WCVB's 5 Investigates has shined sunlight on loopholes that allow some public employees who are retiring to collect healthy pension payments and unemployment checks simultaneously. In my neighborhood, they call that double dipping, and it's within the law.

Aside from pocketing unemployment checks and their pensions at the same time, some of the retirees received thousands of taxpayer dollars in buyouts for vacation time and unused sick time. And under Massachusetts law, these public employees didn't do anything wrong for double dipping.

Maybe wrong isn't the best choice of words. Unethical, amoral or unrighteous can be interchanged, but in the eyes of our legislators, there's nothing unprincipled going on here, even though it forces taxpayers to pay twice.

What makes this failure of the system worse is that the payment of unemployment benefits are exempt from state public records law, so good luck trying figure out the millions of dollars and the number of public employees who've taken advantage of the loopholes over the years.

There are other loopholes in our state's unemployment benefit system that need reforming, too. Ex-cons can collect after their work release jobs end and they're released from prison. School crossing guards can collect when school lets out, and so can cafeteria workers, school bus drivers and even some teachers.

These loopholes need to closed, but municipal officials and the last two governors have tried but failed to close them when they were purposely stalled in the legislature. If you agree with me that these loopholes are out of line, then take it up with your state representative and state senator. The taxpayers are getting ripped off, and it's all legal.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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