Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New York’s teacher-retirement fund refuses to disclose info on how much they pay, even though taxpayers foot the bill

NY Taxpayers should be outraged by the conduct of these public employees. They want to keep secret information that shows how much tax money is being spent - even though the public foots the bill...The only response I can muster is "whiskey tango foxtrot ?"

If this is the direction public servants will take with taxpayers, then there should be a movement to end the pensions and cap the funds. The taxpayers should be able to review the fund's books and see who is rigging the game. Anything less would be criminal.

Mum’s the word
December 27, 2011

New York’s teacher-retirement fund wants to keep taxpayers in the dark about the pensions it hands out. Must be some darn fat pensions, huh?

Wouldn’t want to enrage the public to the point where pensions are trimmed, now would it?

In a predictable — but disturbing — development, the state Teachers’ Retirement System last week said it will no longer publicly disclose the names of teachers and how much they get in retiree benefits.

Even though the public foots the bill.

The move comes after other public-sector pension systems zipped their lips, following a disturbing appellate-court ruling last October.

That decision nixed a request by the Manhattan Institute’s Empire Center for the names of retired city police officers and their benefits.

The center had filed suit when the police fund suddenly refused to provide the info — after having done so for 28 years.

Unfortunately, both a state judge and an appellate panel ruled for the fund. Now virtually every pension system in the state is clamming up, citing the court rulings.

The Teachers’ Retirement System joined the club just days after the Empire Center filed papers to appeal the case before the state’s highest court.

It’s a troubling trend.

Which is why The Post and other news organizations have filed an amicus curiae brief calling for full disclosure.

After all, taxpayers pay for pensions; they have a right to know how their money is spent. Be it on salaries (which are routinely disclosed) or pensions.

Over the past few years, The Post has uncovered numerous public-pension scams, many of them involving individual retirees.

Like FDNY Lt. John “Johnny Lungs” McLaughlin, who retired on an $86,000 tax-free disability pension — even while competing in marathons and triathlons.

Available information has exposed systemic problems, too, like the Railroad Retirement Board’s granting of disability pensions to nearly everyone at the LIRR who sought one. None of these (or other abuses) could’ve been uncovered without the public disclosure of retirees’ names.

And again, this is information that has been openly available — without protest — for almost three decades.

It was only when the Empire Center set up an easily searchable Web site with names and pension amounts that the funds started squawking.

But the Web site did taxpayers a service.

The court rulings made things even worse than they were before.

Clearly, the Court of Appeals needs to hear this case quickly and reverse the earlier decisions. And make sure taxpayers stay clued in on the funds’ big secret

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