2006_02_costanza.jpgThis morning's NY Times article about some very high-ranking city officials who get a salary AND pension at the same time from the city's payroll is fascinating. For a mayor who wants to limit pensions and benefits for other unions, Mayor Bloomberg has made a point of requesting special waivers for certain retired city workers to draw pensions as they return to the city workforce, and the Times's opening is hilarious:

One of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's first acts on starting his second term was to write a letter to personnel officials asking that his correction commissioner, Martin F. Horn, be allowed to collect a pension along with his $178,200 salary.

But to accomplish that under a state retirement law that seeks to prevent such "double-dipping," Mr. Bloomberg had to make the case that Mr. Horn was singularly qualified for the job, and that no one else of his talents and skills could be found for it.

So Mr. Bloomberg essentially declared that Mr. Horn, who also oversees the Probation Department, was the greatest commissioner in the world, and would, he wrote, "bring qualifications to these positions which cannot be matched by any other individual."

Other "greatest commissioners in the world," aka the retired but now working for the city crew, are Fire Commissioner Nicolas Scoppetta (though the Mayor didn't need waivers for him because he's 64 and eligible for retirement), Emergency Management Comissioner Joseph Bruno (you may remember him from the Washington Heights landslide and the subway strike), and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty (when there's snow, he speaks). And the Mayor isn't the only official to use this - the NYPD and Park Department have lobbied to get their officials their pensions along with salaries. Of course, this adds fuel to the fire that city pension systems are a bit too wacky for their own good (though groups say it doesn't seem to cost that much more) and that the Mayor needs to stand up for his reforms. What this tells Gothamist is that once you're in the city government, you can be set for life, if a later mayor picks you to head a department or agency. Kids, think about that!