| Arts |

Dallas Police and Fire Pension Boss: Fund's Risky Investments "Are Building America"

The Nasher Sculpture Center and the developers of the Museum Tower project are continuing to hammer out their white light, white heat debacle behind closed doors. They recently hired a mediator in lawyer Tom Luce, who promptly asked both sides to quit talking to the media already.

Above, however, you will see a video from George Tomasovic, a First Battalion Chief with the fire department, a licensed CPA and, most importantly, the chairman of the Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund's trustee board. In the video, Tomasovic, without making reference to any particular huge public relations disaster, insists that the pension fund's "alternative investments" are sound and represent an overall commitment to this great country of ours. Anyone who disagrees, he adds, is guilty of "old-fashioned, out-of-date thinking."

The pension fund is, of course, the owner of the Museum Tower project, and it's invested some $200 million in the building. The $3.1 billion fund has investments in all manner of things, as a recent Bloomberg article pointed out. In fact, some 52 percent of the pension fund's investments have been in "alternative" markets, like real estate, natural resources and American Idol's production company. According to one research firm quoted by Bloomberg, they're taking on more risk than any other public retirement plan in the United States.

"I don't think anyone would say you should have half your assets in alternatives," Andrew Biggs, a researcher with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, told the magazine.

Tomasovic has already addressed criticisms that the fund invested too much money in a too-speculative real estate venture. In a video released in late April on the pension fund's website (and since removed), Tomasovic assured its members that Museum Tower would be just great once it was finished.

Just two days after the Bloomberg article was released, he came out with this second video, which of course doesn't technically violate the informal gag order Luce has imposed. Throughout, Tomasovic chides the "so-called experts" who continue to criticize the fund's investment strategy.

Real estate, Tomasovic says, is just one piece of the fund's investment plan, along with stocks, bonds, private equity, and natural resources (including alternative fuel truck engines and "apples, nuts, berries, corn, potatoes, beans, and wheat" in "farms across the heart of America.")

"Frankly, I'm fed up with these so-called experts who think that social security and individual retirement accounts will save Americans from a live of poverty in their retirement," he says. "Our investment strategy is solid. We're one of the most diverse pension funds in the country...We're investing and building in America. We're creating new jobs and unmatched economic stimulus. We're creating a secure future for our members. We have the record to prove it, and anyone that doesn't get it is trapped in the mindset of the past."

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