This is hilarious… but unfortunately not so hilarious that Rhode Islanders won’t accept it or step up their laughter into a demand for change. In Cranston, 69% of retired firefighters and 77% of retired police officers in the state municipal pension system have disability pensions, which are meant to provide the additional benefit of a two-thirds-of-salary, tax-free pension in compensation for some disabling injury on the job.
Of course, when the large majority of your employees receive enhanced benefits, they’re no longer “enhanced.” They’re just the norm.
The funny part comes with Cranston union boss Paul Valletta’s explanation:
What could explain the difference [from other municipalities’ disability percentages]? There are no easy answers, although Cranston fire union chief Paul Valletta suggests that “bad luck” plays a role.
Valetta, readers might recall, was a visible presence in the successful push this legislative session to add “illness,” not just “injury,” to the language allowing a disability pension. Everybody from the union activists to the Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo, when she courageously let the expansion become law without her signature, has insisted this is a mere correction to an oversight in the law.
That’s laughable. To see why, consider that the law includes mental incapacity, as well as physical. Allowing disability pensions for mental illness is clearly something broader than for mental injury.
The task of successful comedy writers — think Seinfeld — is to put characters in zany circumstances that seem like they really could happen. It isn’t funny if it isn’t at least reasonably plausible with just a mild quirk of the character to make the difference.
The task of successful negotiation con artists is to make their special deals seem plausibly reasonable, with just the minor supernatural intervention of “bad luck” to explain what would otherwise be outrageous. Bad luck, indeed… for Rhode Islanders.