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Rutherford officer urges lawmakers to remind Christie of election pension pledge

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

AN OFFICER’S VIEW: Rutherford Police Officer Nick Loizzi Jr. wants state lawmakers to remind Gov. Christie of his pre-election pledge that pensions for police are a “public trust” that he wouldn’t violate. So the officer has written to all of his local representatives in Trenton.

“His election must have been a very traumatic moment for him, because he soon forgot that he made that pledge,” Loizzi told them. “I am asking you to remind him of the pledge he made to us and for your help keeping him to his word.”

Rutherford P.O. Nick Loizzi Jr.

( SEE: Christie campaign letter promised ‘no harm’ to police, firefighter pensions )

As a state delegate for PBA Local 300, Loizzi opposed Gov. Whitman’s use of what once was a flush police pension system to help balance the state budget.

“History has shown I couldn’t have been more correct,” he says. “This is the main reason the pensions are in distress. Had the LEGALLY REQUIRED contributions been made rather than the pension holidays that were granted this would not be a subject for debate.”

(CLICK HERE to read how NJ’s police pension system was raided.)

Loizzi said he understands that “something needs to be done to repair the damage caused by the State’s failure to meet its pension obligations. I am not opposed to raising pension contributions by employees, provided that the employers’ contributions are also increased.

“However, I question the logic of increasing police and fire members’ contributions 1.5% because the police and fire pension funds are the most solvent and valuable of the pension systems. Prior to the raid by the state, the pension system was at 103% value and growing. Today, it is valued at over 80% and it is increasing in value in the market.”

Like many officers, Loizzi is upset over reports that a deal has been brokered behind the scenes — a claim that State PBA President Anthony Wieners called “premature.”

“There are some concepts on pension reform that we can support, but health care belongs at the table,” Weiners said. “Collective bargaining needs to be the place where health care concerns and issues are resolved. Our members have marched on Trenton asking only for the opportunity to negotiate with their local communities to address the local needs.”

Loizzi agrees that contributions toward health care costs should “be up to the bargaining units to determine, not a legislative action,” something he said he believes New Jersey’s courts would support.

“Several years ago I was part of the negotiating team for my PBA. We successfully negotiated an increase in our health benefit,” he wrote in his letter to lawmakers. “We received an agreement from our employer to provide members and their spouses medical benefits past retirement until they became eligible for Medicare and then it becomes a  supplement to Medicare.

“In return for this enhancement, we agreed to forego an annual increase in our salary. This agreement saved our employer several million dollars. This served as an example for other negotiations within our community and in surrounding communities.”

In the end, Loizzi believes the state Legislature should take the battle over runaway health care costs to the insurance companies — and not to public servants.

Loizzi certainly has standing. He was 16 when he joined the local first-aid squad. Eight years later, he was a Rutherford police officer.

He and his wife have lived in Sussex County since 2004 and, until recently, he was a registered Republican. ( ALSO SEE: From 9/11 heroes to greedy public servants? No! )

“I supported Chris Christie when he was a candidate for Governor. I met him at several of his campaign stops,” Loizzi said, “and I believed him when he wrote that the pensions were ‘a public trust‘ and that he would not ‘violate that trust.’

“Responsible negotiation can do much more to address costs than legislation.”

Officer Nick Loizzi Jr. has been with the Rutherford Police Department since 1987 and has served in various roles for PBA 300.


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