Featured Posts

Staten Island: Mother of Eric Garner's Infant Baby Breaks Down in Tears

Tensions remain high in Staten Island.  The mother of Eric Garner's Infant Baby Broke Down in Tears when we talked to her demanding justice.

 



Al Jezerra TV and Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Queens

On Al jezerra Sunday morning with consultant Tom Doherty and host Morgan Redford. Next was Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Queens. Men's Day Speaker with Pastor David Brunswick



Updated Long Term Pension Data for New York And New Jersey: The Large Plans for Most Public Employees

New York City and New Jersey, like most places, have separate pension plans for teachers, police officers, and firefighter, and large plans for everyone else. This post is about updated Census Bureau data, for the years 1957 to 2012, for the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS), which also covers New York City transit workers, the New York (state) Public Employees Pension and Retirement System, which also covers local government workers (including police officers and firefighters) in the rest of New York State, and the New Jersey Public Employees Retirement System.

In general the findings are the same as they were in this post last year, since one year of data isn’t going to make a big difference for something as slow moving and inexorable as pension funding.  Unless there is a big retroactive pension increase, and its cost is actually admitted to. One big thing that did happen in 2012: there was a huge increase in taxpayer contributions to the New York City Employees Retirement System, balanced by a reduction in contributions to the New York City Teachers Retirement system. And one thing I learned this year: there have been more early retirement incentives in the crippled New Jersey public retirement system than I was previously aware of. Further discussion, and a spreadsheet with a series of charts can be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.


The 2008 25/55 United Federation of Teachers Pension Deal: An Investigation

My concern about the consequences of all the retroactive pension increases scored by the public employee unions in deals with the politicians they controlled, and subsequent cuts in pay and benefits future workers, tax increases and service cuts, is longstanding. When I ran a protest campaign against the local NY state legislator back in 2004, for example, it was specifically mentioned as a cause of my outrage. Along with other factors such as the chronic underfunding of the New York City schools, due to an unfair state school aid formula. http://www.ipny.org/littlefield/civicunion2020.html

While previous pension deals caused me to feel great concern about the future of public services and benefits, however, the 2008 retroactive pension increase for New York City teachers was enough to change my entire worldview. Unlike all the pension deals around the year 2000, there was no 1990s stock market bubble to use as an excuse. Just raw, completely selfish, “I am the world” power. Funding for the NYC schools had soared, leading to hope for the future, but the pension deal grabbed all that money back away from the classroom, dashing those hopes and leaving the schools no better off than before – despite higher taxes. The cost of this deal may be $20 or even $30 billion. But with everyone in power in on the deal it has become the ultimate “unsaid,” with no one willing to talk about it. But it was talked about on interior pages and blog posts back in 2007 and 2008, and I’ve saved some of that information and (if the UFT hasn’t wiped them out yet) links. It is that information that will be reviewed on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.” Perhaps someday it can be used as evidence in court. In the meantime, I urge those in the press to look in the mirror and read to the end, where the role of the media is discussed.


2014 NYC Primary Contests (corrected)

Last Thursday was the deadline to file Party designating petitions for all offices except Congress & State Supreme Court Justice.



Update: Teacher Pensions in New York and New Jersey

Late last year I downloaded and arranged all the data the U.S. Census Bureau had collected since 1957 on currently active public employee pension plans in New York and New Jersey. I used the data in a series of posts: one on the teacher pension plans, one on police and fire pension plans, and one on the pension plans for everyone else. To say the posts are popular is an understatement. Since I started “Saying the Unsaid in New York,” last year’s post on teacher pensions has the most views, with the police and fire pension post second and the general pension post fifth. Even during the last 90 days, long after the posts were written (and a period when I put up three series of other posts based on three other databases I compiled), the old teacher and police/fire pension posts have been first and third in views.

The Census Bureau has now updated his information for FY 2012 (and for the NYC police pension plan, which lags, for FY 2011), and I have added the new information to the spreadsheets with the charts. Not much changed between FY 2011 and FY 2012, though I have added a few additional charts to better show what I already showed last year. So the reader may find much of what will follow duplicative. What is worthy of additional comment, however, is the political reaction to the public employee pension disaster over the past few months. The updated charts and commentary for teachers may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”


2014 Federal Primary Analysis

Those who miss my web presence should not assume this piece augurs any sort of imminent return on a regular basis; it merely is an indication that I cannot let a bunch of election returns go by without a little analysis.



The 2 Amigos and TV Journalist Dominic Carter

 

 

Dominic Carter with his man Famed Attorney Ron Kuby and NY Post Broadway Critic Michael Riedel. On NY's flagship talk station, 770 AM, WABC RADIO Thursday afternoon. 770 am.

 



Dominic Carter: Can Society Right a Wrong? The Central Park 5 Settlement

The Central Park 5-Raymond Santana

Central Park 5 as we all now know reached a 41 million dollar settlement with the City of New York

Here is part one of our interview this week with Raymond Santana at Melba's Restaurant. Only four blocks from the park.

Mrs. Santana's mother died of cancer while he was in prison, and he has not been back to the park since that night in April of 1989.

 



The Executive/Financial Class, the Political/Union Class, and the Serfs

We are approaching the holiday commemorating the day when, as Abraham Lincoln might have said, eleven score and eighteen years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. So I thought I’d check some data to see how the different classes in our classless society are making out. According to Local Area Personal Income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2012 those working in the Finance and Insurance Sector in Manhattan (aka Wall Street) earned (or at least got) an average (mean) of $263,979 each in wages, salaries and non-wage benefits such as employer contributions to retirement funds and health insurance. This data, unlike most you see, includes the self-employed. The average for all the other private sector workers in Downstate New York, including top executives and the highest paid workers in sectors outside finance, was $74,306. The average for state and local government workers in Downstate New York was $100,352.

But not all state and local government workers are created equal, it would seem. According to Education Finance data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as I showed here New York City spent $272,500 in instructional (mostly teachers) wages and benefits per 20 students – by that comparison more than the average for Wall Street. Based on data reported in the FY 2013 Comprehensive Annual Report of the New York City Police Pension Fund and the FY 2013 Budget Summary from the NYC Office of Management and Budget, the average NYC police officer cost $212,220 in wages and benefits – far closer to Wall Street than to average New Yorkers. Similar sources put the average cost per NYC firefighter at $229,140. According to the National Transit Database, the average employee of New York City transit cost $137,646 in wages and benefits in FY 2012, less than the teachers, police officers and firefighters but still nearly double the average non-Wall Street worker in downstate’s NY private sector. The average Long Island Railroad worker cost even more, at $162,851. It’s a tale of three cities, but no one tells it because the first two classes are the people one needs to suck up to in order to get ahead, and the third does not matter. Some charts and additional commentary on what this means may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”


Super Maggot

An article in the Times this weekend literally caused me to wretch with nausea. Let me explain why.

But first, a little background.  



Public Employee Pensions in 2012, 2002 and 1993: Census Bureau Data

The Governments Division has released data on state and local government pension plans for FY 2012, and I have downloaded and compiled it for that year and a decade and two decades earlier. The data shows the arrival of a crisis in public employee pensions, with soaring public employee retirement costs causing or threatening municipal bankruptcy and leading to tax increases, service cuts, and reductions in benefits for future (and in some cases current and past) government employees. All this has shown up in the data between FY 2002 and FY 2012, although most of the decisions that led to the crisis were made in the previous decade.

The data shows that the people of New York City are among those who have been made worst off as a result of the rising cost of public employee pensions. There is more pension drama elsewhere simply because those living there are unwilling to live with the high tax burden and low public service levels (including 50 years of lousy schools) that have been imposed on New Yorkers since the 1970s. Those imposing that burden in New York benefit from low public participation in state and local government, something our state politicians go to great lengths to encourage. To show how and to what extent people are being affected, I have produced a spreadsheet that has tables with data for New York City and the Rest of New York State, and state and local government combined in all the other states and the U.S. as a whole. That spreadsheet, a series of charts, and commentary may be found on “Saying the Unsaid in New York.”