In The Interest of Transparency And Trust

I can be called one of those “double dippers”. Since “hiding” things about my public life is not comfortable for me, here goes:

After spending approximately 35 years in full time public service as an Assistant Bergen County Administrator, Legislative Director and then an Assemblywoman and now a Senator, (paying my portion into the pension during that entire period) I decided to finally apply for my public pension.  Of course, I could have done that some 5 to 10 years earlier, but since I had enjoyed the fruits of a family business built with my husband, and had some good investments (or so I thought), I never looked into that “pension thing”.

After a major financial setback resulting from my so-called “Financial Advisor” investing all my money (including my IRA) with a man I never heard of (read: Bernie Madoff) a colleague suggested that I would most likely qualify for my pension. Based on age, number of years in the “system”, and the  years I spent as a full time Bergen County employee etc. I was informed I could formally retire, finally collect my pension and still continue as a State Legislator.  So at age 75,  I decided it was time and financially necessary.

I am now paid $49,000 for being a State Senator and about $36,000 annually in my state pension. Though I never went in to public service to make money, I am grateful for this income at this time of my life, because of the situation Bernie Madoff created for me.  I never thought about hiding any of this, but the news about the Essex County Executive and the Cape May Surrogate has made me feel awkward. The circumstances might be very different, but the result is essentially the same.

So there you have it. I am not apologizing for any decisions I made. And it is legal! My public life, along with my personal disclosure forms, have been appropriately transparent. But I’ll probably be more than usually interested in the comments section of today’s column.

Now on to another subject!  The Democratic map was accepted. Some districts will be a bit more competitive, but I feel confident that we will maintain majorities in both houses of the legislature. “Assemblyman” Jeff Gardner also does have a nice ring to it!

As the Senator from District 37, I know I’m sorry to lose Bergenfield from our district. This town was finally coming together with Mayor Timothy Driscoll and the incumbent council and turning its back on the old leadership who were so responsible for the issues around my selection as a State Senator. We’re also losing Ridgefield Park which is home to a great group of citizens and the wonderful Mayor Fosdick, along with a terrific 4th of July parade. Maywood is another town we will miss.

But it’s going to be fun and interesting to welcome back Ft. Lee which was part of the district 10 years ago along with the new communities of Northvale, Cresskill, Alpine and Rockleigh.

So here we go into another election season, facing tough budget problems, new towns, protecting collective bargaining, and speaking up for those who need government the most. I am glad Drumthwacket is being bathed in blue lights to call attention to autism awareness month, but restoring money for early intervention services for autistic children is infinitely more important.

Keep your voices heard!

Comments (18)

  1. Hopeful

    …what the system is for.  It’s too bad common sense rules, which allow you to collect your pension after a lifetime of work and still do a part-time job, get turned into abuses by some.  

    I’m very sorry to hear that you were robbed by Madoff, and that you have to discuss it so publicly.


  2. danpreston

    Is there any justification for amputating Princeton off of the 15th LD and sticking it with the 16th? It seems it was intra-party feuding meant to punish Reed Gusciore. Reed can move back into the 15th. The citizens of Princeton cannot. Why are we being punished? Redistricting should be about the citizens, yet we’re the ones who will pay the price for the next 10 years, stuck with conservative legislators hostile to our interests. Thanks a lot to the Dems who engineered this.

  3. deciminyan

    thank you for the disclosure. But more importantly, thank you for a career of public service where you put the interests of your constituents (and those of us who are not directly your constituents) ahead of your self-interest. If only the rest of Trenton were like you…

  4. speedkillsu

    Loretta ,I just have one question when a bill is to be voted on that rescinds this unusual perk …how will you vote ? self interest or the interests of the other 8 million plus taxpayers who can’t receive this perk.. will you see to it that a :grandfather (or in this case grandmother ) clause exempting already retirees  inserted into the bill ?  

  5. TREEeditor2

    Loretta, as a small handfull of decent democrats in NJ, i respect you.  The double dipping although surprising i understand due to the situation created by madoff.  However, i cannot waive the severe conflict of interest that this creates.  The public pension fund is busted and so far in the hole that drastic measures have to be taken.  Major decisions need to be made.  You will be part of the dialogue, interfacing iwth the other members of the legislature.  With a major part of your income now based on the pension system that is in place, we cannot trust you to make an objective dialogue and decision on any changes that may be made.    You must step down and soon to maintain your ethical standards you so put forth.  Again I am sorry what happened to you but the halls of the legislature must be kept clean.  I wish you luck in your future.  Any financial advise call me first, maybe I can help you out.

  6. Hetty Rosenstein

    Let’s not confuse Loretta and Joe DiVincenzo.

    1. Loretta is not earning $153,000 a year.

    2. Loretta is not 58 years old.

    3. Loretta is not attacking the modest pensions and benefits of public workers while taking home a pension in addition to a pay check where the pension alone is 3 times the amount most public workers get.

    There is no comparison between Loretta Weinberg and Joe DiVincenzo.  One is a dedicated and committed public servant, the other is a hypocritical political boss.


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