Let me ask you a question.
If I offered you a free room with three meals a day, complete health care, the use of a gym, library and TV, a running track, weight room, free educational courses, and all you have to do is to move to small Upstate community for a year and a half, would you do it? Your family could visit you once a week and the deal is open to women as well as men.
OK, what if I sweeten the pot? I will pay you when you return home, 18 months later, a New York state tax-free income of $166,000 per year, for the rest of your life.
Want more? How about if I include medical and dental for you and your family, also for life?
Would you consider it then? It’s only a year and a half. How about if I try to arrange conjugal visits?
Before you decide, I must tell you that this quaint town you would be living in, is not really so quaint, but it is a minimum-security prison, filled with non-violent felons, many of whom were rich, successful, educated, politically-connected Wall Street types.
Would you still consider it for a short 18 month stay, and then be financially secure for the rest of your life? Are some of you considering it?
Remember Alan Hevesi? He was the New York State and New York City Comptroller and he did just that.
After making millions for himself and his cronies, he spent 19 months in prison, convicted of a play-to-pay scandal involving New York State’s pension fund.
This “trusted” public servant’s job was to oversee the billions of dollars in New York’s pension funds. What was his penalty?
After a year and a half in prison, he walked away with his $166,000 dollars a year, New York tax-free pension and all the benefits that go with it.
But before you consider signing up, you may be interested to know that Hevesi will be the last one to pull that one off.
That’s because in 2011, Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature, approved a bill barring lawmakers who are convicted of a serious crime from cashing in on their New York State pensions. Way to go, Gov.!
Finally our legislator has done something to make us proud.
But before you get ready to board a bus heading Upstate, as in everything else here in the Big Apple, there is a loophole.
It’s not retroactive! Any crooked politician who was elected before 2011 is exempt. They still collect their pensions after they return from prison. Too bad, but it’s a start.
Mark down the name Preet Bharara.
He is the spectacular Manhattan U.S. Attorney striking fear into the hearts and minds of every crooked politician and white-collar criminal who thinks they can get out of prison as a rich ex-con.
This fearless prosecutor is taking aim at those crooked politicians who would collect their pensions for crimes they committed after the new law started in 2011.
He announced last week, testifying before Cuomo’s Moreland Commission investigating public corruption, that if ex-state Senate majority leader Malcolm Smith and Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson are found guilty of their charges of corruption, he will seize their pensions.
Queens City Councilman Dan Halloran, at the heart of a criminal conspiracy to rig the New York City mayoral race, is facing a similar penalty if he is convicted. Even though this pension loss would require judicial review, it marks an incredible change in the way we treat elected politicians who violate the trust we place in them.
If that wasn’t good enough, here comes an encore.
Also, that same Moreland Commission is proposing that from now on all state legislators will have to detail and make public all of their outside earnings over $20,000.
Do you believe that? To tell you the truth, I’ll believe this one when I see it.
Can you imagine Sheldon Silver, the most powerful Democratic state legislator, actually agreeing to make public the income he earns from his well connected law firm?
How are our “saintly” representatives in Albany reacting to this proposal?
Do you think they want us to have a clear picture of all their extra-legislative activities?
You guessed it. Typical Albany politics. They are threatening Cuomo’s legislative agenda, proposing a late budget again, and (you knew this was coming) they threatened to investigate Cuomo himself.
Politics as usual in the cesspool otherwise known as Albany, our beloved state capital.
Dr. Stephen Morris