News Corp’s Community Newspaper Group (the Brooklyn Paper, Courier-Life) hosted a debate last week between the two candidates squaring off for the Democratic nomination in the 52nd NYS Assembly District. Incumbent Joan Millman and challenger/ Brooklyn Heights resident Doug Biviano discussed many local issues, but one topic appears to be gaining traction (operative word: “appears”). The issue: Biviano’s accusation that Millman is “double dipping” from the public coffers – one paycheck for her service as a member of the NY Assembly and the other from her NYC teacher’s pension.
The Brooklyn Paper’s recap of the debate and video after the jump:
Assembly candidate Doug Biviano blasted away at incumbent Joan Millman in a debate last week, hammering her for taking her pension even as she works as a lawmaker, lambasting her for backing transit cuts, and for flip-flopping on housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park — but the harshest word he had for Millman was that she’s “nice.”
By our count, Biviano taunted his rival with the seemingly innocuous adjective six times during the hour-long debate in Community Newspaper Group’s Downtown studio, where the candidates in the Sept. 14 primary battled in hopes of attracting voters in the Brownstone Brooklyn assembly district.
Being repeatedly slammed as “nice” certainly didn’t faze Millman, who said she was more upset that Biviano called her a bum on his website.
“I don’t think ‘nice’ is a pejorative word,” she said. “I don’t mind being called nice because I am a nice person. But I’m also an effective person.”
Biviano certainly didn’t agree, slamming Millman (D-Carroll Gardens) on the issues — and for collecting her pension from her prior job as a city teacher while working as our elected representative in Albany. Biviano called that “double dipping.”
“I’m on the street and I talk to the people and they’re worried about their pensions,” Biviano said. “These people aren’t making six figures and on top of … another government pension. It’s an abuse of the pension system.”
Millman makes $92,000 as an Assemblywoman. She was elected to office in 1997 after she retired from her 27 years as a teacher and began collecting her pension.
“I had already put in my paperwork,” she said. “You can’t rescind it.”
The NY Post published a story by Courier Life writer Tom Tracy with the lastest in this saga:
The truth is that Millman could have deferred then -— and could still defer now. All she had to do was file a “Retirement Allowance Suspension/Resumption Form” with the Teachers Retirement System.
What Millman (D-Carroll Gardens) is doing is perfectly legal, but that hasn’t stopped her assembly challenger, Doug Biviano, from railing on her for more than a week since our debate aired on our website.
“Collecting of two government paychecks shows that Assemblywoman Millman is not only out of touch with the community, but cares more about her interests than those of the people she represents,” Biviano said. “She should be protecting the pension system and our over-burdened tax-payers, not abusing them.”
In the debate, Biviano likened Millman’s pension to Assemblymembers Rhoda Jacobs (D–Midwood) and Harvey Weisenberg (D–Long Island), Albany colleagues who collect their state legislator pensions while still serving in the job of state legislator. The loophole that allows them to do that has since been closed.
Millman’s camp has taken a flogging from Biviano since the debate, but Nelson turned it right back on the challenger.
“Doug believes she shouldn’t be allowed to retire, collect her pension — a pension funded by her money that she’s already deferred while she was a teacher in the public school system, mind you — and have a second career,” he said. “He’s sending a terrible message to senior citizens by telling them that once they retire they should just move to Florida because they’re not needed or welcome here anymore.”