In an unusual, but not unprecedented move, Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem has appointed herself to the Salem Retirement Board.
<*><*>Under law, the mayor of the city gets to name a designee on the city’s
five-member retirement board. In September 2003 then-Mayor, Stanley
Usovicz, appointed Louis Conrad, a certified financial analyst, to the
Salem Board.<*>This April, in the wake of media criticism of the Board’s unfunded
liability and travel expenses, Driscoll replaced Conrad and named
herself to the seat, saying the city needs to take a more active role
in the city’s pension system.
<*>In responding to a press inquiry, Marcia Pelletier, the executive
director of the Salem Board, said she welcomes the appointment. “It’s
actually good,” Pelletier said. “Maybe it’s just that she’d like to
know what’s going on with the retirement board. Very few people know
what really goes on… Everything is out in the open here.”<*>It’s ironic that the infamous “White Paper” of May 2006, ripping our
state’s 106 retirement systems, was written by Ken Ardon, an assistant
professor of economics at Salem State College. Ardon’s White Paper was
distributed by the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, a
conservative think-tank. “The White Paper touched off a firestorm of
negative reporting by the press, and boards, such as Salem, have become
unfair targets,” says President Ralph White.<*>“I think that if the mayor is fully involved over the next few years,
she will understand the difficulties the Board faces and the dedication
of the Board’s members and staff.”<*>Mayor Driscoll has wasted no time in denigrating the Salem Board’s
image. She has appealed the election of John O’Leary to the Board,
citing irregularities in the election process. Her appeal is to the
Salem Board itself. If the Board itself rejects her appeal, it is not
known if Driscoll will then take the appeal to a higher level.