The Buddy-Boy World of Massachusetts Public Pensions

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Remember Tim Bassett? He’s the guy who retired, took a pension, then got special legislation written just for him that allowed him to go back onto the public payroll while retaining his pension. (And who’s wife just had her pension reduced because she tried to count years as a library trustee, except she didn’t attend the meetings.) Read the details here.

He’s currently the Executive Director of the Essex County Regional Retirement Board, where the Globe estimates he is paid $123,000 annually (and don’t forget the $41,000 pension too).

But that’s not enough. In his spare time, he lobbies for a variety of clients, among them are other retirement boards.

The Salem Times reports today that his firm was paid $16,000 by the Salem Retirement Board to lobby for some legislation. As the article notes, this work would typically be done by the local legislative delegation.

Public (and quasi-public entities) should not be allowed to hire lobbyists.

And someone on the public payroll at $100k+ should not have a part-time side job.

The broader point is that our public pension system allows absurd abuses and is so complex as to defy easy oversight. Closing loopholes is all well and good, but new loopholes will quickly open unless we undertake root and branch reform.