Sixteen retired police officers in Austin “retired” and then returned to work for the city at civilian jobs, allowing them to earn over $100,000 in combined pay and pension payouts, according to a story earlier this month in the Austin American-Statesman, which obtained data through the state’s Public Information Act.
And the pattern is not exclusive to Austin -- in Houston, two retired police officers are working for the city's new Inspector General while drawing city pensions, records show.
According to the Jan. 18 Statesman story, the departments that most prevalently allowed “double dipping” were Austin Energy, police and parks and recreation.
The practice is defended in the story with a traditional response by managers who allow such a thing –the former employee comes back and provides “expertise.” From the story:
"'We hire them back because of their specialized skills, the high level of expertise they bring or because they have knowledge of a certain project,' Deputy General Manager Kerry Overton said. 'They are often willing to work part-time, so we can use their experience in a way that saves us money and gives us consistency.'"
Some states have been trying to address the issue of double-dipping for some time, as outlined in this 2009 story from USA Today. Florida lawmakers last year outlawed the practice at the city, county and state level.
Many believe that double-dipping is contributing to the pension problems that beset so many governments. A review in Ohio found exactly that.
The practice is evident in the city of Houston, even at the top of the ethics heap.
In our December interview interview of the city’s new inspector general, Robert Doguim, he proudly announced his staff members, including retired Houston Police officers Donald V. Williams and Raymond Gonzalez, Jr. Two officers of the same name have been receiving pensions from the city since the '90s, records show.
Asked if the officers were getting HPD pensions along with their full-time salaries, Doguim said, “I don’t know, but don’t begrudge them that, come on."
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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