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March  30

Last Laugh For Comic Cop

Club Soda Kenny is off the force.  Sgt. John Feder, the former West Orange cop -- who jokes about taboo topics in a raunchy comedy routine -- has retired with full pension, payment for unused sick days, and vacation time, said his attorney Paul Bergrin. From The Star Ledger:

The retirement is part of an agreement between Feder and the township, which suspended the 25-year veteran in February after several town officials were mailed a DVD of his off-color stage act. In the act, performed at a Dec. 8 show at the Laugh Factory in Manhattan, Feder jokes about pedophilia, bestiality and other taboo topics.

For Feder, the settlement saves him from losing his badge and pension, a possible outcome if a court had found him guilty of conduct unbecoming of an officer.

For the township, the settlement avoids a costly, drawn-out First Amendment battle in which free-speech advocates and defenders of decency were taking up sides.

Bergrin said his client will walk away with a cash payout of roughly $100,000 for unused sick and vacation days.

March 30, 2006 in Buzz | Permalink


I'm in the wrong line of work ...

Posted by: wow | Mar 30, 2006 2:35:13 PM

Call Brian Williams, we have a "Fleecing of America" story (and that goes for all state employees with rollover sick and vacation days. They're to be used as a work benefit, not traded-in for cash value.

Posted by: Jim | Mar 30, 2006 2:50:14 PM

That's just idiotic.

Posted by: drob | Mar 30, 2006 3:40:31 PM

That's legal under current state law, so Kenny's well within his rights.

One well honed program is to spend a number of years as a part time municipal or legislative employee, and cap it off with 3-4 years as an appointed judge, sheriff's officer, sports authority asst exec director, turnpike exec. Your final salary times your total years of all service determines your pension and (maybe) life time medical coverage.

Posted by: Rail Paul | Mar 30, 2006 3:49:33 PM

I don't really care about the content of this guy's comedy, but "25 years and full pension," and "Unused vacation and sick time" are amongst the words that will bankrupt NJ.

And changing these rules, retroactively, will be a difficult road, but the only choice.

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | Mar 30, 2006 3:53:23 PM

I'd like to know where the 100k came from. Did this guy have a year and a half saved up "vacation and sick" time, or what?

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Mar 30, 2006 3:57:43 PM

And best of all, now he's free to gig either at Cuban Pete's or Red Cheetah.

Posted by: cathar | Mar 30, 2006 4:00:55 PM

That's it, I'm applying for a gubmint job.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Mar 30, 2006 4:04:11 PM

Until recently, you could accumulate unused sick time, comp time for 6th and 7th workdays if you don't get overtime, etc. One West Caldwell exec left work 11 months before he formally retired, so he picked up 11 months of addl service credit, another six weeks of vacation pay, etc.

I'm guessing that the town figured Kenny would win in court, and tie everybody up for 2-3 years, so settle up with him now and let everybody move on.

Posted by: Rail Paul | Mar 30, 2006 5:11:14 PM

I agree with Kevin. Public sector employees have some sweet bennies.

Posted by: walleroo | Mar 30, 2006 6:05:34 PM

Jeez I tipped the Barista to this story at 9:00 this morn & I don't even get a nod.

And people wonder why I'm cranky.

Posted by: crank | Mar 30, 2006 6:06:10 PM

As a cop closing towards my retirement, I'm really tired of hearing how accumatelated time adds up to the taxpayers and pensions. Especially police and fire pension, this money does not go into. At most we get paid for 1/2 our time saved. Most departments it is 1/3 or 1/4. Even then there usually a max number around 300 days. So if I save 400 days over 25 years and get a 1/3 up to 300. I get paid for 100. Lose 300. Thats 300 days I could have called in sick over 25 years and possibly made the town pay time and 1/2 to cover my shift. If the towns weren't making or saving money, they wouldn't agree to the contract.

Posted by: dude | Mar 30, 2006 7:44:25 PM

Amen, dude.

Posted by: Dog Mom | Mar 30, 2006 8:48:05 PM

Dude thanks for defending your position using such wonderful logic as "If the towns weren't making or saving money, they wouldn't agree to the contract." At least you made that point at the end so I feel less inclined to be totally dismissive of your argument.
Your sense of entitlement blinds you to the crux of the issue. Paid sick time off is designed to be ... just that. Time off when you are legitimately sick. So thanks for not calling in sick 300 times, but in times of fiscal crises we are supposed to stop and think about idiotic practices and ask "why have we allowed this to become standard practice?" The economics of you earning a sick day 25 years ago at the salary you made then and then getting paid it out today at your greatly increased salary when you retire also bastardizes the concept even further.

Posted by: drob | Mar 31, 2006 12:44:12 AM

I was under the impression that Public Sector employees got great bennies but not a salary that they'd get out in the business sector.

Posted by: pissant | Mar 31, 2006 6:49:26 AM

That may have been true during the previous century. Considering business sector salaries these days, we all may as well move to India.

Anyway, outrageous benefits aside, don't cops make more than civil service functionaries?

Posted by: crank | Mar 31, 2006 8:48:09 AM

I hope his lawyer gets at least half of it...West Orange is glad to be rid of him, even if they had to pay him off

Posted by: Sammi | Mar 31, 2006 9:15:33 AM

Government workers USED to trade benefits for salary, now they have both, the people who pay for the salaries and benefits need some of that back.

Retirement ages need to be increased. It is ridiculous that someone could 'work' for 25 years and then be retired for 45 years.

I was speaking with one cop recently who told me he was looking forward to retiring and double dipping. Collecting his pension and working another career.

Sick days aren't supposed to be time off, they are pay insurance. Most people loose rather than accrue vacation time. Besides, it seems like it would be cheaper to pay patrolman's vacation time, rather than 400 days of a Captain's salary.

Part of the issue has been that town's negotiate these deals and the state pays the pensions. So the payout comes out of someone else's pocket. Except it always seems to be the same taxpayers reaching for different pockets.

The time has come for these policies to be changed.

Longer careers (retroactive probably including retirees), fewer promotions (not every patrolman should get to be a captain). Co-payments for medical. Lower pensions and/or lower salaries. it was one thing to retire at 50% pay when that pay was low enough to sustain that benefit.

I am not picking on Cops, please insert your choice, fireman, teacher, trash collector, your choice of public servant.

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | Mar 31, 2006 9:51:32 AM

"Part of the issue has been that town's negotiate these deals and the state pays the pensions. So the payout comes out of someone else's pocket. "

This is endemic when state and federal government grows at the expense of local government.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Mar 31, 2006 9:58:32 AM

Many companies that I worked for capped sick days at 26 weeks. If an employee were sick longer than that he went onto long term disability (1/2 to 2/3 salery). LTD was an option that the employee paid for.

Another company that I worked for would put the employee onto short term disability after one weeks absence. The employee received an amount equal to her salary for a period determined by years of service, followed by a period at 1/2 salery up to six month, at which time LTD would kick in.

The state should look into alternatives that would take care of the sick and injured employees with out bankrupting the rest of us.

Posted by: Bitpusher | Mar 31, 2006 10:10:06 AM

You know, liberal/progressive/democratic candidates have been pandering to and climbing into bed with labor unions for years. Unfortunately we all have to sleep in that bed now.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Mar 31, 2006 10:12:20 AM

Dude, do you know how many sick days I get paid for? None. Do you know how many vacation days I can carry over? None. Do you know what kind of a pension I will collect (not including 401k money)? Nada. Do you know what kind of health care I would receive if I retired at age 45? Zippo. Do you know what kind of health care I can expect to receive when I retire at age 65? Medicare (if it still exists).

You're living in a bubble.

Posted by: walleroo | Mar 31, 2006 10:22:44 AM

Beating a dead horse, perhaps, but:

'So if I save 400 days over 25 years and get a 1/3 up to 300. I get paid for 100.'

Dude - the idea that one can save sick days over a period of decades is pretty much foreign in the private sector. Keep in mind how your statement sounds to those of us who get 5 sick days and 10 vacation days per year, and can't roll them over even from one year to the next. It sounds like an extremely generous - maybe even unreasonable - benefit and therefore not to be taken for granted.

Posted by: TwinDad | Mar 31, 2006 10:24:08 AM

Yeah. I think this horse has been beaten enough.

Posted by: TwinDad | Mar 31, 2006 10:27:37 AM

The interesting thing is that most public employees have had the wonderful benefits and carry-overs outlined above for decades. Yet it took a "rogue" cop to bring them into Baristaville consciousness.

It's also interesting, given how wonderful these things really are, that no posters above seem to have ever thought themselves of becoming public servants. Et tu, walleroo? (Given your grousing above, to be sure.)

Posted by: cathar | Mar 31, 2006 10:36:55 AM

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