April 6, 2008

Eyes on the Bucks

Justin Katz

Yes, there are most definitely arguments to be made for the practices, and truth be told, I've grown to be bring a mountain of skepticism to media accounts of income related to high-level government positions, but every now and then — especially in the current political and economic climate — it's difficult not to suspect that the folks at the top have no concept of what dollar amounts mean to the rest of us:

The move allowed [Michael P. Lewis] to more than triple his state pension, from $23,000 to $72,578 a year, according to state records. Last month, Lewis, 46, received the first of the Massachusetts pension checks that he will receive until he dies. As with other turnpike retirees, the state will also pay 80 percent of his health insurance for life.

Lewis also landed on his feet with a new job. He began working last month in his new position as Rhode Island's transportation secretary, earning $130,000 a year.

First, let's be honest: money given to a 46-year-old man who goes on to a well-remunerated position of responsibility isn't "retirement" money; it's a lifetime severance payment. To call it the former is deceptive and insulting to those of us who expect never to have the opportunity to retire.

Second, politicians (particularly Governor Carcieri) ought to be very sensitive, just now, to the significance of these dollar amounts to constituents. If my salary were to become $72,578 per year, it would be a life-changing development for me and for my family. The cynicism sparked by the realization that such amounts are handed out as the money that such folks as Mr. Lewis receive upon ceasing their jobs cannot be otherwise than detrimental to the body politic.

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with the combo of pay / benefits / PENSIONS / retiree health care.

As a class, public sector employees ARE the "RICH" in our society.


Posted by: Reagan Republican at April 6, 2008 3:36 PM

Don’t forget, Mr. Lewis can buy up to 5 years of service into the Employee Retirement System of Rhode Island thus giving himself a head start to 10 year tenure on a up to 75% average of top three pay grades retirement check with COLA and paid health benefits from Rhode Island.

He’s only starting at $130,000 a year so I wonder how far 5 years will take him in salary increases.

This would be on top of the Massachusetts $72,578 a year retirement check and paid health benefits.

I guess it’s time for Mr. Lewis to start looking at which state to retire in to protect his retirement income.

Posted by: Ken at April 6, 2008 8:14 PM

Watch out you are going to upset a lot of firemen and cops who have demanded, since their great-granddaddies staggered off the boat from Ireland that they have a God-given inheritable right to "retire" at 41 with full pensions, COLA's , gold-plated medical and uniform allowances.
Check the rosters for Glancy, Day, Brown, McDonald, Lynch, Partington, Ryan and so many more of the same names generation after generation.

Posted by: Mike at April 6, 2008 8:20 PM


I understand Mike, I also spent a number of years working in public safety However;

If Michael Lewis is taking the place of Jerome Williams as Rhode Island Director of Department of Transportation and Jerome Williams is taking the place of Beverly Najarian, Rhode Island Director of Administration and Beverly Najarian moving to Governors staff..

Michael Lewis pay = $130,000.00 a year

Jerome Williams pay = $143, 000 a year

Beverly Najarian pay = $113, 631 a year

How is Rhode Island raising the salary of the Director of Administration without any hearings by sliding Jerome Williams into that position?

Not only is the state payroll being increased by $130, 000 plus benefits by hiring Mr. Michael Lewis as Director of Department of Transportation, because the other two people all ready work for the state but, the position of Director of Administration is getting a $29, 369 raise.

So much for balancing the budget! Does Rhode Island have the same clause as Massachusetts that tripled Mr. Lewis’s retirement?

Posted by: Ken at April 6, 2008 9:25 PM

My 2 sons, both in their 20's make over
$100,000 yr, I made over 72,000 last year on interest and dividens alone.

3 hard working liberals here

Posted by: Ralph at April 6, 2008 9:28 PM

Congratulations on doing so well, Ralph, although I'm not sure what relevance the information has, beyond scoffing at a struggling conservative whose financial advancement liberal policies have helped to hold down.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 6, 2008 9:35 PM

Justin, I thought conservatives, struggling or not, believe in personal responsibility. You can hardly blame others for your chosen career path and its financial limitations. You could though, discover the wisdom of the American labor movement, that in its democratic approach would accept your conservative voice and would aid you in receiving fair compensation for your work.

Posted by: David at April 7, 2008 4:37 PM

I don't see where I blamed others for my career path. I merely pointed out that for most of us in the working world, the dollar amounts involved for top public officials are eye-popping.

As for financial limitations, inasmuch as I'm dedicated, educated, and reasonably creative, they would be much more burdensome were I in a union. The pay isn't what I need, yet, but I haven't been in the field very long (less time, in fact, than I spent in college).

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 7, 2008 8:02 PM
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