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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
Dr. David Bronner described the head of the Alabama Education Association as a "schoolhouse bully" during an interview Monday.
The comments came in response to several criticisms in the most reason Alabama School Journal, the official publication of the AEA.
"This is an individual who thinks he should be the actuary" Bronner said of Dr. Henry Mabry, the Executive Secretary of the AEA."He thinks he should be the investment advisor. He really thinks he should run the place."
In the most recent AEA newsletter, Mabry wrote that the unconventional investments pursued by the RSA like hotels, office buildings, golf courses, and newspapers have been failures that have taken away from potential gains for the Teachers Retirement System, one of the three main funds of the Retirement Systems of Alabama.
"Putting money into these projects, in retrospect, has hurt the safety of the fund and we need to stop the bleeding by not putting billions more in these projects" Mabry said in an editorial.
Bronner argued that Mabry was cherry-picking his facts.
"He forgot to mention the more than $22 billion benefits we've paid out during that time span" Bronner said.
The disagreements between the AEA and RSA began at a December meeting of the TRS/PEEHIP (Public Education Employees Health Insurance Plan) Board of Control, one of the two governing boards of the RSA.
During that meeting, Mabry offered a resolution for the board to freeze health insurance rates in place for one year, as a way to guarantee AEA members and education employees that their rates wouldn't go up for another year.
The board voted 7-6 not to approve the measure.
RSA's chief legal counsel, as well as Bronner, later said that it would not have been a prudent long-term move for the TRS board to freeze health insurance rates for 2013.
Shortly thereafter, Mabry published the names and photographs of the elected PEEHIP board members who voted against the proposal. There is currently a run-off election underway to decide on who will fill those seats starting in July 2014.
Mabry contends that he is not trying to gain control of the board. Mabry wrote, "This writer has not worked to take over the board, and this writer has no interest in micromanaging TRS, as asserted."
In response to Mabry, Bronner said "It's terribly misleading. It's incorrect and it's quite embarrassing if you want to know the truth for all of us who have worked hard for forty years."
Bronner also said that Mabry "has no knowledge" when it comes to investing and he even alluded to Mabry's time as finance director for then-governor Don Siegelman, who is now serving a prison sentence in a federal penitentiary for bribery and conspiracy charges.
"If he was really a good finance director, you know like I was at one time, should protect the governor (from bad decisions)" Bronner said. "He should do everything possible for that governor to be successful and keep him out of jail. He never succeeded at any of that."
Bronner says he has continued to work to keep the fund solvent. When asked what he thought would happen if the AEA had a controlling stake on the board he said, "It would be a disaster."
As a matter of public discloser, the Retirement Systems of Alabama is the primary lender to Raycom Media, the parent company of this television station.