Bureaucrat perks are a fact of American life. Generous - even outrageous pensions, health care plans, and a host of opportunities to better oneself at conferences and seminars, usually held in places that the rest of us couldn't afford.
But what if you work for a city that's so broke they can't pay their police department or fix the streetlights?
Detroit Free Pres:
Four trustees of Detroit's two public pension funds are heading to a Hawaiian beach resort this weekend with their $22,000 tab paid for by the funds, which are mired in claims of mismanagement and said to be at least $600 million underfunded.
Trustees say the conference provides the education they need to manage complex investments for the funds' retirees and beneficiaries. But other major public pension systems, including the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions, avoided sending their officials to Hawaii because of concerns the exotic locale sends the wrong message at a time when pensions nationwide are contemplating or implementing reduced benefits to cope with rising retirement costs and shaky investment returns.
Records obtained by the Free Press under the Freedom of Information Act show the expenses cover airfare -- including a first-class flight for one trustee -- lodging at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu, registration fees, meals and a per diem for miscellaneous expenses.
The city's two public pension funds -- the General Retirement System and the Police and Fire Retirement System -- each are sending two trustees to the six-day National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) conference, which starts Saturday. The retirement systems, which are funded by contributions from workers and the city, have combined assets valued at more than $5 billion and provide benefits to about 20,000 retirees and beneficiaries.
You don't have to go to Hawaii to learn how to manage pension funds. If it's education you want, hire the experts and have them come to your offices.
But this is not about education. It's about the arrogance of bureaucrats who are so tone deaf, they schedule a trip to Hawaii when the people of their city are suffering from a lack of basic services.
Whoever came up with this idea - and whoever signed off on it - should be fired.