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Opinion

EDITORIAL: Nassau DA's pension reforms deserve attention

A recent Nassau County grand jury report reads like a how-to for private professionals wanting to glom on to the generous public pension system. Their methods usually lacked any sort of paper trail - no time sheets or contracts defining services. These arrangements just smell.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice delivered the report, which includes case studies of 11 unidentified consultants to special districts. One, a self-employed certified public accountant, scored health benefits by putting in "a few hours a week" keeping books for a sanitation district. Another, a lawyer, was paid a base salary of $40,489 by another sanitation district, plus a $200,000 life insurance policy - all while billing the district $200 an hour on top of that. At the same time, these people were racking up fat retirement credits.

Rice has issued a long list of recommendations, including criminalizing some conduct, that goes beyond what Attorney General Andrew Cuomo was able to get Albany to impose on school districts last year. Of course, her efforts don't have a prayer in the State Legislature. Easy jobs with benefits and pensions are the currency of New York's major political parties.

But other Rice recommendations are possible, and the state comptroller should add them to his previous reforms. Some even make good reading. For example, if special district "employees" report working more than 350 days a year, you can be sure it's time to investigate. hN

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