Howard college trustee named to troubled state pension board

November 21, 2001|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening named a longtime trustee of Howard Community College yesterday to a spot on the state pension board, which oversees a system struggling to recover from a loss of more than $3 billion last year.

David A. Rakes, 64, will join a board that has been the subject of dispute over its investment performance and the chairmanship of state Treasurer Richard N. Dixon.

Rakes replaces Laurel Mayor Frank P. Casula, who died last month, as the board member who represents local government employers participating in the system. Howard Community College employees are covered by the state pension fund.

The appointment does not require legislative confirmation. Rakes will serve out the remainder of Casula's term, which expires June 30.

Casula was generally an ally of Dixon's on the board and its powerful investment committee, which frequently have cast close votes on decisions involving hundreds of millions of dollars of state investments. How Rakes aligns himself could be important in the future of the board.

Rakes, a Columbia resident who is president of an entertainment promotion company, could not be reached for comment last night.

The 14-member pension board oversees a $29.5 billion system that covers 300,000 government workers and retirees. The Maryland system recently finished last in a national ranking of the investment performance of large public pension funds. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, the system lost 9.4 percent on its investments and posted dismal numbers for long-term performance.

Although Rakes lacks a background in investments, Glendening praised him for his "extensive management service and dedication to public service."

"Throughout his career, David has been responsible for overseeing, analyzing and developing budgets for federal programs and civic organizations," the governor said. "I am confident he will fully represent the members of the retirement and pension systems and work diligently to ensure their investments are protected.

Rakes is president of the Rakes Group, a Columbia entertainment promotion company he founded after 25 years of working for the federal government. During his federal career, he worked in executive positions in the Agency for International Development and the Department of Commerce.

In 1994, Gov. William Donald Schaefer named Rakes a trustee of Howard Community College. He served as chairman in 1998, when the board conducted a search that led to the hiring of Mary Ellen Duncan as the college's first female president.

Rakes is also on the board of the Columbia Association and the Long Reach Village Association. He has served on the Howard County Housing and Community Development Agency and the Maryland Commission on Human Relations.

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