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Lawmakers must act to stop public pension padding

Monday, October 21, 2013
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Lawmakers must act to stop public pension padding

The biggest problem with elected officials is that far too often, when the piper has to be paid for poor decisions, those responsible can no longer be held accountable.

Look no further than the labor contracts for police and firefighters for proof.

I don’t want to hear the bull about it being a dangerous job. You want dangerous? A master sergeant in the U. S. Army who retires after 24 and a half years will receive $1,702 per month. That comes to $20,424 per year. No matter how many tours of duty he may have served in combat. No matter how many 18-hour days he has put in. No matter how many Purple Hearts he has been awarded. That is all he will be entitled to after he retires.

He does not get to stack up overtime in his last few years to pad his retirement income. He is not allowed to, in effect, steal money from the taxpayers forever. He is stuck with his base pay, as he knew he would be when he enlisted.

Allowing overtime and other compensation to affect retirement pay is essentially a license to steal. Many retire at amounts exceeding the base pay they received when actually doing their jobs. They do this with the knowledge and help of their peers, who know the same will be done for them. I cannot accept that as being a reasonable benefit for the public.

I do not blame those who use the terms of the contracts for self-benefit. They did not write or sign the contracts. They are no different from rich people who use loopholes in tax laws to avoid taxes. The stupidity belongs to the elected officials who said that these stipulations, in either law or contract, were in the best interest of the public they mis-serve.

If an elected official must sign a contract under duress, then a sunset provision should be attached to limit any untenable long-term damage. Negotiations for more acceptable terms should begin at signing. If we are unable to alter the employment contracts of current employees, what prevents us from establishing different terms for future hires before the carrying costs of retirees are our biggest expense?

Frank Elfland

Charlton

Story on Spa gun show, SAFE Act, incomplete

I was appalled by the Oct. 15 story on the visit to the Saratoga gun show by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and [Attorney General] Eric T. Schneiderman, and how the New York state’s so-called “SAFE Act” was portrayed. Obviously neither you nor Gabby Gifford nor Eric Schneiderman talked to any of the rank-and-file folks attending the show.

The way the Safe Act was portrayed was shameful: It is an illegal law passed in the dark of night by unethical people. Via the governor’s continued misuse of the message of necessity, it violated the state Constitution’s “three-day rule” by denying people the chance (and right) to petition their government.

It also violates the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Fifty New York counties have voted to oppose the so-called “SAFE Act” so far.

Other than the obvious illegal nature of the law, one of my biggest issues with it is the seven-bullet rule that our governor insisted upon. Taking bullets out of the gun I keep primarily for protection of myself and my family was quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever been forced to do!

I have lived in this state, worked and paid my taxes for 46 years. I have never felt more like moving to a state where our personal freedoms are not trampled on like New York, with its so-called “SAFE Act.” If this is setting the stage for the rest of the United States, God help us!

Shaun Montgomery

Broadalbin

Albany airport needs I-87 Exit 4 rebuilt

Albany International Airport is a gateway connecting the Capital Region with businesses, investors and entrepreneurs across the world. In recent years, the airport has benefitted from a number of improvements. However, in order to fully realize its potential, it is necessary to redesign and rebuild Northway Exit 4.

Exit 4 remains an outdated access point for the airport, resulting in traffic congestion, delays for travelers and inefficiencies for businesses transporting goods and personnel. Since infrastructure improvements are one of the most important forms of economic development, overhauling Exit 4 would spur job creation in construction and supply sectors, while making travel more efficient and supporting businesses throughout the Capital Region.

That’s why I support the proposal currently under consideration as part of the third round of Gov. Cuomo’s regional economic development councils. It would allot $28 million for necessary improvements, paid for by the Albany County Airport Authority, Albany County and the town of Colonie. State and federal transportation dollars would provide additional funding.

If approved, this public-private partnership would pay dividends for the region for decades to come.

Phil Steck

Albany

The writer is an assemblyman.

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