Annie Shalvey has one of those follow-up stories, on WPRI.com, that really leaves a taxpayer shaking his or her head. Where else but on the government payroll is it possible to be a key figure in a significant abuse-of-power scandal and wind up with this reward:
- More than two years of paid leave (i.e., vacation), including raises, making more than $100,000 per year
- Ability to cash in unused paid time off in order to reach a higher tier of pension benefits
- Retirement income and other post-employment benefits
The recipient of those perks of public employment was Police Captain Stephen Antonucci, and readers should not mistake my critical review of the State Police report about the controversy surrounding him with sympathy for its targets. At this point, though, what Rhode Islanders should really keep in mind is the incentive structure that their elected officials have created. Note:
Eyewitness News spoke with Councilman Paul Archetto – whose ward was one of two blanketed with tickets.
“I think had Captain Antonucci just manned up to what he did and came clean, he would have gotten a letter of reprimand and maybe a demotion to lieutenant and he probably would have still been working for the Cranston Police Department,” he said.
One can’t help but wonder whether a man in Antonucci’s position would even want to keep working. During a couple of years of very high pay, he was able to work political and legal channels, and even then, “defeat” is a long vacation followed by a nice little cushion for whatever he decides to do to finish out his working years.
When handling their employees, in other words, our elected officials have left themselves (and us) with very little leverage to achieve fair outcomes that send the right signals and maintain proper incentives.