JN: Retired or Working, Part-Time City Council Members, Family and Spouses Get Free, Full-Time Taxpayer-Funded Health Insurance

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Pigs Trough.jpgHannan Adley of the Journal News has published a brilliant story: In New Rochelle, five years in office gets health insurance in retirement. This is now the second time this year that the Journal News has scored with an article based on a FOIL request (the other was the security camera issue at the New Rochelle Public Library).

According to the article, no one seems to know when Joe Fosina, Fran Judge, Ruth Kitchen, Chris Selin, and Beuenia Brown are receiving taxpayer-funded health insurance. Kathy Gilwit is quoted saying "This practice had been in effect as long as anyone can remember until amended in 1998 to require an 18 percent contribution". Really? NO ONE KNOWS? I'll bet a nickel Len Paduano knows. I'll bet people who changed the practice to require that 18% contribution know. And I have little doubt that Joe Fosina, Fran Judge, Ruth Kitchen, Chris Selin, and Beuenia Brown know. That they are not quoted in the article speaks volumes.

Fosina, Judge, Kitchen and Selin paid nothing into the plan, Brown pays the 18% contribution. The insurance for the five costs $28,166 a year.

All of this is in addition to the taxpayer-funded health insurance for Mayor Noam Bramson and current members of the City Council which costs $83,853. Altogether, the premiums total $112,019 a year. Council members are also paid a "stipend" Of $32,000 a year. Shouldn't this stipend be used to pay for insurance, if they want it? Instead the one council person who has opted out and has private insurance gets PAID for opting out.

The article contains this whopper from Chuck Strome:

City council members and the mayor are not defined as either full time or part time employees, but typically put in more than part time hours, said City Manager Charles Strome.

And another whopper from Noam Bramson:

Bramson said the health benefits were warranted because elected officials worked full-time hours and should be treated like other employees in terms of benefits.

"On a personal basis, and this is true of every past mayor I've known, the responsibilities of this office demand at least a full-time commitment and often much more," said Bramson, who makes $88,971 a year.

If all these people are full-time then why are paying Chuck Strome to run the City? Is New Rochelle so large that we need to have a full-time City manager, full-time department heads AND a full-time Mayor and a full-time City Council?

This is total baloney.

Talk of the Sound reported on this malarkey over a year ago:

New Rochelle's "Full-Time" Mayor Moonlights His Way to Six-Figure Income

Mystery Solved: Noam Bramson a Part-Time Mayor

New Rochelle's Mayor Moonlight #1 Individual Recipient of Lowey Largess

The "Mystery Solved" article contains the employment form completed by Mayor Bramson in which he checked the "part-time" box. If there is "confusion" on whether the Mayor and City Council members are full-time or part-time employees then why did Bramson check "part-time"? If he did check "part-time" why is he getting a $15,000 a year insurance package? Does the $45,000 a year from Nita Lowey have anything to do with this?

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

onewhoknows on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 23:02

This healthcare perk has been going on for 20 years or more. Council members get fully paid health insurance while firefighters pay 18% for theirs, even after 20 years on the job. Council members get theirs after 5. difficult deciding what caterer to get your meals from at meetings. FF's hired after 1983 must pay 18% even in retirement. Council members get it more than a decade later.
Rewarding failed Council members with boards and commissions so they can get the required time to get this perk is immoral at best, possibly illegal.Their acting like the current Administration, handing out jobs to folks not to run for office.
City of New Ro, corrupt as ever.

Political Forechecker's picture
Political Forec... on Sun, 06/13/2010 - 17:59

Mayor Bramson has exploited this position to a very powerfull controller of all aspects some that he really should not be involved in. He made himself a full time mayor and paid himself as such, however he also allows himself to get stipends for performing marriages and allows himself to receive payments from Nita Lowey. None of this is illegal but in fact it is probably at best greedy. I suggest either he should be part time or we should ask for the City Manager Position to be obsoleted so he can be a full time mayor.
This would require a change in charter.
Other aspects of the Mayors controll are his choice in favorite Developer Status for Cappelli, his use of the threat of Emminent Domain to allow Cappelli to assemble contiguous property for Le Count Place. How about asking Chuck Schumer to work on the United States Postal Service to try and get them to sell Cappelli the Post Office on the LeCount Site for below market value. Its a good thing that the Postmaster saw through this and refused to sell below market.
Bramson wields the power to choose whom sits on the IDA and to his liking and his ability to controll who gets the dole outs of tax payer induced PILOTS.
Then lets look at all of his so called appointments Fertel looms large to me as he was handed district 5 and then ran unopposed. This entire situation has a stench the free health insurance just adds to the aroma of a system that clearly has outlived its usefullness...This kind of control has not been around since Boss Tweed ran the City of New York with the same corrupt style as now witnessed here in New Rochelle. Lets hope the voters make some changes to reduce his power. Lets hope people get tired of being taken to the cleaners.

Martin Sanchez's picture
Martin Sanchez on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 02:36

The people have some power to change this. Collecting sufficient signatures to place a proposal on the November ballot that would ask the community a simple questions: It would be titled Proposition # 1 > Do we need the position of Mayor in New Rochelle? I say NO because we have a City Manager as the highest executive who manages the city's affairs. We do not need a P/T Mayor making a FT salary. With Chuck and Noam it often looks like a military junta! The voice of the people can be heard. Mounting this campaign requires work and lots of signatures - I believe 10% of the electorate signatures is required to place a proposition for the populace to vote on. Anyone willing to undertake this on? Ask the County Elections Board. They are supposed be there to help you!

Anthony Galletta on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:26

I agree with Martin. What is most troubling to me is that no one knows how or when these perks started. You mean to tell me thses perks are illegal? There's no legislation? No council vote? The mayor's salary includes a yearly cost of living increase but not council so Bramson is buttering his own bread and screwing council.

This is all about the power to pick and choose who gets what. Ms. Bea Brown replaced Rhoda Quash who died shortly before her term ended. Ms. Brown was appointed and successfully campaigned for a full term. Ms. Brown was defeated for re-election. Ms. Brown did not have five years as a councilmember to qualify for health insurance or retirement so City Manager Strome appointed her to head a committee which was funded through Homeland Security. This paying position was never publicly posted. Only after she combined her council service with the Homeland Security job did Ms. Brown qualify for taxpayer subsidized health insurance. At the end of the day, offering any benefits after only 5 years of part-time service is irresponsible to say the least.

Fifth Ave Guy on Mon, 06/14/2010 - 18:14

Bea Brown was an embarrasement and a horrendous councilperson which is why she got the boot after 1 term, not to mention that she was also a tax deadbeat for not paying her New Rochelle property taxes.

I'm surprised to read that Strome appointed her to anything, but whatever she was doing it was a pure waste of taxpayer money as nothing ever came of it.

Maybe Strome/Bramsom offered her the job so she wouldn't run against Jim Stowe for fear that they might lose the seat in the general election to Doug Colety. A very interesting revelation because these jobs aren't just handed out for nothing, there must have been a reason so maybe that's it.

But to continue paying for her and the others health care is ridiculous and also part of the reason why our property taxes are so high! We could really use some good leadership around this city!