Mark Stefanik: Cheer up Elaine Nekritz.


– By Mark Stefanik. Mark is a middle school language arts teacher and frequent contributor this site.

Amidst the wide range of reactions to the Illinois Supreme Court’s overturning the 2013 Pension Law, one, in particular, seized my attention.      

At first, I was in the moment, giving full rein to my own joy. I believe that life is an adventure; a never-ending series of ups and downs, and that one should celebrate the highs when they happen. Relish them. Carpe diem. Release the joy. Gather the strengths. Express gratitude to the Cosmos. Whatever.

So in my imagination, I partied.

  • Thought I’d rattle the ‘slippery slope’ conservatives. Put a giant picture of FDR in the back of a pickup truck plastered with union decals . Drove it around the North Shore with the speakers blaring, “Happy Days are Here Again.”
  • Deleted my viral burst of job applications to fast food and box store franchises.
  • Didn’t show up for my weekend gig as a street poet outside Gibson’s (‘roses are red, violets are blue, for 5 crummy dollars, I’ll immortalize you.’)

Went out to dinner with my wife.

I know, I know…crazy stuff, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to feel good, if just for a little time. I was rich in happiness. My cup overflowed (especially Friday night).

And then it happened. I looked around and saw that not all were rich in happiness like me. I read that Senator Nekritz of Northbrook, who co-sponsored the now defunct pension law, was sad.


That put a hair in my Happy Meal.

I am not a compassionless man. I can feel your pain…sometimes. I want to be gracious in victory. Suddenly, my revelry seemed insensitive.

What have we done, I thought. In our zeal for justice, we have saddened Elaine, the Princess of Pension Piracy.

Sure, we’ve gained what we were promised. In a dizzying presentation of simple ethics, the Supremes upheld the validity of constitutional and contractual law. But, at what price?

If I fathom Elaine’s sadness correctly, she fears for the future of Illinois. Well, cheer up, Elaine. For hundreds of thousands of middle class Illinois citizens, the future looks a wee bit brighter this weekend. Their trust in a system has been restored.

And, do you see the sails on the horizon, Princess? It’s the good ship Fair Taxation, laden with loot once bound for Brucie and Penny and the coast of Corporate Breaks.

Arrrghh…thar be revenues aplenty. You can still save the Land of Lincoln.

So, cheer up, Elaine, but be careful, too. Sometimes, when we’re sad, we make bad decisions. Sometimes, we self-medicate to make the problems go away, but that only masks pain; it does not cure problems. You know, like reneging on pension obligations doesn’t really solve the state’s fiscal crisis.

Don’t surrender to the temptation, Elaine. Join a support group like the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party. They might be hard to find right now, but the search will be worth it.

Embrace a loving sobriety, Elaine. Some people are drinking the Kool-Aid that defrauding the pensioners, purging the middle class, and victimizing the poor is preferable to asking more of the wealthy. Steer clear of that cocktail. Enjoy a nice tall glass of Just Taxation instead.

If state solvency will make you happy, your path is clear.

Cheer up.

18 thoughts on “Mark Stefanik: Cheer up Elaine Nekritz.

  1. Don’t kid yourself. They’ll be back. With a vengeance.

    So rest up, restoreth your soul, and build your strength.

    ☁☁☁ Not to put a cloud on your silver lining or anything ☁☁☁

  2. really fine. I thought you, Fred, brilliant in this piece. Then I realize it was by a guy named Mark. Still wonderful. Thanks for posting

  3. Nekritz did all she could to steal our hard earned pensions. What’s really sad, Elaine, is that you took an oath and were sworn in to uphold the constitution and you intentionally attempted to pass a bill that you knew was in direct violation of the constitution. You should be so ashamed of yourself that you resign from office immediately. You’re a disgrace!

  4. Sadly, Representative Nekritz, a lawyer, hasn’t yet read the Supreme Court Decision carefully enough to understand that the Court does not view SB 1, which she continues to laud, as a “balanced” approach to the State of Illinois’ fiscal woes. Elaine appears to insist she was right in advocating for the pension stealing bill, instead of merely acting out of political expediency. BIG MISTAKE this time, as the Court was hardly extolling her virtues in its decision!

  5. Chicago Tribune Let’s point out the inaccuracies and leave out the bias reporting.
    Page 1 that pensions are 25 % of the state’s budget..not true when you use the total budget figure
    b. The article goes on about Rauner & his plan to steal..fix pensions be finally gets to the important fact that our gov either cannot or will not read. Because his plan was shot down on page 19 of the SC ruling.
    c. The the article goes on about the constitutional amendment that Rauner wants and the says there will be big problems..but doesn’t say what they are.

    1. And the 25% figure is misleading anyway. If the state had been paying in their share into the pension fund when they were supposed to all these years, it would be a very low single percentage of the state’s overall budget. “As Nero fiddles, Rome burns!”

  6. Cont C.Trib business article This one mentions the difficulty of the constitution amendment . It confuses the spec majority vote requirement. Also, it forgets pension benefit guarantee corp. backs private pensions.
    Dushes over Ty and the civic committee , then creates a fans style Bruce R. to magically solve the problem,

  7. Finally, there is the total fantasy world inhabited by the editorial writers of the Tribune. One in which they now care about the poor and it is the same world in which Elaine is a pension expert.

  8. Fabulous piece, Mark, and thanks to Fred for posting it! My heart bleeds for poor Elaine. Biss, also, and all the rest of the pension thieves. It’s tough when the rule of law prevails.

  9. I love it, Maybe Elaine and Kwame Raoul can have a drink together. They were fully aware that the bill would have affected current retiees greatly

  10. “There are no absolutes in the state constitution or the U.S. Constitution,” Elaine Nekritz once said. “The state constitution says that the state has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education, but the Illinois Supreme Court ruled it doesn’t… No law is absolute, and there are any number of cases that make this clear,” Nekritz said. “I believe the Illinois Supreme Court will ultimately realize this one area is no different than any other constitutional provision…” (Chicago Tribune, Feb. 4, 2015). It is what liars and thieves want us to believe.

    However, most people know the “Pension Protection Clause” is a legal and moral agreement because it is understood to be a contractual right and guarantee that public employees have earned and have been validated by the citizens of Illinois.

    Most people also know Illinois legislators are not dealing with a threat to the “public’s safety, health, and morals as well as peace, well-being and order of the state”; nor are they dealing with an economic emergency of such magnitude that they are compelled to invoke powers to protect the state’s citizens and, thus, serve a reasonable public purpose or need. This is validated by the Illinois Supreme Court and filed legally on May 8, 2015.

    Most people know for decades the past state’s governors and legislators have not fully funded the public pension systems; that instead of paying into the pension systems, they have used that money to pay for other services without restructuring revenue sources. Hence, without having to pay for services, state legislators have created an enormous pension debt or unfunded liability for the public pension systems in Illinois.

    Most people know state legislators continue to ignore the essential fact that current revenue growth does not match the state’s need for public services and for payment of debts. In other words, the State of Illinois uses a “flat, low-rate income tax that does not adequately capture income growth, and income tax revenues thus routinely lag behind economic growth. The state relies heavily on a state and local sales tax that is almost exclusively applied to goods and excludes almost all services.” Even Nekritz knows this but chooses political expediency instead of what is right and just.

  11. I think the thing that really bothers me is all the stress that this has caused state workers, especially the retirees. The state wants a do-over with the pension system. We don’t have that luxury. We can’t return to our old jobs at our old pay. There’s nothing like making a carefully laid out long-term plan for your retirement, only to have uncertainty thrown into the mix past the fact.

    Maybe that was one of their strategies all along — 1) cause as much stress as possible, hoping we die sooner, and 2) cause as much chaos and uncertainty as possible, hoping we’d panic and accept any deal and/or compromise put in front of us. Luckily we kept our collective wits about us and made smart decisions.

    I would think now any type of compromise or adjustment is off the table. They wanted to be the smartest people in the room…okay, now you are and will have to be. The pension debt has nearly tripled due to their unwillingness to fund it. Nekritz, Biss and the others now own this problem. Their legacies will forever be tied to this failure of governance.

  12. Brilliant, Mark, and thanks for quoting this, Fred. Elaine Nekritz could use a little time off to work through her feelings about educators, older Illinoisians on pensions, and what it means to be a Democrat. And for a reading list? Perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt and a little Bernie Sanders to start…Happy summer, Elaine…

  13. Elaine has given us many humorous quotes, especially in speaking to our local IRTA & at the IPACE (IEA) Endorsement meeting. #1- When asked for a Plan B should SB 1 not pass, she said, “I don’t know what will happen. I’m not an expert on the constitution.” Whoops–according to the Chicago Tribune, she is! #2–As for the state government/legislature stealing our pensions, “We didn’t steal it, Fred, we just never paid into it!”

    What you said, David–&, perhaps, w/o a pension–?

  14. Elaine announced her retirement today. Hopefully she won’t do too much damage before she hits the door for the final time.

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