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Added Apr 30 2012

Thanks to a 1991 pension "boost" in Richard M. Daley's first term, some of Chicago's aldermen will earn more money from their pensions than they did while in office... but the Rahmulans have no problem closing down 6 mental health clinics that serve our great city's most vulnerable population.

Joe, I'd love for you to address this pension mess. You've served long enough to be fully vested... it sounds like you'll be making more than $90K/ year after you retire! on the taxpayers' dime! You all need to change the rules before the taxpayers begin to revolt!!!

From The Trib article: "When pension benefits for aldermen were boosted in 1991, their salary was $40,000 a year. Since then, it has grown to as much as $115,000 — rising at nearly DOUBLE the rate of inflation." [emphasis added],0,6084705,full.story

Yes. Something is VERY wrong with this picture.

  • Inactive user

    Sweet Baby Jesus! OUTRAGEOUS!
    How do these guys sleep at night?
    I know on a big pile of money.

  • Shelena Marie Beach goer

    "Rahmulans" lol !!!!

  • The Trib article also notes that according to state law, the aldermen's only duty is to "draft and approve legislation" but --
    "Chicago's City Council, though among the largest and most expensive in the nation, rarely produces ordinances of substance."

    Essentially, the aldermen are a high-cost concierge service so residents can access services they already have the right to receive!!

    Which brings me to the CAPS meeting I attended last Thursday. One poor resident talked about calling the police over 70 times for rampant drug-dealing that occurs in front of his building and the lack of police response. Turns out that most of his calls were anonymous -- he hadn't given his name/number for fear of reprisal. As a result, the police don't go out on the call as they don't have anyone to sign a complaint!

    I asked why the dispatcher wouldn't tell the caller to 911 what would happen if the call was recorded as anonymous. The police answered that they had no control over the dispatchers as that was a different City department. So, who the heck is in charge that two City departments that MUST work hand in hand can't fix an easy training problem?! Is there no alderman who can work on fixing this difficult snafu!?


  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    It is outrageous and the public in Chicago needs to work to get this changed.

  • Bill Morton shop and dine local to support Rogers Park

    Another note on Suzanne's point, There are many city services and resources that you can independently utilize to report an issue, receive assistance or improve our communities.

    Here is your no-alderman-required direct link to the City of Chicago categorized by service:

  • DaveP been around

    Newsflash, this just in, politicians screw over citizens while making themselves wealthy. Story at 11.

    I mean, really, we don't know this?

    Yet somehow we keep electing the same people over and over again. Nothing ever changes.

  • What!!?! You mean American politicians (in Chicago, of all places) are riding 'fat' on our efforts???! With little or no regard for us? Who could imagine such travesty?
    Didn't we start becoming aware of this a little after Capone got caged? You're right....we (well...somebody) do keep these guys in office.
    I have plenty of confidence in pres O, but with the Washington mind(?) set trying to trip him up - all I can do is vote.....and wonder what that period of anarchy - inevitable - as we descend, as a nation, into the 'third world' - will be like for our families.

  • KMQ New to the Uptown Sound

    Until there is some true anger, anarchy will never appear. Without anarchy, there is no revolution. Without revolution, there is no change. Without change, everything stays the same.

    Take action, or take a seat. Votes mean nothing anymore.

    The last year in our society, both locally and nationally, had led me to believe that we as individuals no longer matter. Without a unified force (and dont hand me The Republican Party, The Democrats, The Tea Partiers, they're all the same) willing to risk their freedoms to enact change, then we should just do what we can to better our own individual lives...which is what I am doing.

    "Take it all. Give nothing back."

  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    Where are the young people out in the streets like the 60's and early 70's. Are they too distracted by their IPhones and video games? Why is it that the media to often times fails to bring these stories to the surface? It does take action.. but action can also include doing no harm.

  • Neighbors look at the bright side.
    1) We are fortunate enough to have an alderman who has been in this pension system for 20 years. I am sure he has many ideas for corrective and cost saving measures that he can now introduce to the City Council and I am just as sure he will have the full support of our new Mayor.
    2) Maybe they should work in their own back yards before they talk about other City workers, teachers, police officers and fire fighters.
    3) Also be thankful that the alderman position is part time. Can you imagine what these people would do to us if they devoted their full time attention to the City.
    4) Do any of you know any other part time position with any type pension.
    5) However their way to pay for all of this will be the new " Cell Phone Camera" ordinance.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    Given that the unfunded pension liability is the largest and gravest issue facing Illinois and Chicago, no one should vote for a politician here who hasn't clearly articulated how s/he will contribute to solving the problem, both in terms of personal acceptance of salary/benefits and legislative solutions.

  • Bill Near Rockwell L

    Public employee pensions are funded by contributions from the EMPLOYEE which is matched by the employer. Very similar to a 401k, except the employer (government) manages it. Unfortunately governments have a tendency to raid this fund and use it in place of general revenue- raising taxes instead of raiding pension funds tends to anger the voters. The government assumes that gains from investment will make up for the shortfall. However, Wall Street has been better at losing money over the past decade than it has been at providing returns- hence these shortfalls. The government should not treat these pension funds as revenue- after all it's more than 50% EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTED MONEY. And now, when the shortfall is causing problems, they blame the WORKERS saying they are greedy etc. Rather than accept the blame themselves, they try to shift blame to the employees, who are, in fact, also VICTIMS here as their contributions were stolen by government. Private companies do the same thing, except when they would rather not pay back the money they "borrowed" from their workers pension fund, they just go out of business and leave the pensioners impoverished.

  • Ann on Glenwood 15 yr. condo owner

    Lots of outrage at the system, now, who's ready to foment some change to the system? All takers, raise their hands. Is there a way to broaden this blog's current entry & comments city-wide?
    Let's get a taste of what's out there. How many of us have a pension that well locked in? I like Phoebe's point about a "concierge service," which is where these guys get their power, from the old "pay up or I dont pick it up." Are we ready for a change? Let's talk, let's meet, let's plan, let's go.

  • Bill -- You are right that the public pension employees are victimized by government pension systems, but a bit wrong on details. Government pensions guarantee retirees a set percentage of their salary for life (and spousal benefits as well.) 401ks DON’T do that. A 401k only provides a “pension” to the extent that the investments pay off.

    So, a government employee could end up contributing $100k to his/her retirement fund and will get the percentage of salary guaranteed by that pension based on years of service (and some other variables.) On the other hand, the private sector employee invests $100k in the 401k and ONLY receives benefits tied to how that contribution fared in terms of market conditions for those particular investments. Even if a company goes out of business, the 401k monies contributed by employees are not affected (nor are the matches already provided by the employer.) The private sector pensions similar to current government sector pensions are a thing of the past!

    So, why is the government employee victimized under this scenario that guarantees a set salary percentage? As a government employee, the retiree has what he/she thinks of as a guaranteed pension. In fact, in the State of IL that pension contract is “guaranteed” by the Illinois Constitution!

    Unfortunately, that Constitutional guarantee cannot result in the State printing tender that covers obligations that cannot be met. That’s why I like Chris Christie – Governor of NJ. He had the balls to go into a convention of firefighters and tell them that. The BS they’d been fed for years was nothing more than, “Sure, I’ll call you tomorrow” after the one-night stand! Public employees should be throwing the Democratic machine in this state out of office based on payback alone!

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    It's true that pensions are part of employees' total negotiated compensation, not an add-on. But it's not quite that simple, since unions have often negotiated excessively high salaries quite apart from benefit levels. The pension crisis came about after the state and the city, during market boom periods, wildly overestimated the projected rate of return on invested funds, skimming off the "extra." However, it's also true that the crisis was the result of excessive union compensation levels negotiated during these boom periods. I say this as a union supporter.

    I recently analyzed salaries for city sanitation workers, both sanitation laborers and truck drivers (Teamster workers), using the city salary database. Around 90% of these workers--garbage collectors and truck drivers--are earning $70,000 a year. In fact, only 7% of the total 2,259 workers in the entire Streets & Sanitation Dept are earning less than 45K, and only 14% (318 employees) are earning below 55K. Most of these are jobs that require no investment of money/years in higher education, which makes the high salary levels even more extraordinarily valuable over an employee's lifetime. (By comparison, educators, medical doctors and lawyers can make higher salaries--or at least rise to higher levels over the course of their careers--but only after paying off considerable higher education debt and losing the most valuable years of their compounded earnings/interest time during the first 4-10 years of their careers. [Money invested during the first decade of a career ends up comprising the bulk of a person's retirement funds, due to the "magic" of interest compounded over a longer period]).

    There's a point where union negotation tips the balance too far in favor of employee compensation. Now, unfortunately, Republicans can argue that unions are evil and should be eliminated. It's a tragic story of excess from both the right and the left, and blame goes to more than one faction.

  • Inactive user

    RPLover, wish I could take credit for the "Rahmulan" meme, but I stole it from a John Kass commentary.

    Thanks for all the thoughtful, and sometimes snarky, comments. According to The Trib, part of what makes these pension plans so unpalatable [to Joe taxpayer] is that aldermen become fully eligible to collect after 20 years of service, compared to 30 years for all other city employees. Aldermen justify it by saying they could be voted out after only 4 years.

    Keep in mind, "the inflated benefits for aldermen represent a small fraction of the municipal pension plan's $6.7 billion in unfunded liabilities. But they are a dramatic illustration of the structural problems lying at the center of Chicago's pension crisis," The Trib reports [quite a bit of editorializing in this "news report," I might add].

    Additionally, "Under the plan, aldermen and other elected city officials became eligible to receive up to 80 percent of the salary they earned during their last month of work. All other employees in the municipal pension plan — including top managers — receive 70 percent of their average monthly salary over the previous four years."

    What's really pissing me off is how quick Emanuel has been to slash and burn services, but isn't willing to explore how to rein in ANY expenditures that would directly impact elected officials. Occupy Chicago s/b all over this BS.

  • Suzanne, I agree with you on most points. However in this State I believe you only went half way. The Machine alone did not drive us to this point. They had a willing partner in the Republican party of Illinois. When did the legislature ever stand up to the Machine. In this State the pols ( not all but many) belong to one party the What Do I Get Out Of This Party.
    Every elected official has a term limit. I would suggest we make us of them and vote the incumbents out!

  • This link is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more about our public pension disaster! Way to go Phoebe, we need to continue attacking these problems, heck that's our money!!

  • John RP -- I will agree that some of the Republican leaders we've had in this state have been (greatly) less than stellar! BUT, when it comes to public employee pensions, you have to attribute the problems to Dems.

    These outlandish pensions are the quid pro quo that has legions of public employees doing the leg work to keep Democrats in office! The entire electoral system in this State is set up so that people practically need an army just to get on the ballot and give voters a choice. A work week of only 35 hours is another way to get public employees working for Dems, as they have the "free" time to be foot soldiers.

    All you have to do is ask yourself which political party has benefitted by the existing public employee compensation package to figure out who needs to be voted out of office. Unfortuntately, in too many races in Cook County, you will only see a Democrat on the ballot in November.

  • Good morning Suzanne. Again I am sorry but I attribute pension problems to both parties. Where was the loyal opposition, where was the anger and questions raised while these various pieces of legislation made their way through commities?
    Why are these issues only brought to the light of day by the newspapers or the office of the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
    Then you have to love the fact when the questions are raised, NOBODY remembers anything except that they are SURE, I WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE!
    Just a casual review of the Ryan,Blagojevich,Cellini trials
    gives me enough evidence to feel I am on firm ground by saying
    both parties in this State are involved in these behaviors right up to their collective hips, wallets and purses.

  • Ann on Glenwood 15 yr. condo owner

    Many good analytic comments, helpful to understand how we got to where we are. I guess my thought is: how useful is partisan fingerpointing? It doesn't pay the bills, or alter the payment structures which got us into this predicament. Both parties clearly benefited from the "system" we have. If we can come together to say the system has to change, these are a few options we'd like everybody to consider, acknowledge that change is difficult and will mean some adjustment in Chicago politics as usual, but the old system has outworn its usefulness, so let's think about the fairest way to apportion what we have and accrue what we don't. I'm not a finance whiz, so I leave that piece to others. But I think we need to be more creative than using R & D labels to assign blame. Thoughts?

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    And now, as just reported in today's Tribune, former mayor Daley himself gamed the pension system, grabbing a $180,000 pension for life:

    "Just into his mayoralty years ago, he quietly re-entered the state legislators pension fund for a single month even though he'd been out of the legislature for a decade. That maneuver boosted his pension by about $50,000 a year and allowed him to avoid paying $400,000 into the plan.",0,4834820.column

  • Carl G. The best part is that the first statement given by any of these guys is, WHAT I DID WAS LEGAL, I WAS JUST FOLLOWING THE LAW. What they fail to mention is how they and their friends shaped and passed the very laws they benefit from.

  • Ann, I will try to sum this complex problem quite simply. I will mention one option I favor that I have seen discussed in our state house and elsewhere around the nation, but the press needs to continue making this a lead story story before we turn in to Europe. These stories need to be right up there with the economy for our November Election - but IT WON'T be because it's not popular and UNION power will not support those who are trying to save taxpayer's money by means of eliminating their zero-risk!, guaranteed!! retirement pensions benefits.
    Here it is:
    I believe we need to see our Gov't eliminate the costly Defined Benefit pensions (DB Pension Plans) that pay a guaranteed! benefit to retirees (think annuities) and shift towards the 401K Defined Contribution Plans (DC Plans) where the employee bears all his/her investment risk! I dream of the day that tax payer money only goes as a match into the public sector retirement plan, only being offered as a matching contribution; This forces public employees to create their own savings for their own retirement before they get OUR money, in the same way I choose to save for my own retirement. Pay to play... Not to mention, the Gov't (which does not do much very well on it's own) should have a heck-of-an easier time only determining the current year's matching contribution (DC Plan) rather than determining, investing in and funding all the future value of all these unknown promises (DB Plan)!
    And for my friends that want to say teachers are underpaid,...
    You see, you can make arguements that changing this out of date system enables us to be able to pay teachers, FF, Police all more money in salaries; ONLY if we could eliminate paying their fixed retirement benefits for future dollars, of which we have no idea what the future value of these promises will be worth (in current dollars, so no way of determining these Future Values).

    To be continued...

  • See most people unfamiliar with this subject matter do not fully understand how pensions are structured, but some o fthem work as follows (notice, all systems are unique and most all are different, but concepts usually similar in nature): You work X number of years, and you will get 80% of your last years salary. Or, you work X years and at retirement, or after 30 years of service, you get 75% of average highest three years wages. But you see, when the 22 yr old begins work there is no idea what his/her highest salary amounts will be or where that individual's pay might be 30 years later. So how much do we fund towards these future obligations, unknown. Not to mention, within some of these Gov't pensions, the Employee may only need to put somewhere from 0-8% of their own pay into the pension, per the contract of the pension. Furthermore, GE and many ofther companies have moved to eliminate these programs because of the costly implications of maintaining such employee benefit structures.

    Lastly, I will also say that there is no way we can take away these full benefits that people 5 years and less from retirement (age 65) have planned on receiving for their professional working years. But, we can start today to change the current system: some have discussed smaller pensions with a 401K DC side program. I say for all new public EEs 401K should be only option, level the playing field, to quote 'El Presidente BOB. not sure why I should be paying for other folks retirements, after all I'm the only one paying for mine (no company match here either, and I'm not complaining). full disclosure - I put 10% into my 401K, Roth option.

    'G-d Bless America!

  • Ann on Glenwood 15 yr. condo owner

    Thanks for the explanation. Now, how about taking it to the economics/political desk of the Trib & Sun Times, for just the purpose you mentioned: it needs to be front & center for the next 6 months. Talk to WBEZ about making a series out of it. Get it on the 7:00 show onWTTW. There's stuff knowledgeable people like you can do to get the issue the attention it needs.

  • Dear Cubs Fan please do not forget you are dealing with politicians Promises and contracts were entered into by these
    very honorable people. If history is any judge when they are done getting every dime they can " legally" out of pension funds.
    They still will not have enough money. Just wait and see when
    they change the tax code before you retire with what you thought you saved in your 401 K Roth. Best of luck.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    SciClubFan: "solving" pension problems by moving to 401ks has only made matters worse. It might be inevitable that things are moving in that direction (as they mostly already have in the private sector), but the truth is, most people don't know how to manage their own retirement funds, and they end up investing in mutual funds which take off several percentage points in fees from earnings. 80 percent of mutual funds perform below the market, as greedy managers collect huge fees that are cleverly hidden in performance reports. The only reason companies have opted for 401ks is because this allows them to contribute far less money to employees' retirement. In many cases, companies offer no matching funds at all, or require employees to invest in the company's own stock, which may perform very poorly. As a result, we will have an entire generation moving into retirement with inadquate retirement income. That is a looming disaster for the overall economy. All the ills you mention with regard to pension structures could be solved with various fixes and controls. But it's wide-eyed ingenuous to suppose that moving employees to 401k plans is a wise and benevolent way that corporations take better care of their employees. Corporations these days have no concern for their employees whatsoever, and the investment banking industry cares even less for their clients, investing their money with one hand and betting against their performance with the other.

  • Carl: by simply offering a 401K my company has showed me they care about helping provide me an avenue through which I can defer up to $17,000 a year towards my retirement (and if I were over 50, then I could defer this year up to $22,500 of my money into my 401K) - and I remind you, no company match with my employer. I am thankful for this opportunity my employer has made available to me; Otherwise I would be left to only use IRAs (for sake of utilizing tax deferral) where I can only defer $5,000 year towards MY retirement.
    Sure, maybe it is true that most people do not know how to invest,... but this is because we have failed to educate our children (I would argue) about saving money over long-term, tax-deferred compounding vehicles. I surmise you might suggest we all be equal and paid 'our fair share' and then watch as less of us are incentivized to learn new skills and try to make a better life for ourselves (then do away with the American Dream)...
    Carl- with your response that most people do not know how to invest I ask you the following questions: Do most Americans fix their own cars? If you are to appear in court, do you represent yourself or hire an attorney? How about dealing with our health, do we do it on our own or seek out professionals? see where I'm going with this?
    I invest in mutual funds. Why, because I want the professionals allocating my money and their performance has me outperforming the market over the past 10 years.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    SciCubsFan: Based on your previous comments, I assumed your company was contributing to your retirement, but to my enormous surprise, they aren't! Your company is merely providing you with an empty vehicle in which you can invest your own money. It doesn't cost them anything. In fact, it saves them millions of dollars not to contribute to your retirement. And you call this benevolence? Self-employed people can set up the same kind of investment structure through a SEP IRA. Would you call that self-benevolence? If anything, it's the government that is being benevolent by allowing you to invest with tax-free gains; a small concession in the face of the corporate world's destruction of the pension system.

    As for your car repair analogy, that doesn't work at all. When you take your car in for repairs, the mechanic fixes it and you pay him. The fact that no one understands how their cars work anymore doesn't matter, because you can see the results: either the car is fixed or it isn't. When you buy a mutual fund, the manager keeps more of your money than you'd make investing your money in low-cost index fund. If your mechanic told you, "Sorry, I only repair 80 percent of my customer's repair needs; deal with it," you wouldn't keep going back to him. That the mutual fund industry is gouging ordinary people is not just my opinion, it's statistics: Mutual fund performance over the last several decades has greatly lagged overall stock market gains. You should be reading things like this:

    Furthermore, since the early 1980s, income for everyone but the upper 10 percent has increased only slightly. There has been an enormous transfer of wealth to the rich. The fact that your company is not paying anything into your retirement is a very real and structural piece of this wealth transfer story. And it's people like you, ingenously believing in your company's heartless kindness, who are making the story possible.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    If the DB remains for retirees (as well as for those who are on the verge of retiring) yet everyone else's DB is switched to a 401K plan, how does the DB get funded?

  • Getting back on topic, it's time we stop paying Govt retirees pensions and ask that they shift to 401k DC plans like the rest of us. Wouldn't that be fair?

  • Elmo: great question. the DB would be paid for by revenues generated from taxes, as is currently the case. My plan would cost more I believe, but only during those transition years, with costs dropping significantly in future after the DB beneficiaries pass on(assuming that every eligible saver defers enough to fully benefit from the matching contribution- this is not likely as in private 401ks i have seen studies indicating less than half of eligibles choose to participate-)

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    While the DB is currently paid in part, by revenues generated from taxes, it is also funded by employee contributions, generally in the 9% range for the majority of City workers. Your plan would cost substantialy more during those transition years. With that said, it would seem that we wouldn't be talking about a few short years, instead more like decades if we factor in an employee retiring at age 65. However there remain existing contracts (possibly laws)that allow many employees to retire after 29 years at 75% of their pay averaged over the last 3-4 years of service and the age requirement is anything over 50.

    While many would say that all City workers shouldn't be allowed to retire until they attain the age of 62-65, what about police officers and fireman? They start out at a much lower rate of pay which increases with longevity so keeping them on is costing the tax payers more than hiring younger officers who are in better shape, better health (less age related illness, duty related injuries, less cost to insure.)

  • I Am a State employee.
    A State employee made less than a private employee in a comparable position.
    Pension plans made up for this !

    30 years as a State employee.

    The pay was and is not great . Raises we're not great - did not get all of last promised one.

    I am a normal State employee. Not a supervisor . We are talking pensions - not the salaries made. Abuse is NOT BY THE NORMAL employee but by the law makers .

    How much pension did Ted Lechowich get.
    City job - Ward remap
    County Commissioner
    I think he had everyone today beat !
    He is deceased but this has been open knowledge for many years. !


    Everyone is against government employees but mention what the AVERAGE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE MAKES AND HIS-HER PENSION.

    Yes Crain , I am not certain but I think United Airlines (pilots make good pay) the companies took their pensions.

    The State took away DENTAL INSURANCE from the retirees 2 years ago. A person retires based on a current contract but it gets taken away!


  • Elmo, the 9% you cite needs citation, please share where you see 9% avg contribution made by 'participants'. I am aware of, have friends that enjoy sharing they contribute 0% towards their tax payer funded pensions... just saying. As for more younger cops, I am all in favor of that. I would appreciate seeing more cops on foot/bike in our hood too, for that matter.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Not sure where you friends work, but it isn't in Chicago. As an aside, City workers are required to live in the City, contribute to their pensions and are also "the tax payers."

    Here you go:

  • correct, friend not in IL. I guess what I am trying to figure out and show is that by getting rid of DB plans and allowing police, teachers and Gov't Employees (EEs) to contribute under their free will (with hopefully matching contributions for them) then the pensions would not longer exist and we could afford to pay these people more money through salary (if/when necessary) made available through a cost savings of dropping the retirement pension guarantees. your thoughts Elmo? I wonder how my teacher friends would feel about this, pay raise for you today, but NO future pension; 401K if you choose to use it.

    It seems simple to me in that teachers, FF, police tell us all they're underpaid for salary and that for those pay rates they should get the pensions, okay, sounds legit and I would feel the same way in their shoes! But now, go with me for a second, what if we eliminated the pensions all-together, then could we? afford to pay them more in salary and then leave them to finance and invest in their future retirements, hence leveling the playing field with the rest of us? After all, isn't this Obama's rhetoric, level the playing field?

  • Inactive user

    This is actually one of the more straight-forward scandals: the politicians wrote obscure laws to make it possible to game the pension system (municipal v. state,etc.) then they game the system, and claim they were just doing something legal. Yeah, when you write the laws to enable you and your cronies to be set for life, it's sweet. Meanwhile, because there are many tens of thousands of honest city, county, and state workers who paid their share of their pay into their pension funds, while the legislators DIDN'T PAY THE STATE'S SHARE, now we have a system in total meltdown. Daley and his co-conspirators will get every dime the law says they have coming, while the Streets and San guys, the cops and teachers and firefighters will get screwed.

    The Chicago Way. . . .

  • Inactive user

    I've been trying to find the definitive Chicago Reader article that spelled it all out, starting with the 1991 laws that enabled our legislators to "game" the system, as Bill puts it (quite aptly, I might add). While I haven't been able to find the actual article (I don't even remember what year it was published), I did find some interesting background info. about state and city pension plans and about Rogers Park itself. Will post soon.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    SCI, I don't think you would find any DB pensioner that wouldn't acknowledge that through no fault of their own, the pension system is in dire trouble. Yes, you have the downturn of the market but you also have mayoral elected people managing the funds and making poor investment decisions including losing a lot of money to development companies owned by Vaneko, et al., Name sound familiar? You also have years of the City recusing itself from putting in their share that the actuaries mandated thereby leaving the funds further depleted.

    You would be hard pressed to have an aging work force "go with you" and eliminate DB's at this stage of their careers. I've served and protected my City, paid 9% toward my pension for the last three decades, paid my taxes like every other City taxpayer, and hope that I don't end up eating cat food. Remember that we have had no say in how our money was invested, 9% taken out of our checks 2x a month for thirty years and now feel like the rug is being pulled from under our feet at the end of our careers. We are not the enemy. We are the person standing behind you at the grocery store, the gas pump, etc. We are your neighbors on "every block."

  • Anne Sullivan In and around Rogers Park since 1970

    My favorite pension scammer is Carol Ronen, now the 48th ward dem committeeman. When she retired as state rep she went to work for Blago as a very highly paid "consultant". She worked for him for EIGHT WEEKS and retired again, bumping her pension for life by almost $50k a year. She didn't earn that, she stole it. It may have been legal stealing, but then she did get to write the laws!

  • Elmo, what if the system offered you a lump-sum at your retirement date? Lump sum would be the present value of your future lifetime annuity stream and left you to determine how to invest or which annuity to buy? Then you could be in the market risk and not worry about how other people are managing your money. I should share, that I agree with most your points and our city/state is in bad financial condition so I enjoy thinking of new alternatives and discussing these ideas. obviously, i do not want you to be in worse shape, but the current system will someday stop paying all hard work everyone put into the system.


    "the law permits pension plans in red zone to reduce, or even eliminate, certain features of benefits you already have earned"

    These are your janitors and cleaning ladies !



  • Inactive user

    Here's a link to The Trib "gallery" on pension abuses/ reforms:,0,5880368.storygallery

  • Inactive user

    How about these union officials who qualified for a sorely underfunded teachers pension by substitute teaching... for ONE DAY.,0,6972290,full.story

    Gaming the system? It's downright abuse!

  • Moving toward a 401k would be expensive in the short term, but something drastic needs to be done as the status quo of the DB public pension plan can't be sustained – especially in light of increased life expectancies. With the exception of police and firefighters, I don’t know why a public pension even makes sense. Newly hired public employees should join the Social Security system in addition to building 401k’s. Granted, people would need to make the effort to understand more about investing, but that’s not impossible. It would be good for people to start acting upon the notion that if they don’t care enough about their own retirement well-being to educate themselves, they can’t expect some third party stranger to take much of an interest either.

    Making these changes would also facilitate the ability of public employees to shift to a private sector job if they don’t like their current position any more. Right now, once you have so many years in the pension system, you are tied into sticking with public employment because that is where your pension is located. It makes no sense to handcuff public workers like that.

  • Wow, sounds like some don't know the difference between a 401k and a pension! Pension plans promise a set amount at retirement. 401k's promise NOTHING! If the market tanks, your 401 is dead. A pension payment is not affected due to the market! HUGE difference. But, if you don't mind the difference, why don't we just transfer the funds from the government pension plans into 401k's?

    If government employees push it, study what happened to Pan Am employee's pension plans. After bankruptcy they received about 32 cents on the dollar.

    Also, historically, government employees did make less that private sector individuals, but not in the last few DECADES! Certainly you cannot tell me that the average work ethic and intellect of a government worker is better than what you find in the private sector. I've never seen private sector employees treat customers as poorly as seen in the City/County offices downtown. If the government workers downtown were in the private sector, most would have been fired years ago!

    For example, several years ago I went downtown to protest a ticket (rare for me). I was face-to-face with a woman that would not even talk to me - she just kept pointing at a sign on her desk indicating the costs involved with protesting a ticket! REALLY?? She deserves a pension?? When government employees start treating their taxpayers with respect and safeguarding our tax-dollars, maybe we will have respect for them. Don't even get me started on the corruption!

    Government employees, you better start working on what you will give-up before you lose it all. Although I would hate to see Chicago declare bankruptcy, I must admit that it might clear the decks and allow us to get rid of the HUGE liabilities attached to pensions! (by the way, there is NO LIABILITY with respect to 401's!!) We simply cannot afford to keep paying mammoth pensions until death and then some to the spouse! SWAP TO 401K's like the bulk of the taxpayers!!

  • Rob Zzzzz

    lisa - great proof by one example of something that specifically happened to you. therefore government employees don't deserve a pension.

    i tend to agree though. i happen to be married to a teacher. how about we pay teachers a bit more, make them pay into social security (they currently do not pay in and hence will not receive social security benefits) and drop the pension thing?

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    lisa, your experience downtown reminds me of many experiences I've had with AT&T over the years...

  • Rob Zzzzz

    suzanne - i think there is some penalty for not sticking it out the entire time until retirement, but you still get something if you leave before the required age. i believe it is proportional to number of years of service and your salary when you leave.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    #1 - Government employees = taxpayers

    #2 - Municipal Pension = No Social Security. Not a matter of "making them pay into it", it isn't a choice. Further if an employee already had been paying into SS prior to employment with the City and thus eligible for SS through past SS contributions, they are not entitled to receive the full amount. Rostenkowski et al. passed that legislation referring to it as the "windfall elimination provision" thereby reducing SS benefits by 60%.(Strangely politicians found ways to obtain multiple pensions and have no worries about reduced SS benefits.) Fire and police contribute 9.1% of their earned income toward their pension.

    Currently private sector taxpayers pay 6.2 percent of their earned income into Social Security.This tax is capped at the first $106,000 of income, adjusted annually for inflation.

    Let's say you, the private sector taxpayer, are near retirement or already retired and have based your retirement on whatever you have earned in SS benefits as well as your 401K, or other retirement savings plan. Now the legislators plan to drastically reduce those benefits. What say you?

  • Elmo- SS wage base in 2012 is capped at $110,100.

    Part of Obama's work has decreased individuals contribution to SS Trust fund, used to be 6.2%, now it is 4.2%. Employers match another 6.2% to the SS Trust Fund. 10.4% (4.2%(EE)+6.2%(ER)) of first $110,000 goes SS.

  • Only one example since I'm limited to 2,000 words.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    SCI - So, wouldn't it appear that SS is also a defined benefit? Maybe all taxpayers should start working on what they will give up before opining on others?

  • Neighbors: I have no problems with pensions or SSAN. All of these programs have issues and they can and should be discussed and improved.
    However the real problem is the ABUSE and to date the only ABUSE noted is by our elected employees and their friends.
    Has anyone else observed that for the entire time these elected officials are in office NOT ONE has observed or has any knowledge of any corruption by anyone of their own.
    That is until they are subpoenaed and appear before a Federal Grand Jury.
    Also I have noted that all of them are familiar with EVERY obscure pension law. It would appear to me that immediaty after they take their oath of office for any position they are given the Cliff Notes to the various pension programs.
    These same people write the Ethics legislation. What we need is people who write less but ENTER OFFICE WITH SOME!

  • Elmo, i would give up my SS future benefits in a second. Either let me manage that money (govt can't even balance the budget) like a 401k or stop taking my money so i choose what to do with those funds. I know and try to live by the golden rule! Thanks for pointing this out Elmo, I should've mentioned this a while ago.

  • Rob Zzzzz

    elmo - good point. i should have said that they should also get social security if they start paying into it because that is what i meant.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    SCI - Stop taking your SS money and let you manage it? Okay, but when they do that, they say wait. You know that 6.2% your employer was supposed to be contributing to SS on your behalf? Well, they didn't dutifully contribute for many years kid. In fact, on some occasions, they "borrowed" from existing contributions, not to mention handing over a few million to their friend's companies along the way. So now, they want you to take a reduced lump sum as well as reduced future benefits. Would that be okay with you?

    Please know, I am speaking hypothetically. Not targeting you per se. It just seems to me that the majority are confusing government pensions with 401K plans and not understanding that we are not eligible for social security benefits. We didn't make the rules or the laws.

    I worked in the private sector for 10 years prior to my employment with the City. Upon being employed by the City in my 20's, I had no clue as to retirement benefits, pensions, etc. All that I knew was that I now had pension contributions taken out of my check instead of SS. One replaced the other. It is not an add on perk.

  • Lisa . NOT all government employees are like that. But most people feel like that. When the Amendment vote comes up - well, a few now are signing the papers - irrevocable - and retiring not knowing the entire picture. What people do not realize is that what is given can be taken away.
    "I am retiring under the currant contract"
    I agree with things already given should not be taken. Is that not what we teach our children ? You never go back on a deal ?
    The Governor gave a raise but reneged on it.
    Everyone needs their job. Do not always go to the top. Complain to the person first. ( Sorry, my mom's advise. Not all waitresses or bus drivers or everyone in a profession that deals with the public is bad because of a few bad experiences in that profession.

    We are talking working years and making it !
    It is not easy in any job but everyone looks forward to it !

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    SciCubsFan, you've been spewing a long stream of inaccuracies in this thread, all the while casting yourself as an expert in retirement/pension issues, which you clearly aren't. Here are a few corrections to things you've claimed:

    1. The individual contribution to SS has gone down under Obama only due to the *temporary* reduction of the SS payroll deduction. It's a *temporary* economic stimulus measure that has been used before, and no one in the Obama administration has any plans to make it permanent, because they know it would be disastrous for the future of SS.

    2. Social Security is not in any big trouble; its critics have seized on accounting/demographic issues to claim that SS will go insolvent within a few decades, but although it's true that the system can't keep up the same level of benefits under the current rate of pay-ins and pay-outs, just a few simple adjustments will keep it going into the future without any trouble: (a) slightly reduce pay-outs for the very wealthy, and (b) move the retirement age up a couple of years. It will take some political struggles to get these things done, but SS itself is not facing certain ruin by any means; the structure just needs to be adjusted to the changing age/ratio of the population. (Medicare is another story; on that one, we should all be very worried.)

    3. As others have pointed out here, many city/state union workers are not eligible for SS, so you have to take that into consideration when you criticize how public pensions work and how much they pay out. Nine percent contributions sounds like a lot, but not when you consider the benefits public employee will never get from SS. This being said, I do believe certain unions, like the Teamsters, have negotiated very excessive salaries for their workers, so there has been serious abuse in compensions levels generally (not to mention all the higher-level abuses where big cats garnered two pensions by doing a month's work, etc.)

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident


    4. There is no such thing as state/city contributions to public worker pensions. The unions negotiated a salary level for their workers, and pension payments were taken out of those salaries. It's simply not the case that employees get both a salary AND a pension on top of that.

    5. The pension crisis was caused not by some kind of structural flaw in defined benefit structures themselves, but by politician-administrators who grossly overestimated the rate of return they'd get on the invested pension funds. In some states, the system has worked extraordinarily well, i.e., when it has been built with reasonable expectations of future payouts. But in states like Illinois and California, system administrators estimated--against intelligent advisement--that they'd see 10% returns into perpetuity, which was an insanely stupid calculation. Their calculation errors "allowed" politicians to skim off moneys from pension funds and use them for other purposes. As a result, when the market crashed in '09, many public pensions suddenly faced giant shortfalls.

    401(k)s work well for workers who know how the stock market functions. They work very poorly for most workers, since most workers have no idea how the investments function, and end up putting their money into mutual funds, 80 percent of which will give them lower returns than they need--and woe be upon them if their retirement date coincides with a bear market! The reason DB plans work well--when properly administered--is that they protect individuals from the fluctuations of the stock market. When there are billions of funds being managed together, it's easier to build in these protections. 401k plans are a sad substitute, even if workers who have them these days count themselves lucky to have anything at all. But 401ks are not the glorious retirement panacea that you are trying to make them out to be.They are the specter of a future in which far too many people will retire penniless.

  • Neighbors if you really are ready to get back in the water read today's Sun Times about the parking meter fiasco.
    All of these recent elected employees like to throw the word Transparity into their conversations, the word they really should use is OBSCURE.
    The meter contract the City entered into had obscure sections. The pension statutes have obscure provisions.
    Just wait until someone discovers the obscure language in the Infastructure Trust ordinance. Forget Transparity what the tax payer has to fear is Obscurity.
    What we have to do is also use the word and remember to vote all of them into Obscurity!

  • John is correct !
    Everyone should be voted out and we should start fresh .

    Isn't that why Obama and Rahm were voted in ?

    But the old timers limit them !

  • Thank you Robert. I must be honest with you I do not presume
    to know why the President and the Mayor were voted in.
    One of the facts I do know is both were participants in and products of "old timers" Machine politics.
    Having lived with the results of Machine politics my entire life
    I am somewhat skeptical of what the Machine produces.
    I guess I have learned to be a Trust But Verify type person.
    Thanks: John

  • Carl, thanks for elaboration for where i left off. #1, agreed, #2 agreed, although sounds like your solution here might be tax the rich by increasing SS wage base, which I would disagree. As for increasing higher minimum retirement age, great, should've been done yesterday. My generations min. retirement age should be 65-67 range. Agree with you there. Where i disagree with you, is that I hold us individuals to a higher standard of looking after one's own best interest and reducing govt and company controll over personal assets.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    It's not about reducing government and company control over our assets. It's about society making the most intelligent choice among various ways in which our retirement assets will be 'controlled'. It's a myth that we can escape this kind of control, although some forms of control are better than others. Much more dangerous than being 'controlled' is to buy into the idea that escaping control is possible. If we manage to escape government control, we simply fall into the control of corporations, which leads to many more dangers.

    If SS benefits for the rich are slightly reduced, we're talking about their SS payments being cut from $2,500 a month (which is the maximum any individual can get) to, say, $2,000 or $2,250 a month. Very wealthy people hardly even notice their SS checks, because the amount is so small in the context of their much larger overall income. (The rich have much more to fear from taxes being raised on other forms of income: a 2% increase in the income tax would have a much more serious effect on their income than a reduction of their miniscule SS check.) More important, it's very much in the interest of the rich to have relatively prosperous lower and middle classes, for two reasons:

    1.These classes comprise the bulk of the consumer population that purchases products made by the companies owned by the wealthy. Over the last decade, the reduced purchasing potential of the lower 99 percent was masked by the fact that people were using their home equity loans as an ATM; now, after the Great Recession, that mask has been taken away, and everyone wonders why the economy isn't doing better.

    2. If we have a large population of retirees in poverty, then they will cost everyone much more in health and social services, thereby raising everyone's taxes. If you're rich, it's better to send a small monthly check to your poor grandmother than to have her on the front sidewalk wailing and pulling bricks out of your house.

  • To answer Elmo's hypothetical question: I would be outraged. Again, if I were in that position i would still be protesting for the same thing; fork over to me/individuals the Present Values of future income streams and have individuals control their own destiny! Less govt is my solution, something that is never a thought in Chicago.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    I am outraged. By the intentional manipulations of IL politicians to pit private sector employed taxpayers against government employed taxpayers while they all sit very comfortably on home made tuffets eating their curds and whey.

  • Anne Sullivan In and around Rogers Park since 1970

    Rahm is like the Wizard of Oz, urging us not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain pulling all the levers. He wants us to blame the unions, the teachers, the librarians, the health care workers; not his politician and corporate friends who have bellied up to the table to feast.

  • Is this Mayor a leader or what! This guy has the nerve to recommend pension reform for the City employees because now there is a crisis.
    Not one word or recommendation from this Leader of Men and Women about correcting the Cities elected officials pension plans.
    Talk about leadership by example. Another question is how many of these elected employees either enter their offices or leave as full fledged members in good standing of the ONE PERCENT CLUB.
    My gosh even when they do get caught we still get the bill for their prosecution and housing. What a system!
    We ask to see their tax forms before they are elected. I would much rather see them when they leave office prior to their collecting a public pension.

  • Hey Cubs fan, I am sure you mean president of the Cubs.
    He could save the fans money today by charging minor league prices for the product they put on the field.

  • Here is an interesting educational resource on pension reform:

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    Good one, Suzanne. Anything that brings public attention to this problem is important. I just have one concern about the huge numbers being cited in the link (state pension crisis of "$140 billion"). Reports on the size of the pension deficit have varied widely. It depends on how fully the pensions would have to be funded and which ones are included (does "state pension crisis" include all the municipalities like Chicago's?). You get an extremely large number if you calculate that 100% funding is necessary, but most pension experts say that such a high level is unnecessary. Warren Burmeister, president of the Civic Federation, which monitors public budgeting in Chicago and Cook County, says that funded ratios should be in the low 60s.

    So to understand the scope of the problem, it's probably best to take the very largest number being cited and assume about 60 percent of it. 60% of $140B would be $84B. But that's still a very large number.

    It's also useful to think about the yearly sums: the state currently borrows $5 billion/yr to make up the pension shortfall. To bring the system back to adequate funding levels, every state resident would have to pay $7,000 (going by the $84 billion number). Here in Chicago, it's been reported that it would cost every city resident about $5,000 to return full funding to the city pension (which, going by 60 percent of full funding, is probably only about $3,000). So if you want to think about what the whole problem will cost to Chicago residents (state and city combined), it's around $10,000 per person. However serious this problem is, I actually take some comfort in this number. If part of the problem is resolved by reducing pension benefits, lowering future pension amounts and saving state/city spending in other areas, the shortfall for taxpayers will probably be manageable--politically horrible, but fiscally manageable. The real crisis we're facing is if they keep booting the problem down the road and distorting the math.

  • Inactive user

    There are about ten brand new street-type people in the general area of Loyola since the mental health clinics closed. Some of them do not appear to be addicts, one elderly man seemed mentally handicapped and had great difficulty ambulating.

  • For interested readers, today's Tribune front page. Our World Class Hypocrites are reviewed once again. They can sure take care of themselves. These are the same people who are going to reform everyone else's State pension.
    Please give me a break!

  • Inactive user

    I can't look--yet. I was told by my doctor's assistant that my blood pressure is high. And when I read the article I know I will automatically juxtapose the benefits received--for life--by our elected state, county, and city officials with the $1.6 billion Medicaid CUTS that were recently approved by the state legislature. I may bust an artery or something. Shame on the lot of 'em! :-(

  • Thanks Elmo, and unlike the Cubs, the hits just keep on coming! What a collection of clowns. The citizens of the Northern District of Illinois are we going to miss Patrick Fitzgerald Esq. or what.
    PhoebeK10 wait until you feel a little better until you read the above also.

  • Don't forget to read this one too. and happy Memorial Day to you all. Thanks to all those who have/do serve our country!

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Committeewoman Devane, in a prior post you wrote:

    "John RP -- I will agree that some of the Republican leaders we've had in this state have been (greatly) less than stellar! BUT, when it comes to public employee pensions, you have to attribute the problems to Dems.

    These outlandish pensions are the quid pro quo that has legions of public employees doing the leg work to keep Democrats in office! The entire electoral system in this State is set up so that people practically need an army just to get on the ballot and give voters a choice. A work week of only 35 hours is another way to get public employees working for Dems, as they have the "free" time to be foot soldiers.

    All you have to do is ask yourself which political party has benefitted by the existing public employee compensation package to figure out who needs to be voted out of office. Unfortuntately, in too many races in Cook County, you will only see a Democrat on the ballot in November."

    The quid pro quo you refer to insofar as public employees dong the leg work to keep Democrats in office resonates as stale in modern times. One only has to look at our current Mayor to see where he is garnering his support, and it isn't from public employees.

    To quote John Kass in today's article: "Illinois is a Democratic state controlled by the Democratic machine, and big business Republicans nuture the machine." Mr. Kass' article is rife with Fitzgerald's corruption convictions of democrats and republicans alike, including Republican boss Big Bill Cellini.

    The front page of today's Tribune "Legislators' Sweet Pension Deal" refers to the General Assembly Retirement System, or GARS written by lawmakers for lawmakers. Please share with Everyblock what your pension benefits are. Thank you.

  • Elmo -- I'm happy to answer your question. Salary for serving as Republican Committeeman -- $0; pension for serving as Republican Committeeman -- $0. It's an unpaid position.

    I'm self-employed, so my retirement "benefits" will depend entirely upon what I can put into my retirement savings plan (and how those investments fare in the markets) and social security (if I'm lucky!)

  • Wanted to add that you won't see me defending any Republican boss hogs! I don't care what your political stripe is when it comes to corruption and political self-dealing.

    The departure of Fitzgerald is a great loss to this State. He personified hope we can all believe in!

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Committeewoman Devane,

    Thank you for clarifying that your position is unsalaried. Can you educate us as to what role/responsibilities a Chicago committeeman has in government? Is the position normally a stepping stone toward a paid appointed or elected position? Do you have plans to seek office either City or State?

    Can you voice your opinion regarding IL legislator pensions and how they contribute to IL being broke and also express your view regarding the sweet pension deals lawmakers have voted for themselves? Legislators on both sides stand to benefit from those deals, have regularly voted to borrow from pension funds and/or have chosen periodically to skip payments into those funds.

    Perhaps it is not so simple as to put the blame merely on patronage. And doesn't patronage extend to tax breaks and contracts for big business? The majority of the work force, myself included, work a 40 hour week, earn a modest salary and have never done the leg work for any political party.

  • Elmo -- Please do me a favor and just call me Suzanne!

    As Republican Committeeman in the Ward, my primary goal is to build a two-party political system to offer voters a choice on election day. In theory it exists, but for all practical purposes there is no functioning alternative to Democratic candidates right now in Chicago and Cook County. If you want to read more about my specific goals, you can go to the Ward 49 GOP website:

    I've always been a public policy junkie, but never really liked politics (or politicians) so I don’t really see this as the stepping stone for anything. I have a somewhat old-fashioned view of public service and believe that people should be willing to step into public service for a period of time with the goal of accomplishing something positive for the public. Then, they should go back to their private life knowing they did their best.

    I see no reason for any legislator or elected official to get a public pension. In fact, with the exception of the military and public safety employees, I don’t know why there should be a public pension system at all – let’s just roll everyone into social security and that way we all have a stake in one retirement system that can’t be changed for political purposes.

    (more to come...)

  • Elmo – I don’t doubt your commitment to doing your job well and the reality that you aren’t doing any political leg work. But, you need to be honest in admitting you see it among your colleagues – especially if you have been a public employee for more than a decade. There's been some improvement thanks to some reforms put in place, but it's at a time when the Machine already has a stranglehold on all levels of government in Illinois. Too little, too late!

    And you may work for 40 hours weekly, but right now there is an AFSCME contract for City workers that is ending in June that is under renegotiation. The current contract has employees working 35 hours weekly. On this forum, I’ve asked Joe Moore and someone associated with the Ward's Democratic organization whether they support a 40-hour work week for these public employees and I don’t get an answer!

    In the end, Elmo – these Democratic politicians who orchestrated unsustainable pension deals lied to public sector employees. They made pension commitments to you and your colleagues that can’t be kept because they aren’t empowered to print money. If I was in your shoes, I’d be furious with the people who sold you this defective bill of goods and throw them the heck out of office!

    (I'm working hard to find you some alternative candidates to vote for, so stay tuned!)

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Suzanne, over the last three decades, admittedly I have seen or been aware of colleagues that have received promotions due to some type of political affiliation. Some are thought to have long standing family connections, others are said to have ties to minority affiliations. Though it is frustrating to work for an institution that doesn't always play fair, I don't think it's unique to Chicago or to the public sector. In fact there are other inequities in the private sector, such as women being paid less than men. But that is for another topic or day.

    I agree with much of what you say. However it takes both parties to enact laws. I really think that Kass hit the nail on the head by addressing that big business Republicans nurture the Machine. Do you dispute that? Between the lobbyists for BOTH sides and back door deals that benefit a select few, I don't maintain much trust for either party.

  • Anne Sullivan In and around Rogers Park since 1970

    Throw all the bums out and vote Green Party!

  • @elmo....I agree the repubs,for the most part, are dems lite, however when is the last time they have had a majority?

  • Elmo -- I often feel that people in this State and City have Stockholm Syndrome vis-a-vis the Democratic Machine – everyone thinks what we have here in terms of political corruption is normal. I’ve lived in 5 different states in my life, and really it’s not! I thought your comment about pay inequity for women in the workforce was topical given that earlier this week, there was breaking news about Dems in Congress paying their female staffers less than they pay men!

    In the end, we need to be realistic about who is in power here and has been for decades and what is going on NOW:

    •Democrat Mike Madigan has been in the IL Gen Assembly for 42 years and Speaker for three decades. His Democratic daughter is Attorney General but hasn’t seen fit to do any type of investigation into rampant political corruption.

    •The Chicago school/speed camera law was brought to us by our new Democratic mayor and advantages a company represented by a political crony of his.

    •The Infrastructure Trust was enacted by our Democratic mayor and a Dem "bobble head" City Council with almost no safeguards against graft and corporate cronyism (per the City’s Inspector General).

    •Income tax increases on all IL residents and businesses were enacted by a Democratic Illinois Legislature with no Republican votes. NONE of that money went to current services, but instead, to pay public pension contributions.

    •To remedy the job-killing impact of that tax increase, select big companies get tax breaks to remain here in IL, but the small companies that employ most people pick up the tab. Talk about fostering a culture of pay to play!

    •Democratic State Rep. Derrick Smith is caught red-handed taking a bribe and the entire Democratic Machine backs his candidacy before the primary election so the seat will remain in Democratic hands. Once he wins, they insist he resign as if they just discovered this ethical lapse.

    Just itemize the transgressions.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Suzanne, everything you wrote is factual and truth be told, repulsive to me. The pension problems had to be evident when Thompson (R), Edgar (R) and Ryan (R) were governors of IL (1977 to 2003), don't you think?

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Not going to line-by-line as I don't have the time, but I wanted to touch on one point.

    The only reason the Democrats got behind Derrick Smith after the arrest was because a colleague of yours (well, the old head of the Cook County GOP) was running against him as a Democrat- Tom Swiss.

    This man, a leader in your party, argued in an email that went public (and wasn't denied) that since this poorer, African American district was full of "low information voters" it could be "the least expensive State Rep seat pick up for conservatives."

    He went on to put up billboards and signs featuring a nameless African American man and his name (he is Caucasian).

    Disgusting trickery and veiled racism. The Dems had no choice but to get Smith through the primary. Now that he is refusing to back off the ballot, they are going full force behind a 3rd party candidate to knock him out.

    Nevermind the fact that the GOP in Springfield is all about yelling "more cuts!" but every time they are asked to outline a plan, the room goes silent.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    And I just wanted to add, we know what a Republican-led midwestern state looks like nowadays. Sure things aren't great in Illinois, but we aren't dead LAST in job growth like Scott Walker and Wisconsin.

  • When I was working as a state employee, my contribution to the pension plan was deducted from my pay every payday, but the politicians, both Rep. and Dem. didn't contribute the required state contribution, they spent it elsewhere. Now we're in the shape we're in, and guess who has to pay the price ... not the legislators....the employees and retirees.

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Thanks, Matt. As long as we're going to pile on Suzanne and her Repubs, just thought I'd mention that it wasn't the Democrats that blocked any testimony from women when the House committee, run by Republicans, was debating their anti-birth control legislation as part of their War on Women.

  • Matt, are you a homeowner? If you owned in the state of WI, your tax assessment just decreased for first time in over 15 years. why, b/c of Walker's work. That's right, he saved money for his constituents.. agree or disagree with his politics, but I know our tax assessments keep going higher with no end in sight! It'll be interesting to see Walker survive his recall next month.

  • Let's look how Rep. Walker (an alleged thief) became a representative. He was selected and put in office by a vote of ward committeeman. Led by Secretary of State Jessie White. What an enlightened selection.
    Now look what these same people are doing because they can't get their stooge to resIgn. They create a third party candidate that these same learned committeeman select, a protege of our own beloved Todd Stroger. Real democratic.
    Please give me a break!

  • I am sorry I meant Rep. Smith, sorry.

  • William full-time stay at home dad. old and married too!

    I am retired us navy, have been receiving federal pension payments since 1993. I now work at a state university here on the northside. State civil service employess DO NOT contribute to social security. I contribute to State University Retirement System which is approx 80% funded. State constitution provides for state civil service pension plans.

    I feel that state county and city govt get out of pension business and return everyone to social security. IMHO


  • Elmo – Once a history major, always a history major – so I did some research on when our pension problems became evident. Oddly enough, there was an article in today’s Trib that has some great info:,0,4531294.story

    Seems that while the economy was going well over the last decade, the State went on a spending spree and neglected its pension contribution obligations (thanks to a law passed under Edgar that enabled the back loading of pension obligation payments.) Much of the spending harm was done by Blago (per this Bloomberg piece):

    Matt – You won’t see me defending indefensible political tactics by members of the Republican Party.

    Helen – If you believe giving up our first amendment rights that guarantee the free exercise of religion in this country is justified by the notion that poor helpless little women need $120 worth of free birth control pills annually, you’re nuts!

    William – Thank you for your service to our nation!

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Suzanne, you and your Republican friends are losing the contraception argument with the American people.

    And remember, folks, it's the Republicans who are pushing for the privatization of the Social Security that Suzanne is pushing here. If they ever manage to get away with that, you younger folks can kiss your retirements goodbye when the economy tanks again in the future.

  • Inactive user

    In every country they have implemented these privatization schemes the results have been catastrophic for those people who are on the bottom 90% of the socioeconomic ladder. Lets start calling the privatization racket by its real name: THEFT!

  • William full-time stay at home dad. old and married too!

    Lets see here .. social security privatization is already happening .. if the state of illinois can do it.. if the Railroad Retirement Board can do it... how many other entities have already privatized??? US Military pays into social security FYI, and it is being taken ouit of m ypension to. If everybody paid into it, maybe there would be no funding crisis. ?? just a thought? peace

  • here you go.. see how you and I are all affected by this pension mess. Our politicians in Springfield choose to punt this matter further down the road, AGAIN!!!, yesterday. When will ENOUGH BE ENOUGH???

  • This quote from today’s Trib says it all:

    "There's a lack of will right now on a legislator's part because of elections," said Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline. "I think a lot of people are worried about what is going to happen. And really you're asking Democrats to vote against their (union) base. It's a hard vote."

  • A second quote from today's Trib says:

    "We need to find a bipartisan way on both sides -- a solution to this pension issue," said Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego. "Pension issues and debates create controversy and a lot of emotion," Cross added. "It doesn't do us any good to continue to fight."

    Over the years both parties had no problem signing off on the various pieces of "obscure" legislation that benefited themselves and their "friends" they created the "crisis" and now WE have to pay.
    I think Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline is correct they are ALL worried about the upcoming elections, at least I hope so.
    Elections is where we can make THEM ALL PAY!

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Suzanne, I was wondering how you propose we fix the pension system? What types of reforms would you support?

    We can talk about the problem all we want, but what needs to happen is a discussion of solutions. Preferably, solutions that don't annihilate the wellbeing of retired teachers and public servants because of mistakes elected officials made.

  • Matt M. If I could ask you a question do you believe that the current pension problem was created by "mistakes elected official made"?
    Or by their deliberate actions and in some cases deliberate indifferances.
    As President Truman's desk plate stated "the buck stops here", where do the bucks stop in Illinois.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Deliberate actions and deliberate indifference.

    Now your solution?

  • Matt M. I think we are both correct and that is the real shame of this entire mess.
    As far as a solution, I really don't know right now, but I am thinking about possible solutions. I will tell you what I think will happen. Because these elected officials are such crooks and can't be trusted to run anything without corruption.
    A recent example is the student scholarship program, because they can't even administer something that is nice and needed without corruption and clout, they have to end the program and only then because the Federal Prosecutors are investigating and issued subpoenas.
    I think they will vote to end the pension programs for new hires at a date certain in the future.
    These people are so self centered they cannot administer anything without corruption. Yes sir they ruined the system and now they are going to end it.
    But watch this, before the date certain that the pensions end there will be a rush to hire and or appoint as many of their family members, friends and cronies as they can clout their way into State jobs and positions as they can.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    They actually already did something similar to that- All new hires after Jan 1st of last year are in the Tier II pension system, which is substantially lower than employees hired before that date. The formulas for benefits, cost of living adjustment, retirement age, etc. are all different.

    This will fix the pension system, but only in the long term. The biggest issue is obviously employees hired before that date (most state employees) and current retirees.

    I don't think we saw a rush to appoint/hire family members before this drastic change was made.

  • Matt M.

    1) As far as retired employees they will go after them for increased medical care contributions. Anything more than that I think they will run into State Constitution problems.
    2) Current employeees they will go after them for increased pension and medical contributions. The State will also look to save money by finding less expensive medical care plans for the employees.
    They may also try and delay the COLA raises for a couple of years after the employee retires, maybe 3 years.
    3) New hires no DB pension plan. They can't keep passing various Tier programs it's too confusing and causes employee disention.
    Believe me when they end the pension program - they will take care of their family, relatives,and friends.
    These are some thoughts just off the top of my head, but like I said it is a very sad situation that their mismanagement caused.

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    If Chicago with all its revenue issues is funding the teacher pensions, the burbs should too. How irresponsible to have a school district negotiate contracts and pensions and early retirement buy-outs and not have to pay for the pension benefits. No wonder they buy out contracts and want teachers to retire early!

    I know subrurban teachers with 100K plus pensions. No wonder the distrcits don't want to have to fund the pensions!

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Tom- That was a fundamental component of the pension reform bill- Since Chicago pays our own pension costs, AND contributes HEAVILY to paying for every other districts pension costs, the original bill would have leveled the playing field and made it so all local municipalities contributed more to their own teachers pension funds.

    Unfortunately the Republicans shot that down. Funny, since it is fundamentally tax fairness. Maybe Suzanne can comment on this.

    John- I believe the current plan does go after current retirees: They get around the constitutional issue by offering a choice- Either lose your health insurance, or have your COLA cut to half the CPI or 3%, whichever is less. I'm fairly certain this applies to current retirees but I'm not 100% sure. It would apply to current employees as well.

    And the new second tier isn't that confusing at all- a simple google search shows the difference between the two systems, and it's very simple. No dissension either- new employees know what they are getting into, and most are glad to have a pension either way.

  • As an employee of the University of Illinois, I paid 0.5% of my salary to "purchase" (sort of like an insurance policy) the 3% compounded COLA after retirement. As I understand it, the attorney for the Illinois Democratic Caucus in the Senate, Eric Madiar, maintained that it was constitutionally protected (in a brief published last year, although I don’t have it at my fingertips as I write). As far as contributing to medical coverage after retirement, retirees will have to contribute something going forward. Up to now, it was free, but I always understood that health care was not protected under the constitution. Of course, no sooner than I retire, everything changes. I'm rushing to cut costs every way I can so that I can continue to keep a roof over my head once this takes effect.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    We really need a good "map" of the pension crisis in order to understand exactly what we are facing: i.e., charts and other visuals of the numbers of people involved, their salary levels, their pension and benefit terms, what they will not receive from Social Security vs. what they will get with their pensions, etc. The pension landscape is a complex one, and pensions/salaries/benefits vary greatly from union to union, sector to sector, level to level, etc. There are some egregiously excessive situations that are very well known, but then there are many other situations where you have individuals earning only modest salaries and projected to receive a reasonable level of retirement funds. But the impression given to the public is that "there are millions of lazy fat cats getting more than they deserve." Many people don't realize, for example, that many state workers on pension plans are excluded from Social Security, which is worth 14% of everyone else's wages on the contribution side; so a generous pension is in fact not as generous as it looks at first sight.

  • interested in your comments, but what would YOU suggest as a resolution in the here and now?

  • Matt M. I agree with Kewpie 62. I believe the COLA for current retirees is protected.

    What I meant by tiers is that the legislature can't pass annual programs because they will cause dissension.

    "New employees know what they are getting into, and most are glad to have a pension either way"

    Well Matt M. That was not my experience. The times I was a new employee I THOUGHT I knew what I was getting into, I ways always surprised by the reality.

    As far as glad to have a pension either way. When I started my job in 1970 I was just glad to have the job I wanted, salary wasn't that important and a pension was an after thought,
    20 years down the road. I was only 21.
    However over the next 35 years I learned a great deal about my pension, the pension I was promised by State Statutes.
    Look all I know it is old fashioned but I judge people by the way they keep their word. I lived up to my word to my employer,
    I don't think it is too much for my employer to live up to his.

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    I think they are negotiating something with the unions to keep this all legal. I heard from a retired social worker that they may be given the choice of losing their medical benefit or forgoing COLA.
    Carl, I don't think they enjoy the luxury of a coming up with a graduated solution. I am not saying anyone deserves to have their benefits messed with. In private business, the government requires businesses to fund their defined benefit plans (pensions). It is highly regulated. I worked for Arthur Andersen LLC for 24 years and when they crashed and burned, my pension was secure. Health insurance was no longer subsidized because it was a voluntary benefit. Retiress could stay in the plan, but it may have cost them $1000/month more or less depending on their plan.
    FYI, with social security the employee pays 4.2% of social security the employer pays 6.4%. For medicare each pays 1.45%. If you are self-employed (like I am) I pay the whole 13.3%.

    Matt M. since when was the Republican Party the party of tax fairness? I think they are the party of "winner take all." The wealthier burbs feel like they are already paying too much to provide a safety net for the poor. They want to be able to have the best schools and the best teachers and are willing to pay high property taxes to make that happen and preserve the inequities in public ediucation. Those inequities are in their favor - they contribute some peanuts to the state and they get big pensions paid for. Such a deal.

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972


    Younger folks: if you have a deferred comp plan, contribute the max. You won't even notice it. Make your own coffee in the morning. Any working person can contribute to a Roth IRA. I am still contributing the max into that at age 63. It is the best deal in town for retirement income.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    It's not about "they" coming up with a graduated solution. It's about the journalists who should be communicating a comprehensive understanding to us about the problem. There's a huge information deficit in that regard.

    As for my comment about Social Security, my point was that you hear of state workers getting 9% paid into their pensions, which seems excessive to a lot of people, when in fact it's 9% in the absence of what employee/employer contributions to SS would ordinarily be (plus, the pension benefit is not in addition to salary, but was negotiated as part of the compension package, so it's actually an employee contribution).

    (Btw, for 2011 and 2012 FICA taxes have been lowered as an economic stimulus; they'll eventually be going back to the legally mandated rate of 6.2/1.45% (SS/Medicare) for employee and 6.2/1.45% for the employer contribution. I wrote "14%" for SS just as a quick shorthand, since the numbers are a little in flux right now. I forgot about Medicare, though; most state workers hired after 1986 are in the Medicare system, however, so I should have written "12.4%" instead of 14%.)

  • Level the playing field, we're all created equally; 401k for all!

  • I agree with SCICubsFan!! Isn't it strange that the only positions that receive a defined pension plan are tax subsidized? How about facing the music...

    For those state employees who think that they are safe, ask the retired employees of bankrupt companies how much they got from their defined pension plans.

    If (or as it looks now, when) Illinois declares bankruptcy everything is on the table to be cut. I'd be negotiating the swap to a 401k now, not after the state declares bankruptcy!!

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    I personally advocate continuing tier 2 for new hires (which fixes things in the long term), a small increase in employee contributions, and doing the full pension proposal before it was handed off to the GOP.

    Which would
    1) Give a choice between losing health insurance or reducing the COLA to half the CPI (like 1.2%) or 3%, whichever is lower. Correct me if I'm wrong, but current COLA's are compounded, which means pensions grow faster than they should. I'm not sure if the current plan ends that, but I would advocate no more compounding.
    2) Shift costs to local school districts- Chicago pays their own pensions, so should the rest of the state. If a locality with higher property taxes chooses to pay their teachers more, they should pay the higher pension.

    I believe the "choice", however unfair it may be, somehow avoids constitutional issues. I highly doubt Madigan would be pushing that if he wasn't sure it would get knocked in the courts.

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    Explain your comment that the 9% state pension contribution is an "employee" contribution?

    Agree that the press has not done a good job of presenting the employee side of the picture (especially the not so well compensated employees).

    Regarding the leveling the playing field, if we are going to truly level the playing field, then state employees need to be compensated similar to private employees. Pensions have always been a perk that made public service sector jobs appealing.

    I see 401(k) plans as something to cover your butt when the governement doesn;t make good in their promises (pensions, social security, medicare).

  • The pension holidays contributed to the pension mess as did the downturn in the economy. The money the state and Chicago failed to contribute the funds should be reinstated. The downturn in the economy will not last forever. One solution might be a temporary state tax on retirement income until the shortfall is made up. To slash benefits forever to current retirees is immoral and foolish. When the economy improves, the funds could recover.

  • By the time the bill had been tweaked, many items were off the table, such as raising the retirement age. It ended up with COLA being the only item, and employees and retirees would have to choose a lower (variable) COLA or lose health coverage. As I said before, we've paid into having our COLA set at 3%, so it's deemed a protected contract, although I personally wouldn't mind having a variable COLA. State pensions are not the same as private company pensions, because State pensions are protected by the State Consitution. If you want that changed, then you have to vote in favor of amending the Constitution - an option that comes up every 20 years now - and then they can take all the time and taxpayer money to do it that way, I suppose. Whatever they do now, they will be challenged in court, I'm sure. They've already changed things for new employees considerably. What they're trying to do now is change things for existing employees and retirees. They're trying to do this without violating the Consitituion, but they keep running into contractual issues.

  • Also, while many State employees have never worked in private industry and don't qualify for Social Security, all new employees hired after 1986 were put into the Medicare system, as Carl said. Current employees at that time were given the option to join or not. So, for many, the State health care plan is still their only plan at retirement. For those who qualify for Medicare, then the State plan would be their supplemental plan when they come of age to receive Medicare. And, for those State employees who were also employed in private industry long enough to receive Social Security benefits, they see their Social Security income dramatically reduced because of the fact that they are also receiving a State pension.

  • They took out employee contributions from each and every paycheck that I got, but, the State didn't put in their contribution. They spent the money elswhere. The rank and file employees aren't getting that much $$ for retirement and they will now be paying who-knows-what towards their health care, and to add a State income tax on top of that will be devastating to many. Illinois is one of the few states that doesn't tax State income. If they were to change, every retiree in the state would be affected. But, I'm sure they'll get around to that - just as soon as elections are over.

  • I meant - Illinois is one of a few States that doesn't tax retirement income.

  • Why should a retired or current employee have any trust or faith in proposed reforms put forward by the same people who are not going to honor their past promises?
    I would also suggest when these same people are done reforming the pension funds and social security they still will not have enough money. The one constant is they never have enough money.
    I also wish everyone well with their deferred comp. plans and 401(k) plans when they move on and "reform" them.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    One thing worth noting about people who "didn't honor their past promises"- Almost every large union representing those in the state pension system (teachers, govt workers etc.) advocated FOR the pension payment holiday.

  • Carl G. Rogers Park resident

    Here's an interesting piece in Chicago Magazine, suggesting that a big part of the pension crisis is due to early retirements. Ironically, efforts to trim the size of the state ended up costing much more than what was saved. Offer a bunch of workers early retirements, sweeten the deal to persuade them, and what do you end up with? Answer: a lot of people getting pensions for a longer period of time and fewer existing workers paying into the pension fund to support them:

  • Another thing worth noting is that union members are not behind in their payments. Not so the State and various municipalities.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    But it's interesting that the union leadership supported the state being behind on their pension payments...

  • Helen NoH North of Howard for 55 + years

    Kewpie, you wrote: "And, for those State employees who were also employed in private industry long enough to receive Social Security benefits, they see their Social Security income dramatically reduced because of the fact that they are also receiving a State pension." Are you sure? Social Security benefits are not reduced for those receiving pensions from the private sector. I know because I'm in that situation. It is true that I have to pay federal tax on part of my S.S. benefit because of my retirement income, but that's not the same as reduced benefits.

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis

    @Helen: Social Security does indeed reduce benefits for those who were not in the Social Security system under the Windfall Elimination Provision.

    It doesn't apply to people who collect non-government pensions as long as they paid into Social Security while they were working.

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis

    Just to clarify the somewhat muddled post above, the social security payment for which someone would otherwise be eligible based on what they paid into SS are reduced based on what they receive from a public pension. Shorter version: what Kewpie said.

  • Jim, private pensions sometimes do integrate with SS pensions. Just fyi, you could Google "social security integration pension" if you want more info. Does not mean they all work this way, but it is one option.

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis

    @SCICubsFan: I perused some reading as you suggested and as far as I can tell, these integration schemes reduce the amount of the private pension benefit and not the amount of the Social Security benefit. Am I missing something?

  • You are correct on that Jim.

  • I started receiving my Social Security benefit a few months before I retired because I reached the age of 66 (full retirement age for someone born in the year I was born). As soon as I started receiving my State pension, my Social Security check was reduced by a couple of hundred dollars. I was luckier than many. If I had put into the Soc. Sec. system for 30 years instead of 28, I would have been exempt. The amount your Social Security benefit is reduced is based on a sliding scale based on income and years in the system. Many people I know don't even get half of what they otherwise would have gotten. The Democrats were going to eliminate that provision (which is relatively recent), but it turned out they needed the money, so it's still on the books. I laugh at the use of the word WIndfall. Windfall, my eye!

  • Regarding early retirement. As I recall, early retirement is age 58 with 8 years of service. I believe full retirement is either 62 or 65. I can't recall. It didn't impact me because I was past those numbers in both age and years of service. What does gall a lot of people, however, is the 30 and out provision. Anyone working for the State for 30 years can retire, no matter the age. I know someone who started working at UIC at age 18 and reached the 30 year mark at age 48. She stayed on to age 50 so she could get a bit more. But, she's retired at age 50. I was not sure if that provision was being eliminated with the original pension reform, or not. It seemed like it might, but they scrapped everything except for the COLA, and then didn't get that passed; then they presented a new bill, and I have no idea what was in that new one. Even the legislators were blind-sighted. I agree with the legislator who had the tirade. He gave a good punch to that bill, too!

  • In order to retire with 8 years of service you must be 65 years old. I retired early at age 55 with 33 years of service. I earned two Masters Degrees which I paid for myself.
    Teachers do not get free pensions - 7.5 per cent of their salary is deducted from their pay checks every 2 weeks over a period of 33 years - based on my salary was a lot of money I paid!
    The average pension of teachers retiring now is a little over $40,000
    Deduct medical insurance which comes to a wee bit under $5000 per year. Okay - based on today's economy this is not a lot of money!
    I was smart. I contributed to an annuity plan. I saved approximately $200,000 it was tax deferred and I must start taking this money when I am 70 and 1/2 years old. Okay if things go well I won't need it and it will go to my family!

    The reason the ITRA is underfunded is school districts throughout the state deducted the money from teachers but used the money to balance budgets. The pension money will go into the pot later. Well later hasn't come yet.

    I have lived my life frugally. I have given back to my community in many ways and throughout my career gave freely to the school I worked at!

    I purchased clothes and groceries for many a family as I know for a fact many of my collegues did as well. I have given money to parents to use as they claim they needed. I am sure the money I gave occasionally went for a beer or glass of wine - who am I to judge. I did the best I could.

    At this point in my life I donor feel that the Illinois Fiscal debacle should be taken out on me.

    I think one of the first things is to correct the ridiculous fiasco in 1991! What money has been paid, so be it - now correct that mess first.

    Maybe during this fiscal crisis throughout the world our legislators could take a cut in salary. I know legislators in California are taking a 5% pay cut. Sure it hurts. Sure it is tough to say yes but not off the backs of teachers . No! Not off the backs of teachers! We worked too hard!

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    The union reps and the state legislators who decided a pension contribution holiday was a good idea should go to jail. The union members could have made a little noise as well. The legislators should take a pay cut. They should all be required to take a basic accounting course.

    I looked at my wifes CPS earnings statement and it appears that the employeee contribution to pension was 2% and the Board od Ed Contribution was 5.5%. Entertaining please correct me if I am wrong about that.

    At the end of the day, I suspect the pension provides better benefits than social security even with no COLA.

  • Perhaps the early retirement age for CPS is different. There are different types of "State" employees - those who work for State offices, and others in different school systems. I worked for UI, where I'm pretty certain 58 is age for early retirement there, but will double-check it. Even our pension plans are handled by different entities. Mine is handled by the State Universities Retirement System. There has been a desire by the Governor to merge SURS in with the other(s), but SURS has done better at managing retirement monies and wants to say separate, as I recall.

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis
  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    interesting. The earnings statement I looked at was from June of 2011 had a dedcution of $64.85 for the employee and a memo note that said $226.98 CBOE contribution. The earnings statement was not designed with the user in mind, so who knows.

  • Ok, let's just move everybody to 401k plans that the fat cats on wall street can make valueless while they collect multimillion dollar bonuses, get real people - how many people do you want on the street with tin cans; are we a civilized people or not - pension plans, 401ks, social security, there's enough for everybody as long as we don't squander it on the war machine and we do tax the hell out of those amoral bonuses. Really, as long as we're pointing fingers at each other, the big gorillas get away with it all.

  • Inactive user

    @Betty, You're my long lost sister. :-)

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    401K plans, aren't those plans also contributed to by one's employer? And do those employer's take holidays from funding them whenever they choose? Or borrow from them? And do they select insiders to manage them and direct investments toward risky ventures to their relatives and friends?

    Why do you think that public employees don't pay into social security as private sector employees do? Could it be because our employers would have no choice but to also make timely contributions as well? Wouldn't that also apply to their contributions to a 401K plan?

    If the politicians were forced to contribute to SS as well as a 401K plan for public employees, they would lose their slush fund to borrow from and they couldn't control and manipulate those investments.

    Pensions are underfunded because of governmental abuses, not because of public employees.

  • Pension are also underfunded Elmo because they have been managing them based of expected returns [for the contributions that do get into then trust fund] that are not achievable (8.5% annual rate of return- well the market is flat over last decade).

    The public pension fiasco in this country has created a world of have and have nots. In general, the private workers are asking for a leveling of the playing field, and we saw the results of how this played out in WI on Tuesday. The times, they are a'changin... the math does not add up.

    Thankfully, all current retirees and those close to retirement should not be affected by these changes that lie ahead, but for younger generations, the game is changing as it should- and we're all in this together!

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    SCI, please provide something substative from a credible sourch to show that the pension boards anticipated an annual 8.5% rate of return. Or is this propoganda from those advocating for pension reform. Seems to me that anyone familiar with the market wouldn't make those projections. You can't get a return on funds that failed to be delivered to the pensions by it's employer either.

    As I've said previously, I believe everyone recognizes a problem exists and a need for a fair solution. We can conjecture all day long on the best way to address it. But let's be factual as to how and why this occurred.

  • now this great thread, with such knowledge and thoughts from many different view points is no longer showing up in the main page of EB blog... something smells fishy about this one. what is Rebecca with EB doing, are we censoring the information to make this no longer available to all our neighbors? interesting to say the least... be well everyone.

  • @SCICCubsFan - current retirees will be affected in two ways. First, they will no longer receive free health care - they will be paying a premium; second, they will no longer get a 3% annual COLA (which they already paid towards in advance via payroll deductions while working). They will get some COLA, at least for now, but in the range of 1.5%. Once pension reform is put into place, whatever it turns out to be, there will assuredly be law suits to be settled in court.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    @ Kewpie - Apparently there are different provisions for retirees based upon who they are employed by.

    City retirees have always paid (and pay substantially) for health care which rises annually based upon the ever rising cost of medical care, prescriptions, etc.

    Further, COLA's for City retirees require the retiree to be born prior to a certain year (currently it is 1955) and the COLA has ALWAYS been simple interest, it has never been compounded. Where our current Mayor came up with his facts for his speech in Springfield, I have no idea.

  • Kewpie62- if you are already in retirement where does this 3% annual raise COLA come from? What money, whose money? It was/is a promise made in their contract, that's all it is! no more free health care,that's my world!

    I'm going to go see if my 401k allows me to pay now for a guaranteed 3% raise every year in retirement. That would be an expensive annuity, but i can do it!

  • Inactive user

    I was wondering the same thing SCICubsFan. This thread has gotten a lot of good traction (although I'm still waiting to hear from Ald. Moore ;-).

    I'm also still trying to track down the definitive Reader article that spells out very clearly in lay terms even a fiscal idiot like me could understand how Thompson's legislation in '91 has had a direct impact on the unfunded pension fiasco today!

  • While doing a search, I found this summary article which is a pretty nice summary of how the legislators take care of themselves. Also, I'm so ticked off that they redirected pension contributions for employees' pensions elsewhere for years, leaving active and retired employees to pay the piper.

  • Inactive user

    This is one of the most commented on threads in the Ward 49 EB "neighborhood"--and quite timely, considering upcoming elections--and yet the new EB format keeps it buried in obscurity and difficult to post to. Sorry, Adrian, but I've become an unhappy customer in the past week or so.

  • Inactive user

    Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is a fantastic media watch group of veteran journalists that make it their business to hold the "Fourth Estate" accountable.

    Here's a link to an interesting look at the public sector pension debate:

    The comment by Chris Weidenbach provides a brilliant summary of how We the Working People in the public sector have gotten screwed by the too-big-to-fail banks in the form of CDOs and credit default swaps. And the greedy b*stards are getting away with it!

    Anyone who votes for a Republican president or congressman this fall clearly has not been paying attention. It's time to overthrow Citizens United and take our country back!

  • Inactive user

    Cool! I think EB listened to us and removed the code that blocks older threads from getting bumped up when new comments are added. Good job!

  • Shift us all to DC 401k plans! Lower costs, more possibilities and options made available to all savers.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Isn't a 401k heavily dependent on investment success? So anyone retiring around the stock market crash would be totally screwed?

  • Barbara in Ravenswood Ravenswood resident since 1984.

    I just noticed the OP is now listed as "Inactive user". I'm sorry to see that Phoebe apparently dropped her EB account :(

  • Well, first thanks for asking Matt! Your question hits on the savings plan that more than half of America is using to fund their golden years. Short answer is maybe... if someone in a 401K properly plans for retirement they should be decreasing risk exposure and shifting portions of their nest-egg towards lower risk asset classes (fixed-income/bonds &cash) as you get closer to retirement. However, if the planning does not pan out correctly, then I will need to continue working! Crazy, i know. With this, I then ask of you Matt, should everyone be given a promise to live off of in retirement? After all, if I fall into that scenario [401K world, retiring in tough market conditions], I believe it would be in my best interest then to continue working further, but then it's a questions of whether I can amend my lifestyle enough to make retirement a worthy decision. These are the realities/concepts that many in the private sector weigh out each day, (-and don't go talking about SS Bene's, I'm not banking on mine, and if it is there, no way in Rogers Park I want just that as my retirement lifestyle) because the system does not have a promise to pay us for our retirement years. demand that the game be the same for all of us. Am I wrong to think that I should 'earn' my retirement, rather than have it given to me and turned over since I've attained a magical age or number of years work service (see EUR ZONE on this matter) I believe in working for my American Dream! and I dream of the day when all of us are playing the same game (for those that want to live this dream, that is off course).

  • Jim- regarding your first link, 401Ks as failure for baby boomers hitting retirement in 2008-09 credit crunch.. citation necessary and history lesson. 401Ks came about in 1970s with ERISA. many of the baby-boomer generation was already 10 years working at this point in the 70s. New ideas do not gain large popularity over night, people need time to learn these new ways and gain familiarity before the use becomes widely mainstream. But now for a survey: find all baby-boomers that saved 10% of their annual salary [or more] every year they could in a 401K and see how they stack up compared to others that did not use 401k immediately, or possibly not enough to their own benefit, i.e. lack of deferrals.

  • I get a State pension, and I earned it, and I paid into it, but the State didn't pay what they were supposed to pay into it, and now the chickens have come home to roost. The lowly workers aren't the ones benefitting like the legislators themselves, who get the largest pensions - and they made sure they would - and then they turn around and slash and burn the rank and file.

  • Jim A Sic Semper Canis

    @SCICubsFan: Here is a timeline history of 401(k)s that you might find interesting:

    I think that the expectations for what a 401(K) can do are unrealistic in most cases when one takes into account the limited ability of many people to contribute to these plans. People can't contribute if they're unemployed, people can't contribute if their employer's don't offer a plan (although an IRA would be an option in this case) people can't contribute if they're extremely low wage and living paycheck to paycheck, those who have no insurance or bad insurance can have their savings eaten up by medical costs, you can lose half the value of your retirement accounts in divorce, etc. I think that the conditions under which 401(k)s work really well--large annual contributions for many years into a well diversified, age appropriate portfolio with no pre-retirement distributions-- are, in practice, going to leave a lot of people by the wayside.

    The first link above cites three articles and I'm not sure if you clicked through to Joe Nocera's piece. Bear in mind, he is a fincial writer for the NYT and I find his story compelling because he has a lot of the expertise in this area.

    I agree that the pension era is basically over for private sector employees and that public sector employees are going to have to either sacrifice current or future compensation if they want to keep their pension benefits in place. I don't think, though, that 401(k)s are a good universal vehicle for most people for retirement savings.

  • Kewpie62- actually, i disagree. Legislators are the fat cats in this DB, no doubt, but the rank and file workers most definately benefit through the promises afforded by being in a defined benefit structure plan. Do you think you would still be working had you not been an state employee with your DB? Very simple, honest question.

    I am 30, plan on working until at least 70 because i need to and I love what I do. I have seen too many gain a sense of entitlement with a DB that pays them retirement at 50-55 years YOUNG! Many folks do not understand how much money one must have saved (private sector) to live in retirement for 35 years; call that number at least $1MM for someone to pay themselves $40k over at least 20 years. DB systems are a failure, they prevent our teachers from teaching real money management skills.

    Off to work, enjoy the Monday everybody!

  • There was a time when defined benefit plans were were the norm. That's why many people are still in those plans, or have retired under those plans. We started our jobs being given certain promises about our benefits, including retirement benefits, and expect those promises to be kept. Things have changed over time, so don't come down hard on those who are being made to lose, through no fault of their own, that which was promised to them. We paid into our plans through deductions from our checks, in good faith.

    I retired at age 66 (having worked for 48 yeas), after I started having a few health issues, which I never thought would come into play in my life when I was 30. It's a stretch to say what you're going to be doing at 70 when you're 30. I'm thankful that I was able to retire, but no sooner than I retired, the very legislators who failed to add State matching contributions to my DB and spent the monies elsewhere for years, are now taking away my prommised benefits to make up for it.

    Also, I'm not aware that all DBs have the "30 and out" provision. Many government employees have worked in private industry before and after working in government jobs, never making it to the 30 year mark. Retiring at 50-55 is for those few who started working right out of school, and never left. Yes, I think they're lucky. I would have loved to have retired when my body was still young enough that I could enjoy my free time more, but I don't fall into that category, and am not jealous of the fact.

  • "Illinois lawmakers owe it to citizens, employees and retirees to finish what they started and fix our broken pension systems"
    -Alderman Moore... please help!

  • SCICubsFan: Why should we have any faith in the people who helped create the problem to now fix it?
    Maybe the Alderman could introduce a proposal to the City Council to end their pensions and other State elected officials pensions. I really do not understand how they managed to receive them anyway. I didn't think that elected positions were set up to be "careers". I thought you were elected, served your community and then returned to the community.
    I would just like to see these elected "public servants" reform their own system before they move on to everyone else's.
    It should not be that difficult look how easy it was for them to set up the system that they all benefit from now. Public Servants, PLEASE.

  • and now a message from Scott Walker: "Illinois faces a fiscal and economic crisis... Now is the time for leaders in Illinois and across the nation to take on these tough choices. The next generation is counting on us."

    Alderman Moore, your thoughts?,0,5940790.story

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Considering Scott Walker's Wisconsin has the worst jobs record in the entire country, I don't think his messages or advice are worth the time it takes to read them.

  • Possibly we could help our neighbors to the north by sending them some of Governor Quinn's messages and advice, it sure has worked well for us.

  • Matt- maybe you should try some new news sources other than just HuffingtonPost...

    "Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 6.7 percent, lower than the national average of 8.2 percent, and a percentage point below from when Walker took office in January 2011."

    and bls data indicates again, WI unemployment #s are better than Illinois and most other states.

    What Walker has done in WI has been working. maybe not popular, but it's been working and his constituents reaffirmed this earlier in June. And anyways, thanks for taking us off topic Matt- I would like to see what, if anything Mr. Moore thinks about our state's terrible financial situation and his thoughts for making change. Although, unfortunately, I do assume he will not make any remarks to this controversial subject matter- thankfully Rahm Emanuel understands math and the current state of IL's budget mess and unfunded liabilities! Do understand Matt, this is falling on our generation- and as more folks in IL move out of state everyday they're leaving more of the bill for you and me neighbor.

    Enjoy the nice weather this weekend!

  • Matt -- You need to face reality and understand that you are being sold a bill of goods if you truly believe that WI has gone downhill in the wake of Scott Walker's reforms.

    Making necessary SPENDING and tax reforms now is going to be painful. If we lack the political guts to do it now, it will be agonizing in a decade. The Democratic point of view on this is akin to a cancer patient saying no to the necessary chemo and radiation. No one wants to go through that, but it's the only way to beat it.

  • SCICubsFan: I have be advised by several neighbors that the best way to contact the Alderman is by calling his office or using his Facebook page. He does not always follow conversations on EB. I was just advised this lately. If and when you do receive your responses would you please be as kind as Suzanne and share them with your EB neighbors. Best of luck, thanks - John.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Suzanne, I am very disappointed you would choose to stand behind Scott Walker. There are varying degrees of Republican, and he falls on the far right. Do you honestly defend his decision to cut billions from schools (not teachers, schools), fire departments, police, universities and healthcare for the poor to pay for massive tax cuts for the extremely wealthy?

    SCIcubsfan- How about Businessweek?

    "The bureau's numbers show Wisconsin was tied with two other states for the eighth lowest rate of job growth last year at 0.7 percent. Wisconsin's growth rate was last among all its neighboring states and half the national rate of 1.4 percent. The monthly data showed Wisconsin lost about 33,900 jobs in 2011, the worst in the country."

    In fact, while you correctly point out that WI has lower unemployment than the US average, it was right around a point lower before Walker took office, and is slightly less than a point lower now.

  • Keep reading Matt- here's your homework...

    I have hope in you Matt- I was once a Democrat too; took everything at face value without digging in deeper for true understanding. As you keep reading [importantly, from both sides perspectives] you will gain an understanding on how each side can manipulate data to make each argument (Keynes versus Milton Friedman supply side).

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Did you even read those links? I'll focus on the second two links because I never mentioned teacher salaries. And I'm assuming you are choosing to ignore my analysis on Walker's atrocious jobs record?

    While the broad claims made may have been false:

    Link 2: "But experts told us that what the state budget actually saved on K-12 education, compared with the previous budget, was $800 million to $900 million."

    So he only cut almost a billion from schools. Great way to help our kids.

    "But we noted the changes will bring an estimated $2.3 billion less in revenue over a 10-year period"
    So he is slashing school funding while handing out billions to corporations and the rich. Which is doing nothing to create jobs, as evidenced by the jobs record.

    Link 3: "They described it as a significant cut, but not dramatic.

    "The sky’s not falling," said Police Chief Norm Jacobs, "but it does affect how the officers deal with problems in the neighborhoods" through preventive policing.

    "Jim Palmer heads the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, an umbrella group of police unions.

    He said he considers it drastic to cut $76 million from shared revenue because some of that money could have helped police agencies meet demand for service. That was a 9 percent cut, according to state figures, the largest in at least a decade."

    So the cuts to police weren't "draconian" but they were "significant", "drastic", and will "affect how the officers deal with problems in the neighborhoods".

    So in the end, you have massive handouts to corporations and the rich, which have created no jobs, while simultaneously cutting public schools and public safety. Sounds like a Koch Bros approved plan! Although I'm sure you love them.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Oh, and since we both seem to agree Politifact is a reliable source, some "homework" for you and Suzanne-

    Scott Walker says no abortions should be allowed, even if the mother will die or a child is raped by a parent.

    Scott Walker's "balanced budget" used tricks, working it like a "credit card", pushing $500 million in debt on our children

    Scott Walker's discussions of how much debt the state was in (while he worked on passing the massive cuts to education) was a "pants on fire" lie.

    Walker's claim to have helped higher education only helps it.... if paying more is good for students. Another "pants on fire" lie.

    School districts have cut large amounts of staff

    More huge overstatements about the debt problem- Looks like he was pretty eager to help out Koch and gut education!

    Walker says his tax plan will help businesses and create jobs- it doesn't and won't.

  • Hypothetical @ Matt- let's say you have two states: one has unemployment rate of 15%, the other has unemployment rate of 4%.

    Which one state do you think would have better chances of 'jobs growth'?

    Now think about that-...

    They won't write that much out for you in all the nice BLS reports. you need to use that well informed college educated mind of yours!

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    If that's your only response, I consider this to be done. Are you going to address the fact that Walker severely exaggerated the debt issue to justify his extreme policies, substantially cut school and public safety budgets while simultaneously giving massive tax handouts to corporations. He also wishes to prohibit abortion even if the woman would die or a parent rapes their child. Also he raised college tuition rates and used a "credit card" approach to the budget putting $500 billion on the backs of our kids along with huge interest rates.

  • agree to disagree, end of discussion (agreed there!).
    good night.

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    Awww did you get outgunned?

  • Matt, it's just better not to discuss politics with your type. And I say that because I have other friends just like yourself. You spew out a bunch of non-sense headlines and it's just not fair to yourself. The Kock Brothers, tax cuts to wealthy you cry about, those are just one-liners buddy from your news sources, in the same way that GOPers use one-liners about Obama being a socialist.

    I do find it to be waste of time to have discussion with someone who truly does not understand how each side can honestly, with an intellect and with factual information support their argument within their frame of mind. (and I understand the liberal point of view- trust me, I made a big mistake and voted for BOB in '08 so I've been right there where you are).

    Because of your inaccurate statements I will now be the bigger person and end this discussion... after I let you know how out of line your [false statement] point about Walker's thoughts on abortion were!

    To your point about how he feels about abortion is just nonsense, in that he wouldn't allow an abortion to a child raped by their parent, you're a fool. and I'm pro-choice! but you're a funny fool really believing all that you read.

    "A ban on abortion coverage in policies obtained through a health insurance exchange, set to be created under the federal health care reform law starting in 2014. The only exceptions would be in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity."

    Source, Liberal blog that I'm sure is bookmarked on your computer

  • Bill in Rogers Park Rogers Parker - co-founder of Glenwood Neighbors

    Walker and his "record of success" is the sort of success Republicans have been perpetrating on Americans since the Reagan era. Remember Reagan lambasted Carter for a $58 billion deficit - then proceeded to have over $200 billion deficit because of cutting taxes and increasing Defense spending? Remember Cheney saying that deficits don't matter and going from budget surplus to what we have now in terms of deficits? Walker is cut from same cloth. For example, Wisconsin contracted with People Soft for new software system for Wisconsin administrative system and paid millions of dollars for initial implementation and are locked into multi-year maintenance contract paying multi-millions per year for maintenance. Walker's team came in and cut the money for engineers to implement the system so they can demonstrate they are "saving" taxpayer's money. So now they have a multi-million dollar software system that sits unused - and pay maintenance on this un-implemented system while they use an out of date mainframe system that is held together with band-aids and pay excess number of people to keep it running. But the spin reads well and just like we see on this site, we have naive people across the country who want to emulate Walker's success. God help us all if they succeed.

  • OMG!!!!! Quick, someone grab a ruler!!! These guys are about to let it all hang out so that we can get an accurate measurement!!!!! Please. If I read one more bit of dueling sound bites, I think that I shall surely go mad!!!!!

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    SCI- You are killin' me!

    You refute my posts with Politifact cites (implying you trust the source), then when I post articles from the same site, you say the statements are "inaccurate" and "non-sense headlines". You won't engage my fact checking, you'd rather just write it off. No surprise, I'm sure it's tough.

    The article you posted is telling- Looks like he had to settle for a weaker bill as the State GOP isn't as whacky as him on abortion. He'd rather sign that than veto it. He has been clear- He wants a full abortion ban in all cases.

    I know this cold hard fact will hurt you, but do your best to read it. This is from Politifact, the source you so readily cited.

    "In the race for governor, Democrat Tom Barrett said his opponent, Republican Scott Walker, "wants to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother." Walker ACKNOWLEDGES THAT IS HIS POSITION. We rate Barrett’s claim True."

  • Thank you Matt for teaching me something new, I was wrong!

  • Page 15, Today's Suntimes "Quinn signs bill to ban "shark finning"
    With the problems this State and City face - REALLY it is time for these people to go!

  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    Illinois is the first non-Pacific state to pass such a ban, but that doesn't mean the midwestern region doesn't contribute to the shark finning problem: Oceana, an ocean conservation group, reports that Illinois is a large importer of shark fins, with
    restaurants including many in Chinatown serving shark fin soup and other dishes. According to the group, some shark populations have declined by as much as 99 percent in recent decades because of fin harvesting. From HufPo

  • Back on thread. Page 53, today's Sun Times, Terry Savage,
    "New battle in war on public pensions". Another shark story.

  • By the way, there was pension reform put into place last year for all employees hired 2011 and after. The issue they're dealing with now is how to take away retirement benefits promised to current and former employees for the entire time of their employment. How do you break such promises? I think they want to wait until after elections in November. I've also heard that they plan to put it on the ballot to let voters decide for them to amend the Constitution to take away benefits promised to retirees. In the meantime, State retirees will no longer have free health care insurance as a post-retirement benefit. They will be paying into it out of their pensions, even though they were told they would retire with that benefit durnig their workng years. Broken promises. If it happened to you that way, you wouldn't like it one bit. But some people don't care as long as it happens to somebody else and not to them, it's fine.

  • Like a ballot initiative will matter...the courts will eventually decide, as lawsuits will be brought no matter what we, the voters, say. And btw, promises made, promises broken re: pension benefits.

  • "Right now, teachers pay 2 percent of their salaries, while CPS picks up 7 percent of salary. That employee contribution costs the district $170 million a year on top of its own employer contribution to the pension fund. CPS can't afford that anymore."

    Promises will soon become broken promises...,0,2393708.story

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    That article is incorrect. "The teachers then pay 9.4 percent of their salaries into the pension fund."

    SCI I know you are salivating for broken promises but I'm hopeful that our legislators will evaluate all of the FACTS before enacting pension reform. There is a distinction between what City employees contribute to their pensions and what the other pension plans outside of the City have required. There is a great difference between the two. I thought this had already been explained in a much earlier post. Regardless I think any City or State employee is agreeable to reform that will level the playing field even if it means increasing their current pension contribution. While the City teachers currently have compounded interest, other municipal employees have never received it and some not at all.

  • Please explain this then to me Elmo... From CPS website. "employees also are required by statute to contribute 9 percent of their salary to pensions (called the "employee contribution"). However, CPS pays 7 percent of the 9 percent for a total of $127 million".

    Can my employer require me to save 10% of my salary to my retirement?...., but have them put in 8% of my required 10%.

  • I swore I was not going to comment any further but as new items come up I feel compelled to reply and try to explain. Yes, CPS agreed to pay the 7% to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. Oh well, they haven't made a payment since 1995!

    Our pension fund is not breaking the bank of Chicago or the State of Illinois. Our PensionFund has not been paid by the Chicago Board of Education! CPS has collected more than $2 billion in pension tax revenue.

    Suburban and downstate pension funds will receive over $2.5 billion in support for 2011. The state has not provided 20% -30% of the funding provided to suburban and downstate pensions.

    The average Chicago Teachers Pension is $42,000.
    Of the 87,000 retired teachers in the state, 1 in 5 (17,269) receive less the $20,000 in benefits!

    The Chicago Teachers Pension Fund was started in 1895!
    The CTPF has NEVER missed a monthly pension check and has weathered many historical events that have challenged our nation, even today!
    The first reported sum to be invested was $16,000 and the first pension check paid was $450.
    Any more information can easily be found by googling Chicago Teachers Pension Fund!

  • Public sector retirement Benes compared to private sector retirees SS Benes. While looking at the attached, cut the public sector annual pension payout amount in half to make a better, more realistic comparison and still there is quite a difference. Makes sense why we can't pay the public sector employee's more $$ in their current salaries; if we did their retirement payouts would be worth more than $5-10MM over their lifetime retirement payouts.

  • DaveP been around

    I really don't see how Illinois can possibly make it out of this situation. At all.

    And as they crush the middle class more, more people are going to pick up and leave, and pretty soon all you will have here is people on welfare, and people waiting for their pensions.

    Had I had a clue how the world worked (well, illinois) when I was young, I would have jumped on the public sector gravy train after I got out of the service. Hmm, I'd be pretty close to retiring by now. But luckily I've probably got another 40 years of work ahead of me.

    Now, older and wiser, I wonder why I own a condo here, and why I live here at all. Illinois, cook county, chicago...all just horrible horrible politicians screwing us all over.

  • VERY well said Dave. Although, I'm holding out hope (didn't someone recently go on and on about hope & change) with enough public outcry our terrible, corrupt politicians will have to help us fix this mess. Hopefully they start to fix this mess before the Cubs win their next World Series.

  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    I would like to think that all people of Illinois will come together to solve this issue for the common good for all people here. Everything changes.. including politicians and economies. It doesn't always have to this or that..

  • Really change in politics in Illinois. Guys look at our choices on ballots for State, County and City offices. There is more inbreeding in this State than the British Royal Family. God save the Queen.

  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    Change is not just the politicians running. Hopefully all the good people of this state will lead the efforts for the changes needed. It might satisfy most and quiet those that it won't.

  • Well, I make one prediction - nothing more will happen until after elections in November. Oh, and I heard on the news radio in the car that someone has already filed a lawsuit re the changes made for health care coverage for retirees. But, when I was working, I always knew that free health care coverage was not guaranteed, so time will tell.

  • This storyline should be front page news every day!!!! It is just as important as the current public safety concerns in our city. We need these matters in our faces every day, and demand alternative solutions ASAP, or at least see that we are holding elected citizens accountable for their work on our $$$ to keep our state competitive for future companies and residents. The alternative is that we vote them all out and start with new folks; I don't care [personally] about the party affiliation. Clean house, new perspectives and hopefully some one-term elected officials that might actually return back to a job after rubbing elbows for a few years. No more lifetime politicians, they're the root of all these problems, but we continue to give them pass after pass..! Maybe real change will be forthcoming this November! Then we might all gain some more hope and smell real change.

  • And, the little guy is still the one who will get hurt through no fault of their own --.the hard-working rank and file who made their contributions to their retirement plans for their entire working lives. Oh, but who cares? Broken promises.

  • Do you want to keep a story on the front page which is even more important than all of the pension talk? How about the fact that CPD's manpower is about 4,000 fewer than that for which it is budgeted. Think that might have something to do with the increase in gang violence? There are hundreds of retirements every year. Last year there was a class of about 57 recruits brought into the Academy and this year's class consists of 40-some recruits. We're taking one step forward and two steps back. Chew on that for a while.

  • @ jrp...
    I said the very same thing to our newly elected Alderwoman before the election a few years back.. Her husband is our state senator and now she is my alder(wo)man. I mentioned how our state was so incestuous and her response was that her husband didn't vote for the state income tax hikes...made me feel so much better - ha!

  • Our aldermen and our Mayors seem to think of themselves as royalty who pass their seats to their progeny. Of course, it's OUR fault that the same people keep being elected. WE are the ones who put the same bozos in office again and again ad nauseam. People keep clamoring for term limits. Term limits exist!!! We are the ones who are responsible for their unending terms in office. All THEY do is run. No one is holding a gun to our heads to continue voting for the same people over and over and over again. Change it up people!!! Step out of your comfort zone and vote for the other candidate. If that one is a no-goodnik, vote for someone else the next time. It's pretty simple really.

  • katyhunny, you're right but the alderman are correct too.. They ARE royalty and they will continue to be FOREVER until we fire them! I promise to do my part; Elect all new officials (White House and down the line).

  • I think the discussion on this thread has nothing to do with the White House.

  • kewpie62- you are correct and I agree with you, my bad!

  • Virginia resident

    I find it fascinating and sad that this thread, initially addressed very particularly to Alderman Moore, has never been commented on by him. He maintains a very high profile on this site but remains obstinately silent on this issue.
    Perhaps we should all show up to tomorrow's Follow Me Friday and ask him for comment.....

  • Perhaps he's concerned that the discussion will revert to HIS and his fellow Aldermen's pensions or discretionary funds or salaries or . . .

  • Virginia resident

    Zactly so, katyhunny. And isn't that the point? We pay them to work for us, so they are accountable to us. And why should their pensions, or salaries, or any other perk, be so much better than ours? Especially when they are the ones who legislate their own salaries and perks?

  • Ah, yes, Virginia, there's the rub. Don't we all wish that we could dictate the terms of our eployment--salaries, extra pay for administrative expenses, pension formulae, additional perks such as Concealed Carry. Yes, Virginia, some pigs ARE more equal than others and they shove our faces in it every doggone day. You will never see the Aldermen of the City of Chicago walking on anything but two feet.

  • Virginia resident

    amen sister.

  • It's easy to get off-course in discussions....we went from an Alderman's City pension to State Pensions to CPS pensions, and now back to the original subject.

  • Back to talking about Joe Moore's pension...

  • The article ( probably needs to be linked again, even though I know Phoebe posted it in the initial message. This is downright robbery our Alderman are committing against their rank and file workers and all city taxpayers. Where is Chicago's version of Chris Christie?? Suzanne?

    Joe Moore has done NOTHING to address his (oh I mean our problem) pension problem. However, he once upon a time said "My top priorities for the city are: 1. Eliminating the city's structural deficit. We should begin this process by having an open and honest discussion with the taxpayers of this city about the hard choices that are before us"..

    So Joe- we the citizens of the city invite you to open conversation about these honest hard choices that lie ahead. Consider starting this conversation as your birthday present to our city and cleaning up our financial act. Take the lead Joe, do the unpopular thing and lead by example (the way our mother's taught us) otherwise we will need to find someone else for your job. Thanks.

  • Joe speaks from the Desk of Joe Moore Alderman

    This means he doesn't need to answer constiuents questions if he doesn't want to!

    What a brand life!

  • Sorry - should read -

    What a GRAND life!

  • RPEyes Live on possibly the shortest street in RP

    The gist I get is the people who are anti-government workers have been screwed over by private industry therefore, no matter what was promised to the public sector employees, they must be screwed over also. It's just "whine whine" I chose to enter private industry when I made more money and had better perks than the public sector though they had better benes in retirement. Now I've been screwed and the public sector employees should be screwed over.

    Well private industry workers, you may be in a world of trouble, but I betcha your bosses aren't.

  • Bill in Rogers Park Rogers Parker - co-founder of Glenwood Neighbors

    I would bet that the same people here who are anti-pension for government employees are also anti-healthcare (Chris Christie? Really?). There are people who are just vitriolic and spew where they can and against those neighbors who they perceive as having a leg up on them. Too bad they cannot channel that into something positive.

  • DaveP been around

    I think the people you guys see as anti-government worker and anti-pension are just ordinary taxpayers who see their taxes go up and up, while reading news stories of government workers retiring at age 50 with 100,000 pensions.

    I'd be willing to bet the old argument about private sector employees making SO much more money than public workers makes up for the retirement benefits to be false.

    Regardless, I doubt any of the public sector employees who are looking forward to these rich retirements are going to get them, if you aren't getting them now or in the next few years. It just is not sustainable. It's more likely the state and city will be forced into bankruptcy, making everything nul and void, and you'll probably just end up on welfare and medicaid.

  • Bill in Rogers Park Rogers Parker - co-founder of Glenwood Neighbors

    Well, Dave - we are all "ordinary tax payers" here. The media may highlight the few who scammed the system but the vast majority are hard working people who paid their dues and are not getting $100,000 pensions. This doesn't seem to matter to the knee jerk reactors I read here on EB who seem to be foaming at the mouth about unfair pensions, misdirecting their ire. While some tweaking might be in order, tweaking is not the same as wholesale abdication of the state's responsibility here. Those who advocate such abdication and hide behind "private sector" claims are as obtuse as the weak politicians who ignored this years ago and got us into this present mess. Leadership will get us out of this. It's too bad that the political leadership we see in Illinois and across the country offers little more than the diatribe we read on the postings here.

  • Then why are the same pols re-elected time and time and time again?

  • Are you talking about my rich $24K annual pension?

  • That is my husbands annual soc sec which HE paid into the system much did you contribute towards your pension...just asking.

  • Just to clarify, Laurie, teachers pension recepients paid 8 to 9 % of their salaries into the pension fund. If the district paid a portion or all for a period of time, it was in lieu of a salary increase, so in effect the workers were paying their share. Social Security contributors pay 6% and once they reach a maximum contribution level for the year, they stop the contributions. The trouble with the solvency of the teachers pensions began when the districts and state neglected to pay their share of the contribution and when the "pension enhancements were alllowed with no additional funding. The US goverment backs up Social Secutity and can print money to cover shortfalls. States cannot print money and must have a balanced budget. Social Security, depsite your husband's contributions, will run out of funds in 2033.

  • Zachary, although I may agree with a few of your points, you should be aware of the whole SS solvency issues at hand and the contradiction above in your statement. If SS is backed by US Gov't (who controls the FED) then you must understand that they maintain that ability you pointed out; unfortunately, they could continue printing money (and yes, devaluate the USD) to continue the ability to pay on the SS obligations into the future.

    In the same manner that a USTreasury Bond is backed by full faith?? & credit of the USGov't, there is essentially little, Really no default risk to those bonds, the same is said to be true of SS. It might not be a fortunate matter that this is the case, as we have learned that our current Gov't does not deal with it's most crucial matters in time sensitive fashion. Fruthermore, the truth be said that SS is not healthy, but the system can only make matters a whole lot worse should we not deal with Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (SS which was supposed to be a 'supplement' when initially created).

    They should increase minimum retirement age for those born after 1965 to 67 and born after 1970 minimum retirement age should be 70. Do recall, when the system was set up- minimum retirement age of 62, that was longer lifespan than was expected back in those times. Which gets us back to another drastic difference between SS and public pensions (yes, those folks who point out they do not contribute to SS)-- SS benefits eligible in mid 60s, some public pension allow full bene's in mid 50s, which means those folks earn higher lifetime payout as compared to those receiving SS benes. Last point, all gov't workers should also now have to pay into SS- then they might also reap some of those benefits and we could start to clean up the solvency issue on hand immediately. Everyone pay into it, and increase the age for minimum retirement (about 20 years after it should have).

  • marym. 44 year resident of K Avenue

    Nine per cent of my salary for 22 years for $1200 per month public pension. Retired at age 66, social security was set off by my public pension. Does this happen in the private sector?

  • The above is a perfect expample of how so called pension "reform" will be unfair to many.

  • @Laura B - same as marym. But, when the state deducted for my contributions, they did not contribute the state's share as they were supposed to, but diverted the monies to other uses, and that's why those chickens have come home to roost and everyone wants the innocent employees to pay the piper - twice.

  • Teaching Tolerance Edgewater resisdent since '05

    Huffington Post: 5 Myths About Public Employee Pensions

    There's an oft repeated myth being fed by many that claims the defined benefit pension plans available to most public employees are going bankrupt.

    While a new report by the Pew Center for the States feeds those myths, Pew's research paints a false picture of pensions. Here are five oft-peddled myths about public pensions followed by the facts.

    1. Pensions are going bankrupt.

    The methods used to calculate a pension system's funding level are quite complicated and convoluted, which has enabled detractors to point to the funds in a few states -- Illinois, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Kentucky -- where funding shortfalls are notably higher.

    Pew's "new" report relies on data from 2010, but that snapshot gives an inaccurate portrayal of the current fiscal health of pensions. In 2010, when the recovery was not as far along as it is today, 16 states were above the threshold that Pew says is necessary to qualify for good fiscal health. The number of states meeting that threshold today is probably much higher. For example, in Wisconsin the primary pension fund is 99.8 percent funded today. In the state of Washington, pensions are 119 percent funded today. In North Carolina, pensions are 100 percent funded today. Perhaps most important, pensions will continue to recover steadily as markets rebound.

  • Teaching Tolerance- I must laugh at the point number 5 which states "A 60-year-old who worked for 30 years has an average 401(k) account balance of $172,555, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. That will provide retirement income of only $575.18 per month. It would take a 401(k) account balance of $1,000,000 to provide $40,000 annually over one's lifetime. To achieve a $1,000,000 account balance, you would need to contribute $1,000 a month every month for 30 years and earn a 6 percent return [after fees]."

    So, they are telling us that public Employees should not be shifted to 401K (risky plans) because they are hurting everyone else... REALLY, okay, to me it sounds like one plan is superior to the other (paid for by everyone’s taxes), you tell me which one is better for the recipient?

    And yes, again, we all know private employee pays into SS too, but do you and Elmo now smell what this is saying?> average private employees are retiring with less than our public pension peers?

    However, I believe this gets into what I consider the single largest problem within our culture; we are becoming an entitlement nation!!! I think retirement should be the American Dream *(just like owning a house should be too) and maybe more of us should be expected to work our entire lives (heck, wasn't that the case when all of our ancestors came to this land of opportunity). What if the new normal retirement was to work part-time while in retirement? And don't tell me there's no jobs, that sort of system would reward entrepreneurs who take risk to create every new job. Innovation would continue with more products and services and maybe we all 'together!' would achieve a higher standard of living. (continued)

  • Imagine what SS would look like if 50% of the 65-90 year olds out there worked and were still paying into SS. Retirement, to me, should be something we have worked our tails off to earn, not simply reach this by attaining an age. Off course, the safety nets should be there, but for the worst off individuals. And again, let’s keep on raising the minimum age for SS benefits to keep us all maintaining and looking for work.

    But again back to your HP article Teaching Tolerance. If you read all the way through to point #5 I'd be curious of your reaction. Should we just 'tolerate' the drastic differences the two systems create or should we try and equalize everyone's risk spectrum and the playing field so that we are all in this long-haul battle together, or should some folks receive a better deal than others (status-quo is good enough?)?

  • Teaching Tolerance Edgewater resisdent since '05

    I teach US history and the last unit in my textbook is entitled, "The Conservative Era 1980 - present." Since 1980 Americans have been seduced into believing the simplistic idea that government is the problem and regulations are evil. The result is corporate welfare and an ever shrinking middle class. Capitalism is an attack dog -- it must be leashed or it will devour all. Government too, if left unchecked, is a "Leviathan" that will strangle all. I encourage you to read, "The Shock Doctrine" b/c I really can't get into all of it here. However, I do laugh at your idea that somehow anyone of us "common folk" will be able to retire. In my best case scenario, meaning my school doesn't become a charter mill and I'm left unemployed (and since CPS no longer rehires laid off teachers the odds of my being re-hired anywhere are non-existent) and my promised pension isn't carved up (we know that is next year's legislative agenda) I would retire at 70 years-old and then immediately have to sell my condo and move to a cheaper location (Mexico?) or find another part time job. I'm also saving as much cash as possible each year. However, I will not "invest" it in the crap game known as Wall St. I've watched my parents lose the majority of their savings during the last THREE crashes of this new century. When it comes to my sisters they will receive about $1200 - $1400 from Social Security if that hasn't been raided by the corporate uber class. Either way none of us will be able to fully retire. I'm sure I'll be living with at least one of them in my old age if we live that long. My story isn't unique. It's the norm.

  • Teaching Tolerance Edgewater resisdent since '05

    The reality is the status quo sucks. The right has won. We commoners fight for scraps and feel lucky if we can make our monthly bills without going into debt. We avoid looking at the growing number of homeless in our city parks. We say a prayer thanking god that it's not us, yet feel quesy that it soon could be. We've forgotten what took 100 years to learn -- only by uniting will the working classes stave off hunger, disease and exploitation. You may feel safe today, but if this "Great Recession" hasn't taught you that your life's circumstances could change in a heartbeat, then you haven't been paying attention. But all of this is so much bloviating. Unless we pass an amendment to the constitution reforming campaign finance N O T H I N G will change. Most of us are distracted by shiny objects -- and I no longer believe that the root cause will ever be addressed: our politicans are ALL bought and therefore refuse to problem solve. I 'bout another war? Rome, anyone...?

  • I am not a market know it all, but I do enjoy the subject and you should not use your parents mistakes or market performance of last 10yrs as your basis for reason to not invest. The market today is 2X!! Higher (can you say almost 100% higher) than where it was at low in 2009- buy low, sell high. Within this troubling economy, many investors are likely to be better off on their investments made today and over next year in the years ahead if they leave their investments to work in the system. The long-term numbers, and you like your history, history indicates the market has achieved annual returns of about 7%yr over the last 80-90 years Teaching Tolerance. Unfortunately, our media has controlled manipulated your brain and you sound afraid like many Americans (FEAR FEAR FEAR). Yet, if you are young, this is a GREAT TIME TO buy investments. Do you buy shoes at premium price or when they are on sale? Unfortunately, most people do not act the same way with their investments that they would whenever the consumption is something tangible. How often does the end of the world really occur?

    By not investing and thinking it is stupid, Teaching Tolerance, you are creating your problems you mention above. I hope you do not teach economics or math to our children. Buy low/ sell high. When times seem bad the Warren Buffets and smart savers put more money to work in investments. Take a chance for success, but watching from the sidelines will not enable you to ever be the star and instead you will be left to ridicule those that have played that wonderful game.

    if you want an outline on how a mimimum wage earner can earn a million dollars I would be happy to find a useful link for you to read..

  • Teaching Tolerance Edgewater resisdent since '05

    Condescend much? I'm well aware of the market's performance over the last 80-90 years, otherwise known as "The American Century". Guess what? This next century won't be America's unless the root disease which I outlined above and which you conveniently ignored -- is addressed. However, it seems you'd rather preach the Wall St. gospel = to each his own...

  • sure, but all i hear you saying is the current system will be the end of US growth and prosperity, but not one thought of ideas on how to change what you think is so wrong.

    I understand you are probably part of OWS (where the common theme is that everyone else, the big companies, it's them that are the problem) -some of their arguements are valid, but in general there's too much noise there, with such little defined focus that not much will come of the following.

    wow, pensions.. to, where are we, what are we talking about? I want a gov't pension. no I don't I'm kidding.

  • Teaching Tolerance Edgewater resisdent since '05

    I am not a member of Occupy Wall Street, but I support their analysis over the Tea Party. I believe I did mention how we begin to right the ship of state -- campaign finance reform. The Supreme Court has ruled that $ = speech and that unnamed persons/groups can contribute as much money as they can raise to support whatever issue/candidate they choose. The barrier to government service is how much money you can raise in order to run for office. Where is the money coming from: PACs/Lobbyists. Why? To write / rescind legislation. Where is the money going? Election cycle media buys directed to one of our nation's six major media companies (there used to be 50 major media companies in the 1990s) The result = the “iron triangle” — where industry lobbyists, bureaucrats and congressional power-brokers work together to preserve the status quo." How do you begin to solve the problem and actually elect people who realize that the art of politics is compromise and who are willing to reach across the aisle to forge solutions before the problems become insurmountable? You amend the constitution. Impossible? It's been done 27 times. If you think it's impossible to do it again, then what hope is there for solving the really difficult issues facing us? Do I motivate my students with fear? Actually I preach (purposefully chosen word) empowerment through participation.

  • SCIC - I worked my butt off at my state university job, and at a lesser salary than I would have gotten for the same job in private industry. $20,000/yr less, and perhaps a bit more.

  • Pay was less, yet noone was ever fired(for lack of performance). those that were let go were forced to be let go due to lack of money to pay out salaries. why the lack of money, bc pension costs started to skyrocket &/or decrease tax revs. the system might be able to pay the teachers more if they dropped the pensions going forward. I hope whatever changes are made do not affect your current pension kewpie, i am a believer that this can be fixed by changing the methods of payouts for the future retirees. i agree would not be fair to take away your earnings/promise, but we need change in IL before we turn into San Bernadino, CA, Stockton, CA etc.

  • Kewpie62: do you wish you had available to you to pay into SS over your 40 yr career? For your pension to be substituted by SS benefits that would have been the same? And then what if you had extra money of yours put into a 401k? Do you think that may have privided you the same benefits today? More? Or less?

  • I also worked in private industry and paid into SS over my 48 year career (not 40 - 48). But, I'm not getting my full SS benefits because I get a state pension, so I have several hundred dollars deducted from my SS benefit each month. My SS benefit alone wouldn't even pay my rent. When I was young, there were no 401K's. When 401K's did come into play, I didn't have one because I couldn't afford extra money to put into one, after putting into my defined benefit plan and health, life, and disability insurances, taxes and other deductions, I didn't make that much money for extras, and not for a 401K.

    Also, they have already put into place changes for employees hired on or after January 1, 2011. What they're trying to do now is take away from current employees who have been working under the promise of certain retirement benefits for years, and take away from current retirees as far as health care benefits or COLAs (and they deducted a portion of our income for to guarantee future COLAs, which they now want to take away even though we paid towards it up-front, too).

    As I said, broken promises. Promises made should be promises kept, and they shouldn't have squandered the money all along. By diverting state contributions to pensions for 20 plus years, they caused pension costs to skyrocket because they are required by law to pay back all the squandered monies.

    But, I'm talking about State pensions and this thread was started with regards to one politician's City pension.

  • All the pensions in Illlinois, both state and city, are underfunded due to the irrespnsibility of governement in funding them properly while diverting funds elsewhere. The mayor of Chicago currently continues to use the school funds listed on your tax bill partly for TIF funds which pay for his pet projects. No proof has ever been found that these projects are worth the investment of education funds. Meanwhile, the schools operate with half the funding per students compared to the best public schools in the suburbs. Why do the people of Chicago stand for this?

  • marym. 44 year resident of K Avenue

    The average secondary teacher in the Niles DIstrict earns a six figure salary. Their pension is based on this salary. Chicago taxpayers contribute to this pension plan in addition to the Chicago Teachers plan. However, I guess I am preaching to the choir!

  • Well, marym, the Mayor tried to get it changed, but downstate legislators want Chicago to continue to pay for out-of-Chicago pensions.

  • zachary, I did not know that Chicago school funds were being diverted to TIF projects.

  • tom 2422 Rogers Parker since 1972

    cub fan is correct... you need a large portion of your 401(k) or other deferred compensation in the stock market. You only lose money if you bail out... the market always comes back. If you can't stand the ups and downs, then you miss out. Do not sell low.

  • This article is a must read for the individuals who have been lied to and now tell us promises are promises. honest and sincere promises should be kept, but not those promises based off false realties that will create problems for ALL neighbors in our local economy.

    Then read up on, or google, "Defined Benefit Plan conversion to Cash Balance Plan". There's another solution, and better for our neighbors that don't want the control offered via 401k plans!!

  • I want out of the pension system. I want a retirement plan met by the city/state to some extent, but I don't like the idea of gambling with my future. I can manage my monies better than the city or state, apparently. My credit recently got upgraded, what happened to the City of Chicago's? Chicago and the State are playing Monopoly with our money. I read an article months ago where the author stated, "30 years from now the only people that will be living in Illinois will be those with pensions, and they will be taxed 100%."

    Match me 1:1 or whatnot and you're off the hook Chicago. <--- Chicago Public Schools teacher.

  • marym. 44 year resident of K Avenue

    I have two suggestions for pension reform:

    - Retired state employees should pay for their medical care which is now free, except for medicare payments, free vision and dental should be dropped

    - In regard to teachers, why not compromise, the state will pay the pension for the first $30,000 in salary and the local school district will pick up any payments for a salary over that amount. These are not solutions, but a start.

  • Marym - state employees do pay towards their vision care and dental care. Not every retired state employee gets free health care either, since it's based on length of service. But, retired state employees who have worked 2-plus decades should continue to have free medical as promised during the length of their employment. But, you would say, let them eat cake!

  • Nice thought marym. But the State of Illinois currently contributes nothing to the Chicago Teahers Pension Fund and the Board of Education has failed on their commitment to pick up percent of Chicago Teachers Pension since 1995! just think about it if your employer deducted $600 every 2 weeks from your check but failed to put the money into your IRA, 401k or deferred comp program. After 5 or 10 years that adds up to a lot off moola! I wonder where the moola is?

  • Oh one more thing, I pay my health insurance - about $4800 per year! Not cheap! And this is only for me - not spouse, not child----

  • Á propos of nothing, do y'all realize that this thread has gone on since early May? Is that a record of sorts? Just curious.

  • Katy, it is not a record, but indicative that the commenters find this to be substantive dialogue.

    It is unfair to me and my family that if I want to be a teacher in CPS that I have to pay into our broken pension system. Lawyers need to find a way to sever the business of the pension system from CPS (could be done), and let the savvy investment firms figure out a way to save the pension system or provide the idea of concessions or face bankruptcy. That would allow the educational services of CPS to not be pitted against past promises to teachers. This is no different than the American automotive industry. In the 60's and 70's they didn't factor in the costs of pensions being paid out to employees over longer times into the prices of their cars. CPS also didn't factor in these costs into their pension promises, but the difference isn't a demise of car companies but the demise of our children's education. The automotive industry has been "saved." I won't argue that it has or hasn't been, but I sure hope that our urban education systems can be "saved."

    Striving for greatness is fulfilling your promises to your own. The truth is somewhere in-between. In this dilemma greatness will be measured by pensions being maintained and education not being diminished. To attain that I do think some pension concessions are a must and efficiencies in public education must be attained. The pension concessions could not be forced, as per the Illinois State Constitution, but they can still be made. It would take a real leader to convince current beneficiaries to forgo 1-5% of their current benefits in the name of benevolence. He/she would have to ensure and prove that those monies were being applied in the most noble of ways and not being spent in bureaucratic hurdles. Having those monies dedicated to the operation of new AMPS schools, like Northside and Walter Payton College Preparatory schools. I don't think we have those kinds of leaders though.

  • The missing pension money was most likely diverted to a TIF fund used to finance the mayor's pet projects. Read the latest READER
    article for clarity. Watch for the Teacher's Union to go after the TIF.
    Marym has offered a few good suggestions. Others could include taxing pensions for lowering the COLA for a period of time. The legislature is intent on axing the whole COLA and insurance. On the other side, I am sure they will have plenty of money for other projectsts.

  • While Alderman Moore is busy dealing with Citizens United we still have yet to hear any of our IL politicians address our states SINGLE LARGEST priority, pension reform.

  • "Three quarters of near retirees (ages 50 to 64) have average total retirement account balances of only $26,395."
    Source- NY Times Sunday edition.

    So, it does still seem the public employee pension recipients are closer to becoming the 1% than the average private employee. WOW!

  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    Teachers and public employees becoming the 1%. Wow that is a amazing and the savings rate for retirement gives you an indication of where the wealth in this country has gone since Reaganomics. Since the decline of unions no wonder a report out recently said that one in four private sector workers earn less than $10 an hour.By the way, I am glad we have an alderman that is working on reversing Citizens United... It's all connected...

  • @SCICubsFan, What is the debt of those people with $26,395 in their IRA's are. I'd bet it isn't zero. My father told me a decade ago that people tend to live, at, their means. The data across the U.S. has shown that his statement is as accurate as it gets. The majority of Americans don't have debt problems they can't handle. If you subtract out what is referred to as good debt (student loans for instance), most Americans don't have debt problems. Most Americans also have no savings though. The past few years has taught me that every spending decision that you make should be carefully scrutinized. A combination of not fostering a culture that scrutinizes purchases, but also one of advertising/marketing that uses psychoanalysis combined with statistics to manipulate people's judgement has led to people not being able to hold onto their money.

    I completely agree with Ingvald that we're downward spiraling, but the average American has not been frugal for the past few decades, quite the contrary. One of the benefits of this recession is that it has brought fiscal sensibility and reality back into a lot of Americans lives, sadly with great pain in doing so. In ecology, these types of cycles are expected. Populations consume resources until there are no more to consume, and then there is a population crash as the masses die off and allow the resources to replenish. Americans made this mistake, on the background of being sold out by Republican/Corporatists that have no loyalty to the American electorate.

    Realistically the pension funds will be awash within 15 years. Unsustainable doesn't even begin to describe the mathematics behind what is going on with the pensions. Social Security is in magnitudes better fiscal shape than most pension funds in this country, and the G.O.P. is lying calling S.S. a Ponzi scheme. If one to use such rhetoric, it would be more applicable to describe our pension systems, which I would very much like to opt out of.

  • Jeffrey-

    SS only difference from State funded Pensions is quite an important difference, and one that I'm sure you must understand! SS is backed by our federal ability to print more money, anytime (and devalue the dollar at the same time).

    State Pension, County Pensions, City Pensions; I will leave that question for you to answer- what is their ONLY means of creating the revenue stream? Please answer.

    I don't even want to get into your political non-sense,... There's nothing to gain in that discussion for either of us- I think that Americans need to live 'below' their means rather than at their means, but this is just how I try to survive and manage my lifestyle. I'm a worrier, what can I say?

    If GOP calls SS a Ponzi scheme, can you at least understand their argument? The argument that it is not a Ponzi is that it is a required payment, by tax. Had Ponzi been able to require investors to participate, well then you would have created a system quite similar to SS... Current payees paying-out monies to current recipients.

  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    SS in not a Ponzi scheme. It is for those that watch Fox News and the extreme right.

  • again- I asked you use your brains and see if you can pick out the similarities, beacuse there are similarities!! (if you are both educated and not closed minded).

    "Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors and to use for personal expenses"...

    Listed similarities:
    -new investors -little to no risk -new money used to pay earlier stage investors.

    Wow- the way some of that reads is quite upsetting when you consider HOW our IL POLITICIANS used some of those funds for their own [political] agenda and expenses.

  • I still can not believe the words and how they manipulate the issue so everyone can be RIGHT!

    Currently there are approximately 87000 retired teachers in the State of Illinois. One out of five of them earn $20000 or less!
    Imagine that after working 35 years and living past 80 years and $20,000 is all you get!
    The average Chicago Teacher's Pension is approximately $42,000.
    This is not a lot of money people. Our jobs are very difficult! Inwouldnt trade it for one million dollars!
    For whatever reason people think we are all
    Rich as Romney

    Believe me we are not! I wish someone could redirect this thread back to the alderman and the lucrative deal they made
    For their pensions!

    Bless you all and if you can read and write
    - Thank a teacher!

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Entertaining1 wrote "For whatever reason people think we are all rich as Romney."

    Or perhaps rich as Rahm and all of the other elected officials whose children attend very costly private schools with smaller classrooms and one on one instruction.

  • Entertaining 1-
    no way,??? 20% of the retired teachers are living off pensions of less than $20,000, well- so are numerous SS retirees, no doubt about it. Maximum SS benefit today is just over $30,000.. So there is a side-by-side comparison, however one of those systems is a nationalized system, and the other is being carried on the backs of our local neighbors!

    so you're telling me that many of these teachers are taking home $42,000 a year (from a pension that is only paid for by IL tax revenue- interesting when we keep in mind that SS generates its $$$ from across all 50 states).

    You would not trade $1,000,000 for your $42,000 a year just shows how you do not understand the time value of money; the present value of the money you are raking in each year, that is worth $1,000,000 to you in a lump sum!!! I know this is such a foreign concept to you and most teachers/Gov't employees b/c you're never been forced by the system to learn this real life math that applies to the rest of America! you may not want to see it this way, but this is the center of the argument most private (SS paying) recipients are lobbing in your direction; they would argue they need at least $1,000,000 (SAVED, their money, maybe corporate match if you're lucky) to pay themselves back in retirement $40,000 year [assuming a 4% rate of withdrawal from their accounts]- or fine, they need $500,000 saved to pay themselves $20,000 a year and the other $20,000 'might' come from SS. okay?

    (YOU did NOT SAVE ALL THAT $1MM in your account, do you understand this-? your money- it's NOT all THERE right now).. now I think what your argument, and teachers arguments should be, is you all should be demanding (for future generations to clean up the problem) access to pay into SS and closing down the continuation of these defined benefit pensions (or at minimum convert them to defined cash balance plans).

  • continued:

    Here's some math hypothetical for you to consider: someone makes $35,000/year (same amount over entire career let's hypothesize) for 35 years. Say they start teaching at age 30 and retire at age 65. If they had 9% going to the pension each year, and that annual payment of $3,150 (9% of $35K) earns let's say 5%/year, that account ends up with just under $300,000 in retirement. To me, in my world, if I end up with $300,000 at retirement that will allow me $12,000 a year (4% withdrawal rate- so I do not outlive my hard earned money). Had each payment earned 8% then the account ends up with $586,000, but still not the $1,000,000 necessary to buy 4% withdrawal of $40,000. that's financial math, I don't expect you to understand it... I can thank wall street for teaching me that.

    Look, politicians, some of them may not understand this, others of them simply do not care because they know it will not be their problem and they'll be down in AZ or FL by the time we all wake UP... and those that get it- they know if they speak out, they know it's bad news and no one wants to be the bearer of bad news. but our day is coming and we must deal with our problems before Michigan Avenue turns into Greece, Italy, or the others... the writing is on the wall and some of us are just trying to help us all realize, our day of pain and collectively making the system better off is coming closer each day.. we will get there together and it will make our country and city better off in the long-haul- because we cannot afford to see our city emptied out with all this debt as people (sorry, the wealthy that can pack up a leave) continue to move out of IL each and every day!

  • Actually Sci. - I damn well saved close to a million dollars
    This was through my 401k plan that I put aside just for emergency and for my family
    With the market crash it fell to about. 400,000

    I have been fairly frugal and I am still being frugal as I hope to leave something to my children!

    No my children went to CPS and one did extremely well and the other unraveled and left school
    So please why bring Rahm into this thread as he did not teach at C P S

  • SCICubs, I definitely want to have this conversation with you, but I can't do it with a venue that that has 5 posts in-between ours. You can email me at

    I don't know what I wrote that made you think that I was antagonizing your points, but quite the contrary. Perhaps you detected that I'm a liberal democrat and that might oppose your personal politics, but that was not written in antithesis to anything you had mentioned.

    I don't view Social Security as a Ponzi scheme. To begin, it is a solvent system, and monies that were taken out of it are owed back to it. Once those monies are restored, the math works just fine. If you need to ask what monies, then Google search the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Payroll Tax Cuts. Those are being paid for with the monies in the Social Security fund. To disagree with the idea that it is not a Ponzi scheme because the math doesn't work with the theft politicians did to it is to liken it to you vandalizing my car and then telling me that I have a s*&tty car. The biggest difference between Social Security and the pension systems are that the investment returns touted by the pensions' investment firms are touting (less the firms and more the states' politicians) are touting a consistent 9% return on investments. I've read many economic analysts that state that is a ridiculous and not going to happen number. Thus, the pension systems are working on broken math stated by the politicians, while at Social Security is simply owed principal.

    Further, and I really would prefer to email back and forth with this because in-between posts just lead to multi-directional communication, my father stated that most people live at their means. I wasn't arguing that is to be advocated. If you peruse my post you'll find I was blaming the average Joe for not being frugal enough.

  • Entertaining1, I'm a teacher :)

  • On a tangentially related note, this just came out from Chicago Public Schools Jean Claude Brizard, copied verbatim from my CPS email:
    "Dear CPS Friends and Colleagues:


    We have great news to share with you. Today we reached a significant breakthrough in contract negotiations by reaching an agreement on the structure of the full school day.  This agreement ensures that students will start the school year getting the full time they need in front of their teachers to be successful in the classroom. They will no longer have the shortest day and year of all the largest cities, and will finally be on par with their peers across the country in getting the instructional time they need to be competitive in the global economy. 


    This agreement allows for implementation of the full school day with no changes to the student day, providing significant benefits to both elementary and high school students. Elementary students will receive 52 additional minutes of instructional time each day, with 6 hours of instruction and 45 minutes for recess and lunch. These students will be in school for 7 hours each day, which is an increase of 75 minutes. High school students will receive up to 46 additional instructional minutes a day. 


    Along with implementation of the Common Core State Standards, a more rigorous curriculum that will better prepare students for college and career, and the new instructional framework, which will fundamentally change and improve the quality of teaching, the additional instructional time provided by the full day will give both teachers and students a valuable tool to improve teaching and learning in every school across the district. "

  • "To support the full school day, an additional 477 positions will be added in elementary schools to be filled by teachers, rated satisfactory or better, who were displaced between 2010 and 2012. These teachers will help augment instruction provided to students as part of the full day. These positions are in addition to 277 teachers who have already been hired by principals with additional discretionary dollars from the College Ready Fund to fill positions they believe will best support their efforts to boost student achievement. "
    While we have overcome the hurdle of the implementation of the full school day at the negotiating table, we have other issues that both sides need to agree upon, which is why we are engaging in an aggressive schedule of negotiating sessions in the coming weeks.
    We will continue to keep you informed as this process continues. Thank you for your continued support of our mission to ensure that every student in every community receives a world-class education that prepares them for college and career.

  • Virginia resident

    Great article - thanks!

  • I think we can all agree that double-dipping should be illegal.

  • That dumbfounds me. Is this in Chicago? Mayor Emanuel approved this? Mayor Emanuel couldn't have approved this. He's currently firing people left and right in the fire department for claiming extra gas miles on their reimbursements, but he would sign off on this now? Surely Mayor Emanuel is not that kind of hypocrite. I can't believe this is true.

  • Not in Chicago, in suburbs. The laws that allow the politicians different means of use then the rest of us have been on the books for way too, long... but this is a state matter, not having to do with Chicago code laws.

  • I'm shocked there aren't serious repercussions from these things. Not legal repercussions. I've been saying for decades that anytime someone shoots someone else, the first thing I as is, "What did he/she do?"

    I can only imagine how many people have been laid off in the past few years from that department, and now this...

  • repercussions? Not likely when we continue to vote in the same frauds that have created loopholes for their benefit. Try something new, like voting GOP in IL and change the way of the status quo; but when we keep voting in the Shankowski's and Quinn's over and over it only reaffirms to them 1)that we like them 2) we are not well enough informed of their activities and its impact on us, so we end up with more and more corruption because we are not demanding any change with our votes. Only chance for repercussions is at the ballot box Jeffrey, so I'm glad we're all staying up on these folks activities! Remember this come November, Please.

  • Tonight (Monday) 9:30 PM, WGN TV, channel 9, host Mark Suppelsa is doing an investigative report on the subject of Pensions in Illinois.
    If people have the time and interest, this is just information, I am not connected with WGN.

  • I will interrupt my Olympics viewing to watch this report for sure!!! What happens in Springfield affects what can happen here in the City where our very short-sighted Mayor wants to mess with the pensions of current retirees. He wants to freeze our COLAs for TEN YEARS!!!!! The COLA for police and fire pensions is 3% simple interest per annum.

  • If interested watch channel 10 CLTV now. These politicians from this State will make you sick.

  • Inactive user

    Only four more comments for an RP EB record 300!

  • "In turn, pension payments are gobbling up so much of the state budget so quickly that state government could be spending more on basic annual pension payments than it does on education within four years.",0,1150858.story?dssReturn

  • Tribune articles sometimes leave out important facts. For instance, if 3.2 billion dollars had not been diverted from the CTPF through 10 years of pensions holidays and political maneuvering, this would not be the case. The money should have been contbuted as promised and now it is time to pay.

  • Hear, hear, Zachary!!!!!

  • Matt M. Rogers Park Resident

    It's also worth noting that most (all?) of the relevant unions supported the pension holiday, and without it essential programs like schools and healthcare would have faced cuts. These programs are being cut right now, and the union answer is often "we need more revenue to pay for pensions!" So basically raise taxes or make deeper cuts, both of which are unacceptable.

    Regardless of how we got here, we are in dire straights. Just to preface how bad things are, recent cuts to medicaid, required to prevent total collapse, were DEVASTATING and will have a truly negative impact on people. People will die because of how bad things are.

    And now the state is asking that instead of a 3%+ compounded COLA (compounded means it's not even really a COLA anymore, it's a raise.) It drops down to half of the CPI or 3%, whichever is lower.

    So someone with a $30,000 pension will still get the full amount, but it would only go up by $450 a year. Living for 20 years pushes you up to $39,000.

    One thing that would be a HUGE help would be transferring the cost of pensions to local governments. In Chicago, we pay for our own teacher pensions AND for the rest of the state. The state doesn't kick in any for us. If local governments outside of Chicago want to offer higher dollar pensions, they should pay for it, or start paying a share of ours.

    Kids are being taken off of ventilators, education funding is a mess, we are near junk bond status and the income tax just got raised 66%.

    Everything is being cut. Everything. Is it to much to ask that your pension grows at a slightly slower rate each year?

  • The problem, Matt M,. is that the 3% simple interest increase in my yearly pension is less than the increase in my cost for health insurance and doesn't even touch the rise in the deductible for said insurance. Yes, We pay an increase yearly for our insurance and the deductible goes up every year, too.

    These lying, thieving politicrats haven't mentioned syllable one about addressing the issue of their own benefits being pared down or addressing the injustice of Union leaders who never worked for the City, County or State, yet they receive pensions from those governmental bodies. Where is the justice in that? My pension is nowhere near the more than $100K per year that these parasites receive in addition to their health insurance and God only knows what other perks they vote for themselves.

    What about the money stashed in the TIF Funds? They borrowed from my pension plan to pay for other things the City supposedly needed. Why can't they borrow from TIF to pay my Pension Fund what they owe?

    All of this posturing and prattling about the "values of the City of Chicago" and the rest of the crap spewed by our local pols is 100% bilge!!!!!

  • marym. 44 year resident of K Avenue

    I was astounded to read state retirees receive FREE medical vision and dental insurance benefits. Makes me wonder what perks the retired elected part time officials receive.

  • Ingvald Doing my part to do no harm

    I'm astounded that the wealthiest nation in the world does not have a plan that those vital healthcare benefits would be covered for all retirees.... actually for everyone.

  • Katyhunny, while I understand your perspective about the 3% simple interest increase not covering your health insurance bumps, that is a very illogical and illegitimate argument. I don't mean that as an insult, the two things really just don't have anything to do with each other. Pension increases are designed to match cost of living increase due to local living costs and inflation, and not to cover things that cannot be predicted by pension plan architects. There is also the alternative scenario: if your health insurance premium costs went down, would you be offering some of your pension cost of living increases to be returned out of just?

  • Raising taxes should have been an acceptable alternative to 10 years of pension holidays instead of using teacher pension dollars to pay for new schools and operating costs. We are a state that refuses to pay for a decent education for all children. Nor we do not want to pay for pension liabilities incurred by the state.

  • Just another FACT. The Chicago Teachers "pension holidays" from 1995 - 2005 were during a time when investments yielded remendous returns. The pension fund lost millions on the return on investment of the 6.2 million CPS failed to contrbute. After those funds are restored, maybe it would be appropriate to discuss a plan to insure the fund's viability is necessary.
    To those who say the Union agreed to underfund the pension, you may to be referring to accepting deferred compensation (CPS pension pickup in exchange for lower salary increases). At no time did the CTU agree to underfund the pension. CPS is responsible for making pension payments, not the CTU.

  • Correction CPS failed to contribute 6.2 BILLION Dollars to the fund over those years. What is the compounded investment amount lost on that amount over 10 years?????? When that money is retored, we will be looking at different pension balance.

  • @ Jeffrey Broussard: My argument was none of those things and you clearly did intend to insult me and my intelligence or you would not have written what you did. I don't care what you say, it just so happens that those items comprise a portion of *my* cost of living and I intend to fight to keep the benefits which are contractually due me and among those benefits is a COLA of 3% simple interest on my pension payment per annum. The Mayor of this City at the time, dipped into my Pension Fund without my permission or the permission of the rest of my colleagues and used that money for his "pet projects" with the blessing of the lemmings (also known as Aldermen).

    I'm with you, Zachary. This thread is so long now, that I don't remember to which Union you belong, but the Mayor and the City Council need to have their hands slapped for failing to keep their promises, no, contractual O-B-L-I-G-A-T-I-O-N-S, to folks like thee, me, marym. aaaand Mr. Broussard.

  • Excuse me: I pay a premium every month for my dental insurance, just as I did while working. The vision coverage is minimal. I pay most of those costs out-of-pocket.

  • RogersParker Rogers Parker since 1991

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems rather disingenuous that Republicans are blaming Democrats for this pension fiasco.,0,1654634.story Didn't it all start during Gov. Thompson's (R-IL) watch? Seems like there's plenty of blame to go around. And frankly, Judy Barr-Topinka can KMA for her smug attack against Quinn. The way I see it, at least he's trying to do something about it so that the people who retire 10-15 years from now actually have a pension left to collect.

    What a mess!

    PS I still have not tracked down the Reader article that I referred to MUCH earlier in this thread.

  • RogersParker Rogers Parker since 1991

    For instance, Topinka once negotiated a deal to get only 25 cents on the dollar of a bad hotel deal downstate--a deal originally instituted by a REPUBLICAN. When political wranglers tried to blame Topinka for losing $20 million on the deal, she was quote in the Sun-Times as saying, "I'm the garbage man trying to clean up."

    Touche, Topinka. Couldn't Gov. Quinn say the same thing? In other words, people in glass houses...

  • RogersParker Rogers Parker since 1991

    Came across this Portage Park EB thread on this very same topic.

  • RogersParker Rogers Parker since 1991

    The Tribune article linked to in the original post was copied verbatim as an opinion piece in the LA Times on the same date. LA Times is owned by the Tribune Co. Veeery interesting...,0,3988597,full.story

  • As a Chicago Public School's teacher, I see this situation and simply want out of the pension system. I feel more secure investing my own money myself. The situation makes people feel like they have pretend pensions with dire real-life outcomes. I'm entering my third year of teaching, and it'd be nice if I could just have the supposed monies that have been paid in for me back so I could invest it myself; I would let them off the hook for any type of retirement for me. This situation tells me that I need to be ramping up my Roth IRA.

  • I believe the new "TIER" choices give you that option, Jeffrey.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Who created the Illinois Is Broke website? "The Commercial Club of Chicago has a website to promote its campaign to cut public employee pensions."

    "...groups such as the Commercial Club have been so successful in destroying the labor movement. Now, they’re trying to turn the impoverished lower-middle class they helped create against one of the last remnants of the middle class, all so the upper class can pay less taxes. I’d like to know the size of Commercial Club members’ pensions."


  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    From the comment section pertaining to Illinois Is Broke:

    "The commercials are very misleading and filled with nothing but political rhetoric. Not republican or democratic rhetoric just plain political fear mongering rhetoric. The alleged attempts to “reform” the Illinois pension systems are nothing more than a smoke screen for the politicians to appease their private industry campaign donors. Their supposed fix, SB512, does nothing to address past underfunding that was caused by the politicians. It does nothing to address future issues of underfunding by the politicians and it does nothing to address disability issues that may arise for people who choose or who are forced into the 401(k) system. Basically the bill says a lot of nothing except that Springfield is going to take their past financial indiscretions out on their employees."

  • So many of the Commercial Club members who apprear on Chicago Tonight seem to resent the middle class. Has anyone considered economic boycotts to illustrate to Illiinois that every $1 in pernsion creates $1.72 in the economy? Pensioneers could cross state lines to buy gas, stock up at Costco, cut out restaurant attendance and for the most part, just stop spending in Illinois. Buy online and stay home. What would the nonprofits look like if all the pensioneers stopped volunteering? If my pension is cut, I will no longer donate two days per week of work to Chicago funded agencies because I will be making plans to live elsewhere where the cost of living is less than Illinois. Perhaps the Commercial Club should look at that side of economic reality.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    I think what disturbs me the most is that big money campaign contributors (the 1%) have been so successful in their media blitz that it has pitted what is left of the middle class against one another. Stop and think about it. This has been very well orchestrated and intentional and yet very few people recognize it for what it is. The public is being played while the rich keep getting richer and the politicians keep lining their pockets. If the wealthy members of the Commercial Club are following this thread, they are rubbing their hands in glee saying "it's working, it's working."

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    Thousands of City workers dutifully entrust 9% of their salaries to be invested toward their pensions for their entire career with absolutely no say as to who is managing those funds. Curious as to who does? This isn't about unions or the average City worker living high on the hog in retirement (we pay a higher percent into our pensions and have NO social security benefits.) This is about the connected 1% being in bed with politicians. From today's Sun Times:

  • Elmo- they might put in 9% a year, meanwhile private employees have 6.2% a year debited to go into SS (now less [down to 4.2%] b/c Obama's payroll tax holiday this year) ...Oh, and Corporations throw another 6.2% of our pay into SS. Larger % [10.4% into SS versus 9%) of private wages go into SS, yet we can't get that money in our 50s (not that I would want to anyways). By the time private employees are collecting small amounts of their return on a terrible investment called SS; by that time, many public pensioners have already been collecting their retirement incomes for going on 10 years... which certainly does not incentivize for more work from our public employees! Heck, I wouldn't want to work another day either, but that's what I find wrong with this out of date system. I guess, the saying might be quite true that for public employees' retirements, "YOU did not build that on your own; someone helped you build that [wealth]." However, the money isn't there, but even if it was there, it's depleting our budget from other necessary outlays (Edu, Safety, etc.).

    So now, as a nation we face a huge dilemma. Keep paying and denying the writing on the wall, or open up our minds and entertain such controversial subject so that we can clean up our financial troubles for the younger generations ahead. OR wait until the next recession at end of OB term II and the debt infused growth that inevitably cannot continue on for forever. Unfortunately, most Americans cannot handle this truth and would rather live in their realities of FB, pimped out cars, live for just today and spend, spend and SPEND (OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY!!!).

  • @ Jeremy- (who plans on moving out of state with his pension in the future) I'm sure you've never complained about the lack of money you will be expecting to receive in retirement, because if that were the case you would not want to leave beautiful IL where that retirement pension is tax free from state income taxes. Not the case in many other states, but I'm sure you know this as you've probably done your 'fair share' of research..??

    So, where do you plan to move anyways?

  • Thanks for that link, Elmo!!! I'm sending it to all of my colleagues. Of course, nothing in the article was a surprise to me or anyone else who lives in Chicago. And people wonder why "Chicago style" no longer refers to pizza. Rather, it refers to politics and its dirty dealing!!!

  • I don't pay 9% of my salary into the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. I pay 1-2% of my salary into it, and the other 7-8% is supposed to be met by the Chicago Board of Education from what I understand. Even if I'm missing a detail there, I pay roughly $1,000-$2,000 per year (myself) into the pension fund. When people shop for things, they don't want such wishy-washyness with things that are really important. I'm not particularly concerned with whether or not they fix their problems or not because I'm making sure I'm setting myself up to not be dependent upon them in the future. Granted, many people in the system are not savvy enough to do that but if I could get a hold onto my real monies invested and their supposed contributions invested I could do considerably more with that money. Right now, I think they are acting like they are playing with monopoly money in a game that they have no real stake in.

    I told my wife that I wished politicians would lay their lives on their words. Don't say you're going to do it unless you're willing to be tarred, feathered, and guillotined at the end of your term if you don't! If this were 200 years ago and in France we would've already cut the king and queens' heads off. I truly think we need to bring some of that back, because the damage that our leaders are doing to the populace is simply treasonous in my mind. Related-note, I don't support the death-penalty in almost all cases, but when it comes to legitimate treason I do support it; I view putting your own greed ahead of the welfare of our country, and even putting your own greed so far ahead that it is to the detriment of our country as very treasonous acts that deem being taken out back. We've got a lot of "leaders" like that right now.

  • Lucy 35 year Chicago Resident

    The current Obama Care incentive to employers for free health care to early retirees for both public and private sector employees must be beneficial to corporations because companies such as Motorola signed up for it.

  • I don't know how many times I have to say it, but public employees did build their own pensions with their own contributions, period. Their employer didn't help - they redirected employer contributions elsewhere and that's why we're in this mess. And, most public retirees' pensions don't equate to anything near "wealth." And, most aren't retiring at an early age. Perhaps, I detect jealousy.

  • BUT your employer (State) did help you!! Here's the roadmap: Your bosses (union bosses) made promises (contracts) with the state [sure, assuming the state would also fund these pensions, none the less, the promise was made to you by your union bosses - with tax dollars supposedly functioning into your funding equation!! and we the people have never been invited to this negotiation table]. Jealously, not the slightest, you just don't understand how this is bankrupting our state and bankrolling your retired lifestyle...

    Honestly, if I were you Kewpie62, I'd be camping out at State Capital demanding answers for how they're going to fix this system that previous state politicians made worse by not funding the pensions. You are retired after all, but if you do not get out and ask to be heard I worry for you that they will ruin what you currently rely on to live. Just my thoughts, again I hope to see our elected officials get these matters resolved. I will be voting for all new people come November, b/c we know Madigan, Shankowski, and Quinn are not getting the job done.

  • No, my position was not union when I started work there ... the same pension promises were made to all employees, union or not union. And my bosses weren't union bosses, and they weren't in unions, either. The state government couldn't function without employees, and I worked as hard in my job as anyone doing the same work in private industry.

    In the days when I started working, most employers, including private companies, offered defined benefit plans to employees. Your comment about tax dollars bankrolling my retired "lifestyle" just reeks of hostility; but get this - I'm a taxpayer, too. And, aside from my taxes, my pension contributions are bankrolling my retired "lifestyle" (and you have no idea what my lifestyle is, either).

    Plus, a percentage of my income was deducted from my checks to go towards future COLAs that they're talking about doing away with, too. Plus, I had deductions made for spousal coverage and that money was nonrefundable to me when I left the state (without a spouse), because I had chosen a specific type of defined benefit plan, and I wasn't told up front that I would lose all of those contributions when I left under that plan. So, the state has gotten a lot of money from me to put into its retirement coffers, and I know that, without supplementing my retirement "lifestyle" from the state, I wouldn't be able to put a roof over my head.

    Also, while you stand in judgment of state retirees, let me say that I have been voicing my concerns to my legislators for years, so you don't have to tell me that I should do what I've already been doing. I know that, thanks to the mismanagement of Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the years, the hard working employees have to pay a heavy price. But, I'm sure you'll just be jumping for joy at any misery retired public workers will have to face. I can see it in your words -- no compassion or understanding. "Off with their heads" - or "Let them eat cake!" (whatever)

  • Private companies have been reviewing thier pensions as well Kewpie62... Many now no longer offer these pensions. Those that do have downsized their expectations from within the pensions expectations (of returns and outcome of future benefits)...

    Nice article below from Crains- remember, some of this discussion should be pointed at helping the middle class and save us from increased taxes with NO!! return on this investment..? am I right? or missing something?

  • Our IL politicians sum up what is wrong with all politics in this country and why nothing gets done to help out the middle class... Regarding the IL pensions that are bankrupting each one of us and this whole state. Please keep this in mind every day, now until you go to vote in November. All INCUMBENTS OUT! party affiliation does not/should not matter! If you vote for any of them to return you are voting for NO HOPE, NO CHANGE! We, the people of IL, should demand better than this BUll$hit while we are all out working everyday (or struggling to find work) and these fools mail it in each and every day, yet they are going to become the 1% once they retire from their political journeys (and for what work I ask you all- neighbors?). Do not tolerate this and get involved people, inform yourself of the debt that concerns our state! THIS WILL NOT AFFECT THE WEALTHY people that can/are packing up and moving out of this state, leaving (yes middle class -me/you) here to pick and pay the bills (If we're still here, we're paying those taxes, not the folks that are leaving us). DEMAND CHANGE, REAL CHANGE, DON'T REELECT any of these selfish, ignorant, crooks!

    They are not working! Fire them all!!!!!

    "Both parties intentionally failed — so that each now has the opportunity to blame the other.",0,4055133.story

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