April 17, 2008

Public Sector Heist

Public sector employees wonder why those who work in the private sector are so disgusted with the salary and benefit packages of the public sector union members. And those of us who complain about our property taxes, which I'm pretty sure encompasses most of the State of New York, wonder how the hell our taxes have gotten to such a high level. Well, we're going to give you a pretty good example of how government and the public sector unions have conspired to drive our taxes to such levels. Here you go....

Officer Patrick McDonald — who earned the highest pay ever recorded for a Buffalo cop — has retired from the Police Department, allowing him to receive a pension bigger than most police officers’ annual earnings.

McDonald, who was among the most senior officers in the department, took full advantage of a policy that gives overtime based on seniority. He worked 4,684 hours in 2007 — the equivalent of 12.5 hours a day every day of the year. Overall, the overtime windfall allowed McDonald to earn $119,608, with $51,796 from overtime, in 2006 and $189,456, with $122,774 in overtime, in 2007. It’s those last years that are likely to be the basis of McDonald’s pension.

Neither state nor local officials have calculated McDonald’s actual pension. Based on the number of years McDonald worked, his final years’ salaries and the pension formula, The Buffalo News estimated his pension at more than $100,000 a year.

Many of McDonald’s fellow officers believe that even in retirement, he will never stop working. He will probably pick up more shifts at security guard jobs they say he already has.
Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge said, “Officer McDonald was a very familiar face in the downtown area. Whether it was Sabres games, festivals or other events in the downtown area, Officer McDonald was always there,” said DeGeorge. “In a lot of ways, you could call him ‘Mr. Downtown.’ ”

Right, Mr. Downtown. Good call, Mike. How about "Mr. I know how to manipulate the system so well, I'm walking out of here with a couple mil of taxpayer dollars"? That seems to be slightly more appropriate.


Anonymous said...

Now we know why the Buffalo police exam is given in the convention center- to accommodate the thousands of people who want to be a police officer and make the kind of money they would never make in the private sector. What private sector employer in Western New York provides its employees with this type of pension? Officer McDonald will be making almost as much retired as Byron Brown is getting paid to run the City of Buffalo.

If you multiply that six-figure pension by 700 or 800 officers, and add in lifetime health insurance benefits, you start to realize why Buffalo has a hard control board in place.

But enough about police officers, this is just the tip of the iceburg. That pesky little thing called binding arbitration will allow this to continue with no end in sight.

Frank DeGeorge said...

I don't blame the cops or anyone else who finds ways to benefit by playing by the rules in place. I'm blame government that is simply incapable of making the necessary changes to these rules.

There should be no more public pensions. Everything should be moved to 401 (K) like the private sector. These legacy costs have a stanglehold on us and are one of the main reasons our economy is so bad.

McDonald is no different than Sean O'Connor...taking full advantage of the rules. Don't blame Sean, blame the people who keep electing him to office.

Anonymous said...


I would agree that the rules need to be changed, NOW. But how is the manipulation of the system by a public sector employee any different than the Sean O'Connor bait and switch? I do not believe that those persons that drafted the pension legislation expected a police officer to work a shift and a half every single day for an entire year leading to his retirement. I believe that this is a manipulation of the system by a fellow taxpayer.
Does the fact that he can do it mean that he should?

...and where the hell is Byron Brown on this?

Anonymous said...

I found this on-line. I do not know the status. This proposed bill recognizes that many Buffalo cops and firefighters actually live in Amherst! and Grand Island! and Lancaster! and thus do not pay a single penny in property tax to the City (other than what is shared by the County or State).

A04822 Memo:


TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the civil service law, in relation to
civil service exam credits for police officers and firefighters in
certain cities

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This legislation provides certain
municipalities with a local law option to offer additional exam credit
for police or firefighters that is intended to encourage residency by
police officers and firefighters within these municipalities.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1- Authorizes cities with a
population between two hundred ninety thousand and one million to
adopt a local law which would grant residents of such city additional
credit in competitive examinations for original appointment as a
police officer or firefighter, and provide a procedure for
implementation and awarding of this credit.

JUSTIFICATION: The City of Buffalo is the second largest City in New
York State and for years has experienced a dwindling population and
tax base. Police and Fire are the highest paid municipal employees.
Their pay comes from property tax revenue. Having Police Officers and
Firefighters living outside Buffalo impacts Buffalo`s ability to
receive a return on its investment and has been a factor in the City
of Buffalo laying off police officers and closing firehouses. By
offering additional exam credit to residents of the City of Buffalo it
will promote residency of Police Officers and Firefighters, will make
Buffalo safer, regrow its population and bolster its tax base.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2003-2004 - S.4462/A.8681

Anonymous said...

Here is a list of some of the people that made LESS $ last year than police officer MacDonald:

1. Every Niagara and Erie County Supreme Court Judge.

2. the Niagara and Erie County Dist. Attorneys.

3. the Erie County Executive.

4. every Niagara and Erie County Family Court Judge.

5. the Niagara County manager.

6. every State Senator and Assemblyperson, and

7. the Mayors of Niagara Falls, N.T. and Lockport COMBINED!!

Yes, one employee made more than the combined salaries of the mayors of the 3 cities in Niagara County.

Frank DeGeorge said...

That is an amazing last post that really puts this into perspective. It's legally robbery of taxpayer dollars and the politicans refuse to do anything to stop it.

Larry Castellani said...

Hobbes as usual is confusing the issues. Yes, surely, if the Leg is asleep at the wheel and leaves loopholes, the good Officer wouldn’t be the first to jump through them. But leave the unions and public sector out of this. If it weren’t for the unions there wouldn’t even be a public sector. There probably wouldn’t be a police force or a public education system.

The rich would have their own security guards in their gated communities, if you can call them communities. And the rich would have their own private little schools to further inculcate their children with New (Poltical) Class ideology.

The rest of us would be farmed out to reservations with crime, gangs and schools that don’t deserve the name but with enough of the trickle down crumbs to keep us just enough alive in case the rich need some cheap labor. Yes, don‘t miss the sub-text again here myopic SportsFans. Hobbes pragmatic, fiscal concerns are only 1/10 of the story. Chopping up reality so an accountant can understand it doesn’t do much justice to reality.

By the way how does Office McDonald's 'take' compare to all the robber baron CEO's who walk away with billions in profits for exploiting and probably quite soon destoying America. I think the private sector does quite well.

Like a good Republican soldier that he is Hobbes continues his guerilla warfare against the public sphere.

Anonymous said...

Castellani, you say "if the Leg is asleep at the wheel", as if the Niagara County Legislature is responsible for this fiasco. That is indicative is your narrow-mindedness. If you could for one second think for yourself and not be swayed by 10 people around you who don't even come close to representing the view point of the general public, you might see this issue for what it is: A blatant abuse of taxpayer money. But, as usual, you want to make it into something more than it is. Of course, you're probably a big supporter of the Taylor Law too. But really, Lawrence, if you so despise reading Hobbes' take on issues, do yourself a favor and change the channel. It doesn't seem to be worth the internal struggle you seem to face every time you log on here.

Larry Castellani said...

Dear anon,
You seem to be confused. This isn’t at all about NC. It’s about Erie County, isn’t it? I’m not referring at all to the NC Legislature. And I don’t think Hobbes is either. So sober up and study my piece again and we’ll have a quiz in the morning.

Thanks for being concerned with my ability to think independently. I’ll take it under advisement. …. And I don’t hate Hobbes. I would even love to meet him. Dinner and drinks are on me. But he and others seem to believe that there is some political advantage to being anonymous. Such secretiveness is what is contributing to the very destruction of the public sphere that I’m defending and promoting. It hides social class prejudice.

And thanks for the concern regarding my mental health. But the only “internal struggle” I have in signing on here is whether I will ever help create a milieu and ethos in which equal citizens can honestly discuss the health of their community and political economy without maneuvering for unfair advantage and not have to presume that I’m either only for or against them. I’m trying to transcend the “old partisan politics” that Barack Obama is having little if any success in transforming.

It’s sad when critical disagreement is seen as being traitorous and an enemy of one party or the other. One thing we haven’t learned is that the suppression of the minority undermines America and democracy. The minority should be nourished and cultivated in a true democracy. That’s why Christy should be defended. But the powermongerers of the practice of rabid partisanism don’t see the virtue nor the greater ultimate power in the idea of such a robust democracy.

I’m beyond character assassination, strategic cynicism and generic political partisanship. You should try it. It’s refreshing and renewing.

It’s ultimately not about taxes. It’s about an elitist business class that doesn’t see education and democracy as being good for business and the retention of power.

You need to leave Plato’s Cave for a day or two and smell some other dimensions of political reality. Or take my course at N-Trip. You might teach me something.

Anonymous said...

Larry, Is your house specially designed with wide doorways to accomodate your large head? (I'm referring to your ego, not your brain).

Larry Castellani said...

Which of my comments are signs of egoism to you? Is it that I claim to see things operating that you don't see or aren't aware of? Or is it that I don't want to reduce all problems to questions of taxes, tax breaks and the public sphere's waste of tax money. Or is it that I don't want to privatize every aspect of civil society? Or is it that I don't want to instrumentalize every human crisis as an opportunity to make a profit? Or is it that I don't want to turn America into a staging ground for neo-imperialism and cheap consumerism? Or is it that I happen to see the relationship between Niagara County and the rest of the world as something more than the vicitimization by Albany? Or is it that I use words that you have to look up in the dictionary? Or is it that you imagine some "general public" that is really some variation of nothing more than Nixon's "silent majority?"

I'm sorry that I threaten you, Anon. But I guess that's why you stay Anonymous. Or is it because you can pretend that there is actually a concensus that exists between you and the other Anon's of like mind? Or is it that there is in fact no concensus among neither the neo-cons nor even the NC Republicans and that this website is used to manufacture consensus? Given that we don't know whether even a lot of the proper names given are actual persons, including David Stein, probably the points of view are merely ideas used to promote one narrow oligarchic or autocratic point of view. The rest of the Anon's that actually exist hide their identity because they are afraid to be fully accountable for the implications and consequences of their thoughts. Imagine that. Afraid that there will be severe repercussions for your thoughts. Sounds like Fascism to me. Orwell lives!!!

The reason that you don't threaten me Anon is that I'm not afraid to be wrong. You, as anonymous, can never even really know if a real social-political consensus exists since we/you don't even know if you exist!

Anonymous said...

this post is anonymous simply because I am not computer literate enough to set up a blogger name - I am not the same "anonymous" in the previous posts.
My comment: As a NY State Resident, may I remind all of you- the problem is multifold- not only do we have Greedy, Lazy Public sector employees who know how to work the system (ie Sean O'Conner) - but we also have Greedy Unemployed folks who know how to best work the system to collect their unemployement or their welfare benefits; Greedy politicians who take graft to better suit their personal interests rather than that of their Constituents; and more ..the list goes on and on... (Oh please- let us not forget- those expensive pensions are completely exempt from NYState Income Tax.... ouch !)

My recommendation is - First- we all recognize there is a problem; Second- quit our petty squabbles over the silly stuff, Three- Get down to cleaning this mess up before everyone who is viable or employable in the private sector leaves for a reasonable and safer place to live, work and raise a family..
and Four: Elect representatives who you trust and hold accountable, if they prove to be dishonest (ie the aforementioned, or client No 9, or those dodging sniper bullets in Bosnia) don't keep re-electing them every year- help encourage intelligent hard working people to run for office, people who actually represent their constituents- and respect their elected position and the responsibilites of it. We have a few good ones in New York State - I think of Joe Robach first - he is exemplary - there are some others- But we should have more, many many more.

thank you
(one day I will figure out how to post my Identity!)

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised by Larry's comments. The NCCC faculty is the fatest of the all the community colleges...their pay and especially their benefits on the taxpayer dime would make you blush. They have the cadillac of all health plans and won't consider even an HMO with the same benny's to save we poor slobs the taxpayers a few nickels.

I'm sure Larry will jump all over me, but you can't live in Niagara County and complain about taxes, jobs, etc. when you're part of the problem.

It's a known fact that the faculty union was the biggest contributor to Dem campaigns. It's well known they were trying to get Tony Gullo on the board to get rid of Klyczek and get a new contract.

GOP gets Christy bad. Faculty union defeats politicans who don't kowtow to them, well that's OK.

Anonymous said...

Last anon- are these the new GOP talking points? Now is the GOP trying to say that Larry is acting on Christy's behalf because of money and self interest?