Nov. 11, 2004 The decision of the Government Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees to terminate the employment of Laurence E. Bryan, GERS executive director, has angered not only the system's employees but has prompted one senator to demand answers.
Sen. Lorraine Berry, in a letter to board chairman Raymond James Monday, said she was "stunned" by Bryan's sudden termination and demanded that the GERS Board send an explanatory letter or report to the Legislature indicating its reason for dismissing Bryan.
"Your position on the GERS is extremely important and your fiduciary responsibility is immense," Berry wrote to James. "We cannot take lightly a sudden sacking without a formal explanation."
In addition to the letter of explanation, Berry requested the report, analysis or expert testimony that led to Bryan's termination. She also requested a copy of the contract that led to the report, the request for proposal used to solicit the contractor and copies of the minutes of the meeting relating to Bryan's termination.
Berry gave James until Nov. 17 to provide the documents to the Legislature and informed him that a legislative hearing would follow.
"Based on a preliminary investigation by my office, I am astounded by the lack of professionalism and the tremendous haste of your leadership," Berry said. "Further, I have been inundated with calls by retirees and concerned citizens who are afraid of what the new 'direction' of the GERS may be."
According to Berry, approximately 9,000 retirees are affected by the decisions of the GERS board and, by extension, 10 percent of the population.
Bryan was terminated Nov. 6 during a board meeting of the trustees. At that time the board gave no reason for its decision except to say it wanted to "move in a new direction." Willis Todman was appointed as the acting executive director and will assume Bryan's duties in the interim. (See "GERS Board Fires Bryan; Employees Protest").
GERS employees, upon hearing of Bryan's termination walked off the job in support of Bryan. The employees subsequently returned to work Monday. (See "GERS Workers Back to Work After Protest").
Berry said Thursday she had not heard from James as yet but she is pushing for the support of her colleagues to expedite a Senate hearing on the matter, whether or not James responded.
"This is our pension fund we're talking about," Berry said. "We as government employees need to know what's going on."
James could not be reached for comment Thursday.
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