Letters to the Editor regarding Troopers’ efforts to keep Thruway safe, and the state’s pension system
Several newspapers have printed letters to the editor written by PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis regarding current topics. Recently, the Times Union of Albany printed a letter written by President De Federicis applauding Troopers’ efforts at keeping the Thruway safe, and The Buffalo News printed a letter written by President De Federicis regarding the state’s pension system. To read the letters, refer to the text below.
Times Union of Albany, January 9, 2004:
In reference to your Jan. 1 article headlined "Last year among safest on Thruway," it was noted that with 34 traffic deaths on the state Thruway, 2003 was on course to be one of the safest years on record.
Many reasons were cited for this positive achievement, including "rumble strips, special reflectors and free coffee for weary travelers."
Unfortunately, the key contributing factor to traffic safety on the statewide Thruway system was omitted — the brave and dedicated work of the New York state troopers.
Troopers are the only law-enforcement officers specifically assigned to patrol the 641-mile Thruway. They work around the clock, 365 days a year, assisting disabled motorists, investigating accidents, stopping speeders and arresting intoxicated drivers. They put their lives on the line whether they are standing in traffic during a blizzard or facing an armed fugitive.
In recent years, our troopers have been particularly diligent in their strict enforcement of the seat-belt and child-restraint laws. As a result, New York has the highest seat-belt compliance rate in the nation, and it is certain that hundreds of lives have been saved.
The men and women of the State Police continue to patrol the Thruway, as well as local roads throughout our communities. They do so because traffic safety is an essential element of their mission. The recent reduction in traffic fatalities on the Thruway is excellent news to be shared by all.
I would just ask that our troopers be properly recognized for a job well done.
DANIEL M. DeFEDERICIS
New York State Troopers PBA
The Buffalo News, January 7, 2004:
State retirees have earned their pensions
The News editorial, "Pension costs," claimed it did not intend to disparage state workers, however, that is exactly what it did.
While I agree with the editorial that the budget problems of New York State and its municipalities must be addressed, the wording and the tone of this editorial insinuated that retirees from the public employee sector are getting rich on "Cadillac" pensions and are the root cause of these budget problems. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What was briefly mentioned but then forgotten was that the main reason these costs have risen so much is that the pension fund investments in Wall Street suffered severe losses since 9/11.
Prior to this, the pension funds were earning such high returns that municipalities enjoyed several years in which they did not have to pay any money into the system.
The very modest cost of living adjustments, military credits for veterans and other "sweeteners," as the editorial called them, were not a "favor" to the public unions. The Legislature and the governor realized that many of our retirees, some of whom retired as far back as the 1940s, were living in poverty on minuscule pensions that never rose with inflation.
They also properly acknowledged our military veterans, many of whom are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. I do not think our state leaders should be criticized for these prudent and honorable acts.
Another lost point was the need for qualified and excellent public employees. How can we compete in the world economy or battle terrorism if our best teacher, firefighter or state trooper candidates choose the private sector instead? We can’t.
In order to attract and retain qualified employees, we must compensate them properly. One proven way to do this is to ensure they have an adequate income during their later years so they can live in retirement with dignity.
DAN DE FEDERICIS
President, New York State
Troopers Police Benevolent