Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Recoupment at a Price

Following a stint in the United States Marine Corps, Harry E. Findel, following in his father's footsteps, found civilian employment with the Long Island Railroad, where he served as an engineer.  Nothing I have found even suggests that either his military or civilian service were anything other than honorable.

Following retirement, Harry and his wife Shirley moved to Florida.

Harry died on September 18, 2013.  And then, Shirley, in her grief as she strived to deal with the adjustments necessitated by her new condition of widowhood, received a disconcerting letter from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent organization of the LIRR.  The letter informed Shirley that a clerical error was made in 1995, resulting in Harry's receiving a monthly $124.80 per month more than he should have been paid, and will she please remit the accumulated $26,707.20 discrepancy back to the MTA (which the MTA will be deign to extend the courtesy of allowing such repayments through convenient deductions from her own widow's pension payments).

Comparing the numbers on her reduced pension check with her living expenses, Shirley saw that the arithmetic would not work for her, and so, she has lawyered up and is contesting the MTA's determination.

The MTA is claiming that it has the fiduciary duty to recoup the pension payments.

And, quite frankly, they are correct.  And they should get the recoupment.

But this recoupment, even if they recoup every penny, will come at a price.

As mentioned in the posting of 31 July 2013, there was a big Railroad Retirement Board disability pension fraud scandal involving LIRR employees.  The last of the defendants have been sentenced.  Some got some hard time in the pokey, but former LIRR conductor Christopher Parlante, who gave a great operatic performance as he sang from the witness stand, was spared the slammer for his own fraud, and ORDERED to repay his ill-gotten gain of almost $295,000 at the rate of $25 per month.  Doing the arithmetic, he should have it all cleared in less than a thousand years.

The comparison between Parlante and Shirley Findel is not lost on the widow or her attorney.  And the news media have not missed that cruel irony either.  Again, all signals indicate that Harry Findel served honorably, and he does not seem to have been implicated in this disability retirement scandal.

The LIRR and MTA have been made into monkeys by the whole affair, as has the union, which, as noted in the 31 July 2014 posting, gave free office space to Marie Baran, the "consultant" who advised the LIRR retirees how to game the system to claim false disability from the RRB.

The LIRR is now at a labor contract impasse with its unions, who now threaten to strike in July if the impasse is not resolved.  I do not know how this one will play out, but it would not be surprising in the least if this Parlante-Findel comparison is somehow insinuated into the story line.

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