Consumer eViews
         FLORIDA CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER ALEX SINK'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

         Volume 5, Number 10, March 7, 2008
 


This week marked the beginning of the 2008 Legislative Session. Over the next 60 days, elected officials representing Floridians from all walks of life will embark on the important work of the people— and there is much work to do.

Floridians are looking to lawmakers to continue services that make Florida a great place to live and visit, to use tax dollars more efficiently, and to reduce the financial risks facing Floridians. We encourage you to actively reach out to your local legislators on the issues you consider important this session.  Florida's legislators have a number of innovative ideas and need your support to pass quality legislation this legislative session.

 

Watch
CFO SINK ON CNBC

Read her letter on municipal bonds here.

 


CFO SINK UNVEILS PROPOSALS TO INCREASE SAFEGUARDS OVER INVESTMENTS AT THE STATE BOARD OF ADMINISTRATION
 
On the third day of the 2008 Legislative Session, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink unveiled ten proposals to strengthen financial safeguards over investments at the State Board of Administration (SBA).  Bringing her nearly three decades of business experience to Florida government, CFO Sink’s proposals were offered to provide a framework of ideas early in the Legislative Session.
 
“Today’s investments are different than the investments of thirty years ago, and that means we’ve got to adapt and strengthen our safeguards at the State Board of Administration,” said CFO Sink.  “I’m pleased to offer a number of strong proposals today that will increase oversight over public funds and further protect our investors.  I’m also pleased that a number of Legislators are working to strengthen our state’s financial oversight of public funds this session.”
 
CFO Sink was joined today by Jeannie Garner, the Chair of the Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP) Advisory Committee, and Wayne Blanton, Executive Director of the Florida School Board Association, who applauded her proposals on behalf of the local investors and government retirees they represent.
 
“CFO Sink’s recommendations directly address a number of concerns that local investors have had with the SBA,” said Garner.  “We’re glad the CFO is working with our local investors to highlight the importance of enacting stronger reforms this year.”
 
“I commend CFO Sink for her efforts to restore confidence in the fund and most importantly-- transparency-- in how the board conducts their business in the future,” said Blanton.  “Her proposal of increased ethics, communication and transparency will go a long way in getting the SBA back on track.”
 
In strengthening the oversight of Florida’s investments, CFO Sink’s three goals are to: protect local investors and Florida’s retirees, increase transparency and communication, and improve governance over public investments.  CFO Sink’s proposal, detailed below, included the following ten recommendations:
 
1. Determine if there is a Basis for a Lawsuit Regarding Investments Sold to the State by Investment Firms
2. Continue Recent Stabilization of Local Government Investment Pool
3. Expand and Formalize Role of Local Government Investment Pool Members
4. Increase Transparency and Communication About Investments
5. Enact New Ethics and Disclosure Legislation for Investment Advisors to State Agencies
6. Strengthen Statutory and Performance Requirements for Executive Director of the State Board of Administration
7. Expand State Board of Administration to Include Two Appointed Financial Professionals
8. Strengthen and Restructure the State Board of Administration’s Audit Committee
9. Enhance State Board of Administration’s Investment Advisory Committee
10. Segregate Risk Management Functions from Investment Decisions
 
Chief among CFO Sink’s recommendations Thursday was to perform a litigation analysis for the SBA Trustees.  Last year, Florida’s LGIP was sold several financial investments that within a short period of time defaulted or had to be restructured.  Several news reports have suggested that some financial firms may have been selling or offering advice inconsistent with their own investment strategies.  A litigation analysis prepared by the independent law firm already working for the SBA would reveal whether the LGIP has legal remedies with regard to the purchase of these investments.  CFO Sink also recommended today that companies should be required to publicly disclose when they are selling assets or offering financial advice in conflict with their own investment strategies.
 
 “The people of Florida deserve to know if there was wrongdoing with the sale of these investments to the LGIP,” said CFO Sink.  “If so, we must hold those companies that sold the investments accountable.”
 
From Florida’s cities and counties to our retired state and local employees, millions of Floridians expect sound professional financial management at the SBA.  The SBA is a constitutional entity of Florida state government that manages 30 investment funds, comprising over $184 billion in assets.  Standard and Poor’s has consistently ranked Florida’s pension fund at or among the top states, and a recent Pew Charitable Trust analysis praised Florida as a “national leader” and a “top performer” as one of only five states with a fully-funded pension.  CFO Sink is one of three Trustees of the SBA, along with Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Attorney General Bill McCollum.

CFO ALEX SINK HONORED BY THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
Former board chair left the board of the environmental nonprofit to pursue public office.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink was honored by The Nature Conservancy Thursday for her outstanding service to Florida during the eight years that she served as a member of the group’s Florida Board of Trustees.

Sink joined The Nature Conservancy board in 1998 and served as the elected chairperson from 2004-2006. During that time, the Conservancy helped protect thousands of acres statewide.

“Alex left the Conservancy board to campaign for CFO in 2006, and has been off and running —and governing — ever since. We are pleased to finally recognize her properly for her outstanding service to The Nature Conservancy,” said Jeff Danter, the Conservancy’s Florida director. “Furthermore, we applaud her leadership on the Florida Cabinet. As a member of the very important Board of Trustees of the State’s Internal Improvement Trust Fund, she has been a strong advocate for Florida Forever and land protection. As a public servant, as before on the Conservancy board, Alex Sink is a strong, effective leader on land conservation in Florida.”

During her tenure with the Conservancy, natural land was protected on the Perdido River, along the Apalachicola River, in Duval County, on the Lake Wales Ridge, in the Everglades, down to the Florida Keys. From 2003 to 2006 alone, 115,000 acres were protected in 41 projects. The award to CFO Sink reads: “For exemplary service to The Nature Conservancy and outstanding leadership of the State of Florida.”

“As a lifelong advocate of preserving our state’s natural resources, I am honored to receive this award from The Nature Conservancy,” said CFO Sink. “The Nature Conservancy plays a pivotal role, and as a statewide leader, I look forward to working with them in their efforts to preserve state lands.”


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. With funding from the voter approved Florida Forever program and our generous donors the Conservancy has helped protect more than 1.2 million acres in Florida since 1961. Visit us on the Web at nature.org/florida.


CFO SINK ANNOUNCES ARREST OF A DUVAL COUNTY MAN ON CHARGES OF INSURANCE FRAUD, GRAND THEFT, AND FORGERY
 
Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced the arrest of a Duval County man on charges he fraudulently received nearly $400,000 in life insurance from an accelerated death claim.  The arrest involves charges of alleged insurance fraud, grand theft, forgery and uttering a forged instrument.
 
Raymond J. Martinez, Jr., 49, of Jacksonville, is accused of forging a doctor's signature on a claim form submitted to New York Life Insurance Company (NYLIC).  In the form, Martinez stated he had terminal cancer and would likely live 12-months or less.  In response to his fraudulent claim Martinez received a $375,000 check from NYLIC.  Martinez, arrested last week, is currently being held in the Duval County Jail.  If convicted, he could potentially face up 30 years in prison.
 
“Insurance fraud affects everyone, from an increase in premiums for policyholders to the monetary loss of the company,” CFO Sink said. “My office will continue to ensure those who commit insurance fraud are aggressively pursued and held accountable for their devious actions.”
 
The charges stem from investigations by the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud (DIF), a sworn statewide law enforcement agency responsible for the investigation of insurance fraud.  The DIF made more than 800 insurance fraud-related arrests in the last fiscal year.
 
Insurance fraud in Florida has been estimated to cost Floridians as much as $1,400 a year per person.  The DIF investigates various forms of fraud in insurance, including health, life, auto, property and workers' compensation insurance.  Depending on the estimated loss amount, the department will pay up to $25,000 for information directly leading to an arrest and conviction.  Anyone with information about this or any other suspected insurance fraud is asked to call the department's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 1-800-378-0445 or log on to www.MyFloridaCFO.com/fraud. Complaints can be tracked online.

Money-Smart Idea of the Week

Idea:
Resolve to quit!

Many people know about the health benefits of stopping smoking, but have you thought of the financial benefits?  The average smoking Floridian could save more than $1,000 a year by simply quitting the “pack-a-day” habit.  Quitting smoking could also help you lower your life-insurance premiums significantly.

For more financial savings tips click here http://www.myfloridamoney.com/FLSaves.htm


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