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MBTA: I wonder if they're hiring?

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Real World, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    What a state we live in. Hey, can we get the government to run more programs, agencies, and services? Please? I think I'm in the wrong profession. My best friend & also my closest cousin, both work at the MBTA. Talk about a joke.


    MBTA's retirement plan pays off for two

    Ex-officials get pension, work government jobs

    By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff | August 21, 2007

    Two former top officials at the MBTA are taking advantage of the generous terms of the agency's retirement plan, which allow employees to begin receiving a full pension at an early age, while simultaneously collecting six-figure salaries in other government jobs.

    Former MBTA general manager Michael Mulhern, 48, who became executive director of the MBTA Employees Retirement Fund after retiring, takes home more than $350,000 a year: a salary of about $225,000 and a pension of about $130,000.

    James Rooney, 49, a former deputy manager at the MBTA, now makes $255,000 as executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, while drawing an MBTA pension of more than $70,000.

    If they were employees covered by the state pension plan, they would have qualified for much less. To get a full pension, most state employees must wait until they are 65, but MBTA workers can receive a full pension after 23 years of service, regardless of age.

    If they had retired from the state, Mulhern would have qualified for a $35,000 pension and Rooney just $3,000, and they would have faced strict limits on how much they could earn in a government job.

    As the MBTA struggles to pay its bills and has been forced to raise fares three times in six years, some specialists say the pension plan is a fringe benefit the state can no longer afford. The T receives one-fifth of every sales tax dollar paid in Massachusetts.

    "These benefits are utterly astounding," said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation. "I've never heard of anything like this. The combination of benefits may well be the richest in America. There is absolutely no way that the T can maintain this kind of benefit structure and not eventually fall into effective bankruptcy."

    .............

    The T plan is generous in other ways. Employees must contribute 4 percent of their salary to the retirement fund, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, while most state workers must pay 9 percent on the first $30,000 of their salary and 11 percent on the remainder.

    There are also no restrictions on the amount of money MBTA retirees can earn if they return to work in the public sector. State workers are severely limited: They can earn no more, salary and pension combined, than the current salary of the job they retired from. Regardless of their new salary, they are allowed to work only 960 hours a year.

    MBTA retirees also receive free health insurance for life, regardless of when they retire, while state retirees continue to contribute toward the cost of their medical insurance, either 15 or 20 percent, depending on when they retired.


    http://www.boston.com/news/local/ma...08/21/mbtas_retirement_plan_pays_off_for_two/

    <-------------------------------------------------------------------->

    **Now here's the best part, the T is $8 Billion in debt. Yes, I said $8 Billion. So who do you think is going to pick up the tab when it's on the verge of going bankrupt? Yup, that'd be you and me! :enranged:

    At the heart of the MBTA’s huge—and growing—problem is its massive $8 billion debt burden. The authority devotes 27 percent, or $363 million, of their annual budget to debt service payments, which represent the authority’s largest single expense. If this debt debacle goes unaddressed, over 30% of its expenses will go to debt service by 2010.

    http://barriosblog.typepad.com/barriosblog/2007/04/mbta_debt_out_o.html
  2. Pujo

    Pujo Rookie

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    I honestly have no problem, on principle, with someone working while collecting retirement. They've paid into the fund and earned their retirement money, whether they're able to work a second job doesn't affect the taxpayer in the slightest.
  3. maverick4

    maverick4 Banned

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    ridiculous.
  4. sdaniels7114

    sdaniels7114 Rookie

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    The worst of it is you know those two went home ten pounds heavier (in nickels, dimes and quarters) every day they worked at the T.
  5. Real World

    Real World Rookie

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    Excuse me? How does it not? Do you know how the pension fund works in the MBTA? They match investment which is a direct cost to the agency. They also take the highest 3 years of earned income, divide it by 3 9getting the average obviously), and then paying out 80% of that figure for the rest of your life. Sorry, but that is a cost to the employer/agency which in this case falls to the consumers and the taxpayers.
  6. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Whoever negotiated the contract for the city obviously didn't do a good job. Happens all the time. Some jobs pay disproportionately well. It's not fair, but that's the nature of the free market. The same sort of inequities occur in private industry as well. What's the solution?
  7. Pujo

    Pujo Rookie

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    So let's reform pensions.

    But if we've said that someone becomes entitled to some benefit at a pre-determined time, the fact that they continue working elsewhere doesn't affect that. Whether he's staying home or working another job, he's still going to be costing taxpayers the same amount.
  8. Real World

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    Free market? WTH are you talking about? The MBTA is union dominated and government run. There's nothing free about that. Matter of fact it's restricted from sub-contracting. What a surprise, a govt. run agency that overpays it's employees and is $8 Billion in debt. Oh, and you don't have a problem with it. Another surprise I guess. :rolleyes:
  9. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is the kind of crap that makes me against pensions. When I retire I will get something like 30% of my final 3 years - that's more appropriate. Quite honestly, though, if they'd raise the limit on Roth IRAs and eliminate the pension completely I'd be good with that. Whether it's the burden on the taxpayer or on a company, overweight pensions can just become unsustainable especially with life expectancy rising over the decades.
  10. Pujo

    Pujo Rookie

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    I agree that pensions are outdated and personal retirement plans are the way to go.

    But, as long as someone IS vested in their plan, and the amount they're earning is already set in stone, the fact that they work another job at the same time doesn't change anything.

    I know it feels wrong that a public service employee is making that kind of money, but there's nothing terribly improper here.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
  11. scout

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    This is totally bogus. My guess is someone got paid off somewhere along the line. Why should a taxpayer pay someones' outrageous pension. But wait there's more, the freakin' business they are running is losing money. Something really smells bad on this one.
  12. Pujo

    Pujo Rookie

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    What are you talking about someone got "paid off"?

    What's he doing contrary to the law? Is it the amount he's getting from his pension that bothers you? Is it the fact that he's allowed to work a second job? Where's the issue, exactly?
  13. Real World

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    Math isn't your strong suit is it? It is a cost to taxpayers when these jokers start sucking off the pension plan. Sure they've "paid in", if you call 4% "paying in" in return for 80% of the average of your highest 3 years of salary. When you do the calculation of what that salary is, and what the pay in is at 23 measley years (and that's not counting the trade in of sick days), I can guarantee you that it's proportionally less than the pay in. Most pensions are factored on 30, or 35 years of service, not 23. Most require a higher rate of investment, with a shorter period of return.

    Reforming the benefits is the entire point isn't it? That the sweet heart deals these clowns get is wrong, and a fleecing of the tax payer.
  14. Real World

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    You're not really following the math here. If I tell you to give me a dollar a week, and that you can retire in 10 years, with full pay and benefits, that's great for you, but someone is going to have to foot the bill, because it won't have been you. At 4% pay in over 23 years, there is no way that the fund can pay you without going in the red. The whole point here is that this ridiculous plan is only possible because you and I will one day, if we're not already, be expected to pay the bill.
  15. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    While I do agree with you, this is the kind of thing that I think should be changed, means tested if you like. Whether it's these guys or other cases like my parents getting social security while not knowing what to do with the 3% of their IRA they have to take out, the government just keeps pouring money out in an unsustainable manner. Social security, pensions, it should all be as needed to help people make it through their last years - not as a retirement plan. Instead they'll just raise taxes.
  16. Pujo

    Pujo Rookie

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    I do fine with math, thanks. It helped me a lot in my selling mutual fund days. Your issue appears to be the retirement plan, not the fact that he's able to earn it while working two jobs. In that case we agree. I'd say just extend 401K accounts to government employees and let them save for retirement like everyone else.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2007
  17. Real World

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    They're not just losing money, they are $8 billion in debt. 1/3 of their revenue goes to paying the interest on their debt. All the while my cousin sits under a tree at a subway station drinking coffee. He's an inspector for the MBTA. He does nothing. They have 11 people doing the job of two. Mind you, my cousin was an engineer on the Big Dig, and then one for Mass Highway. When I tell you that his jobs have all been a massive fleecing of our money, I'm being nice. Afterall, he's the one who tells me they've been.
  18. Real World

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    My issue is the plan, the governement, the agency, the pay scale, the benefits, the costs, and most importantly, my money. :enranged:
  19. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    In maine a State Cop can retire (w/pension) and go to work on a town Police Force and probably get another pension.

    My own son just retired with a Captains Rank Pension from a Fire Dept, he applied for a job as Chief of a small town Fire Dept and it looks like he's going to get it, I asked him what he thought of this practice, he said "never look a gift horse in the mouth" if they are willing to give, than the receiver would be nuts to refuse, doesn't the cure for this lie with our government?
  20. scout

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    If it quakes like a duck, smells like a duck...... come on. Who negotiated the pension for these guys. Look at all the back scratching, winking, behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that goes on in Boston, constantly. With that in mind, a company heavily in dept, gets its people whopper pensions has to be looked at with scepticism. Remember K-Mart went belly-up and the Sr officials were excused from there $$$$ loans. Sounds similar here, tho this is a public entity, so bankruptcy is probably not a problem.
  21. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That's not a solution. It's a complaint. Do you think public employees shouldn't be allowed to unionize? How about private employees?
  22. Real World

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    Think about it this way, is the T ever going to close it's doors? Can you envision it running out of money in 10 years and the city of Boston not having a public transit system? No right? So guess who is going to pay that $8 Billion debt, fullfill the pension obligations, and pay for all the benefits (free 100% medical for life!)? Yup, that'd be you and me. :enranged:
  23. Real World

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    Let's not hijack and morph this thread from the fleecing of the taxpayer in this disgustingly run state, to a debate on people being able to unionize.
  24. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    All I'm asking you is what is the solution to the problem you presented? Do you have one? Or is it just an emotional issue for you?
  25. Real World

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    It's a fiscal insanity issue for me. My solution would be to run the MBTA with a shred, a crumb even, of brains. How's that? Do you really need an answer on that? How about requiring that people actually work 30 years, instead of 23? I mean, the city has some nice perks for it's employees, and even they don't get a milligram of what the MBTA gets. We won't even talk about Massport. I wonder if these clowns are going to get a couple weeks off, paid none the less, so they can "volunteer" for something.
  26. DarrylS

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    It is pretty much the same all over the place, in RI you can retire from the State Police after 20 years.. never even paid into the retirement fund until recently.. many move on to be police chiefs in some of the small towns, they do a very good job at what they do.

    As far as the MBTA pensions go, someone on both sides of this signed off on this plan.. it is called negotiation.. looks like some type of serious loophole to this former union guy.. it can be closed if they want to renegotiate it. Most unions can be pretty amenable to this type of stuff, as they know these two guys are robbing from the kitty and do not like what is happening either. The unions may verbalize support, but have no choice as they are liable for what they say.. underneath they probably know it needs to be changed if there is gonna be anything left for the rest of the rank and file.
  27. Real World

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    Huh? So then, because this was "negotiated", it makes everything ok? The police are another fleecing of the taxpayer. Has anyone seen how many perks they get? A cop with a degree gets paid pretty darn good these days, and then they cry that there aren't enough of them on the job. Well sheesh, when you cost over $100k per for a year, how many of you can a city afford to keep on the streets? Everyone wants more teachers, more cops, more firemen, etc. yet they fail to understand that paying through the nose for public servants amounts to a cost, and those costs relate to a budget. When those costs don't fit under the budget, taxes and fees go up. No one should be allowed to retire at 20 years of service, unless they are only sucking on what they paid in.
  28. sdaniels7114

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    These sweetheart pension deals aren't just about rewarding political patronage, they also induce good behavior because they can be taken away. Look at Billy Bulger's other brother, the bailiff. They either took his pension away or came very close, all because he wouldn't rat out his own brother. That's not exactly a serious crime IMO. Sure Whitey is/was a monster, but blood is still blood. That NBA ref who got nabbed fixing games was making over 200g's a year. Why would the NBA pay so much? I'm sure its because they hoped it insured against that sort of stuff.

    I imagine those two MBTA guys could have cleaned the Commonwealth out if they'd been so inclined. Perhaps the risk to their pensions helped prevent that?
  29. DarrylS

    DarrylS PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Did not say it was ok, implied that if it was already negotiated must have been a loophole, and I bet that the union leadership does not like the outcome.. the union has a legal responsibility to represent the rank and file, but they are also smart enough, that if asked, to go back to the table to change this type of thing. Gotta remember one thing about negotiations is that is a two way street.. the Mass Adm people have to agree to this also.. if they are too dumb to figure this out they should be held responsible.

    As far as police officers go, they are usually considered to have worked hazardous jobs, if they get out at 20 years it is usually not a huge pension. If they want to go to another police dept. or work for a security firm that is their business and the business of the people who hire them. That is one of the things I like about this country, we can all make choices like these.
  30. Real World

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    I'll tell ya, working for the government has never been so good.

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