November 17, 2015

Grains of Salt (v3): Two Scoops, Please

It's hard to imagine that it's been almost a year since I did a post on a local elected official here in the Syracuse area double-dipping, taking both a taxpayer pension from a previous position and a taxpayer salary from their current position.

Last time, it was state Senator John DeFrancisco, who had resisted the urge to double dip as long as he could stand to, and then, in our best interests, decided that two scoops are better than one. He didn't mention it during his last campaign, mind you; rather he dropped it on us towards the end of the year well after he won re-election.
Granted, I could simply retire and not serve any longer. However, now that Republicans have regained control of the State Senate, Central New York would be better served by my returning to my senate seat, as a majority member and chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Ah how sweet the taste...

This time around, it's Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway, who replaced notorious double-dipper Kevin Walsh. Walsh blamed us for not knowing he was going to double dip - because we didn't ask him if he was going to, silly us.

Conway won election last year as Onondaga County Sheriff in a reasonably close race against Toby Shelley who had promised that he would not collect both his pension and salary, or that he would donate his pension to charity if he won election. John Balloni, who lost to Conway in a primary, admitted during the campaign that he'd take both.

Conway, aware of the controversy with his predecessor, told us he would not take both.
I have stated that I will not seek a pension as sheriff for two reasons, because I will be trying to set an example and there would be no savings to the county as I was previously employed there. 
And yet, seek a pension he did. He took steps to suspend his pension once his sheriff's salary reached $30,000, which is allowable under the rules as long as the pensioner is not an elected official. But since he is an elected official, the state had to pay him for the missed payments from April through October.  And, going forward, he'll get both, unless he leaves the pension system, according to a State Comptroller's office employee.

"I will be trying to set an example," Conway told us; he might have tried, but he did not succeed. He also hasn't had much to say on the issue, when contacted by the media.

Time will tell if he'll take the necessary steps to actually become the example we expected.