Career politician Jim Whelan?s failure to reform a broken system that allows public employees to legally stockpile unused sick leave and then cash it in up to $300,000 at taxpayer expense when they retire has created the mess now confronting property taxpayers in Atlantic City and other municipalities around the state, charged Assemblyman Vince Polistina.
Polistina called on Whelan to explain to taxpayers why he ignored the problem for nearly thirty years instead of doing something about it, and questioned whether Whelan was planning to take advantage of the practice himself upon retirement.
Polistina was responding to a weekend report in the Atlantic City Press revealing that millions of dollars saved by massive layoffs of Atlantic City police officers and firefighters last year were used to pay off the retirements of the departments? veterans, with $2.2 million gained from layoffs of 60 police officers and 30 firefighters helped to offset $7.1 million in terminal leave payments to veteran police and fire employees upon retirement. (Source: WATCHDOG REPORT)
Polistina said Whelan?s concession that the system is in need of reform, while at the same time characterizing efforts to comprehensively reform it now as a case of wanting to ?hang a man and shoot him? is another example of Whelan trying to have his cake and eat it too.
?If Jim Whelan concedes that the system is broken and has been for a long time, then why didn?t he do something about it before now when he had the chance?? asked Polistina, pointing out that Whelan did nothing to address the growing crisis during his twenty years as an elected official in Atlantic City, nor during his six years in Trenton.
“This have-his-cake and eat-it-too strategy is a preview of the re-election campaign he will try to run this year. My question to the Senator is simple: How can you claim to be a reformer, who is cleaning up the mess in Trenton, when as a Councilman, Mayor, Assemblyman and Senator, you were part of creating that mess in the first place??
Polistina also called on Whelan to disclose if part of his motivation was personal, and whether he would benefit from the status quo.
?I think the Senator should disclose whether he plans to cash-in any unused sick leave time upon retirement from his public job and, if so, how much does he stand to collect?? added Polistina. ?Taxpayers deserve to know where he’s coming from on this issue and why.?