Monday, March 16, 2015

Denying the Hedge Hogs: Board votes against investing in charter supporter’s hedge fund

This is a positive development -- hit those Eva supporting slugs in their pocket books. Our pension money should not go to people who declare war on us.

NY Post reports:

In a rare move, the board that oversees the city’s retirement fund for civil servants killed a proposal to invest in a high-yield hedge fund — run by one of the city’s biggest investors in charter schools, sources told The Post.
The New York City Employees’ Retirement System nixed a recommendation from the comptroller’s office to sink a portion of its $54 billion pension fund into Gotham Asset Management, which is run by Success Academies co-founder Joel Greenblatt.
The charter network is overseen by Eva Moskowitz, a long-time foe of Mayor de Blasio.
The 11-member board is stacked with reps who are allied with the anti-charter teachers’ union — including appointees from de Blasio, Borough Presidents Eric Adams and Ruben Diaz Jr. and leaders of three major city unions.
“It’s extremely rare for public pensions to be run like this,” said an expert on municipal finance. “The fact that we do it through these boards lends itself to decision-making that isn’t solely based on rates of returns. It can get political.”
The investment was rejected even though it’s unusual for such proposals to be derailed after making it onto the board’s agenda, according to a source familiar with the process.
Investment recommendations are made only after considerable economic research by a division of the comptroller’s office.
“New York denied itself the opportunity to invest and get a great return,” said a separate source familiar with the vote.
Gotham’s four fund offerings have done relatively well since launching over a stretch of time, ranging from a 7.8 percent return for one launched nine months ago to 48 percent for the oldest fund, launched in August 2012.
Officials at the hedge fund declined comment.
It’s not possible to determine which NYCERS reps voted down the measure — nor their motivation — because the action was taken in executive session.
The Comptroller’s Bureau of Asset Management referred Greenblatt’s hedge fund to NYCERS for consideration as a potential investment last month, but a spokesman for Comptroller Scott Stringer declined to say how it learned of the fund.
“As the investment adviser to the New York City Pension Funds, the Bureau of Asset Management recommends investments based strictly on their merits,” said Stringer spokesman Eric Sumberg.
Stringer is among the 11 trustee members. Other board members either did not return calls or declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of discussions that took place in an executive meeting on Feb. 24.
But some of the reps have made it clear in the past that ideological considerations are fair game for investment decisions.
As public advocate in late 2012, de Blasio called for the city’s pension funds to divest themselves from firms that manufacture military-grade guns — both for financial prudence and moral reasons.
“Beyond our fiduciary duty, we should not be giving capital to an industry that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans each year,” de Blasio said shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Asked about the board’s vote, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “We’re confident that the NYCERS board members voted in the best interest of their members. 

The UFT is not among the three unions — DC-37, TWU Local 100 and Teamsters Local 237 — that sits on the NYCERS board. But its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, has sought to steer pension funds to invest with firms that help, or at least don’t harm, union members.

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