The game of the names

City Hall fights basic government transparency on pensions

| New York Daily News Editorial

Waaay back in January 2010, as part of a broad push to show taxpayers where the money goes, the Empire Center for Public Policy requested the names and pension payments of retired NYPD personnel.

Despite using the state’s legally enforceable Freedom of Information Law, Empire, and the public, is still waiting. It is now up to Acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melissa Crane to end the long stall.

On www.seethroughny.net, Empire dissects a range of vital facts on government spending, including all pension data for public-sector workers statewide. With one big asterisk: NYPD cops.

That’s because an appellate court, based on an old decision of the state’s highest bench, the Court of Appeals, wrongly ruled that the addresses of pensioners could be withheld.

But this isn’t about addresses, it’s about names.

In 2014, in another Empire Center case — on teacher pensions — the Court of Appeals ruled that pensioner names must be disclosed. After some other legal skirmishes, seven of the eight pension funds in the state have come around and forked over the data.

It’s cops’ turn.

City lawyers, arguing on behalf of a fund the city runs jointly with the police unions, are trying to buffalo Crane with scary tales of ex-cops being targeted for robbery because they have firearms, or of angry crooks looking for revenge.

Sorry: If you’re paid by the public, the public gets to know how much — whether you’re an employee or a retiree. If undercovers need to be redacted, carve them out.

On the city’s website, anyone can see what anyone earns, from Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill ($226,366) to NYPD summer college interns ($13 an hour) to every cop in between. But we can’t see retired Commissioner Bill Bratton’s pension, despite the fact that those payouts account for an ever-larger chunk of our budget?

Nonsense.