The earlier details surrounding this incredible saga (Part I and Part II about the Adamowski Pension” grab can be found on Wait, What? or click on the links at the end of this post).
Before going into the latest developments, I find that the overarching question is (1) Do these people really believe that they are entitled to what they are trying to grab or (2) do the political and business elite in this state and country really believe that the law applies differently to them than it does to the rest of us or (3) has America reached the stage that the “people at the top” (whether on Wall Street or in government) simply believe that the rest of us are just too stupid to understand what is going on.
Now to the latest developments…
As readers will remember, this began when we discovered that deep inside Governor Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill is special language that retroactively gives Steven Adamowski an extra four years of retirement credit for the time he served as Superintendent of Schools in Hartford – even though he was not certified for the job and there is a legal requirement that one must be certified in order to get retirement credits.
Now comes the newest bizarre twist. Upon leaving the Hartford superintendent’s job last summer, the Malloy Administration named Adamowski as the “Special Master” responsible for taking over the Windham School System.
As part of this effort, the State Department of Education signed an agreement with SERC (formerly known as the Special Education Resource Center) to hire Adamowski for the “Special Master’s” job. SERC is a nonprofit agency primarily funded by the Connecticut State Department of Education and one would assume that the Commissioner of Education used SERC in order to bypass some of the more cumbersome advertising and hiring issues that would have developed had Adamowski been hired directly by the Department of Education itself.
Although the Agreement clarifies that “Dr. Adamowski will be an employee of SERC,” it also includes language that “the Commissioner [of Education] will be the person primarily responsible for overseeing Dr. Adamowski because Dr. Adamowski will be the agent of the CSBE” [Connecticut State Board of Education].
And while the contract provides that “Dr. Adamowski will be allowed access to the same benefits as stated in the SERC Employee Handbook that other eligible SERC employees are offered” it goes on to provide him salary and benefits that are far in excess of what SERC employees get.
But that is not the strange part.
The July 2011 agreement adds “Dr. Adamowski will be eligible to continue membership in the Connecticut Teachers’ Retirement System”. Apparently, payments are being made to the Teacher Retirement Fund so he can count his Windham work toward his pension despite that fact that Adamowski is STILL not certified to work in Connecticut and is not even an employee of the State Department of Education, despite being responsible for running the Windham School System on Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s behalf.
The impact that these two maneuvers on Adamowski’s pension is not insignificant. In the end, calculating a pension is based on a number of different factors. While I’m certainly not an expert, I’ll try to summarize my understanding of the impact of these two attempts to side-step Connecticut law in order to help Adamowski’s get a much higher annual pension.
As was noted previously, when Adamowski took the Hartford superintendent’s job he was provided with the standard one year non-renewable certificate. That one year of credit brought him to the ten years of state service that he needed in order to vest his pension.
In addition to his ten years, he has since purchased approximately 4 years of extra credits for the work he did in the education field but outside of Connecticut.
Apparently, if Steven Adamowski was to retire now, using the Prorated Pension Program, he would receive an annual pension in the range of about $31,000 a year.
However, if the language in Malloy’s “Education Reform Plan” is adopted, Adamowski’s pension would immediately jump to about $56,000 a year.
And if the strange language in Adamowski’s “Special Master” Agreement between the State Board of Education and SERC is somehow deemed legal, the present two-year contract that he presently has will get him a pension of over $72,000.
Finally, if the Malloy language passes, the contract language is deemed legal and he can get his buddies at the State Department of Education to retain his services for an additional four years his pension should be nicely in excess of $126,000 a year.
Of course all this pension talk is on top of Adamowski’s $225,000 salary as “Special Master” and the benefits that go along with that including:
|Special Master Adamowski’s Salary||$225,000|
|Medical Insurance for Adamowski and spouse||$16,800|
|Dental Insurance for Adamowski and spouse||$1,080|
|Life and Disability Insurance for Adamowski||$3,900|
|Workers Compensation for Adamowski||$11,000|
|Professional/General Insurance for Adamowski||$5,000|
|Equipment, Office and Travel Expenses for Adamowski||$10,000|
Yesterday, the Hartford Courant’s Rick Green reported that he had been told “by numerous sources” involved in the behind scenes negotiating on Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill that “there is no chance the Adamowski pension deal will see the light of day when the education committee begins discussing the legislation early next week.”
But of course, that hardly means it won’t be passed. In 2007 when Steven Adamowski refused to do the necessary work to become certified in Connecticut, the legislature adopted an amendment to a technical bill at 12:08 a.m. on the last day of the Session. They may pull it from the “Education Reform” bill but people don’t work this hard and let the issue disappear.
In addition, Rick Green went on to write that “not surprisingly, when I called around, nobody seemed to know who put the provision in the Malloy bill.
They didn’t k now where the language came from? Forgive me for being more than a little incredulous.
The process for developing and submitting the governor’s “Legislative Package” is a very formal one and a quick call confirmed that this year was no different.
The job of putting the Governor’s “Education Reform” package into statutory language rested with Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s legal staff although, in this case, they did have some outside help from other lawyers.
Once completed, that package was sent over to the Office of Policy and Management where it was reviewed and then combined with the bills that made up the rest of the Governor’s Legislative Agenda.
From there it was delivered via the Governor’s Office to the Legislative Leaders and to the General Assembly’s Legislative Commissioner’s Office.
By tradition, the Governor’s legislative agenda is also sponsored by the top four Democratic leaders so that in this case, Senate Bill 24, Malloy’s “Education Reform” bill, is sponsored by Senate President Donald Williams, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, House Speaker Christopher Donovan and House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey.
For someone – anyone – associated with Governor Malloy to say they “didn’t know” where the Adamowski language came from or how it was added to the single most important piece of legislation that Dan Malloy will ever propose in his lifetime is beyond absurd.
That said, there was an extremely funny move yesterday to try to deflect attention away from Governor Malloy on this issue.
Joseph Cirasuolo, the former superintendent of schools in Wallingford and the present Executive Director of Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) sent out an email yesterday explaining that it was only fair that Adamowski get his Hartford retirement credits. He also vaguely tried to take responsibility for the language despite the fact that neither he nor his organization was the source.
A fellow Eastern Connecticut concerned citizen was kind enough to share Cirasuolo’s email with me.
Here is the summary of the argument that was put forward by Adamowski’s colleagues.
Cirasoulo begins by saying that the information put forward to date (I assume my blog posts) “may well be based on inaccurate and incomplete information regarding this matter” and that he is writing to “set the record straight.” He then goes on to explain:
“When Steve was offered the job of superintendent in Hartford, he told the Hartford Board of Education that he would not take the position if he had to go through the processes for getting certified as a superintendent in CT.”
“Steve had been certified as a superintendent in CT years ago when he was the superintendent in Norwich. After he moved out of state to other positions, among them the superintendency in Cincinnati where he was just before he came to Hartford, he apparently didn’t record sufficient CEUs to keep his CT superintendent’s certification.”
“The Hartford BOE asked then Commissioner McQuillan [Governor Rell’s Education Commissioner] for a waiver of the superintendent certification requirements in Steve’s case and the Commissioner did what he had to do to obtain the waiver.” [The implication being that it was Rell’s appointee who went to the Democratic legislators to change the law so that Adamowski could be the only Connecticut educator allowed to work and get paid without having a certificate].
“When this was done, everyone involved including Steve was of the understanding that Steve could count his years in Hartford toward his pension under the TRB.”
“Approximately four months before his date of retirement, Steve was informed by the TRB that because he was operating under a waiver certification arrangement during his time in Hartford, he couldn’t count those five years towards his retirement.” [The law they changed for Adamowski gave the Commissioner of Education special permission to waive Adamowski’s need to have a certificate to be superintendent it did not change the requirement that YOU HAVE TO BE CERTIFIED in order to be part of the Teachers Retirement System].
According to Cirasuoulo’s email it was at that point that his organization intervened “as CAPSS staff would do for any CAPSS member” but “before we had a chance to do this, the Governor apparently included the remedy in his legislative package.”
So at least we now know where the magic language came from – it came from the Malloy Administration itself.
In closing, the state of Connecticut’s Teacher Retirement Fund is $9.1 billion underfunded.
This year Governor Malloy is proposing cutting back funds to help retired teachers pay their health benefits. If passed it will shift $7.5 million onto the backs of older and poorer retired teachers who are the ones least able to pay those extra premiums.
And meanwhile the Governor and his Administration are seeking not one but two different maneuvers to jack up the pension for one of their own.
This from the people who have spent over a year talking about how Connecticut’s pension systems are not sustainable.
It leaves one wondering — do these people have any sense of what real life is like?
More of the details can be found by clicking on the following links: