Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Library Trustee Games System

I know I say this all the time, but I must be in the wrong profession. People in other professions seem to profit in ways that I can rarely imagine. I like money. I have a little bit, and would like to have more. I just don’t seem to have the gumption to go out and rig the game for myself in a way that would benefit me. It’s a failing, I know. 

Maybe I should have been a politician and library board member, for example. That’s apparently a great way to benefit yourself. Check out this story from Malden, Massachusetts sent to me by a kind reader.

A former Massachusetts state senator managed to double his public pension benefits because of an "obscure legislative amendment" that he may have helped enact and which seems to have benefited only him. I wish I was as clever as these politicians. I’m so envious of this guy!

The obscure law doubles pension benefits for people who serve both as state legislators and as library board trustees. The politician in question – John A. Brennan Jr. – was a state senator and a trustee of the Malden Library Board. He resigned from the state senate, but held onto his his library trustee position for four more years, quitting a month after he’d served the minimum amount of time to get the maximum benefit. For those four years, he missed 30 of the 36 monthly meetings, so I don’t think he was that passionate about libraries.

Oh, and get this. The benefits only count if the city has also ratified the amendment. Turns out only one city has: Malden, where the mayor at the time was a good friend and former law partner of Brennan. This is why libraries always get screwed. It’s because we’re not as clever and devious as other people. Here are the juicy financial details, for those who like that sort of thing:

"Instead of receiving $19,097 a year in retirement based on 16 years as a full-time legislator in the 1970s and 1980s, he will receive a $41,088 annual pension for the combination of his legislative and library service, according to estimates based on his retirement application.

If Brennan collects his pension for 18 years, as actuarial tables predict he will, his pension receipts will total about $740,000. The cost of almost all of that pension, according to state law, must be split proportionately between the state and Malden, a city often strapped for cash, including a $1.5 million cut in state aid for the current year. Brennan himself has contributed about $70,000 toward his pension, mostly through a payroll deduction during his years in Legislature."

This makes it even more outrageously devious, since the city with the library will have to pay half the pension. It’s a pity that Malden is "a city often strapped for cash," though. The easy solution to that problem is just to raise taxes, as everyone in Massachusetts is well aware.

I’m jealous, and I’m going to do something about it! My next step is to get my state to pass an amendment doubling the pensions of anyone serving both as the Annoyed Librarian and as a library trustee. Then I need to become a library trustee if I’m not one already. After that, my future is assured. $41,000 a year might not sound like much now, but it’ll beat living on cat food in the future, which might be the case if the economy doesn’t significantly improve before I retire.



  1. You are jealous because you didn’t think of it first and now it is too late.

  2. You do realize that it is safe for people to eat cat food? Just saying!

  3. her_welshness says:

    Nowhere near as bad as the ex-boss of the Royal Bank of Scotland who is now going to get £693,000 a year pension until he carks it.

  4. You really shouldn’t talk about politics like this on a library blog. It is not appropriate. They may take away your faculty status.

  5. AmusedLibrarian says:

    Ah yes, librarians can only talk about politics if it’s to prevent the destruction of libraries in Darfur- I forgot.

  6. So what’s new in Taxchusetts…

  7. Dr. pepper says:

    @Elisa: Toll increases + Gas taxes. Probably to subsidize this bozo’s pension ;-)

  8. Mr. Kat says:

    If more people knew what a golden egg libraries were, maybe we’d have more people in them!!!

    Wait…once these bozos leave, the system will be utterly gutted. And we can be pretty sure that while they are in the system they will not do much that will help the system in terms of all those importatn librayr issues brought up in library meetings.

    I told you it gets merry when Library Politics starts getting thrown into the Meetings!!! Now I wonder how many more little provisos exist elsewhere, that benefit a small group within the library, and equally created and defended by that same powerful group?

    Is this proof that money and power corrupts all, including the most benign of systems?

  9. Annoyed by snarky AL says:

    “I know I say this all the time, but I must be in the wrong profession….”

    Yes, you are indeed in the wrong profession.

  10. anonymous says:

    re: I know I say this all the time, but I must be in the wrong profession.< <

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  11. Vegans For Meat says:

    Uh oh, AL has criticisms about the profession of librarianship. That must mean she’s not meant to be in the profession. After all, to be a true librarian, one who belongs in the profession, you must be an arse-kisser with with the nose of Pinocchio, like I suppose Annoyed by snarky AL must have. I suppose there’s always a place for the yes men in the profession.

  12. Auntie Nanuuq says:

    well….I’d much rather have Brown Eyes than a Brown Nose!

    This is why most librarians are not politicians, we are not deviate/devious enough to figure things (like tying ourselves to an additional salary) out.

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