San Diego's Aguirre Calls for Retirement Board Changes

July 28, 2005 ( - Controversial San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre knows who he wants to staff the city's Defined Contribution Plans Trustee Board.

At a news conference this week, Aguirre called for three current members of the board – which overseas the supplemental pension savings and K plans – to step down from their posts, according to a news report on the NBC San Diego Web site. He targeted San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System administrator Lawrence Grissom, San Diego Deputy Director of Risk Management Bill Lopez and firefighters’ union official Ron Saathoff to resign.

Both Grissom and Lopez have been sued by Aguirre, who has accused Lopez of breach of fiduciary duty and Grissom of violations of the Political Reform Act. Saathoff is facing a felony conflict of interest charge that was filed by county District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Aguirre said the trio pressured city employees to take money from the Solvent Supplemental Pension Plan and buy service credits in the underfunded pension system. Aguirre said that $121 million was transferred. “I believe this was a plan – a scheme – to induce employees to transfer hard dollars from a pension plan that had 100 cents on the dollar to a pension plan that was financially troubled,” Aguirre told the television station.

Lopez told the television station that the risks and benefits were explained to employees. “The Supplemental Pension Board did not get involved in inducing folks to purchase their service credits using their SPSP assets,” said Lopez. “That was an individual decision.”

Also this week, Aguirre recommended that the San Diego City Council appoint three recent mayoral candidates – and one of their spouses – to the board of the troubled and scandal plagued San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System. Aguirre said he was recommending businessman Steve Francis, taxpayer advocate Richard Rider, lawyer, governmental bankruptcy expert Pat Shea and his wife, and former pension-fund board member Diann Shipione.