WHY HAS AARP COLORADO OPTED AGAINST DEFENDING COLORADO PERA RETIREES?
A few years ago, when the Rhode Island Legislature broke the public pension COLA (inflation protection) contracts of Rhode Island retirees, the AARP provided legal representation to fight the breach of pension contracts. As I understand it, AARP continues the legal battle in Rhode Island on behalf of these retirees. Yet, in 2010, when the Colorado Legislature took COLA benefits from Colorado PERA retirees AARP Colorado simply "monitored" the taking.
How was the AARP decision made to defend public pensioner rights in one state, but not in another? I can't believe that this was a question of available resources. It doesn't consume a significant amount of organizational resources to have an AARP representative show up to testify at a bill hearing. Is the defense of retiree interests not a central purpose of the AARP?
An AARP representative informed us that the decision of AARP Colorado to simply "monitor" the Colorado PERA COLA taking in 2010 was made with input from AARP Colorado's "volunteer leadership." Who were these persons, serving as AARP Colorado volunteer leaders, whose "input" eliminated the possibility of an AARP Colorado defense of Colorado PERA retiree rights?
Were these individuals (the AARP Colorado volunteer leadership) involved with the Colorado PERA political campaign to take Colorado PERA retiree COLA benefits?
What is the value of the legal resources that the AARP has brought to bear in defending the contractual rights of Rhode Island pensioners? Tens, or hundreds, of thousands of dollars? Why is it that a local AARP chapter, such as AARP Colorado, cannot spend a few hundred dollars fighting for pensioner rights in their home state?
The AARP has worked with the Pension Rights Center to defend public pension contractual rights in the US. Recently, a Pension Rights Center representative (on Facebook) explained that the Center has limited resources, and cannot defend against every attack on public pension rights in the nation, and accordingly has been unable to assist in the defense of Colorado PERA pensioners' rights. But, this begs the question, how is the decision made to defend the rights of some retirees in the United States, but not the rights of others? What amount of Pension Rights Center organizational resources would have been consumed in simply sending a letter or an email to Colorado state legislators objecting to a violation of retiree pension rights?
AARP Fights Rhode Island Pension Contract Breach, "Monitors" Colorado Pension Contract Breach.
"AARP Foundation Legal Advocacy – Advocacy Issue Teams.
AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) is an advocate in courts nationwide for the rights of people 50 and older, addressing diverse legal issues that affect their daily lives and assuring that they have a voice in the judicial system."
Jay E. Sushelsky, Attorney, AARP Foundation Litigation – (Fighting for Rhode Island Public Pension Contractual Rights.)
"ATTORNEYS OF RECORD
Rhode Island Public Employees’ Retiree Coalition, et al. Carly Beauvais Iafrate, Esq., (401) 421-0065, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay E. Sushelsky, Esq., (202) 434-2151, email@example.com
Jay E. Sushelsky, Mo. Bar # 30934, AARP Foundation Litigation
"Jay Sushelsky is a Senior Attorney at AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL), where he practices in the areas of Employee Benefits and Investor Protection. He graduated from Tufts University and Washington University School of Law. Mr. Sushelsky was in private practice in St. Louis for twenty-five years prior to joining AFL in 2005."
"AARP is represented by Jay Sushelsky of AARP Foundation Litigation and Michael Shuster of AARP, both in Washington. The New York City pension funds are represented by Michael A. Cardozo of the City of New York.
The Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association of the City of New York is represented by Gregory W. Smith of the Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association in Denver."
"MOTION OF PENSION RIGHTS CENTER AND AARP FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMICI CURIAE BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF PANEL REHEARING AND/OR REHEARING EN BANC
Mary Ellen Signorille
Jay E. Sushelsky
AARP Foundation Litigation
601 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20049
Counsel for AARP"
"The local chapter of the (Rhode Island) AARP has been lobbying its 135,000 Rhode Island members to oppose the existing (pension COLA-taking) bill and is also asking its members to attend Wednesday's hearing, which begins at 11 a.m."
"In a recent mailer to 20,000 members who are retired, the AARP said the suspension of the COLAs – which could be frozen for up to 19 years – was 'unthinkable' and could make it 'impossible for many retirees to afford life-saving drugs and basics, such as food and heat. We have to tell lawmakers this is unacceptable.'"
"AARP spokesman John Martin said Tuesday that the position the local AARP has taken with the pension proposal 'is consistent with AARP's advocacy for the retirement security for older Americans, I should say, for half a century. It's consistent with our advocacy for protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits.'"
Here is the AARP Colorado statement (on Facebook) regarding their decision to simply "monitor" the Colorado General Assembly’s 2010 pension reform legislation (public pension COLA taking) rather than defending Colorado public pension contracts:
“The AARP state office, with input from our volunteer leadership, reached the decision to monitor SB10-001.”
AARP: Cutting COLAs is Wrong, (Well, unless it's the Colorado Legislature Breaking Contracts.)
"AARP strongly objects to any cuts to the pension benefits of current retirees, many of whom live on $20,000 per year or less. AARP will continue to fight for solutions that keep the retirement promises made to older Americans."
"What You Can Do
If you agree that it is wrong to cut benefits for those who are already retired, whether it's Social Security or earned pensions, then sign up today to be an e-activist. We will let you know the best time to communicate with your elected representatives.
A. Barry Rand is the CEO of AARP."
The Interconnected World of Public Pensions: AARP, NIRS, Colorado PERA and the NCTR.
Jay E. Sushelsky, Attorney, AARP Foundation Litigation, Defending Rhode Island Public Pension Contracts.
("NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community has joined the National Institute on Retirement Security, a research and education not-for-profit organization in Washington, DC.)
A few members of the Board of Directors of the National Institute on Retirement Security:
Gregory Smith, NIRS Chair and Executive Director, Colorado Public Employees' Retirement Association;
Meredith Williams, (former Executive Director, Colorado PERA,) NIRS Vice Chair and Executive Director, National Council on Teacher Retirement;
Hank H. Kim, Esq., NIRS Secretary/Treasurer and Executive Director and Counsel, National Conference on Public Employee Retirement Systems;
Bill Finelli, Board Member and Trustee, Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island;
"NRTA: AARP’s Educator Community has joined the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS), a research and education not-for-profit organization in Washington, DC. NIRS was established to fill a gap in understanding on the value that defined benefit pensions play in ensuring retirement security for workers, as well as their value to employers, and the economy.
Through the collaboration with NRTA, active and retired educators can now access NIRS products and services — at no cost. NIRS programs and information serve as valuable tools to help educate local officials and stakeholders about teacher retirement issues. NIRS member services include: Research, Education Materials, Counsel, Commentary, Events/Speakers, and Technical Assistance.
NRTA and NIRS will continue to work together to help ensure that public pensions remain the cornerstone of retirement security for America’s teachers.
Founded in 2007 by the National Council on Teacher Retirement, the Council of Institutional Investors, and National Association of State Retirement Administrators, NIRS has a diverse membership of organizations including employee benefit plans, state or local agencies that manage retirement plans, trade associations, financial services firms, and other retirement service providers."
The taking of earned, contracted deferred compensation from Colorado PERA retirees in SB10-001 was patently immoral. Apart from the question of the constitutionality of SB10-001, recognition of its immorality should have given pause to AARP officials and volunteers in 2010.
Support public pension contractual rights at saveperacola.com.