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Friday, July 16, 2010

Sue the Negotiators!

Both New York and New Jersey face weighty fiscal issues. In New Jersey, anger over property taxes is reaching a tipping point for much of the electorate.

The pay of school superintendents has been an open secret, regularly reported on by the state's major newspapers. (Hat tip: The Record of Hackensack.). Yesterday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie (code name: POTUS 45; maybe just CC45 for short) announced plans to scale back school superintendents' salaries when their contracts come up for renewal.

Excellent idea. And one which should have been made on CC45's first day in office.

The salaries cannot be rolled back right away because of current contracts. This gets us to the crux of the fiscal problem.

Do not blame the teachers - or other public sector employees -- for the fiscal mess. They negotiated these contracts. Good job! They won those negotiations!

Especially don't blame the younger public employees. They see no benefit (or at least will see none for a long time) from any "benefit.". Health insurance is a benefit, if and only if you get sick. They care about actual net pay, as that is the only way they can buy the necessities of life or get a mortgage. I suspect many of them could care less about pensions. And the unions give them little protection; after all the unions represent their membership, many of whom have retired. There's the group that cares about the health benefits and pensions!

Here's who to blame: the elected officials and their selected appointees who poorly negotiated cushy deals with close friends and associates on the other side of the table.

These officials may have violated their fiduciary duties to their constituents with their poor performance in negotiating. It could even be professional negligence!

If they were in the private sector, someone would have sued them for sure.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic consultant for businesses, political campaigns and individuals. Mr. Dixon is available for comment or consultation at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com and 917-696-2442.

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