Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and the host of a nationally syndicated weekend show on the Talk Radio Network. Show More

All eyes are on Wisconsin this weekend. Will the nation's gaze turn to Nassau County next?

Whatever sweet deals unionized teachers have been receiving in Milwaukee and Madison, you can bet they get nothing half as sweet as this: A $338,000 handshake on the way out the door, like some Nassau police got last year.

Not a bad slide into early retirement!

According to county Comptroller George Maragos, $338,000 was the median payout for the 115 Nassau cops who took advantage - yes, took advantage - of the county's gold-plated retirement-incentive deal.

Six-figure salaries, Cadillac health benefits, generous sick days and vacations - and now this? Wisconsin teachers are sweatshop workers by comparison.

And yet: The issue of coddled state employees and their sweetheart union contracts has ground the Wisconsin government to a halt. If only they got an eyeful of Long Island!

Wrap your head around these numbers, also pulled together by the comptroller's office: Correction officers received a median payout of $54,000 (five got more than $100,000). Civil Service Employees Association members got $45,000 each. Forty of them hit six figures.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

While you ponder that, remember that the incentive program was created by the supposedly tightfisted county executive, Edward Mangano. It cost Nassau County a total of $57.5 million. Mangano's people say the county will ultimately save tens of millions by bum-rushing highly paid workers out the door.

Maragos disputes that estimate. But can anyone deny the comptroller's basic point? "The county simply cannot afford to continue paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per person in termination pay."

Nassau's platinum handshake, remember, wasn't for increased efficiency or a job well done. It was for leaving and never coming back.

If these county employees - and it's not just cops - are serving us so splendidly, why are we paying them so lavishly to leave?






advertisement | advertise on newsday





advertisement | advertise on newsday

  • Academy voters: We "liked" Social Network.



  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: I'm decertifying the Best Picture nominees.




ASKED AND UNANSWERED: In his dispute over the LIRR's $10 ticket-refund surcharge, is Hewlett's Christopher Ebel paying Melville attorney Kenneth Mollins more - or less - than $10 in legal fees? Or is the legal bill this time being paid in free publicity? . . . As an "American Idol" front-runner, does Calhoun High junior Robbie Rosen understand that Jennifer Lopez's rave - "Honestly, you're one the best singers we have" - is worth its weight in future gold records? Seven-time all-county musician was nice - but this is life-changing, kid . . . In the Case of the Distressed Jones Beach Seal, will anybody bother to ask: How much of the sudden uproar is caused by the cuteness of seals? Remember the Case of the Distressed Jones Beach Jellyfish? Didn't think so . . . OK, which part of our February plea didn't the weather gods understand: (a) Higher temps are good? Or (b) lashing rains are bad? In hindsight, should we have mentioned (b) a bit more emphatically?




Different doctrines, different practices, different prayers: It's difficult to get Long Island's many religious groups to work together on anything. But more than 80 Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and other faith leaders have signed a strongly-worded letter to Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), pleading with him to cancel his planned congressional hearings regarding what he calls the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism.

"We fear this effort will only further divide our community and undermine our nation's highest ideals," the alarmed leaders say.They're right.
E-mail ellis@henican.com

Follow at twitter.com/henican