Governor Charlie Baker’s dismissal of the state transportation board following the transit system’s winter failures will have a ripple effect on the MBTA’s insular pension board.
The chairwoman of the board for the T’s $1.6 billion pension fund, Janice Loux, has resigned after also stepping down from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board at Baker’s request.
Loux has chaired the pension board since 2001 and was one of three management members appointed by the state transportation panel. It was unclear who will replace her as chair or fill the empty slot on the pension board.
That leaves the pension board with three members who represent employee unions and the remaining two picks from management: Jonathan Davis, chief financial officer for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and Darnell Williams, chief executive of the nonprofit Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. Williams on Thursday said he is “currently serving, and looking forward to continuing to serve the Baker administration.”
The board has a seventh member, a lawyer who serves as an honorary director and votes only in case of a tie.
Baker does not directly appoint members to the pension board. But he is expected to name a new slate of directors to the transportation board within a month, and one of those people will probably join the pension board in Loux’s place.
A spokesman for the T was unavailable for comment Thursday. Steve Crawford, a spokesman for the T pension fund, declined to comment.
The pension fund has come under scrutiny in the past year for its failure to disclose a $25 million loss at a hedge fund. Baker wants the pension fund to be more transparent about its operations, and an investigation by the attorney general’s office into the hedge fund loss is still underway.
The fund is organized as a private trust and is not obligated to follow the disclosure or ethics rules of other retirement funds for public workers in Massachusetts. With an appointee on the pension board, Baker may get a better sense of how the operation works.
Baker’s special panel charged with overhauling the transit system has recommended that the pension fund be required to submit to a more thorough independent audit.
As part of its collective bargaining agreement last fall, the Boston Carmen’s Union, Local 589, which represents transit workers, agreed to improve the pension fund’s annual report and to meet a more stringent auditing standard. In recent years, the fund’s audits have been produced long after the end of the year.
State lawmakers passed a measure in 2013 to require greater public disclosure by the pension fund, then tried to reverse themselves a year later. But then-governor Deval Patrick vetoed the latter effort, meaning the law stands.
Still, T pension fund officials and their lawyer have said they believe a 1993 Supreme Judicial Court ruling supersedes the new law.
The SJC ruling upheld the pension’s private status, exempting the fund from typical public disclosures or public meetings.
In a vote early last year, the management appointees — Loux, Williams, and Davis — supported Patrick in favor of greater disclosure. But the effort failed when the honorary director broke the tie and sided with union members in opposing additional disclosure.