Officer Down

Petitions, Petitions, Petitions

If you have a cause you would like supported please contact me and we will help all we can.

Duke

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Monday, April 30, 2012

NEWS: (Stone Park) Cicero man charged with knocking out tooth of off-duty Stone Park officer

--I have not heard what officer this was but I certainly hope he is ok and will recover fully--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Deanese Williams-Harris
Tribune reporter
4:20 PM CDT, April 30, 2012

A Cicero man was ordered held on $50,000 for knocking out a front tooth of an off-duty police officer who tried to break up a fight at a strip club, officials said.

Martin Mendoza, 28. of the 1500 block of South 51st Court in Cicero, was charged with aggravated battery for allegedly knocking out a front tooth of an off-duty Stone Park police officer, said Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office.

The off-duty officer was working security at the Scores Gentlemen's Club in Stone Park when a fight broke out early this morning, Conklin said.

When the officer tried to break up the fight, Mendoza allegedly hit him in the mouth with his fist, causing the officer to lose a front tooth, Conklin said.

Mendoza appeared in court in Maywood and was ordered held on $50,000 bond by Judge Carmen Aguilar, Conklin said.

Mendoza's next court date was scheduled for May 7.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

NEWS: (Chicago) To Joliet Prison for NATO offenders?

Story at Pioneer Press

--Sun-Times
Last Modified: Apr 29, 2012 12:41PM

Mothballed for a decade, the Joliet Correctional Center could be temporarily reopened to serve as a detention facility for individuals arrested for serious offenses during the May 20-21 NATO summit.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says his first choice was to use Division 3 at Cook County Jail before the once-empty division had to be filled with detainees during the last two months.

A less desirable alternative was to put up tents in the yard at Cook County Jail.

However, Dart said, the solution that makes the most sense is Joliet, the hulk of a prison facility mothballed in 2002.

“They shut down Joliet prison,” Dart said. “It’s sitting there empty. Could I turn the key and open it up? Does the water still work? Does the electricity work?

“If that’s a question, I might just look at the yard and whether to put up tents with some cots and utilize that setting at Joliet.

“It’s empty and it will be empty. There are no issues with that. If it’s functional, it wouldn’t take a lot of manpower to monitor. Transportation would be a straight shot down (Interstate) 55. Across the street is Stateville [Correctional Center] We’re going there anyway.”

Thousands of demonstrators are expected to descend on Chicago to protest the summit that will bring President Barack Obama and the foreign leaders and defense ministers of more than 50 nations to McCormick Place.

However, after researching similar summits in other cities, Dart predicted that the number of arrests for serious offenses would be relatively small.

The sheriff called the 2010 G-20 summit in Toronto an “anomaly” with more than 1,100 arrests.

There were also nearly 1,000 arrests at the 2007 G-8 summit in Germany that drew 25,000 demonstrators.

But, the rest of the recent summits have been relatively tame. They include: the 2009 G-20 in London (35,000 protesters, 122 arrests); the 2009 G-20 in Pittsburgh (4,500 protesters, 190 arrests) and the 2008 G-8 in Japan (44 arrests).

“A lot of times, they’re taken to a police station where they can bond themselves out,” Dart said. “There’s a filtering process.

“It’s the ones above that -- offenders who cause serious property damage or strike people with items that cause injury -- who will need to be detained” for a longer period of time.

The sheriff added, “The only thing everybody agrees is this is unpredictable. We’re trying to keep that in mind.”

Sources said the Chicago Police Department plans to separate men and women arrested for less serious offenses. Men will be taken to Area North at Belmont and Western, which has a bond court and a capacity to hold up to 300 prisoners.

If that fills up, sources said, overflow males arrested for minor offenses will be taken to Grand and Central, home of the 25th District and Area North Bureau of Patrol, with a capacity of up to 200.

Women will be taken to an undisclosed location somewhere on the South Side, sources said.

The need for mass detention facilities was first raised in January during a briefing by top mayoral aides and officials from the Chicago host committee.

Since then, President Obama shifted the G-8 summit from Chicago to Camp David. That’s a decision that, law enforcement officials hope, will make Chicago less of a target for hard core demonstrators and so-called “anarchists” bent on destruction.

The Joliet Correctional Center served as a prison from 1858-2002. The movie “The Blues Brothers” opened with Jake Blues being released from Joliet prison.

The now-shuttered prison was also featured in the first season of Fox network program, “Prison Break” and in the movie “Let’s Go to Prison.”

NEWS: (Northlake) Pair charged with stealing Northlake sewer grates

--Somehow I missed this one. must be getting old. It's a shame, I know one of these kids and it is tragic to see him go down this road.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
mlawton@pioneerlocal.com
Last Modified: Apr 17, 2012 03:01PM

Two Northlake men have been charged with theft for allegedly stealing sewer grates.

Between March 30 and April 3, sewer grates were reported missing from seven locations. Those were 329 E. Dewey, 320 Village, 150 Country Club, 6 and 360 Belle, 100 Alvin and 340 Major.

Northlake police, suspecting the grates were being sold, asked area scrap metal companies to contact them if sellers brought in a haul, Detective Chris Mowinski said.

An employee at an area company contacted police April 3. He had gotten a license-plate number from a couple men who had sold the firm sewer grates.

Alexander Castile, 21, of 33 E. Palmer, was charged April 3 with felony theft and misdemeanor reckless conduct, said Andy Conklin of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Castile’s bond was set at $5,000. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Ryan Anderson, 20, of 18 E. Whitehall, was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor theft. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to a year in prison.

A juvenile was also arrested.

The grates weigh about 80 pounds each, said Dale Roberts, the city’s director of public works.

“Two guys, I think they probably stopped and saw if they could quickly get them into a vehicle,” Roberts said. “I was freaking out.

“What if a little kid was running and fell in or someone drove into it?”

The grates cost the city $125 each. Mowinski said one area scrap metal business paid 12.5 cents per pound or about $10 per grate.

NEWS: (Suburban) Police seek two in connection with Forest Park shooting

Story at Chicago Tribune

Staff report
2:26 PM CDT, April 29, 2012

Forest Park police said today that they are searching for two people in connection with a Saturday shooting in the village that left a man in critical condition.

The police released photos today from video surveillance cameras at the scene showing the two individuals walking toward the scene of the shooting.

The two are described as:

*    An African-American male, 20-30 years old, standing 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet 2 inches, with a large build. He was wearing a long blue denim shirt and dark jeans with designs or rips in the legs and dark shoes with some kind of design. Police said his hair and clothing were described as unkempt and that he had a chipped tooth and yellow teeth.

*    An African-American female, early teens or twenties, standing 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 5 inches, with a thin build. She was wearing a gray hoodie, dark jeans and white shoes. Police said she wears braids with bleached tips.


If anyone has information about the two, call the Forest Park Police Department at (708) 366-2425.

The shooting incident happened about 2:55 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven store at Roosevelt Road and Des Plaines Avenue in the western suburb. The victim had earlier lost his cell phone, had called his own number, and the person who answered agreed to meet to return the phone, police said.

The two men met outside the store, where the man who had the cell phone demanded money for its return, police said. The phone's owner refused, and the man who had the phone shot the owner in the neck before running away, north on Des Plaines Avenue, police said.

The victim was taken to Loyola University Medical Center, where he is in critical condition today, police said.

Friday, April 27, 2012

NEWS: (Chicago) Federal patrols set for Loop

--Can't wait.....--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune


'Operation Red Zone' increases security throughout South Loop's federal complex
By Annie Sweeney
Chicago Tribune reporter
7:21 AM CDT, April 27, 2012

The streets around the city's downtown federal buildings will see a noticeable increase in security — including officers in battle dress — as early as next week as the city prepares for the May 20-21 NATO summit.

The Federal Protective Service, which secures federal buildings, this week informed tenants of the city's federal buildings that they would have personnel patrolling the streets as early as next week.

The officers were expected to be in battle dress and carrying non-lethal weapons, according to several sources who were not authorized to speak publicly.

In a memo titled "Operation Red Zone," the protective service said the increased security will be extended throughout the South Loop area often referred to as the federal complex. It includes the Kluczynski Federal Building, the U.S. Dirksen Courthouse and the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Several buildings just east on State Street are also in the so-called red zone.

The memo notes there have been no specific or credible threats at federal facilities "related to terrorism by international terrorist organizations" but that the area around the complex will be "directly and indirectly" affected by protests in the days before and after the summit.

The memo noted that there were two planned anti-war protests — one on May 15 and one May 19 — on the federal plaza in which upward of 1,000 participants were expected.

The memo warns that intersections and building entrances could be blocked during demonstrations. In the event of "demonstrated aggression," some areas could be temporarily shut down, according to the memo.

A protective service spokesman did not return phone calls Thursday.

The Chicago Police Department released a statement after news of the "red zone" was first reported in the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday.

"The security perimeter and overall event plan are under the auspices of the United States Secret Service, with support from a variety of federal, state and local partners, including the Chicago Police Department," the statement said. "Federal Protective Services does not have a direct security role during the NATO summit. Federal Protective Services is in charge of securing their buildings, some of which are on or nearby the anticipated routes of permitted events such as parades and protests that will take place during the summit."

Tribune reporter Jeff Coen contributed.

NEWS: (Suburban) North Chicago fires one officer, suspends another in death of man in custody

--I am sure this is just the beginning--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Robert McCoppin and Susan Berger
Tribune reporters
3:20 PM CDT, April 27, 2012

North Chicago fired one police officer and suspended another today for their roles in the violent arrest of a man who died a week after he was taken into custody.

Officials immediately dismissed Officer Brandon Yost and suspended Officer Arthur Strong for 30 days without pay. Four other officers and one sergeant involved in the arrest who had been temporarily placed on desk duty were returned to regular duties without penalty.

The action comes in the case of Darrin "Dagwood" Hanna, 45, who was arrested Nov. 6 in his North Chicago apartment, where police said he slapped and tried to drown his pregnant girlfriend. He died in a hospital of multiple factors, according to the Lake County Coroner, including physical restraint and Taser shocks, as well as chronic cocaine abuse, hypertension, kidney disease and sickle cell disease.

His death prompted a public uproar, which led to an investigation by Illinois State Police. The Lake County State's Attorney's office concluded officers committed no crime, saying they acted "reasonably and appropriately" to subdue a large man police said rushed them with clenched fists yelling, "Shoot me."

Yost was fired for repeatedly punching Hanna in the face, which was unnecessary force, and for an unspecified falsification of reports on the incident, interim Chief James Jackson said. Strong's reported use of force, kneeling on the back of Hanna's legs, was considered acceptable, but he was disciplined for falsifying a report by indicating Hanna was swinging a flashlight.

Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. and Jackson made the announcement at a news conference at North Chicago City Hall, where a crowd of protesters led by civil rights leader Jesse Jackson greeted the news angrily. People in the crowd yelled "cover up" and chanted, "murderers."

"These six officers should be fired and charged with murder," Jackson said.

TheU.S. Department of Justiceis conducting a preliminary inquiry into the case, which is a step short of a full investigation.
rmccoppin@tribune.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

DEATH PENALTY: (National) Conn. governor signs bill to repeal death penalty

--Another tragedy for the American public.
Every politician that votes to repeal the Death Penalty should be ran out of office across the country.--
Duke

Story at PoliceOne

04/25/2012

Statement called it "an historic moment"

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut's governor has signed a new law that abolishes the state's death penalty for future crimes.

A spokeswoman says Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed the bill Wednesday afternoon at a private ceremony with lawmakers, clergy and family members of victims.

Malloy issued a statement calling it "an historic moment" as Connecticut joins 16 other states that have abolished capital punishment. He said it was a moment "for sober reflection, not celebration."

The law replaced the death penalty with a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release. It does not affect the sentences of the 11 inmates already on Connecticut's death row.

A former prosecutor, Malloy said his position on the death penalty has evolved over the years.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press

NEWS: (Illinois) Tribune-inspired fugitive legislation sent to governor

--This is a much needed law.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Alissa Groeninger
Clout Street
12:44 PM CDT, April 25, 2012

SPRINGFIELD --- The Illinois House today sent Gov. Pat Quinn legislation that would crack down on a fugitive's family members who help him flee.

The measure would make it a felony for a family member to help prevent a fugitive's arrest or aid in his escape from a jurisdiction to avoid prosecution.

A family member would have to be at least age 18 to be charged under the proposal, which passed 114-0. It sailed out of the Senate last month on a 52-0 vote.

Illinois is one of only 14 states that exempt close relatives from criminal charges, a point underscored in the Tribune series "Fugitives From Justice," which this week was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for investigative reporting. Currently, Illinois law exempts from prosecution spouses, parents, children and siblings who aid and assist a fugitive.

The Tribune documented the case of Muaz Haffar, who fled to Syria in 2005 after being charged with killing student Tombol Malik, 23, according to law enforcement sources. Haffar's father, Dr. Nabil Haffar, bought a plane ticket to help his son escape, according to the sources. His father denies buying the ticket. Records and interviews indicate authorities believe that Muaz Haffar is still at large in Syria.

NEWS: (Suburban) North Chicago police put on leave in fatal arrest

--Lot of haunting problems in North Chicago.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune


Decision near on whether they will face discipline

By Robert McCoppin
Chicago Tribune reporter
10:51 PM CDT, April 24, 2012

The seven North Chicago police officers involved in the violent arrest of a man who died a week later have been placed on paid leave temporarily, the mayor announced Tuesday.

The officers — Tristan Borzick, Jason Geryol, Gary Grayer, Marc Keske, Arthur Strong, Brandon Yost and Sgt. Salvatore Cecala — had been on desk duty since shortly after the Nov. 13 death of Darrin Hanna, 45. Police had been called to Hanna's apartment over complaints that he was fighting with his pregnant girlfriend, who told authorities that Hanna tried to drown her in the bathtub, reports show.

Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. said the officers will remain on administrative leave until interim police Chief James Jackson announces a decision, expected Friday, on whether they will face disciplinary action in Hanna's death.

The Lake County coroner's office concluded that physical restraint and Taser shocks contributed to Hanna's death, as did cocaine abuse and other health problems.

The case has sparked protests and other allegations of police brutality, as well as an Illinois State Police investigation. Lake County prosecutors ruled that officers acted "reasonably and appropriately," but on Friday, theU.S. Department of Justice announced it is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the case.

Attorneys for six of the officers mounted their first public defense Monday, issuing a news release stating that Hanna's relatives and their attorneys have been allowed to "speculate and grossly misrepresent" the case.

The release, from the law firm of DeAno & Scarry, puts the incident in the context of Hanna's drug use, health problems and prior criminal record, including an outstanding arrest warrant for allegedly beating his girlfriend two weeks previously.

"Mr. Hanna chose to attack the officers and create his own demise," the release states. "...There are occasions when police officers do everything right, yet bad things can happen to the people they come into contact with."

An accompanying statement said, "North Chicago police saved the lives of (Hanna's girlfriend) and her unborn child and they acted appropriately when her cocaine-abusing assailant aggressively resisted arrest."

Attorney Laura Scarry said that the case has become "sensationalized" and that she is confident that the full evidence will exonerate the officers.

At a rally Monday, theRev. Jesse Jacksoncriticized the officers' leave as a "paid vacation." Numerous federal lawsuits against the city show a pattern of the same officers using excessive force, Jackson said.

He urged about 200 people at a meeting in First Corinthian Church in North Chicago to go to City Hall on Friday and bring their sleeping bags.

"We plan to stay until reasonable justice has been done," he said.

After previous protests, former North Chicago Police Chief Mike Newsome had been placed on administrative leave in the case before resigning last month.

The disciplinary decision on the remaining officers was delayed, the mayor said, after an audio recording of police communications surfaced with Hanna pleading with police. Retired Illinois State Police Col. Robert Johnson, hired by the city as an independent investigator, reinterviewed the officers last week about the recording.

The mayor said he also sent a letter Monday to the Justice Department, offering full cooperation in the inquiry.

Freelance reporter Susan Berger contributed.

NEWS: (National) Tenn. officer named a national Top Cop

--Thank you Officer Johnston for your brave and selfless act.--
Duke

Story at PoliceOne


Officer Lorin Johnston shielded a fellow officer with his body

04/25/2012
By Steve Hardy
Chattanooga Times Free Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Kneeling over the injured police sergeant, Lorin Johnston shielded his fellow officer with his body after suffering gunshot wounds to his own back and leg.

For his actions during the April 2, 2011, gunfight that killed Chattanooga police Sgt. Tim Chapin, Johnston will be honored by the National Association of Police Organizations as one of the country's 10 Top Cops.

"Johnston's courage and loyalty, despite his own injuries, make him a living testament to the outstanding qualities found only in America's Top Cops," the National Association of Police Organizations wrote.

The organization represents 241,000 officers nationwide. Each state and territory nominates an officer or team, who are judged by fellow law enforcement professionals for the Top Cops title.

Johnston and the nine other honorees will travel to Washington, D.C., in May for an awards ceremony.

Attempts to reach Johnston on Monday were unsuccessful.

The other recipients have daring police stories, as well, including tracking down a murderous fugitive, shooting a man on a killing spree and a windy mountain helicopter rescue.

"Law enforcement officers care deeply about the citizens and communities they serve, and this honor is one way of letting them know their contributions are not taken for granted," said National Association of Police Organizations Executive William Johnson in a news release.

Jesse Mathews, 26, was arrested in connection with Chapin's death and now faces charges including first-degree murder, attempted murder and robbery. His trial is set for January 2013.

PENSION: (Illinois) Pension Reform Plan: Taxpayer Costs Must be Fixed, not Unlimited

--Why is it that every idea about pension reform in Illinois involves being hard-nosed with the employees and placing the obligation to fix the problems on their backs?
Why is nothing placed on the backs of the people responsible for the problems (each and every politician in Illinois)?
Why is nothing ever said about sitting down and talking with the involved parties about fixing the problems logically?
This issue just keeps going in circles so that politicians can appease union bosses and big money donors at the same time with the only victims of the so-called reforms are the employees and the tax payers.--
Duke

Story at Champion News

“If 50 people say you’re drunk you probably ought to lie down.”  - Jim Rockford, Rockford Files

The discussions going on in Springfield regarding pension reform still have not addressed the key concern: taxpayers must have a reasonable, fixed annual cost going forward. They cannot be on the hook for everything that can and will go wrong between now and 2062. Any increased pension costs beyond the agreed, affordable fixed taxpayer portion must either be paid for by other employees or result in automatic pension decreases.

Pension costs must be part of total compensation, not separate and apart.

The biggest single problem that needs to be addressed as part of any comprehensive pension reform in Illinois is the idea that taxpayers are responsible for every shortcoming of the current system whether it is investment returns,benefit increases or 8.5% interest charges on assets that do not exist. Currently this is accomplished by having the state pay pensions separate from the operating budgets of each government unit. Thus one party determines salaries, fringe benefits, vacations, sick leave etc. and the pensions are paid by the state regardless of the cost.

What needs to be done is to fix the taxpayer portion of the cost and assign all pension costs above that amount to the operating budgets of each government unit whether State Police, community colleges or K12 school districts. Total compensation paid to each public employee should include the costs of pensions and when that is not the case salaries automatically rise to fill the gap left by pension cost not being part of total compensation. This is exactly what happens in Illinois now because those who determine salaries and fringe benefits are not assigned pension cost responsibility. This results in Illinois taxpayers paying more both for salaries and pensions.

This pension proposal assigns pension costs to operating entities and shows how to pay for them. It fixes taxpayer pension cost at 15% of payroll and all pension cost in excess of that must come out of departmental budgets and employee compensation costs.

The goals of this pension reform proposal are as follows:

 +   Fix taxpayer pension costs at a reasonable figure similar to what would be paid in a Social Security/401K plan.
+    Force managers to manage by assigning all compensation and health care costs to their budgets. Freeze those budgets for 5 years.
+    Make employees understand that there are only so many dollars available and that pension contributions are part of their pay and if pensions go up then salary or fringe benefits must come down. A compensation dollar can only go towards one compensation element.
+    Give employees some flexibility by allowing them to switch compensation elements around as long as the total does not exceed their assigned total compensation value. More insurance and less pension or less insurance and more salary for example.
+   Give employees more cash-out options than they have now as long as it does not increase pension costs. This can be done by adjusting pension payouts down slightly and will make pensions more portable similar to 401K’s.
+    Attempt to get reform buy-in from all groups by emphasizing the draconian cuts (including employment itself) that will and must be made if taxpayer pension costs are not reduced substantially.
+    Quick resolution is mandatory and a legal resolution will take years to resolve. Amending the constitution will also take years unless we can round up 300,000 signatures.


We need to get Illinois Open for Business by solving the problem quickly and efficiently. As it stands now no business in their right mind would open shop here and many are leaving. We must be competitive or we will wither and die on the vine. We can either be the next Indiana or the next Michigan.

The bomb is ticking and time is running out.

STATE OF ILLINOIS PENSION REFORM PLAN

PART 1: PURPOSE, REASONING AND IMPLEMENTATION.

A. PURPOSE:


 To limit taxpayer liability to 15% of state employee payroll.

 B. REASONING:

 As the pension law is currently constituted, taxpayers are required to pay all shortages in the pensions’ short and long-term liabilities plus interest at 8.5%. Employees’ liability is limited to their current contribution rates (4% to 8%). Thus whatever the unfunded pension liability is ($85, $150, $200 billion?) 100% of it must be paid for by the taxpayers via higher and higher taxes.

 (Argument for: why do the 95% of Illinois workers who do not belong to the state pension system have to contribute via taxes 4 times as much as the than the 5% who do?)

 C. JUSTIFICATION:

 The very best private sector pension system costs about 14% of employee payroll – 6.2% for Social Security and 8% matching 401K contributions. Therefore this bill, at 15% of payroll, would provide the highest paid employer pension/retirement contribution in Illinois.

 (Argument for: What could be fairer than the highest contribution in the state?)

 D. IMPLEMENTATION:

 Step 1: Define “Total compensation” for every job description as consisting of the following elements for budget purposes:

   + Salary
   + Plus overtime cost
   + Plus pension contribution cost (local, state, federal)
   + Plus health insurance cost
   + Plus other insurance (life, disability, dental, vision) cost
   + Plus sick days accrual cost
   + Plus personal days cost
   + Plus vacation days cost
   + Plus holiday days cost
   + Plus education reimbursement cost.

 (Argument for: every one of these costs is paid for by the taxpayer therefore the taxpayer must control each of them as part of the total employee cost.)

Step 2: For state and university employees freeze that compensation cost at 2010 levels thru 2015 at which time it will be reviewed. For K-12 employees see below.

 (Argument for: they probably should be cut not frozen.)

Step 3: State and university departmental budgets are frozen at 2010 level plus pension contribution (equal to 15% of payroll) and health care costs from state. Then from this point forward the managers of each state/university department/unit-of-government are now responsible for allocating costs for all 10 elements of “Total Compensation” as listed above. Thus pension costs over 15% of payroll would have to come out of the rest of the budget see “Allowable Pension Budget Adjustments” below.

 The state would no longer accept responsibility for funding pension and health-care costs on an unlimited, ad-hoc basis. Costs would be allocated to the departments that generate and control those costs by their hiring and promotion policies. It is up to the managers who are being paid to manage to control and allocate costs just like in the private sector. No more “we don’t care because the state picks up the cost”. Their pay will depend upon how well they manage their costs as well as the execution of their business plan. For health insurance multiple lower-cost options would be provided including HSA’s.

 (Argument for: it’s time to make managers manage.)

Step 4: Schools K12 are independent units with independent sources of elected control and revenue sources therefore it is only proper that they too be responsible for controlling all of their costs including pensions. Therefore pension cost equal to 15% of payroll would be paid by the state but all amounts in excess of 15% would be allocated back to the schools based upon average certified full-time salary. Thus schools that paid the highest salaries would be allocated the highest portion of excess pensions to pay, formula to be determined. Salary increases in excess of 5% or the average of other workers in the pension system (whichever is lower), as determined by state actuaries, would also be the responsibility of the local district with that portion in excess being allocated to school districts under the average thus lowering pension costs for schools who control salaries. In addition if non-classroom costs are above a certain level (50%) then districts would be liable for all pension costs. Alternatively, state funds could be withheld from high pension cost districts in lieu of pension payments.

(Argument for: those that create the pension problem with excessive salaries should pay for the pensions.)

PART 2: HOW PENSION COSTS CAN BE ALLOCATED.

A. ALLOWABLE PENSION BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS:


State and University:  Once a “Total Compensation” value is arrived at adjustments could be made by the managers annually to fit their budget needs.

 Currently state pension costs are about 33.3% of payroll (including interest on pension bonds) and change every year according to multiple assumptions used by state actuaries. Health care costs are about 20% of payroll.

As an example let’s use a department with a $10 million budget in 2010 with a $6 million payroll. The budget for 2012 would be $12.1 million because the state would kick in $900,000 (15% of payroll) for the state’s share of pensions. It would also provide the health insurance cost of $1.2 million (20% of payroll). That leaves 18% of payroll or $1.1 million for the department’s share of pension costs that the department must come up with out of its budget of $12.1 million. In effect the manager must squeeze 9% out of his budget to pay for pensions.

Here are some cuts that can go towards the 9% (all %’s approximate):

  +  One day a month furlough – 2%
  +  Health Savings Accounts instead of the state insurance plan – 4%
  +  Change maximum vacation days to 3 weeks from 5 weeks – 1%
  +  Sick day accrual 10 days to 5 days – 1%
  +  Layoff 4% of employees – 3%
  +  Lower final pension by 5% – 2%
  +  Allow employees with needed skill sets to work as sub-contractors at a rate lower than their total compensation. College faculty and administrators would excellent recruits for this type of privatization. They would then be responsible for their own pensions and fringe benefits. See “If It’s in the Yellow Pages Privatize It” below. Savings variable.


As mentioned before K-12 are independent of the state and must determine their own cuts but all of the above apply to them also.

Note that in the above example if employees agreed to take 8% less in pensions no layoffs would need to be made. Since the current pensions are 3 to 10 times better than Social Security this might be an agreement all employees could agree on. In fact state employees, who have Social Security and the best dollar for dollar pension plan in the state, could cut their pensions and still retire with take home pay greater or equal to their final working take home.

(Argument for: One, state employees have a pension system far superior to anything in the private sector and therefore they should pay more for it; secondly taxpayers MUST have a limited liability.)

B. CHANGE IN PENSION RULES THAT COULD LESSEN CUTS:

 +   Increase employee pension contributions by 4% (2% for those on Social Security). This would be the equivalent of lowering the pension Interest Rate of Return to 6% from 8%; which is more realistic (recalculate the Normal Cost.)
 +   Eliminate all “Spiking” by restricting final year’s salary increase (auto 6%/yr. increase for 4 years for teachers for example). Salary increases limited to cost of living last 4 years and only base salary can be used for pension calculations.
 +   Use last 8 years salaries for average not last four or last one as in the case of legislators and Illinois State Police.
 +   Reverse all benefit enhancements since 1998 including Early Retirement Option for teachers and sick leave accrual used for pension credit.
 +   Tax state pensions over $50,000 and earmark money for pension payments.
 +   Revert COLA to 1970 pension rules: 1.5% not compounded and earmark money for pension payments.
 +   Pay off pension bonds thus eliminating interest costs.


(Argument for: this eliminates many “gimmicks” that have been added just to enhance what was already an outstanding pension plan. These are items that are especially irksome to taxpayers.)

C. EMPLOYEE REFORM ENHANCEMENTS:

    Sell State Assets and use the money to pay off pension bonds. Anything left would be added to pension assets.

     +   Tollway
     +   Lotto
     +   Real estate including but not limited to: buildings, Thompson Correctional, parks
      +  Oil/ gas leasing rights to the New Albany shale gas fields covering most of Eastern IL.
      +    Allow employees at anytime to take their contributions with interest actually earned plus state’s 15% contribution without interest and leave the system. Actuarial adjustment to pensions would be required for this option to be implemented.
      +      Allow employees to adjust their compensation according to their needs as long as the total cost remains the same. For example they could reduce pension and increase insurance coverage or cut vacations and increase salary


(Argument for: providing enhancements for employees would help sell the plan. If the cost to the state is neutral why not do it? The goal is to reduce state pension costs to manageable levels, end economic uncertainty and avoid long, drawn out legal action.)
PART 3: WHAT HAPPENS IF AGREEMENT IS NOT REACHED?

A. IF IT IS IN THE YELLOW PAGES PRIVATIZE IT:


This was former FL Gov. Jeb Bush’s rule on reducing state costs and influence. All we would need to do this is hire one of his former assistants to head up the program in IL. Some functions that come quickly to mind are janitorial services, trucking, IT services, phone banks, corrections, Tollways, Lotto etc. Illinois State Police functions could be outsourced to county sheriff’s departments if the sub contract cost is lower. Education credits for home schooling and private schools are another area ripe for savings in direct payroll as well as pensions and fringe benefits. Make teachers of non-academic subjects (Drivers Ed, Music, Art etc.) and non-tenured college faculty sub-contractors rather than employees. Sub-contracting is already done at the community college level why not at K-12 and at 4-year institutions?

(Argument for: the ultimate solution to high pension costs is to eliminate employees. Once an employee is fired or sub-contracted your pension costs go to zero.)

B. COST SAVING OPTIONS IF AGREEMENT NOT REACHED:

The following items are NOT guaranteed by the Constitution and therefore can be “diminished and impaired” at will.

    Salary cuts, furloughs and layoffs.

    Health insurance contribution increased substantially including retirees.

    Vacations cut.

    Sick days and retirement accruals eliminated completely.

    Holidays cut from 12 to 8.

    Life insurance eliminated.

    Outsourcing begins including Drivers Ed back to private sector.

    100% of pension costs transferred to local school districts.

    Tenure law opened for revision including elimination or severe limits.

    Collective bargaining law reopened for revision.

    Open Meetings Act expanded to include public participation in all labor contracts.

    New law requiring voter approval of all contracts increasing costs more than the Cost-of Living.

    End of career (last 5 years) raises limited to cost-of-living.

    Option to pay all pension amounts over $75,000/yr. with state IOU’s.

    Education funding frozen or cut.


    Allow Community Colleges to offer 4-year degrees thus lowering state costs by cutting enrollment at high cost state universities.

    Initiate change arbitrarily and let the courts decide if it’s legal (see LEGAL OPTIONS BELOW).

    Begin Constitutional Amendment process (300,000 signatures or 60% vote in House and Senate).


 (Argument for: if pension costs cannot be limited then they must come out of current budgeted items. Legal changes must be made to minimize liability.)

C. REVIEW OF LEGAL OPTIONS:

Legal opinions are varied. The Chicago law firm Sidley Austin has studied the issue and are convinced in-place changes to pension rules (higher contribution rates, later retirements, etc.) can be made without abrogating the Constitutional guarantee. Their reading of the law says that employee’s pension accruals are guaranteed but only up to the day changes are implemented. From that point forward, the new rules apply.

On the other hand Professor Amy Monahan of the University of Minnesota Law School says no, whatever the rules were in place when they were hired are guaranteed until they retire. Therefore interim changes cannot be made.

They both agree that a Constitutional Amendment can make serious changes including eliminating the guarantee and imposing draconian limits including reverting to the previous legal framework called “gratuity pensions” which were not and are not guaranteed at all. Texas and Indiana have “gratuity” pension systems. Social Security is a “gratuity” system so why shouldn’t they all be “gratuity”?

There is also the question of changes being made against the constitutional contract guarantee if it is “to serve an important public purpose” or if the original contractual obligation “had effects that were unforeseen and unintended by the legislature”. One would think state de facto or de jure bankruptcy was “unforeseen and unintended.”

CONCLUSION:

The electorate is angry and much more knowledgeable of pension abuses now than they were just a few years ago. A constitutional amendment should be put forward sometime between now and 2015 if a reasonable limit is not established soon for taxpayer pension liabilities. We need a plan similar to this, severely limiting taxpayer liability going forward or a serious conflict will arise and it will be ugly and drawn out.

If in 1970 politicians had told us that at some time in the future pension tax payments would reach 82% of state employees pay would we have voted for the constitutional amendment?  Of course not.And that 82% is what we are currently paying for – hold on – the politicians pensions in the General Assembly Retirement System.

Ironic?  No, infuriating.

Just because something is legal does not mean it is not corrupt. The state pension system is corrupt and needs to be changed. If it isn’t Illinois will see an exodus unlike anything it has seen before. And it won’t be the poor people leaving either. It will be the taxpaying public.

At that point, the only way to pay Illinois bills will be to tax moving vans.
Filed Under: Education & Education Spending, Public Pension Crisis, Top Stories

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

PENSION: (National) Leno Proposes Publicizing Pension Details for Top Private Sector Execs

--I know this only affects private sector businesses in California but this should be a Federal law.
The business of private sector CEO pensions and benefits and what happened to private sector employees pensions in the 80's and 90's has a direct correlation to the tax payer's attitude towards public sector employees.
People need to be better informed of what the REAL driving factors are behind the sudden push by politicians to malign public employees in the eyes of the public.--
Duke

Story at Novato Patch

New bill, to be heard by state Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, would be the first of its kind in the nation.

April 23, 2012
Editor Brent Ainsworth

Feeling the stiff breeze from the brewing pension reform storm, Sen. Mark Leno believes more light needs to be shed on the retirement benefits of top business executives.

Leno's first-in-the-nation bill would require publicly traded corporations to report the amount of money their top five highest-paid executives receive in retirement. The bill will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 24.

California law only requires companies to predict how much pension benefits their top five executives will receive, not report what they bring in once they retire. Leno said his bill would help the public better understand how top executives have reaped huge increases in their retirement compensation at a time when pensions for non-management employees have been eliminated or restructured, causing what he called "enormous hardship" on their families and communities.

“It’s time to shed some light onto how company executives enrich themselves by millions of dollars each year while eliminating pensions for the lower earning workers they have sworn to protect,” said Leno, who represents Marin in the state Senate.

Corporate CEO pay across America has grown exponentially in recent years just as wages for workers have remained relatively stagnant. The average CEO of a large corporation in 1980 made about 42 times more than the average worker. By 2011, that disparity had grown to 343 times the pay of the average worker.

In actual numbers, average yearly compensation for a top executive at a large corporation in the early 1980s was about $850,000. By 2000, that number escalated to $5.2 million. In 2010, it was estimated at $11.8 million.

Leno said much of the increased pay comes in the form of incentive compensation, which rewards an executive for performance while on the job. Until recently, many companies did not allow incentive pay to be added to an executive’s base salary for the purpose of calculating retirement benefits. Recently, companies have chosen to add incentive compensation to the calculation, exponentially increasing the amount of money executives and their families are paid every year for the rest of their lives.

If approved, Leno's SB 1208 would be the first law requiring publicly traded companies to report an actual dollar amount of retirement compensation rather than a prediction.

The information will be posted on the Secretary of State’s website, along with current top employee compensation figures. It is sponsored by the Consumer Federation of California and supported by the California Labor Federation, California Nurses Association, California Professional Firefighters Association and California School Employees Association AFL-CIO.

“Financial commitments made to top corporate executives when they retire are not just one-time payments, they literally continue for a lifetime,” said Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California. “This bill arms shareholders and consumers with critical information that will shed light on whether huge increases in executive retirement compensation at corporations across America are truly warranted and sustainable. SB 1208 will bring sunshine into an area that badly needs it,” he said.

If passed by the committee, Leno's would move on to Senate Appropriations in May.

TRAINING: Single Officer Squad, No Backup Available

Great advice from a great instructor.

Video at PoliceOneTV

video

PAROLE ALERT: Cop Killer George Rainey

PAROLE DENIAL LETTER


DO NOT consider parole or early release of any kind to George Rainey, KDOC #0035366.

On July 11, 1981, inmate #0035366 brutally murdered Trooper Ferdinand Pribbenow during a traffic stop near El Dorado.  He also shot at other officers before being captured.  He is a cold blooded killer who would endanger society by being released.

Inmate #0035366 has shown his contempt for the justice system on many occasions and has several disciplinary reports during his incarceration.

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


OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE for TROOPER FREDERICK "BUD" PRIBBENOW


Trooper Ferdinand Frederick "Bud" Pribbenow
Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas
End of Watch: Saturday, July 11, 1981


Bio & Incident Details

Age: 47
Tour: 22 years
Badge # 211
Cause: Gunfire
Incident Date: 7/11/1981
Weapon: Handgun; .357 caliber
Suspect: Convicted of first degree murder

Trooper Ferdinand Pribbenow was shot and killed during a traffic stop near El Dorado, Kansas.

The suspect shot him before he had a chance to react. The suspect fled and was later spotted at the tollgate at the Kellogg exit in East Wichita and a pursuit ensued. About a mile into the chase, the suspect rammed the back of a van that was stopping at a light at Kellogg and Rock Road near the Towne East Shopping Mall. Officers ordered the suspect to exit his car and he responded with gunfire.

Officers returned fire, striking the suspect several times before he was taken into custody. He was convicted of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and first degree murder.

Trooper Pribbenow had served with the Kansas Highway Patrol with the agency for 22 years. He was survived by his wife and five daughters.

NEWS: (Suburban) Suburban police brace for NATO overflow

-- I think the suburbs will be sending cops into the city to help out more than they will have to worry about overflow.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
mlawton@pioneerlocal.com
Last Modified: Apr 24, 2012 12:06AM

Police chiefs in Western Cook County continue to prepare for the May NATO summit.

“I’m not sure what the level of activity will be,” said Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel. “It’s better to be prepared.”

Weitzel is also chair of the West Suburban Chiefs of Police, which represents 34 communities. He spoke to suburban officials at the West Central Municipal Conference meeting in Brookfield last week.

The NATO summit is scheduled for May 20-21. Officials from around the world will gather. Though the agenda has not been finalized, according to the NATO website, officials will likely discuss such matters as how the military can leave Afghanistan, dealing with non-NATO members and how member countries can do more with declining military budgets.

The NATO summit will take place at McCormick Place in Chicago. The U.S. Secret Service will handle security for international representatives. Chicago police will respond to protests or other events within city borders.

Deputy chiefs from the suburbs will be in Chicago during the summit, keeping an eye out for anything that could impact their municipalities. For example, overloaded Metra trains heading to the suburbs, Weitzel said.

Police chiefs will remain in their towns. West suburban police departments may increase shifts up to 12 hours or pull in off-duty officers, although for smaller departments that won’t be much of an increase in manpower. Riverside, for example, has 19 sworn officers, Weitzel said.

Weitzel said he’s heard estimates of 10,000 to 50,000 protestors, although no one will know exact numbers until May.

Whatever the number, it’s unclear whether any protestors will travel to the west suburbs. Peter Silvestri, Cook County commissioner and Elmwood Park village president, figures protestors aim to stay near the summit where they’ll get the most attention.

Weitzel agrees though he said some police chiefs are concerned protestors will travel to the suburbs to camp out in public parks. Absent the violation of any laws other than staying after park hours, that would leave suburban police with a choice.

“Do you want to take on a confrontation or let that go?” Weitzel asked.

Monday, April 23, 2012

LEGAL: (National) Cop who opposed arrest quotas loses First Amendment claim

Story at First Amendment Center

David L. Hudson Jr.
First Amendment Scholar
Friday, April 20, 2012

A New York City police officer who alleged that superiors retaliated against after he complained about a system of quotas for arrests has no valid First Amendment claim, a federal district judge has ruled.

Officer Chris Matthews, a 14-year veteran of the department who has been with the 42nd Precinct since 1999, criticized arrest quotas several times. He said the quotas violated “the NYPD’s core mission and his own commitment as a police officer to protect and serve the public at large,” according to court papers.

Matthews said he voiced his displeasure about the system, in place since 2008, to several commanding officers. Matthews also complained several times in 2009, and again in 2011 to Deputy Inspector Jon Bloch.

Matthews sued in federal court in February 2012, contending that after his complaints, superior officers responded with a fusillade of retaliatory actions, including punitive assignments, such as more foot patrols; denial of overtime, separation from his partner, verbal abuse and negative performance evaluations. In his complaint, Matthews said that Lt. Mark Sedran told him at a roll-call meeting: “If you come after me, I will come back after you harder” — apparently in response to Matthews’ complaints.

The defendants — the City of New York, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, Bloch and Sedran — filed a motion to dismiss. On April 12, U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones for the Southern District of New York granted the defendants’ motion in Matthews v. City of New York.

Jones based her dismissal on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), in which the Court said that when public employees make statements in line with their official job duties, they have no free-speech protections.

Jones reasoned that Matthews’ complaints to his bosses “are consistent with his core duties as a police officer, to legally and ethically search, arrest, issue summonses, and — in general — police.”

Matthews had argued that a 2011 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Jackler v. Byrne, supported his claim. In Jackler, the 2nd Circuit reinstated the First Amendment retaliation lawsuit of a police officer who alleged that he was fired for refusing to retract a report of excessive force by another officer. The 2nd Circuit panel said Garcetti did not completely eliminate public employees’ free-speech rights; it retained protection for employee speech that had a clear analogy or connection to citizen speech — a ‘citizen analogue,’ as it’s known.

Matthews contended that there was a “citizen analogue” to his speech — citizen complaints about profiling and unfair arrests, including comments at police community forums. Judge Jones disagreed with this argument and wrote that Jackler did not stand for the principle “that a civilian analogue is sufficient to establish a First Amendment right.”

“It is not, as Matthews contends, that the presence of a civilian analogue necessarily confers First Amendment protection, but rather the reverse — when a public employee engages in citizen speech, it is unavoidable that there will be some civilian analogue to his speech,” Jones wrote.

According to Jones, if a public employee like Matthews speaks in connection with official job duties, there is no “civilian analogue.”

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director with the New York Civil Liberties Union and the attorney who represented Matthews, told the First Amendment Center Online that the decision would be appealed.

“Garcetti is a bad decision for public employees but this ruling goes far beyond Garcetti and we don’t think it will survive beyond appeal,” he said.

William Fraenkel, an attorney for the city, said in a statement: “The judge made a well-reasoned decision, and we are pleased the court dismissed the lawsuit.”

PENSION: (Illinois) Quinn: Delay retirement, charge employees more to fix pensions

--Quinn's proposal is no different from any of the other BS we have been listening to for the past two years.
Politicians in Illinois have no real interest in fixing this problem because a true fix would result in all of them losing their slush fund fund and real restraints being put on their spending.--
Duke

Story at State Journal-Register

By CHRIS WETTERICH
The State Journal-Register
Posted Apr 20, 2012 @ 11:00 PM
Last update Apr 21, 2012 @ 07:52 AM

Public employees in Illinois would pay more for less under a sweeping plan to change pension benefits Gov. Pat Quinn proposed on Friday.

Quinn’s plan would offer state government workers and teachers who were hired before Jan. 1, 2011 a choice: Accept less-generous benefits or lose your state health benefits upon retirement. In addition, no raises would count toward pensions if an employee did not select the new benefit structure.

Under the governor’s proposal – released in the form of a statement, not a bill -- employees would have to pay 3 percentage points more for their pensions and would receive reduced and delayed annual cost-of-living-increases after retirement. Some would not be eligible for full retirement benefits until age 67.

The plan will not affect public workers who are already retired, Quinn said.

The governor was grandiose in announcing his plan, calling it a “bold step.”

“I was put on Earth to get this done,” Quinn told reporters in Chicago, where he made the announcement. “I did not create the problems, but I am here to solve those problems.”

Denounced by unions

A coalition of union groups denounced the plan, calling it an unconstitutional and illegal cut in benefits.

“By appearing to endorse these unfair and unconstitutional cuts, the governor has made the process of finding common ground much more difficult,” said AFL-CIO president Michael Carrigan in a statement. "Forcing public servants to choose between two sharply diminished pension plans is no choice at all. It is a clearly illegal attempt to solve the problem caused by past governors and the legislature solely on the backs of teachers, caregivers and other public workers.”

Carrigan spoke for the We Are One Illinois Coalition, which includes the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association, Service Employees International Union and other labor groups.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, indicated that the way the proposal was set up is sound, but stopped short of saying it is constitutional. Of the four legislative leaders, Cullerton has been the most vocal about saying that any solution to the state’s $83 billion in unfunded pension obligations needs comply with the state constitution.

The constitution says pension benefits are a contract between state and local governments and public employees, and they “shall not be diminished or impaired.”

“Cullerton is pleased that the governor’s proposal embraces the legal framework that will allow the state to control pension costs in a constitutional way,” said spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon in a statement.

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman declined to weigh in on the constitutional question, predict whether the plan could pass or say what modifications would be made it the House.

“Describing the constitutionality isn’t the job of the legislature,” said spokesman Steve Brown. “We’re going to worry about trying to find a majority to pass legislation that will produce some relief on the cost of public employee pensions.”

Up to $85 billion in savings

Quinn estimated that his plan would save $65 billion to $85 billion out of roughly $310 billion in current, future and past-due pension costs and bring the state up to 100 percent funding of its systems by 2042. Current state law calls for the plans to be up to 90 percent funding by 2045.

However, it is unclear whether the governor plans to take the savings in the early years, as a 1995 pension funding plan did, and ramp up payments later. The 1995 plan has hamstrung state government over the last decade by jacking up payments.

“The annual contribution will be calculated and certified each year by the actuaries according to the new funding schedule,” said Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. “The big savings would be realized over time.”

Action is critical, Quinn said, because the state will face a downgrade in its bond rating if it does not act.

The governor also wants to gradually shift the responsibility for funding teacher and university employee pensions to local school districts and state universities, but it’s unclear how fast he thinks that could happen.

‘Bold plan’

The two Republican legislative leaders praised the plan, except for the cost shift.

“There are some outstanding components,” said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. “I think this is a bold plan. … we will probably put votes on it.”

House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, warned that shifting costs to school districts and universities will result in a $1 billion property tax increase statewide.

The governor had convened a working group led by budget director Jerry Stermer to make pension recommendations. That group has not yet come to a consensus, but still might, according to the governor’s office.

One working group member, state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, criticized the governor for coming out with his plan before the group finished.

“It is disconcerting that Governor Quinn has suddenly abandoned the bipartisan approach and rolled out his own plan,” Brady said in a statement. “It runs completely counter to his original goal.”

Brady, who represents part of Sangamon County, said he supports adjusting the COLAs and increasing employee contributions, but opposes raising the retirement age.

TRS analysis

Teachers’ Retirement System executive director Richard Ingram said TRS has to analyze the proposal to see if it will generate the savings predicted.

A major factor in determining the savings, he said, is how many employees will make the choice Quinn wants them to make. He noted that teacher retirees are different from state employee retirees because they have to pay for their post-retirement health care, while 90 percent of retired state employees do not. TRS is the largest state pension system.

Ingram, who recently wrote a memo urging the repeal of the current pension funding law, praised Quinn’s embrace of a 30-year funding plan, which is standard actuarial practice. But one difficulty faced by the retirement systems is advising their members whether to opt into the new system or to stick with what they’ve got, he added.

The choice would be “a more individualized, where-are-you-in-life … financial decision that would not be one to be made lightly,” Ingram said.

Chris Wetterich can be reached at 788-1523. Staff writer David Thomas contributed to this report.

***

Quinn’s plan

Quinn released a one-page fact sheet about the proposal, but some details are unclear:

-- The retirement age to receive full pension benefits would be increased to 67, but will be phased in over several years. It’s unclear how fast that change will be made. It’s also unclear how or whether the new retirement age would apply to state police officers and others in the alternate pension formula, who can retire at age 50 with 25 years of service or age 55 with 20 years of service.

-- Employees would pay 3 percentage points more for their pensions. For example, a state employee who started work before Jan. 1, 2011, and is not in the Social Security system contributes 4 percent of his or her salary today. Under Quinn’s plan, he or she would contribute 7 percent. A non-Social Security state employee’s contribution would go from 8 percent to 11 percent, a university employee’s contribution would go from 8 percent to 11 percent, a teacher’s contribution would go from 9.4 percent to 12.4 percent, a judge’s contribution would go from 11 percent to 14 percent, and a legislator’s contribution would go from 11.5 percent to 14.5 percent.

-- Cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 3 percent, compounded annually, to the lesser of 3 percent or half the consumer price index. The new COLAs would not be compounded.

-- Employees would not be eligible for cost-of-living increases before age 67 or five years after they retire if they retire before age 67, whichever comes first.

-- Quinn’s plan would require automatic funding of the pension systems so that payments cannot be skipped or reduced, as they have been over decades. Current state law requires an ongoing appropriation for the pensions, but a majority of lawmakers can simply vote to skip payments. The new language would be stronger, according to Quinn.

-- Quinn’s proposal said retirees who opt in to his plan will receive “a subsidy” for their health care. State employee retirees who have not reached Medicare age currently receive health care coverage with no premiums (they have to pay co-pays) if they have worked 20 years or more. It’s unclear whether health care for those who opt in would continue to be subsidized at that level. The administration did not answer questions about how much those who don’t opt in would have to pay.

-- Quinn said retirees who do not opt in would no longer have their raises counted as a part of their pensions. A New York court case where a school district granted “cost-of-living bonuses” that did not count toward its teachers’ pensions is the basis for that change being constitutional.


***

What state workers are saying


“I think we could handle it if we knew in advance about it and start planning for it. But if you’re hoping for your retirement and you’re planning on it being there and you’re told it’s not or you have to pay more for it, it’s not fair.”

--Nancy Veach, 52, Illinois Department of Transportation. She said she plans to retire at age 61.

“I’ve been here for 34 years. I’m getting ready to retire. I planned on retiring at 62, but if I have to go now, everything’s messed up. … I just hope it doesn’t affect us.”

--Karen McClanahan, 60, Illinois Department of Transportation

“I am upset that they are proposing to up the age to 67 because as it stands now, I will meet the rule of 85 when I am 55 (the rule says state employees can retire whenever their age plus their years of service equals 85), which will mean working an additional 12 years that I hadn’t planned. They obviously need to find the revenue to make the payments into the system, but it doesn’t need to be on the backs of state workers. They are not the ones who created this mess.

"When you start your state employment, you have a contract with the state. I am entitled to my retirement at the age of 55.”

--Susan Gibson, 37, Illinois Department of Transportation

--Compiled by David Thomas

NEWS: (Chicago) Webb named special prosecutor in case involving Daley nephew

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Cynthia Dizikes
Staff reporter
1:44 PM CDT, April 23, 2012

Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Chicago and famed defense attorney, has been appointed special prosecutor to look into the investigation of the 2004 death of David Koschman in a drunken confrontation with a nephew of then-Mayor Richard Daley.

Cook County Judge Michael Toomin, who ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor, named Webb to the post this morning.

In his written order, Toomin said that he was directing Webb to investigate the homicide and determine whether "from 2004 to the present, employees of the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State's Attorney Office acted intentionally to suppress and conceal evidence, furnish false evidence, and generally impede the investigation."

Toomin then called Webb into his courtroom, instructed him to raise his right hand and swore him in as the special prosecutor.

Webb then shook Toomin's hand and thanked him.

"It's a pleasure," Webb said.

After the brief proceeding, Webb told a swarm of reporters at the Criminal Courts Building that Toomin had called him about a week ago to ask if he would be interested in being appointed to the case.

Webb, who has been a special prosecutor three other times, said he took some time to consider the offer and then called Toomin back to say he would like to be considered.

Toomin notified Webb late last week that he would be named the special prosecutor.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity," Webb said. "My appointment gives me full power as a prosecutor to investigate, to use the grand jury."

Webb plans to assign a couple of attorneys today from his law firm and start planning how to gather all records and facts associated with the case.

Webb would not detail how many attorneys he planned to ultimately assign to the investigation or how long he believed it might take.

"The investigation will take us where the facts take us," Webb said. "When you don't know what you want to know, you go out and find out. That will mean probably the use of a grand jury and it will mean to use resources so I can eventually tear apart the facts, find out what those facts show, and then make the kind of decisions prosecutors make on whether the case should go forward with some kind of formal charge."

After questions were raised about the police investigation, Koschman’s mother, Nanci, asked that a special prosecutor look into the case.

No charges were ever filed against Richard “R.J.” Vanecko, a member of the powerful Daley family. After reopening the probe last year, Chicago police determined Vanecko had punched the diminutive Koschman after a drunken dispute in the Rush Street night-life district early on April 25, 2004.

Locke Bowman, one of Nanci Koschman's attorneys, said today that her legal team was pleased with Webb's appointment.

"We are extremely gratified," Bowman said. "This is the right person for the job."

Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Chicago, represented former Gov. George Ryan and numerous other high-profile cases around the country. He acted as special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra scandal.

According to Toomin's order, Webb must submit a fee schedule associated with his investigation into the Koschman case every three months for payment by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

At the conclusion of the investigation, he must also submit a final report, detailing the results of his investigation and whether he calls for any criminal prosecutions.

Friday, April 20, 2012

CONCEALED CARRY: 100,000 concealed carry permits issued in Wisconsin

--They may not like their public employees but at least they got this right.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune




Associated Press
11:30 AM CDT, April 20, 2012

The Wisconsin Department of Justice says it's issued at least 100,000 concealed carry permits since the new law went into effect about six months ago.

The agency is required to process applications within 21 days and has been scrambling to keep up with demand. The DOJ initially hired extra staff and moved dozens of administrative workers from elsewhere in the agency to help with concealed carry applications. The rush of application submissions eventually slowed, from thousands a day to hundreds.

The agency has also been overwhelmed with calls to its handgun hotline since the law took effect. Gun dealers call the hotline to initiate background checks on buyers, which must be done within 48 hours. There were nearly 16,000 hotline calls in February alone.

NEWS: (Illinois) Ex-Country Club Hills police chief indicted for fraud

Story at Chicago Tribune

Regina Evans, seen as Country Club Hills police chief in 2009, was indicted for fraud in connection with a $1.25 million state job-training grant tied to an aging Chicago theater. (Terrence Antonio James, Chicago Tribune / September 14, 2009)

By Joseph Ryan
Tribune reporter
1:24 PM CDT, April 20, 2012

A former south suburban police chief has been indicted for fraud in connection with a $1.25 million state job-training grant tied to an aging Chicago theater.

Ex-Country Club Hills Chief Regina Evans appeared in federal court today in Springfield on the charges and pled not guilty, according to authorities. A grand jury indicted Evans on one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering on April 4, but the indictment was sealed until today.

The Tribune previously reported Evans’ extensive problems with the job training grant — and her personal finances — tied to her operations at the landmark New Regale Theater she once owned on Chicago’s South Side. Evans, also a former Chicago police officer, won the job-training grant from the state commerce department with the help of Chicago area lawmakers.

Federal prosecutors accuse Evans of using $275,000 of the grant to pay off debts at the theater, which was facing foreclosure at the time the 2009 grant money came through. They also accuse Evans of diverting $135,000 to her personal bank account while another $50,000 went to benefit family, friends and associates.

The grant was supposed to help about 40 minorities or women gain skills and jobs in the building trades.

The theater has since been taken by mortgage holders through foreclosure. Evans, 49, resigned as police chief in October after about two years on the job.

Evans’ attorney, Lawrence Beaumont, said his client spent the funds appropriately.

“We are presumed innocent,” he said.

PENSION: (Illinois) Quinn: Delay retirement, charge employees more to fix pensions

--I see that Gov Quinn's plan places the complete burden of fixing the state's pension mess on the backs of the employees.
I also see that he is "confident" that the state will meet its burden every year from now on. I wish we could all be that confident.
I see nothing about enacting legislation that will prohibit law makers from using pension funds for anything other than pensions.
I can't wait to see all the 65 year old state troopers doing their jobs alone (we all know backup for troopers is far away).
I don't see anything about the General Assembly Pension having their years of service raised, age raised, contribution amounts raised...I wonder why that is?
These are nothing more than the same old knee-jerk reactions that do absolutely nothing to solve the problem.
You want to fix the problem? Sit down with people who are really affected by these decisions and work out a plan to overhaul the much maligned pension systems in Illinois. 
Oh, and I am sorry Governor Bumblin' Stumblin' Quinn, the only thing you were put on this earth for was to showcase what a real embarrassment our great state truly is at this time in history. Get over yourself.--
Duke

Story at State Journal-Register

The Associated Press
Posted Apr 20, 2012 @ 12:23 PM


TALK TO US: Are you a state employee? We want to hear what you think about Gov. Quinn's pension proposals and include your responses in our coverage. If you have an opinion and you're willing to talk to a reporter and provide your real name, contact SJ-R reporter David Thomas right now at david.thomas@sj-r.com. Please provide a phone number where he can call you back later.

Gov. Pat Quinn called for public employees to retire later and pay more into their pension funds to help close a massive shortfall that he acknowledged Friday was largely created by the poor decisions of Illinois' leaders.

Quinn wants to raise the retirement age to 67 for state employees, downstate and suburban teachers, college employees and other workers enrolled in state retirement systems. He also wants a 3 percent increase in the amount they contribute to the pension funds.

Annual cost-of-living increases for retirees should be cut to 3 percent or half the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, he added.

Illinois' retirement systems are among the country's worst-funded ones, and are roughly $85 billion short of what's needed to pay pensions in the decades to come. In addition, the amount that state government is obligated to contribute to the funds increases further each year.

Quinn proposed a new payment schedule that he said would completely erase the funding shortfall over the next 30 years. The Chicago Democrat said the state's past failures to pay its fair share of pension costs helped create the shortfall, but he expressed confidence that state government would meet its obligations in the future.

The Illinois Constitution bars reductions in government retirement benefits. To get around that, Quinn proposed keeping the current pension plan while creating a new one with the increased costs and retirement age.

Employees could choose to stay in the original pension plan, but Quinn would then cut other benefits that aren't constitutionally protected, such as health care subsidies and counting future raises in pension calculations.

Quinn also proposed making school districts and colleges contribute to the retirements of their employees instead of having state government cover that expense. Currently, Chicago is the only place that contributes to the pensions of its teachers.

Republican legislative leaders said they like much of what Quinn had to say but were concerned about shifting costs to school districts, universities and community colleges. They said that would be a $1 billion blow.

"To me, that is a tax increase," said House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego.

Quinn repeatedly pointed out that the pension problems began long before he came to office.

"I did not create the problems, but I'm here to solve those problems," he said at a news conference held in Chicago.

"I know I was put on earth to get this done," Quinn added.

R.I.P.: Deputy Sheriff Brian Hayden

ODMP

Deputy Sheriff Brian Hayden
Choctaw County Sheriff's Office, Oklahoma
End of Watch: Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 47
Tour: Not available
Badge # Not available
Cause: Automobile accident
Incident Date: 4/19/2012
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available

Deputy Sheriff Brian Hayden was killed when his patrol truck collided with another patrol car from on US Highway 70 as the two responded to a shots fired call involving a third officer.

He and an officer from the Choctaw National Tribal Police were responding to the call at approximately 9:30 pm. As the two vehicles neared an intersection Deputy Hayden began to turn left when his truck was struck by the patrol car, which was traveling behind him. Deputy Hayden's suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. The tribal police officer suffered severe injuries and was flown to a hospital in Texas.

Deputy Hayden is survived by his wife and four children.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Sheriff Lewis Collins
Choctaw County Sheriff's Office
305 East Jefferson Street
Hugo, OK 74743

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NEWS: (Suburban) Parents In Berkeley Furious Over School Field Trip To Jail

--C'mon.....
Seriously folks? I can't tell you how many kids I have "locked up" on tours of the station. Get over yourselves.--
Duke

Story at CBS News Chicago

April 19, 2012 8:09 AM

BERKELEY, Ill. (CBS) — Some parents from west suburban Berkeley are angry, after their kindergarteners were taken on a field trip to a local jail.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, the kindergartners at Sunnyside Elementary School in Berkeley were supposed to be taking a field trip to the Hillside Library – at least that is what the permission slip sent to parents said.

But Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell reports the kindergartners were actually taken to a police station lockup Monday, and the 5- and 6-year-old children were locked up in a jail cell as part of the field trip.

More than one parent wants to know what conceivable reason the school could have for allowing such a trip for children so young, Mitchell reported.

Carmen Ware, the mother of Sunnyside kindergartner Stephen Ware, tells Mitchell that she doesn’t “get” the purpose of the trip, asking if it is supposed to be a “scared straight tactic.”

Stephen told his grandmother, Flora Ware, that he was shown a vest and a holster for a gun, as well as something that is placed on one’s ankle. Then he was placed in a jail cell and the door was shut and locked, she told Mitchell.

“What are they saying to kindergartners? If you don’t listen to us, this is where you are going to end up?” Flora Ware told the Sun-Times’ Mitchell.

It is not clear what jail the children visited. Berkeley police say they currently do not have a lockup.

School administrators are not offering any answers about the field trip.

PENSION: (Illinois) Pension restriction measure passes Illinois House

--What a joke!!
You can't even call this progress in fixing the pension systems.
This is nothing more than Madigan's way of saying "see, I did something".
This is just another obstacle to truly fixing our pensions by overhauling the statutes and doing what is right by all concerned parties.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Alissa Groeninger and Ray Long
Clout Street
3:07 PM CDT, April 18, 2012
SPRINGFIELD

The Illinois House today overwhelmingly approved a proposal to ask voters if they want to make it tougher to raise pension benefits for public employees.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, sponsored the measure that would require a three-fifths vote by the legislature, city halls or school districts to increase pensions.

The measure, which passed 113-0, now goes to the Senate. Approval there could put the issue before voters on the November ballot in the form of a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution.

Madigan brushed aside concerns that a recent lower level of benefits put in place for newly hired state workers should be readjusted even in the “current crisis.” Madigan said pleas for such improvements are exactly why the amendment needs to be acted upon now rather than later.

The move follows a series of Tribune stories that have outlined how politicians, public employees and union leaders have received numerous costly pension sweeteners system throughout the state.

It's not much of a surprise, however, that the Democratic speaker was able to pass a bill through a chamber he controls.

NEWS: (Chicago) Officers witness slaying, chase down gunman

--Sometimes, you're just in the right place.
Great job!!!!!--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By William Lee
Tribune reporter
7:04 AM CDT, April 19, 2012

Chicago police chased down a gunman after they saw him fatally shoot another man on a South Side street, authorities said.

Gresham District officers were on patrol when they heard gunshots in the 700 block of East 87th Place just before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and went to investigate, police said.

As the officers arrived, they saw a man fire three shots into the head of a man on the ground, authorities said.

The officers chased down the 30-year-old suspect and took him into custody, according to authorities. The suspect, who lives across the street from the victim, has a street gang affiliation but police didn't offer a motive.

The victim, identified as James Reddick, 58, of the 87th Place address, was dead at the scene, police said.

No charges had been filed as of this morning as Area South detectives continued their investigation.

The shooting was the first recorded slaying in the Burnside neighborhood since last September, according to the Redeye Homicide Tracker.

NEWS: (Chicago) Former head of police sergeants group pleads guilty to looting $1 million

--Despicable!!!! No other way to put it.--
Duke 

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Jason Meisner
Tribune reporter
3:56 PM CDT, April 17, 2012

A former head of the Chicago police sergeants' union pleaded guilty today to looting more than $1 million in union dues to pay for steak dinners, gambling trips to Las Vegas and a second residence in the city's Sauganash neighborhood.

John Pallohusky, 56, pleaded guilty to one count of theft, a Class 1 felony punishable by anywhere from probation to 15 years in prison, according to Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Pallohusky entered his plea “blind,” meaning there is no agreement with prosecutors on his sentence, Simonton said.  Criminal Courts Judge Diane Cannon is scheduled to sentence him on June 1.

Pallohusky, who was a 21-year veteran of the force at the time of his 2009 arrest, was accused of writing checks from the Chicago Police Sergeants' Association to himself and depositing them into his personal accounts. He was also accused of using association credit cards for personal use.

Pallohusky has been suspended from the Chicago Police Department without pay, said police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton.

The union funds were built by the $25 each member pays per pay period, according to a criminal complaint filed in 2009. Some $765,000 in dues is collected each year from the 1,200 members of the union.

The Police Department's Internal Affairs Division opened an investigation after Chase Bank noticed in 2009 that Pallohusky had deposited tens of thousands of dollars into a personal account from a union credit card account, authorities said. Prosecutors moved to seize Pallohusky's two homes and more than a dozen bank and brokerage accounts.

In a 12-month period before his arrest, Pallohusky used $75,000 in stolen funds on dinners in Loop steakhouses and restaurants, the charges alleged.

“We’re glad that the criminal proceedings have come to an end,” Sgt. James Ade, the current union president, said today. “And we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll be paid restitution by June 1, so we can put this behind us and move forward.”

NEWS: (Suburban) Police officer accused of stealing from department

--$500.00..REALLY?!?! He blew his career, pension, and dignity over $500.00?
What an idiot.--
Duke

Story at TribLocal

By Lawerence Synett
TribLocal reporter

A longtime far northwest suburban police officer stands accused of stealing money from the  department he worked for.

Dale Hojnacki, 35, has been charged with a felony count of theft of currency after allegedly stealing more than $500 from the McHenry Police Department over a 17-month span.

The charge is a result of an internal investigation into missing funds discovered during a routine internal audit, according to a statement released by McHenry Police Chief John Jones.

The 11-year veteran allegedly stole the money between June 23, 2010, and Nov. 22, 2011, from the McHenry Police Department, 333 S. Green St., according to the criminal complaint. The exact amount is under investigation.

Following his arrest Tuesday, Hojnacki resigned from the police department and was relieved of all his police authority.

“I find officer Hojnacki’s actions to be despicable and I will not tolerate any act that makes him no better than the criminals we arrest on a daily basis,” Jones said in the statement. “Any officer that would tarnish the uniform worn by so many fantastic officers of the McHenry Police Department deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Hojnacki was taken into custody without incident and later released after posting 10 percent of his $15,000 bond. He could not be reached for comment.

If convicted, the felony charge carries a punishment of up to $25,000 in fines and between two and five years in prison.

Authorities believe Hojnacki acted alone.

“During the course of the investigation, witnesses were interviewed and evidence was collected,” Jones said in the statement. “The investigation has determined Hojnacki acted alone and is the sole offender.”

The investigation is ongoing.

R.I.P.: Police Officer Max Dorley

ODMP

Police Officer Max Dorley
Providence Police Department, Rhode Island
End of Watch: Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 42
Tour: 15 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Automobile accident
Incident Date: 4/19/2012
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available

Police Officer Max Dorley was killed when his patrol car struck a utility pole on Admiral Street as he responded to a disturbance call at approximately 9:20 am.

Two vehicles in front of him pulled to the side, however a third vehicle attempted to make a left turn in front of him, causing him to swerve. His vehicle left the roadway and struck the pole head-on, causing it to break in half and fall atop the patrol car. He was extricated from the vehicle and transported to Rhode Island Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Officer Dorley had served with the Providence Police Department for 15 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.
Providence Police Department
325 Washington Street
Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 272-3121

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

PENSION: (Illinois) Another Madigan shenanigan

--A newspaper in bankruptcy that endorsed Mike Madigan in every one of his elections is now giving him advice on how to fix a mess he led the way in causing??? VERY INTERESTING......
Whatever backroom deals were made 30 years ago to insure union support for democratic power is not the fault of employees. It is the fault of the politicians and the union friends and leaders that have benefited from the deals.
Taking earned benefits away from employees is not the answer. 
Asking for input from all concerned parties and putting together a fair and balanced pension deal is the answer.
AND......Mike Madigan and Tom Cross should have NO input in the process.--
Duke

Editorial at Chicago Tribune


You want an amendment? Here's a freebie ...

April 16, 2012

There are the state of Illinois pension problems — created by politicians, terrifying in scope, and increasingly lethal to school funding, health care and other spending needs.

Then there is House Speaker Michael Madigan's pension problem — citizens growing smarter every day about what Springfield has done to them:

Many of this state's taxpayers have caught on to the crude barter system that long lurked in the shadows: In return for reliable campaign support, Illinois politicians gave public employee unions hugely unaffordable pension and retiree health care benefits. Because those obligations didn't have to be funded immediately, the politicians could divert money to other purposes. They also figured they'd be gone when the dreadful costs of their giveaways erupted.

Thus did the state of Illinois become a massive retirement system that, during work hours, delivers services.

This barter system, then, helped the pols and the unions at the expense of taxpayers and their priorities. Now many of those taxpayers are up in arms — which makes incumbents nervous during an election cycle. Some legislators have confided to us that their constituents are furious about taxpayers' nearly $200 billion in unfunded pension obligations and other state debts. Last year's 67 percent hike in the personal income tax rate, with virtually every penny of that revenue bound for the sinking pension system, makes those constituents even more furious. Read our incoming correspondence for a month and you might be surprised at how many Illinoisans comprehend that the tax increase is an exclusively Democratic production.

So Madigan understandably wants to be perceived as protecting the pension system — if only he can protect his House Democrats from that rising voter fury. Last week he proposed a state constitutional amendment that would increase the difficulty of giving future pension sweeteners to public employees throughout Illinois. If adopted, his amendment would require the Legislature to approve pension increases by a three-fifths vote.

One inconvenient truth: Madigan, who turns 70 on Thursday, is in his 42nd year as a House member, having spent the bulk of that epoch as speaker. Most of the pension barters that have sabotaged taxpayers, as well as public workers who risk pension fund insolvencies, occurred on his watch. With his approval.

So forgive us if we're amused by this notion of Madigan as the Michael-come-lately eager to crack down on pension sweeteners. It's as if, having witnessed his colleagues torch and scorch Illinois from border to border, Madigan now wants to outlaw arson.

The speaker's loyalists would note that he genuinely understands the depth of the state's pension crisis. That's one reason why he regularly squelches proposed pension sweeteners by shunting those bills to slow but certain death in his Rules Committee.

The loyalists also stress that he has co-sponsored, with House Republican leader Tom Cross, legislation that would reduce pension benefits earned in future years by today's state employees.

If Madigan really wants to rescue the pension system and the taxpayers who help fund it, he needs to deliver on that promise. Pass the Madigan-Cross bill or something just as substantial.

But if he's hell-bent on changing the constitution, he should offer a very different amendment.

The most convenient excuse for lawmakers who oppose meaningful pension reforms is their stated belief that the Illinois Constitution guarantees — until death — the pension scheme that was in place on the first day of a worker's public employment. Yes, we think this is absurd, as do five world-class Chicago law firms that have examined the constitutional question. But the lawmakers, perhaps fearful that they're dead wrong in their certainty, have ducked our invitation to pass real reforms and let the courts resolve their legality.

How about it, Speaker Madigan. With apologies to James Madison, we'll donate to you and state government the following amendment, short and sweet:

The Pension Clause of the Illinois Constitution shall not be deemed a suicide pact requiring any government to let retiree benefits reduce it, and its taxpayers, to penury. Life is long, circumstances change, and what looks affordable today might be unaffordable a few decades from now.

That construct, Mr. Speaker, would do far more to protect public pensions for retirees than your proposed limitations on new sweeteners. Steer this freebie into the Illinois Constitution and you'll be remembered as the leader who oversaw decades of disastrous pension votes but, in his fifth House decade, enabled his fellow Democrats to vote for major pension reforms.

Keep trying to outlaw arson after having watched the Prairie State burn, though, and history will be less kind: You'll be remembered as the leader who stood face to face with a crisis he helped create and ... tried to make voters look away.