Ousted TRS Executive Director Richard Ingram faces his own new reality.

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In 2012, before the Illinois Supreme Court ruled unanimously that public employee pensions could not be diminished or impaired, the executive director of our pension system, Richard Ingram, was saying benefits could be and should be diminished.

Just one of an number of posts I wrote:

Earlier this year Richard Ingram created a problem by going rogue and calling for a “new reality” when it comes to pension reform. His new reality entailed benefit cuts rather than funding reform.

At the time, the TRS board remained silent. Sitting on the TRS board is IEA President Cinda Klickna.

Now Ingram is back. While TRS is not supposed to get into legislative proposals, Ingram told Crain’s that TRS COLAs had to be cut.

That was in 2012. On Tuesday, Ingram faced his own “new reality.” He was forced to resign.

I’m not sad.

As of this year he was still calling for pension benefit cuts.

On Tuesday morning I received an email from a source who told me that TRS staff had been informed that Ingram was gone. I immediately posted the fact on my blog along with a reaction from Bob Lyons who for years was the retiree rep on the TRS board of directors. Bob has always believed in full transparency when it comes to how TRS handles our money.

Transparency is not the standard operating procedure for TRS or its communications director Dave Urbanek.

Two days went by after I posted the news of Ingram’s new reality. But the story was nowhere else.

Which I thought was weird.

Yesterday, hours before any TRS member was notified by TRS, Greg Hinz at Crain’s reported it.

But other than the fact that Ingram was fired, Greg Hinz just repeated his usual anti-pension bs, half truths and misdirection, including the fake news that TRS returns on investment had tumbled and suggested that this was somehow related to the firing of Ingram.

TRS reported in June, as it must at the end of every fiscal year, that investment returns were down. Not mentioned by Hinz was that June saw the COVID collapse of the market and every pension system’s earnings were down. Prior to the COVID collapse, TRS investment returns had been good. TRS has returns in the upper 10% of public pension systems, according to Bob Lyons.

The unfunded portion of the pension system is now as it has always been due to the failure of the legislature to fund the system on an actuarial basis.

Besides, nobody is claiming Ingram’s departure has anything to do with investment returns.

In fact nobody is saying anything.

Yesterday afternoon, two days after the board accepted Ingram’s forced resignation letter, members received this email.

On July 31, the ITRS Board unanimously voted to place Executive Director Richard Ingram on administrative leave due to performance issues covered by his employment contract. On August 3, Mr. Ingram resigned from his position, effective immediately. Stan Rupnik, chief investment officer of ITRS, has been named interim executive director to manage the day-to-day affairs of ITRS.
 

The Board will conduct a thoughtful, thorough and vigorous national search process for a new executive director, consistent with the best interests of ITRS and its important constituents.

That’s it.

Meanwhile, not that long ago, the board fired Jana Bergschneider, the chief financial officer. Bergschneider had been with TRS for 24 years. There was no explanation.

Also gone is Jay Singh, the chief technology officer for TRS. He had been on the job for only 9 months and left in April.

What’s going on?

Those that know ain’t speaking and those that speak don’t know.

But the lack of transparency at the Teacher Retirement System when at least three of its executives leave within a short period only causes stress among future and current retirees.

More stress is not what we need right now.

That’s our money.

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