SD Taps New Pension Administrator

April 24, 2006 ( - The troubled city of San Diego pension system has tapped a local investment executive to be its new administrator.

Getting the nod after a nationwide search was David Wescoe, executive director of the San Diego-based Messner & Smith investment firm, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

According to the newspaper, the pool for the administrator job was first narrowed from more than 200 original applicants to a finalist field of six before offering the job to Wescoe.

The pension system had previously offered the job to Gary Findlay, head of the Missouri State Employees Retirement System, who rebuffed them in January by saying “the administrator will not be able to fix” the city’s pension problems, according to the news report.

Wescoe, will take over May 1 at the retirement fund, which has been at the center of the city’s budgetary and legal woes.

The system has a $1.43 billion deficit caused in part by decisions by the City Council in 1996 and 2002 to underfund the employee retirement plan while increasing worker benefits.

The fund has been without a lead administrator since December, when Lawrence Grissom retired after 18 years. He and four other former pension system officials were indicted January 6 on wire fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from the 2002 decision to extend the original underfunding plan (See  Five Indicted in San Diego City Pension Case ).

Wescoe will pilot a $4 billion fund with 19,000 members from the city of San Diego, the San Diego Unified Port District and the San Diego Regional Airport Authority.