Tag Archives: Pensions

We Have Altered The Deal, Pray We Don’t Alter It Any Further

3 Dec

Harry S. Truman once said, “Given a choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican,  the public will choose the real Republican every time.”  Those words have a lot of wisdom in them.   If you can’t give people a reason to vote for you, giving them a reason to vote against the other guy will only vote for so long.  Again and again, however, I am seeing the Democrats fail to learn this important lesson.

I am writing this just moments after the Illinois Legislature rammed through a pension gutting bill and then immediately began spending these savings by passing them along to ADM.  I truly believe that this is the final blow for Pat Quinn  after pension theft and naming Paul Vallas as his Lieutenant Governor will find moderate public employees moving to Dan Rutherford and the more liberal ones voting green.  In fact, if he gets a Republican opponent who can appear to be a common sense moderate (I don’t think any of them are–we’re talking appearance here), he’s going to lose big.

Illinois Democrats helped to spearhead legislation being pushed by ALEC and they should know that it won’t end well for them.  Labor traditionally has been in your corner while ALEC is made up of a bunch of people who give to Republicans.   How you expect to win, I don’t know.  When the election rolls around even if the CTU leadership wanted to support you, they’d never get it past the House of Delegates.  It’s quite possible the Illinois Supreme Court will undo the damage to the pensions, but it won’t be able to undo the damage done to the Democrats.

I’ve seen the same thing happen in Wisconsin where a real movement was mobilized to take on Scott Walker.  That movement quickly dissipated when Democrats championed a Milwaukee Mayor who was from the Rahm Emanuel wing of the party.  Now, the Democratic insiders are trying to foist another anti-labor non-progressive candidate on the state in Mary Burke.  This is a losing strategy.

I could explain just how morally reprehensible this pension grab was, but politicians don’t usually respect that sort of thing.  Instead, I will make it very clear that we will remember and there are a lot of us.  We could have worked with you, but instead will fight you and if we can’t do it at the ballot box, we’ll do it in the streets, and in the hearts and minds of every voter we come in contact with and we talk to a lot of people.

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The Rains of Castamere

6 Jun

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By now, it’s over except for the weeping and the moaning.  Tonight, CPS principals found out their budgets for the coming year and the word I’m hearing is that the many reassurances they had that the per pupil budgets wouldn’t be bad have fallen by the wayside.   Principals with 7 figure holes in their budget don’t seem uncommon and there will be some deep and painful cuts on the backs of Chicago’s teachers and school children.  This will be the kind of ambush that those of us who watch Game of Thrones saw on Sunday night.  Actually, there are a lot of similarities between Joffrey and Rahm.

I’m not kidding about some large schools facing multi-million dollar cuts to their budget.   Of course, this will be blamed on the teachers.   Our huge 3 percent raise for working 17% longer is the culprit or maybe it’s our ridiculously high pensions.    The worst part is that I believe the current budget is probably CPS posturing.  Unfortunately, a lot of teachers will be laid off before anything gets changed.

CPS has been true to form in their actions towards the pension shortfall.  They refused to meet with the CTU representatives in Springfield from November until May.  When they did finally meet with CTU, their negotiating strategy was to offer nothing and demand cuts.  CTU rightly wants to know that the revenue stream for the pensions will be fixed and that healthcare will be adequately funded.

I saw on the Huffington Post today that charter school hack Andrew Broy calls these neighborhood schools closings a “new era of possibility for Chicago students“.  Calling this outrage an era of new possibility is like calling the attack on the World Trade Center a great real estate opportunity.  I hate profiteering.

Taxpayers Protest TIF Funding of DePaul Basketball Arena

““I’m paying out of my bottom for my education at DePaul, the extremely high tuition is worth every penny, but they certainly don’t need taxpayer dollars,” said Erika Wozniak, 30, the organizer of Wednesday’s protest, which was timed to coincide with a faculty meeting.”

Emanuel Won’t Rule Out Property Tax Hike, Class Size Increase as Pension Problem Looms

“The Chicago Public Schools is working through the issues. I can’t tell you today what their budget’s gonna be line-by-line. I know that the first priority is to protect the classroom and to protect our children’s education and to also find savings — as we have to pay for a full day of kindergarten — through administrative savings, as we have from Day One,” he said.

Rauner Announces He’s Running For Governor, Doesn’t Mention Payton Prep Charge

“Rauner, who says he’s not one of those typical politicians, made the announcement in a slick video on his website, produced with some of the $1.5 million his exploratory committee has collected. “I could ride a horse at six, milk a cow at eight, fire a rifle at ten,” Rauner says in the video.”

72 Year Old Police Officers? Thank you Illinois House

3 May

ImageJust in time for Teacher Appreciation Week, Michael Madigan managed to push through pension legislation that will leave many public servants with a choice between food and medical care in their golden years.   As a special bonus, they increased the age for retirement for the second time in less than 5 years.  Hopefully, this won’t make it out of the Senate, but if you are a public school teacher who dreams of eating food not meant for pets and maybe even having enough money to visit the grandkids once a year, I really recommend calling your State Senator.  I do hope that the House members that voted for this someday need a 72 year old public servant to drag them from a burning building or chase down a mugger.

Democrats have really been angering me today.   In addition to this bill was the news that Obama was appointing Penny “Heat Lamps” Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce.  Harry Truman once said, “When given a choice between a Republican and a Democrat who acts like a Republican, voters will invariably vote for the Republican.” 

Madigan’s Pension Bill Passes House

“The speaker, who Wednesday predicted Supreme Court sign-off on his plan, justified his move to exempt judges from the pension pain during floor debate Thursday. ‘Judges were excluded as a practical decision,’ Madigan explained. ‘We anticipate this matter will be before the Illinois court system and Illinois Supreme Court, and the absence of the judicial pension system in the bill will relieve them of the burden of dealing with a conflict of interest.’

The Shame of Illinois House Representative Robyn Gabel

“Gabel should be ashamed. She voted to cut the pensions of retired career teachers in the state who receive no Social Security and half of whom have pensions of less than $50,000 a year after 35 years of teaching. They will be denied access – the right to PAY FOR – state health insurance if they choose to keep their cost of living. It is nothing less than heartless on the one hand and one more attack on the teaching profession on the other.”

The Loyal-to-Whom? Opposition to CORE?

“The truth is that Saunders-Wolfe and her coalition are part of an unprincipled alliance of old-line union sell-outs and even some disgruntled former progressives, who otherwise hate each other and  who were run out of leadership in years past. Now this unseemly alliance is being propped up with lots of money coming from outside sources. One can only guess who’s footing the bill for a string of upcoming TV ads blaming the union for school closings and for the wave of teacher bashing and assaults of public employees.”

UNO Charter Schools Part 4: Election Day Assignments?

This just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

Chicago Parents and Schools Trapped in a Bad Relationship

“The Chicago Public Schools and I are locked in this weird relationship drama. We need each other badly, for as much as their free, full-day preschool program in a diverse neighborhood school means to me, my three high-test-scoring, college-bound kids are vitally important to them. But, somehow, as much as we want to make this work, our breakup has begun to feel inevitable.”

CPS Closings: What We Can Learn from Fenger

“And it did. That Board voted to turn around Fenger, going against the expressed will of the community, and pushing ahead in the face of warnings about instability and violence.  The aftermath of that decision–indeed, of all the decisions to which Fenger, Calumet, and Englewood area families were subjected–is part of the collective memory of Chicago now.”

Third Shoe Drops in UNO Scandal

2 May

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I think I posted the headline “Other Shoe Drops in UNO Scandal” a few months back, so we’re left with a third shoe in this case.  Parents United for Responsible Education has been doing a great job lately explaining just where the large amounts of money being given to UNO Charter Schools are being used.  I still believe that UNO really did take their staff to Disney World for Training.  They must have learned to do those fireworks displays somewhere.

On a more serious note, the mother of Derrion Albert speaks out about the school closings in Chicago.  I can still remember the chilling video of her son being beaten to death.  Even more chilling was reading testimony of the hearing to turn Derrion’s previous school into a military academy and several adults warning that closing the school would lead to kids losing their life.  Sadly, they were right.

Derrion Albert’s Mom Speaks Out Against School Closures

“”I don’t care if the schools are three blocks apart,” Albert says. “You know the kids, they don’t get along with each other and you’re gonna mix all them in together and you’re gonna basically come out with the same situation that we had that happened in September of ‘09.”

 
“Does the Rangel family pay rent to these charter schools or are they just personal family banquet halls?”
 
 
“And yesterday the Sun-Times reported that the failure of UNO to pay their bills has led to construction being halted on “Madigan High.” Also known as UNO Soccer Academy Charter High School.”
 
 
“The decision involves more than 400 teachers and staff in 13 schools operated by the United Neighborhood Organization. In March, UNO and the AFT reached a neutrality agreement under which UNO agreed not to take a position on whether its teachers and staff organized. Some 87 percent of the 415 workers who voted approved Chicago ACTS as their bargaining agent.”
 
 

Mayor Emanuel declared that the parking meter deal was inviolable, meaning there was nothing—nothing, I tell you!—he could do to change most of its provisions.

‘Cause it’s a contract. And contracts are binding.

Well, some contracts are binding.

The contract he has with the teachers’ union to protect tenured teachers—like that aforementioned high school teacher—isn’t binding.

Which is why the mayor feels free to permit the firings of the tenured teacher and dozens of her colleagues every year for pretty much any reason. Apparently, constant teacher turnover is his key to improving the schools.”

Madigan’s Nuclear Pension Option Passes Out of Committee on a 9 to 1 Vote

“In a state Senate hearing earlier Tuesday, Cullerton pushed back against deep pension cuts proposed by state Sen. Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican. The Illinois Constitution says pension benefits can’t be diminished.”

Girl Arrested for Unauthorized Science

“At 7 a.m. Monday morning, it was one of those quiet April days that reminds you that Florida is God’s waiting room.   The smell of citrus and orange blossom was in the air as 16 year old high school student Kiera Wilmot skulked towards Bartow High School.  Unbeknownst to her classmates, the 16 year old terrorist in training was packing household chemicals and an 8 ounce plastic bottle.  The label may have said “water”, but it could have just as easily read, “death to America.”  When she arrived on campus, Miss Wimot wasted no time in mixing the household chemicals together in her bottle of death and putting the cap back on.  Investigators later recalled, “the reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke.”

 

 
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Special Fraud Edition

14 Mar

ImageThe SEC reviewed the Illinois pension debacle and the only word they could come up with for it was “fraud”.   Even the Tribune was forced to report that it wasn’t greedy public workers, but the deliberate malfeasance of governors and legislators, many of whom are still in office.  I refuse to accept my $28,000 pension payout in 2025 would be something you could consider extravagant.

Even the Trib Calls it Fraud

“The SEC order details how, beginning 19 years ago, Illinois pols laid the foundation for today’s pension mess — evidently so they could keep spending what should have been pension fund contributions on other things. But the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction over most of that chicanery; as an agency official put it, “The SEC is not involved with whether the state is doing a good job or bad job in terms of managing its pensions.”

The Philadelphia Story: Bruce Rauner, Part II

“Shortly thereafter, Mr. Rauner “sent a check for $200,000. Another check, for $100,000, came just before the election,” the paper said. And something else happened, too. After Mr. Rendell was elected governor, “the state doubled its stake” in investment funds handled by GTCR LLC, picking up management of an additional $116 million in pension funds worth more than $4 million in fees.”

Chicago Public Schools Get Too Much: Illinois Senate GOP

“In a detailed report and at a press conference today, Senate Republicans headed by Leader Christine Radogno said whatever Chicago doesn’t get in pension aid, it more than gets back by grabbing an oversize share of funding through poverty, early-childhood, property tax limitation and corporate income tax replacement programs.”

Parent Trigger Promoted by Illinois Republicans

“For the second time in two years, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s legislative desires are being brought to the Illinois General Assembly by right wing Republican legislators. The last time, it was State Rep. Tom Cross who introduced legislation that tried to change all Chicago public workers pension boards to seven members, four appointed by Rahm. This time it’s State Rep. Darlene Senger who is trying to get the “Parent Trigger” into Illinois. Senger is from Naperville, which is unlikely to ever face “parent trigger.” So, once again, the target is Chicago’s public schools.”

 

Quiet Weekend

10 Feb

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It’s a cold and gray Chicago afternoon.  Other than raindrops falling from the sky instead of snowflakes, it’s nothing unusual for a February afternoon.  It’s days like these when I’m happy to have a DVD player.  I’ve been keeping myself entertained while I did some  cleaning by watching Season 1 of Paper Chase.  

The Paper Chase was a movie that came out in 1973 and launched acting teacher John Houseman into celebrity status with his terrifying performance as Harvard Law School professor Charles Kingsfield.    He reprised that role in the late 70s and 80s in The Paper Chase television show on CBS, PBS, and Showtime.  I actually prefer the series to the movie.  With more time to explore him, Housemann makes Kingsfield into a more three dimension human being.

As he scowls and leads his students through the Socratic method, Kingsfield teacher his students about life, but also about contract law.  Time and again he lectures to his young charges about the importance of keeping your word and how contracts civilize us and lead from conflict to cooperation.   Sadly, Houseman died in 1988 at 86 years old.  Unfortunately, we really could use him to lecture the Illinois General Assembly about contracts right about now.

Rockford Rep Tries to Destroy Illinois Teacher Pensions

“By legal definition, a contract is “an agreement creating obligations enforceable by law.” The law provides remedies if a promise is breached or recognizes the performance of a promise as a duty. Contracts arise when a duty does or may come into existence because of a promise made by one of the parties. To be legally binding as a contract, a promise must be exchanged for adequate consideration. Adequate consideration is a benefit or detriment that a party receives which reasonably and fairly induces them to make the promise/contract. (Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School). Accordingly, the State of Illinois has a long list of antedated court rulings upholding the rights and benefits (contracts) of its public employees.”

Fuzzy Math: The Chicago Public Schools Budget Crisis

““\This crisis was manufactured, and decisions are being made based on incorrect and incomplete financial, enrollment, and utilization data,” Leonard said, pointing to the newly disclosed budget surplus – and the revelation that CPS enrollment actually increased by 1,000 students this year.”

Chicago Middle School Students Berate Officials: “Don’t Close Our Schools!”

“You should be working with us to make [community schools] better, not closing them down,” said a mother of students at Telpochcalli School, an arts-focused public school in the nearby neighborhood of Little Village. “Where’s [Mayor] Rahm Emanuel? He wants charter schools. He should be here telling us from his heart to our faces why he wants these charter schools…Why?”

From the crowd, voices yelled out, “Money!” “His rich friends!”