* Criminals collecting $100,000 as retired politicians
* "Double-dippers" also eyed in pension reform debate
By Joan Gralla
NEW YORK, Feb 17 In New York state's debate
over public pension reform, the only retirees more unpopular
than the double-dippers are the convicted criminals.
As state and local governments consider how to reduce the
billions of dollars they will owe to retirees in future, New
York is scrutinizing those who "double-dip" -- retiring early
from one job in the public sector and hopping to another. Such
workers collect a pension and a salary, and may even eventually
be eligible for a second separate pension. [ID:nN16219289]
There are at least 2,129 New York state public employees,
ranging from nurse to investigator, who are double-dippers.
Then there are the crooks.
In the past six years, criminal or ethical violations have
driven 13 legislators out of office, up from four in the
previous six-year period, according to Citizens Union, a
nonpartisan civic group.
"We believe that those who are convicted of a serious crime
maybe should not be receiving their full taxpayer-paid
pension," said Citizens Union executive director Dick Dadey.
Those who left office under a cloud include the former
Democratic comptroller of New York City and New York state,
Alan Hevesi, who resigned in 2006 and pleaded guilty to
defrauding the government. A wider corruption probe led to
another felony guilty plea from Hevesi last year.
Despite the convictions, Hevesi is paid $8,786 a month, or
$105,432 a year, according to the state comptroller.
Then there is former Republican Senate Majority Leader
Joseph Bruno, who is waiting to see if his corruption sentence
will be overturned. Bruno, a millionaire horse-breeder, retired
in 2008 and collects a gross monthly pension of $8,007, the
state comptroller's figures show.
Another pensioner is former New York City police
commissioner, Bernard Kerik, now serving a prison sentence for
failing to disclose loans from a developer. Kerik collects
$4,441 a month before taxes, a city official said.
Double-dipping invites criticism from fiscal monitors who
note that collecting both a salary and a pension is rare in the
private sector and argue that public employees should have to
work until age 65 before they can retire, instead of 55.
"Many New Yorkers would like the opportunity to retire,
collect a state pension, and then also earn state income but
they don't have that opportunity," Dadey said. "That raises the
question about a different class of citizenship where elected
officials feel a certain entitlement that taxpayers don't feel
(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Eric
(For complete coverage see Take a Look "Distressed States of