Debate, Teacher's Retirement System, Web ads

* Reading through newspaper reports, it sounds like Libertarian Kathie Glass won the debate against Bill White and the green party candidate Deb Shafto. Bud Kennedy seemed to sum up the general mood:

But in a moment that might be a metaphor for White's campaign, viewers also saw him called out by moderator Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News for turning a simple "lightning round" question into a windy, Harvard-lawyer explanation of why he wouldn't rate President Barack Obama on a scale of 1 to 10.

"Mayor White," Hoppe interrupted, "this is a lightning round."

If a debate is so important, why do we have lightning round gimmicks? Maybe there's some poetic justice there, but I feel kinda sorry for White. He obviously has some Obama connections that weigh him down in a Texas general election, but shouldn't he at least be allowed to explain in more than a number?

Also, Bill White isn't a "Harvard-lawyer." He went to law school at the University of Texas.

* Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey thinks that the Teacher's Retirement System story is a big deal. Of course, Casey is fairly partisan and pro Bill White, so perhaps he has some vested interest in the story. He certainly played down the outside report based on these allegations of Roel Campos -- a former SEC commissioner -- that found no wrongdoing.

I work in this particular investment space. It isn't particularly surprising to me that a CIO countermands the decision of an underling. That happens all the time in any industry, but particularly in this one. It's a plausible story that higher-ups wanted investments to go to their friends, because that's the way the industry works: manager selection is a batting averages game where you tend to try to pick the ones you trust and have a relationship with. Trustees and CIOs frequently have their own opinions and often don't care what their analysts and division heads think.

In that, it appears that the auditor's report agrees with me:

Campos concluded that while some TRS board members had referred some investment opportunities to agency staff, there was no evidence they pressured employees to make the investments.

He did find that Harris ran roughshod over his subordinates and sometimes made investment decisions contrary to their recommendations. Campos said Harris told him final recommendations on investments were his to make.

Of course they are his to make, because the buck stops with him. The CIO is ultimately reponsible for the investment performance.

UPDATE: I write more about the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

* Perry links Bill White to Obama and Chicago-style politics in what appears to be a web video.

Seems like the negative stuff is mostly on the web and they are staying mostly positive, but I don't watch enough TV to be sure.

Posted by Evan @ 10/20/10 01:21 PM


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