Over the top on Nappier
Pensions & Investments' reporting on events involving the $22 billion Connecticut state treasury has been largely unremarkable. That is until just recently. Beginning with your Dec. 25 report on the departure of the new chief investment officer, and culminating in your Jan. 5 editorial, "Let's talk," P&I has misfired, hitting several false notes. P&I goes "over the top" in its criticism of Connecticut state Treasurer Denise L. Nappier. Normally, criticism is no big deal. In this case, however, despite several hours of poring over previous P&I editorials, I could not find another instance where P&I took such a position against an elected public official.
Clearly, something went wrong between Ms. Nappier and Thomas E. Flanigan. However, at this time, the matter really exists in a fact vacuum. All that is really known for sure is that Mr. Flanigan is gone, and that facts surrounding his departure are largely unclear. To her credit, the treasurer's office in a Dec. 15 press release stated that the matter had nothing to do with Mr. Flanigan's "personal integrity or investment acumen."
We also know that Ms. Nappier, in 21 months of service, has continued her record of outstanding public service, both in delivering outstanding investment performance and in the area of administering a complicated office in the best interests of all its stakeholders. Ms. Nappier's leadership has been inspirational to those who were pleased at the election of the first African-American woman as a state treasurer in the United States, the first African-American woman elected to a statewide office in Connecticut and the first woman elected treasurer in state history.
Therefore, upon reading P&I's charge that Ms. Nappier "failed to disclose, communicate and administer" her office, I felt compelled to express my opinion that you are way off base, and often just plain wrong. Overall, your editorial elevates what is probably an unremarkable personnel matter into something that appears to be, well, rather personal - and unfairly directed toward Ms. Nappier.
Over nearly 12 years of continuous public service, Ms. Nappier has earned high marks for her personal deportment. As such, P&I in its Dec. 25 issue should not have published negative and personal remarks about her from sources unwilling to go on the record. Those remarks appear designed to bolster the impression that Mr. Flanigan was somehow mistreated, or that Ms. Nappier's behavior was in some way inappropriate.
As we have seen recently at the national level, it is not always easy to appoint and install people into high-level positions. As such, there can be many reasons for Mr. Flanigan's departure. It is likely that we will learn about some, but we may never be privy to all the information about what is essentially a private personnel matter. I hope that we agree that Ms. Nappier's public remarks in no way can be construed to harm Mr. Flanigan's future opportunities. Such behavior would represent a radical departure from the character that she has established over many years of public service.
P&I should also re-evaluate its statements about the stability of the treasurer's office. Upon checking, I confirmed that former Treasurer Henry Parker served for 11 years. The shortest tenures were both gentlemen appointed to the office, including the disgraced Paul Silvester.
For her part, Ms. Nappier has built a career on stability, having successfully served as treasurer of the city of Hartford for nearly 10 years. As such, she brought more qualifications to the position of state treasurer than any treasurer in recent memory.
Unfortunately, Mr. Silvester's crimes forced Ms. Nappier to expend valuable time doing things other than executing her strategy and vision of how best to achieve the main priority of the office, namely, what is best for the pension plan and its assets. The reverberations from the mess she inherited continue. Her response has been right on the money. She has calmly led a process to institute reforms designed to restore public confidence in the office. Today, public confidence in the office does appear to be restored.
P&I should take a step back and allow this matter to run its course, and keep focused on the big picture.
P. Wayne Moore
president and CEO
Greystone Capital Management