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ere the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf

Officer Down

Monday, October 31, 2011

PENSION: (Illinois) EDITORIAL: Stop the scaring, start solving pension crisis

--For once The Daily Herald got it right.
It is time to stop blaming everyone, telling half truths, and running away from the problems.
We do not need pension reform in Illinois, we need a PENSION OVERHAUL.
Knee-jerk reforms are not the answer when the entire system is broke.
The pension crisis in Illinois deserves everyone's full attention and participation.
The decisions should not be made by paid-for-politicians and private corporations that have no ones interest at heart but their own.
The answers need to be found by all facets of the issue working together.--
Duke

EDITORIAL AT DAILY HERALD

By Daily Herald Editorial Board

The scare tactics being employed on both sides of the pension debate in Illinois are frighteningly effective.

There’s the TV ad by business and civic groups that has an unseen state worker demanding $857 a year for 35 years from a mother and her toddler daughter standing in their doorway. When the miffed mother says she can’t afford it and just paid her taxes, the state worker says, “I wasn’t talking to you,” while the camera zooms in on the toddler’s innocent face.

And then there is the radio ad by the Illinois Education Association. The ad paints a warm picture of teachers and attacks legislators who didn’t do their jobs. The scary part? It suggests attempts to fix the pension system will cost taxpayers $34 billion over the next 15 years.

Meanwhile, the first half of the six-day fall legislative session has come and gone. Thousands of union members, including teachers, rallied and screamed in Springfield last week about their fears of losing pensions, while state legislators nibbled at some pension fraud fixes and likely will use that to tell voters they solved problems.

None of this is going to solve the problem we all must face. The roiling rhetoric, the scares, the crisis avoidance has got to stop. If it doesn’t, yes, our children and grandchildren might feel the crushing burden. But this financial irresponsibility also affects Illinois now. It affects job creation and retention. It is a significant part of the reason Illinois doesn’t pay bills on time.

The IEA is right. Teachers do play a critical role. Teachers do not get Social Security. They do contribute about 10 percent to their pensions. And state legislators did create the crisis over decades by putting off state pension contributions.

But the time for blaming or avoiding the problem should have ended long ago. Despite what union leaders say, there is no talk, in a state now run thoroughly by Democrats, of taking anyone’s already-earned retirement funds away. There is talk of changing the system as it applies to future earnings to try to help fill what is an $85 billion unfunded pension hole. Perhaps the idea some Republicans have proposed to create a three-tiered system would cost $34 billion. It definitely would allow workers the choice of putting future earnings in a 401(k)-style fund, taking smaller benefits without paying more, or keeping their same benefit rate if they pay more. The problem state officials created is $85 billion large, not $34 billion. That much we know.

We hear there may be progress in the House, but not the Senate. Not good enough. Legislators, union and civic officials need to quit wasting time and money on ads and rhetoric that tell half truths. The truth is frightening enough. They all should sit down and find solutions. Start negotiating and compromising. They can drag this out and drive up the $85 billion price tag we all face, or they finally can be part of finding a solution.

PENSION: (Illinois) EDITORIAL: Is Pension Proposal Political Poison?

'Public pensions in Illinois, particularly in the context of the state’s horrendous debt, have become a huge problem. Legislators have irresponsibly refused to make the necessary contributions to the funds, making it extremely difficult over the long term to keep its promises to state employees.'
--I find it very scary that politicians are threatening other politicians (from their own party) to vote for these misguided and unfair reforms.
I have not seen or heard one politician speak up for any type of real work to be done to fix this problem. 
They are either afraid of their private donators or fellow party members.
Is this what we have come to in this state?--
Duke


by Administrator
Monday October 31, 2011 7:29 am

It was the dog’s failure to bark in the night that provided a crucial clue in “Silver Blaze,” one of the most popular Sherlock Holmes short stories. Similarly, a failure by members of the Illinois House and Senate to vote on legislation addressing the serious problems surrounding public pensions will be similarly revealing.

Do legislators, who resume deliberations on Nov. 8th, have the stomach to confront a tough issue involving politically active public employee union members and pensions? If they do, what programmatic changes will they recommend to address the underfunding and possible collapse someday of the pension systems covering many thousands of current and retired state employees?

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross said this week that he has rounded up 30 votes to go with another 30 democratic votes provided by Democratic speaker Michael Madigan in support of a bill to establish a new three-tiered pension system.

Sixty votes are required to pass the bill in the House.

But Cross has made statements like that before. “This has got to be the third or fourth time Cross has said that we’ll have a vote on this, and nothing has happened,” said state Sen. Michael Frerichs, a Champaign Democrat.

State Rep. Chad Hays, a Catlin Republican, also expressed skepticism. “I would be surprised if the bill is called,” said Hays.

Public pensions in Illinois, particularly in the context of the state’s horrendous debt, have become a huge problem. Legislators have irresponsibly refused to make the necessary contributions to the funds, making it extremely difficult over the long term to keep its promises to state employees.

The plan Cross and Madigan are touting calls for a tiered system that gives members three options. Employees could:
-Remain in the current defined-benefit program but make increased contributions
-Go into a second tier approved for recent employees that carries reduced benefits
-Select a 401(k) defined contribution plan

The plan would not affect benefits employees have already earned, just those going forward after the legislation takes effect.

There are differing legal opinions about the proposal because the Illinois Constitution protects public employees against reductions of their pension benefit. But does that mean the rules surrounding an employee’s pension program cannot be changed after he is hired? Or does it mean that what an employee already has earned cannot be taken away, but the benefits to be earned in the future can be changed?

Frerichs said he’s convinced, based on a legal opinion drafted by the lawyer for Senate President John Cullerton, the proposal won’t pass legal muster. Consequently, he said he will not support it. “I don’t see any reason to pass bills you think are unconstitutional just to please the Chicago Tribune,” said Frerichs, referring to the Tribune’s strong editorial support for changes in the state’s pension plans.

Needless to say, this is a politically tough issue. Unionized public employees opposing the legislation jammed the state Capitol in Springfield this week, ultimately forcing the secretary of state to close building entrances because of a safety threat.

On the other side, supporters of changes to the pension program are threatening political retaliation against any Republican legislator who votes no. “The people of Illinois deserve a roll call vote in Springfield on pension reform. This way we can hold our elected officials responsible,” said Adam Andrzejewski, who runs the political reform group For the Good of Illinois.

“We will do our best to find or fund primary challenges for any Republican who votes against pension reform. “

That threat, of course, provides significant incentive for legislators not to vote on the bill, particularly if there are not enough votes to pass it.

Although Republican and Democratic House leaders support the pension bill, Senate President Cullerton does not. However, he has said that he will allow a vote in the Senate if the House passes the measure. The only way to test the constitutionality of the measure is for the bill to be passed into law and then challenged in the courts.

Andrzejewski said that’s what needs to be done. “(Constitutionality) is a straw-man argument. It needs to be tested (in the courts),” he said.

Driving the pension issue is not just the underfunding of the system but a series of scandals involving politically connected employees of private organizations who have benefitted from special legislation awarding them generous public pensions.

Andrzejewski, who ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2010, also has drawn attention to public pension costs by establishing a website (openthebooks.com) that reveals the salaries and pension status of all public employees in Illinois.

He calls the pension issue facing Illinois the “salient issue of our generation” because of its financial implications.

Obviously, there’s heat and risk on all sides of the issue, enough to provide legislators, especially those running for re-election in newly drawn state House and Senate districts next year, a good reason to keep their heads down and their mouths shut – just like the guard dog in “Silver Blaze.”

By Jim Dey
Champaign News-Gazette

PENSION: (Illinois) Pressure's on over pension system as deadline looms

'They could keep their current pension but would have to contribute more money to it. Or they could pay less and receive fewer benefits. Or they could switch to a 401(k)-style retirement account.'
--These three options proposed in SB512 are not fair reforms. These are simply the ideas of a group whose intention is to break the public worker for their own benefit.
The Commercial Club and their lackey politicians have no interest in pension reform, their goal is to do to the public employee exactly what they have done to the private employees; ruin their pensions and take away as much as possible from them.
It is time for real solutions and real discussions not sneaky, knee-jerk reforms--
Duke

STORY AT HERALD-REVIEW

By KURT ERICKSON
H&R Springfield Bureau Chief
Posted: Monday, October 31, 2011

SPRINGFIELD — The clock will be ticking on efforts to overhaul the state’s pension systems when lawmakers return to the Capitol next month for the final three days of the fall veto session.

Although Republican leaders in the House say they can put up half of the votes — 30 — on a controversial reform plan, Democratic leaders aren’t yet committing to a vote.

Any delay on a vote in the House could leave the Senate without enough time to debate the measure before heading home until next year Nov. 10.

“I would be really surprised if anything happens on pension reform,” said state Sen. Shane Cultra, an Onarga Republican.

The fight over reforming the state’s pension systems was on full display in the Capitol last week.

Public sector workers jammed into the Capitol on Wednesday for a rally. Although layoffs and cuts to their pay raises were dominant themes of the raucous protest, many were in town to blast a plan to impose a new, three-tiered pension system.

Outside the statehouse Thursday, business groups that are financing a pension overhaul parked a rolling billboard in full view of lawmakers walking in and out of the building. It read: “Illinois Is Broke.”

But in the warren of offices where the deals are cut by legislative leaders and the governor, a final version of pension changes has yet to emerge.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said 30 GOP members of the House are supporting the outlines of a plan designed to begin closing an unfunded pension liability of an estimated $85 billion.

The proposal he’s backing would offer employees three choices in their pension plan going forward. They could keep their current pension but would have to contribute more money to it. Or they could pay less and receive fewer benefits. Or they could switch to a 401(k)-style retirement account.

Exact details were not available.

Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, said he was unsure how many votes might come out of the Democratic side of the aisle because a final version of the legislation hadn’t been introduced.

“It’s very difficult to determine how many will vote for something until we know what that something is,” Brown said.

Cultra said he believes nothing will be voted on until after the primary election in March. He suggested legislative leaders could wait until after the November general election before asking lawmakers for a vote.

That would be just fine with Andrew West, one of several thousand public sector workers who rallied Wednesday against the overhaul in the Capitol rotunda.

West, a Rock Island firefighter, said a delay will help unions continue to remind voters and lawmakers that the problems with the state’s pensions weren’t created by the rank-and-file teachers, police officers, prison guards and others who make up the public sector.

“We’ve paid our money into the system. Lawmakers and the governors going back decades didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. They shortchanged the pensions for years and now want us to make up for their mistakes,” West said.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

PENSION: (National) Defending Public Pensions

OPINION AT ABC NEWS

OPINION By EARL POMEROY and CATHIE G. EITELBERG
June 29, 2011

Over the past year, politicians, pundits and an array of think tanks have put forth some frightening predictions about public employee pension plans. A misguided belief that pensions, particularly defined benefit plans, are causing the fiscal stress of many states is false. The widely held notion that 401(k) plans can provide adequate retirement benefits is, similiarly, a myth.

Here are some other major and oft-repeated misconceptions floating around many statehouses these days:

Myth: Public employee benefits are bankrupting states. Not so. According to publicly available data gathered from government websites, less than 4 percent of state budget expenditures go to funding pension benefits. A recent study from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded that state budget shortfalls are largely a result of decreases in tax revenue in part due to falling real estate values and shrinking tax revenue in general.

Myth: Public pensions are overly generous. Hardly. The most recent U.S. census data reveals the average state employee has a retirement benefit of $22,000 per year.

Myth: Public pension funds are going broke and will require billions in taxpayer bailouts. Nope, sorry. It is a fact that the states' pension funds face a shortfall. The Pew Center on the States recently pegged the collective number at $660 billion, a far cry from the $3 trillion figure being bandied about by some professors.

Some forecasts, discussed in certain academic circles and regurgitated unchallenged by the media, have many public pension plans running out of funds by 2020. But these estimates are based on flawed assumptions, such as no additional contributions and long-term low investment returns. And, that's to say nothing of the $3 trillion in assets public pension plans hold to pay future benefits.

Yes, $660 billion is a big number, but manageable when viewed over a long-term funding horizon, and when coupled with recent plan revisions for new employees.

Here is the simple reality about the bulk of today's shortfall: It is the direct result of the fact that our economy went off a cliff three years ago, sending state revenues plummeting. As the overall economy recovers, funding levels in most public retirement plans will improve as well. Let's remember that pensions are funded over the long-term and have weathered previous swings in market returns.

Over the 25 year-period ended Dec. 31, 2010, the median public pension plan has produced an annualized return of 8.8 percent. For the years ending 2009 and 2010, the median rate of return was 12.8 percent and 13.1 percent respectively. These returns will not fully repair the funding deficit, but as they are recognized by the plans over the next few years, they will help with the recovery of asset levels.

Public plans are not relying only on investment returns to mitigate the shortfall. In 2010, more than 20 states made changes to their pension plans to bring down future costs. Over time, these revisions, combined with employee and employer contributions and investment returns, will restore stronger funding for most pension plans.

As state and local legislatures across the country consider scaling back and changing retirement benefits of public employees, it is imperative that they focus on the real challenges they're facing. The critics are missing the real issue: the retirement security of the coming wave of baby boomers, many of whom are woefully unprepared for the financial demands ahead of them. While a defined contribution plan should be an important part of a retirement portfolio, it should not be the sole source of retirement income.

Consider this: By 2020, one-fourth of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65. The Employee Benefit Research Institute reports that the average balance in a DC plan will be only about $35,000, not enough to live on through retirement.

Having so many people without adequate income will have a devastating impact on the economy. This is the real looming crisis you don't hear much about: a growing segment of the population slipping into poverty.

If we don't have some form of serious conversation about America's retirement systems, one that puts retirement security in a more positive light, then in another decade we'll be wondering what we were thinking attacking a mostly healthy system that has served millions of Americans for decades.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

R.I.P.: Police Officer Brad Jones

ODMP 

Police Officer Brad Jones
Glendale Police Department, Arizona
End of Watch: Saturday, October 29, 2011

Biographical Info

Age: 27
Tour of Duty: 4 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: October 28, 2011
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: In custody

Police Officer Brad Jones was wounded while accompanying a probation officer on a meeting with a convict at an apartment complex near the intersection of North 75th Avenue and West Glendale Avenue.

During the meeting, the suspect pulled out a weapon and fired at officer Jones. He then fled in the officer's vehicle. Officer Jones was able to make a radio call and responding officers pursued the suspect until he crashed on west Glendale Avenue. The suspect attempted to flee, but exchanged gunfire with the officers and was critically wounded.

Officer Jones was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix where he died from his injuries.

Officer Jones had served with the Glendale Police Department for four years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Agency Contact Info

Glendale Police Department
6835 N 57th Drive
Glendale, AZ 85301
Phone: (623) 930-3000

PENSION: (Illinois) Bills we need to worry about in this veto session....NOW!!!!

***Date of post changed to hold at top of BLOTTER***

--The following bills are ones that you should be contacting your state legislator about and telling them you are against these bills.

We must start making Springfield do the business of the people of the State of Illinois and not just the business of their biggest contributors.

The fate of public pensions and collective bargaining in Illinois not only impact you but your families future as well. Don't you have enough to worry about everyday you go to work? Do you really want to be doing your job while you are thinking about "what happens to my family if something happens to me?" Don't you deserve the peace of mind that your insurance and your pension is securely in place for the unknown future?--

Duke

Find your state legislator **HERE** and please contact them now.

You can also go **HERE** to send them a message directly about pension bills.


Synopsis:

Replaces everything after the enacting clause. Amends the Articles of the Illinois Pension Code that create the State-funded retirement systems, other than the Judges Article, as well as various Articles affecting employees of Cook County and Chicago, and the Reciprocal Act. Requires current participants in the affected systems to make an election of one of the following: (i) the traditional benefit package under the applicable Article of the Pension Code, (ii) the existing benefit package for new hires, or (iii) a self-managed plan. Authorizes persons who become participants on or after January 1, 2011 to elect either: (i) the benefit package for new hires or (ii) the self-managed plan. Sets forth the requirements for the self-managed plan. Specifies the required employee contributions for persons who make each type of election. In the Chicago Park District Article, provides that, beginning January 1, 2012, the fiscal year of the Park Employees' and Retirement Board Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund will run from January 1 to December 31 (instead of July 1 to June 30) and makes corresponding changes in other provisions of the Article. In various Articles affecting employees of Cook County and Chicago, freezes the tax levy rate. Makes changes concerning the required State contributions for the 5 State-funded systems. Amends the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act to provide that the changes made by the amendatory Act control when there is a conflict with the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act. Makes other changes. Effective immediately.



Synopsis:

Amends the Downstate Police, Downstate Firefighters, and Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) Articles of the Illinois Pension Code. Requires the board of each downstate police and downstate firefighter fund to transfer to the board of trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, for management and administration, all investments owned by those funds. Terminates, upon completion of the transfer, the authority of the boards of each downstate police and downstate firefighter fund to make investments. Charges the board of trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund with controlling and managing the investment expenditures and income, including interest dividends, capital gains, and other distributions on the investments of the downstate police and downstate firefighter funds. Provides for the election of a police officer trustee and a firefighter trustee to the board of trustees of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.



***UPDATE Oct 27, 2011*** Sen Cross has pulled this bill from committee. No idea what their intentions are with this one now.


Synopsis:

Amends the Illinois Pension Code. Provides that any reasonable suspicion by any appointed or elected commissioner, trustee, director, board member, or employee of a retirement system or pension fund created under the Code or the State Board of Investment of a false statement or falsified record being submitted or permitted by a person under the Code shall be immediately referred to the board of trustees of a retirement system or pension fund created under the Code or the State Board of Investment or the State's Attorney of the jurisdiction where the alleged fraudulent activity occurred, and that the board of trustees of a retirement system or pension fund or the State Board of Investment shall immediately notify the State's Attorney of the jurisdiction where any alleged fraudulent activity occurred for investigation; Amends the Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighter, Chicago Municipal, Chicago Laborers, Chicago Park District, and Chicago Teacher Articles of the Illinois Pension Code to terminate the existing pension boards 90 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act and to provide for a new board comprised of 4 members appointed by the Mayor of the City of Chicago and 3 elected members representing active members and annuitant members of the fund. Amends the Cook County Article of the Illinois Pension Code to terminate the existing board of trustees 90 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act and to provide for a new board comprised of 5 members appointed by the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners and 4 elected members representing active and annuitant members of the fund. Effective immediately.


Synopsis:

Amends the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act. Makes a technical change in a Section concerning required health coverage benefits.


Synopsis:

Amends the Public Employee Disability Act. Excludes from the definition of "eligible employee" any full-time law enforcement officer or full-time firefighter who is employed by a unit of local government. Removes a provision that preempted the power of home rule units to act inconsistently with the requirements of the Act, as well as a provision that exempted from the requirements of the Act municipalities having a population of over 1,000,000. Effective immediately. 

*********************************************************************** 

CHICAGO OUTFIT: Convict 'overwhelmed' by 60-year sentence in mob-related bombings

STORY AT CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Annie Sweeney
Tribune reporter
1:26 PM CDT, October 28, 2011

A reputed ranking officer with the Outlaws motorcycle gang  was sentenced to 60 years in prison today in federal court for planning a mob-related bombing in 2003 and authorizing a string of robberies and burglaries – the proceeds of which were used to stock his pawn shop with stolen merchandise.

Mark Polchan was convicted last December by a federal jury with reputed mob boss  Michael “the Large Guy” Sarno and three others.

The crew was convicted of bombing a rival Berwyn video poker business to protect its lucrative illegal gambling operation, and fencing gems and other merchandise stolen in a series of robberies and burglaries of jewelry stores and other locations.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman called Polchan’s commitment to his criminal life complete.

Polchan, 43, shook his head often during the sentencing and when he had an opportunity to speak told the judge he was too “overwhelmed” to say anything.

Sarno is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

UNION: (National) Ohio Union Law Vote Pits Business Groups Against Public Workers

--It's unfortunate that this has become the case. The private sector has ruined their employees benefits and pensions for the last 20 years. They now have no choice but to go after public employees and take away our benefits and ruin our pensions so that their employees can no longer compare themselves to us.--
Duke

STORY AT BLOOMBERG

By Mark Niquette
Oct 4, 2011 11:01 PM CT

Ohio business groups are joining Governor John Kasich in a Nov. 8 referendum fight to uphold a law limiting collective bargaining for government unions, pitting private might against public workers.

Organizations whose members include Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), Kroger Co. (KR) and Bob Evans Farms Inc. have endorsed keeping the law, contributed an undisclosed amount to the campaign and sent information to members, according Building a Better Ohio, the group supporting the measure.

Businesses are taxpayers, and the law offers the best chance in years to control government costs and make the state more competitive, said Roger Geiger, executive director of National Federation of Independent Business/Ohio. The group represents 24,000 small companies, and 92 percent supported the law in a survey, he said.

“They have a right to expect reforms and things that they believe will better government,” Geiger said. Telling business to avoid the fight “is like saying I’m going to give my kid an allowance, but I’m never going to pay attention to what they spend it on.”

The private groups are taking their stand as public workers account for an increasing share of declining union membership nationwide. The number of Ohioans represented by unions last year fell to almost 702,000 from 1.13 million in 1983, while the share of government employees increased to 47.7 percent from 26.2 percent, according to unionstats.com.

Attacking Customers

Opponents of the law, including the repeal coalition We Are Ohio, have called it an effort to bust unions and limit their support of Democratic candidates. The business groups don’t speak for all their members, said Melissa Fazekas, a spokeswoman for We Are Ohio.

“It just doesn’t make a lot of sense, because public employees, middle-class Ohioans, spend their money in their businesses,” Fazekas said.

In March, Kasich, a 59-year-old first-term Republican, signed the law passed by a legislature that his party dominates. It restricts bargaining for almost 360,000 employees and requires them to pay at least 15 percent of their health-care insurance premiums and 10 percent toward pensions. The Ohio law, similar to one backed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker that triggered weeks of protests at the Capitol in Madison, is on hold pending the Nov. 8 vote.

Joining Forces

Business groups tend to support Kasich, Paul Beck, a political-science professor at Ohio State University in Columbus, said in a telephone interview.

“There is kind of an anti-union mentality there, and anything that weakens unionization is perceived, I think, as a good thing by many of them,” Beck said.

An Ohio Chamber of Commerce endorsement stems from a report it issued last year making recommendations to reduce costs and “transform state government,” said President Andrew E. Doehrel. The organization says it represents 6,000 members ranging from small businesses to international companies.

“We look at business issues from a business point of view,” Doehrel said in a telephone interview from Columbus. “If that lines up with this governor or a different governor, that’s where we’re going to continue to be. And I would expect the labor guys to line up and try and support their members where their issues are.”

Silent Money

Doehrel said the chamber is contributing money to the campaign while declining to say how much. Jason Mauk, a spokesman for Building a Better Ohio, also declined to say how much the business groups are contributing.

Business interests helped Walker in the Wisconsin fight. The Wisconsin arm of Club For Growth, a Washington-based group that pushes for lower taxes, spent $9 million on nine recall votes on state senators that were prompted by the union- bargaining law. Americans for Prosperity, which billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch and their family’s Koch Industries Inc. helped found, spent $800,000, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks campaign spending.

Kasich said the Ohio law will give local governments tools to control costs, prevent dismissals and provide equity with private-industry workers, who he said pay more on average for health care and pensions.

“I believe in unions; I believe they have a place,” Kasich said during a Sept. 29 Toledo rally in support of the ballot measure. “This is not an attack on anybody. It’s asking everybody to pitch in and to do a little bit.”

Wet Dissent

About 50 protesters stood outside in the rain supporting repeal in the referendum, called Issue 2 on the Ohio ballot and which asks voters to choose ‘yes’ to keep the restrictions.

“No on Two,” they chanted as participants walked in. “Shame on you.”

Business groups that endorsed keeping the law include the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and six regional chambers, NFIB/Ohio, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, according to Building a Better Ohio.

Cincinnati-based Kroger hasn’t taken a position on the issue, even though the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, to which it belongs, has endorsed it, Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey said by phone. Most of the company’s 338,000 full- and part-time employees are covered by the United Food and Commercial Workers, he said.

We’re Helping

P&G, an Ohio Chamber member based in Cincinnati, also hasn’t taken a position, said Christine Wever, a spokeswoman. The majority of the company’s 129,000 workers is not represented by unions, though there are contracts at a handful of U.S. plants, she said.

As a publicly owned company, Bob Evans, a member of both the Ohio and Columbus chambers, doesn’t take positions on political issues such as the referendum, said Margaret Standing, a spokeswoman.

The business groups’ support will help public employees, because without the law, governments will be forced to cut services and dismiss workers or raise taxes, said Matt Davis, vice president of government affairs for the Cincinnati USA Chamber, which he said represents more than 5,000 members employing 310,000 people.

“It’s going to help them in the long run keep their jobs,” Davis said in a telephone interview.

Still, the board of the 200-member Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce in northeast Ohio voted to remain neutral because taking a stand wouldn’t benefit the chamber, said Terry McCoy, an architect and the group’s president.

“It’s more important to represent the members of your community and the companies that are here and to find ways to advance their businesses, not to take political stands one way or the other to divide the people,” McCoy said in a telephone interview.

Friday, October 28, 2011

NEWS: (Suburban) Neighbors learn ways to combat gangs in Maine Township

STORY AT PIONEER PRESS

By JENNIFER JOHNSON
jjohnson@pioneerlocal.com
Last Modified: Oct 27, 2011 04:16AM

Police partnerships coupled with parental and community involvement were stressed as ways to combat gang problems in Maine Township during an Oct. 19 seminar presented by Cook County Prosecutor and Maine Township Trustee Laura Morask.

A nine-member panel consisting of local law-enforcement officials and educational leaders outlined enforcement and intervention efforts before a crowd of more than 120 residents at Park Ridge’s Maine Township Town Hall. Cook County Sheriff’s Police officers also provided security during the seminar, partly in response to a 2009 incident in which several gang members showed up at the annual presentation and were subsequently arrested.

During the more than two-hour presentation residents were repeatedly advised to call police if they see signs of gang activity, particularly the appearance of graffiti, which Morask said can be a sign of an impending turf war.

“When you see graffiti in your neighborhood you must call police,” she said, showing slides of several examples of gang graffiti found in unincorporated Maine Township and explaining the meaning behind some of the markings.

According to Cook County Sheriff’s Police Deputy Cmdr. Anthony Brzezniak there are four primary gangs within unincorporated Maine Township: the Dee Road Latin Kings, of the Dee Road and Robin Drive neighborhoods just north of Dempster Street; the Surenos 13s, of Golf Terrace Apartments; and the Gangster Disciples and Black P Stones, of Crestwood condominiums and apartments along Interstate 294.

In recent months police have made gains in dismantling the gangs’ leadership by arresting some of the local leaders, Brzezniak said. In the case of the Dee Road Kings, two high-ranking members of the gang are now in Cook County Jail awaiting trial on aggravated-battery and mob-action charges stemming from the alleged August beating of a man in Niles. Several other members of the gang are serving time in the Illinois and federal prison systems, Brzezniak said.

“Because we have the two of three ranking gang members in custody, it’s a totally different environment down on Robin Drive now,” he acknowledged.

Police also have in custody five members of the Golf Terrace Surenos 13s gang — rivals of the Dee Road Kings — and three other members were recently deported, Brzezniak added. Members of the Crestwood gangs, which are affiliated with gangs from Evanston and Chicago’s East Rogers Park neighborhood, have also been arrested in recent months, he said.

“With us targeting the hierarchy of these gangs we’ve really reduced their ability to operate in Maine Township,” he said.

The 2004 stabbing death of a 16-year-old boy in a parking lot along Dempster Street was based on a rivalry between the Surenos and Latin Kings gangs, authorities had said. It was the last gang murder in the unincorporated area, though other acts of gang-on-gang violence and property damage have been reported. In most cases the Maine Township gang members turn on each other rather than the general public, Brzezniak said.

“Although normal citizens have been impacted by their criminal activity, it’s predominantly aimed at their rivals,” he noted.

Larissa Sizos, a member of the Maine Township Neighborhood Watch and a Robin Drive resident, has noticed some improvements in her immediate area, but she acknowledged there are still clear signs of gang activity, particularly the selling of drugs.

“They don’t go away,” Sizos said of neighbors with gang affiliations. If one moves away or is in incarcerated, “somebody else comes and takes over,” she added.

Morask said the closing of public housing within the city of Chicago has helped to spread gangs to the suburbs. Families looking to escape gang warfare in the city often find their children keeping their gang ties once they have relocated, she added.

Brzezniak said drugs and guns are the primary sources of income for the local gangs.

During last week’s gang seminar, law-enforcement leaders repeatedly referenced the importance of the Park Ridge, Niles, Des Plaines and Cook County Sheriff’s police departments working together to share gang intelligence.

“The gangs don’t stop at Dempster Street; they don’t stop at River Road,” said Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski. “It’s a regional issue and you have to approach it regionally.”

One example of this was the arrest of the two high-ranking Dee Road Kings members, which was a joint effort between the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and the Niles Police Department.

Kaminski, who had a 32-year career with the Evanston Police Department before coming to Park Ridge, said suburban police departments have changed their perception of gang activity in recent years.

“There was a time that we actually did not want to recognize gangs in a community because of the negative effects it would have on the community,” Kaminski said. “But I think one of the lessons I’ve learned now is that gangs can be in any community. Whether you’re rich or poor, those things don’t matter. If the seeds are there, gangs can develop.”

Full-time school resource officers at Maine East and Maine South high schools in Park Ridge and Gemini Junior High School in Niles were credited by members of the panel for helping to gather gang intelligence and potentially stop problems before they develop.

Kaminski called the school resource officers “the best buffers we have so far.”

“I think we’re doing a lot of good things by cooperating and working in the schools,” he said.

Niles Police Chief Dean Strzelecki called for parents to step up their authority, as well.

“Be a parent; be involved in your kids’ lives,” he said.

NEWS: (Suburban) Oak Brook selects new police chief

--I do not know anything about the new leadership in Oak Brook and I do not know Chief Kruger so I cannot comment on either. I do wish them the best of luck.
I do hope things are different and better for the officers considering what went on prior to this new administration.--
Duke

STORY AT PIONEER PRESS

By Steve Schering
Contributor
Last Modified: Oct 27, 2011 03:01AM

After months of searching, the Oak Brook Police Department has a new man in charge, as former Roselle Police Chief Jim Kruger accepted the job Tuesday night.

Kruger, who has spent the last five and-a-half years in charge of the Roselle department, spent two years as the police chief in Winfield and 20 years in Carpentersville, last serving as its police commander.

“I think this is a wonderful community that has a lot to offer,” he said. “Right away, I’ll get to know everyone and the operation as well as the residents and the business community.”

Kruger replaces Tom Sheahan, who resigned as Oak Brook’s police chief earlier this year. Former Oak Brook Deputy Police Chief Steve Larson, who had retired, rejoined the department April 25 as acting police chief and is contracted to serve until Dec. 1. Kruger will officially begin leading the department Nov. 28.

“It’s been an honor and a great 29 years,” Larson told the board. “It’s been the pleasure of my life working for you and with you. Thank you very much.”

Kruger has spent time with Larson and the department’s three police lieutenants and looks forward to leading Oak Brook’s department.

“I will start to understand what it means to be a part of the Oak Brook Police Department,” Kruger said. “Part of my job is to do whatever I can to make (the officers’) jobs easier and get them to perform at their highest levels.

“I had a wonderful team in Roselle. It was a very difficult decision to leave them. I’m very excited. This is a wonderful opportunity.”

Nearly 140 resumes were submitted to the village. Its police chief search committee narrowed the field down to 12 candidates.

After the process slowed in recent months, Oak Brook Village President Gopal Lalmalani was presented with seven names, with two being internal candidates. In the end, trustees chose Kruger and accepted Lalmalani’s nomination with a 6-0 vote Tuesday.

“Each one of them were outstanding candidates,” Lalmalani said. “I spent quite a few agonizing nights and weeks about these candidates. I decided the best fit for Oak Brook was Mr. Kruger for the situation we have here.”

Trustee Mike Manzo did not hold back his criticism over the selection process, but in the end voted yes Tuesday, adding Kruger was a qualified choice.

“I do not appreciate what was done to our committee,” Manzo said. “The committee was given the task to bring 12 names out of 139. That process was interrupted and changed in the 11th hour. What bothered me more than that was the rumors, lies and distortion that was put out against some of the candidates for this position. We’re better than that in Oak Brook.”

PENSION: (Illinois) Legislation aims to correct part of 'sub for a day' pension loophole

--Again, I get the idea that we need to stop these kinds of actions. But, knee-jerk reforms are not the answer. For some reason the politicians just don't want to face the real issues. They face only those that are pointed out to them by certain organizations and political contributors.--
Duke

STORY AT CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Ray Long
Clout Street
7:10 PM CDT, October 27, 2011
SPRINGFIELD

Responding to another pension scandal, a Quad Cities area lawmaker introduced legislation Thursday to block a union lobbyist from counting years of time with the Illinois Federation of Teachers toward a state teacher pension.

The lobbyist got that deal because he served as a substitute teacher for only one day — a provision made possible during a brief window in a 2007 state law.
An IFT spokesman said the union supports constitutional changes and has called for reforms that would never allow the type of window the lobbyists used.

The Tribune reported Sunday that two IFT lobbyists took advantage of the brief window to get a substitute teaching certificate, sub for a day and get to count their years as union employees toward a pension with the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System.

One of the IFT lobbyists, David Piccioli, has already made the payments necessary to count his nearly 10 years at the union toward a teacher pension. But Steven Preckwinkle, the union’s political director, had yet to make the payments that are based on prior salaries and compounded interest for his more than 16 previous years as a union employee.

Rep. Richard Morthland, R-Cordova, who teaches communications at a community college, is tailoring the legislation to block Preckwinkle because he still needed to make payments. Based on his earnings history, Preckwinkle eventually could get an annual teacher pension of as much as $108,000 a a year — more than double the average teacher receives.

“This was clearly an inappropriate action by a leader of the union. Now here's the point: my wife and I are members, this makes all of my brothers and sisters look bad,” Morthland said. “I've taught more this week than Steve Preckwinkle has taught in his life.”

PENSION (Illinois) Illinois House Votes to Ban Pension Abuses

“When you look at this thing and you point the finger at the public employee, you're making them out to be the bad guy; when they are not the bad guy,” Sen. Kwame Raoul D-Chicago said. “They are not the reason that the pension funds are in the circumstance that they're in right now. The reality is that we've got to do something with regards to the solvency. But you cannot do it without these people at the table.”

--At least one politician spoke the truth about whose fault this all is.--
Duke

STORY AT FOX NEWS CHICAGO

Updated: Friday, 28 Oct 2011, 12:29 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 27 Oct 2011, 10:24 PM CDT

By Political Editor Mike Flannery, FOX Chicago News


Springfield, Ill. - State and local taxpayers here may be on the hook for more than $200 billion in unfunded pension bills. But the Illinois House moved to whittle that figure down a little bit Thursday. They voted 111-3 to ban a series of outrageous pension scams first exposed by FOX Chicago News .

Members of the Illinois House here were nearly unanimous when it came time to debate a ban on the sort of pension abuses that FOX Chicago News reported on last August.

“It was somewhat of a shock to us,” Rep. Tom Cross, R-Oswego said. “Even by Illinois standards, some of the abuses are egregious and outrageous.”

House Republican Leader Tom Cross was chief sponsor of a proposal to outlaw what have been legal pension fund rip-offs, available only to insider lobbyists and union leaders, such as Tim Foley of Electrical Workers Local 134 and Tom Villanova, of the Building Trades Union Council.

Cross estimated a cost to taxpayers of $53 million to provide those and other gold-plated pensions.

Still, some legislators feared that focusing on individual outrages might distract from the real nightmare confronting taxpayers: gigantic public employee pension funds that could be flat broke in a few years.

“A modified pension is a lot better than a bankrupt one,” Sen. Kyle McCarter R-Lebanon said. “And in 2023, when the checks don't come, the people I represent - they may be upset with me today by reforming pensions - but, in 2023, they're going to be a lot more angry then when the checks don't come.”

Some legislators insist they won't support long-term pension reform, unless public employee unions agree.


“When you look at this thing and you point the finger at the public employee, you're making them out to be the bad guy; when they are not the bad guy,” Sen. Kwame Raoul D-Chicago said. “They are not the reason that the pension funds are in the circumstance that they're in right now. The reality is that we've got to do something with regards to the solvency. But you cannot do it without these people at the table.”

While it does not appear that the General Assembly this fall will deal with the larger pension crisis, it does seem that the worst pension fund abuses will be banned when the state senate takes up that bill upon its return in two weeks.

OFFICER DOWN NEWS (Chicago) Reputed gang member gets maximum for killing police officer

--To bad we don't use the needle any longer--
Duke

STORY AT CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Jeremy Gorner
Tribune reporter
7:17 PM CDT, October 28, 2011

A reputed gang member was sentenced to 125 years in prison today for the 2009 murder of Chicago police Officer Alejandro “Alex” Valadez in June 2009.

Shawn Gaston, 22,  sat expressionless as the maximum sentence was imposed on him at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building.

“There is no sentence that can undo what Mr. Gaston has done,” Judge Jorge Alonso said in a courtroom packed with members of the Valadez and Gaston families and Chicago police officers.

Prosecutors said Gaston was out for revenge early after he and other alleged gang members were shot at by rivals in the 6000 block of South Hermitage Avenue in the Englewood neighborhood.

Valadez was investigating a report of shots fired when Gaston returned in his mother's car a few minutes later and fired several shots, killing Valadez, prosecutors said.

A jury convicted Gaston last month.

Two other defendants, Kevin Walker and Christopher Harris, are awaiting trial in connection with Valadez’s murder.

Several top police brass attended Gaston’s lengthy sentencing hearing, including Superintendent Garry McCarthy and Chief of Detectives Thomas Byrne.

R.I.P.: Police Officer Terry L. Fleming

ODMP 

Police Officer Terry L. Fleming
Albany Police Department, Georgia
End of Watch: Friday, October 28, 2011

Biographical Info

Age: 36
Tour of Duty: 5 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details

Cause of Death: Vehicle pursuit
Date of Incident: October 28, 2011
Weapon Used: Automobile
Suspect Info: Charged with felony murder

Police Officer Terry Fleming was killed when her patrol car collided with another patrol car during a high speed pursuit.

Officers were pursuing a truck occupied by two men who had just committed an armed robbery, when Officer Fleming's patrol car collided with the other patrol car at the intersection of East Residence Avenue and Blaylock Avenue. Officer Fleming's car burst into flames upon impact.

The suspects continued to flee until their truck overturned a short distance away. Both men were arrested and charged with felony as a result of Officer Fleming's death. They were also charged with multiple felony counts in connection with the armed robbery.

Officer Fleming had served with the Albany Police Department for five years. She is survived by her husband and three children.

Agency Contact Info

Chief John A. Proctor
Albany Police Department
225 Pine Avenue
Albany, GA 31702
Phone: (229) 431-2100

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NEWS: (Chicago) ACLU sues over Chicago police deployment

--What a crock--
Duke

STORY AT ABC7 CHICAGO

video

Updated at 05:12 PM today
Paul Meincke

October 27, 2011 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging fewer officers are deployed to predominantly black and Hispanic communities, leaving Mayor Rahm Emanuel to defend the Chicago Police Department.

The hot-button issue has quite a bit of history to it. How many officers are assigned to each of Chicago's police districts? What's the breakdown of high priority 9-1-1 calls? And do those districts with more violent crime have an equitable number of cops to deal with them?

The ACLU says the answer to the last question is no.

"Every police superintendent for the last 15 years -- with the exception of Cline -- said they were going to re-deploy officers," Harvey Grossman, ACLU, said.

But the ACLU's argument is that it doesn't happen, because ultimately it becomes politically unacceptable to move officers from lower crime to higher crime neighborhoods.

The police department has declined over the years to reveal how it staffs its districts, but the ACLU says through Freedom of Information requests and news analyses, it now has the numbers to make its case - and in its most basic form it is that neighborhoods with higher rates of violent crime still have fewer officers patrolling than neighborhoods with less serious crime.

"This disparity has been going on for many, many years. We want it addressed now. we think it requires judicial review to get a remedy," Grossman said.

The city isn't commenting on the specifics of the lawsuit, but the mayor Thursday underscored his campaign pledge to put more officers on the streets.

"So I understand they brought the lawsuit, but we're ahead of where we were May 15. We're not done with our review of resources. It's not just about manpower alone," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Ron and Serethea Reid moved into the West Side Austin neighborhood four years ago, and say they and their neighbors routinely witness open air drug dealing and some violent crime. Their calls to 911, they say, bring responses that are tardy if there's a response at all. And the upshot they say is that people have just stopped calling 911.

"Their expectation is very low that anything is going to happen with they make a calls so there's a lot of calls to us, but people don't always make calls because they don't expect anything. The other reasons they don't make any calls is because they fear retaliation," Reid said.

The ACLU's lawsuit is filed in state court alleging a violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003. That act is meant to prohibit governmental policy from having an inequitable impact on different racial groups.

The ACLU says it hopes the lawsuit sheds some light on the process.

PENSION: (Illinois) Cross: Deal made for pension bill

Police officers, teachers, caregivers and other rank-and-file public servants join Illinois AFL-CIO members to protest the state's pension situation and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's opposition to arbitrators ruling on AFSCME pay raises and closing facilities, at the Illinois State Capitol Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011 in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

--People need to start seeing this for what it truly is. The Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago is only interested in finding ways to hold the tax payers in Illinois hostage.They are no more than a bunch of pirates without swords or guns. The only reason they are interested in the public pension system is because if they can get politicians to force public employees into 401(k) type retirement programs they can get more money in tax breaks and subsidies from the state. They also have a better defense for stealing their employees pensions in the 1990's.


This problem with public pensions was not created by the employees, it was created by the politicians. It should not be fixed on the backs of the employees or the tax payers.--
Duke


By CHRIS WETTERICH
The State Journal-Register
Posted Oct 26, 2011 @ 11:00 PM
Last update Oct 27, 2011 @ 10:19 AM

Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, said he will be ready to call a bill to set up a three-tiered pension system for state workers during the second week of the legislature’s veto session, which starts Nov. 8.

But demonstrations against Cross’ bill, among other employee funding issues, resulted in the Statehouse being closed for about 10 minutes Wednesday as thousands of union members packed the rotunda.

Cross said the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, a group of the city’s top CEOs, has brokered a deal in which House Republicans would provide 30 votes for the pension bill, Senate Bill 512, and House Democrats would provide another 30. Sixty votes are needed for legislation to pass the House.

“We have 30,” Cross said.

The Senate is another story. Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, says the pension bill is unconstitutional, although he has not ruled out allowing a vote in his chamber.

3 options

The bill would offer current teachers, university employees and state workers three pension options: Stay in the current system but pay significantly more, go into a second tier for workers hired after Jan. 1 that has reduced benefits or choose a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, supports the Cross plan. Madigan, Cross and business groups representing Illinois’ largest corporations say that, without changes, the money owed to the state pension systems will eat up an increasingly larger share of the state budget, crowding out other services.

Henry Haupt, a spokesman for Secretary of State Jesse White, said about 1,000 people were in the Statehouse and 2,000 more were on the Capitol grounds when entrances to the building were closed shortly before 1 p.m.

Haupt said more people had to be barred because secretary of state police feared they would not be able to move people out quickly in an emergency.

“It was just so congested. That’s our rationale. The west wing is closed due to construction. We have one fewer exit, one fewer entrance. Twenty-five percent of the building is not occupyable at this time,” Haupt said.

Unions demonstrate

Members of the labor movement ranging from police officers to firefighters to state workers to health care workers were among the demonstrators. They carried signs saying, “Collective Bargaining is the American Way,” “Gov. Quinn keep your word,” “Protect our pension. We paid our share. You pay yours.” and “Don’t CROSS us.” At least a dozen buses that transported protesters, most from the Chicago area, were parked outside the Capitol.

Cross called the pension debate “an incredibly emotional issue.”

“The e-mails I’ve gotten have been the worst I’ve ever gotten in my time in the General Assembly – threatening in a variety of ways from physical to political,” he said. “We’re doing everybody a disservice if we put our head in the sand on the issue.”

Quinn also has enraged AFSCME and other state unions by canceling their scheduled 2 percent pay raises for this year, saying the legislature did not appropriate enough money for the raises. The raise issue is before the courts.

Rolando Virella, 40, a Chicago police patrolman who was holding an anti-Cross signs, said working conditions are already tough in police stations across the state because of budgetary cutbacks.

“We have a rough job,” Virella said. “It’s the one thing we look forward to when we retire – security for us and our families. This is our worst nightmare.”

Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said at the rally said that the state should adjust its tax code so that more of the burden falls on the rich.

“We are not demons,” Bayer said. “We are not responsible for the collapse of this economy. We are sick and tired of being blamed for what Wall Street did.”

PENSION: (Illinois) Illinois House votes to stop labor leader pension abuses

--I understand the need to stop the abuses that were approved by the state legislature that allowed the union leaders to take advantage of their members and of the system. But to me this is still putting a band-aid on a shotgun would.


We don't need reforms, we need overhaul and we need it now! We need overhaul without the input from the anti-labor Civic Committee.--
Duke

STORY AT CHICAGO TRIBUNE

By Ray Long and Monique Garcia
Clout Street
12:22 PM CDT, October 27, 2011
SPRINGFIELD

Pension reform designed to attack double-dipping and other abuses of retirement systems won overwhelming House approval today.

Inspired by disclosures in Tribune/WGN-TV investigations, a key provision aims to end the practice of labor officials collecting city and union pensions simultaneously. In addition, the legislation seeks to tamp down the ability of labor leaders to base their public pensions on union salaries.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, called the abuses uncovered in the investigations “egregious” before the House sent the bill to the Senate on a 111-3 vote.

“I know this has been somewhat of a shock to us even by Illinois standards,” Cross said.

The measure also would put in place stricter fraud provisions to require workers employed at public pension systems to report potential wrongdoing to top officials or prosecutors.

First focused on a handful of Chicago-area pension systems, the latest version has been expanded to include pension systems covering Chicago and downstate teachers, laborers and public universities. The proposal likely will be tweaked to address some concerns raised by police and firefighters. A similar bill sponsored by Rep. Karen May, D-Highland Park, also moved to the Senate today. She said she is still negotiating on some of the finer points.

UNION: (Illinois) Madigan wants to set limits on union wages, benefits

--Since all of Madigan's back room deals with union leaders are now coming to light, he no longer has use for the them. 
Now he will go after unions in an attempt to garner private sector support for his campaign funds.--
Duke

STORY AT CHICAGO TRIBUNE


By Ray Long and Monique Garcia
Clout Street
6:12 PM CDT, October 25, 2011
SPRINGFIELD

House Speaker Michael Madigan took aim at Quinn’s budgeting techniques today by unveiling a resolution that would allow lawmakers to put restraints on how much the state will spend on wages and benefits for union employees.

Madigan slammed Quinn’s election-year deal to avoid layoffs and closures with the state’s largest employee union, saying the agreement makes it difficult to keep the budget under control.

The resolution would set a framework for the House and Senate to follow and give them a say about how much money the state should make available for union raises.

“We have a choice,” Madigan said. “We can stand on the sidelines and let those people go off and do what they do… or we can interject ourselves now and be present through the negotiations so that our position is known.”

The Quinn administration is preparing to start negotiations for a new contract with AFSCME.

A spokeswoman for Quinn said the idea was "an interesting suggestion."

Union officials said lawmakers should remember that workers have made numerous concessions to help ease the state's budget burden, including furlough days and deferring pay increases --- some of which Quinn later blocked.

"Instead of stirring resentment toward working people and weakening their rights to bargain collectively, Illinois politicians should focus on fixing a tax structure that has never made rich people and big corporations pay their fair share," said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall. "It’s wrong to shift blame from the tax-ducking 1% and the recession they caused to the middle class wages of average working people who care for veterans and the disabled, protect children and keep prisons safe."

Police Blotters October 27, 2011

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