Pasqual LoPresti: Rauner and Rahm and the pension boards.


-By Pasqual LoPresti

Now isn’t that all cozy…and all that bullshit about them butting heads I been saying all along…don’t believe for one minute the Hollywood scripted good cop bad cop, it’s all for show

This is another sad comedy so to speak when you don’t know whether to scream in anger or shed tears over the fact again the deck is stacked. This so called board of 8 is made up of four 9house appointees, 1 judge ( who may be fair or may not, I have no knowledge of her ) and 3 legit members. Reminds me of the laborers pension board four appointed by 9fingers, three local 1001 so called union members that are proven bedfellows to 9fingers and no way represent their members any more and one ( now get this ) retired member who supposedly we voted into that position to represent the retirees even tho by law we can’t be represented ( go ahead say it “HUH” ) . Now if a vote was needed and just say the union people were legitimate ( to which no way in hell that would be true ) the worse that could happen is a tie and im sure it’s built in 9fingers could break the tie. This so called pension board voted the retirees cola and health care benifits away ON OUR BEHALF. Well thank god they looked out for us even tho the law says to leave us alone.

We took them to court a great lawfirm is representing us and won the 1st battle we had our colas restored by order of the court and 2 days ago we recieved backpay for 9 months. Now we are onto the restoration of our health care benifits that our great union 1001 gave away. Which for 2 people non medicare will cost us 1812.00 per month and in 2017 affordable health care which is another joke. Ok get ready for this, our city lawyers that as tax payers we have to pay go against a lawfirm we also have to pay ( granted our law team will sue the city for payment but in the meantime we are sending donations in ) go ahead say it, “HUH” In fact if I’m allowed we are having a fund raiser Oct 24th and I would like to invite anyone interested to come out and it would be a great honor if Fred came out..see our Facebook page

Like I said we don’t know if we should scream or cry but at least they know not to mess with us old farts

*** Fred the site name listed on my info has been changed so we could go public sites name is City Workers Present and Past and we welcome anyone in Illinois that is current or retired municipal employee or aim is to grow a political force with no ties to any party all we require is a candidate that has heart and is for the people

Keeping retirement weird. Jeb Bush’s “free stuff” and Rhode Island pension theft.


Jeb’s grandpa, Prescott Bush.

This week Republican presidential candidate and presidential bro/son Jeb Bush told Black people to stop expecting free stuff.

That’s quite the thing to say to the descendants of America’s slaves.

No group of people in America has given away more free stuff than Black Americans. Maybe tied with Native Americans.

Jeb’s ancestors had a different history.

On another note, this morning’s NY Times has high praise for Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo for her successful theft of public employee pensions.

The article on the front page of the business section is so contradictory.

First it claims that Raimondo’s pension theft is a model for others facing pension debt, like our Mayor Rahm.

Her experience, Mr. DiSalvo and others say, could be a case study for other states and municipalities struggling with pensions and other long-term obligations that cost much more than expected. And the timing could hardly be more critical, given predictions that the fiscal health of state and local governments is likely to remain under stress for years as the population ages.

However, the same article later points out the fundamental difference between Rhode Island and Illinois.

And it isn’t in the level of political corruption between Rhode Island and Illinois. That may be a distinction without a difference.

Unlike Rhode Island, Illinois did make public pensions contractual. Its constitution bars cities like Chicago from imposing pension cuts on their workers.

Yes, indeed.

One thing the two states do share is a willingness of the leaders of their unions to concede what retirees have earned.

A settlement finally emerged this year, which, among other things, gave one-time payments to current retirees, to soften the blow of losing their cost-of-living adjustments. Judge Taft-Carter held a “fairness hearing,” giving those affected a chance to sound off. Many expressed anger. But one union leader, Robert Walsh of the National Education Association of Rhode Island, said that after much soul-searching he had decided to support the settlement as the best deal for his 7,500 members.

A settlement, he said, “can be fair and heartbreaking at the same time.”

Fair? To who?

For more about Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island see David Sirota.

Illinois legislators voted to steal pensions and now are running from the mess they created. A story about Senator Dan Kotowski.


Senator Kotowski tries to explain his vote on pension theft to Park Ridge teachers. Photo credit: Fred Klonsky.

The Sun-Times this morning is reporting about the large number of Illinois legislators who are quitting. They voted to steal our pensions, lost in the Supreme Court and are now moving on.

Democrats who don’t have the stomach to fight Rauner. Republicans who seem bored just doing what Rauner tells them to do.

One of those Democrats who is quitting is Park Ridge State Senator Dan Kotowski.

This is a blog post I wrote about Senator Kotowski back in December of 2013:

The phone rang at about 10:30 on a Friday night.

This was a couple of years ago. I was an active teacher and President of the Park Ridge Education Association.

Teaching kindergarten through fifth graders when you’re in your 60s is tough work. Trust me. When Friday rolls around, I was deep into my dreams by 10:30 PM.

“This is Dan,” the caller said.

Dan? Trying to shake out the sleep, I wondered if I even knew anybody named Dan.

But it was Senator Dan Kotowski, the Democratic State Senator who represents Park Ridge.

He started yelling at me because his office was getting dozens of angry emails and phone calls over his support for a pension cutting bill. He accused me of having published false information on my blog. He was wrong. It hadn’t come from me.

“What kind of journalist are you?” he shouted.

I explained that I was not a journalist. I was a kindergarten through fifth grade art teacher with a blog. We exchanged some heated words and he finally hung up.

The next day I found out what had happened. His name was on a shell bill – an empty bill that gets created to be used later. A parliamentary trick often used in the legislature. The shell bill later became the pension-theft bill that year. Remember: this is several years ago.

Teachers at one of our middle schools had gotten a hold of a copy of the bill while it was still a shell bill – saw Kotowski’s name on it and assumed Kotowski was for it. They started making angry phone calls.  Park Ridge teachers are politically active and aware. And on guard.

And it turns out they were right.

Just a few years early.

I don’t expect a call from Kotowski tonight.

Retired now, I’ll be up if he wants to talk.

Rahm panders with the pension money he doesn’t pay.

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Following the lead of the Illinois legislature which passed a similar bill earlier in the session, Rahm has seen to it that a pandering piece of legislation has been introduced into the City Council.

The bill would bar the municipal pension fund from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

But the municipal pension fund doesn’t belong to the Mayor and the city council. It belongs to the current and future city retirees.

How ironic is it that a city government that doesn’t have the money to fully fund the pension fund is perfectly fine deciding what the fund should or shouldn’t be invested in?

For the alderman to be using the pension fund to advance the pandering agenda of the Mayor is just wrong on so many levels.

They should just pay what they owe and let  the pension board decide on its investments based on what is the best return for the members.

Glen Brown: Today’s News: Lisa Madigan will not appeal the Illinois Supreme Court’s pension ruling, and Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article entitled “Ok, what about this idea on pensions?”

Glen Brown

– From Glen Brown’s blog.

The last line of Zorn’s article is, “You got a better idea?”  

I do, Eric:

Isn’t it about time the state addresses the flawed Pension Ramp?

“…Starting in 1995, yet another funding plan was implemented by the General Assembly. This one called for the legislature to contribute sufficient funds each year to ensure that its contributions, along with the contributions by or on behalf of members and other income, would meet the cost of maintaining and administering the respective retirement systems on a 90% funded basis in accordance with actuarial recommendations by the end of the 2045 fiscal year. 40 ILCS 5/2-124, 14-131, 15-155, 16-158, 18-131 (West 2012). That plan, however, contained inherent shortcomings which were aggravated by a phased-in ‘ramp period’ and decisions by the legislature to lower its contributions in 2006 and 2007. As a result, the plan failed to control the State’s growing pension burden. To the contrary, the SEC recently pointed out:

“‘The Statutory Funding Plan’s contribution schedule increased the unfunded liability, underfunded the State’s pension obligations, and deferred pension funding. The resulting underfunding of the pension systems (Structural Underfunding) enabled the State to shift the burden associated with its pension costs to the future and, as a result, created significant financial stress and risks for the State.’ SEC order, at 3. That the funding plan would operate in this way did not catch the State off guard. In entering a cease-and-desist order against the State in connection with misrepresentations made by the State with respect to bonds sold to help cover pension expenses, the SEC noted that the State understood the adverse implications of its strategy for the State-funded pension systems and for the financial health of the State. Id. at 10. According to the SEC, the amount of the increase in the State’s unfunded liability over the period between 1996 and 2010 was $57 billion. Id. at 4.5 The SEC order found that ‘[t]he State’s insufficient contributions under the Statutory Funding Plan were the primary driver of this increase, outweighing other causal factors, such as market performance and changes in benefits.’” (Emphasis added.) Id. at 4 (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).

The current “Pension Ramp” does not work for the five public pension systems. The “Ramp” entails larger payments today as a result of the 1995 funding law – Public Act 88-0593 – to pay the pensions systems what the state owes. There needs to be a required annual payment from the state to the pension systems. The debt needs to be amortized for a longer frame of time (a flat payment) just like a home loan that is amortized; though the initial payment will be difficult in the beginning, over the long term it will become a reduced cost and a smaller percentage of the overall Illinois budget as it is paid off throughout the years.

How about the state requiring an “actuarially-sound” annual payment to the pension systems?

“Decades of mismanagement and failure to match contributions are the predominant reasons that the state’s pension systems are suffering to the degree that they are today. Years of pension holidays, continually borrowing against the systems without a plan for repayment and a severe economic recession, which caused investments to plummet, further exacerbated the problem” (Senate President John Cullerton).

How about acknowledging the State of Illinois has a chronic revenue problem, and its policymakers have stolen money for decades from public employees’ pension plans to hide these facts?

  • “At the core of the budget ‘crisis’ facing [Illinois] is [its] regressive state tax structure. Low-and-middle-income families pay a greater share of their income in taxes than the wealthy… [A regressive tax] disproportionately impacts low-income people because, unlike the wealthy, [low-income people] are forced to spend a majority of their income purchasing basic needs that are subject to sales taxes” (United for a Fair Economy). Illinois income tax uses a single-rate structure that results in low-income wage earners paying more taxes than the wealthy. Illinois is among 10 states in the nation with the highest taxes paid by its poorest citizens at 13 percent (The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy).

Read the entire post on Glen’s blog here.

When it comes to public employee pensions Eric Zorn won’t quit it.


Give the Tribune’s Eric Zorn some credit.

If you must.

He is nothing if not persistent.

What it is, I think, is that he hasn’t gotten over the spanking my friend Glen Brown gave him back in 2012 in a multi-part exchange on the topic of pensions.

Zorn is back with a half-page piece in the Trib today entitled, Okay, what about this idea on pensions.

Zorn is like a backyard rat. He just keeps going back into that garbage pile until he finds a scrap of something he can eat.

It’s not the rat’s fault. That’s what rats do.

So Zorn won’t consider something like raising revenue on the wealthy of this state. HIs goal is to find a way to cut public employee pensions.

He is convinced that there must be a way to get a hold of that pile of money.

His problem is the Illinois Supreme Court. They said retiree benefits were untouchable. And if you can’t cut retiree benefits, and won’t tax the rich to pay their share, nothing in Zorn’s new proposal does anything about the hundred billion dollar pension liability.

For that he just has to wait for current retirees to die.

Which, by the way, was his solution in his recent column on the Dyett hunger strikers.

The reason that the hundred billion pension debt will get smaller is that current Tier II employees are paying it down. They are making their contribution into TRS but must wait until 67 to retiree and then collect much less than current state retirees. In about 20 years they will begin to retire. When that happens, all shit will break loose.

Why? Because their benefits will be less than Social Security requires. That’s against federal law. By then the pension debt owed to Tier II retirees will be so large that nobody will know how to pay them back.

Unless Zorn knows. But if he does, he ain’t saying.

Zorn says that the unions would probably fight his new proposal.

I think he might be wrong about that as well.

It is very likely they will sit down at the table and bargain a reduction in benefits impacting current employees – future retirees.

When a few delegates to last April’s state convention asked the IEA leadership to promise they would never negotiate away what the court’s had given us, they refused.

This was prior to the Illinois State Supreme Court ruling that struck down Senate Bill 1, the pension theft.

This is what I come away with from Zorn’s column today:

The state’s political leadership is like Zorn. They will never quit trying to get a hold of our pension. There is just too much money sitting there. They drool over it as underfunded as it is.

The second take-away is that while current retirees’ pensions are relatively safe, current employees should worry.

And if it is the current state union leadership they are counting on fighting for them?

Double trouble.

Chicago Tribune: Teacher compensation is a perk.


It has been just a few days since the Chicago Tribune embarrassed itself by publishing the ghoulish op-ed by Kristen McQueary which called for a devastating natural disaster like Katrina to hit Chicago.

Only “water gushing through manhole covers” could bring school reform to our city wrote McQueary, praising the privatization of New Orleans schools that followed Hurricane Katrina.

This morning they publish another one of their patented bull poop articles on teacher pensions, claiming a district’s pension pick-up is a “perk.”

They write that this perk is “little noticed.”

That’s because to most observers of collective bargaining agreements between labor and management it is not normally considered a perk to receive compensation for your work.

A point about the contract language: If someone were to read the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the Park Ridge board of education and the Park Ridge Education Association (of which I was a member for 30 years) it says, “the Board shall pick-up the teacher’s required contribution to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS).”

What does this mean?

It means that the board will take the 9.4% our of our check  and send it to TRS. We paid the entire amount but the board transferred the money. That is all that they did. It was nothing more than an electronic transfer of our money so that we didn’t have to mail in a check to TRS ourselves.

Yet someone might read that and think the board paid our contribution. They would think wrong.

Are there districts in Illinois that pay all or a share of the teacher contribution?


In the course of negotiations both sides of the table understand that there is a finite amount of money to be bargained. How that money is divided up is what the bargaining is about.

Some goes directly to salary. Some goes to benefits such as health insurance. Some goes to pension payments.

If you look at collective bargaining agreements between teachers and school boards state-wide you will see that some are heavily weighted towards salaries. Others are weighted more strongly to the benefit side.

It’s all bargained compensation.

Compensation is not a perk.

No matter what the Trib thinks.

80 years of Social Security, but we teachers don’t get ours.


Yesterday was the 80th anniversary of Social Security.

It was an important victory for working people during the Great Depression.

Today, the average worker who depends on Social Security as their sole retirement pension lives below the poverty line.

Teachers in 15 states receive no Social Security, or they have it reduced significantly.

As a teacher in Illinois who contributed into Social Security until I was 38 and began teaching, this is a major financial loss.

Why do I lose a major part of my Social Security benefit?

Because of two Federal laws called The Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).

In the view of Congress, being paid the Social Security I am owed is considered a “windfall.”

The Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) penalize people who have dedicated their lives to public service by taking away benefits we earned.

I  lose my entire spousal benefit, even though Anne has paid into Social Security for her entire working career.

Many people who enter the teaching profession late in their working lives are not aware of the GPO and WEP. They are too old to earn maximum state pension benefits and yet they lose most of their earned Social Security benefits.

Happy 80th birthday, Social Security.

Maybe one day we teachers will get ours too.

“You’re harming retirees,” Judge tells Mayor Rahm. She refuses to stay her ruling.


Charles Lomanto, a 28 year employee of Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department speaks at a news conference Friday, July 24, 2015, in Chicago after Cook County Judge Rita Novak issued a written ruling stating that a 2014 law aimed at reducing multibillion-dollar shortfalls in two of Chicago’s pension funds is unconstitutional.

Last Friday, Cook County Judge Rita Novak overturned a 2014 state law that reduced cost-of-living benefit increases for retired city workers and laborers and increased contributions by current employees. Those changes were coupled with increases in taxpayer payments to their pension funds.

Today Judge Novak refused Mayor Rahm’s request for a stay until the Illinois Supreme Court might rule.

Of course, the ISC may not want to rule. The Justices could refuse to hear the case and say they have already decided this issue.

The two city pension funds would have to restore higher benefits to retired city workers, issue checks to make up for reduced benefits since Jan. 1, take out less money from current workers’ paychecks and return the money already collected to workers who have been paying more into the retirement accounts.

Mayor Rahm’s lawyers begged Judge Novak to put a hold on things in case the ISC overturns her decision.

“I don’t see there is much likelihood of success on the merits at all once the case reaches the Supreme Court,” Novak said in denying a stay on her ruling.

She also said retired workers, more than 40 percent of whom get less than $29,000 a year in benefits, were being harmed.

Indeed. As comments from city workers on this blog show.

In ruling against the city, Judge Novak rejected arguments that the deal had been bargained between the City and employee unions.

The Judge responded by saying the unions, such as SEIU, had no standing to bargain a contractual obligation involving employees not formally represented by SEIU. And further they had no standing to bargain a diminishment of constitutionally protected benefits, particularly benefits of current retirees who do not belong to the unions.

This was exactly the case in the failed SB2404, which was bargained between the state’s public employee unions and Senate President John Cullerton.

They joined together to include current retirees in a the bill, reducing COLA benefits, even though many current retirees were not members of those unions and were not represented by those unions’ leaders.

AG Madigan ready to piss away more taxpayer money on pension appeal.


Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the same Lisa Madigan who came up with the legal argument that all seven Illinois Supreme Court justices rejected with a written opinion that all but openly and personally mocked her, says she may not be done with pension theft quite yet.

Some are claiming this is the woman who will save us from Bruce Rauner in the next gubernatorial election.

From Amanda Vinicky:

Illinois has until August 6th to appeal to the nation’s highest court.

While Attorney General Lisa Madigan hasn’t quite done that, it may well be on the horizon. Her office on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension, so it’ll have until Sept. 10 to do so.

John Fitzgerald, an attorney for retired public school teachers, says they’ll fight it.

“This is entirely a matter of Illinois State Law. There is no basis for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.”

The Attorney General’s petition says the pension case “raises important questions” about states’ rights to use police powers to modify contracts, like public pensions.

My God. “States’ rights,” “police powers,” “modify contracts” and “public pensions” all in one sentence.