Friday, November 07, 2008

You Don't Say

This is going to be a new feature here. It's when media outlets report news that is so stunningly obvious, that you have to wonder what took people so long to realize something was wrong.

Today's story relates to the ongoing saga of the LIRR disability scam, which has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in disability payments paid out to LIRR workers who claimed they had disabilities, and the federal board responsible for the disbursements rubber stamping the claims.

We now learn that there was absolutely no reason that any of those people should have gotten free lifetime passes to state park golf courses.
New York State’s parks officials have determined that there is no legal justification for hundreds of retired Long Island Rail Road workers on disability to be playing golf free in state-owned parks with passes intended for severely disabled people.

The laws and regulation governing the passes do not mention railroad workers with occupational disabilities, Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said on Thursday. “They made a leap at some point along the line.”

The parks agency has not yet decided whether to rescind the passes or take other action, Ms. Larrabee added, saying she hoped to have “something more definitive to say in the next couple weeks.”

State park officials began reviewing the Access Pass program after The New York Times reported in September that in recent years more than 90 percent of the railroad’s career employees retired early and qualified for federal disability payments, which allowed them to play golf free.
Indeed, many Long Island golfers would love to be able to play Bethpage Black, one of the most famous courses in the US, if not the world, let alone play it for free. That's exactly what this perk enabled supposedly disabled LIRR retirees to do.

So far, officials have identified 215 people who hold Access Passes in a category assigned to railroad retirees, and an additional, unknown number improperly in the Social Security category.

Here's the fees at Bethpage Black:
Reservation Fee $4
Weekday Fee (18 Holes) Residents:$50.00
Non-Residents: $100.00
Weekend Fee (18 Holes) Residents: $60.00
Non-Residents: $120.00

The fees at the other four Bethpage golf courses are less, but still substantial.

There's no word on how often these people used the free perks, and their ultimate cost to taxpayers.

Instapundit links. Thanks!

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