First, a candidate for City Council At-Large struck out at Treasurer Timothy Cahill , accusing him of alleged ethics violations and a lack of transparency in the management of the state pension fund, which could hurt Boston city employeesâ€™ pensions. The head of the pension fund, Michael Travaglini, hit back, noting that the fund has independent auditors and the candidate, Tomas Gonzalez, doesnâ€™t know what heâ€™s talking about, because Boston city employees arenâ€™t covered by the pension fund.
Gonzalezâ€™s campaign is now apologizing â€” saying they were using Cahillâ€™s office â€œsimply as an example.â€ Sort of. â€œFirst let me apologize for my choice of words â€“ Mr. Travaglini is 100% correct, no Boston employees are covered by the state pension system, at this time,â€ Gonzalez said in a statement. â€œNor did I say that any were â€“ what I said was, the Boston Retirement System is covered by the same laws as the stateâ€™s system and that the laws need to be changed to eliminate any appearance or perception of impropriety.â€
In a follow-up e-mail to the Reporter on Monday, Gonzalez wrote, â€œI'm not trying to pick a fight. As I said, the use of the Treasurer's office was by way of example - one that is in the public domain and has been called by others into question.â€
Jumping into the policy weeds, Gonzalez added in his response that the city, the Public Employee Retirement Administration and Commission (PERAC) and the Boston Teachers union have entered a memorandum of agreement to transfer assets into the state pension fund. That agreement is contingent on approval of the state Legislature.
The full June 19 follow-up release, with only the contact info taken out, is below:
CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE TOMAS GONZALEZâ€™S RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENTS REGARDING PRESS RELEASE, â€œETHICS VIOLATIONS PUT PENSIONS OF BOSTON MUNICIPAL WORKERS AT RISK IN UNCERTAIN ECONOMIC TIMESâ€
BOSTON â€“ City Council Candidate, Tomas Gonzalez states today, â€œFirst let me apologize for my choice of words â€“ Mr. Travaglini is 100% correct, no Boston employees are covered by the state pension system, at this time. Nor did I say that any were â€“ what I said was, the Boston Retirement System is covered by the same laws as the stateâ€™s system and that the laws need to be changed to eliminate any appearance or perception of impropriety.â€ â€œNot to belabor the point but, the Boston Teachers have signed a MOU with the state and will, in fact, upon the endorsement of the legislature fall under the domain of PRIM (as have many other municipalities) to pool with the state system in FY 2010,â€ said Gonzalez.
â€œThe point I was making (while using the Treasurerâ€™s Office simply as an example) is that the Legislature needs to expand its reform efforts to include revising the law for retirement systems so that any action that might create an appearance or a perception of impropriety is eliminated. Transparency is what the public deserves and what it demands and we as public servants have an obligation to the citizens to be as open and transparent in our dealings as humanly possible,â€ said Gonzalez.
â€œHaving held a senior Management position within city government in the city of Boston, I do have a through understanding of chapter 30b. That being said, â€˜the status quo has got to go, and the thousands of citizens I have spoken to over the last few months completely agree with that position,â€™â€ exclaimed, Gonzalez.
Spoksperson for the Gonzalez campaign, Jeff Ross said, â€œGonzalez was a city employee and grew up a Bostonian. His campaign is about transparency which is what the public not only deserves, but demands of its public servants.â€ â€œAs we have read over the past weeks and months, there has been far too little transparency,â€ said Ross. The Municipal Research Bureau of Boston has said that it is imminent that the governor will sign legislation that will pool Boston Teacherâ€™s funds with the state PRIM pool. The MOU signed by the city of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and others could take effect in a matter of days, as we reach FY2010.
â€œGonzalez will make an intelligent and well educated City Councillor At Large and is looking out for best interests of the citizens of Boston and of the state. To suggest that Boston is not effected is misleading. Gonzalez is a strong and outspoken advocate for municipal workers and believes voters have a right to know all the facts and his campaign has been about transparency all along,â€ stated Gonzalez spokesperson, Jeff Ross.
Tomas Gonzalez is a candidate for the Boston City Council At Large. He is a graduate of Boston College and Roxbury Community College and formerly Chief of Staff of the City of Bostonâ€™s Elderly Commission. Gonzalez also served as the City of Bostonâ€™s Latino Liaison and most recently as the Director of Community Outreach at Boston Universityâ€™s Medical school. For more information see www.votetomas.com