Mayor Peduto wants pension funds divested from fossil fuels, firearms and for-profit prisons

Via Pittsburg Post-Gazette

Mayor Bill Peduto wants all city pension funds to be divested from fossil fuel, firearms and for-profit prison industries.

In a letter he sent Friday to the board members of the Comprehensive Municipal Pension Trust Fund, Mr. Peduto requested specifically that the board now “develop and execute a divestment strategy” from fossil fuel companies “that have contributed to and are exacerbating climate change”; from firearms and ammunition manufacturers that “contribute to mass casualties”; and from for-profit prisons that “are profiting off vulnerable inmates.”

He wrote that the city “has a history of exercising both moral and financial authority,” citing instances when the board divested funds from companies associated with apartheid in South Africa and child labor.

Mr. Peduto sits on the seven-member board.

The city’s investments in fossil fuels, firearms manufacturing and for-profit prisons “are not really high to begin with,” said Adam Hoffman, the internal auditor for the pension fund with the city’s Finance Department, though he did not provide specific figures.

Ralph Sicuro, board chair and Fireman’s Relief and Pension Fund representative, could not be reached for comment.

The city’s total fund investment was just over $463 million at the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Depending on the market, the trust fund fluctuates between $450 million and $500 million and includes police, firefighters and municipal employee pensions, according to the city controller’s office.

The administration joins several cities that are considering or that have begun divestiture mainly from fossil fuels, largely under the guidance of C40, an advocacy network of 94 cities to which Pittsburgh belongs.

Larger cities, including New York City, Montreal and London, have already divested from fossil fuels.

Majestic Lane, director of the city’s new Office of Equity, attended a C40 conference in London last month, where divestiture was discussed.

“Most cities are focused on the fossil fuels side, but since we see it as part of our equity relaunch, we wanted to put some other impacts in there on the community,” Timothy McNulty, Mr. Peduto’s spokesman, said regarding firearms and for-profit prisons industries.

Marquette Associates, which has offices in Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and St. Louis, manages the fund.

Marquette did not respond to requests for information on what percentage is invested in the industries singled out by Mr. Peduto.

Other pension fund board members are City Controller Michael Lamb, council President Bruce Kraus, Human Resources Director Janet Manuel, Policeman’s Relief and Pension Fund representative Richard Ruffolo, and Municipal Pension Fund representative Ryan Herbinko.

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