As trustees of the Teachers' Retirement System of the City of New York, we are deeply disturbed by your Oct. 3 editorial criticizing our appropriate and lawful use of the executive sessions to discuss investment of the system's assets. Cynical editorials like yours simply alarm; they do not inform.
You are wrong to suggest our business is carried out in secrecy. When new investment mangers are hired, when assets are transferred, when investment management agreements are terminated, we act at open meetings with full public notice given where public attendance is welcomed and public comment can be heard. Members and beneficiaries of this system, members of the public and press are welcome to participate.
The New York State Opens Meetings Law recognizes certain instances when publicity can be detrimental. Public discussion and premature disclosure of deliberations of the retirement board as to investment choices, performance of investment managers and hiring and/or termination of investment managers could create a substantial risk that the markets will respond to anticipated movement of our investment portfolios.
As trustees, we have worked hard to ensure that the members of the teachers' retirement system are kept well informed and that their assets are protected. Our fiduciary responsibilities are primary. The New York State Open Meetings Law recognizes the need to exclude the public from certain discussions, in limited situations, and it would be irresponsible for us to ignore such provisions, especially in such sensitive areas as investment decision making.
We are proud of our record of prudent and creative investment. We will continue to offer our members and the public the opportunity to be heard and we welcome their input. We will also continue to adhere to the law in order to assure the effectiveness of our roles.
New York City Teachers'
As trustees of The New York City Employees' Retirement System, we write in response to your Oct. 3 editorial criticizing our use of executive session to discuss and decide investment decisions.
Your editorial mischaracterizes the New York State Open Meetings Law by stating that "we may go into executive session only for the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities ... but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof." In point of fact, in additions to foregoing, the law authorizes a public body to conduct an executive session to discuss "the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation." These exceptions provided in the law cover the activities at our investment meetings, including our decisions to retain, terminate or otherwise modify our relationship with various managers.
As trustees, we devote a great deal of time and energy to the protection of more than $22 billion in assets for more than 110,000 retirees and beneficiaries and 170,000 active members. In carrying out our fiduciary duty to these dedicated past and present employees of our city, we consider it necessary to protect their portfolio of investments from market risks that might be created by premature publicity of this information. The Open Meetings Law recognizes this responsibility and appropriately balanced the public's right to access to our deliberation with our members' needs for such protections. It is, in fact, the spirit of the law, which you refer to in you editorial, which guides us in conducting our public and executive sessions, in addition to the explicit provisions of law.
Board of Trustees
New York City Employees'