Posts Tagged ‘Janet Duprey’

Monday, January 17, 2011

John Warren: Teresa Sayward’s Pay Day

Back in 2003, in a classic Glens Falls Post Star puff piece about one of their favorite local politicians, Teresa Sayward pined about moving to Georgia when she retired. “It may be years away, but Sayward said she and Ken have started discussing their retirement, perhaps buying a condo someplace warm for the winter months,” Stacey Morris wrote. Turns out – Sayward retired a few weeks ago.

Well, retired might not be the correct description, because Sayward won’t be leaving her job. She’ll be collecting her retirement AND her salary. That’s about $90,000 in annual salary for a six month job plus her new retirement benefit of about $30,000. From here on out, Teresa Sayward will be collecting about three times the median income per HOUSEHOLD of her constituents, for half their work.

What makes this all the more offensive is that Sayward has claimed to be a big opponent of such pensions. Just three months ago, she completed a questionnaire for the League of Women Voters. “Political appointments and benefits are way too rich, Albany needs to lead by example… retirement benefits are unsustainable,” she said, knowing full well she was about to take advantage of a loophole (along with 11 other state legislators including Janet Duprey) that would would line her own pocket. Her idea of leading by example? Get as much as you can, while you can.

I know, it seems crazy. I mean, how can it be that three months ago Sayward says that the retirement benefits of legislators are unsustainable, and now she takes advantage of a loophole that allows her to collect those same “unsustainable” benefits early? What changed? The answer is nothing. The retirement benefit she started taking now is a loophole. It’s not meant to be the actual retirement benefit, which is why just 11 legislators are taking it and Betty Little is not. It’s not a legitimate benefit as some would argue, it’s an unethical loophole and she’s scamming the system. The state closed this retirement loophole in 2005, but she’s still one of the few who are eligible and thinks they deserve it.

Just a year ago, Sayward was crowing to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise about how she was saving taxpayers money:

Another idea Sayward has is to privatize some of the golf courses, swimming pools and campgrounds. She also said cutting the number of mailings that senators and assembly members send out will save money. And, she said, both the governor’s political appointments and legislative staff could stand to be reduced. Sayward said she is already doing this herself and has one less staffer this year than last.

Did you get that? Sayward laid off one of her staffers to save money – money that is going into her own pocket. Last week Sayward gave the Post Star two reasons she deserved that money more than her employee. The first was that her husband would have to live on social security alone if she died.

“This decision did not come easily for me,” she said. “But my husband and I, as you know, are farmers. And so my husband has nothing for his retirement other than Social Security, which is not a lot.”

The second, was that she drives a lot. “Sayward said she travels a lot of miles on rural roads representing the 113th Assembly District, the largest geographically of any Assembly district in New York,” the Post Star reported, “That places her at a higher risk than average of getting in a car accident, she said.”

These excuses are outrageous – no dairy farmer expects a retirement, that’s why the average age of principal farm operators in Essex County is 54 years old. Like most Americans, local farmers work until they die, or can’t work anymore and are forced onto the public dole by the costs of their own healthcare.

Driving too much Teresa? That’s laughable to folks who live in rural areas like the Adirondack Park. The fact is, despite repeated claims to the contrary, Sayward lives outside the Blue Line in Glens Falls – maybe that’s why she drives so far.

Another item she called for, just three months ago, was term limits: “4 year terms, three terms max.” Forget for a minute that she has just started her fifth term, because she wants to extend the current two-year terms anyway, and has run unopposed the last two times around. Focus instead on the fact that Sayward thinks 12 years is enough for any one politician to be in office.

Sayward was elected to the Assembly in 2002, and before that spent many years as a politician in Willsboro. Now that she’s made her pay day, certainly she must believe her time in the job is over?

I haven’t heard her “this is my last term speech” yet, but I suspect it’s not coming.

“I’m not proud of doing this but I’m not going to hold my head down,” Sayward told WYNT.

So she knows it unethical, she just doesn’t care. The message she sends is that her family is more important than yours.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Update

Happy Monday, folks. Here’s a recap of recent political news in the Adirondack North Country — as well as a quick look ahead.

Saranac Lake accountant Doug Hoffman is, as you may have heard, out of the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional District. His decision to drop his third party run cleared the way for a two-way race between Watertown banker Matt Doheny and Democratic incumbent Bill Owens.

I don’t need to tell you that a two-way race dramatically shifts the GOP’s chances to take back a seat held by Republicans for more than a century. Politicos are predicting a close race — personally, I see Doheny gaining momentum, and fast. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Senator Betty Little and a Prelude to a Coup

“How are things in Albany? They’ve probably never been worse,” Betty Little said at an early morning breakfast in Saranac Lake Friday.

Making no attempt to mask her frustration with the Democrats’ ineffectual five-month-long reign over the New York State Senate, the Republican who represents much of the North Country was pessimistic as she gave an audience of Saranac Lake’s political, health-care, education and economic-development leaders her take on the situation in state government. She did not allude to any plans for a Senate takeover, but the candor of her remarks made Monday’s news of Republican blowback in the Capitol a bit less of a surprise.

Little was joined by Republican assemblywomen Janet Duprey and Teresa Sayward. All three represent Saranac Lake, which straddles two assembly districts.

The impending closure of Camp Gabriels minimum-security prison is draining a hundred jobs from the area. The inmates are moved out, and only a dozen or so guards and administrative staff remain on duty to shutter the place by July 1. The village got little encouragement on a reuse strategy for the facility.

“I mean there really is no money. We’ve got to face that,” Little said, complaining that the $132 billion budget passed by Democratic governor David Patterson and both Democrat-controlled houses of the State Assembly failed to reduce spending.

The three said executive-branch staff are in such flux that’s it’s difficult to know who the go-to people in state government are. Even things like the senate’s schedule are hard to divine, Little said. There are two weeks left in the session, but she doubted the Democratic leadership would stick to the deadline. Now it looks like the session might be prolonged no matter who is in charge.

“We’re spending a lot of time now trying to correct what was done in secret,” Little said, citing changes to Empire Zone rules and a new law that would allow drug offenders to seal drug-crime records if they feel that they have been rehabilitated of an addiction. “The new process seems to be put forth a proposal, vote on it and correct it because nobody has had a chance to look at it.”

Inevitably Senator Little was asked what she thought of New York’s 23rd District congressional seat, being vacated by Republican John McHugh, who is nominated to become Secretary of the Army. There are only three Republicans representing New York State in Washington, Little noted. “It could have been four. I have to say I know I could have won that seat,” she said, referring to the 20th District, where Democrat Scott Murphy just won a special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand, who had been appointed to the U.S. Senate. Saranac Lake is split between the two districts.

In an acknowledgement of dysfunction in her own party, Little called for an “open process” and polling as GOP leaders begin choosing a candidate to replace McHugh. The Republicans must pick a person who can win the seat, not just a person who wants it, or else the party could be redistricted out of the state, she warned. In the 20th District party leaders reached over Little to select James Tedisco, the opportunistic former assembly minority leader, who did not reside in the district.

Congratulating St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center in Saranac Lake for being named one of the top 20 places to work in New York State, Assemblywoman Duprey added, “Where we’re working is not.”