The [Thursday] Papers
"Most city workers spend decades in public service to build up modest pensions. But for former labor leader Dennis Gannon, the keys to securing a public pension were one day on the city payroll and some help from the Daley administration," the Tribune reports.
"And his city pension is more than modest. It's the highest of any retired union leader: $158,000. That's roughly five times greater than what the typical retired city worker receives.
"In fact, his pension is so high that it exceeds federal limits and required the city pension fund to file special paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service to give it to him.
"Gannon's inflated pension is a prime example of how government officials and labor leaders have manipulated city pension funds at the expense of union workers and taxpayers."
Dennis Gannon, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago.
"Gannon declined to be interviewed for this story but issued a statement through a spokesman for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, where he is a board member."
Wait - he used a spokesman for a board that has nothing to do with the story to issue a statement? Isn't that an inappropriate use of a state employee - besides being incredibly cowardly?
"I am extremely proud of my many years of service to the city of Chicago and the working men and women of organized labor," Gannon wrote. "I have always followed the pension laws governed by the state of Illinois statute as well as the city of Chicago municipal pension plan."
I am also unwilling to answer questions about the generosity of Illinois taxpayers. I don't owe any explanations to anyone, even those who support my lavish lifestyle.
Unfortunately, it's not just Gannon.
"All it took to give nearly two dozen labor leaders from Chicago a windfall worth millions was a few tweaks to a handful of sentences in the state's lengthy pension code," the Tribune reports.
"The changes became law with no public debate among state legislators and, more importantly, no cost analysis.
"Twenty years later, 23 retired union officials from Chicago stand to collect about $56 million from two ailing city pension funds thanks to the changes, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found."
"No one from either the state Legislature or city government will take credit for the law, which passed in 1991, and the process of drafting pension legislation in Springfield is so shrouded in secrecy that there's no way of knowing exactly whom to hold responsible."
"The Tribune and WGN-TV found that Senate President John Cullerton was one of only 10 lawmakers on the committee that inserted the changes into a much larger bill. He's also the only one who is still in office.
"Cullerton, who declined to be interviewed for this story, denied being involved in the changes and issued a statement that acknowledged the law now looks like a bad idea."
Alternate: "Cullerton refused to answer questions about his role in spending taxpayer money as one of our elected representatives granted the power to watch over the public purse, apparently not wanting to embarrass or implicate himself or perhaps just feeling like it's none of our business.
They are also refusing to take their naps.
"All commissioners make $85,000 a year. The furlough and government shutdown days would reduce their salaries by almost 5-percent."
So, $4,250. That's not pleasant, but $85,000 a year puts Cook County commissioners in the 78th percentile of U.S. household income distribution - and who knows how much income spouses and/or other jobs (because they always have them) bring in. It's not an unreasonable sacrifice.
"We can't ask our workforce to continue to do things we are not willing to do ourselves," Cook Co. Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.
Why not? Tradition!
"William Beavers, who represents Chicago's South Side and south suburbs, said he has changed his mind.
"'I decided not to take the furlough days because she didn't have the money for the hospitals, so my deal is off,' Beavers said. He said his vote to take unpaid days was tied to keeping Oak Forest Hospital open. In an effort to save money, the county converted that hospital into an outpatient clinic."
In other words, he's doing it for the sick people.
"Commissioner Earlean Collins also refuses to take furlough days.
"'In my budget there is no contingency. Every dime I spend on transportation comes out of my salary,' Commissioner Collins said."
Huh? She's paying for her own gas or something?
"Collins said she has to pay for many expenses out of her pocket because district office budgets are now equal, which reduced her budget."
Huh. Well, I could help you with that, Earlean. Let's go over your budget together.
"Commissioner Deborah Sims, Robert Steele and Joan Patricia Murphy have also asked for their money back."
Maybe Sims is just doing the Lord's work. From the Beachwood in 2009:
Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims flipped her vote on Tuesday to defeat a half-penny rollback of Todd Stroger's sales tax.
And let's not forget how Robert Steele got his job.
Which presents a dilemma for people like me. How do you embarrass someone more than they unknowingly embarrass themselves?
I Am Troy Davis
Carl's Cubs Mailbag
B is for Bears Blowout
The Beachwood Tip Line: Blow us away.
Posted on September 22, 2011
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