Payback is a Bitch

In his Shopper News column recently, former Mayor Victor Ashe raised questions about the city pension plan and suggested that Mayor Madeline Rogero and Deputy Mayor Bill Lyons might be resistant to change since they will benefit personally from its provisions.

It didn't take long after that for the News Sentinel to run a story across the top of page one revealing that Ashe has designated his daughter as beneficiary of his pension instead of his wife and that the arrangement had the potential to cost the pension system $3.5 million. The story resulted from a discussion at a pension board meeting.

A public records request by Metro Pulse turned up some interesting e-mails. An actuary didn't compute the potential Ashe benefits. Lyons volunteered for the job. He requested information from the pension department and made the computations in-house, had the pension staff double-check them, and provided them for discussion at a board meeting.

The issue to be discussed was 31 city retirees who had children as beneficiaries, but the Ashe example was Exhibit A. He wasn't named in the example, but all the reporter had to do was ask. It's a public record.

A city spokesman said the child beneficiaries were an issue the pension board needed to look at and since it was generally known that Ashe had done so it was "an easy example to use."