Pension Politics

Today’s New York Times reports on a widening gap between the money accrued in the city’s pension system and the amount owed to retirees. (Sound familiar?)  One problem is that each of the five pension systems (most cities have just one) has its own board of trustees which vet investment firms, and decisions are made not on potential returns but on politics. 
From the Times:
The boards are fond of personally vetting investment firms — something experts in model boardrooms say they should not be doing. Politics can often intrude. The teachers’ union, for example, keeps a list of investment firms it sees as unacceptable because of their connections to groups that, say, favor charter schools.  
Ranji Nagaswami, who served as Mr. Bloomberg’s first chief investment adviser, said that changes in the governing structure — consolidating, professionalizing and depoliticizing the pension boards — could result in “vastly improving outcomes.”
In more local pension news, PolitickerNJ reports that Gov. Christie plans to set up an independent commissioner to study N.J.'s pension crisis: "Christie's order to put together a group to come up with an action plan, which he will argue will be composed by individuals outside the hothouse of NJ politics, comes on the same week that Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) said Democrats won't cut a deal with the governor for more public worker pension cuts."