Hevesi’s Crowded Corner

A reader passes on a message from Dick Iannuzzi, the president of NYSUT “Concerning NYSUT’s Continued Support for NYS Comptroller Alan Hevesi”

“There are many accusations and assertions being made in the media concerning New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Right now, there is much that we don’t know about this situation. What you should know, however, is that NYSUT will continue to stand by its endorsement of Alan Hevesi for re-election as NYS Comptroller until such time as a formal and final legal determination is rendered.”

The full message is after the jump.

Also standing by Hevesi is the state’s Independence Party. The party’s state chairman Frank MacKay told me nothing they’re sticking with Hevesi “just like we were with him months ago.”

When asked for a list of endorsements, Hevesi’s campaign spokesman Matt Mullarkey emailed the following list:

The Independence Party
The Daily News
NYS AFL-CIO
Public Employees Federation
NARAL Pro-choice
New York League of Conservation Voters
SEIU Local 1199
SEIU Local 32BJ
CSEA
H. Carl McCall, Former Comptroller
William Thompson, Jr., NYC Comptroller
Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion

– Azi Paybarah

A Message from President Dick Iannuzzi Concerning NYSUT’s Continued Support for NYS Comptroller Alan Hevesi

There are many accusations and assertions being made in the media concerning New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Right now, there is much that we don’t know about this situation. What you should know, however, is that NYSUT will continue to stand by its endorsement of Alan Hevesi for re-election as NYS Comptroller until such time as a formal and final legal determination is rendered. NYSUT’s officers, board of directors, local leaders and rank and file members all recognize and appreciate the important role that due process plays in our democracy. To that end, and given the heightened political rhetoric of this heated political campaign season, it is only prudent and fair to wait for this legal situation to unfold further before any deviation in course or support can be fairly considered by our board of directors.

In his role as NYS Comptroller, Alan Hevesi has been a steadfast defender of New York’s defined-benefit pension plans and is recognized as a national leader in the fight to restore and strengthen the role of defined-benefit pensions so that all workers can access a secure retirement. Soon after taking office, Comptroller Hevesi worked to secure legislation to stabilize employer contribution rates to the pension fund after the stock market collapse. Since that time, under Comptroller Hevesi’s leadership, the pension funds have seen marked growth in total assets from investment earnings which have, in turn, resulted in lower employer contribution rates. The knowledge and leadership that Alan Hevesi has provided as the sole trustee of the state pension fund has proven to be an asset for the state and its localities, as well as for taxpayers and plan participants.

The NYS Comptroller is the sole trustee of a $140 billion retirement fund, the second largest pension fund in the United States, and is responsible for the maintenance and administration of retirement, disability and death benefits for over 900,000 participants. Comptroller Hevesi’s opponent, Christopher Callahan, has indicated that, if elected, he would advocate for legislation establishing a defined contribution plan or a “Tier 5″ plan for newly hired public employees. The Callahan plan, which is available on his web site at http://www.callahanfornewyork.com, would shift the risks of planning for a secure and sustainable retirement from public employers to workers, while also reinstituting the mandatory 3% worker contribution. Moreover, the Callahan plan eliminates the death and disability benefits for new workers and their families if they are injured or die while in public service. Evidently, Mr. Callahan believes that it is too expensive for public employers to continue to provide benefits to workers and their families in the event of injury or death. Of course, Mr. Callahan, as a career public employee, is a member of the current New York State and Local Employees’ retirement system – a defined benefit retirement plan that currently provides these basic, but extremely important, protections to all public employees and their families.

Comptroller Alan Hevesi, someone with 35 years of excellent public service, was endorsed by NYSUT in August after a thorough review and evaluation of his performance as NYS Comptroller by NYSUT’s political action committee, local presidents and board of directors. Given his strong leadership, the lack of any final determination after a full due process hearing and the stakes involved in this general election, NYSUT will continue to support Alan Hevesi for re-election as NYS Comptroller.