“If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.”--Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, November 29, 1802
A new group of politicians are coddling James Carver, president of the Nassau County P.B.A. For continued access to his purse, they will obfuscate the electorate with fear-mongering and resist any cost-saving measures under the guise of “fighting for public safety.” Fighting to maintain untenable perquisites, however, lies beneath their rhetoric.
In “Nassau Police unions switch political sides,” Newsday reported on April 3, 2012 that under “Safe Nassau,” County police unions donated $550,000 to Democratic candidates last year.
Angered by Mangano initiatives in 2010 that forced unions to agree to a total of $150 million in cost-cutting concessions or face layoffs, the police unions created the Safe Nassau PAC, which last year donated $550,000 to Democratic candidates, primarily in three key legislative races: $172,000 each to Democrats Delia DeRiggi-Whitton and Legis. Joseph Scannell, who both won their races, and to Adam H. Moser, who lost to freshman Legis. Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence).
Mr. Carver has vociferously opposed any additional concessions. “We have done our fair share,” he stated in his op-ed that appeared in Newsday last year. He argued that since September 2008, he agreed to millions of dollars worth in cost-saving measures (including “reopening police union contracts”). Was it enough?
Last year, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (N.I.F.A.) hired Grant Thornton to analyze Nassau County’s finances. It reviewed each County department, identified efficiency opportunities, and made recommendations to implement improvements. Some of the highlights include:
- The County taxpayers could benefit from reorganizing police precincts according to crime statistics (“Realigning precincts and posts based on crime statistics would be expected to reduce the need for special operations/detail, which currently accounts for 11% of total overtime YTD, June 2011,” page 250)
- County patrol officer pay and benefits far exceeded the Consumer Price Index (CPI)--a measure of inflation--by 31%, page 252
- Inefficient manning requirements negotiated by the County police unions increase overtime costs (e.g., “The Bayville ruling and other agreements prohibit officers from being deployed to other precincts to fill staffing needs created by crime and operations or by minimum manning standards,” page 254)
- “Average overtime pay per officer has grown from $8,716 in 1998 to $15,686 in 2011, equal to annualized growth rate of 4.6%,” page 255
According to the Nassau County 2012 adopted budget, the average Nassau County P.B.A. member receives $198,357 in total compensation as residents struggle to pay the bill. Mr. Carver must make additional concessions for the sake of the people he has sworn to protect.