Watchdog: Watchdog Blog

State Watchdogs: Waste and fraud exposed across America

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Photo - The eyes of media watchdogs all over America are on you! (Watchdog.org photo)
The eyes of media watchdogs all over America are on you! (Watchdog.org photo)
News,Watchdog Blog

New Jersey - Mark Lagerkvist of New Jersey Watchdog reports that the ranks are growing of retired state employees getting a sweet deal from the taxpayers courtesy of pensions worth $100,000 or more annually:

"The number of retirees collecting more than $100,000 a year from state pensions hit 1,474 in 2012 — an increase of nearly 50 percent in two years, according to a New Jersey Watchdog analysis of state pension data.

"Former Jersey City school superintendent Charles Epps heads the list with a $195,000 annual pension. When he stepped down last year amid controversy and a gag order, Epps also received a $268,200 settlement plus $85,000 for unused sick leave, according to NJ.com.

"All of the Top Five pensioners are retired school executives. A.Z. Yamba, former president of Essex County College, is tied for the lead at $195,000. He is trailed by John Richardson, Ridgefield Park schools, $185,454; Vincent Ascolese, North Bergen schools, $180,180; and J.T. Morton, Sparta schools, $171,773."

Go here for more from Lagerkvist.

South Carolina - The Nerve's Rick Brundett says Republican state Sen. Hugh Letterman has done very well over the years, thanks to state contracts. A concrete company connected to him, for example, has received more than $30 million from such business, according to state records.

Letterman headed the concrete firm until 1993, but he recently revealed that he has continued to own stock in the company. But Letterman also has an interest in another firm that he didn't reveal in his required state financial disclosures because he doesn't have to under current law, according to Brundett:

"His statement of economic interests, which covered 2012, says that he is a 'minority' stockholder in Florence Concrete Products, though it doesn't give specifics on the amount of stock he owns. The form also lists him as president and owner of another company known as Leacon of Florence Inc., described by other media as a development company; and lists his wife as owner of ERA Leatherman Realty.

"But the senator hasn't publicly revealed another for-profit company registered under his name since 2006 and named after him — Hugh Leatherman LLC.

"In South Carolina, the lack of transparency by public officials about their private sources of income — and the potential conflicts of interest connected with that — has been as acceptable as wearing seersucker suits in summer.

"South Carolina is the only state in the nation that requires officials to report just their government income, according to ethics-reform recommendations issued earlier this year by the governor-appointed S.C. Commission on Ethics Reform. Forty-seven states require some type of disclosure of private and public income sources, the report said."

You can read the rest of Brundett's report here.

Missouri - State officials in the Show-Me State are going to stop scanning residents documents, according to Johnny Kampis of Missouri Watchdog. Or not. It's far from clear:

"Missouri's Senate leader has ordered the Missouri Department of Revenue to cease and desist scanning the personal documents of the state's residents. Whether the agency complies is another matter.

"Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey sent a letter to DOR acting director John Mollenkamp on Monday accusing the department of a 'serious breach of the public trust' for keeping copies of such documents as birth certificates, Social Security cards and marriage licenses from applicants for driver licenses and concealed carry endorsements.

"Those actions would seem to be in violation of a law passed by the Missouri General Assembly in 2009 that forbade compliance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005."

Readers will find the rest of the story here.

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