Ballots for the Police Pension Board election will go out beginning the week of April 19th. PLEA’s Chief Negotiator, Will Buividas is running for a position on the Board. What follows is an informational message from Will to assist members in casting their ballot:
My name is Will Buividas. I am currently serving as a member of the PLEA Board of Trustees and also serve in the capacity of PLEA’s Chief Negotiator. As you are probably aware by now there is an impending vote for an open position on the local Phoenix Police Pension Board, better known to most people simply as the Pension Board. I am running for the open Board position. Ballots will be mailed out to sworn personnel starting the week of April 19th and I am asking for your vote. It is important to be informed on a few points and issues prior to casting your ballot.
The vast majority of officers go through their careers not fully aware of what the Pension Board is or what it does. Many others may not be overly concerned about who happens to get elected to fill the seats on the Board. The information below should help clarify issues and answer some of the more common questions.
I heard that the Police Pension Board is being sued, is this true?
Yes, I along with retired officers and citizens with the aid of Judicial Watch out of Washington, D.C. have filed a lawsuit against the Police Pension Board and against Chief Jack Harris for what we believe to be violations of state pension laws.
Doesn’t filing a lawsuit jeopardize our pensions or retirement benefits?
Absolutely not, the purpose of the suit is to get a decision from a court on whether or not Chief Harris after retiring with five years in DROP was allowed to be rehired to occupy the same position. The lawsuit allows those with concerns to exercise their right to obtain a decision from the courts and puts the Pension Board on notice for potential wrongdoing.
Does filing a lawsuit create a conflict with you running for the pension board?
No, my petition to run for the board was accepted without reservation and it is also the opinion of PLEA’s attorneys that no conflict exists. If I am elected and issues arise requiring discussion or voting with regard to the lawsuit, I could easily abstain from participating.
What do you bring to the table and what do you think should be done differently?
For the last several years the sworn positions on the police pension board have been held by police supervisors. I believe that at least one of those positions should be held by an officer to fairly represent the needs of the rank and file. If 75-80% of the department is comprised of non supervisory personnel it stands to reason that officers should have one of their own representing them on the Pension Board. In addition, I have been to numerous training seminars over the past few years and received training with regard to Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) issues, Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) issues, disability issues, pension issues, and medical retirements. As PLEA’s Chief Negotiator I have to stay abreast of current trends with regard to retirement and pension issues in order to properly represent the interests of the membership.
I engaged the Pension Board and the Chief in a lawsuit because I along with others believe that pension laws were violated resulting in an abuse of the system. Abuses of the system if left unchecked have the ability to endanger the system for all of us. I have stood up against what I believed to be wrong as an outsider looking in and will continue to do what is right if elected to the Board. The Pension Board shouldn’t be allowed to be used as a vehicle to make upper level police managers rich based on sweetheart deals that skirt the intent if not actually violate state pension laws. If elected to the Board, I will do everything in my power to prevent this kind of behavior from occurring on my watch. More importantly, as a rank and file officer myself, I can empathize with and relate better to the needs of my fellow officers than yet another supervisor on the Board with little to no experience in dealing with police pension and retirement issues.
Are you talking about the Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS)?
No. PSPRS is a statewide entity that actually manages the retirement funds of public safety personnel from across the state to include police and fire departments as well as state corrections. These entities, including our own local Police Pension Board, feed their retirement (pension) funds into PSPRS whose responsibility is fund managing and investment of monies. Various police, fire and corrections entities from around the state have their own pension boards at the local level that deal with pension/retirement issues specific to their agency or group.
Do the local Pension Boards deal with fund managing or investments?
Absolutely not, any fund managing and investing is handled at the state level by PSPRS. The primary responsibility of local boards is dealing with retirement issues.
How is the Police Pension Board structured?
The Police Pension Board is comprised of five members; a chairman, two civilians and two sworn police officers who are elected and serve staggered terms of four years. This is done so that during any given election cycle only one seat is open.
What exactly does the Police Pension Board do?
The Police Pension Board is a governing panel that oversees the police pension and retirement system and is responsible for determining eligibility and service credit and also the amount, manner, and time of payments of regular and disability pensions (AKA medical retirements) for all Phoenix police officers. The Pension Board is also responsible for administering the system under the law as well as educating and assisting police participants with retirement issues.
Shouldn’t a candidate for this position have some kind of financial background?
There have been candidates in the past that have touted qualifications such as being a CPA, investment broker, securities trader etc. While qualifications such as these sound impressive, they are not required and are really of no use on the Police Pension Board since the Board does absolutely nothing with regard to fund managing or investing monies. It is far more crucial to have a candidate on the board that has experience dealing with retirement/pension issues, and medical retirements/disability issues. These are my areas of expertise based on my day to day job requirements as PLEA’s Chief Negotiator.
Thanks for taking the time to read this information which was provided in the interest of allowing you to make a more informed decision prior to casting your ballot. Once again, I respectfully ask for your vote for the upcoming Police Pension Board election. If you have specific questions of me I can be reached at the PLEA office by calling 602-246-7869.
PLEA Chief Negotiator