Lew's View: Double-dipping

Lew Leone is the vice president and general manager of WNYW-FOX 5. He is taking to the airwaves with his thoughts on current affairs. It's called "Lew's View." The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.


In this commentary, Mr. Leone tackles double-dipping public workers.


By most accounts, Carmen Farina seems like a good choice as New York City's school chancellor.

I'll reserve judgement until she has more time on the job and I'm particularly interested in how she elects to deal with charter schools.

What I do take issue with now is the fact that Chancellor Farina is double-dipping by collecting a $208,000 a year pension on top of her $212,000 salary...all funded by taxpayers.

In my mind, Farina is collecting more than $200,000 for not working and more than $200,000 for doing her job.

While this scheme is totally legal, I've always believed that there is something inherently wrong with this practice, especially when we are talking about six-figure publicly funded pensions.

Double-dipping has become commonplace in New York and New Jersey. For instance, Chris Christie's deputy chief of staff double-dips with two scoops at taxpayer expense.

There have been some laws enacted in both states to curb the practice. In reality, it happens all too often.

Governors Christie and Cuomo oppose double-dipping and Cuomo has touted the fact that his administration has cut back on double-dippers who work for him, but it is not enough.

Because of pensions promised to New York City workers, the percentage of salaries required to fund these obligations increases every year.

In fact, for some public workers like police and firemen, taxpayers are paying more toward pensions then they are for salaries for current workers. This is obviously not a sustainable model and it really hurts the city's ability to pay for other services like education.

If you want to talk about inequality, and a tale of two cities, I'll tell you what I think. I don't think it is fair for government workers to double-dip and collect $200,000 pensions on top of $200,000 salaries while most people only get one paycheck from their employer.

I think Ms. Farina and those like her with six-figure pensions should follow the example of former mayor Mike Bloomberg and offer to only take one dollar more from taxpayers.

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