Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why is this man pointing the finger?

According to the Obama administration and the US Congress, ‘rich’ means a family income of $250,000. You can add to this much-envied group Pete Nowicki, the former and still acting fire chief of Orinda, California, who last December was earning a middle-class income of $186,000 a year, about the same as a US Congressman. (Earning the same as a Congressman is permissible. Earning more makes you the target of a tax surcharge.)

Then he decided to retire. He sold his unused 2008 vacation days and sick days back to the department. A few weeks later, he did the same thing for 2009. According to departmental rules, those payments counted as part of his salary, with the result that he was able to retire on a pension of $241,000 a year.

But that wasn’t the end of it! Since the department was now without a chief, he double-dipped by going back to work as a ‘consultant’ for $176,400 a year. So Orinda has the same chief as formerly, except that now he’s costing twice as much.

Presumably the consulting job won’t last forever, but we needn’t sorrow for Chief Nowicki. At 51 years old, he’s likely to collect his quarter-million-dollar pension (adjusted for inflation, no doubt) for more years than he ever worked for the fire department. Blue skies! – Dan Ford

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