An Interview With Dan Flynn: Lee Kleinman Completely Out of Touch With Reality

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My opponent is now the only person on the Dallas City Council who has said out loud that we should ditch the current Dallas Police and Fire Pension plan. He said so at last week’s Dallas Morning News editorial forum, which I will comment on later.

Just wipe our hands of it.

This isn’t what he said in Austin, of course, when he was testifying to the pension committee. No, then he told Representative Dan Flynn, who has authored House Bill 3158, that he was committed to finding a solution.

I spoke with Dan Flynn, or “Dan from Van”, yesterday. He told me the bill he filed, a remake of our current pension plan, is on it’s way to the House for a vote with, he says, the full support of the Dallas delegation. But now our Mayor and my opponent are busy trying to stop the bill.

Lee Kleinman, says Dan, is completely out of touch with reality.

“The first time I met him, he asked me for $1.8 billion to bail out the pension,” says Flynn. Kleinman did not recall that request, of course, when he was testifying in Austin last week.

Does Lee Kleinman not understand, said Flynn, that there are 93 pensions in the state of Texas? Bail out one in Dallas, you’ll end up bailing all of them.

House Bill 3158 is now headed to the floor. Flynn says the behind-the-scene dealings (maybe not so behind the scenes now) now to stop or change the bill are ongoing. If the City of Dallas cannot stop it, they will refuse to pay for it once it becomes law, creating more lawsuits and mess.

The Dallas delegation in Austin says they will support it, and Flynn says his bill revamps a twenty-year, ongoing problem with the pension that should have been taken care of years ago by previous leadership.

If the bill doesn’t get passed, then the pension will die. And 10,000 retirees will lose their benefits. Actuaries cannot agree but likely it’s three to seven years before the funds just flat run dry.

So many voters say to me, but I don’t think we should bail them out. They screwed up.

My response is, yep, they did, but we will bail this out one way or the other.

“It’s a bail out because they didn’t do what they should have done,” says Flynn, referring to past mayors and city councils.  “There was no oversight, so members enhanced themselves. It was the fiduciary responsibility of the people on that board to perform oversight for the citizens of Dallas.”

As I told Flynn, some city council members say they tried to voice concerns.

“They were not loud enough,” he said. “If you are afraid to voice your concerns and be loud enough about them, then you shouldn’t be a leader.”

In the case of my opponent, he didn’t voice concerns. He quit. In April, 2016, after 3 years on the Pension Board, after training paid for by the board, he just quit.

Is that a leader?

And let’s take the scenario of not “bailing out” the pension, as many don’t want to do. As I don’t want to do really, either. I’d rather kick the pants of those who created the DROP program so sloppily that the inmates ran the asylum. Kick those who found the great real estate investments, took the junkets, and charged ridiculous management fees. Kick ’em all.

So what happens if we let the Dallas Police and Fire Pension fund die? About 10,000 current and former employees of the City of Dallas lose their pensions, collecting only from the federal government’s Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.

What happens to Dallas? Do we save money? Are we a better city?

Lawsuits: the police will likely sue the city for failure to meet obligations — the pension is a contractual part of their compensation, recall. We will lose police and first responders. We will find it difficult to hire police and first responders. Criminals will know this and visit us more often.

With a shortage of police staff, they will be told not to moonlight on the private Neighborhood Patrols. Those of us who enjoy our private police patrols will either pay for for less experienced police or no longer have them.

Is this the quality of life we want in Dallas? Or is it just another way to pass the cost back onto the highest paying taxpayers in Districts 11, 12 and 13?


14 thoughts on “An Interview With Dan Flynn: Lee Kleinman Completely Out of Touch With Reality

  1. If staffing gets to short, off duty employment will be curtailed and stopped. Then, the problem will be exasperated and compounded. The criminals will definitely know the police are short handed and will come to Dallas from all over the Metroplex to ply their trade.
    I worked for this particular ENP years ago when the area had the highest property crime rate in the City of Dallas.
    At the time the department was short of officers, the early nineties, and many north Dallas neighborhoods hiried officers to augment the patrol in their respective neighborhoods. Once the ENP was instituted, the area went from the highest property crime to one of the lowest in just over a year.
    Without the off duty officers the area would still be counting offenses in the hundreds per year instead of three to four a year, which was the outcome of the officers work.
    The officers recruited to work the ENP were some the best at their profession and cut the crime rate to almost nothing.
    The department is projected to lose 500 officers this year, and with the 500 previously lost, the department will find it difficult to provide services to the citizens of Dallas.
    In the situation approaching, part time jobs could very well be curtailed, and there would not be officers available to work the ENPs. The crime rate would soar,and there would be no way to stem the tide.
    In addition if off duty employment is curtailed, the exodus of officers will escalate since their low pay could not supplemented with off duty employment. The problems of the city will multiplied several fold.
    There were mistake make on both sides, but both sides have to combine to solve the problem. If the pension dies, the recruitment of officers will be even harder and probably impossible for quality officers. The lack of faith for first responders from the city will drive quality recruits else, and city will be left with the warm bodies in uniform only.
    If the City of Dallas fails to provide for the first responders now, no one will come here who is looking for a profession. The warm bodies in uniform will be similar to the early 90’s when the department pushed to hire officers in bulk. From those that were recruited during those years only a handful remain. The problems from this group was monumental, protection for drug dealers, arrests for fake drugs, and sexual assaults in uniform on duty. The city paid out millions of dollars for each of this incidents, in addition to the $250,000 spent to train all those officers. The city lost millions upon millions of dollars with the hiring of these officers.
    That said, the city stands to lose in many ways if the problem is not resolved.

  2. In response to this remark — Or is it just another way to pass the cost back onto the highest paying taxpayers in Districts 11, 12 and 13?

    I live in District 3 and for the level of service ” my neighbors and I” get from the City of Dallas, WE PAY WAY MORE than all of those districts you mentioned, COMBINED.

    The real issue here is that the pension debacle boils down to a question of MATH! There is not the tax increase big enough to bail out this fund, nor the actuarial formula complex enough to make this mess of a fund solvent in three generations of future Dallas taxpayers. Let’s get real here and own up to the fact that there will be NO WINNERS in this deal — only losers. The pensioners will have to take a loss, the current working uniformed employees will absorb fewer benefits and higher contributions, and we, the taxpayers, will have to pony up our FAIR SHARE — but ONLY our fair share.

    When all of the politics are over and done, there will be pain for everyone. My hope is that we will be here together to comfort and take care of each other.

    1. Agree. We got the hot potato. And I directed that to these districts because I know them best. That’s why I think we will pay one way or the other.

    2. Higher pension contributions by officers means less money to take home (in other words a pay cut). Veteran officers still hanging on will bail for a higher paying suburb. New recruits will join Dallas strictly for the TCOLE certification and then leave for a higher paying suburb. Morale will plummet, crime will soar. I am old enough to have seen this cycle before. Get this under control now or the price you pay will be more than you can imagine. I don’t care how rich you think you are you will be affected.

  3. The Federal Goverment’s “Pension Benefits Guaranty Corporation” does not cover public pensions, so if the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund goes down, pensioners will have nothing to fall back on. Most have no Social Security to rely on. Those that do have some Social Security, it has been reduced by the government by about 55% because of an IRS ruling called the Government Pension Offset.

    1. I forgot to mention the Windfall Elimination Provision effects what little Social Security policemen and Firemen receive.

  4. I really don’t think the current pension crisis is the result of “the inmates running the asylum”. Remember, the DROP program was set up with the full support of the City of Dallas. The initial agreement set the interest rates at 10 to 8 percent. As far as I know, the only change to that was when the rank, and file voted to lower the interest rates gradually to 8,7,6,5 percent. I would like to hear an example where the members over ruled City of Dallas oversight in order to enrich themselves.

  5. The insane wasn’t running the asylum. Mike Rawlings and Lee Kleinman both have done a disservice to the first responders by disseminating false information. All for the purpose of their hidden agendas. The DROP was originally proposed in 1991 with the full support of the city council to retain experience police and firefighters who leaving in droves due the multiple salary cuts with no clear sight of future pay raises. First responders were ask to take less now with the promise of making up the cuts at retirement. When the system ran into trouble in the mid 2000’s, the pensioners voted twice to cut their benefits as was proposed by the pension system. Not once did they vote to increase those benefits. The whole story hasn’t been told and the smear campaign of innocent first responders of the City Of Dallas turns my sadness into rage.

  6. Lee Kleinman was the person who took on the fire and police pension plan and number one identified the problems and number two tried to fix it. He has integrity and does things because they are right, regardless if it is unpopular or hard. That’s a true leader. I would vote for and support Lee Kleinman. He’s a good man with honor and integrity.

    1. Ekaiser: I would love to meet with you. Mr. Kleinman gives the image that he is a leader, but the facts are he is not. He did not identify the problem. He quit the board in April of 2016 just as the problems were coming to light. He left the other City Council members to pick up the pieces. If he has so much integrity, why is he pushing for expensive boondoggles that will cost us taxpayers millions… just so he can benefit from the donations of the wealthy who want those? I too thought he was a fiscal hawk. Truth is, he spends tax dollars like a drunken sailor when it benefits him.

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