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Wed., April 24, 2013

Rein in these pensions

Thanks, Associated Press reporter Mike Baker for the excellent articles describing pension-spiking by some Washington state firefighters and police.

Many states are belatedly seeing the folly of unwisely negotiated, unaffordable agreements with police and firefighter unions that thoughtfully exempt themselves from the oversight for other public employees like teachers.

Add to this Washington’s ill-thought-out LEOFF-1 pension system, rubber-stamp pension commissions contributing to statistical oddities like 88 percent of Seattle firemen retiring on disability, and a penchant for incentivizing early retirements via pay raises, and you wind up with poster children for excessive compensation, like former Lakewood Manager Greg Hull, who reportedly collects a $184,000 pension on top of a contractor position in DuPont that bumps his annual take to over $300,000. And retired Seattle firefighters getting disability pay while still playing golf or soccer!

The horse is out of the barn for many of these privileged characters, but pension-spiking was and still is illegal. The Spokesman-Review’s April 13 editorial (“State must end abuses in pension system”) is correct. Hopefully, Department of Retirement Systems Director Marcie Frost is serious about investigating, and righting some of these wrongs. Sic ’em, tiger!

David Fietz


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