|REID (TIMES UNION PHOTO)|
I think it is an honest mistake. Actually, it’s so understandable it’s painful.
I can see how it all went down now.
Martin Reid, chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature, gets let go from a pretty nifty $70,000--plus job at the state School Board’s Association and signs up for unemployment. The state Labor Department is pretty liberal in granting unemployment benefits to those just out of work – only to scrutinize later - and since he was making a good buck he gets the max, $405 a week.
Each week he hops online and answers a series of questions to get his $405, one of those being: “Did you work from such and such a date to such and such a date.”
Reid, sitting at his computer on a Sunday night or Monday morning, thinks about the previous week and comes to the only logical conclusion – he didn’t work.
Sure, he approved a resolution honoring the Hoosick Falls Junior Varsity Volleyball team for coming in third out of the four JV volleyball teams in Class DD. Yes, he signed off on another resolution urging state lawmakers to repeal the Safe Act. And yes, he personally found the legislatures Veteran of the Month to honor and nominated a Rensselaer County Dairy Queen because he is friends with the teen’s parents.
That’s the gist of what the 19-member panel – that has an annual budget of $1.3 million – does at their monthly meetings so it’s understandable if Reid was confused with the word “work.”
But, for being the titular head of that body, Reid gets $30,000. Therein lies the rub.
He failed to report that income – whether he earned it or not – while collecting more than $15,000 in unemployment benefits and that is a problem.
According to the Times Union, a state administrative law judge assigned the case said Reid: “Willfully and intentionally misrepresented the facts.”
According to the TU, each week Reid collected benefits he told the state he made less than the $405 eligibility threshold to collect any unemployment at all. But, also according to the TU, he made about $1,150 every other week to clap for volleyball teams (that last part was mine, not according to the TU.)
I did, however, break out my calculator and divided $1,150 by two and discovered Reid earned (made is a better word) $575 per week as chairman of the Legislature. That, in case you need me to hold your hand through this complex arithmetic, is $170 more than $405.
The state Labor Department referred the case to Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove, who has yet to indicate whether or not he will pursue criminal charges.
I would say Abelove, who like Reid is a Republican, is in a tough spot.
His office just agreed to dismiss endangering the welfare of a child charges against the county’s top Republican operative, Rich Crist, for an altercation Crist had with his 17-year-old son. And it just so happens Crist makes more than $95,000 a year working for Reid. Also, according to the TU, Abelove , who has been in office all of 21 days, hired one of Reid’s relatives, Christine Labbate, as an assistant district attorney.
And, Crist’s brother, Greg Crist, represented Reid through his dance with the Labor Department.
Legalize for that scenario is: “In a tough spot.”
As an aside, I don’t see the difference between this case and that of Councilman Gary Galuski, D-District 6, who the AG threatened to sue in an effort to recoup more than $30,000 in unemployment benefits Galuski collected while he earned $15,000 a year on the Council.
One difference is that Crist, who is Reid’s spokesman, told the TU Reid settled the case and paid what he was supposed to pay. I don’t know if Galuski did or not, but one reason the AG threatened civil action was because he wasn’t making his payments.
Why one is civil at the state level and the other referred to a local DA as a criminal matter I have no idea.