I got up this morning and got to the computer without anything “new” to blog about.
So what do you do? Throw a dart at the board? Essentially, yes. I just go online and start looking at agency minutes and other overlooked items.
That’s what I did earlier this morning, when I quickly happened on the most recent minutes posted by the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund. These are from the Board of Trustees meeting on May 18, 2011. Nothing special, just a random look into one of the regular traps.
Let’s see. Trustee Karolyn Mossman, a union appointee to the board, “expressed concerns that Board minutes have not been posted on the EUTF for the past 18 months.” At that time, the most recent minutes on the web site were from March 2010. The board asked staff to post “all approved minutes,” and this now appears to have been done.
There was also a discussion of whether a particular agenda item should be held in executive session, out of public view. Clifford “Chip” Uwaine, another labor appointee, appears to question whether some matters that should be public are instead being discussed in closed sessions.
Trustee Uwaine stated at the last Board meeting there was an item in Executive Session he felt should have been in the public session.
The board appears to have put off a decision on the issue.
There being no objections by the Trustees, after discussion in Executive Session, if the Board agrees an item should be held in public session, that item will be removed from Executive Session and added to the public session part of meeting.
Then there was what looks like a significant discussion of whether the EUTF is adequately staffed.
Discussion held by Trustees and staff regarding if the EUTF is now adequately staffed with these added positions. Ms. Yahiro stated no.
Discussion held by Trustees and staff regarding if the vacancies are filled would it be adequate staffing because the EUTF got the positions they requested.
Trustee Kahoohanohano expressed his concern that the ERS (Employees Retirement System) has double the amount of employees than the EUTF. The EUTF services more employees than the ERS.
Chair Hirata requested that he would like to know where and what are the EUTF staffing levels and how far are we from that. If the EUTF is 40% under staff, the Board needs to discuss that. Chair Hirata is unable to tell from what he has and requested that the EUTF staff provide that information to the Board to address this matter.
Did you catch that? The board chairman is unable to determine, based on information provided by staff, whether the EUTF may be as much as 40% under-staffed. Interesting.
Then there’s this, tucked away in minutes of a broader discussion of investment allocations.
Discussion held by Trustees and staff regarding the procedures for investing funds with vendors through the custodian, Bank of Hawaii, and how Bank of Hawaii was selected. Ms. Yahiro stated that she was not here at that time but a competitive RFP was issued and Bank of Hawaii was selected by the prior Board in 2009. The contract was executed only two months ago.
It took at least 15 months to approve a contract for the bank? Is that an indication of under staffing or inertia? I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound like the current board is happy about the situation.
In that same discussion, there are hints of resistance to a consultant’s recommendation to use Vanguard as a vendor.
Discussion held by Trustees and investment consultant regarding why we are basically using Vanguard. Mr. Rue stated that Mercer went through a search process and recommended Vanguard as a vendor. Vanguard is one of the largest investment managers in the world and very well known for indexing, in a sense that is what the EUTF is doing to begin. The EUTF is indexing, not trying to beat the market, just getting exposure in certain markets. On this scale, $100 million to $1 billon dollar plan sponsor size, Vanguard is very competitive that is why they are being recommended along with Blackrock. Discussion held by Trustees and investment consultant regarding whether Vanguard is the most appropriate.
Were some members angling for another vendor? A previous vendor? It would be interesting to know more.