February 13, 2012

Cranston Pensions: Rhode Island… with Emphasis

Justin Katz

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity had published data covering all of Cranston's public-sector retirees, and I've posted a general comparison of the numbers with those for the state system overall.

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"[I]ts local fire and police retirement plans, however, are dramatically more generous."

Nothing is too good for "the heroes."

"When it comes to fire and police personnel, however, Cranston employees work almost a full year less, to 47.6 years old, versus 48.5 for the state PF system overall."

Retirement at 47... what a joke. I'll bet anyone here that most of those are "disability" pensions as well. Falling down the firehouse stairs, etc. None of the "advocates" ever want to talk about that, but it's the biggest single reason why there isn't enough money left for legitimate retirements.

Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2012 4:22 PM

For the record, Cranston's system breaks down as follows:

Regular: 62%
Disability: 18%
Non OC disability: 1%
Widow: 19%

Regular: 60%
Disability: 18%
Non OC disability: 1%
Widow: 20%

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 13, 2012 4:30 PM

Justin - How many of the widow pensions were disability pensions, and how many of the regular pensions were converted from disability pensions due to age?

18% is still high regardless, but it's certainly lower than Providence and Central Falls.

Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2012 4:51 PM

Of course, even assuming 0% conversion and proportional widow pension proportions, that still would give us a 1/3 disability retirement rate, which is already ludicrous on its face. Assuming the same conversion rate as other municipalities, however, we get right around the 50% that I hypothesized.

Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2012 5:21 PM

*1/3 should read 1/4

Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2012 5:25 PM

Dan, it's a hard job. The end.

Posted by: michael at February 14, 2012 12:28 PM

Michael - Anyone with a scientific calculator can tell that "the end" is concessions or bankruptcy. More accurately, this is the beginning of the end.

Posted by: Dan at February 14, 2012 1:56 PM

Ha! Got me there. Disability is a personal issue, what constitutes a disability differs from person to person. It is impossible to be objective when determining whether a person qualifies. Either they are or they are not. Three doctors need to agree that a disability pension is warranted. If a person is disabled, and believes they can no longer do their job, the medical professionals back that up. It's not a mass conspiracy, it is simply people who are injured getting a disability pension. The general public is loaded with people on disability pensions, and collecting generous benefits without ever working for them. It's just the way it is. Doesn't mean we have to like it, or give in to it, we simply need to lead by example, speak our minds and stay positive. And VOTE!

Posted by: michael at February 14, 2012 3:55 PM

"Three doctors need to agree that a disability pension is warranted."

But this is a recent development that came only with the latest round of much-needed reforms. For two entire decades this requirement was not in place. In the early 90's, 8 out of 10 firefighters from your department were going out on disability. 90% of applicants were approved. Your union promised the state to get the abuse under control and referred exactly zero cases as a result. That makes them complicit.

"It's not a mass conspiracy, it is simply people who are injured getting a disability pension."

It doesn't have to be a "conspiracy" to be mass abuse of the system if everyone knows what's going on, which they most certainly do. These people aren't "injured," they are "allegedly injured." Let's get that straight. Even Tom Kenney has admitted that there was widespread abuse during the aforementioned period, so he has more integrity than you do in acknowledging that much. I couldn't believe that on your blog you actually had the guts to defend somebody from your department who went out on disability by claiming to have "fallen down the firehouse stairs." It's a sick joke, Michael. Everyone knows what's occurring.

Retirees from your department continue to defraud the system now and into the indefinite future. We have ample proof of it, both anecdotal and statistical. You knew and worked with these people. They went out on disability while you were working there. You saw the abuse occur and you did nothing. People can debate the morality of those decisions, but what is indefensible is that you actively enable the fraud to persist by denying that it is occurring now. Take some responsibility for Christ's sake.

Posted by: Dan at February 14, 2012 4:51 PM

If I believed the people you speak of (how you are so sure they are frauds is beyond me) were not disabled I would say so. And what would that do? Nothing.

Posted by: michael at February 14, 2012 6:04 PM

Michael - While you were working there, the fact is that 80% of the Providence Fire Department went out on disability in the early 90's, and 10% more applied for disability but were rejected. The individual cases don't matter when we have these kinds of numbers, although you know there are plenty of egregious examples we could trot out as well. If you truly believe that all of those 80% were legitimately disabled, and the additional 10% who applied actually believed themselves to be disabled, then you have lost all grasp of reality. I've been reading your posts for a while and I don't believe you're that crazy or stupid. I think you know damn well what went on and continues to go on with these individuals and you DON'T CARE because they were firefighters and you think that fact alone entitles them to commit this fraud. It's hard for us not to be angry when you come on here day after day and insult our intelligence by telling us that these disability pensions are all legitimate or make sophomoric statements to pave over the fraud like "it's a hard job." Yes, it's a hard job - that doesn't mean it's okay to steal from the taxpayers, which is what you would admit is going on if you were actually honest for a moment and stopped playing your stupid word games skirting around the issue.

You're dead wrong that speaking up wouldn't accomplish anything, although I know that's how you think and why you defend the indefensible again and continue to play dumb. You do it because it's easier than facing up. If people in your union actually wanted to stop the abuse and spoke up on the issue, then it would end tomorrow. There is no will so of course there is no way.

Posted by: Dan at February 14, 2012 6:41 PM

I started in 1991. The stations were full of old guys limping around having worked through the sixties, seventies and eighties. I was new, they were old, and they dropped out of sight little by little, and I barely noticed, I had things to learn. If you knew what it takes to be a firefighter you would not be surprised that 80% went out on a disability, you would be amazed that all of them didn't.

Posted by: michael at February 14, 2012 7:41 PM

Michael - BS. Military veterans who serve in warzones and get shot at don't go out on disability at 80% - not even close. Electrical, construction, landscaping, deep sea fishing, and logging workers don't go out on disability at 80%. Again - not even close. You are adapting facts to fit your narrative instead of adapting your narrative to fit the facts. Stop insulting our intelligence and face up to reality.

Posted by: Dan at February 14, 2012 8:06 PM

BTW - You're the first person I've ever heard call 40-45-year-olds "old guys." I guess that's your normal in the public union bizarro world. The average age in my department is 55 - yes, you heard that right. Three of my immediate coworkers were firefighters for many years. They didn't go out on disability, they're still working, and they aren't collecting pensions while doing so. The only difference is they did the job in a non-corrupt state.

Posted by: Dan at February 14, 2012 9:33 PM

Military veterans don't spend 20 years in war zones. Give it up, Dan, 55 year old lawyers and part time firefighters are in a whole different world.

Posted by: michael at February 15, 2012 8:24 AM

Michael - Pick any industry NAICS code you choose. I'll even run the BLS data for you - it's all publicly available on their website. I guarantee you that you won't be able to find even one industry with close to 80% permanent disability or even half that rate. Even the professions that far outpace firefighting in Federally reported injuries and fatalities (and there are many) have a small fraction of that permanent disability rate. Your argument makes no logical sense. You have literally no supporting data except your "feelings" about your own job.

I want you to know something, speaking honestly. When you speak on this particular topic, you sound to the detached observer just like a 9/11 truther, or a Christian fundamentalist denying evolution. We point to overwhelmingly supporting genetic data and you focus on the few genetic gaps. We point to evolutionary fossils and you claim they were planted or shifted in the geologic record, etc. Let me ask you a very fundamental scientific question: what form of proof would it take to convince you? You won't accept payroll data. You reject all individual examples as exceptions. So what would convince you? It's a rhetorical question, of course - the answer is nothing. Nothing we could provide could convince you of what 90% of the public already knows for the simple reason that you don't want to believe it.

Posted by: Dan at February 15, 2012 8:52 AM

90% of the public "knows" something they know nothing about. Just another day with the know it all's, I don't take it personally. And I don't care.

Posted by: michael at February 15, 2012 9:14 AM

Michael - You've got a glib, dismissive statement for everything. But I already knew that much.

When you want to talk real numbers and real cases, just let me know. The data in this case is all public, easily available, and it overwhelmingly supports my argument over yours to the point where your argument is logically indefensible by any legal, mathematical, or scientific standard.

You don't want to believe that disability fraud is going on because it tarnishes your carefully constructed narrative about the thin red line, so you won't believe it. It's as simple as that. Overwhelmingly, everyone who takes a logical, non-emotional approach to the analysis reaches the opposite conclusion. Your first-hand knowledge of the job in this case is a bias and an impediment to thoughtful discussion and problem solving, not an asset.

Posted by: Dan at February 15, 2012 9:45 AM


I read your piece in the Prov Journal at my brief lunch break yesterday. Excellent.

Posted by: Phil at February 16, 2012 7:25 AM

Phil - As you read it, did you feel lucky to have your fictional employees working their fictional jobs at your fictional business?

Posted by: Dan at February 16, 2012 9:03 AM
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