Why is everybody so desperate to get a hack job in the public sector?
Because it beats working.
Every week, it seems, there’s more evidence of just how sweet it is to bury one’s snout in the public trough, as opposed to having to actually work for a living in the Dreaded Private Sector (DPS).
Last week, for example, the state inspector general reported that Massachusetts taxpayers are on the hook for $558 million in “unused” sick and vacation time.
“Some of these people in these positions,” the IG said, “don’t fill out timesheets.”
You don’t say! I’m shocked, shocked.
Every couple of years, you see big headlines about obscenely large sick-time payouts to retiring hacks. This year it was Daniel Asquino, a lifelong coatholder at Mount Wachusett Community College. He reached the checkout counter with $266,060 in what was called unused sick time, plus another $68,078 in vacation days.
Asquino broke the record for biggest payout to a hack college president that had been briefly held by Dana Mohler-Faria of Bridgewater State College, I mean University. Dr. Dana grabbed $269,984 when he retired two years ago. In addition to that and his pension, he also got a six-figure “consulting” contract — until somebody dropped a dime to the newspapers.
Remember Tom Kinton, the career Massport payroll patriot who retired in 2011 at age 59 with a $200,000 pension and $459,000 in unused sick time? After a few headlines and even fewer calls for reform, these layabouts all ride off into the sunset … in a stretch limousine, forgotten but not gone.
And nothing ever changes.
Recently, the state surveyed managers at the MBTA and the state Transportation Department. The lead on that story concerned one paper shuffler complaining he was “forced to take former toll collectors who don’t even know how to turn on a computer.”
Another shocker, more Teamsters in the news. But a couple of other gripes were buried deeper in the report.
On page 8: “(We must) pay a reasonable salary to the staff we have so that we could retain them.”
On page 13: Inability to promote younger hacks because “the only opportunities for advancement come about when someone leaves, which is an extremely rare event.”
Both of the above can’t be true. Either they’re leaving because they’re not getting paid enough or the jobs are so great that vacancies are “extremely rare.” Lack of turnover — it’s not a terribly pressing problem most places in the DPS like, say, the food court at your local mall.
Yes, you say, but the real question is, how can I get me one of them hack jobs?
Forget the job postings on the state website. I would like to introduce you to the state’s next hack judge, one William J. Ritter. On the Superior Court bench he’ll be making over $170,000 a year, with two pay raises scheduled in the next eight months, for what amounts to a 35-week work year. And behind that comes the six-figure pension.
But as a wannabe state hack, your only question is, how much did it cost him? How much did the future Judge Ritter shell out to the hack politicians before he died and went to heaven, as they say at the State House?
The answer, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF): $14,295.
Last week, the governor’s office sent out a press release about the latest nationwide search that resulted in the appointment of the pols’ philanthropist Ritter:
Gov. Charlie Baker: “I am pleased to submit his name.”
He got $1,000 from Ritter.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito: “Attorney Ritter … is known for his tireless work ethic.”
She got $3,150 from Ritter. It’s a Worcester thing — he’s from Holden, she’s from Shrewsbury. But he’s long been into “community service,” as Karyn puts it, and that means giving to anyone and everyone who might someday be selecting new judges while perusing the OCPF contributions list in the Corner Office.
As far back as 2002, Ritter was giving to Mitt Romney ($775 total). In 2006, the fight for governor was between Kerry Murphy Healey ($1,500) and Deval Patrick ($250). Deval’s running mate, another Worcester hack named Tim “Crash” Murray — Ritter handed him $750. Healey’s LG candidate was Reed Hillman — da judge gave him $250.
But Ritter didn’t just take care of people who might do for him what Tall Deval now has — hand him an early retirement package worth millions.
Ritter, a law ‘n order man no doubt, gave $100 to jailbird speaker Sal DiMasi (Bureau of Prisons No. 27371-038). He also took care of then-Rep. Vinny Pedone of Worcester, who was most assuredly not a member of the MENSA caucus on Beacon Hill, although this three-watt bulb has parlayed his obsequious coat holding into a $199,000-a-year hack job. So Pedone can’t be that dumb, can he?
Moral of story: It takes money to make money. But it’s worth it. It beats working.
Buy Howie’s new book, “Kennedy Babylon,” at howiecarrshow.com.
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