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Ten minute drawing. Tax day.

April 15, 2014

tax

SB 1 Lawsuits (Updated April 14, 2014)

April 15, 2014

SB 1 Lawsuits (Updated April 14, 2014)

We Are One Illinois Coalition (WAOI)

  •   Filed: January 28, 2014
  •   Location: Sangamon County
  •   Plaintiffs:

o WAOI
o 5 TRS active teachers
o 3 TRS annuitant teachers
o 3 SURS active members
o 3 SURS annuitant members
o 9 SERS active members
o 2 SERS annuitant members
o Seek to represent class of actives and annuitants from TRS,

SURS and SERS  Defendants:

o Governor
o Comptroller
o Treasurer
o TRS, SURS and SERS

 Primary Claims:
o COLA, minimum retirement age and pensionable salary cap, changes violate Pension, Contract and Takings Clauses of Illinois Constitution; failure to fund pension benefits provided under prior law violates Takings Clause of Illinois Constitution

 Remedies:
o Declaration law is unconstitutional
o Declaration State must fund pension systems
o Injunction stopping its implementation
o Preliminary injunction protecting status quo (temporarily stopping implementation)

Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA)/Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA)

  •   Filed: December 27, 2013
  •   Location: Cook County
  •   Plaintiffs:

o 2 TRS annuitant teachers
o 1 TRS annuitant administrator

1. On March 3, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court consolidated the first four lawsuits for proceedings in Sangamon County Circuit Court. On April 8, 2014, the fifth lawsuit, filed by the State Universities Annuitants Association on March 6, 2014, was consolidated with the other four.

 o 5 TRS active administrators

o Seek to represent class of TRS actives and annuitants, who are not currently IEA or IFT members

  •   Defendants:o Governor
    o Comptroller o TRS
  •   Primary Claims:

o COLA, minimum retirement age and pensionable salary cap, changes violate Pension Clause of Illinois Constitution  Remedies:

o Declaration law is unconstitutional
o Injunction stopping its implementation
o Monetary damages
o Preliminary injunction temporarily stopping implementation (protecting status quo)

Illinois State Employees Association Retirees (ISEAR)

  •   Filed: January 2, 2014
  •   Location: Sangamon County
  •   Plaintiffs:

o ISEAR
o 2 SERS annuitant members
o 1 GARS annuitant member
o 1 TRS annuitant member
o 1 SURS annuitant member
o Seek to represent class of all SERS, GARS, TRS and SURS annuitants, and subclass of State 2002 ERI annuitants, with 20 years of service and “not subject to a CBA”  Defendants:

o Comptroller
o Treasurer
o SERS, GARS, TRS and SURS

 Primary Claims:
o COLA changes violate Pension, Contract and Equal Protection (by not including judges’ retirement system (JRS)) Clauses of

Illinois Constitution  Remedies:

o Declaration law is unconstitutional
o Injunction stopping its implementation
o Injunction reinstating prior law
o Escrow of difference between COLA calculations, pending resolution of lawsuit

Retired State Employees Association (RSEA)
  •   Filed: January 2, 2014
  •   Location: Sangamon County
  •   Plaintiffs:

o RSEA (on behalf of all its members)
o 4 SERS annuitant members
o Seek to represent class of all SERS annuitants, survivors and inactive employees not yet receiving benefits, and subclass of State ERI annuitants

  •   Defendants:o Governor
    o Comptroller o Treasurer
    o SERS
  •   Primary Claims:

o COLA changes violate Pension and Contract Clauses of Illinois Constitution

 Remedies:

o Declaration law is unconstitutional
o Injunction stopping its implementation
o Escrow of difference between COLA calculations, pending resolution of lawsuit

StateUniversitiesAnnuitantsAssociation(SUAA)

  •   Filed: March 6, 2014
  •   Location: Champaign County
  •   Plaintiffs:

o SUAA (on behalf of all its members)
o 6 SURS active members
o 3 SURS annuitant members
o 1 SURS deceased annuitant member spouse

  •   Defendants:
    o Governor
  • o Comptroller o Treasurero SURS
  •   Primary Claims:

o COLA, minimum retirement age, pensionable salary cap and interest rate for portable plan changes violate Pension, Contract and Takings Clauses of Illinois Constitution

 Remedies:

o Declaration law is unconstitutional
o Injunction stopping its implementation o Injunction restoring prior benefits

 

 

David Orr. Cut TIFs. Not pensions.

April 15, 2014

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Cook County Clerk David Orr says we should place a moratorium on TIFS rather than cutting public employee pensions or raising working family’s property taxes.

A recent report, by the Washington-based group Good Jobs First, said that TIF funds surpass Chicago’s pension liabilities. The amount of money the city’s TIFs diverted in 2012 ($457 million) was more than its pension costs ($385.8 million) by $71.2 million.

“The Good Jobs First report reiterates what many knew – the city’s TIF coffers exceed its pension debt,” Orr said. “Perhaps as importantly, it points out the many inherent flaws in TIF accountability and reporting, and reaffirms my belief that there should be an exhaustive review of every TIF project and TIF dollar spent.”

In California, TIFs were siphoning off 12 percent of property tax revenue and when reform failed the financing tool was abolished altogether, according to the Good Jobs First report. In some California municipalities, the report said, “TIF had become a major budgetary item: as much as 25 percent of property taxes were going into TIF accounts.”

“California was sinking under the weight of TIFs, and Chicago could, too,” Orr said. “The California example underscores that the current TIF models in Illinois, which were developed in the 1970s, should be reformed to reflect the financial realities taxing districts face today.”

Orr urged city workers and retirees to do the math: “One, you pay more for a pension; two, your benefits are cut; three, you get a bigger tax bill. How many ways are you being asked to sacrifice?”

Read the entire statement here.

Union Democracy. Part II.

April 15, 2014

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The microphone is missing. A symbol of democracy in the IEA. Photo: Jerry Mulvihill.

Jerry Mulvihill, a fifth grade teacher and IEA RA delegate tried to bring up the issue of the NEA and IEA’s support for the Common Core.

But IEA President Cinda Klickna shut off the debate.

There was no need for debate, she explained. The leadership had taken a private poll of 500 of the 130,000 IEA members and sixty-five percent of them supported the Common Core.

End of discussion.

This all was pretty disturbing to many delegates who watched and listened to this exercise in one-party rule. Even among those who remain committed to the goals of Common Core State Standards.

It is often true that those who complain about process are just unhappy about the outcome.

But that shutting off of debate over our union’s support for Common Core was so over-the-top that even those who sympathize with the leadership’s position – that the problem is with testing and implementation and not with the idea of common national standards – shook their heads.

A few even took to the floor to express that concern.

A brave thing considering what we know to be the scorched earth policy of current and former IEA leaders to those who express dissenting opinions.

Let’s be clear.

There has not been a debate about the Common Core in the IEA in spite of it being the most controversial education program in the country.

NEA and IEA leaders have argued that teachers must be leaders in the fight for quality education. We can’t  be narrowly concerned with wages and benefits.

Yet we are not allowed to discuss top-down mandated curriculum and instruction at our own state meeting.

Presentations by President Klickna and Executive Director Audrey Soglin are no substitutes for debate.

To those who are concerned that debate will be taken as a sign of weakness by the enemies of teacher unions, I know only this:

The suppression of minority views never creates unity.

All good ideas start with just a few people.

The irony is that many of those who have been the most strident in supporting Common Core at the top are starting to run from it.

In a hearing before a House appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the competitive grants built into his fiscal 2015 budget request, gave no substantive details about a proposed Race to the Top for equity contest, and continued to distance himself from the Common Core State Standards.

“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues.

Don’t be surprised if at next year’s IEA RA the poll will be presented that shows most IEA members now oppose CCSS.

And we will abandon it.

Without debate.

Ten minute drawing. Bob Fioretti.

April 15, 2014

bob fioretti

A question about Bruce Rauner’s third grade teacher for my readers.

April 14, 2014

class war

Hi Fred,

I heard Bruce at the IEA-RA say that he loved his 3rd grade teacher and his third grade teacher loved him. I assume that he was home schooled. I say this because I tried to find out which elementary and high schools he attended and could not find anything. Apparently, his formal education started at age 18.

Nothing about his K through 12 experiences on any googled websites including Wikipedia.

Can you help me with this puzzle?

- Jim

 

From his web page

Bruce’s first job was flipping burgers, his second job was parking cars. A dedicated and good student,
Bruce worked while he attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated with top honors, and then earned an M.B.A. from Harvard.

Union democracy.

April 14, 2014

Alex Caputo-Pearl-picture at lectern-a

Alex Caputo-Pearl will likely be the next UTLA President.

IEA President Cinda Klickna was re-elected for another three-year term this past weekend at the IEA Representative Assembly.

Nobody else ran.

Some current and former leaders of our union will point to that as a sign of our union’s strength.

Just as they declare that opposition to leadership policies are the results of naysayers.

It is an odd vision of union democracy.

Late-night comedians make jokes about other countries when they hold elections and the dear leader gets 99% of the vote.

In the IEA it is applauded.

How can there be democracy if there is no opposition choice?

The current and former leaders’ choice of the term naysayer as a pejorative is an interesting one.

There are three choices when a question is presented to the members:

“Yea.”

“Nay.”

“I abstain.”

What is a naysayer?

It is a member who votes no.

Current and former leaders dismiss some of us as anti-union because they say we haven’t supported the leadership in 20 years.

Of course, that’s not true.

But what if it was true?

I had a good friend, a PE teacher in my old district. He never voted yes on a contract in all of his professional life

All of these were contracts I bargained!

And we were best of friends.

It would drive me nuts.

But his attitude was that we should never let the bastards (that would be the board, not the negotiating team) think all of us are satisfied.

“Keeps ‘em worried,” he would say to me.

And, you know? That’s exactly right.

Plus, it was his democratic right as a member to be a naysayer.

Saying no is the ultimate democratic right.

Man. If you don’t understand the power of saying no, don’t be my representative at the bargaining table.

Say yes and the deal is done. Say no and you get to come back and bargain for more the next day.

I read this morning that following the first round of voting Alex Caputo-Pearl will likely end up being the next president of the Los Angeles Teachers Union. There were nine candidates. The previous president announced he will not pursue his campaign after receiving less than half the votes of Caputo-Pearl.

Alex Caputo-Pearl is famously known as a LA teacher trouble-maker.

A contested race for union president.

Who knew?

The way that the IEA is structured makes it difficult to do more than try and raise concerns by going to the mic at an RA, blogging or just trying to get attention for the issues.

Until we can create an organized opposition – a caucus – with a clear vision for our union, we will just be poking a stick.

That seems to get the current and former leaders upset.

But nothing changes.

Current and former IEA leaders say we are a small minority.

I suppose that’s true.

Only, out of 130,000 members who knows how small a minority we are?

Besides, a majority always starts as a minority.

If there’s democracy.

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