After two weeks on the road, I’m back to my normal blogging schedule.
Anne and I drove to Brooklyn to spend Thanksgiving with our New York family. We dropped off some school supplies at PS 90 in Coney Island. It was hit hard by Hurrican Sandy. The supplies were donated by my old colleagues at Carpenter Elementary School in Park Ridge Illinois. Then this past week was spent on the beach and by the pool in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The life of a retired school teacher can get confusing. I often joked in the later years of teaching, when I no longer had to teach summer school to pay the bills from the last check in June until the end of that first check in September, that every day was Saturday.
Now this is also true for the other months of the year. So when I mistakenly posted a short piece on Friday but called it Saturday Coffee, my Florida retired comrade, Ken Previti, caught it before I could fix it.
He wrote back, “Well, take your daily vitamin B. Retirees often confuse days of the week and even forget that there is a weekend with Saturday and Sunday. One of the first signs of this degenerative mindset is sending blog emails about Saturday Coffee on Friday. This begins the cycle of early bird specials such as eating supper at 2:00 pm and breakfast at 9:00 pm the preceding day.”
To those who think that retirement is living the life of Riley, think again.
Just my luck that the moment I choose to retire, the Republican wing of the Democratic Party that runs Illinois has decided to go after the pension system I have paid into every two weeks for nearly thirty years.
What I thought was a contract that promised me deferred compensation in my retirement years has turned into a billion dollar scam by the Democrats and Republicans of this state.
It is even more ironic when you consider that nobody has paid more into the campaign coffers of these crooks and thieves than the very public employee unions they now call irresponsible.
Says my pal, Glen Brown, “Madigan’s (that would be Illinois Democratic Party Chairman and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan) new definition of ‘responsibility’ is about sacrificing teachers and other public employees. It is about a disregard for active and retired teachers’ dignity, about betrayal and indifference and not honoring a legal and moral commitment and ‘responsibility.’ What really matters for Madigan and his cronies is the elimination of the state’s pension payments (at any cost) and not a reform of the state’s inequitable and unbalanced revenue system and pension debt problem.”
In the six months since my official retirement date I have attended endless meetings, spoken to hundreds of retirees and met with state legislators.
I have observed a pattern.
Before I retired, when I spoke with an Illinois Democratic politician and asked why they voted for Senate Bill 7, they would say it was because the teachers union wanted them to.
Senate Bill 7, you remember, took away seniority and tenure rights, restricted the right to strike, and linked teacher performance reviews (and their employment) to student performance on tests.
It so happens that these politicians were right. The IEA and the IFT did support Senate Bill 7. To their everlasting shame.
Now when the issue is our pension, many of these same politicians like north shore liberal Robin Gabel, ignore the teachers unions and vote against the position of the working men and women of the state.
So now these old retired bones have to get going again.
The We Are One coalition of state public employee unions has told me and other union members to show up in Springfield starting January 3rd.
That is when the final session of the current General Assembly will take place. Smart money is on them making their anti-pension moves that week.
What are we going to do in Springfield?
No word yet.
In fact, if you are a retiree like me, getting information from the IEA is like finding a Republican in Logan Square.
If they won’t tell me where the bus leaves from, I’ll drive down to Springfield myself.
As long as I don’t mix up which day I’m supposed to be there.