Jon Bauman, former TRS executive director, has died.

Former TRS executive director Jon Bauman. Pic from 2009.

I was shocked and saddened to hear this morning that Jon Bauman had died at the age of 62.

Bauman was Executive Director of the Illinois Teacher Retirement System during a difficult time. 

Yes. TRS has had a number of difficult times.

As a blogger who has tried to be a source of information about the state of affairs and the politics of pension theft in Illinois I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I received this email from Jon Bauman in October of 2012:

Fred, at the outset, I would like to send my thanks and compliments to you on a very informative and thought-provoking blog. I recently stumbled across your site via Capitol Fax.

The wise man that taught me about PR and “messaging” often said “Short statements convey powerful messages.” For example, TRS’ Statement of Purpose-Retirement Security for Illinois Educators. Short, to the point, and words to live by for all TRS staff.

I’m loathe to critique my successor, but I think at least part of the problem here is how things are being said as much as what is being said.

It seems to me that any effort that requires multiple explanations of intent is doomed to fail. It is frustrating, though, to read again and again the assertions that the COLA is the primary driver of underfunding, when we all know that lack of State contributions is the real source of the problem.

The TRS Board’s endorsement of the so-called “New Reality” may further complicate
the resolution of these matters.

Should be a fascinating October Board


Jon was pretty clear that he thought that he was tossed from his job as TRS executive director in part by the maneuverings of  IEA President Ken Swanson and Pat Quinn.

This was ironic to me since I never considered either one of them great defenders of public employee pensions.

In 2013, when my blog hit the million reader mark I ran a contest, asking readers to submit either a haiku or limerick to celebrate the mile stone.

Jon submitted this:

There once was a fellow named Fred
Who wrote off the top of his head
But when he turned to pensions
He caused many tensions
Now some pols wish he were dead*

*all in jest of course.

Keep up the good work sir.

Congratulations on One Million!

And when the IEA’s Communication Director Charlie McBarron banned me from the union’s web site, Jon submitted another:

There was a webmaster McBarron
The site-he didn’t like sharin’
He said to Fred Klonsky
You’re out-G’Bye-Goneski
A new one Fred began a-tearin’

By this time, Jon could help himself. He sent this one about Rahm’s education press flak, Becky Carroll:

There once was a spokesman named Carroll
Whose words put her boss on the barrel
Whether clacking for Rod
Or hacking for Rahm
The truth was always in peril.

One time Jon sent me a practical reminder:

Fred, I trust you know that CMS really stands for “Can’t Manage S***.”

CMS (Central Management Services) handles retiree health care insurance.

Our correspondence and phone calls (mainly me calling Jon when I didn’t understand some of the details of pension stuff) continued until a few months ago.

Our last conversation was  when I heard that the IEA’s Cinda Klickna was going to run for the empty seat on the TRS board representing retirees.

I asked if he recalled her role on the board (she has represented active teachers for 15 years) back in the day.

Fred, the only thing I remember was that she sat on her hands when Rod cut $2 billion from pensions in FY 06-07 and “used it for education.”

That’s what I remember too.

My condolences to Jon’s family.

I will definitely miss his humor and knowledge.

6 thoughts on “Jon Bauman, former TRS executive director, has died.

  1. In the years after Jon was removed from the TRS Board by Mike Madigan, I would often met with our former director for dinner the night before the board meeting. I will miss him and the wisdom and kindness that he showed to me.

  2. Unfortunately it seems to be true, the good die young. May his memory and life’s work be a blessing. How fortunate TRS had Jon at the helm. Was wondering, did Haisman have anything to do with Bauman’s removal? Former IEA presidents seem to forget how they contributed to the current pension mess rather than lobbying our state legislators in the good years prior to 2008.

  3. Blaming Haisman, Pat Quinn, or anyone but Mike Madigan misses the point. Bob Lyons has it right. But to the point. I still cherish my memories of Jon or years working together at TRS. He was a good man who was pushed into a number difficult issues. Ask me how I know.

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