Another Irony: “A renege of a Promise” and Representative Ronald Sandack.

Glen Brown

-By Glen Brown who blogs here.

Months ago Sandack told me not to send him e-mails anymore because I referred to some legislators as liars and thieves. I wrote him back and asked: what should I call people who disregard truth and steal what other people have earned? He did not respond.

Ronald Sandack and others like him chose not to honor their oath of office in December, 2013 when they voted “Yes” to break a constitutional contract (SB 1) with public employees. Breaking a promise is a theft of “trust.”

Regarding the importance of keeping the income tax rate at 5% for maintaining the State’s fiscal health, Sandack was quoted yesterday in the Chicago Tribune:

“Maybe we’ll get a voice this time,” Sandack said. “It’s simple: the tax increase is a bad idea. It’s a renege of a promise that it would be temporary, and I’m glad at least 30 Democrats saw that for what it is.”

In the book, The 48 Laws of power by Robert Greene, there is an appropriate allusion to describe the many politicians in the Illinois House and Senate. It’s called “The Liar”:

“Once upon a time there was a king of Armenia who, being of a curious turn of mind and in need of some new diversion, sent his heralds throughout the land to make the following proclamation: ‘Hear this! Whatever man [or woman] among you can prove him [or her] self the most outrageous liar in Armenia shall receive an apple made of pure gold from the hands of His Majesty the King!’

“People began to swarm to the palace from every town and hamlet in the country, people of all ranks and conditions, princes, merchants, farmers, priests, rich and poor, tall and short, fat and thin. There was no lack of liars in the land, and each one told his tale to the king. A ruler, however, has heard practically every sort of lie and none of those now told him convinced the kind that he had listened to the best of them.

“The king was beginning to grow tired of his new sport and was thinking of calling the whole contest off without declaring a winner, when there appeared before him a poor, ragged man, carrying a large earthenware pitcher under his arm.

“‘What can I do for you?’ asked His Majesty.

“‘Sire!’ said the poor man, slightly bewildered. ‘Surely you remember? You owe me a pot of gold, and I have come to collect it.’

“‘You are a perfect liar, sir!’ exclaimed the king. ‘I owe you no money!’

“‘Then give me the golden apple!’

“The king, realizing that the man was trying to trick him, started to hedge. ‘No, no! You are not a liar!’

‘Then give me the pot of gold you owe me, sire,’ said the man.

“The king saw the dilemma. He handed over the golden apple.”

(Armenian Folk-Tales and Fables, retold by Charles Downing, 1993)

Send Sandack a message or call him. I can’t: I promised him…

District Office:
633 Rogers St.
Suite 103
Downers Grove, IL  60515
(630) 737-0504

repsandack@gmail.com

Glen Brown’s catalog of pension posts.

Glen Brown

Since 2011 Glen Brown’s blog has been required reading. Here is a a catalog of his pension posts going back five years:

2011 (7 articles):

Wisconsin Might Be an Omen for the Public Employees of Illinois (March 2011)

An Appeal to Reason: Who’s to Blame (for Today’s Budget Deficits across the Nation) (March 2011)

Sustainability of the Teachers’ Pension (June 2011)

What We Believe We Know about the SUSTAINABILITY of the TRS PENSION (June 2011)

What Will Be Illinois’ Next Move Regarding Its Public Pensions’ Liabilities? (July 2011)

Pt. 2 of “Waiting for Super [Legislators]” to Address the Budget Problems of Illinois and the Officious Civic Committee (revisited and summarized) (September 2011)

Biopsy of a Free-Lance Writer’s Attack on Teachers (December 2011)

2012 (14 articles):

Guarantees & Sustainability of the Teachers’ Retirement System, Defined-Benefit Pension Plan v. Defined-Contribution”Savings” Plan (March 2012)

A Response to TRS Executive Director Dick Ingram’s Address to Delegates at the IEA Representative Assembly (March 2012)

A View of the Illinois Public Pension Dilemma, Pt. I (April 2012)

A View of the Illinois Public Pension Dilemma, Pt. II (April 2012)

A Foreshadowing of Illinois Pension Reform: An Analysis (April 2012)

Assumptions, Concerns and Questions Regarding the Illinois Teachers Retirement System’s Possible Insolvency and Conflicts (April 2012)

Funding the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System: Should We Separate Our Moral Responsibility from Our Legal Obligation? (May 2012)

Our Constitutional Rights (My Last Discussion with Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune) (May 2012)

Illinois Pension Reform Is Without Legal and Moral Justification (May 2012)

A Discussion We Do Not Want to Have (July 2012)

Any Assault on Public Employees’ Rights and Benefits Is an Attack on the Entire Middle Class (August 2012)

Dear Diane Ravitch: Teachers need your help to fight another injustice (October 2012)

The theft of the public employees’ pensions (November 2012)

Defending and Protecting Public Employees’ Pensions against the Legislative Siege (Eric M. Madiar/Douglas L. Greenfield and Susan G. Lahne) (December 2012)

2013 (19 articles):

Nekritz’s pension bill is modeling Rhode Island’s pension reform and will ultimately fail because of it. Senator Cullerton knows it is unconstitutional (January 2013)

Modification of Contract Principles (and what many petitioners want their unions to do) (January 2013)

NEKRITZ-BISS (CROSS) BILL IS the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago’s earlier proposal, and it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL (February 2013)

Illinois Pension Clause’s Convention Debates, Text and Historical Background (Eric M.Madiar) (February 2013)

A Trifecta of Political Opportunists (Eric M. Madiar) (February 2013)

What happens if the Illinois public pension funds are “on the verge of bankruptcy?” (Eric M. Madiar) (February 2013)

Regarding Joe Sosnowski’s proposal to abolish Article XIII, Section 5 (The Pension Clause) of the Illinois Constitution (February 2013)

Constitutional Issues Concerning Senate Bill 1, Pt. B (February 2013)

Challenging Public Employees’ Earned Constitutionally-Guaranteed Benefits: 17 Antedated Illinois Court Cases (March 2013)

Illinois Pension Reform: My address to members of the State Universities Annuitants Association, April 26th (April 2013)

“The Illinois Constitution [should] impede pension reform” (May 2013)

Constitutional Issues Concerning Senate Bill 2404 (May 2013)

12 pragmatic and legal reasons to reject Illinois pension reform (May 2013)

Illinois Pension Reform: 12 Commentaries and Analyses (with one exception) (July 2013)

Today Is Constitution Day and Illinois Pension Reform is Unconstitutional (September 2013)

Illinois Pension Reform Is Without Legal and Moral Justification (Excerpts) (December 2013)

Illinois Senate Bill 1, the So-called “Pension Reform” Bill (or Attempt to Break a Constitutional Contract with Public Employees and Retirees) (December 2013)

Illinois Senate Bill 1, the Preamble: Madigan’s [and on May 15th the Attorney General’s] Attempt to Justify the Diminishment of a Constitutional Contract through Eminent Domain Powers (December 2013)

From the 12-page legal document recently filed by the law firm of Tabet, DiVito & Rothstein on behalf of the plaintiffs named from the IRTA and IASA (December 2013)

2014 (9 articles):

Pension Analyses and Commentaries Most Viewed in 2013 (January 2014)

The Concept of “Consideration” in Illinois Senate Bill 1 (January 2014)

Illinois Senate Bill 1: An Interview with Daniel Biss/ with Commentary (January 2014)

The Arizona Ruling and the Attempt to Break a Constitutional Contract in Illinois (February 2014)

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s and Attorney Joshua Ratz’s “Answer and Defenses” for Breaking a Constitutional Contract with Public Employees and Retirees/ and Rebuttals (May 2014)

The Pension Protection Clause and the State of Illinois’ “Reserved Sovereign Powers” (June 2014)

An Examination of the Illinois “Pension Clause,” or What Part of These Words Do Politicians Not Understand? (July 2014)

Excerpts from the Illinois Public Employee Relations Report: Illinois Public Pension Reform… by Eric M. Madiar, Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Senate (September 2014)

The Honorable John Belz handed down his ruling today from the 7th Judicial Circuit Court stating that pension rights are constitutionally protected for retirees in Illinois (November 2014)

2015 (15 articles):

ILLINOIS PENSION LITIGATION/ BRIEF OF ISEA, RSEA, HEATON AND HARRISON PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES (February 2015)

Opening Argument against State’s Sovereign Powers (February 2015)

The Meaning of “Diminished or Impaired” in Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution (Pension Protection Clause) (March 2015)

What the drafters of the Pension Protection Clause intended (March 2015)

“Long Line of Legal Precedent Defeats Any Defense of the Act” (March 2015)

“[The Illinois Supreme] Court has rejected similar attempts to justify constitutional violations on the basis of financial necessity” (March 2015)

“The Defendants’ Interpretation, Not the Circuit Court’s, Would Create an ‘Unworkable’ Rule of Law” (March 2015)

“The Pension Protection Clause Does Not Compromise the State’s Sovereignty” (March 2015)

“The Pension Protection Clause Imposes Only a Financial Obligation and Does Not Surrender the State’s Police Powers” (March 2015)

“The Unmistakability Doctrine Does Not Apply… [Illinois Senate Bill 1, Public Act98-0599] Is Inseverable” (March 2015)

Excerpts from Brief of Plaintiffs-Appellees (State Universities Annuitants Association,et al.) (March 2015)
ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT RULES AGAINST LEGISLATIVE THEFT! (May 2015)


ILLINOIS PENSION REFORM LITIGATION (Doris Heaton et al., Appellees, v. Pat Quinn,Governor, State of Illinois, et al., Appellants) Opinion filed May 8, 2015 (May 2015)

“Public Act 98-599 is merely the latest assault in this ongoing political battle against public pension rights” –The Illinois Supreme Court (May 2015)

“Are the invalid annuity reduction provisions of Public Act 98-599 severable from the remainder of the statute?” (May 2015)

Glen Brown reacts to today’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling against pension benefit cuts.

Glen Brown

-Glen Brown blogs at Teacher/Poet/Musician

2016 IL 119618 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

(Docket Nos. 119618, 119620, 119638, 119639, 119644 cons.) MARY J. JONES et al., Appellees,  v.MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES’ ANNUITY AND BENEFIT FUND OF CHICAGO et al., Appellants.

JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Garman and Justices Thomas, Kilbride, and Karmeier concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justices Freeman and Burke took no part in the decision.

“…This court has twice recently construed the plain language of this clause in Kanerva v. Weems, 2014 IL 115811, and Heaton, 2015 IL 118585. We have considered its object and purpose, and reaffirmed the scope of its protections, consistent with earlier holdings from this court and the appellate court since the pension protection clause was adopted in 1970.

“As we have explained, under the clause, a public employee’s membership in a pension system is an enforceable contractual relationship, and the employee has a constitutionally protected right to the benefits of that contractual relationship. Heaton, 2015 IL 118585, ¶ 46. Those constitutional protections attach at the time an individual begins employment and becomes a member of the public pension system. Id. Thus, under its plain and unambiguous language, the clause prohibits the General Assembly from unilaterally reducing or eliminating the pension benefits conferred by membership in the pension system…” (Opinion filed March 24, 2016).

Commentary:

What we call rights of individuals is bound up with the theory and precepts of social and political justice we adopt (Mill, On Liberty). All citizens of the State of Illinois have legal justification for their rights and for compensation they have earned, for rights and obligations are logically correlative, and a citizen’s rights imply or complement the legislators’ obligation to guarantee them.

The keeping of promises is the General Assembly’s, the governor’s and mayor’s legal duty. It is something the U.S. Constitution and the State of Illinois Constitution require them to do whether they want to or not.

It is a moral concern and legal duty to reform the state’s sources of revenue and to address the incurred pension debt through restructuring so the state can provide services for its citizens and fund the public pension systems instead of incriminating public employees, and thereby forcing them to defend the State and United States Constitutions again and again.

What should Illinois legislators do now since they cannot break a constitutional contract with retirees and public employees?

Glen Brown

-Today, Glen Brown re-posted what he wrote just after the historic Illinois Supreme Court decision rejecting official pension theft. In this post, Glen restates real solutions to paying the pension debt. The entire post can be found at Teacher/Poet/Musician.

“…The General Assembly may find itself in crisis, but it is a crisis which other public pension systems managed to avoid and, as reflected in the SEC order, it is a crisis for which the General Assembly itself is largely responsible. Moreover, no possible claim can be made that no less drastic measures were available when balancing pension obligations with other State expenditures became problematic. One alternative, identified at the hearing on Public Act 98-599, would have been to adopt a new schedule for amortizing the unfunded liabilities. The General Assembly could also have sought additional tax revenue. While it did pass a temporary income tax increase, it allowed the increased rate to lapse to a lower rate even as pension funding was being debated and litigated.

“That the State did not select the least drastic means of addressing its financial difficulties is reinforced by the legislative history. As noted earlier in this opinion, the chief sponsor of the legislation stated candidly that other alternatives were available. Public Act 98-599 was in no sense a last resort. Rather, it was an expedient to break a political stalemate…” (In re PENSION REFORM LITIGATION (Doris Heaton et al., Appellees, v. Pat Quinn, Governor, State of Illinois, et al., Appellants) Opinion filed May 8, 2015, JUSTICE KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Garman and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion).

What some of us have been saying for a very long time:

The state’s regressive tax rate is what few legislators want to confront. Politicians, the Civic Committee, Civic Federation, Illinois Policy Institute, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the general news media have capitalized on a mostly vulnerable public by calling for radical pension reform as the solutions for the budget problems in Illinois. They were (and will continue to be) diversionary, scapegoating tactics that have allowed policymakers to escape their legal and ethical responsibility.

Read the entire post here.

The moral rot of America’s two major political parties.

Glen Brown

-By Glen Brown. Glen writes at Teacher/Poet/Musician

We live in a country where the Democratic/Republican Party System is failing us; where venture capitalists and hedge fund billionaires are buying and destroying our democracy; where 401(k) s are fraudulent games of theft and greed played within the wealthy financial sector; where numerous senators and representatives are pawns of the American Legislative Exchange Council; where “the privatization of health services has corresponded closely with skyrocketing costs, leaving millions of Americans without access to care or deeply in debt for seeking treatment for their illnesses.”

We live in a country where a major credit-rating agency was accused of “manipulating pension data”; where “Koch-supported groups have strongly worked behind the scenes on the federal and local levels to eradicate Social Security and Medicare as overly costly entitlements given to working class people,” and where the Koch Brothers and major corporations sponsor pension reform seminars for judges.

We live in a country where Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s “gave out AAA ratings to sub-prime mortgage-backed securities. The securities, of course, turned out to be toxic, but the agencies were paid anyway. What’s worse, when Wall Street ran out of questionable mortgages to securitize, it created a whole new market based on bets on those securities, bets called ‘derivatives.’ The Big Three kept on handing out AAA ratings to these complicated new products, and were again paid handsomely to do so. The rating agencies made hundreds of millions of dollars, but in the end, it was American taxpayers who paid the price — losing their savings, their homes and their jobs in addition to having to pay billions to bail out banks…”

We live in a country where breaking a constitutional contract with retirees and public employees is deemed morally and legally justifiable by legislative liars and thieves; where public employees and retirees are victims of plutocratic, concentrated economic privilege and power that accommodates and reinforces an enormous inequality of organizational resources for corporate self-seekers; where public schools are for sale; where public school teachers have been assaulted by a barrage of attacks on their autonomy, dignity and self-respect; where labor unions have lost political power and influence; where there is no pay equity or job security for college adjunct faculty, and where “memories of the university as a citadel of democratic learning have been replaced by a university eager to define itself largely as an adjunct of corporate power.”

We live in a country where the plutocratic free market theory caters to self-interested desires and profit to the detriment of millions of Americans, while promising “freedom and prosperity;” where Free market principles advocate that the rich and poor should be taxed at the same flat rate, despite creating a vast inequity; where education, health care, retirement pensions, national parks (and most any function intrinsic to essential governing) become privatized to reap in more profits; where publicly-owned companies, services and their assets are auctioned off to private investors; that besides allocating vast amounts of wealth and resources from public to private ownership, there is a transfer of private debts to the public sector while public ownership and service are systematically dismantled.

Glen Brown: A reflection on the IEA leadership at the Representative Assembly that still bothers me six weeks later.

Glen Brown

– By Glen Brown. This is cross posted from Glen’s blog site, Teacher/Poet/Musician/Blogger Cat. Glen and I were elected on a common slate as retired delegates to the Illinois Education Association’s Representative Assembly. It was held last April in Rosemont, Illinois.

What kind of union is the IEA or how to keep members from talking about significant issues:

Case in point: A New Business Item was presented at the IEA Representative Assembly last April.

It was called New Business Item #3:

Text of Motion: “The IEA-RA directs the IEA-RA Planning Committee to no longer have an invocation that is led by a religious figure who mentions religion or a religious deity.”

Rationale: “The IEA is a non-religious union who should not expect its members to ask any religious deity (i.e. ‘Holy Father’) for guidance. Members of this union are not just Christian, but of other religions as well.” (Submitted by Justine Rovin and seconded by Louis Passau).

Budget Committee Comments: No financial impact.

The “invocation” discussion was allowed more time (at least several minutes) on the floor than any other issue. The New Business Item did not pass. Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution was never cited.

What the IEA never talked about at the Representative Assembly were strategies for after the Supreme Court ruling — no plan on how to proceed in protecting our pensions and battling the privatization of public schools; no discussion about pushing the issue of a progressive income tax again or preventing the possibility of the state transferring the normal costs (to pensions) to school districts; no strategies were debated for dealing with a despotic governor and his right-to-work agenda and vehement attacks on unions; no tactics were discussed for engaging the many liars and thieves of the Illinois General Assembly…

“Unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class struggle and filled with those who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated partners of the capitalist class. They have been reduced to simple bartering tools. The social demands of unions early in the twentieth century that gave the working class weekends off, the right to strike, the eight-hour day, and Social Security have been abandoned” (Chris Hedges).

Glen Brown responds to John Dillon. Pension theft can never be legally or morally justified.

Glen Brown

 – Glen Brown is a retired teacher, pension activist and candidate for retired delegate to the IEA Representative Assembly. He blogs at Teacher/Poet/Musician.

Well said, John Dillon,

Any unilateral modification of the “Pension Clause” should be seen as “the result of a violation of fair dealing,” as an accommodation for “only” the General Assembly who have stolen money from the public pension systems for decades and are, thus, “avoiding a pre-existing duty rule” (Professor of Law, Emeritus, Claude D. Rohwer and Professor of Law, Emeritus, Anthony M. Skrocki, Contracts in a Nutshell).

“The significance of any modification of the “Pension Clause” is “the extent to which [public employees] will be deprived of the benefit [they] reasonably expected; the extent to which [public employees] can be adequately compensated for the part of that benefit of which [they] will be deprived; […and] the extent to which the behavior of the party [Illinois General Assembly] failing to perform or to offer to perform [or] comports with standards of good faith and fair dealing” (Rohwer & Skrocki).

The significant issue of Madigan’s pension reform is its attack on public employees’ rights to constitutionally-guaranteed compensation and the legislators’ obligation to safeguard those promises. An unconscionable constitutional challenge of those rights and benefits generates a serious threat to their security and sense of dignity as citizens and creates the unfair possibility for an economic disadvantage for a particular group of people and their families. This can never be legally or morally justified, especially when legislators have stolen money that was supposed to be paid into the public pension plans for decades

The promise to honor commitments and pay for the public employees’ pension is of “sufficient importance” to all citizens of Illinois. Madigan’s pension reform is “an unequivocal manifestation of intention not to perform… legal duties…under a contract… When there is a duty of immediate performance of a promise, failure to perform in full is a breach” (Rohwer & Skrocki).

http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-illinois-constitution-should-impede.html

May 6, 2013

Glen Brown: Should we worry about the unions’ “commitment… to develop a fair and constitutional solution to fund the state’s retirement systems” after the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling?

Glen Brown

– Glen Brown is a retired teacher, blogger and candidate for retired delegate to the IEA Representative Assembly.

Going forward, our union coalition repeats our longstanding commitment to work with anyone of good faith to develop a fair and constitutional solution to fund the state’s retirement systems” (The Illinois Education Association, November 25, 2014).  

To the We Are One Leadership:

“[B]y joining a pension system, public employees obtain absolute ‘vested’ rights in the pension plan, including later benefit increases added during their service. These rights cannot be unilaterally changed by the legislature under any circumstances, but the rights may be modified via legitimate contract principles…” (Eric M. Madiar (2012). Public Pension Benefits under Siege: Does State Law Facilitate or Block Recent Efforts to Cut the Pension Benefits of Public Servants? ABA Journal of Labor & Employment Law, V. 27, no. 2, 179-194).

Though “rights may be modified via legitimate contract principles” (or by what is commonly called consideration), we hope the leadership of the We Are One Coalition intrepidly believes from now on that “a fair and constitutional solution” should never be an exchange for reductions of originally-vested benefits assured by the Illinois Constitution!

In Illinois, the Supreme Court “has consistently invalidated amendments to the Pension Code where the result is to diminish benefits” (McNamee v. State, 173 Ill. 2d 433, 445 (1996)). There are over a dozen antedated court rulings to confirm this fact.

“Any alteration of the pension system amounts to a modification of an existing contract between the State and all members of the pension system, whether employees or retirees. A member is contractually protected against a reduction in benefits” (Kuhlmann v. Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund of Maywood, 106 Ill. App. 3d 603, 608 (1st Dist. 1982)).

Thousands of union members (that the union leadership did not acknowledged at the time of Senate Bill 2404) did not support a decision to cut benefits and rights already guaranteed by the State and U.S. Constitutions that some Illinois politicians and union leaders chose to negotiate nearly two years ago. (Quinn’s loss confirms this conclusion).

Read the entire post on Glen’s blog.

Glen Brown on the 151st anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Glen Brown

– Glen Brown is a retired teacher, a member of Skokie Organization of Retired Educators IEA Retired, candidate for retired delegate to the IEA RA and writes poetically, with logic and with facts on his blog, Teacher/Poet/Musician.

We live in a country where the Democratic/Republican Party System is failing us; where venture capitalists and hedge fund billionaires are buying and destroying our democracy; where 401(k) s are fraudulent games of theft and greed played within the wealthy financial sector; where numerous senators and representatives are pawns of the American Legislative Exchange Council; where “the privatization of health services has corresponded closely with skyrocketing costs, leaving millions of Americans without access to care or deeply in debt for seeking treatment for their illnesses.”

We live in a country where a major credit-rating agency was accused of “manipulating pension data”; where “Koch-supported groups have strongly worked behind the scenes on the federal and local levels to eradicate Social Security and Medicare as overly costly entitlements given to working class people,” and where the Koch Brothers and major corporations sponsor pension reform seminars for judges.

We live in a country where breaking a constitutional contract with retirees and public employees is deemed morally and legally justifiable by legislative liars and thieves; where public employees and retirees are victims of plutocratic, concentrated economic privilege and power that accommodates and reinforces an enormous inequality of organizational resources for corporate self-seekers; where public schools are for sale; where public school teachers have been assaulted by a barrage of attacks on their autonomy, dignity and self-respect; where labor unions have lost political power and influence; where there is no pay equity or job security for college adjunct faculty, and where “memories of the university as a citadel of democratic learning have been replaced by a university eager to define itself largely as an adjunct of corporate power.”

We live in a country where the plutocratic free market theory caters to self-interested desires and profit to the detriment of millions of Americans, while promising “freedom and prosperity;” where Free market principles advocate that the rich and poor should be taxed at the same flat rate, despite creating a vast inequity; where education, health care, retirement pensions, national parks (and most any function intrinsic to essential governing) become privatized to reap in more profits; where publicly-owned companies, services and their assets are auctioned off to private investors; that besides allocating vast amounts of wealth and resources from public to private ownership, there is a transfer of private debts to the public sector while public ownership and service are systematically dismantled.

Read the entire post here.

 

Glen Brown. Colorado Supreme Court rules against pension rights. It’s not Illinois.

Glen Brown

– Glen Brown blogs at Teacher/Poet/Musician. Glen is a retired teacher, current college instructor, pension activist, S.O.R.E IEA R member and candidate for IEA Retired delegate to the IEA Representative Assembly.

“Earlier this morning the Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case Gary R. Justus v. PERA and the State of Colorado, filed in February 2010 soon after Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 10-001 into law. You may view the court’s 32 page decision here.

“Rich Allen, President of Save PERA COLA, a Colorado non-profit corporation, has issued the following statement warning public employees of the problem that this decision has for them:

“The Supreme Court has spoken. Needless to say we are disappointed in the decision. It seems to us to be a major departure from the rule of law to allow a public entity to unilaterally abrogate an agreement to which they willingly and legally entered merely because they don’t feel like paying the costs anymore. But there are other issues here that directly affect the financial security of public retirees and employees.

“PERA throughout the legal process adopted a scorched earthed policy by denying that there ever was any contract regarding the annual benefit increases (aka cost-of-living adjustments or COLA) even though they had previously and often stated there was a contractual agreement in both their verbal and written messages.

“This victory for PERA leaves it in the legal position of being able in the future to reduce the remaining COLA of 2% (maximum) to zero, assuming the legislature’s permission. There is little reason to think that creative minds could not come up with further reductions as well. This does not bode well for Colorado public employees, or for public employers who use PERA benefits to attract the best applicants to their employ.

“We believe that the many employee organizations that supported SB1 will regret that decision in the future. Colorado no longer has a defined benefit plan (DB). It instead has a gratuity plan where the benefits for all members, even for the already retired, are entirely defined by the whim of the legislature.

“Further, incentives have been created for the legislature to continue to underfund the pension system which will lead to future PERA Trust Fund fiscal crises and further cuts. Based on past behavior, it is hard to understand how PERA will demand adequate funding to support even the severely reduced funding benefit levels that SB1 has set. They have bought into the false notion that we are just ‘greedy geezers.’ We are in fact simply asking for what we have earned and were promised.

“While we cannot predict the timing of any of this, we would urge all retirees to have a ‘Plan B’ to support themselves. For current and future employees, we recommend looking closely at total compensation and the actual security of it in making career decisions.”

Richard Allen
Save PERA COLA
Visit our website
Commentary:

“In Colorado, the judge found that the plaintiffs had no vested contract right to a specific COLA amount for life without change and that the plaintiffs could have no reasonable expectation to a specific COLA given that the Colorado General Assembly changed the COLA formula numerous times over the previous 40 years” (Alicia Munnell, State and Local Pensions: What Now?).

The legal basis for protection of public pension rights in Colorado is “Contract” for past and (maybe) future accruals. The legal basis for protection of public pension rights in Illinois is the “State Constitution” for both past and future accruals.

For detailed information about the Illinois COLA, Click Here.