What is it worth? Can it be quantified in dollars and cents? When does it matter most? Within any profession or job it is that person or group of people who have been around long enough to know why something was or was not done; how something came to be; what the thinking was behind a certain change or implementation of a policy, procedure, rule, law or benefit. When it's gone and no longer available those in decision making positions are forced to guess at the intentions of those before them, lacking the willingness or desire to seek out this "Institutional Knowledge."
When Mike Aguirre was elected City Attorney, the purging of experience, knowledge, expertise and "Institutional Knowledge" took priority over what was best for the City. When the ex-chief was elected mayor, the purging of experience, knowledge, expertise and "Institutional Knowledge" took priority over what was best for the City. Mike Aguirre and the mayor each found it suited their collective agendas to hire outside council and consultants with no knowledge of the inner workings of the City of San Diego to do their bidding. "Institutional Knowledge" was viewed as a hindrance to the goals each had for reaching their agendas of eliminating DROP; reducing or eliminating Retiree Medical; eliminating "Terminal Leave"; reducing the interest paid on DROP accounts and the reduction of the City's workforce.
Thankfully those who possess the "Institutional Knowledge" from decades of experience involving policy making; law and labor negotiations are sharing this knowledge. They are providing insight into the thinking and discussion that took place at the time, when changes were made to collective bargaining agreements; enhancements to retirement benefits; withdrawal from Social Security and Medicare; communications with Social Security, SDCERS, the IRS; and City Council Resolutions. They are sharing their knowledge of where these items can be found; how they came to be; what the thought processes were; and the intent of these changes.
Joe Flynn served on the SDCERS Board from 2005 to 2007. Joe has decades of "Institutional Knowledge" related to SDCERS and the operations of the City of San Diego. Joe sent a "Letter to the Editor" to the Union Tribune in response to a June 12, 2009, editorial. Here is the letter he sent;
In your June 12 editorial you continue to convey the impression that San Diego retirees get free health care and the taxpayers get nothing. Not so. In 1981 the City initiated the withdrawal from Social Security to save the City money. To meet requirements for withdrawal, however, the City had to establish the supplemental savings plan (with mandatory contributions by the employee and the city) to take the place of Social Security payments at age 65.
To take the place of Medicare, the City promised that "The City will pay for the retired employee's health insurance." * These costs were paid by the City on a year-to-year basis without full accounting. The City then moved these costs into the pension system which contributed to the under funding. This move was later disallowed by the Internal Revenue Service. Accounting changes now require the city to show the future costs of health care.
The City's withdrawal (from Social Security) did not come from the employees or the Unions but was initiated by the City to save money. It is unfair to report and repeat only the costs without ever mentioning the savings to the taxpayer which have accrued since 1981.
Joe Flynn, Retired City Employee
Member of the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System, 2005-07
*City Manager Memo dated November 20, 1981 entitled, "Withdrawal from Social Security" plus attachment, "Outline of Essential Provisions of Supplemental Pension Plan."
John Kaheny is asking questions from his position of knowledge about the vesting of Retiree Medical. John's knowledge surrounding this issue directs the focus of the City's withdrawal from Social Security and the communications between the City and Social Security Administration. He points to 1981 and the file detailing the election of members of SDCERS when asked by the City to leave Social Security for a promise of a similar benefit to be paid for by the City. Mr. Kaheny believes; based on his "Institutional Knowledge" this information is important when determining the "Vested Rights" argument.
Mr. Kaheny's knowledge goes deeper when discussing the elimination of "Terminal Leave." Mr. Kaheny points out the Rules of the Civil Service Commission and the provisions related to leave. The Civil Service Rules which are part of the Municipal Code in Article 3: Civil Service; Division 11: Leaves of Absence; discuss "Terminal Leave" and its use. The "Institutional Knowledge" of Mr. Kaheny and Joe Flynn are providing the; who, why, how and when decisions were made; and where and how to verify these important details. These pathways are opening up other avenues of information and bringing to light related documents the mayor and city attorney do not want to see the light of day.
One of these documents is, "Opinion Number 2007-04" written by Mike Aguirre on September 27, 2007. The mayor and his minions tout and spout Retiree Medical is not a "vested right" and thus they can eliminate or reduce this benefit as they see fit. Even Mike Aguirre, who wanted to eliminate EVERY BENEFIT possible, opined this benefit to be a vested right. It is clear; AGAIN the mayor is hiding FACTS from the public and the employees he is systematically and repeatedly screwing. The mayor will deflect any knowledge of this information and point to some other opinion from another of his many "outside" lawyers and consultants. All of whom lack the "Institutional Knowledge" to provide competent and accurate advise.
More is to come as documents find their way to the surface as the "Institutional Knowledge" is tickled, caressed and prodded into action. The "Institutional Knowledge" may have left City Service; much of it did not leave voluntarily; and much of it was laying in wait; wanting and waiting for someone to ask. To think the mayor has the gall to boast replacing "Experience" with "Enthusiasm" when that experience is what carries the "Institutional Knowledge" that runs and protects this City.
FRANK WHITE IS ACQUITTED
Today, a jury in Vista found Frank White "NOT GUILTY" of all charges stemming from his off-duty shooting. Rick Pinckard represented Frank at trial and provided excellent representation. The SDPOA supported Frank and his wife through this difficult time. Mr. Pinckard is to be commended for his dedication and expertise in defending Frank.