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Massena supervisor’s comments on public employees spark response

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To The Editor:

My grandmother used to have a term when she got confused when her sugar levels dropped. She’d say – boy did I get “bumble headed”. My grandmother has long since passed on, and in all these years past – I’ve never had an occasion to use that term. Until that is, I read Mr. Gray’s postulations as he announced his candidacy for Massena Town Supervisor which contained this “bumble headed” tidbit:

“…some public employees feel they are entitled to more than what workers in the private sector receive…”

I’d like to see Mr. Gray further quantify “some” – is it one public employee in our community? Could it be a dozen or more? Perhaps he could venture a percentage – say perhaps 10 percent of our town’s public employees? I know it’s not 100 percent because I’m one of those public employees and a 21-year Air Force retiree to boot, and I don’t share that perspective.

It’s bad enough that recent events have pushed hot button topics such as pension costs and tax rates to the forefront of our attention.But, could anything be more polarizing and divisive as Mr. Gray’s “bumble headed” tidbit that in effect erects a wall between our town’s public employees and private sector employees. How is making any statement that tries to define the “haves” and “haves not” be considered constructive and motivating leadership. Even more so – why would we want someone who articulated such a clear and concisely worded personal bias as our Town Supervisor? If you doubt Mr. Gray’s biases on this issue – simply read his Town Supervisor blog.

This is America where each and every citizen has the constitutional right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is also a country that enjoys the opportunities of a free market system in which everyone has the opportunity to seek the most for their knowledge, skills, and experience. Public employees, as well as their private sector brethren have made these personal choices and taken advantage of opportunities presented to them.

Every employee, public or private, is offered a compensation package consisting of salary, personal time off, health benefits, and yes, retirement. This is how employers attract and retain the talent required to make their businesses compete and succeed. The employee makes the personal decision and commitment as to which path to follow and when decided enters an informal contractual relationship with the employer. For doing this – you will get this.

Unfortunately Mr. Gray seems to forget that many of these “entitled” public employees weren’t even offered an option – as enrollment in the New York State Retirement system was compulsory as a condition of employment.

Mr. Gray needs to understand that this does not make one sector of the employment market better or more “entitled” than the other. For any individual can select an alternate path at anytime. And to that end, one should not confuse an employee’s effort to defend and fight for not only what they earned, but what was promised to them, as greed.

Yes, pension costs and taxes are very real concerns in today’s economy and positive constructive efforts are under way to find and enact solutions.In fact, the recent enactment of the new Tier 6 seems to effectively address most of Mr. Gray’s voiced concerns about public pensions.

Mr. Gray’s rhetoric does nothing to constructively engage the Massena community in finding solutions to these problems and we might be better off without a town supervisor than electing someone with this “bumble headed” mindset.

Robert Elsner

Massena

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