Forbes magazine recently torched Vo Dilun Treasurer Gina Raimondo with a blog post titled, "Rhode Island Public Pension 'Reform' Looks More Like Wall Street Feeding Frenzy." All the more notable considering Forbes is hardly a liberal, kill-the-one-percenters magazine.
Forbes contributor Ted Siedle smoked Raimondo in the first two sentences: "According to Institutional Investor, Rhode Island Treasurer Gina Raimondo is at work solving the nation's retirement dilemma, showing how tough public pension reforms can pay fiscal and political dividends. Don't believe a word of it."
This was just the beginning.
"A look behind the curtain reveals her changes to the investment portfolio of the $7 billion Employee Retirement System of the State of Rhode Island will inevitably dramatically increase both risk and fees paid to alternative investment managers, such as hedge funds and private equity firms," wrote Siedle. "There's no prudent, disciplined investment program at work here — just a blatant Wall Street gorging, while simultaneously pruning state workers' pension benefits."
Normally P&J would call in Rolling Stone's Wall Street whiz Matt Taibbi to explain this to us, but Siedle seems up to the job.
"What's happened to date in Rhode Island is unprecedented in public pension history and, given the myriad risks involved, should be setting off alarms: A little-known money manager hired by the state's pension to manage a paltry $5 million succeeded in getting herself elected as state Treasurer. That means she's now responsible for overseeing the entire $7 billion . . . Essentially, there has been a coup — the foxes (money managers) have taken over management of the henhouse (the pension). To make matters worse, she's an unproven veteran of the 'alternative' investment industry — the hallmark of which is a profound lack of transparency."
In case Siedle didn't feel he had bludgeoned Our Gina enough, he wrapped up his piece with this not-exactly-dainty explanation of what the Biggest Little's pensioners are experiencing now and possibly well into the future:
"I'm all for public pension reform — prudent contributing and investing coupled with sustainable benefits. However, when alternative investment managers take control of a state pension and recklessly dump pension assets into high-cost, high-risk alternative investments, while they slash workers' benefits, that's no reform. Call it what it is: a money grab."
Raimondo, of course, disputes all this. But if she is grabbing anything at the moment, we imagine it would be a tall glass filled to the brim with Jack Daniels, a cold compress, and a handful of Valium.
LIFE OF RILEY
P&J's Monster Raving Looney of the Week Award goes to failed congressional candidate Michael Riley, who got popped for a DUI in Narragansett last week.
As a grown man, he should know three things: 1) don't piss into the wind; 2) don't ever respond to a woman's question with, "Well, to be truthful, it does make your ass look fat"; and 3) don't threaten police officers when they are about to arrest you.
Unfortunately, Riley — who got his ass whipped by Congressman Jim Langevin last November — seems to have missed the day they taught Lesson #3. In the wee hours of April 3, he was pulled over by police for allegedly doing some serious swerving on Point Judith Road.