Generous Maryland Pension for Convicted Mayor Shines Spotlight on Wasteful Area of State and Local Spending

January 11, 2010

We’re hearing many protests from state and local governments that they’re “strapped,” that they’ve cut to the bone, etc. And at first it may seem plausible since tax revenues have been dropping, but how can the public believe their protestations when we see that state and local governments are determined to pay huge pensions to criminals, even ones who stole from the till?

The latest case is Baltimore’s mayor, Sheila Dixon, who will collect $83,000 a year, a sum that will rise with future increases in the salary of future mayors. The Baltimore Sun reports, highlighting the pension, and the Washington Post’s Charles Lane opines that the prosecutor was far too lenient for political reasons.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper has done some good work on this issue at the level of the U.S. Congress, and his efforts helped lead to enactment of good (if weak) legislation. But there aren’t many congressmen, so while it sets a good example to withhold pensions from congressmen who’ve been convicted of fraud, bribery and conspiracy, it doesn’t do much for the nation’s financial health. We need that example to be followed at the state and local levels, and not just for elected officials.

It’s not just a Maryland problem by any means. Here’s an example from New York that’s probably typical. State legislator Daniel Burling has compiles some examples that are outrageous to the point of being unbelievable: an enormous pension for a Long Island school official who stole $2 million from the school system, not to mention pensions for sexual predators and policemen who committed murders for the mafia.

On the other hand, here’s a righteous judge in New Orleans who garnished a felon’s pension to pay back to the government what he had stolen.


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