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ere the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:

Officer Down

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Just who is behind the call for reform and why

I found the statement released in Springfield yesterday (Monday) very disconcerting.

I thought public employee pension reform was needed to save our state and the taxpayers? Please keep in mind here that all public sector employees are also taxpayers.

But yet when you read the statement below, please notice whose names are signed at the bottom:

May 30, 2011


    We are absolutely committed to reforming Illinois’ public pension system for current employees. It must be done to stabilize our systems and address long term financial issues for both the public employee pension systems and state government.

    We believe passage of legislation addressing this issue is essential to the state’s well being.

    It was made very clear during the May 26th hearing in the Personnel and Pensions Committee that both those who support pension reform and those who are opposed to Senate Bill 512 acknowledge we have a problem and something must be done.

    Our goal is to enact reforms to our pension systems that provide a long term solution for both those who are members of the pension systems and those who fund them.

    We will convene meetings over the summer to address the issues and concerns that have been raised and work toward a solution in this year’s Fall Veto Session. 

    -Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan
    -Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross
    -Tyrone Fahner, President, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago

Why is the President of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago signing a letter on legislation in Springfield that concerns public employees?

The Commercial Club of Illinois is a regular who's who in big business in Illinois. Not public business but private business. Just look at their membership directory. Every person on the list is part of a multi-million or multi-billion dollar corporation that does not employ a single public sector employee. So why the big interest?

I think I have an idea. If the private sector can get the politicians to do to us what has been done to private sector employees, the big businesses will donate more money to the politicians in return for even bigger tax breaks to the big corporations so the elite bosses can make even bigger bonuses and pensions. Then when the politicians retire from public service they have a great job waiting for them as a lobbyist or a corporate big shot. What a retirement plan.

Think about it! Why else is the Commercial Club interested in public pensions? Because it is their civic duty? Please, these people have one duty - to themselves.

If people were really interested in reforming the public pension system they would sit down with not only the organized labor bosses but the actual employees that these reforms will affect. There is no reason why fair and reasonable reforms cannot be made, except if the employees are cut out of the process.

Step one is the most important step in my eyes. The blame game has to stop. Mistakes were made, that's it. Now it is time to fix them by coming up with a plan that will repay the underfunded billions of dollars back to the pensions. This can only be done by the politicians since it was done on the employer level and not the employee. Once a plan is put into place to repay the missing money and to ensure that all future payments by governmental entities are made in full and on time then we can talk about asking employees to make concessions. Then and only then can we maybe get the job done right.

We have all summer to try and do this right. Why not actually try?


PENSION: Chicago Tribune Editorial (May 31, 2011)

--You just have to love the Tribune and its big private business slant on everything. They are against unions and the public's safety in general if you ask me. Balancing budgets, cutting pension benefits against the Illinois Constitution or any other action that attacks the public sector employee is just fine with them.
They try and blame the pension problems on the employees when the blame belongs on the politicians. I am not going to blame one politician over another or one party over another because this problem has been building for almost 20 years. That encompasses both parties being in the so-called driver's seat.
The politicians in Springfield need to look forward and sit down with organized labor and the people they represent and develop reasonable pension reforms that fix the problems.
The first problem needing to be addressed is how the state and other governmental agencies plan to repay the billions of dollars that they have shorted the pension funds over the years. Once this is addressed then we can move forward with realistic reforms and ask both sides to agree to reasonable reforms.--

EDITORIAL AT Chicago Tribune

Pension reform: DOA
May 30, 2011

This is the way it usually goes, isn't it? The Illinois Legislature chokes on the decisions that would mean sound, disciplined spending and looks for easy money.

It happened again on Memorial Day. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Minority Leader Tom Cross announced that they have given up trying to pass legislation that would curb the out-of-control costs of state employee pensions. They will hold hearings over the summer on pension reform. See you in the fall for a vote, maybe.

Ah, but it's not like the House took the holiday off. It passed a big gambling expansion bill. A casino for Chicago and four more around the state and slot machines for the racetracks. And there's more: slots at O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport. The public hasn't had any time to digest all that's in this gambling bill.

Its fate is uncertain. The Senate had not taken it up at our deadline. Gov. Pat Quinn has been quite critical of it and could well veto the bill if he gets it.

The point, though, is that we've seen this before. In the House, 65 votes for casinopalooza. But not enough votes for pension discipline.

We don't fault Madigan and Cross. Their joint statement, issued with Civic Committee President Tyrone Fahner, indicates they will keep pressing for pension reform. It has been good to see Madigan and Cross work together this year to establish a spending level for the fiscal 2012 budget that's more disciplined than what Senate Democrats and Quinn want.

But even with their combined efforts, Madigan and Cross couldn't persuade a majority of their members to support pension reform, the most significant legislation in Springfield this year.

Lawmakers head into their final scheduled day of the spring session on Tuesday. Some of them think they dodged a bullet on pensions. They haven't. Illinois has $85 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Every family in Illinois is already on the hook for $42,000 in combined debt. That's $42,000 and counting.

BREAKING NEWS: (Suburban) No jail for ex-Streamwood cop in beating

--I'll leave the comments to the Monday morning quarterbacks.--

Former Streamwood police officer James Mandarino, center, who was found guilty of beating a driver in Streamwood, and his attorney Richard Beuke, walk into the Rolling Meadows Courthouse for Mandarino's sentencing hearing on Tuesday. (Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune / May 31, 2011)

By George Houde
Special to the Tribune
12:23 PM CDT, May 31, 2011

James Mandarino, the former Streamwood police officer convicted in late March of beating an unarmed motorist with a baton, was sentenced today to 30 months of probation and 150 hours of community service.

Mandarino was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct stemming from an incident in 2010. A video camera on Mandarino's squad car captured him hitting motorist Ronald Bell with a metal baton 15 times after tailing Bell to his Streamwood home. Mandarino also used a Taser on Bell's passenger, Nolan Stalbaum.

In a brief statement, Mandarino said, "I regret that night ever occurred and I regret any pain and suffering to the other families and to Mr. Bell and Mr. Stalbaum."

During the trial, Mandarino said he felt that his life was in danger when he saw first Stalbaum moving away from the car, then saw Bell get out of the car.

NEWS: (National) Obama cracks down on abuses by big-city police departments

--I get it that bad things happen. Yes, not all police officers are perfect and some might even be criminal but it does not mean that we need to make the whole profession look criminal. 
Remember, we are the ones sworn to "serve and protect" and yes we should be held to a higher standard but NO we should not all be lumped into all encompassing stories like this. 
The headline alone makes the inference that all big city police departments are bad and this is just not fair. We all understand the "one bad apple" argument but more time should be spent on showing it is just one bad apple than on making the entire barrel look bad.--


Monday, May 30, 2011 16:01 ET
By Justin Elliott

In a marked shift from the Bush administration, President Obama's Justice Department is aggressively investigating several big urban police departments for systematic civil rights abuses such as harassment of racial minorities, false arrests, and excessive use of force.

In interviews, activists and attorneys on the ground in several cities where the DOJ has dispatched civil rights investigators welcomed the shift. To progressives disappointed by Eric Holder's Justice Department on key issues like the failure to investigate Bush-era torture and the prosecution of whistle-blowers, recent actions by the DOJ's Civil Rights Division are a bright spot.

In just the past few months, the Civil Rights Division has announced "pattern and practice" investigations in Newark, New Jersey and Seattle. It's also conducting a preliminary investigation of the Denver Police Department, and all this is on top of a high-profile push to reform the notorious New Orleans Police Department -- as well as criminal prosecutions of several New Orleans officers.

The "pattern and practice" authority comes from a 1994 law passed by Congress after the brutal beating of Rodney King by white Los Angeles police officers, who allegedly yelled racial slurs as they hit him. The law allows the DOJ to sue police departments if there is a pattern of violations of citizens' constitutional rights -- things like an excessive use of force, discrimination, and illegal searches. Often, after an investigation, the police department in question will enter into a voluntary reform agreement with the DOJ to avoid a lawsuit and the imposition of reforms.

"Under the Bush administration, the Justice Department disappeared here in terms of federal civil rights enforcement. You could see the shift to counterterrorism at the ground level after Sept. 11," says Mary Howell , a New Orleans civil rights attorney who has been working on police misconduct cases for more than three decades. "Now they're back doing criminal prosecutions of police and the civil rights investigation, which is huge."

Many of the New Orleans officers being criminally prosecuted -- several of whom have been convicted -- were involved in grisly killings of innocent city residents in the chaotic days after Katrina. A separate civil rights investigation by the DOJ recently concluded that the New Orleans Police Department has engaged in excessive use of force, unconstitutional arrests and racial profiling. An independent monitor is expected to be appointed to make sure the department follows through with reforms in training, policies on the use of force, and accountability to the public.

The allegations of civil rights violations being investigated by the DOJ are often quite brutal but do not make the news outside the cities where they occur.

In one case in Seattle last year, an officer investigating a robbery was caught on video stomping on the head of a Hispanic detainee lying on the ground on the street after yelling, "I'm going to beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you, homey!" The detainee turned out to have nothing to do with the crime under investigation and was later let go.

In Newark, the state chapter of the ACLU last September asked the DOJ to intervene, citing the city police department's failure to respond to hundreds of misconduct complaints in the past few years.

In one case described in the ACLU's petition, two Newark officers allegedly threatened to throw a juvenile over a bridge when he refused to confess involvement in a crime. "Told by a supervisor to take [the boy] home, they instead took him to a secluded location, beat him, urinated on him, and left him there," according to the ACLU's letter. The department's internal affairs unit later claimed to have lost the soiled T-shirt the boy had brought in as evidence.

Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey, tells me that an official in the Civil Rights Division actually called her group a few weeks before it submitted its petition to seek more information about a misconduct case that had been reported in the media. "I had never before gotten a call from the DOJ asking about a police misconduct case," says Jacobs, who has worked at state-level ACLU chapters since the early 1990s.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rising star in the Democratic Party, dismissed the ACLU's report on civil rights abuses back in September, accusing the group of "casting unnecessary aspersions on the police department through the distortion of facts." But when the DOJ announced its formal investigation earlier this month, Booker stood at a press conference with federal officials and said he welcomed the move. Given that many of the alleged violations -- and the failure of the police department to respond to complaints -- happened on Booker's watch, the episode will likely be seen as a blot on his record.

The man who is at least partly responsible for crackdown on police misconduct is Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. In the 1990s, Perez, the son of Dominican immigrants, was a prosecutor in the division working on police misconduct cases; he later served as special counsel to Ted Kennedy on civil rights issues. The DOJ declined my request to interview Perez. But he has made it publicly clear that things have changed since the Bush years.

"In case you haven’t heard, the Civil Rights Division is once again open for business," Perez told a police oversight association last September, pointedly adding, "There were very few [pattern and practice] cases during the prior administration."

He also offered a window into his thinking when I interviewed him last year about the situation in New Orleans, home to the most notorious police department in the country. "Criminal prosecutions alone, I have learned, are not enough to change the culture of a police department," Perez said then.

Jennifer Shaw, deputy director of the ACLU of Washington, tells me Perez came to Seattle last fall to meet informally with civil rights attorneys in the city and seek feedback and input. "My sense is that when Tom Perez came in, the entire attitude and approach changed," Shaw says.

According to the Justice Department, 22 pattern-and-practice investigations were opened during the Bush administration, and eight have been opened during Obama's presidency. But the Bush-era investigations largely involved quite small departments. Perez has been leading the Civil Rights Division for about 18 months (his confirmation was blocked by Republicans for six months), and high-profile investigations of three big-city departments have already been opened, with another probe in Denver possibly on the way.

The DOJ's investigations of troubled large departments "sends a message to the whole field," says Sam Walker, an emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska who studies police accountability.

"The primary victims of police misconduct are African-Americans and Latinos. The Bush administration simply wasn't interested in this," Walker says. "The Obama-Holder DOJ puts a very high priority on this."

Monday, May 30, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Congratulations!!! You Did It (SB512)

Springfield legislators heard you loud and clear.  This afternoon, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and House Minority Leader Tom Cross issued a joint statement announcing that pension-cutting bill SB 512 would not come to a vote this session.

In response to this positive news, We Are One Illinois issued the following statement:

In recent weeks hundreds of thousands of Illinois citizens have spoken out in an unprecedented way to defend the modest pensions earned by public employees. Today in Springfield their voices have been heard and the pension assault turned back.

Retirement security is an essential part of the American Dream, and our coalition will go forward with renewed strength and solidarity to protect it. Illinois public employees receive an average pension of just $32,000 and most do not receive Social Security. Their retirement security depends on their pension.

House leaders have declared their intent to have meetings over the summer to address the state's unfunded pension system. We believe strongly that any funding solutions must be constitutional, must lead to the long-term stability of the retirement systems, and must go to the root of the problem: the failure of politicians over decades to make required contributions, even as public employees always faithfully paid their share. 

Although we are pleased with today’s outcome we know the battle for pension security for public employees is far from over.  We urge you to stay informed and involved over the summer as the General Assembly continues to hold meetings on pension reform and raise the issue and legislation in the fall. You can check this website for updates.

On behalf of the more than one million working men and women of the We Are One Illinois Coalition, thank you for everything.  

We Are One Illinois

PENSION: (Illinois) House fails to act on so-called pension reform bill

 “We will convene meetings over the summer to address the issues and concerns that have been raised and work toward a solution in this year’s fall veto session.”
 --I wonder who these meetings will be with and if they will actually involve people that matter in them?--

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

Push to cut government worker pensions fizzles

2:51 PM CDT, May 30, 2011

SPRINGFIELD -- State lawmakers today decided to drop efforts to pass two of the session's most contentious bills -- cutting government worker pension benefits and health care for retired state employees.

House Republican leader Tom Cross said he will hold hearings over the summer on the issue of reducing the future pension benefits of current state employees.

Cross led efforts to set up a new pension system in which current employees could opt for one of three choices: keep their current pension benefit and pay more, take a smaller benefit but pay the same or join a self-managed plan similar to a 401(k) retirement fund.


STORY AT Chicago Sun-Times

Unions win as Illinois lawmakers put off pension reform until fall


Staff Reporter /
Last Modified: May 30, 2011 03:04PM

Efforts to make government workers pay more toward their pensions were pushed off the Illinois Legislature’s spring agenda and onto its fall calendar Monday, handing public-employee unions an important, though potentially temporary, victory.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) issued a joint statement Monday afternoon announcing that decision. The statement was co-signed by former Illinois Attorney General Tyrone Fahner, who is president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, which had pushed for labor givebacks on pensions.

“Our goal is to enact reforms to our pension systems that provide a long-term solution for both those who are members of the pension systems and those who fund them,” the statement said. “We will convene meetings over the summer to address the issues and concerns that have been raised and work toward a solution in this year’s fall veto session.”

PENSION: Illinois Legislative Update - Mon May 30, 2011 (SB 512) Stalled until Fall

THANK YOU for your calls and letters. This is a partial victory for now for public employees and their families.

Any action on Senate Bill 512 has been delayed until the fall veto session. We must keep the pressure on our representatives in order to make sure they know how we feel about our futures.

Please continue to call or write your representatives and tell them to vote NO!!

May 30, 2011


    We are absolutely committed to reforming Illinois’ public pension system for current employees. It must be done to stabilize our systems and address long term financial issues for both the public employee pension systems and state government.

    We believe passage of legislation addressing this issue is essential to the state’s well being.

    It was made very clear during the May 26th hearing in the Personnel and Pensions Committee that both those who support pension reform and those who are opposed to Senate Bill 512 acknowledge we have a problem and something must be done.

    Our goal is to enact reforms to our pension systems that provide a long term solution for both those who are members of the pension systems and those who fund them.

    We will convene meetings over the summer to address the issues and concerns that have been raised and work toward a solution in this year’s Fall Veto Session. [Emphasis added]

    -Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan
    -Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross
    -Tyrone Fahner, President, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago


93 and sunny!!!!!!!!!

Today we give thanks to all those who have made the supreme sacrifice so that we may enjoy days like this. We also give thanks to all those who are in harms way around the world.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!

We will be spending the day with family. Unless anything of note happens we will be enjoying the day.

We will be monitoring the Illinois House as they are in session and we will see what happens with SB512.  Any news will be posted.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Illinois Legislative Update - Sun May 29, 2011 (SB 512, HB 1698 & SB 342)

Senate Bill 512 was not voted on again tonight. 

Keep on contacting your legislators and putting the pressure on. It is having an effect. We must let them know that we are aware of what they are trying to and that we will not let them get away with it.

Click on the We Are One logo to call your legislator

House Bill 1698 was voted down in the House tonight. 

This bill was meant to reform Workers Comp in Illinois. There was much debate over the effect it would have. House Republicans did not think it was fair to doctors and the Democrats accused them of playing partisan politics (Typical stuff in Springfield). Look for a "Doomsday Bill" to be attempted that dismantles Workers Comp and places all the burden on the courts to hear every case and to make it the responsibility of the employee to prove the legitimacy of their claims. This will not only burden the courts further but it will delay much needed medical care in most cases.

Senate Bill 342 was voted down in the House also.

This was the budget reform bill. Look for arguments on SB512 to be even more heated as I am sure there will be cries that it must be passed now in order to save the state because the budget bill failed.

Stay with Duke's Daily Blotter for your immediate updates on the issues that matter to you. Not sure when the next session will meet but they are scheduled to adjourn for the summer on Tuesday May 31.


NEWS: (Illinois) House Bill 1985 passes both chambers (Something good for us)

This bill which will now go to the governor's desk for hopefully his signature makes it possible to prosecute people who make false complaints police officers. The bill amends the Uniform Peace Officers Disciplinary Act by adding the language that is highlighted below.

Finally, the politicians do something worthwhile for us.

HB1985 Engrossed        LRB097 10548 KMW 50890 b

1            AN ACT concerning local government.

2            Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3        represented in the General Assembly:

4            Section 5. The Uniform Peace Officers' Disciplinary Act is
5        amended by changing Section 3.8 as follows:

6            (50 ILCS 725/3.8)  (from Ch. 85, par. 2561)
7            Sec. 3.8. Admissions; counsel; verified complaint.
8            (a) No officer shall be interrogated without first being
9        advised in writing that admissions made in the course of the
10        interrogation may be used as evidence of misconduct or as the
11        basis for charges seeking suspension, removal, or discharge;
12        and without first being advised in writing that he or she has
13        the right to counsel of his or her choosing who may be present
14        to advise him or her at any stage of any interrogation.
15            (b) Anyone filing a complaint against a sworn peace officer
16        must have the complaint supported by a sworn affidavit. Any
17        complaint, having been supported by a sworn affidavit, and
18        having been found, in total or in part, to contain false
19        information, shall be presented to the appropriate State's
20        Attorney for a determination of prosecution.

21        (Source: P.A. 93-592, eff. 1-1-04.)

22            Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon

        HB1985 Engrossed    - 2 -    LRB097 10548 KMW 50890 b

1        becoming law.

Legislative update for Sunday May 29, 2011

Currently there is no word on Senate Bill 512.

The Illinois Senate has approved a Workers Compensation bill, House Bill 1698.

It appears that there may not be enough votes to get a bill out of committee in the Senate. Senate Bill 175 would require state retirees to pay more for their health insurance. Seems there is not a lot of support for this one.

What I don't understand on all three of these bills is that none of them concern the topics that they have been amended for.

SB512 was a simple technical change bill to change the word "the" in a pension statute but then an amendment was made that practically rewrites the law.

SB1698 has to with the adoption laws and was amended to rewrite the Workers Comp laws.

SB175 was a technical bill that applied to the Open Meetings Act and was amended to try and make retirees pay more for health insurance.

Do you see what the politicians in Springfield are trying to do to us? They try to hide these sweeping laws by amending simple bills that have nothing to do with the subjects and then sneak them through.

I think that is something that needs to be addressed on a legal level. They overturned the Unlawful Use of Weapons statutes a few years ago because it got lumped into a finance bill. What about these bills? This is almost criminal.

NEWS: (Suburban) Investigation of former Oak Brook president ends

--Really? Does this surprise anyone? This guy has got enough juice to walk away from a murder. C'mon BGA, I thought you guys were better than that.--

STORY AT Daily Herald

By the Better Government Association

An internal investigation that sought to determine whether former Oak Brook Village President John Craig was working full-time at his full-time job with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office has concluded without a recommendation for discipline or prosecution.

But the probe by the secretary of state’s inspector general, Jim Burns, did not give total absolution.

Investigators found that a year or more of Craig’s “activity” sheets — which Craig is supposed to fill out, detailing the work he did each day — were not submitted to his supervisor, Burns said.

As a result, that supervisor was suspended for a week without pay, and demoted, Burns said.

In an interview with the Better Government Association, Craig said that he didn’t fill out the activity sheets this past year because nobody ever gave him any to complete. And, Craig said, he indeed did account for his 2010 work by filling out other reports — but he said he “destroyed” them in recent months to make space in his state office in Lombard.

Craig, 76, disputed doing anything wrong, and insisted he worked hard and honestly for his $64,000 annual salary.

Craig, whose job title is “dealer rep,” is supposed to be on the road, traveling to auto dealers to check on license plates and paperwork. Even so, Craig’s supervisor should have kept better tabs on him, and was punished because that wasn’t done, officials said.

There are several dozen other dealer reps on the state payroll, records show. Investigators reviewed their work documentation, and “it was all in order,” Burns said.

Craig said he is on medical leave from the secretary of state’s office. He has worked there since 2001. He was defeated in a tough election in April as he ran for another term as the part-time village president of Oak Brook.

This story was written and reported by the BGA’s editor of investigations, Robert Herguth.

NEWS: (Suburban) Police probe whether road rage led to Maywood crash that killed 2

STORY AT Chicago Sun-Times

Last Modified: May 29, 2011 12:02AM

Two men were killed and three people were hospitalized — including a baby girl — in a three-car crash Saturday in Maywood that police said might have been caused by road rage.

A Rosemont man, 50, and a man in his 30s were killed after their Toyota flipped over and hit two cars in Maywood around 7 p.m. Saturday night.

While police couldn’t say exactly what caused the collision, Maywood police Chief Tim Curry said it’s possible a “confrontation’’ between the two men and someone in another car led to the deadly crash a short time later.

“One car was doing something and another car drove past it and we end up in this accident,’’ Curry said late Saturday.

Curry said the possible confrontation happened about a mile and a half away from the intersection of 9th Avenue and Main Street. That’s when the Rosemont man, who was driving the Toyota, began speeding while driving southbound on 9th.

“There’s a reason why he did what he did,’’ Curry said. “There may have been a confrontation between the Toyota and another unknown vehicle that was not in the crash.’’

The Toyota crossed over into the northbound lanes just past Main, where it collided head-on with a white Nissan driven by a man and carrying a woman and a baby girl.

The collision caused the Toyota to become airborne, and it hit a black Pontiac, which was driving behind the Nissan.

The Toyota flipped over and landed on its roof, Curry said. The men inside were both pronounced dead at 7:41 p.m. at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, a spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office said. The men’s names were not immediately released late Saturday.

The man and woman in the Nissan had to be extricated from their car. The two — whose conditions were unknown — along with the baby were hospitalized at Loyola.

“The little girl is fine,’’ said Curry. The men inside the Pontiac were not injured.

While Curry said the cause of the crash was under investigation, he noted the road was wet at the time of the crash.

NEWS: (Illinois) Changes to workers comp, pensions, political maps still on tap in Legislature

--We still need to keep calling and putting the pressure on today.--

Springfield Bureau Chief
Last Modified: May 28, 2011 10:05PM

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers return to work on Sunday with a lengthy list of unfinished business — from passing a budget to reforming the state’s pension and workers compensation systems.

The Democrat-led House and Senate face a Tuesday adjournment deadline to complete their work from the spring legislative session and are expected to be in session each day until then.

The House and Senate are still trying to reconcile budget proposals that are about $1 billion apart, and votes on a 2012 spending plan aren’t likely until closer to the adjournment deadline.

The House will likely take up a workers compensation reform package that passed the Senate on Saturday, and controversial legislation to impose new costs on state workers for their pensions is also positioned for a floor vote.

Both chambers also are expected to approve newly-drawn congressional boundaries that would seek to roll back Republican gains last fall in the suburbs, which next year could weaken the GOP’s grip on the U.S. House.

Commonwealth Edison continues to push legislation that would make it easier for the company to win state approval of rate hikes to help upgrade the utility’s electrical grid.

The company’s legislation advanced out of a House committee on Friday and awaits a vote by the full House despite opposition from Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Citizens Utility Board and Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Doug Scott, among others.

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) said he may seek a full House vote on Memorial Day on legislation authorizing a new Chicago casino along with five others in the suburbs and Downstate — plus slot machines at racetracks and Chicago’s two airports.

R.I.P.: Police Officer Kevin Will


Police Officer Kevin Will
Houston Police Department, Texas
End of Watch: Sunday, May 29, 2011

Biographical Info

Age: 38
Tour of Duty: 1 year, 8 months
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Date of Incident: May 29, 2011
Weapon Used: Automobile; Alcohol involved

Suspect Info: Apprehended

Police Officer Kevin Will was struck and killed by a drunk driver as he investigated an accident involving a motorcyclist on the North Loop at approximately 3:15 am.

Officer Will was interviewing a witness to the motorcycle accident when the drunk driver entered the accident scene. Officer Will warned the witness to jump out of the way before he was struck by the vehicle. The driver was taken into custody at the scene.

Officer Will had served with the Houston Police Department for almost two years. He is survived by his expectant wife and two children.

Agency Contact Information

Houston Police Department
1200 Travis Street
Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 884-3131

Saturday, May 28, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Update on Senate Bill 512 (No Vote Taken)

The Illinois House adjourned today without taking action Senate Bill 512

They are scheduled to reconvene tomorrow afternoon on the bill.

Please continue to call your legislators and let them know you are against Senate Bill 512 and Senate Bill 1831.

It is up to us to protect not only our futures but our families.


NEWS: (Suburban) Yorkville deputy chief charged in theft of drugs from department

--What the hell is going on lately? I know times are tough but now we have people stealing from police survivors and turn in programs?--

STORY AT Chicago Tribune

By Robert McCoppin
Tribune reporter
2:53 PM CDT, May 28, 2011

A deputy chief in the Yorkville Police Department was released on bond today after being charged with stealing painkillers from the west suburban department's drug collection program.

Dave Delaney posted $2,500 cash to get out after spending the night at Kendall County Jail, said Deputy Craig French, public information officer for the Kendall County Sheriff's office.

Delaney was charged Friday with felony possession of the painkiller hydrocodone, a controlled substance, and theft of government property.

He was placed on administrative leave Friday, Yorkville Police Chief Rich Hart announced, following his arrest.

While on administrative leave, Delaney –– one of two deputy chiefs at the department –– is not permitted to act in his official capacity or identify himself as a Yorkville police officer.

At the same time, Hart announced he was ending the public collection program for unwanted medications, and apologized for the inconvenience.

The case was handled by Illinois State Police.

PENSION: (Illinois) Pension reform remains tough sell with reluctant downstate lawmakers

STORY AT Herald-Review

H&R Springfield Bureau Writers

SPRINGFIELD - A plan to force the state's public sector workers to pay more for their pensions or get fewer retirement benefits remains a tough sell among many downstate lawmakers.

With many of their constituents working as schoolteachers, prison guards or state university employees, Republicans and Democrats alike say the latest push to shore up the state's underfunded pension systems is either unconstitutional or would place too big a burden on the workers.

"Do we have to do something? Yes. But, we need to sit down, we need to bring all sides in, including the unions, and everybody involved, financial advisers, everything like that, and try to look for a long-term fix for this," said state Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro.

On Thursday, a House committee approved a major overhaul of the state's five pension systems that would require many state workers to pay nearly 17 percent of their salaries into the retirement funds.

Those who don't want to pay more could take a cut in benefits or move into a 401(k)-style retirement plan, in which the state would contribute 4 percent of salary.

Members of the General Assembly would take a bigger hit. They currently pay about 11 percent of their $67,836 base salary into their pensions. That would jump to nearly 25 percent under the plan.

The changes are designed to begin reducing the state's $80 billion unfunded liability.

In testimony to the committee, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, argued that the state must do something to reduce the growing pension bite. Eventually, he said, the state could be paying an unsustainable amount of money into pensions, while having to cut human service programs.

"It is awful to have this discussion," Cross said. "But if we let this go and put our heads in the sand, it just gets worse."

Opponents predicted passage of the changes would trigger a costly legal battle that the state would ultimately lose on the constitutional grounds that the state cannot alter benefits for existing employees.

Michael Carrigan of Decatur, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, said public employees are being made "scapegoats" for what the General Assembly and past governors have failed to adequately fund.

"For decades and decades, these tax breaks and programs have been paid in part by ignoring pension payments due to the workers," said Carrigan. "These workers have made their contributions. These workers have made their payments on time, every payday."

Ken Swanson, president of the Illinois Education Association, predicted new teachers would look for jobs outside of Illinois.

"The state has used our pension systems as a credit card," Swanson said.

Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, said one of the groups pushing for the changes is populated by deep-pocketed corporate titans who have retirement packages worth tens of millions of dollars.

"These are the people who are telling us that our pensions are too high," Bayer said.

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan said lowering pension benefits would hurt the institution's efforts to bring top-flight academics to campus. He said the benefit level is ranked in the middle of other Big Ten universities.

"We have to work very hard to recruit them and retain them," Hogan said.

Although Republican leaders are pushing for the changes, some top Democrats, who have been heavily funded with campaign cash from labor unions, are on board with the plan.

"I fully support the bill," said House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

But rank-and-file lawmakers were not swayed.

State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he didn't believe changing pensions for current state employees would pass constitutional muster.

"Things that come up at the last minute, the last hour of session I'm always wary of, anyway," Rose said.

State Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, said he would be a "no" vote on the House floor.

"I just don't think people are going to be able to afford it. You're asking a teacher at a very humble salary to pay more out of their pocket to keep their (current) pension," Phelps said. "I just think that's wrong."

"I believe in the collective bargaining process, and I don't think that any law should supersede the collective bargaining process, so if they're going to make those changes, I think it should be at the negotiating table," Phelps added.

State Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, said he is not inclined to support the current version of the legislation, because the employees weren't consulted.

"I don't know that this bill has brought enough people to the table to work out something that is right for all involved," Morthland said.

Republican state Reps. Bill Mitchell of Forsyth and Dan Brady of Bloomington agreed.

"We certainly have a problem, but we should bring all the parties together and work out a solution," Mitchell said.

Said Brady: "Doing nothing potentially sets us up for a crisis."

State Rep. Adam Brown, R-Decatur, said he would likely oppose the legislation.

"The average state worker's pension in my district is $29,000 a year," Brown said. "It's not the extravagant pension that you hear about."

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, said he still had to look over the proposal.

"I think you ought to be careful about changing the rules in the middle of the game; I think you have to tread very lightly." Jacobs said, "And I don't think these decisions should be made in a hurry."

State Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, said he doesn't believe the House will approve the proposed reforms.

"I think the chances of it coming to the Senate are remote," he said.

"I haven't seen it to give an opinion, but I do have an opinion that something has to be done, or else it's going to be a train wreck down the road," Cultra said. "The whole goal is to provide a good pension for every worker."

The legislation is Senate Bill 512.

PENSION: (Illinois) Bill Impacting IMRF, Police and Fire Funds Approved by Committee

--This bill along with SB512 are the two that need to be stopped from being passed. As you can see this bill is very detrimental to the Downstate Systems.--


By Joe McCoy, Senior Legislative Advocate, IML

SB 1831 was amended by House Amendment 1 (Representative May, D-Highwood) and approved by the House Executive Committee on Wednesday, May 25. The bill includes the same language as orignially introduced by Representative May within HB 3474 as well as some other provisions that were introduced in legislation requested by IMRF.

Changes to Article 1 (Applicable to All 17 Articles of the Illinois Pension Code)

SB 1831 would require the suspension of pension payments for those who retire and continue to work for the same public employer as a contractual employee. This provision would only apply to those hired on or after the effective date of HB 3474. The amendment creates a notification requirement that, if violated, would subject persons to a Class A misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine. (Pages 8 and 9)

Changes to Article 3 and 4 (Downstate and Suburban Police and Fire)
SB 1831 includes language that allows downstate and suburban police and firefighter pension boards to make an irrevocable decision to transfer pension fund assets to IMRF for investment purposes. The bill sets forth the procedures necessary for the transfer of funds. While other provisions of SB 1831 had been introduced previously, this voluntary investement pooling language is new. The public safety unions testified against the language in Committee. This provision was inserted by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago). (Pages 9 and 10)

Changes to Article 7 (IMRF)

Posting Total Compensation Packages

Within 6 days of approving a budget, every IMRF employer that has a website must post information concerning any total compensation package that exceeds $75,000 in value. Six days prior to approving a budget, every IMRF employer that has a website must post information concerning any total compensation package that exceeds $150,000. In the absence of a website, employers must post all aforementioned information at the principal office of the employer. "Total compensation package" means payment by the employer to the employee for salary, health insurance, a housing allowance, a vehicle allowance, a clothing allowance, bonuses, loans, vacation days granted, and sick days granted. (Pages 1 and 2)

Hourly Standard

The bill allows members to return to work with an employer without suspending their pension as long as they work less than the hourly standard of that employer. It also allows non-education employers to increase the hourly standard to 1,000 hours. (Pages 22-24)

Authorized Agents

The bill removes the requirement that the authorized agent be an IMRF member in order to vote in employer elections. (Page 17)

SLEP Conversion Sunset

The bill limits any service conversions into SLEP to only those conversions that occur prior to the effective date of the Act. (Page 37)

ECO Program Sunset

The bill sunsets the Elected County Officials (ECO) Program. (Pages 43, 44, and 48)

Return to Work

The bill authorizes retired members who return to work for an IMRF employer to keep their pension even if employed in a position requiring less than the employer's standard for participation in IMRF. (Pages 41 and 42)

Final Rate of Earnings

Earnings for each of an employee's final 24 months of service cannot exceed 125% of the highest earnings of any other month in the "final earnings period." This provision applies to employees that first become participants in IMRF on or after the effective date of HB 3474. The "final earnings period" for these employees is the highest 8 out of the last 10 years. This provision would essentially serve as a cap on pension increases that result from late career salary increases. (Page 16)

Pre-Funding Pension Obligations

The present value of pension obligations created by a salary increase that is awarded during the "final rate of earnings period" must be pre-funded by the employer if the increase exceeds the greater of 6% or 1.5 times the salary earned during the previous year. This provision applies to current and future IMRF employees and is not applicable to employees covered by a collective bargaining contract. The section also includes a methodology and timetable that must be followed by the employer for making these payments. (Pages 57-60)

Pension Allocation Among Employers

Employer funding obligations for employees that earn pension credits among multiple IMRF employers would be determined using both service credit and salary information. IMRF believes that this change would be more equitable for employers because employers that pay higher salaries would absorb a greater share of the funding burden. (Pages 61 and 62)

Pension Impact Notes

A salary increase of 12% or more will require a pension impact note concerning the effect of the increase on a pension obligation. The authorities that are authorizing the salary increase must sign the pension impact statement. The employer must pay the costs associated with producing the Pension Impact Statement. Pension Impact Statements would not be necessary if a salary increase is the result of standard employment promotions that result in increased responsibility and workloads. (Pages 63 and 64)

NEWS: (Suburban) Police are searching for one of their own this weekend -- a former officer who is accused of theft.





Scott Webb allegedly stole more than $30,000 collected for the families of fallen officers. He was indicted earlier this week and charged with felony theft. A 10-year veteran of the west suburban Woodridge Police Department, Webb resigned while under investigation.

Woodridge police union members worked to raise money for fallen officers families by organizing an annual pub crawl. Webb was reportedly one of the pub crawl's organizers. It was a huge success, according to the president of Concerns of Police Survivors, or C.O.P.S., which benefitted from the fundraisers.

They donated an average of more than $15,000 a year, until the last two years when they received no check. That's because, according to a DuPage County Grand Jury indictment, Webb stole the money.

C.O.P.S. President Craig Figgins lost his brother Dan, a 27-year veteran of the St. Charles Police Department, six years ago. He died while in a foot chase with suspects. Now his organization helps families of other fallen officers, and the money that would have been donated by the Woodridge officers would have been a substantial portion of their budget.

"My brother served for 27 years, and that's a brotherhood. It's sad to think that someone would do that," Figgins said. "We could have done a lot with $30,000." Woodridge police placed Webb on administrative leave last August when they first became aware of the allegations. Webb resigned from the department in March.

The mayor and police chief of Woodridge issued a joint statement Friday night saying: "It is indeed a sad day when any member of the law enforcement community is charged with crimes against organizations that aim to provide aid and comfort to families of heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We are disappointed that families of fallen officers, and our community, have been victimized by alleged wrongdoing."

"There is some anger but we'll survive. We're suvivors as is," Figgins said.

Webb is being sought on a $250,000 bail arrest warrant. Police are asking anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office.

R.I.P.: Sergeant Kenneth Gary Vann


Sergeant Kenneth Gary Vann
Bexar County Sheriff's Office, Texas
End of Watch: Saturday, May 28, 2011

Biographical Info

Age: 48
Tour of Duty: 24 years, 6 months
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: May 28, 2011
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type

Suspect Info: At large

Sergeant Kenneth Vann was shot and killed in an ambush while stopped at a red light on Rigsby Avenue at 2:12 am.

He was responding to a non-emergency call and had stopped for a red light at the intersection of Rigsby Avenue and SE Loop 410. A car pulled up next to his patrol car on the passenger side and the occupant(s) immediately opened fire with no warning. Sergeant Vann was struck by multiple shots. His patrol car rolled through the intersection and was stopped by crash barriers. He succumbed to his wounds before arriving at a local hospital.

The other vehicle fled the scene and the suspect(s) remain at large.

Sergeant Vann had served with the Bexar County Sheriff's Office for over 24 years.

Agency Contact Information

Bexar County Sheriff's Office
200 North Comal
San Antonio, TX 78207
Phone: (210) 335-6000

Friday, May 27, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) Major public employee pension changes moving in Springfield

--Doing things a little different here because I want to address a couple of points in this article. I highlighted certain parts of the article and then added my questions or statements in red.--

Posted by Ray Long at 6:15 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD --- Over strong union protests, the Illinois House’s top two party leaders won preliminary approval today of far-reaching pension changes that would reduce the benefits for many public workers throughout the state, including Cook County and Chicago. Reduce pension benefits, isn't that a violation of the State's Constitution? This is the way the state legislators deal with problems. They run and hide by doing things like this that put the burden on the court system. They know if this bill passes it will end up at the Illinois Supreme Court but the problem is now out of their hands.
Government workers would get to choose from three different options: Keep the same level of benefits and pay more, pay nothing more and get less in benefits, or enroll in a 401k-styled retirement plan.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, joined Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, in testifying that Illinois must address the “severely underfunded” pension systems that are owed $80 billion, a debt so deep that it competes with spending on essential government services. I still do not see an admission or at least a recognition by the politicians that THEY are the ones that caused the underfunding by using the money that was supposed to be paid from the state for pet projects, loans or just refused to pay their share as prescribed by law. I also do not see any language outlining how they plan to repay the money they owe the systems.

“Every time a dollar leaves the legislature and goes over to the state pension systems, that’s a dollar not available for education, for social service programs and for whatever else the legislature chooses to appropriate the spending of money,” Madigan said.

The speaker said he was “fully supportive” of the legislation that moved to the House floor, hailing it as “forward looking.”

But Madigan conceded at one point that supporting the politically volatile legislation “will not be for the faint of heart.”

Cross, the measure's main architect, acknowledged his proposed three-tier pension plan is a “very scary topic” because it impacts the lives of teachers, university workers, rank-and-file state employees, state lawmakers and most city of Chicago and Cook County employees.

Chicago and downstate fire and police were exempted. So were county and city workers outside of Chicago who are members of the separate Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, which has about 90 percent of its debt covered, officials said.

The five retirement systems covering state government have less than 40 percent of their debt covered, a problem that ranks Illinois as one of the worst of the worst funded of any state.

“We can’t run from it,” Cross said. But you are running from it by attempting to pass a bill like this. You know that it will end up in the courts and you will just be able to sit back and watch the fireworks and say, it was the courts decision. This is how you do the "people's business"? You run and hide from your responsibilites and refuse to talk to those who these laws really affect.

The state’s pension systems put a strain on overall state funding when annual payments are made at the current level of $4.5 billion a year, Cross said. He warned that payments could grow to $20 billion a year by 2045. That’s when the state hopes to have the pension systems at the 90 percent funding mark. He estimated his three-tier plan could reduce that $20 billion expected payment by half.

Ken Swanson, outgoing president of the Illinois Education Association, challenged the proposal, saying the problems exist because “our pension systems have been used as a credit card” by politicians who have shirked their responsibilities to make adequate payments into retirement payments for decades.

One provision that “troubled” Rep. Karen May, D-Highland Park, was that the out-of-pocket payments eventually could go up if workers opt to pay more now in order to maintain their current level of pension benefits when they retire.

In particular, she questioned why the worker payments would be based on a percentage of an employee’s salaries for the first three years and then recalculated every three years. She called the three-year review a “last-minute wrinkle” and voted against the bill in the House Personnel and Pensions Committee.

No one would lose any of the benefits they earned up to the point when the legislation would become law, but future benefits would drop.

The bill advanced to the House floor on a 6-2 vote, with one lawmaker, Rep. Dan Biss, D-Evanston, voting present.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, supported the legislation, saying the state needs to use “every arrow in its quiver” to reduce the pension debt.

Former Illinois Attorney General Ty Fahner, a Republican who serves as president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, supported the legislation, saying 95 percent of Illinois citizens are paying for the costly state pensions. This organization has no business sticking their noses into public policy. They are run by high paid private sector bosses that get golden parachute pensions on a daily basis that are well in the millions of dollars. But he said those growing expenses for people who get state pensions “simply crowd out” state support for the needs of many more. He dismissed as “nonsense” the arguments of opponents who contended the move was an assault on worker rights.

Disagreeing was Henry Bayer, who heads AFSCME Council 31, the union that represents the largest portion of state workers. He charged the captains of industry who belong to the Commercial Club get astronomical salaries and pensions. And he maintained it would take 1,000 years for a state worker making typical $23,000 a year pension to make as much as the annual retirement benefits of industry big shots.

“Those are the people who are telling us our pensions are too high,” Bayer said.

Bayer dismissed charges that he is creating “class envy,” and he maintained the legislation is unconstitutional because it breaks a guarantee in the Illinois charter that says pensions cannot be diminished.

Lobbyist John McCabe testified against the legislation on behalf of the pension funds Cook County government and the Forest Preserve District. He said the changes could hurt employees because they may face skyrocketing payments every three years, calling the bill’s provisions an “almost a reckless attempt to fix this.”

Six Cook and Chicago public employee plans would be covered, including the one for Chicago schoolteachers.

The changes in the state pension systems would begin July 1, 2012. The city of Chicago and Cook County funds falling under the changes would begin Jan. 1, 2013. Judges would fall under the new provisions following their next election, pending approval of an amendment attaching the judicial system.

UNION: (Suburban) Aurora police labor complaint dismissed

STORY AT Daily Herald

By Marie Wilson

The Illinois Labor Relations Board this week dismissed an unfair labor practices complaint Aurora’s police union filed against the city, the board’s executive director said Friday.

The Association of Professional Police Officers, which represents roughly 250 patrol officers, filed the complaint in January after contract negotiations stalled and talks over concessions the city sought to balance its budget went sour.

The union can choose to appeal the dismissal within 10 days of its release.

Union President Dave Schmidt said the group’s leadership plans to meet May 31 to decide whether to appeal.

The complaint claims the city failed to bargain in good faith by offering union members a 1 percent raise during negotiations, then later asking for a 10 percent reduction in combined salary and benefits to help fill a projected $18 million gap in the 2011 budget.

It further states the city restrained the union’s collective bargaining rights and retaliated with layoffs after the union staged an informational picket.

Eight patrol officers received layoff notices in late November and were out of a job beginning Jan. 1. When the complaint was filed later in January, the city responded with a statement saying it was “baseless” and made “false allegations.”

Friday, the city responded to the complaint’s dismissal, saying the decision proves the city acted within its rights and gave proper notice when laying off the eight officers.

“The city would have preferred agreed concessions with (the union) in lieu of layoffs as achieved with other city unions. The city waited as long as it could, but in the end, had no alternative to layoffs,” the statement reads. “The Illinois Labor Relations Board’s decision to dismiss the unfair labor practice validates the city’s good faith union bargaining efforts.”

UNION: (Suburban) Naperville, cops working to settle labor dispute

STORY AT Daily Herald

By Justin Kmitch

The Naperville police union’s request for a hearing before the Illinois Labor Relations Board on charges city officials engaged in bad-faith bargaining during last fall’s contract negotiations has been delayed until Oct. 6.

Attorneys from both sides said they requested the hearing, originally scheduled for Thursday and today, be moved until October to allow them to settle the dispute among themselves. Neither, however, would discuss details.

“We’re going to sit down and try to resolve this thing,” city attorney Margo Ely said.

Tamara Cummings, general counsel for the union, said she’s eager to begin discussions to settle the dispute.

“We’re exchanging calendars now to get a date to talk,” Cummings said. “We’re going to go in with an open mind and see what we can accomplish.”

The complaint was filed early last November, less than a week after the city unveiled a new three-year contract with the police union and then immediately announced it couldn’t afford it without layoffs.

The layoffs were announced days after the city council approved the pact that gave officers raises of 3.3 percent for 2009-10 and 3 percent in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. The deal also included a 50 percent increase in police personnel health insurance premium contributions, to 15 percent from 10 percent of the total premium cost.

Members of the union, which represents 137 Naperville officers, argued the subject of layoffs never came up during negotiations and the final contract agreement was based entirely on the city’s own offer.

Since the complaint was filed, the city has rehired five of the six officers, but Cummings said the rehires, while appreciated, don’t change the basis for the original complaint.

“Our position and argument are the same but that action may impact how we can resolve this among ourselves.”

PENSION: UPDATE Senate Bill 512 (No vote today)

The House will not hear the pension bill today (Friday) as it has adjourned until 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Please continue to monitor legislative actions over the holiday weekend and continue to reach out to your local lawmakers and urge them to vote “no.”

The Illinois Public Pension Fund Association (IPPFA) has put out a short 2 page description of this bill. Very informative.


Just click on the picture to call your legislator and tell them to vote NO!!!!!

PENSION: (Illinois) TRS blasts House plan to raise employee pension contributions

--Currently SB512 is on the floor and we are awaiting the vote results. Hopefully all the pressure have been putting legislators will pay off.

SB512 will affect the following pension systems:

General Assembly Retirement System
State Employees Retirement System
State Universities Retirement System
Teachers' Retirement System
Cook County Pension Fund
Cook County Forest Preserve Pension Fund
Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund
Chicago Municipal Pension Fund
Chicago Laborers' Pension Fund
Chicago Park District Pension Fund--


Posted May 26, 2011 @ 11:00 PM
Last update May 27, 2011 @ 06:01 AM

The amounts most state workers, teachers, university employees and legislators would pay to keep their current pension benefits would keep climbing in the future under legislation sent to the floor of the Illinois House on Thursday.

Officials with the Teachers’ Retirement System, the state’s largest retirement system, also questioned whether the proposal would achieve the stability and solvency the sponsors claim.

Senate Bill 512 cleared the House Pensions and Personnel Committee on a 6-2 vote Thursday, over the strong objections of public employees. Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, voted “no,” along with Rep. Karen May, D-Highland Park. Rep. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, voted “present.”

While the House projects the initial contribution rates for teachers and university employees will double and those of state employees will go up by 50 percent, the new rates will not be permanent because the state will adjust them every three years.

“The numbers can only go up. They can’t go down,” said Dick Ingram, executive director of the Teachers’ Retirement System. “How far and how fast will be determined by how many people elect to leave” the first tier of benefits and go to a second, lesser tier or a defined contribution plan similar to a 401(k).

3 pension approaches

The measure, sponsored by House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, would create three different ways for public employees to retire. Those who started before Jan. 1 can stay in the current pension system, but pay more for benefits. Alternatively, they can go to a second tier of pension benefits, which generally requires employees to work longer, retire later and receive lesser yearly cost-of-living adjustments. Or employees can opt for a defined contribution plan in which they make decisions about how the money is invested.

Judges were not included in the bill on Thursday, but Cross said he intends to introduce an amendment to put them in.

TRS opposed the bill partly because it would cap state contributions and tie them to state revenue projections. The measure proposes to revise a 1995 law aimed at getting the five state-funded systems to 90 percent funding by 2045. It ramps up funding in fiscal years 2013 through 2015 in order to ensure the state contributes a level percentage of its tax revenue through 2045.

“Tying funding to state revenue is not a current or common or accepted actuarial practice,” Ingram said. “We have experienced a ramp proposal in the state twice before. It has failed to deliver both times.”

Ingram said he knows of no other state that ties its pension payments to state revenue. The bill assumes that state revenue will increase 2.3 percent annually.

Arbitrary projection

“Talking to an actuary, their question would be, ‘How do I project what state revenue is going to be?’ There’s no 40-year model for that,” Ingram said. “So you have the arbitrary 2.3 percent that’s inserted into the bill, but whether that has anything to do with reality – you’re basing your funding on a factor that has nothing to do with what creates the liability. So the disconnect there could be significant over time.

Poe, who has thousands of state employees in his district, did not ask a question during the hearing out of respect for Cross.

“Everybody knew where I’m at. They know the district I represent, and so I stayed pretty quiet,” he said.

Poe, who said his ‘no’ vote does not mean he doesn’t believe there needs to be changes in state pensions, said the unions, who were shut out of negotiations, should have been at the table.

“I don't think there was enough input from the people representing my constituents. As far as I can tell, there was only one discussion taking place, and that was the Civic Club of Chicago,” he said. “Always an agreement that has both parties at the table would be better than one being forced on people.”

‘Financial implosion’

Ty Fahner, president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, said the state faces a “financial implosion that threatens to consume the resources for our classrooms, our domestic violence shelters, our roads and bridges – all the things that the citizenry depends on state government officials to provide for.”

By the end of this decade, $1 out of every $3 of sales and income tax revenue will have to be spent on pension-related expenses, he said, quoting the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois.

“We cannot talk about school funding, we cannot talk about funding for social services … unless or until we address this issue,” Fahner said, adding that Illinois’ $86 billion in unfunded pension liability is the worst in the nation.

Fahner said the unfunded state of the pensions also cannot be blamed on the 2008 crash of the economy, something hotly disputed by the unions.

Fahner also scoffed at the idea that his organization, which is composed of many of the chief executives of Chicago’s largest corporations, is part of a national effort to attack public employees and unions.

“Do not be distracted by such overheated political rhetoric,” he said. “First of all, it’s not true.”

But Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees blasted the Civic Committee as corporate toadies who have spread misinformation throughout the state in their advertising campaign.

“Although Illinois may be broke, members of the Civic Committee are not,” Bayer said, going on to say that the lowest-paid CEO in the group is paid $11 million annually. “These are the people who are telling us that our pensions are too high.”

Union recommendations
The unions were asked what they would do to solve the problem. They said they would consider extending the timetable for bringing the pensions to 90 percent funding or setting the goal at 80 percent or 85 percent funding. If the pensions were 100 percent funded, that would mean that the obligations to every employee, working or retired, could be paid out if all retired at once.

Ken Swanson, president of the Illinois Education Association, said his union is willing to discuss benefit sacrifices “if there is something that is absolutely warranted and necessary.” He said his members want to know what will be done to ensure future governors and state lawmakers don’t skip or underfund the pensions, as they have done over the last few decades.

After the hearing, Cross conceded there is no mechanism to make the legislature meet its obligations.

”Obviously, people can change the law,” Cross said. “I think where most people are focused on is what’s going to be a contribution for a state employee or a university employee or a teacher.”

What employees would pay
System, Current Tier 1 contribution, Contribution to stay in Tier 1, Tier 2 contribution, Defined contribution plan employee contribution

SERS with Social Security, 4%, 9.29%, 4.04%, 4.04%

SERS alternative without Social Security, 12.50%, 18.91%, 6%, 6%

SERS alternative with Social Security, 8.5%, 16.65%, 4.46%, 4.46%

TRS, 9.40%, 13.77%, 6%, 6%

SURS, 8%, 15.31%, 6%, 6%

GARS, 11.50%, 24.89%, 6%, 6%

JRS, 11%, 34.04%, 6%, 6%

(SERS: State Employee Retirement System; TRS: Teachers Retirement System; SURS: State Universities Retirement System; GARS: General Assembly Retirement System; JRS: Judges Retirement System

NEWS: (Suburban) Franklin Park complies with Homeland Security demands

STORY AT Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
Last Modified: May 27, 2011 12:21PM

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has twice descended on the Franklin Park Public Works Department in recent years.

The most recent matter involved the village’s water towers. Homeland Security is requiring municipalities to fence in their water towers.

The requirement is part of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan of 2009.

This month, Franklin Park complied, spending about $8,000 to fence in its two towers, Utilities Superintendent Joe Lauro said. The village was not reimbursed for the work.

In a second instance, Homeland Security sent an e-mail asking the village to store its chlorine in a secure way and in limited amounts. Chlorine is used for disinfecting water.

“We’d order 15, 150-pound cylinders three times a year,” Lauro said. “Now when I run out, I will order five.”

While ordering every six weeks instead of two to three times a year is “a hassle,” Lauro said, he doesn’t think it will change the price.

Lauro suspects that, with the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and on the Pentagon coming up in September, the village might receive more correspondence from Homeland Security.

R.I.P.: Police Officer Andrew Garton


Police Officer Andrew Garton
Hawthorne Police Department, California
End of Watch: Thursday, May 26, 2011

Biographical Info

Age: 44
Tour of Duty: 7 years, 6 months
Badge Number: 333

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Motorcycle accident
Date of Incident: May 26, 2011
Weapon Used: Not available
Suspect Info: Not available

Police Officer Andrew Garton was killed in a motorcycle accident while providing a funeral escort through Torrance, California.

Several agencies were involved with escorting the funeral of a Manhattan Beach police officer. Officer Garton's motorcycle collided with an El Segundo Police Department motor unit at the intersection of 227th Street and Hawthorne Boulevard. The collision threw Officer Garton into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The El Segundo police officer was also seriously injured. Both officers were transported to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center where Officer Garton succumbed to his injuries.

Officer Garton had served with the Hawthorne Police Department for 7.5 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Agency Contact Information

Hawthorne Police Department
12501 S Hawthorne Blvd
Hawthorne, CA 90250
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

DUKE'S BLOTTER LIVE - Tonight May 26, @ 9:00 pm

Senate Bill 512, The first strike at destroying public employee pensions in the State of Illinos is scheduled for a Committee hearing on Thursday May 26 at 9:00 am. The contents of this bill as well as its impact if it passes will be discussed. **This bill has passed out of committee and now goes to the house floor.** Senate Bill 1831 also passed out of committee and goes to the house floor. This bill is a direct attack on the autonomy of all Downstate Pension Funds. We will discuss these bills in detail. We will also try to get to some other news as well.


(Northlake P.D.) Nagle-Perri Memorial Lodge #18 - Candle Light Bowl

This is for my department and the FOP lodge that I was part of for 19 years. I am going and I hope some folks from here can make it as well. If you need tickets in advance, let me know. Tickets will be available at the door also.

**Post held at top of Blotter for a few days (Posted on May 24, 2011)**

PENSION: BREAKING NEWS: Senate Bill 512 passes out of committee

By a vote of 6-2-1 Senate Bill 512 passed out of the Pensions and Personnel Committee and now goes to floor of the House of Representatives for consideration and voting.
The time to act is now to protect not only your future but your families.


PENSION: BREAKING NEWS: SB1831 Amendment 1 passes out of Committee

--The following information is provided by the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association (IPPFA) --

Below are sections of SB 1831 Amendment 001 that would affect Article 3 and Article 4 pension funds. 
This bill would allow trustees to voluntarily turn over the assets of their fund to IMRF. 
Though voluntary the decision is IRREVOCABLE! 
Passage of SB1831 would cause the loss of the autonomy and authority of our pension funds. The boards could NEVER recover their assets. 
The IPPFA opposes this provision of SB1831 and urges all trustees and investment professionals to contact their legislators and demand that they oppose this bill. 
Contact information for your legislators can be found at
Don’t hesitate, contact your legislators now.
(40 ILCS 5/3-140.2 new)

12            Sec. 3-140.2. Investment of funds by the board of trustees

13        of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. The board of each
14        fund may, by irrevocable resolution duly adopted, transfer to
15        the board of trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement
16        Fund, for management and administration, all investments owned
17        by the fund of every kind and character. Upon completion of the
18        transfer, the authority of the board of a fund to make
19        investments shall terminate. Thereafter, all investments of
20        the reserves of each fund shall be made by the board of
21        trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
22            The transfers shall be made as soon as practicable
23        following the effective date of such resolution, but after an
24        audit of the investments shall be completed by a certified
25        public accountant who is (i) selected by the board created

        09700SB1831ham001    - 10 -    LRB097 08644 JDS 56114 a

1        under this Article and (ii) approved by the Auditor General of
2        the State of Illinois. The expense of each audit shall be
3        assumed by the board created under this Article.

4            (40 ILCS 5/4-129.2 new)

5            Sec. 4-129.2. Investment of funds by the board of trustees
6        of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
The board of each
7        fund may, by irrevocable resolution duly adopted, transfer to
8        the board of trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement
9        Fund, for management and administration, all investments owned
10        by the fund of every kind and character. Upon completion of the
11        transfer, the authority of the board of a fund to make
12        investments shall terminate. Thereafter, all investments of
13        the reserves of each fund shall be made by the board of
14        trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.
15            The transfers shall be made as soon as practicable
16        following the effective date of such resolution, but after an
17        audit of the investments shall be completed by a certified
18        public accountant who is (i) selected by the board created
19        under this Article and (ii) approved by the Auditor General of
20        the State of Illinois. The expense of each audit shall be
21        assumed by the board created under this Article.