TRS board member Bob Lyons. Photo: Fred Klonsky
My friend Bob Lyons is one of two elected members of the Teacher Retirement System board of trustees representing retired annuitants.
Active teachers also elect representatives that sit on the board.
Bob takes his job very seriously. One of the things he is very good at is reporting to the retirees who elected him what is going on.
In a recent letter I am publishing below he makes note of the fact that Governor Rauner has not carried out his authority to fill all seats of the appointed members.
Why is this important for us to know?
Because when Rauner gets around to it he will have a majority of folks on the board of trustees of our retirement system.
Will they have his agenda?
What do you think?
In 2009 in the aftermath of both an Illinois Governor being impeached and forced from office and a former TRS appointed trustee indicted for “pay to play” corruption, the new Governor, Pat Quinn, appointed new public trustees to the TRS Board. Two of the best trustees were Sonia Walwyn, a lawyer, and Mike Busby, a retired business consultant with years of experience in the pension business. Both Walwyn and Busby made a significant contribution to the pension board and were reappointed by Governor Quinn in 2012. In 2014 Trustee Busby was picked by the TRS Board to be the chair of the investment committee. You should know there is no salary for serving on the TRS Board. The active and retired teachers on the board have an obvious self-interest for being there, but for the appointed members of the board it is public service in the finest sense of the term. Walwyn’s and Busby’s current terms on the board were up as of Friday, July 15. I know that I and others contacted the office of Governor Rauner to ask that they both be reappointed for another four-year term. TRS Director Richard Ingram repeatedly tried to convey the message that continuity of service is important on a pension board and that Busby and Walwyn deserved to continue to serve. Unfortunately neither was reappointed. Governor Rauner in his first year and a half has replaced two Quinn appointees and filled one of the two empty seats on the board. Now there are three empty seats. Rauner’s office has said they hope to fill those seats by our August board meeting.
You should recall that a 13-member Board of Trustees governs TRS. Trustees include the State Superintendent of Education, who serves as president, six trustees appointed by the governor, four trustees elected by contributing active members, and two trustees elected by annuitants. The current State Superintendent Tony Smith became a member of the board in May of 2015. Cinda Klickna of Springfield, an elected member of the board since February 2003, serves as vice-president of the TRS Board and has the most years of service on the board. The other elected members are Mark Bailey of Palos Park (July 2013); Andrew Hirshman of Oak Park (July 2015); Rainy Kaplan of Schaumburg (July 2013); myself from Hoffman Estates (July 2005); Dan Winter of Decatur, the second annuitant (July 2015). The three appointed members of the board are Sandy Stuart of Lake Forest, appointed by Rauner in June 2015; Ann Deters of Effingham and Randy Winter of Highland Park(both in February 2016). To repeat, our thirteen-member board by law is supposed to have a majority of appointed members, but with three appointed seats currently empty, that leaves the six elected members in the majority. I can tell you that at least since 2005 the board has been unified in trying to work together for the benefit of the active and retired annuitants and for the people of Illinois. That a member of the board was elected or appointed has made no difference in the cooperative effort to achieve the goals and objectives of the board. The three members of the board so far appointed by Governor Rauner all have a background in business and finance and have shown an excellent attitude in the assumption of their responsibilities. I can only hope that that continues and Governor Rauner fulfills his responsibility in completing our board.