When you vote in November
The above photo shows on the left the faces of some 25 elected New York state officials sentenced to prison or house arrest since 2003. On the lower right, former Speaker of the Assembly Sheldon Silver leaving court after being sentenced to 12 years in prison. The young man (upper right) is State Senator Robert Ortt, recently pleading not guilty to a charge of providing a no-show job for his wife. Fourteen are currently receiving state pensions totaling $531,000 per year. Sheldon Silvers’ pension is fixed at $79,224.
On November 7th we will be asked to approve Ballot Proposal 2 amending Article 5, Section 7 of the State Constitution that defines pension payments a “contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.” If approved, “judges, following a court hearing, would be able to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer convicted of a felony related to his or her official duties.” They would also make a determination whether or not a denial would create undue family hardships.
None of the above need to worry. Proposal 2 only applies to any crime committed after January 1, 2018. Also, this amendment allowing another level of judgement to enter the picture (possibly viewing pensions as personal property) is a troubling precedent in holding our elected officials accountable for their actions.
To quote Michael Douglas playing the role of Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, “Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good.”