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February 22, 2012

JUST SPREADING THE NEWS – This article by Susan Edelman appeared in the February 19, 2012 edition of the NY Post.

Sickening payouts

He was kicked out under a cloud—but landed with a silver lining. Larry Davis, once the highest ranking uniformed officer in the city Correction Department, was ousted last August amid an ongoing corruption investigation.

Davis abruptly retired, but with a quick reward. The city promptly forked over $194,980 — equal to the jail boss’ last yearly salary — in a lump sum payment for unused vacation and sick days over his career. After taxes, his check came to $111,969.
Davis, 57, is one of 3,926 city employees who have cost taxpayers $27 million over the last seven months in payments for stockpiled leave and sick time, the Independent Budget Office calculates.

Last fiscal year, the tab was $50.4 million, not counting non-managers who stay on the payroll after quitting until unused vacation is paid. “It doesn’t look good to the public; most people don’t have the same opportunities,’’ said Gene Russianoff of the government watchdog NYPIRG.

Davis, the chief of department, was told to resign after investigators raided his offices on Rikers Island and in Elmhurst, Queens. One of his aides, raking in six figures in overtime padded paychecks, was found driving home in a department SUV.
To curry favor with Davis, 10 to 15 guards who dubbed themselves “The Bad Boys Club” pooled their money in 2009 to give him an all-expense paid trip to a Dominican resort, The Post reported.

After putting in his pension papers, Davis got the third biggest lump-sum payment for unused leave so far this fiscal year, the City Comptroller’s Office reports. He declined to comment.

The biggest payments, of $195,480 each, went to two high-ranking NYPD officers: Raymond Diaz, chief of transit, who retired after 41 years, and Charles Kammerdener, chief of special operations, who served 38 years. Behind Davis, the next biggest checks went to Bud Larson, an analyst with the Office of Management and Budget ($187,959); Waymond Isaacs, Davis’ deputy chief, not named in the probe ($176,356); and Michael Mucci, the Sanitation Department’s waste disposal director ($162,165).

“During a crisis, managers have to be there. They have to stay with their ship,” said Stu Eber, president of the New York City Managerial Employees Association.
Upon leaving city jobs, managers can cash out up to 135 unused vacation days and a third of unused sick time — but a total of no more than a year’s salary.

Mayor Bloomberg’s spokesman, Stu Loeser, defended the perk, saying, “A ‘use it or lose it’ policy would incentivize the hardest working city employees to take more vacation time, which would not cut costs or improve efficiency.”

The city has paid $27M since July 1 for unused vacation and sick time accrued by former employees.

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