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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.

  • 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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