Re: A Whiff of Sanity
The question of public pensions can lead quickly to basic premises. Consider a comment from Joe Bernstein:
DISCLAIMER:I am a friend of Barney Prignano and worked in the SIB squad from 1990-94 when he supervised that group. I was one of two Federal agents assigned there.
Forget who lost their pension here and think about the dangerous precedent it sets.
Now a person who retires can be brought before the Retirement Board at a subsequent time and be accused of “dishonorable” service and lose their pension. Based on what? You tell me. A conviction is no longer the standard.
Can’t anyone here who’s gloating understand how this can be used by vindictive politicians to go after people they didn’t like and if not revoke their pensions, at least put them through legal expense and misery?
In the case of the Parks Dept. employee I agree with the decision because even though nolo/probation on a felony is not a conviction in RI, the Federal courts have held that it can be used as a conviction in federal proceedings. The case was a RI one, US vs.Bustamante where Judge Pettine was reversed by the First Circuit. It involved ATF charging a man with firearms possession by a convicted felon. Oscar Bustamante couldn’t appeal it to SCOTUS because he died soon after the decision (gunshot wound). We in the INS used the decision to arrest and deport hundreds of permanent residents.The first arrest pursuant to the decision: Pedro Bustamante, Oscar’s brother. Nice guy – he shot up an apartment house with a 45 ACP carbine, barely missing some nuns and a sleeping infant. It was a pleasure to “knock”on his door.
Note that Joe is willing to admit proof of misconduct that falls short of a job-related conviction, which is precisely in line with my stated opinion. But he goes farther, arguing that, because of their subservience to political process, public-sector employees’ pensions should be considered, essentially, a right revocable only in conjunction with prosecutable crimes. Like private-sector employees (who rarely receive pensions in the first place, anymore) public-sector employees must abide by the rules that their employers establish, within the law, of course, but the latter also may utilize the political process to make the organizations for which they work subservient to them.
Joe wants it both ways: It is because government “service” is open to the political process that it is open to the manipulations and disregard of market forces that have granted public sector employees such comparably fantastic remuneration. As a matter of fairness, it cannot also be that those politically procured gains are protected from the political process when it brings less friendly managers into the equation.
Look, no pensioner should be barred from legal recourse against arbitrary actions by a pension board. Beyond that, one would hope that capricious political appointees or elected officials would open themselves to attack from political opposition and electors on that basis.