Where's leadership,

after pension fiasco?

It has been more than two years since the Town of Fairfield was caught up in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme to the tune of $40 million.

At the time, town officials asserted that lots of people were fooled and the pensions fund still had a surplus. We have heard very little since.

Now after reading "Pension Costs Expected to Triple," and experiencing years of non-stop tax increases, many taxpayers would like answers and leadership on these issues.

Have any changes been made to the pension boards or policies to prevent future fiascoes? Were any employees, or consultants sued or fired? Will the town recoup any losses? Have any pension experts been appointed to the board?

Taxpayers also expect financial transparency. Why are the town's annual financial statements, pension report, union contracts and other relevant data not posted on the Town of Fairfield website?

And finally, this is an opportunity for Fairfield's elected leaders to show leadership on perhaps the most difficult financial issue facing the town. One cannot pick up any newspaper without reading of many states and cities throughout the country facing insolvency brought on by unfunded and unaffordable pensions.

Fairfield taxpayers deserve to know if our pension system is appropriate or is subject to abuse.

For instance, does Fairfield permit "spiking" that allows employees to inflate retirement income? Can employees retire at age 45 with a full pension and lifetime health benefits? Are taxpayers completely on the hook for future investment disasters or do employees share? And the big but obvious question: Should the town freeze the pension plan and turn it into one similar to the 401(k) that most private employers offer?

The first selectman is creating a legacy on this issue. Will it be implementing (or retaining) an affordable, fair pension system for town employees, or will it be the Madoff Fiasco Part 2?

Bill Stapleton