Letter: Pensions story needed perspective

Granted, it may be idealized, but shouldn’t the media provide fair, balanced reporting? If so, then the article “Six-figure public pensions rising,” Aug. 3, failed to meet that standard. Not that I dispute the facts as they were accurate but what was absent was any objective perspective.

The article was based on an Empire Center report, an organization with a well-demonstrated bias against public employees and whose agenda would jeopardize their retirement financial security. The article noted that nearly 4,000 retirees received pensions in excess of $100,000 a year, an 18 percent increase over the preceding year, with the inference that public retirees enjoy lavish pensions at taxpayers’ expense.

Had a context been provided, readers would have known that the average pension for the vast majority of retirees is under $30,000 and that less than 1 percent of the state’s 440,000-plus retirees receive a six-figure pension.

Some balance was given when it was mentioned that recipients of these larger pensions were predominantly retirees from the medical centers and downstate uniformed services, where salaries are much higher.

When the point is not made that this is not reflective of the vast majority of public retirees, it leads to wildly inaccurate portrayals like the Aug. 6 editorial cartoon “Tee Time at the New York Public Sector Workers 6-Figure Pension Club” depicting taxpayers laboring under the weight of retirees.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli documents how public retirees contribute to the New York economy. I’d respectfully suggest Times Union readers deserve to understand the whole story.

Jack McPadden

President, Retired Public Employees Association


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