Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Meet Charlie Lincoln

Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey, whom I've been mildly critical of in the past, knocks one out of the park (and over the Turnpike) today with this MUST-READ column of the day. Definitely one of those pieces from which it's nearly impossible to excerpt only a few bits and pieces.

WARNING: Put away all your breakables and secure your firearms [Steve would want it that way] before reading any further.

Every cause needs a champion. Now Charles Bradshaw Lincoln has emerged as the new face of the need to reform Massachusetts' wasteful public pension system.

Last month the Pioneer Institute, the market-oriented think tank, published a detailed examination of how abuse and inefficiency are costing taxpayers billions. The report, written by Ken Ardon, who teaches economics at Salem State College, found a system that is "riddled with exceptions, ambiguities, and loopholes" that allow some employees to game the system, requiring an additional $125 million in annual taxpayer funding. Ardon attributed $3 billion of the state's $13 billion in unfunded pension liabilities to such abuse.

$3,000,000,000. That's a lot of:

(A) Cops
(B) Teachers
(C) Firefighters
(D) Healthcare for the poor
(E) No-show, public-sector hack salaries

As good as the Pioneer report is, the story of Charlie Lincoln, lifetime Brockton cop, tells it better. Lincoln -- as the state inspector general calls him in his own scathing new report -- is "a master manipulator." You almost have to admire the guy's genius in playing the system -- if we weren't picking up the bill.

That bill comes in the form of a lifetime pension of nearly $140,000 a year -- or $11,648.9 2 a month. That is an extraordinary payday for a retired a cop -- 55 percent higher than any pension ever paid in Plymouth County -- but the most stunning part is how Lincoln allegedly "earned" that pension. The inspector general, Gregory Sullivan, calls it "one of the most significant abuses in the expenditure of public funds and abuse of employment benefits in the history of the Commonwealth."


In the three years that Lincoln worked the day shift at the Plymouth jail and the night shift as a Brockton cop, he called in sick 251 days, the inspector general says. Repeat: 251 days. On 148 days he took sick leave from Brockton, he worked a full shift in Plymouth. On his last year on the "job" in Brockton, Lincoln worked only 60 full days and 14 partial days out of a possible 243 work days, the inspector general found.

For his three years of "service" to Plymouth County, those taxpayers will pay Lincoln $62,696.63 a year FOR LIFE. Brockton taxpayers will pay $76,553.81. Dedham will kick in $536.64.

As I said, hide the breakables.

Put away the guns.

And read the whole thing.

Just a little something to keep in mind the next time you hear the cries of "More local aid!", "Vote Yes on Prop 2-1/2 Override!", "We can't afford anymore cops/teachers/firefighters!", or "Free healthcare for all!" emanating forth from the mouths of your local "progressive" do-gooders.

The taxpayers of Plymouth County should be paying Charlie Lincoln here and former Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph McDonough a visit this weekend. And, just so you know, there will be a full moon on Sunday, though also a chance of clouds. Better bring torches, folks, so you can...uhhh...see (yeah, that's it).