Assemblyman Thomspon’s Attempt At A Smackdown Results In A Returned Jab

Below is an email exchange that was sent to me, between 13th District Assemblyman Republican Sam Thompson and former Independent Candidate Sean Dunne.

Dunne ran as an Independent for the State Assembly this year and took exception with how Thompson presented himself during interviews with the Asbury Park Press and the local Independent and the subsequent endorsements by those papers of Sam Thompson and his running mate Amy Handlin.
Mr. Dunne wrote a scathing letter to the Asbury Park Press (which I posted) that addressed their overtly biased favortism for Mr. Thompson’s candidacy in the 13th District. The letter went on to say how Thompson supported the construction and delpoyment of Liquid Natural Gass (LNG) terminals along the bayshore and how one of Thompson’s secrataries, Lucille Panos, is a classic pension fund double dipper.

Mrs. Panos is an elected Councilwoman in Old Bridge who earns a $6,000 stipen for that position and as a member of Sam Thompson’s staff earns another $27,500 a year towards her State pension.
On a personal note, it is also an affirmation of this blog’s influence and readership. The MiddeltownMike blog was the only place that Mr. Dunne’s letter was published.
I feel that the email is very telling, it show the level of entitlement in which Sam Thompson feels is owed to him as an assemblyman:
November 7, 2009

Dear Mr. Dunn:

A blog that you had posted and a flyer that you had distributed in the campaign has been brought to my attention.

Sir, if you choose to attack in any way, that is your prerogative and I rarely bother with responding to opponents’ distortions relative to myself. However, I will not tolerate statements that print distorted pictures of my employees in and attempt to take a shot at me.

Your inferences with regards to Lucille Panos are totally unjustified and border on defamatory.

It is true Lucille Panos is employed by my office, but at a rate of $27,500. She is not employed for “Special Services.” I assume you use this term to suggest this may be a no show job. Ms. Panos is one of three Legislative Aides employed by my office as well as one full-time unpaid, volunteer aide. She is a full-time employee and you will find her in my office from 9-5 Monday thru Friday, the same as all State employees. She is not entitled to “Special Projects.” Nor is anyone else in this office. Instead, she and all staff members devote all of their time to providing constituent services, responding to correspondence, telephone calls and working one-on-one with constituents to resolve their problems which run the gamut of homestead rebates, property tax freeze, enrollment in prescription drug plans, ascertaining the most suitable Medicare Part D plan, resolving disputes with healthcare plans, assistance with utilities, etc.

Ms. Panos, as well as al of my staff members, do an outstanding job of providing all of these services, far and above the level you will find in any other legislative office in the State.

As for her salary, it is actually $27,500 not $29,500. As none of my employees had received any raise for several years due to unavailability of funds, this year I was able to persuade leadership to provide and additional $5,000 on a one time basis to distribute to my staff but this did not increase their base salary and there is no guarantee that I will be able to get it again next year.

As you had this information, you obviously have access to the State payroll data, probably from the APP web-site. If you will check it further, you will find she is the lowest paid of my threes employees – not because of the quality of her work but simply because she was hired years after the other two and that was all the salary funds I had left. I assure you, her performance merits a much higher pay. If you go further and compare her salary with that of staffers in other legislative offices, I have no doubt it will be among the lowest.

As for the “handsome pension” at taxpayer expense that she is in line for, if she continued in government employment until she reached 27 ½ years of service her $29,500” State salary plus her gigantic $6,000 council stipend would entitle her to a “handsome” pension of $17, 750/year. WOW!

Should you doubt the above statements about her work, we do have a database some 17,000 constituents we have serviced one–on–one. Further, I would be delighted to take you to any of several locations where you can wander around on your own and inquire relative to the quality of the services of Lucille Panos and my office. If interested, let me know.

You owe Ms. Panos an apology.

Sam Thompson

Dunne’s reply:

Dear Sam,

I do not know of the blog you are referring to, as I don’t run a blog. My campaign did include a website and a Facebook profile, but we didn’t use a blog. However, perhaps someone has taken information I have sent out and published it on their own blog.

Just to be clear, I have no doubt your office fills out forms and provides other advice to consituents. NJ runs confused government services that many people are very frustrated with. Many taxpayers want this improved, because accessible services are the least they should get for their money. Instead, we have offices like yours that have three full-time employees that must decipher forms for people. This is very symbolic of New Jersey fiscal policy. Why save money and make government services easy to access, when we can instead pay three full-time people in one District office to translate the confusion?

As for the other information that you discuss in your email to me. I would suggest you examine the Data Universe section of the Asbury Park Press site. If you feel that the information is a distortion, you should immediately contact them. Go to the section and conduct a search for Lucille Panos.


It states the following:
PANOS, LUCILLE THE LEGISLATURE LEGISLATIVE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS, STAFF SERVICES SPECIAL SERVICES $0.00 $0.00 $29,500.00

This does not appear to include the bonus you obtained for her, as it refers only the year 2008, so as you said, her earnings from your office are actually $32,500. If you do not like the work she provides for your office to be defined as “Special Services”, then I would once again advise you to contact the Asbury Park Press. Perhaps you feel that readers of the website will think that the title, “Special Services”, implies a no-show job. If so, you might be able to persuade them to change that label.

I do not follow your claim regarding Lucille Panos and Special Projects, so I am unable to comment on it. I don’t even understand what “Special Projects” are. I can only say that I have never mentioned anything regarding “Special Projects”.

You have made it clear in your email that you would like Panos to have a much higher pension, as you want to increase her salary even more. I’ll therefore wait, along with other taxpayers, to see how handsome her pension might become.

Your claim that I make distortions regarding your own positions is totally false, and I consider that an insult. You stated in our meeting with the Asbury Park Press that you have no problem receiving nearly $50,000 a year. You also called yourself a full-time legislator in the Independent. I wish this were a distortion, but unfortunately for taxpayers, it is not. I cannot think of one other area of employment where someone would say with a straight face that they deserve a full-time salary for a part-time job because they consider their work a full-time job. But again, this is New Jersey.

You told me twice that you supported the construction of Liquefied Natural Gas Terminals off the Jersey Coast. First at Hazlet Day, and second at the meeting with the Asbury Park Press when others were present. Again, I wish this were a distortion, but unfortunately it is not. I hope you reconsider this position on this project, because it is a terrible plan.

To claim that I distort your positions on any of the above is an outright lie, and you now owe me an explanation.

I do not take lightly an accusation that I lie, which is why I immediately responded to your unfounded claims. It’s amazing that providing information to voters is considered an “attack”, but I guess that’s one more part of the problem in New Jersey politics.

I have no doubt that you could take me to places where people are pleased with the services your office has provided. I’d be more than happy to take the tour you suggest, as I am always eager to learn. However, this should be a two-stop tour. First, we’ll have a meeting with people your office has helped. Second, we’ll meet with taxpayers that I’ve met who are absolutely sick of this kind of politics. I’m sure we both could learn something from that tour.

I look forward to hearing your explanation of how I have distorted anything about your positions or political beliefs. When you realize that your claim is unfounded, you can then issue your apology.

Yours sincerely,
Sean Dunne

3 Comments

Filed under Asbury Park Press, Sam Thompson, Sean Dunne, state pension system, the Independent

3 responses to “Assemblyman Thomspon’s Attempt At A Smackdown Results In A Returned Jab

  1. Anonymous

    How can Republicans support a guy like Thompson? Are voters aware of his entitlement philosophy?

    Panos should be forbidden from working in Thompson's office. Along with the double dipping, she is able to use her position there as leverage over other candidates for Old Bridge council. All at the taxpayer's expense.

  2. Middletown Mike

    That is a thought worth expanding upon, how does it effect others who seek office in Old Bridge ?

    Thompson is old and out of touch, he should have moved on.

  3. >But now she has a $68.000 a year salary since she was given a gift job running a motor vehicle agency! What will her pension be now!!!

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