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Willistown Pols Trade Op-Eds Over Pension Fund

Supervisor Norman MacQueen responded to resident Chris Smith's letter in a local newspaper.

A pointed coversation about the health of the Willistown Township pension fund played out in the opinion pages of Main Line Suburban Life newspaper recently.

On Friday, Jan. 18, the paper published a column by Willistown resident Chris Smith, titled Willistown’s Pension-Fund Shortfall Must Be Addressed. On Monday, the paper printed a response from township supervisor Norman MacQueen.

Smith, who ran unsuccessfully for township supervisor in 2011 against the incumbent MacQueen, likened the township's financial situation to the course of the Titanic—calm seas of low taxes before the iceberg of a projected $2.6 million shortfall in the pension fund. 

There have been some difficult economic times so it isn’t surprising that the pension fund is listing a bit, however, of the 1,443 public pension funds ranked by the Commission, Willistown ranked 1,157th. That puts Willistown just outside the bottom 20% of municipal pension funds by the barest of margins. 

On Monday, the paper printed a response from MacQueen, who started by positing that Smith's essay is likely the prelude to another run at local office. He wrote that the township's pension fund was on the mend after being "ravaged by the worst economic downturn since the great depression."

The Willistown Board of Supervisors took concrete steps to boost the health of the pension fund. For example, a Pension Review Board was established, a new investment advisor was hired and additional investments were made by the Township in to the pension plan before the stock market had time to fully recover.

The two exchanged personal barbs as well. Smith implied that MacQueen's rumored interest in running for county controller is the metaphorical fog hiding Willistown's fiscal problems. MacQueen called Smith a "failed candidate" who is confused and misrepresenting the facts.

Read Smith's op-ed and MacQueen's response in full at mainlinetimes.com.

See also:

Scratching the Surface of Willistown Politics (and washing my hands afterwards)

Willistown Supervisor Candidates: MacQueen and Smith

guest12 January 29, 2013 at 03:56 PM
MacQueen lost Willistown taxpayer money - alot of money. Who cares who told us?The letter pointed out that MacQueen lost large sums of taxpayer pension money in the stock market while other well managed Townships weathered the storm & protected their taxpayers.The contrast between good management in other Townships and MacQueen's mismanagement is both bone jarring and costly to the taxpayers. MacQueen's response since he can't deny the facts or his own ineptitude, attack the letter writer. MacQueen's multiple jobs and cronyism has brought down his Township. How much will it cost in future tax increases? Did taxpayers pay fees to lose money? Who received the fees? How can Investment Manager (isn't he supposed to be competent at this?) MacQueen do so poorly while other Townships performed consistently? The facts on the State government website www.perc.state.pa.us can't be masked by Macqueen's deceptive political letter
Nabob January 29, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Chris, is that you?
Chris Smith January 30, 2013 at 02:48 AM
I actually sign my name to what I write, but I agree wholeheartedly with what Reasonable has written. I guess you're implying that I'm hiding behind an assumed name to support my own letter. Anyone who knows me knows that's not the kind of person I am. How about revealing who you are? And read Mr. MacQueen's letter carefully. He doesn't deny that the pension fund is distressed and he doesn't deny that it has done much worse than most other pensions in the Commonwealth. He instead attacks the writer which, as you probably know, is what someone typically does when they can't win an argument.
guest12 January 30, 2013 at 07:46 PM
Just found out the Republicans have been holding Regional meetings and that MacQueen is attending and seeking support for Controller. Anyone know if he is opposed? Maybe Patch could find out and do an article
karlub January 30, 2013 at 10:09 PM
There is another candidate for Controller.
Chris Smith January 31, 2013 at 12:31 AM
And don't forget many Democrats are good with math and finances as well. In fact, many of the municipal pension funds that did better than Willistown's in this area are presided over by Democrats and one of them might be the best Controller for Chester County. There should be no divine right just because somebody has an R after their name.
guest12 January 31, 2013 at 05:22 PM
klub -Who else is running on the Republican side? Are the Democrats running anybody yet? SOS- We need Malvern Patch to cover this
guest12 February 03, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Check out http://pattyebenson.org/2013/01/31/tredyffrin-receives-92-fund-ratio-score-from-perc/. Tredyffrin aces market with consistent good performance. Willistown pension losses a lot of money. Same stock market Must be a difference in Supervisors!
guest12 February 05, 2013 at 06:25 PM
Who is on the Pension Review Board? When was it established? When do they meet? Are the meetings public? There is nothing on the Township website. Why the secrecy? Apparently one member is MacQueen’s business partner Mike Devine. You can learn that from MacQueen’s company’s website but not from the Township website. Very curious place for a citizen to learn who is on a Township Board. “Michael is on the Willistown Township Audit Board and Pension Review Board. He previously served as President of the Marple Newtown School Board.”
Chris Smith February 05, 2013 at 10:43 PM
As has been made clear to me, the most talented, skilled and qualified people are not necessarily welcomed to participate in Willistown government. It's who you know and what your idealogy is that's most important. That's a recipe for poor government and corruption. Is MacQueen committed to good government or are his political aspirations driven by more personal or idealogical motives? I don't know the answer to that, although Willistown's pension debacle and cronyism gives some clues, but is the Chester County Republican Party willing to endorse someone for County Controller without a thorough investigation? I hope not.


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