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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pigging Out

Cross-posted at Texas Hold 'Em Blogger.

More pigs feeding at the public trough.

The Milwaukee Journal’s new investigative bureau has committed what The Blogfather commonly refers to as a flagrant act of journalism.

Public employees from street sweepers to school superintendents in the Milwaukee area receive a retirement perk not commonly seen: the ability to cash out unused sick days as straight cash, in one case to the tune of nearly $70,000.

A Journal Sentinel review of 67 Milwaukee area municipalities and school districts found that 36 of them allow employees to take cash payouts for unused sick days, subject to a cap.

Nine more allow employees to convert unused sick days toward retirement health insurance coverage, a perk many state employees, including lawmakers, also get. The remaining 22 districts and municipalities reviewed do not allow a payout.

A Journal Sentinel investigation starting in late 2006 found that state elected officials rarely claim sick days, then parlay the unused days into generous insurance benefits in retirement. A team of reporters checked with local officials from Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee and Racine counties to see if the same kind of benefits occur locally. They generally don’t. But reporters found that workers are able to take advantage of unused sick leave by receiving cash payouts at the end of their careers.

Nice work if you can get it. In the real world, namely the private sector, the few times I’ve had sick days available, I had to use them within a specified period of time or they couldn’t be claimed, let alone converted to cash.

Get a load of this guy:

[O]ne official - Menomonee Falls Village Manager Richard Farrenkopf - was able to cash out at nearly $70,000.

Farrenkopf was owed $69,060 cash for unused sick days when he retired earlier this year. His payout was negotiated in a contract he had struck with the village, which capped his maximum sick days at 250. For other Menomonee Falls employees, the benefit is capped at 110 days.

$70,000. Seventy thousand dollars. I am sick and tired of hearing about how underpaid and under-compensated our public officials and other leeches on the public payroll are.

This guy gets a job which no doubt doesn’t require him to even work a regular work week — wanna bet you couldn’t find him in his office on a Friday afternoon? — plus all the other perks, like “conferences” in convenient vacation places with warm weather, lots of golf, fishing, etc. All paid for by you.

Then, when he’s done, in addition to the generous pension and retirement benefits, he backs up the Brink’s truck and rips off the taxpayers for $70,000 more off the gravy train.

Here’s more:

  • Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent William Andrekopoulos, who now qualifies for a sick leave cash payout of $26,365. That’s his cash severance for 40 days of unused sick time. He actually has accumulated 150 days of sick leave, but MPS policy caps his benefit at 40 days.
  • West Bend Administrator Dennis Melvin, who has accumulated $21,400 for 60 days of unused sick time. He actually has saved 120 sick days, but he can collect for no more than 60. If he retires from the city, the money can be used to buy city health insurance, but he can also just take the cash.
  • Chenequa Police Chief/Administrator Robert Douglas, who has accumulated a cash benefit of $41,299, which equals 120 days of his pay. Although Douglas has accumulated more than 120 unused sick days, Chenequa, a tiny but wealthy lake community in Waukesha County, limits the payout to no more than 120 days.
  • Brown Deer Village Manager Russell Van Gompel, who has accumulated a benefit of $24,738. The community has a cap of 75 days, and an employee must have worked for the village for 15 years for the benefit to kick in.

Of course, a thug from the public employees union — speaking of bloodsucking leeches — defends the practice.

“It fosters careful use of sick leave,” said Robert Chybowski, executive director of AFSCME Wisconsin Council 40. “Managers have judged it as a good way to foster the use of sick leave, because employees knew that somewhere down the line they would be able to get something out of it if they didn’t use sick leave during their careers.”

No it doesn’t. It just gives a bunch of lazy, underworked, overpaid goldbricks another generous apportionment of our money.

Ever wonder why taxes are so high in this state? It’s because of the perceived need to take care of the public sector at all levels. They can live high off the hog while the rest of us are stuck with the tab.

The public gravy train just keeps rolling on. But we can’t cut one iota of spending. No sir. Not for taking care of those feeding at the public trough.

Heeeere piggy piggy…. sooooeeeeee!

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