New York still has a long way to go toward pension reform

Monday, May 6, 2013
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New York still has a long way to go toward pension reform

Re April 28 AP article, “Crime does pay for state leaders”: For years, we have been hearing about the unfairness of the state pension system by those who can retire from some public-sector positions after 20 or 25 years and receive hefty pensions while working another public-sector job.

There are cases of triple dipping. And then there are (as you reported) the cases of [former Comptroller Alan] Hevesi getting $105,941: [Former state Sen. Carl] Kruger getting $58,000 and [Former Sen. Nicholas] Spano getting $70,154 a year while in prison. On the local level, we have [convicted arsonist Steven] Raucci, who has a pension of $79,000 while in jail.

Most unfair, I feel, is the state tax system, which allows gives private sector [a tax break] on the first $20,000 of their pensions (if they have them), but public sector employees do not have to pay state tax on any amount of their pension.

It has been pointed out there are several thousand getting over $100,000 a year in pensions, and there are many more who get over $50,000. A lot of it is padded by putting overtime and unused sick pay in the last year of service, which many pensions are based on, making it hard for local governments to produce budgets. Then there is the perk of having taxpayers pay their monthly Medicare payments.

Fortunately Gov. Cuomo is trying to make the system more fair by having new public-sector employees contribute more to their pensions so taxpayers do not have to pick up such a large tab. However, it seems it is impossible to change the contract with public-sector workers since there is such a large number of them, and politicians feel the need to get re-elected.

What about creating a new law to at least make it impossible for felons to get these hefty pensions? Why not write a law to charge them room and board while they are in jail? They can certainly afford it. That way taxpayers are not hit twice to take care of them.

And I am willing to bet 99 percent of public-sector workers would go along.

Mary Kuykendall Weber

Middle Grove

Don’t take subject of insurance fraud lightly

The May 2 cartoon, “Real Life Adventures,” shows two seemingly normal, everyday folks discussing serious insurance fraud.

What is it about our society that causes such a “me-first, get-what-you-can-at-any-cost. regardless-of-whether-it’s-right-or-wrong” attitude in our society? Why do so many of us feel like it’s OK to cheat on seemingly innocuous things like taxes and insurance? Why are really criminal things like shoplifting, littering and driving while intoxicated so common?

I realize it’s only a comic, but truth can often be found in humor. Something is seriously wrong in our society when basic honesty and civility is treated so cavalierly.

Frank L. Palmeri


Senators who sold out on gun safety will be sorry

I am a hunter who hunts with guns. I am for background checks, and I vote.

The senators who voted against gun [sale] background checks are greedy, yellow-bellied cowards, kowtowing to the lies promoted by the gun and ammunition manufacturers’ lobby and the radical minority of the National Rifle Association.

They are more in fear of losing their Senate seat than in honestly representing the will of the majority of their constituents. They should be ashamed for breaking their oath of office by putting personal interests ahead of what’s best for their country. I don’t understand how they can look at themselves in a mirror.

I hope they realize that the imaginary Second Amendment slippery slope they use as an excuse for their vote is nothing compared to the slippery slope they have taken toward their failed re-election.

I will do all I can to ensure that they are not re-nominated for the Senate, and if they are nominated, that they are defeated.

Charles Rielly


Benefits far outweigh risks of HPV vaccine

Most people are unaware that human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection and that they will probably become infected over the course of their lifetime and not even know it.

People are too quick to judge the newly leading vaccine by the negative publicity it has gotten, and I strongly suggest that people do their research before letting that impact their decision on whether to receive it or not. The vaccine is used for the prevention of cervical cancer in women, as well as protecting males and females from four harmful strains of HPV.

This cost-effective vaccine can save lives and reduce further risk of precancerous cells, so why not become an informed consumer and see that the benefits outweigh the risks?

Megan Toor


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May 6, 2013
5:19 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

Hey Charles you are entitled to do what you want. You sound more like a liberal pretending to be a hunter then a true hunter so stop the act. What you lefties always do is rant that someone is lying yet never explain what the lie is or how it is a lie. The background check would in fact be supported by everyone including the NRA if they had faith the Democrats were not born liars. This is how they will create a registry and you simply cant be so stupid you don't realize that, but I could be wrong. You love saying "Bush lied" because he acted on the information given to him, well the NRA
acts on the information given to them and all Americans and that is that Democrats are
are untrustworthy weasels.

May 7, 2013
4:51 p.m.
biwemple says...

Pension reform will simply not occur until communities start declaring bankruptcy and judges start invalidating these contracts in the bankruptcy process perhaps. State workers are surely entitled to a pension when they retire, but the OT padding, double-dipping, and other manipulations need to stop. I do not look forward to that day because some real honest workers will get hurt financially, but I have a strong feeling that these bankruptcies will start occurring and changes will have to occur. I think the tipping point has already been reached. Those who gamed the system are going to cost others a lot of money when this unsustainable system caves in.

May 8, 2013
8:47 p.m.
cheeseburger says...

get rid of these bloated pensions that cops and firemen abuse. go to a 400k. clean up this abuse. cops retirering at 70,000.00 is sick.

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