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MTA administrator accused of pension ploy in willful demotion to tunnel officer


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MTA administrator accused of pension ploy in willful demotion to tunnel officer



Tuesday, January 29th 2008



Timothy Baker[/float]An MTA administrator's decision to ditch his $128,000-a-year job for a $37,000 gig as a bridge and tunnel officer has drawn howls from rank-and-file officers, who say he's manipulating pension rules.


Timothy Baker, the MTA Bridges and Tunnels chief of staff for operations, scored 94 on the exam to become a bridge and tunnel officer, placing him 154th among the 5,986 candidates, sources told the Daily News.


As management, Baker earns $127,795 a year. As a bridge and tunnel officer, his starting pay would be $36,900 and max out at $52,700.


Members in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Bridges and Tunnels operation say Baker's career change could be a scheme to allow him to retire early.


Bridge and tunnel officers may retire at age 50 with 20 years on the job - and only three of the years have to be as a bridge and tunnel officer, sources said.


The rest of the tenure can be elsewhere in the MTA, and a retiree's pension would be based in part on the three years he earned the most money, sources said.


Baker, 48, has been on the job about 15 years.


He has passed the physical exam and a personal candidate interview, sources said.


His critics say it probably helped that he interviewed for the job with one of his subordinates, Robert Beach, operations superintendent for the Henry Hudson Bridge.


The sources said the MTA's inspector general was asked to examine the potential conflict of interest and has launched an investigation.


A spokeswoman for the inspector general's office declined comment.


Baker did not return a call, and an MTA Bridges and Tunnels spokeswoman also declined to comment.


One of Baker's colleagues said he may have no intention of becoming a cop and may simply be testing the system he oversees.


Bridge and tunnel officers are armed.


In addition to guarding nine bridges and tunnels - including the Midtown Tunnel and Triborough Bridge - they take tolls and enforce traffic regulations.

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