January 30, 2009

A Get What You Can Society

Justin Katz

It's difficult not to rub one's eyes and look again:

Despite crippling losses, multibillion-dollar bailouts and the passing of some of the most prominent names in the business, employees at financial companies in New York, the now-diminished world capital of capital, collected an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses for the year.

That was the sixth-largest haul on record, according to a report released Wednesday by the New York State comptroller.

That's the culture, though: Whether left, right, or center, take what you can. For their part, lefties and unionists can hardly complain on principle, but only on scale. News from Tiverton:

Two senior officers in Tiverton's police department have announced their imminent retirements. They are Deputy Chief Nicholas A. Maltais, 42, and Detective Sergeant Charles R. Mulcahy, 44.

Deputy Chief Nicholas A. Maltais will retire effective March 30, 2009. Although known for some time to have been considering retirement — he’s been with the department for 21 years — the timing of his departure now is in part related to pension reduction proposals outlined by Governor Donald Carcieri that would take effect April 1. That cutoff date is causing public employee retirements statewide. ...

Deputy Maltais earns $67,322 annually. When he retires he will have 145 days of unused sick leave that the town will buy out in a lump sum for an estimated $38,000.

Sergeant Mulcahy, who could not be reached for comment, earns a salary estimated at $56,000, according to town budget documents. His unused sick leave, and the amount of any town buyout, are unknown.

Both men will draw pensions from the police pension fund that equal 52 percent of the average of their three highest years with the department. Deputy Maltais is entitled to approximately $35,000 annually.

If Maltais lives to be 80, his total payments will be $2,420,581, or $115,266 for each year that he worked. Forty-five percent of that number, $1,090,581, is due to cost-of-living increases. In the 38th year of his pension, the payment will be $104,482.90. (That strikes even me as a very high number, so please correct me if I've erred in my calculations.)

Says Maltais:

"I feel comfortable in my decision to retire at this time. I'm looking into other opportunities. I really value family and look forward to spending time with my two sons. This is time you never get back."

Many a private-sector father knows the feeling, although most of us have no option but to watch the time slip away from behind our desks, our steering wheels, or our machine controls.

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Amen to that!

This is exactly the example that so frosts my keester.

I am so sick and tired of trudging off to work so that I can carry 40-somthing year-young Union RETIREES on my back.

The one item you should add to this analysis is the SMALL amount of money that these individuals contributed towards their lush GUARANTEED Retirement, as they love to naively crow that they contributed in a meaningful way.

With all due respect to Bob Walsh, who apparently is recovering from an unfortunate illness, this is yet another in-defensible example of why we need Pension REFORM starting yesterday, regardless of the shell-game "Walshian Assumptions" one choses to use.

Enough is enough!

Posted by: George Elbow at January 30, 2009 9:02 PM

Don't forget the health care!

Posted by: John at January 30, 2009 10:11 PM

Hi, Justin... I had to write my first comment in 6 weeks+ because - yes - you heard right - I completely agree with two of your comments here. Like Obama, and MANY people on the right, left & center, the Wall Street bonus system STILL in place is truly disgusting. I favor bonuses for merit for excellent work, but in a deep recession those figures are sickening.
Also, in the case of local and state pensions, etc., the system has gotten way out of control. The pension rules need to be rewritten. I believe hard workers should get pensions, and that everyone should get health care, but for towns to be locked in to 40 years of payments to a retiree at 42 after just 20 years of work is just absurd. Pensions were designed to support people in retirement, not people starting 2nd careers. This is not something to ONLY blame unions for. Most unions are not greedy and corrupt-- though some in RI are-- look at the construction industries more than the teachers. Unions will take "deals" like the TIV police have if they are offered them- I can't really say I blame them for taking such a "gift". We don't need to eliminate unions or pensions - we need reform so that people get fair pensions at retirement, and good health care for all- but eliminate all the unfair moneygrubbing evidenced by the police. When a group gets power they always take too much. Sometimes it's unions, sometimes politicians, sometimes other special interests groups like Wall Streeters, even the military (pensions & health care sweet there after 20-25 years...

Thanks for saying things I can say "yes" to! Richard

Posted by: Richard at January 31, 2009 1:32 AM

"for towns to be locked in to 40 years of payments to a retiree at 42 after just 20 years of work is just absurd."

Gee, what makes you think that?
Actually, it's worse than that with the COLA's, health care, uniform allowance, etc. A 42 year old retiree making $80,000 will be getting $320,000 by the time they (or there survivor, including "gay couples") turn 90.
Not including health care, which is growing exponentially.
Not including the ludicrous "uniform allowance".
It's even worse for those who "become disabled" in their 20's like that killer cop in Cranston who is STILL collecting his pension (just got a COLA) in the ACI thanks to the Marie Antoinette "screw the taxpayer" administration of Providence's corrupt toxic waste progressive mayor.

Posted by: Mike at January 31, 2009 8:41 AM

Can anyone sum up what the retirement benefits are for teachers these days?

Posted by: thinkaboutit at January 31, 2009 10:32 AM


Apparently you didn't get the memo from Mr. Bob Walsh, Executive Director of the NEA.

Using the "Walshian Assumptions", the effectively bankrupt Pension Fund is on track to be fully funded within 22 short years, thus negating any need for meaningful Pension Reform. LOL.

This issue is no longer debateable. We are in good hands, as Mr. Walsh and other Pension beneficiaries who were part of a "Commission" gave this issue a good "study" and assured us that things are fine and that we should not dare question why it is reasonable for an employee, who after contributing a mere 9+% of their Salary for 20 - 25 years, should be ENTITLED to collect a GUARANTEED Pension that grows by 3% per year for 30 - 40 years, regardless of what the market has earned or lost on their contributions.

Your role is not to question. Rather, it is to trudge off to work each day until you die in order to help fund the Pensions of our hardly-working 42-year-young Retiree "heroes".

Posted by: George Elbow at January 31, 2009 1:32 PM

Did you really just go from CEO bonuses to pension benefits for cops?

Even for you that is a leap.

Justin, maybe instead of fighting to take things away from everyone else you should try fighting to get more for yourself.

Posted by: Pat Crowley at January 31, 2009 4:09 PM

As a point of fact, decreasing municipal and state payments to public-sector workers ultimately does "get more" for me, by allowing me to keep more of what I earn elsewhere.

But — and I'll elaborate if this is foreign to you — lining my pockets and "getting more" isn't a core motivation for my activities.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 31, 2009 4:14 PM

"Can anyone sum up what the retirement benefits are for teachers these days?"

Make that all state and local employees.

Did George Elbow answer your question, Thinkaboutit, or is further elaboration needed?

Posted by: Monique at January 31, 2009 8:23 PM

"Can anyone sum up what the retirement benefits are for teachers these days?"

My CPA uncle told me that to buy a private annuity which would provide the benefits given to a 55 year old retiring teacher today-$60,000 plus COLA's plus free health care for life-would cost AT LEAST $2 million.
That's right. The average teacher retiring today costs us TWO MILLION DOLLARS EACH.
Any doubt now why the state is broke?
Anyone out there think NH provides these absurd benefits to its teachers?

Posted by: Mike at January 31, 2009 8:48 PM

>>Can anyone sum up what the retirement benefits are for teachers these days?

It’s all on the web.



“If you are a state employee or public school teacher, you can retire with 28 years of service or at age 60 with 10 years of contributing service service if you are in Schedule A (vested as of 7/1/05). Schedule B members (vested after 7/1/05) may retire at age 65 with 10 years of service, or at age 59 with 29 years of service.”

In other words, for teachers hired before 7/1/1995 (“Schedule A”) there’s no minimum retirement age. According to the site, they can get an annual pension of up to 80% of the average of their highest consecutive three years pay (I believe that often teachers on the cusp of retiring goose this amount upward by taking advantage of the a la carte pay in teachers contracts that provide extra pay for things like serving as a department head, involvement with after-school activities and such).

For those hired after July 1, 1995, it’s 75% and a minimum retirement age of only 59. It is this latter group that Bob Walsh used to post about, ignoring the first group (which is probably most teachers in Rhode Island).

And of course, this doesn’t include retiree health care.

Unfunded by SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS, if this system isn't changed our taxes are going to skyrocket.

No wonder the unions / Williamson didn't want the actuary report released, as described this week in the ProJo.


Under either “Schedule,” pretty damn sweet for 28-29 years of a part-time job!

Posted by: Tom W at January 31, 2009 10:08 PM

Pat Crowley wrote: "maybe instead of fighting to take things away from everyone else you should try fighting to get more for yourself."

Gee, I believe that is exactly the entitlement attitude that Union-man Michael Morse was describing with his famous "You are a chump if you aren't getting yours" comment.

Pat's comment once again reveals his complete lack of basic math skills.

As it currently stands, there are not enough resources to provide the Entitlements that he and his flock of sheep demand.

Where does Pat think the funding would come from if EVERYONE was feeding at the trough?

When will a real Teacher step forward and explain the basics of math to Pat?

When will one of his highly skilled Union math "Teachers" explain to him that $100 of Tax Receipts can not support $200 of Spending?

When will one of his highly skilled Union math "Teachers" explain to him that a Household earning an income of ~$54,000 can NOT support Individual Teachers that "earn" $56,000 plus outrageous benefit for part-time work?

Posted by: George Elbow at February 1, 2009 10:26 AM

It's usually safer to go after teachers than it is to go after cops. Teachers will continue to teach your brats. Firefighters will continue to put out your fires and give medical aid. The police do what police do. Justin had better obey speed limits in Tiverton.

Posted by: Phil at February 1, 2009 10:49 AM


"Police will do what police do".

I assume you mean Retire in their 40s, while the rest of us work into our 70s so we can carry them on our backs?

Any thing else is simply doing the F'ing job they are well paid to do. Let's not pretend they don't get paid a salary for the days they do work.

What we don't like is paying them outrageous payments & benefits long after they stop working.

And spare us all the "hero" / dangerous job crap.

Union Teachers, FFs and Police ...they are all in the same dung heap when it comes to having an in-bred Entitlement mentality.

Posted by: George Elbow at February 1, 2009 11:34 AM

Bravo George Elbow

Back to form. You had me worried. We can disagree on nearly everything but I had respect for the crazy ass way you usually rant. The insults rival anything that rappers come up with so imagine my surprise when you said "This is exactly the example that so frosts my keester." What? How can one such as George Elbow have their keester frosted. How can one such as you even use a word like keester and then to make matters worse use it in a phrase that includes frosted? I'm crushed. I'm at a loss for words. That phrase is reserved for those middling managers that wear brown jackets with a yellow short sleeve shirt. That's not you . Is it?

Posted by: Phil at February 1, 2009 1:03 PM


You apparently confuse my description of reality with "insults".

Not a problem, cuz it is an absolute insult to all of us hardworking Taxpayers that are asked to support the nut-bag demands that our Entitlement-minded Public Employee Union hacks believe they are Entitled to.

I imagine you are in the camp that considers it an insult to refer to Providence FF Union-hack President, Paul Doughty, as Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty, which, rather than being an insult, is an apt description of a lazy-ass employee that does not show up to the job he is well paid to do ...unless it is to collect Overtime.

Stop being an appologist for these hacks and start calling a spade a spade.

You and I supporting 40-year-young Retiree "Heroes" is not what we should be trudging off to work for each day.

We are the ones that are being insulted.

But, perhaps you are OK middling thru life as the Public Employee Union's obediant, hero-worshiping taxpaying servent. But not all of us are simple-minded trained monkeys like yourself.

You seem frightened to call these hacks on their unsustainable demands. I guess you are afraid you'll be pulled over for speeding?

And no, the "brown jacket with a yellow short sleeve shirt" is not I. But I do believe that decribes a number of Union "teachers" and plain-clothes detective I know.

Posted by: George Elbow at February 1, 2009 1:29 PM

Hey guys thanks for your service protecting our town ,good luck on your retirement

Posted by: DJ at February 1, 2009 4:26 PM

Note to DJ: we already thanked them ...every week with a paycheck.

They should be thanking us for providing them with a nut-bag Pension payment that allows them to Retire at the tender age of 42 years-young.

Posted by: George Elbow at February 1, 2009 5:53 PM

George Elbow

You say that this is not an insult.."But not all of us are simple-minded trained monkeys like yourself".
I think this perfectly demonstrates the level of discourse that you engage in. Justin may have to remind you that your insults don't advance your cause.
The amount of a pension that public sector employees retire with is well known because the public has access to the records. Over the course of the 21 year career of one of the police officers that Justin profiled the public had chance after chance to change the pension and other terms of his employment through democratic means. There were elections and public hearings and the contracts that were accepted by the town and the police are part of the public record. So it seems a little late in the game to be hollering about a well established benefit for someone who met the requirements. Also I would like to second the comments of DJ.
Also I speed and cut off vehicles that have W bumber stickers.

Posted by: Phil at February 1, 2009 8:23 PM

Were the contracts negotiated in public? Were they at the very least subject to public review and comment prior to their final ratification?

Do the Union's of the officers in question hold the cities and towns hostage with arbitrators and judges when they don't get what they want?

Is it not better to have a system where by the employer offers what it can afford to pay and the employee decides wheather they can afford to stay, as opposed to the Employee hiding behind [snip] "collective bargaining" laws?

That being said, last time a checked, ole W was duly elected at least once, if not twice. So it seems a little late in the game to be breaking the law, speeding and cutting people off that have "W" bumper stickers.

Lastly, my insult to you was in response to you calling our kids "brats".

Posted by: George Elbow at February 1, 2009 8:38 PM

George Elbow
No No
Too close to home?
If you're not the brown jacket and yellow shirt, then are you the brown shirt?

Posted by: Phil at February 2, 2009 6:26 AM

On the issue of retirement pensions and benefits for public sector workers. Pensions and benefits are a negotiated right. When they become inflated and detrimental to all society over time there needs to be adjustments and changes. As a society, we are embracing the idea that health care for all is a right. For the employed and unemployed, and for kids. Now we figure out how to pay for it. Retirement benefits after 35-40+ years of work (or a legitimate disability) should be a right of all workers (private, public, including homemakers)...
We need to find the ways to create health coverage, pensions, etc... equitably and without excess or fraud.
Sadly, the conservative models which let "the market dictate" are old, moldy and broken. Those economic models just gave us 10 trillion in debt, $18 billion in 2008 Wall Street bonuses, criminal hedge funds, a government that says it won't tax us yet then spends over a billion a day on a war we don't need which we can't pay for while ignoring the permanent damage carbon emissions are doing to the climate. Plus this model of economics gave us unregulated banks and investment firms that soaked us in the biggest fraud we've ever not seen- bigger than B. Madoff.

Here's the problem for TCCers: it is futile to unilaterally, in one town (TIV), try to "solve" municipal and school spending and taxing problems by screwing over the teachers, or by rewriting the pension rules for police, teachers and DPW workers. TIV pays pretty poorly as it is-- sorry, it does.
We have to replace (recruit) new teachers, police, etc., every year. How can we hire good new people here after we slash teacher or police benefits and salaries? Who would want to work in our town? We need not pay outrageous salaries and benefits, but we need to be competitive. TIV can't (will not) be a radically conservative experimental town. Statewide and nationwide reforms are needed. TIV can't reduce salaries and benefits for public teachers or police, fire, etc., too much or nobody will work here.
Case in point: in my 13 years as a TIV resident, we have had 6 or 7 Town Administrators, at least 3 or whom were pathetic, just terrible, including the last one (GS)... could it be because TIV pays a laughably crappy salary to its Administrator (compared w/ other RI towns) and overburdens him with work?

So, JK & TCC: how do we reduce the property tax burden in TIV while keeping our professional public job salaries competitive? When you zanswer, remember the the unions are not going away, no matter how much some want them to disappear. And the people of TIV, while concerned about taxes, WANT good schools, road repairs, responsive police, fire and EMTs, trash pickup- AND a new library, and more sewers. TIV will not let itself be run by wealthy people with no kids in the schools- these folks don't understand the culture of the town.
Also, the answer will be economic growth, but NOT an ill-conceived pseudo-"eco village" with industrial buildings on the shore of the pond I drink from. And not charter schools.
Change, hope, hope, change. Change forced upon a town by people who don't have a clue gives no one hope.


Posted by: Richard at February 2, 2009 9:36 AM

To George Elbow-Why don't you and your maggot buddies like Justin Katz go spew your nonsense in some scab right to work state down south. It's obvious you live in Fatasy Island, not Rhode Island. My past and current union leadership has worked hard to provide me with the benefis I enjoy today, and you're just jealous. I'm guessing you tried to become a professional union firefighter, but you were too fat, toostupid, or too much of a coward to pass the entrance exam. All I can say to you Elbow is keep paying your taxes chump. The General Assembly rules this state, and we rule the General Assembly. See you at my retirement party-it will coincide with my 42nd birthday!!!

Posted by: proud union firefighter at February 2, 2009 7:14 PM
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