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Letter: An Open Letter to State Comptroller DiNapoli

Dear Mr. DiNapoli:

It is with both a sense of shock and outrage that I read your address to the NYS and Local Employees’ Retirement System (NYSTRS) participants printed in The Update Fall 2009 publication. In this newsletter, you wrote referring to the retirement fund investments, “… our diversification and long-term investment strategies helped us weather the storm better than most, (investors) and our pensioners’ benefits remain safe and secure.” You gave the NYS Teachers Retirement System (NYSTRS) participants a great deal of comfort by this statement. You also subjected most NYS residents, who have watched our IRA and 401(k) investment values cut in half, to be envious of your investment prowess and successful commitment to the NYSTRS fund pensions. Why I feel compelled to write and to provide full and honest transparency for all New York residents to understand is NYSTRS participant investments are never at true risk of loss like the rest of us and that your investment strategies for the NYS Common Retirement Fund lost $44 billion or 26 percent of its value last year (Governance & Accountability Institute’s Insights Edge, June 2009).

How is it the Fund lost $44 billion last year and the pensioners’ benefits are safe and secure? How is it that this same Fund in which you are the sole trustee for investment management does not have risk of investment losses like the rest of us? Comptroller DiNapoli, isn’t it time to tell everyone the real truth; the NYS Teachers retirement fund is not at true risk because the NYS Mandate to every NYS school district of November 2009 requires a contribution in some cases equal to or greater than 1 percent of the annual school district’s budget for two years to make up for the shortfall. Your investment losses must be shared by every New York State resident who pays local school district taxes. By the way, this is not the first time New Yorkers have had to bail out the NYSTRS Fund. Comptroller Carl McCall did it during his tenure as NYS Comptroller.

Long Island taxpayers are being crippled by soaring school taxes, cuts by Albany of NYS subsidies and now required/demanded to pay for your poorly advised investment management. As a private citizen, community organizer and overtaxed homeowner I am appalled at reading that teachers should be grateful to your office for the safety of their retirements when all of us have to pay for it. In an election year, all of us will be more conscious of politicians who do not give us full disclosure; of politicians who are adding to and not relieving our local tax burdens.