I'm not sure how this plays out across the rest of the country. It seems to be a continuing thing here in MA. Every few weeks there is another news story about some State level bureaucrat that games the system and manages to land a plum "departure" package.
Big Dig official's firing led to windfall
Pension tripled under state law
Michael P. Lewis didn't retire from his longtime post as the head of the Big Dig project as the state previously said, but was actually fired last year by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
But for Lewis, the news wasn't bad.
The move allowed him to more than triple his state pension, from $23,000 to $72,578 a year, according to state records. Last month, Lewis, 46, received the first of the Massachusetts pension checks that he will receive until he dies. As with other turnpike retirees, the state will also pay 80 percent of his health insurance for life.
Lewis also landed on his feet with a new job. He began working last month in his new position as Rhode Island's transportation secretary, earning $130,000 a year.
Contacted yesterday through his office in Rhode Island, he declined to be interviewed, but continued to characterize his departure as a retirement.
The pension increase for Lewis was the result of a state law intended to protect state employees from politically motivated dismissals. Employees with more than 20 years of service are eligible for enhanced pensions if they can prove they were not fired because of poor performance or malfeasance. In his case, the reason was that his job was eliminated.
"These types of benefits are way too rich in a time of dire fiscal straits," said Mary Z. Connaughton, a Turnpike Authority board member, who learned of Lewis's enhanced pension from the Globe. "The average working person doesn't get benefits nearly as generous and yet is paying for these public employee benefits."
Employees dismissed in this fashion can be denied the increased pension if there is any evidence of collusion with a superior to make what is in fact a resignation appear to be a termination, according to state regulations. There is no indication of investigation in this case, and two state boards have already approved it.
More of the story at: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/04/05/big_dig_officials_firing_led_to_windfall/
You take a position in charge of some "Special Project", and then when the project is completed, your job disappears and you qualify to have your pension tripled... NICE!
Is this just a MA thing or do you see it happening in your state too?