it is inexcusable.  In this day and age of technology, it is easy to record a meeting.  In this special case for these boards, I would recommend that they hire a stenographer or court reporter – Ms. Watson has way too much on her plate to handle this in a timely and accurate manner… and it needs to be done.

   There are problems with these Boards, not the least of which is finding qualified citizens to serve.  When it takes repeated effort to get the acting secretary to manifest board policy, when the chair overrides board members when speaking, and establishes policy without the participation and knowledge of a quorum of the board – and when this general stress and unpleasantness threatens the professional standing of a potential member – you will not find ready volunteers to serve on these Boards.  I encourage the council to attend these Pension Board Meetings and when they cannot, to request the audio from ucitycitizen. org or directly from me…. The Council's oversight is necessary – after all, these Boards theoretically manage $40M for the City!


Paulette Carr, Gannon Ave.          

Explanation of the violation of the Sunshine Law:

With regard to what constitutes a meeting, the Sunshine Law booklet on page 13 (I have also attached that for you to read) states:
   "Technically, the sunshine Law defines a "meeting" as a majority or quorum of the members of the public governmental body (RSMo §610.010(5). 
   Thus, if less than a quorum of the body meets to discuss public business, it is not a "meeting" under the definition of the Sunshine Law.  However, it is important to note without a quorum present, no real decision making may take place..."

Unfortunately, there was a real decision made in that "informal meeting" without a quorum present (only 2 of 7 voting members were present) after the Board meetings had been adjourned;  The decision was to attach an executive summary to the ordinance without the knowledge of and vote of the rest of the Board in a properly convened meeting.  It is the making of a decision, which was not allowed without a quorum present that is the problem.

On January 25, the Uniformed Pension Board Unanimously voted to append the following documents without explanation to the November 9, 2011 meeting  minutes.  An audio of the vote is available [Link]. To date they are not appended to the meeting minutes of Nov. 9, 2010:


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UCityCitizen.org • Paulette Carr, Ward 2 Councilmember, City of University City
• University City, Missouri 63130 •
Paulette Carr,
May 2, 2011, 6:42 PM