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Why do TVARS board meetings remain closed?

Within the next couple of months, the TVARS board must vote on a contribution amount to recommend that TVA make in fiscal year 2014. In conjunction with the contribution amount, it is possible the vote will include amendments to the rules.

In conjunction with the contribution amount in 2009, the rules were amended to:
  1. suspend contribution requirements and related actuarial valuations for four years (Section 9B9);
  2. suspend the requirement that part of the contribution go to the “excess COLA account,” which was designed to accumulate and grow funds to be used for payment of future COLAs (Sections 9B9, 10D1 and 10D2); and
  3. reduce legitimate accrued pension benefits (Sections 6I, 7L and 18C3).
The vote in 2009 was not open to observation, and unless the TVARS board takes action, neither will the vote this year. Not one of the six other TVARS board members would second the motion I made in December to open TVARS meetings to observation. All that is required to open future board meetings is for four of the seven board members to vote to approve it. This can easily be accomplished in a few days through a special meeting called by the chairman or any three board members.

Many of you told me that you sent e-mails to TVARS board members about this issue in the past, but I was the only one who responded. It is possible these e-mails were trapped by spam filters and the board members had difficulty identifying and retrieving them. To insure this doesn’t happen in the future, I would be happy to forward any e-mails from you to the entire TVARS board. Please e-mail them to me at ljmuzyn@tva.gov. I will copy you on the e-mail I forward so that the TVARS board members can easily reply to you. Unless you tell me otherwise, I may share parts of your e-mail with others, but only after I remove all personally identifiable information.

Comments

  1. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 11:01 AM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    As a member of the TVARS, I feel it is the duty of our elected AND appointed representatives to operate in the Sunshine. Making decisions behind closed doors is not the morally correct way to manage a retirement fund that affects the lives of thousands of people.
    If any Board Member feels that they cannot take ownership of their vote on any issue, then now is the time for them to resign and find another job. We all know at some point that Board Members do have to make hard decision for the good of the system, however, in making those decisions if a Board Member is not fully informed and prepared to explain why they voted the way they did, then something is wrong.
    All of the retirement system members have a VESTED interest in seeing that the plan is a success. We are all stockholders and should be treated as such. We should be able to attend Board meetings and with prior approval allocated time to address the Board if desired.
    At the present time the current Board is operating in a vacuum and restricting the open flow of information. My question is what is the Board of Directors afraid of? Is the Board voting in the best interest of the TVARS members or in the best interest of TVA upper management?

    Respectfully,

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 1:08 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    Leonard,

    Thank you for always being straightforward and honest with members of the retirement system, but more than that I want to commend your openness. I don't understand why the board wants to keep meetings closed, generally if someone is doing a good job they don't want to hide. As treasurer of my neighborhood association I wouldn't think of keeping financial decisions and transactions hidden from the members, after all it's their money. As you are aware, we have earned this benefit as part of the agreed compensation package when we were hired, just as we've earned our paychecks over the years.
    Please pass along to the other board members that those of us approaching retirement, as well as folks who are already retired, are very concerned about the future and we would like to know that decisions are being made in the interest of all, including TVA, not just TVA.

    Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sent: Monday, May 13, 2013 4:53 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board
    To TVARS Board Members.
    I don’t think you are doing a very good job of representing my best interests on the TVARS Board. I have trouble understanding why you won’t second a motion to open the TVARS board meetings to observation.
    I think you should open the meetings to observation and I am requesting that you do this before you vote on a contribution amount to recommend that TVA make in 2014, also don’t include amendments to the rules.

    Thank you,

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 1:05 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    TVARS Board Members,
    Please join Leonard in voting to open all TVARS meetings and make them public. TVA should have nothing to hide nor should the TVARS Board. The Retirees and active members should have the right to observe any of these meetings.

    Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 3:04 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    To the TVARS board, I strongly recommend you open the board meetings to at least the members of TVA retirement. You should support the TVARS not work against it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sent: Monday, May 13, 2013 8:58 AM
    Subject: TVARS board meetings

    Please forward to TVARS Board.
    May 13, 2013
    To: TVARS Board
    Dear Madam and Sirs:

    I understand that within the next couple of months the TVARS board will vote on a contribution amount to recommend to TVA for fiscal year 2014. I am writing this letter to request TVARS Board seriously considers, and votes on positively, a proposed motion to open TVARS meetings to observation. In December 2012, the record shows not one of the six other TVARS board members would second a motion Leonard Muzyn made to open TVARS meetings to observation. I request TVARS board takes decisive and timely action, through a special meeting called by the chairman or any three board members, to vote on this motion. Meetings should be made open to observation before any 2014 contribution amount discussions and prior recommendation to TVA.

    In 2009 the TVARS vote was not open to observation during which significant amendments to the rules were made, including:
    1) Suspend contribution requirements and related actuarial valuations for four years (Section 9B9);
    2) Suspend the requirement that part of the contribution go to the “excess COLA account,” which was designed to accumulate and grow funds to be used for payment of future COLAs (Sections 9B9, 10D1 and 10D2); and
    3) Reduce accrued pension benefits (Sections 6I, 7L and 18C3).

    It is also possible this year’s vote will include further amendments to the rules. Any discussions regarding amendments to the rules should also be made open to observation.

    Sincerely,

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 10:09 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    TVARS Board,
    Having worked hard as TVA employee for over 28 years and investing in my retirement, I left TVA as a retiree with the thought that I would have security of the agreement I made with the company to support nuclear power for the valley. I have become shocked that not only is my security of my investment and TVA's promise being "wheeled and dealed" behind closed doors. But I have NO say or vote even for those that hold my future security in their hands. In addition, I don't even know what they are doing and only find out though hearsay. I feel that not only should we retiree's be able to vote for our TVAR board members as do the TVA employee's but any meeting that the TVAR's conducts should be open to the public. I ask why they wouldn't be open, unless there is unfair dealings that they do not want made public.

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 8:28 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    To the TVARS Board:

    I understand that in the next few months, the TVARS Board will vote to recommend to TVA an amount TVA will contribute to the TVARS in fiscal year 2014. I further understand the vote will possibly include amendments to the rules and regulations under which TVA and the TVARS are bound.

    As we all know, TVARS Board meetings are not open to the membership. This policy of closed meetings raised little concern when TVA and the TVARS worked in a coordinated way to keep the retirement system on solid financial ground. The policy became questionable, in my opinion, when TVA's funding of the system fell short of the system's needs, leading to speculation that possibly some recommendations made and voted on by the TVARS Board were not in the best interest of the membership.

    I would request, therefore, that the TVARS Board open its meetings to the membership or its representatives. I would further recommend that the Board consider providing an opportunity for those of the membership, or its representatives, present at the meeting to speak before the Board and ask questions of the Board regarding the proceedings of the meeting.

    I believe that adoption of the above request and recommendation would go far to suppress the growing distrust between TVARS Board members and the membership.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 7:39 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    Please vote to open up the meetings.
    Retired after 30 years with TVA

    Sent from my iPhone

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sent: Monday, May 13, 2013 12:07 PM
    Subject: Re: Why do TVARS board meetings remain closed?

    I would like to see the TVARS meetings open for observation. This should be an available option especially to TVA Retirees and the TVA membership at large. Please forward this request to TVARS Board Members on my behalf since they did not receive my other similar request.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 12:26 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    Leonard - I want the TVARS Board meetings to be open to plan participants but not the general public. Please pass this along to the TVARS Board.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 5:41 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    I feel that all board meetings should be open to the public and preannounced; that COLAs should be funded and compounded annually as specified in the Retirement System's bylaws; that TVA should provide annual funding regardless of the system's level of funding; and that TVA should make up for the many years of no contributions from the past.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 12:46 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    It is my firm belief that TVARS Board meetings should be open to the system membership and that provision shall be made for the Board to go into executive session to discuss confidential matters. I believe that openness of TVARS Board meetings to the membership meets the spirit and intent of Section 5 of the Board’s governess policy entitled “Transparency” and Sunshine laws and fosters honest and impartial communication and business. The TVARS Board exercises authority in creating binding laws which have financial effect on the thousands of TVARS members. For this reason, TVARS Board meetings should be accessible to the membership.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 12:19 PM
    Subject: To TVARS Board

    As a recent retiree(Dad and brother also retires) I am shocked to learn that "our" TVARS Board meetings are closed the membership . Active and Retired members are trusting you guys with our livelyhood . I realize that there are times when sentiment issues need closed discussion , but not all meetings . Those of you who do not support . Mr. Muzyn motion have sowed seeds of distrust . I recall a fossil retiree picnic where a board member said he was supporting us , I don't believe any of you would trust a financial instruction that never allowed any open meetings ! WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF ?
    Sent from my iPad

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sent: Sunday, May 19, 2013 8:27 PM
    Subject: Re: E-mails sent to TVARS board members re Closed Meetings

    I want to say that I support Leonard and the statements in the paragraphs above. The other board members are not supporting the members. Why?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Leonard,
    I agree whole heartedly with the comments above:

    "It is my firm belief that TVARS Board meetings should be open to the system membership and that provision shall be made for the Board to go into executive session to discuss confidential matters. I believe that openness of TVARS Board meetings to the membership meets the spirit and intent of Section 5 of the Board’s governess policy entitled “Transparency” and Sunshine laws and fosters honest and impartial communication and business. The TVARS Board exercises authority in creating binding laws which have financial effect on the thousands of TVARS members. For this reason, TVARS Board meetings should be accessible to the membership."

    Failure to be open and transparent leads one to believe there is something to "hide" and that decisions are being made without concern for ALL involved parties.
    Ask the Board members how they would react if the shoe was on the other foot....ie if voting was being done behind their backs which would impact them for the rest of their lives?
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sent: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 4:13 PM
    Subject: Re: E-mails sent to TVARS board members re Closed Meetings

    What is the TVARS board afraid of, people tend to hide behind closed doors when they have something to hide. The TVARS board members were elected to "serve" the membership, by hiding behind closed doors it gives the appearance that some of the board members are not serving the membership but have their own "little" agenda. I want to add my voice to the many and ask that you have open sessions.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sent: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 8:30 AM
    To: Bays, Leslie P; Troyani, Anthony L Jr; Muzyn, Leonard J Jr; Hairston, Peyton T Jr; Hoskins, John M; Wilson, Tammy W; Stokes, Allen E
    Subject: TVARS meetings

    This email is to respectfully request the TVARS Board to begin allowing employees and retirees to attend the board meetings. I have been requesting open board meetings for many years now and have yet to receive any response from anyone other than Mr. Muzyn. I discussed this topic with Phil Reynolds before his retirement and he indicated all it would take would me for a board member to make the motion and have it seconded so it could be put up for a vote.

    I cannot understand why NO ONE other than Mr. Muzyn believes the members should have the right to attend the meetings where decisions are made concerning our money. We are living in a world of ‘transparency’ now and all of you should show good faith to the members by voting for open board meetings. I don’t believe anything concerning my retirement should be considered ‘secret’ or ‘confidential.’ You are stewards of my annuity and pension and should be willing to be open and up-front about any and all decisions.

    When Mr. Troyani and Mr. Bays were running for a position on the board, they campaigned to be on the side of the employees and retirees – to be our voice on the board - but we’ve not heard anything from them that indicates they are representing us.

    What is the board afraid employees and retirees will find out? What is the board trying to hide from us? What is so wrong with the members being a part of the board meetings? Can someone please tell us?

    ReplyDelete

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