Island Vote: Proposal 2 seeks action on pensions for convicted officials

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WOODBURY -

Voters will decide this Election Day if pensions of elected officials and other public employees should be revoked if they’re convicted of felonies related to their official positions.

Former Suffolk police chief James Burke is serving a 46-month prison sentence for beating a handcuffed burglary suspect and covering up the crime. He is seen by many as a poster boy for Proposal 2, an amendment on this year’s ballot that would allow judges to revoke pensions for public officers convicted of job-related felonies.

Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, says the proposal is an important step forward for clean government.

“If you're convicted of corruption, you face prison time, and, if this amendment passes, you’re putting your pension in jeopardy for behaving in a corrupt manner,” says Horner.

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Judging by comments from people who spoke to News 12, the proposal seems to have broad support among voters, who say they're tired of public officials betraying the public trust and benefiting from it.

The ballot proposal defines public officer first and foremost as an elected official, but then goes on to name six other types of public officers who could have their pensions taken away, including heads of local departments, divisions or bureaus.

Jerry Laricchiuta is president of Nassau CSEA.  He's concerned that lower-level government employees could potentially be affected by the proposal.

“Some government somewhere will try to stretch this to the file clerk who took a laptop home,” says Laricchiuta.

Having said that, Laricchiuta added that he plans to vote in favor of Proposal 2.

If approved, the amendment would apply to public officers who commit job-related crimes after Jan. 1 of next year.

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