Starting in 2001 I became an observer to the TRS Board. I attended all but one meeting for the next four years.
I was a witness to the machinations of Stuart Levine and his minions to make money from using our investments as an instrument in “pay to play.”. The reports I wrote of the meetings were actually turned over to the FBI and I was one of many that were interviewed in the investigation that took place that resulted in Levine, Tony Rezko, Governor Blagojevich, and others going to jail.
In 2005 I was elected to the board with the support of the IRTA, the IEA, and the IFT and I have subsequently been reelected in 2009 and 2013.
Earlier this summer I made the decision that I would retire from the board at the end of this term. My only concern was the uncertainty of what qGovernor Rauner might do with the three empty seats on our board.
This past Friday, though they were under considerable pressure from the governor’s office, the four appointed members of the board, including Tony Smith, the State Superintendent of Education, stood up and voted with the elected members of the board to lower our assumed rate of return from 7.5% to 7%. This was the right thing to do, but it is going to cost the state of Illinois more than $400 million dollars in additional state contributions to our pension fund.
That convinced me that we have strong and capable board and that I could step down at the end of my term in the summer of 2017.
I am proud of the role that I have played and that I have tried to serve not only the annuitants to our system but the people of the state of Illinois to the best of my ability. I am currently serving as the chair of the investment committee and I can tell you that we continue to make money in what is a difficult time for investments.
I thank all of you that have supported me and shown your confidence in my stewardship. I have enjoyed being on the board, the board and staff of TRS are some of the best people that I have ever known and they are doing an outstanding job for all of us.
The checks will keep coming.