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Perry meddles again

All of his shenanigans with the Texas Forensic Science Commission have kept Governor Perry busy lately, but not so busy that he can’t mess with other things, too.

Gov. Rick Perry plans to reshuffle the board leadership of the state’s $88 billion teacher retirement system, an unexpected move that has reignited concerns among the members that Perry is meddling with their pension fund.

Linus Wright, a retired school superintendent who was appointed in January to lead the Board of Trustees of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, said he has been notified by the governor’s office that he will soon be replaced as chairman. Wright said he was given no reason for the change.

He will be succeeded by Dallas real estate investor R. David Kelly, a board trustee since 2007, Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said.

Kelly is also a member of the finance team for Perry’s re-election campaign, according to a June news release.

In the past, Perry has looked to the teachers’ fund as a potential source of investment dollars for state transportation infrastructure and the Emerging Technology Fund, which invests in startup companies in fields such as biotechnology. The board, which sets the investment strategy for one of the country’s largest public pension funds, has not yet backed an investment policy to do so.


[T]he change comes on the heels of Perry’s veto in June of a bill that would have added another retiree voice to the nine-member board. The governor appoints all of the members of the board, which is made up of five financial professionals and four retired or active Teacher Retirement System members who are nominated by the membership.

Together, these moves have retirees worried that politics is the real motivation, said Tim Lee of the Texas Retired Teachers Association.

“It’s a concern to us that the governor is developing a pattern that really is minimizing the voice of retirees in their own pension fund,” Lee said.

There may well be nothing to be concerned about here. The story does note that nobody has any particular issue with David Kelly. It’s the timing of the move, and the removal of the first former teacher to lead the Board in 15 years, that has people anxious. But if people see politics every time Rick Perry does something, it’s because politics plays a role in just about everything he does, especially lately. Who can blame the retirees for having a bad feeling about this? Burka sounds the alarm as well.

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  1. […] been a surprise at the time, but it should be clear to all by now what was going on. Given that meddling in the affairs of others seems to be the Rick Perry modus operandi these days, I’d say that his initial explanation of […]