Monday, March 21, 2011


"I've got mine, I've got mine.  This isn't such a bitter world.  Cause I've got mine" - Glen Frey - "I've Got Mine"

Fire Starter was struck by Johnson City Mayor Hannon's comments to the press regarding the fiscal year 2011-2012 budget.  Hannon talked of concerns regarding health insurance and pension costs facing the village.  This seems to be a recurring theme among local politicians.  They seem to be trying to take a page out of the playbook of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  They hold themselves out as the protector of the taxpayer all the while collecting public salaries, pensions and benefits.

Before Dennis Hannon was mayor, he was a Johnson City police chief.  He retired and is currently collecting a fat pension from the state retirement system; a retirement that was funded by Johnson City taxpayers.  In addition, Hannon receives retiree health insurance at the Village taxpayer expense.  In the meantime, he collects a salary for being mayor.  This sort of double dipping is exactly the kind of corruption that could be weeded out and save tax dollars.

If this is not bad enough, Hannon rails against public employees pay and benefits while he supplements his double dip with pay and benefits from his wife who is also a public employee.  Hannon's wife, Tami is a 911 dispatcher with Broome County.  However, Hannon's hypocrisy does not end there.  Hannon has used his position as trustee and then mayor to provide a Village job to his daughter, Kayla, who works in the Village courts.

The hypocrisy does not merely reside in the Village of Johnson City.   Endicott's mayor, John Bertoni has feathered his nest nicely at the taxpayer's expense.  Before becoming mayor, Bertoni was a retired shop teacher.  In addition to his fat publicly funded pension, Bertoni receives free lifetime medical coverage at the expense of Union Endicott school district taxpayers.  Like Hannon, Bertoni now double dips receiving his state pension and his mayor's salary.  Yet like Hannon, he sees no hypocrisy in attacking public employee's pay and benefits.

Well certainly the Village's attorney, Paul Sweeney is ideologically pure.  He's a private sector employee at a local law firm.  But even the "great defender of the taxpayer" is a hypocrite.  While he and his firm bash public employees around the state, his wife draws a salary and benefits as a teacher in the a local school district.  The mental gymnastics necessary to rationalize this hypocrisy would likely qualify Sweeney for the Olympics!

Fire Starter in no way begrudges any of these "public servants" their pay and benefits.  This is the bargain they made.  What irritates the Fire Starter is the self righteous, "holier than thou" attitude of these individuals.  Perhaps they think we do not know.  But that's the beauty of public employment.  It's all out there if you are willing to look.  They just count on us not looking.

And since we are already paying these two mayors through the retirement system, perhaps they can forgo their salaries as a show of good will and solidarity with taxpayers.  However, we are not holding our breath waiting for this sort of leadership. Because they have got theirs.

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