Updated: Monday, 09 Mar 2009, 11:03 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 06 Mar 2009, 8:00 PM MST
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A Larry Barker Investigation showing how some public employees fake retirement in order to collect both a paycheck and pension provoked strong reactions from KRQE viewers.
Barker's report revealed the paper shuffling used to make retire the workers from public service and then bring them back through contracts and temporary-employee agencies.
News 13 viewers submitting online comment forms were furious about revelations.
Gov. Bill Richardson also reacted tellilng KRQE News 13 it's time for reform and that he will sign reform legislation if it reaches his desk.
Here's a sample of what News 13 viewers are saying via web mail:
Gary Peterson of Albuquerque: "KRQE is asking the wrong question, the residents should be OUTRAGED at the polititions and management that allowed this to happen, NOT the employees that took advantage of the loophole. Another good question (along the same topic) is why do civil servants get 80% of their salary for 20 years of service when the tax payers funding their retirement fund only get social security; a fraction of their pay?"
Loren Dafoe of Albuquerque: "Mr. Barker, thanks for doing real reporting. Today's world, too many times, just skims the surface without getting to the core of what caused the news. Management is to be commended as well for providing you the tools to put together such excellent work. From one tax payer to another, THANKS. Taxpayers need the truth and KRQE came through!"
"Michael" writes: "Mr. Barker: Thank you for your work! It’s a shame that you have to keep people honest. However, I am glad that we have you to watch our back! Respectfully yours, Michael."
Don W. Burns: "Dear KRQE, Regarding the Larry Barker story you just ran about state employees retiring and then going back to work I won't tell you what I am really thinking or how [expletive deleted] off that I really am... I am so damn mad right now. I want Gary King to send these guys to prison! If the state does not send these gentlemen to prison and go after their assets, I will (edited for my protection). I want this station and Mr. Barker to follow up and OFTEN with this story. This is exactly why this country is going to hell."
One viewer writes anonymously: "I don't think Larry Barker should overlook the 'grand pubah' of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.... The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District has been his private money well for at least the last twenty years with little or no oversight."
This anonymous viewer is on to something, and so is Larry. We have deleted the name of the subject of this e-mail for the moment, but all will be revealed Monday (3/9). That's because he's the subject of Larry's next investigation, which will air Monday night at 10.
Other viewers also are weighing in via the comments section on our website. Here's a sample:
"Theresa": "Hello, it is not like fraud - it is FRAUD! So now that those people have been caught committing fraud, do they have to pay that money back? Mr. Barker, I bet those 5 or 6 people that you busted are just the tip of the iceberg. Now that the AG has been made aware, how about a follow-up...?"
"Don-n-ABQ": They should: 1) Go to prison. 2) Have their assets
seized (but will they?)...
These are exactly the things that are damaging this country. Young people see crap like this, and figure they can do anything when the grow up. Character, dignity, valor, honor, honesty, morality, ethics, should be valued. Right now they are not. This state is so corrupt it is making me sick."
"Kate": "This is infuriating! No wonder NM is the laughing stock of the nation!! .... We are not allowed to even keep lights on during our working hours or to travel to see patients in need of services, but these corrupt people can sit in thier posh offices and pull in double checks on the taxpayers dime?!! We need to clean house and hire people with basic values and ethics to work in our state system...."
Final point on this subject: it's an open question as to whether any of the "double dippers" in Larry's investigation did anything actually illegal. The Attorney General is looking into that.
The bigger question is, is double dipping of this nature the right thing to do? KRQE will continue to track the legislation now working its way through the Round House that would put a stop to this.
We also received an eloquent e-mail from one of our viewers about another story that aired Thursday night. Kim Holland interviewed a group of people who don't often have a voice in our news, and who have more than anyone to fear from what is going on now on the mesa, regarding the bodies police are finding there.
Julianna Souza writes: "Thanks for the report this morning showing the prostitutes'expressing their concerns. It is difficult to understand how women can lead that kind of lifestyle but it is a fact of life. I can say that in my 37 years of nursing some of the most obnoxious, demanding, difficult patients to care for have been politicians, lawyers, doctors, law enforcement and their families. Believe it or not some of the most gracious, rewarding patients to care for have been criminals and derelicts... Thanks again for giving the "underdogs" an opportunity to share.
KRQE always values feedback from viewers about our coverage. Simply log onto www.krqe.com and go to Contact Us in the About Us section.