Tag Archives: law

Should Bad Cops, Firemen Keep Their Pensions? They Can Now!

In late September, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that essentially allows New York City cops and firemen to hold onto their pensions even when convicted of a crime.

Public protest against criminal cops keeping pension.

Understand that the bill started as a home rule message from the City Council.

It passed 49-0, without a word of dissent at a public hearing.

It then went to the state legislature, where it passed by votes of 128-14 in the Assembly, and 61-1 in the Senate. What it means is cops and firemen will have to be convicted of a felony before their pensions are at risk. In fairness, corrupt politicians, even those convicted of felonies are still getting paid. The Governor did try to close that loophole with the introduction of a bill after the conviction of former state comprtoller Alan Hevesi.

Also to be fair, cops and firemen in other jurisdictions in the state already get to keep theirs unless convicted of a felony. However, with the spate of corruption investigations, indictments, and convictions of NYPD officers lately, you have to wonder whether everyone in the food chain thought this through. For example, former cop Kenneth Moreno was sentenced to a year in prison for official misconduct in connect with the infamous “cop rape” trial.

That happened in August.

If the bill Gov. Cumomo signed had been in effect then, Moreno, assuming he’d served for 20 years, would have kept his pension. That’s because official misconduct is a misdemeanor. With government workers’ pensios coming under increased scrutiny, does this pass the smell test?

Brutal cops thrown off the force, or even charged, tried and convicted for acts of brutality will keep their pensions. Now any cop facing even felony charges will be advised to retire from the NYPD between the time of arrest and verdict.

The ticket fix cops, and many others recently charged with crimes, will walk away with a pension if not convicted of a felony. This whole thing seems to have flown under the radar, save a couple of articles in the tabloid press and an op-ed from Arnold Kriss in the Daily News. He’s a former NYPD Deputy Commissioner, and sees the long term impact of taking away a police commissioner’s discretion in punishing rogue or criminal behavior.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg was on the right side of this issue.

He urged the Governor not to sign the bill. He lost on this one. By the way, at about the same time Gov. Cuomo signed this bill into law, he evtoed a measure that would have extended health benefits tomworkers laid off after OTB closed its doors.

So let me see if I’ve got this straight. Crooked cops?  Pensions. Laid off OTB workers? No health benefits.

What’s wrong with this picture?

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We Lost Another Giant – Healthcare NOW advocate Marilyn Clement.

I’m fully aware that some of you do know, but longtime health care activist Marilyn Clement died Monday at the age of 74. Her list of accomplishments would take up this entire space, but suffice to say she was one of the nation’s greatest advocates for universal, single payer health care. This means she was talking about it a long time ago, before the current debate.

marilyn.clement.Coretta Scott king
Coretta Scott King and Marilyn Clement

And she spoke up for single payer, universal health care right up until her passing. Marilyn Clement was national co-ordinator for the organization Healthcare-NOW. Universal care was her passion. I consider it one of the missed opportunities of my career that I never had a chance to interview her. And yet, she shares a lot with many of the great people I’ve met in my life.

One word links them, selflessness. That is, to think of the greater good beyond what’s good for you. Marilyn Clement had this in abundance. Whether it was her work with the civil rights movement or helping fledgling organizations like Progressive Democrats of America, she did the work not for personal celebrity, but for regular, just plain folks.

Check out her speech at the Judson Memorial Church in New York back in June…

It was an event to honor her, but something struck me while watching it. Conservative groups that are trying to kill any type of health care reform (let alone single payer) constantly rally their troops. They send out e-mails that say keep up the fight, that progress is being made.

So it was with Marilyn Clement, though obviously in the opposite direction. She told that audience at Judson that we don’t have single payer yet, but eventually, we will. That the fight must be kept up, and so must the spirits of those waging the battle. She said those words knowing she wouldn’t live to see the result. To me, that’s the true definition of selflessness.

Let’s be clear. What passes the Congress and gets signed into law by President Obama won’t be single payer health care. Supporters like Cong. Henry Waxman say universal care could never pass the Congress. Still, because of the work of Marilyn Clement and those she inspired to get involve, universal, single payer care is closer than it’s been in my lifetime.

So, rest in peace, Marilyn Clement. I didn’t know you, but I am one of those who is grateful for all you did, and deeply mourn your passing. Your legacy is with those you’ve left behind to carry on your good work.

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