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No health plans for part-time politicians

June 4, 2011
Editorial by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Publisher Catherine Moore, Managing Editor Peter Crowley

The Lake Placid village Board of Trustees this week did what it and other municipal boards should have done a long time ago: It stopped letting board members get on its health insurance plan.

We hope every town, village and county board follows suit. Essex County town supervisors may be the only exceptions up here since, with their town and county duties combined, they could be considered full-time workers.

Almost no private employers offer benefits to part-time employees - especially ones this generous - and taxpayers expect government to emulate these best practices. Otherwise, it's an example of those who make the rules feathering their own nests.

Former Lake Placid trustee Pat Gallagher tried more than once to halt health insurance for board members but was stymied. Now that the board has only one member who takes the benefit instead of two or three, as before, it became more politically possible. Trustee Jason Leon's complaint that he wasn't notified of the resolution before the meeting holds some water, but then again, the issue had come up before - he should have known it would come up again.

We have said before and say again here that, ideally, government should provide everyone with basic health insurance. Our private system is an exploitative mess, and the president's plan is an overcomplicated mess.

But until those messes are cleaned up, we have to roll back politicians' practice of giving themselves better insurance than the rest of us can get, with us paying for it.

That goes for our state Assembly and Senate members as well. They are part time, and they get pensions as well as health insurance, per-diem expense allowances and salaries that wouldn't be too shabby for most full-time workers. On top of that, our region's two assemblywomen, Teresa Sayward and Janet Duprey, pulled the trick of officially "retiring" in order to collect their retirement benefits early, on top of their salaries.

There are way too many examples of doing the wrong thing to list here. Can we get any more takers to step up and do the right thing?



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