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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
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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

PENSION: (Illinois) Gov Quinn's Statement on Resolving Pension Reform Impasse

--Governor Bumblin' Stumblin' Quinn will call a meeting when Speaker Madigan say he can.--
Duke

SPRINGFIELD – May 31, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today released a statement regarding the status of pension reform in Illinois.

“While this has been a productive legislative session, our work is not done for the people of Illinois.

“Many members rose to the occasion to take difficult votes to save our Medicaid system from collapse, enact retiree healthcare reform and abolish the oft-abused legislative scholarship program. But we have not finished our work to reform Illinois’ pension system, which is drowning in an ocean of unfunded liability.

“As I have repeatedly made clear, inaction on pension reform is not a choice. We must fundamentally reform our pension system and we must enact bold reform that eliminates the unfunded liability.

“We have made great headway on stabilizing our pension system and we are very close to a solution, but we are not there yet. Therefore, I will convene a meeting with President Cullerton, Leader Radogno, Speaker Madigan, and Leader Cross in the coming week so we can forge a pension reform agreement as soon as possible and return to Springfield to enact it into law.”

PENSION: (Illinois) Illinois FAILS Again

In a move that showed who runs the State of Illinois, Senate Bill 1673 was shelved until maybe next month.

Even though the bill was opposed by every public employee and union in Illinois it displayed the power structure in Springfield and just who calls all the shots. It is not Governor Quinn.

The Illinois Education Association distributed a fact sheet on SB1673:

The bill originally called for the cost of the government contributions to teacher's pensions to be shifted to the districts instead of the state. This would have resulted in enormous tax increases for suburban tax payers.

At the request of Governor Quinn, this part was removed from the bill and Madigan let Republican Leader Tom Cross be the major sponsor of the bill.

What happened next if it weren't so blatantly a show of absolute power would be almost comical. Explaining it to people they must look at you in wide eyed astonishment that something like this could actually happen.

Madigan refused to support the bill in its new form if it went to House floor. He, in not so many words, told Governor Quinn "this is my house, it's my way or the highway". Once Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel learned that the shifting option was removed he ordered his democratic minions to step in line behind Madigan and support for the bill disappeared.

Granted, as stated before, this bill was a tragedy in the making for public employees and retirees and I am sure everyone is happy to see it die such a comical death in front of the world.

The actions taken by the legislators in Springfield show just how unimportant the tax payer is in the governing process. All that matters is that the legislators get their benefits, make their money and take care of their cronies.

This bill, as bad is it would have been for employees and retirees, showed what a tragic state we are in Springfield. And we have no one to blame but ourselves for consistently putting these jokes in office.

We are not only in need of pension overhaul in Illinois we are in need of politician overhaul.

Duke

PENSION: (Illinois) Rep. Mike Bost's rant

Representative Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) Laid into House Mike Madigan over pension reform. It was about time someone stood up and said something about Madigan.

video

PENSION: (Illinois) Pension overhaul hits snag in Springfield

--If this isn't typical Mike Madigan I don't know what is. He plays like he is being the great negotiator and then takes his ball and goes home.
Senate Bill 1673 is a tragic attempt at nothing but more of the so-called pension reform and deserves to die a quick death in Springfield.
This is just another example of how dysfunctional our elected officials are. There is no one to blame but ourselves.
we need politician overhaul as bad as we need pension overhaul.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Ray Long and Rick Pearson
Clout Street
3:54 PM CDT, May 31, 2012

SPRINGFIELD---Supporters of pension reform were scrambling to line up votes today as the clock ticks down toward a midnight adjournment deadline.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan said he does not plan to vote for the proposal, and many of his fellow Democrats could follow suit.

The speaker would oppose the bill "if it ever comes to the floor" of the House for a vote, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said.

House Republicans say they can put at least 30 votes on the retirement measure. The bill would need 60 votes to pass the House. Even if it passed the House, Republicans were not optimistic about the measure's chances in the Senate.

The drama on pension reform started last night, when Madigan took to the House floor to announce he was turning over sponsorship of pension reform to House Republican leader Tom Cross.

Hours earlier, Madigan and Cross had feuded publicly when House Republicans refused to vote for the state budget. Madigan called them out for that, saying Cross and his troops were opposed to the budget because they disliked Madigan's version of pension reform. The speaker's plan included a provision to shift pension costs for suburban and Downstate teachers from the state back to local school districts.

The move could save the state billions in the coming decades but critics said would result in property tax increases in the suburbs and Downstate.

Cross got his version of pension reform, which doesn't include the cost-shift for teacher pensions, through a House committee this morning after much questioning and criticism from House Democrats.

Then, this afternoon, Madigan said he opposes Cross' version of the bill.

"He supports the shifting of the local costs," Brown said of the speaker. 

Several lawmakers have said they are getting bombarded by calls in their district offices from opponents, such as retired teachers and state workers.
Cross and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont had argued the cost shift would result in higher property taxes worth up to $800 million a year.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn, D-Chicago, argued the Madigan version would have had the potential of saving the state tens of billions of dollars over 30 years, more than the Cross version. Currie voted for the plan in committee.

On Wednesday night, Madigan backed away from his version, saying he did so at the request of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who sided with the Republicans.

Under the proposal, a key element is that legislators, state officials, state employees, teachers, community college and university workers hired before Jan. 1, 2011 will have a choice.

First, they can opt for a lower, inflation-indexed cost-of-living adjustment upon retirement that could go no higher than 3 percent. They would receive guaranteed access to a retiree health care plan and ensure that future salary increases would be calculated into their pensions. The second option: keep getting 3 percent yearly cost-of-living adjustments for pensions but lose access to a state-subsidized retiree health care plan and see salary increases no longer counted toward their pension levels.

Another change from earlier this week is it removes a cash-balance plan for some workers.

Pensions for judges were not included in the changes. Madigan said that's to prevent judges from facing a conflict of interest when they rule on any of the legal challenges that are expected to hit the courts.

Dan Montgomery, president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, blasted the proposal, saying changes "make the problems even worse."

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, said the Cross bill is "seriously flawed" but she supported the bill to keep the issue alive on the last scheduled day of the legislative session.

Without action now, "Illinois is on a trajectory that will lead to fiscal ruin," said Todd Maisch, who lobbies for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. "This pension piece is really the linchpin. You can't get to fiscal stability without it."

PENSION (Illinois) No Action Yet

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

We are here today folks monitoring the actions in Springfield concerning SB1673 and other pension issues that are being or at least attempting to be pushed through both house today.


We will notify you as soon as anything happens.


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

PENSION: (Illinois) Madigan reverses course, paves way for pension reform

--"The great and powerful OZ has spoken".
 So now I wonder if this non-reform bill passes does Madigan take credit for it or does Quinn stand up at the signing and say "I was put here on this earth by Mike Madigan to sign this bill."
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Rick Pearson, Ray Long and Alissa Groeninger
Clout Street
10:10 PM CDT, May 30, 2012

SPRINGFIELD — As lawmakers head toward adjournment Thursday night, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan paved the way for a comprehensive government worker pension reform plan by dropping his demand that suburban and Downstate school districts pay more toward teacher retirement.

The announcement late Wednesday night capped a contentious day at the Capitol that included a faceoff between the powerful Democratic speaker from Chicago and House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego. The two exchanged verbal jabs over controversial issue of shifting pension costs from the state to local taxpayers. Tensions over Madigan’s insistence on the shift and Cross’ opposition bled over to other issues, including the state budget.

Madigan said he still believes that the shift in costs, estimated at more than $20 billion over three decades, should occur so that local school boards would bear more responsibility for increasing educators’ pensions. But Madigan said that Gov. Pat Quinn wanted Democratic leaders to back away from the provision if it stood in the way of major pension reform this spring.

“I was surprised that the governor disagreed with me on the issue. He agrees with you. He agrees with the Republicans. He thinks that we ought to remove the issue of the shift of normal cost out of the bill,” Madigan told the House. “I disagree with the governor, but he is the governor. This is his request.”

So Madigan said he would drop his sponsorship of the pension reform package and make Cross the sponsor. Plans to remove the cost-shift language will be considered by a House panel on Thursday morning, Madigan said.

The move came after Madigan and Cross sparred hours earlier, with Cross saying that Republicans would not support a state budget plan that they had negotiated with Democrats because of the speaker’s decision to push for the cost shift.

“We want to do pensions, but we have to do it right and without taxing Downstate and suburban property taxpayers,” Cross said on the House floor. “For that reason, you will not see us supporting a budget.”

But Madigan chastised Cross for trying to link the state budget to pension reforms.

“I did not take the position that I would not adopt a budget for the entire state of Illinois unless I got some other issue I selected,” Madigan said angrily.

After Madigan backed off the cost shift, Quinn stopped short of declaring a victory over the issue of pension reform until a measure passes the House and Senate and “you land in the end zone.”

Quinn said pension reform is still the biggest obstacle for lawmakers to climb before Thursday’s scheduled adjournment, but he remained optimistic that the legislature would “get to the mountain top.”

Under the proposal, a key element is that legislators, state officials, state employees, teachers, community college and university workers hired before Jan. 1, 2011 will have a choice in their pension.

They could opt for a lower, inflation-indexed cost-of-living adjustment upon retirement that could go no higher than 3 percent. They would receive guaranteed access to a retiree health care plan and ensure that future salary increases would be calculated into their pensions. The second option: keep getting 3 percent yearly cost-of-living adjustments for pensions but lose access to a state-subsidized retiree health care plan and see salary increases no longer counted toward their pension levels.

Meanwhile House Democrats advanced their version of a new $33.7 billion spending plan the would cut money to schools, public universities and health care for the poor. Despite the belt-tightening, the state would spend about $300 million more compared to the current budget, according to House Democrats.

A new higher education spending plan came in at just under $2 billion, a decrease of about 6 percent from the current budget year, with reductions across state universities.

Cross said that when it became apparent Republicans would not support the budget, Democrats on Wednesday added another $50 million in spending on elementary and high schools to attract additional Democratic support. Despite the additional money, elementary and secondary school funding would be cut about $210 million for the upcoming school year, a more than 3 percent drop to $6.5 billion.

Madigan said even with the additional spending, the budget plan fell $4.4 million under a limit that House Democrats and Republicans had earlier agreed upon. The House voted 60-58 to approve its grade and high school funding plan, the bare minimum needed for passage.

It remained uncertain what Democrats who also control the Senate would do with the House-passed spending plans.

A week ago, Senate Democrats passed their own version of a state budget that Republicans contended would spend $500 million more than the House version.

Also Wednesday:

*The Senate sent Gov. Pat Quinn a measure that would add the big-prize Powerball game to Illinois’ first-in-the-nation online lottery ticket sales. The state already offers Mega Millions ticket sales on the Internet.

*The House voted 72-44 to approve a measure aimed at regulating plastic carryout bag manufacturers and encouraging greater recycling of them. The measure goes to the Senate.

*The Senate Executive Committee advanced a bill that would lift campaign donation limits to candidates when big-money super Political Action Committees spend heavily in their races. The House approved the measure earlier Wednesday.

*A measure to ban new landfills in Cook County and prohibit the expansion of existing landfills is headed to the governor’s desk following House approval.

*Tamms would lose its status as a super-maximum prison for the worst of Illinois’ offenders and turned into a medium-security prison under the budget changes.

*Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, advanced a proposal aimed at generating $75 million a year by closing a “loophole” that would charge Illinois businesses a tax on oil derricks located in areas like the Gulf of Mexico. Cullerton also advanced to the full Senate a statewide tax on businesses that provide satellite television services like DirecTV and Dish Network, putting them on par with current taxes on cable TV providers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

PAROLE ALERT: Cop Killer Frank McCall

*
PAROLE DENIAL LETTER

DENY PAROLE to Frank McCall, TOMIS ID #00100608.

On March 15, 1983, inmate #00100608 brutally murdered Deputy Sheriff Dennis Armes during a traffic stop in Kingston. He is a cold blooded killer who will endanger society if released.

Inmate #00100608 has already been denied parole at least twice, and it is imperative that he continue to be denied parole.



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


OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE for DEPUTY SHERIFF ARMES

 Deputy Sheriff Dennis Ray Armes
Roane County Sheriff's Office, Tennessee
End of Watch: Tuesday, March 15, 1983


Bio & Incident Details

Age: 28
Tour: 2 years
Badge # 7
Cause: Gunfire
Incident Date: 3/15/1983
Weapon: Handgun; .357 caliber
Suspect: Sentenced to life

Deputy Sheriff Dennis Armes was shot and killed after stopping a vehicle on Highway 58 in Kingston, Tennessee. The suspect shot at him three times and struck him once. Deputy Armes was able to return fire, but his gun jammed after several shots. Deputy Armes, who was not wearing a vest at the time, was struck in the chest and killed.

The suspect was sentenced to life in prison. He was denied parole in 2004 and 2008.

Deputy Armes had served with the Roane County Sheriff's Office for two years. He was survived by his daughter, son, parents, two brothers, and sister.


NEWS: (Suburban) What police staffing costs us in the suburbs

--This is pretty interesting reading.
There is one unseen factor that no one ever takes into account.
It is impossible to quantify the amount of crime that is deterred just by the officers being on the street.
But I think it is safe to say if you start putting less officers on the street your crime will go up.--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald


Cost per resident varies widely among towns

By Jake Griffin

Rosemont leaders spend $1,574 on police salaries for every resident those officers serve and protect.

But in Round Lake, officials spend less than $76 per resident on salaries for sworn police personnel.

Among 68 suburban police departments analyzed throughout six counties, the average cost per resident is about $137 to cover full-time police salaries. But towns at the lower end of the scale aren’t necessarily having an easier time making ends meet, while some wonder how long departments with higher per-resident costs can maintain the level of service the town has come to expect.

“There’s no way for our department to go smaller,” said Tony Ragucci, mayor of Oakbrook Terrace, where the per-person cost for police is $669. “We’ve cut the budget dramatically.”

Many variables go into determining a suburban police department’s staffing level and cost. And many municipal leaders are taking a closer look at those variables to determine if the once-sacrosanct police department budgets have room to give way for other city services.

“Staffing used to be determined by population or X-amount of officers per geographic area,” Warrenville Police Chief Raymond Turano said. “But now there are several different models for how you can go about staffing police departments.”

Workload, call data, geography, desired performance level, proactive policing and other factors are determining factors for departmental staffing, according to the “Police Allocation Manual,” a nationally recognized police administration textbook.

Turano’s department — like most suburban police forces — has shrunk in the years since the economy tanked in 2008. But the chief said maximizing the remaining resources while maintaining the level of service to residents is paramount.

“We could hire two more officers, but rather than incur the expense of adding two more employees, we believed it would be more prudent to look at overtime or schedule part-timers in a way that we can pick up the slack,” Turano said.

Warrenville spent about $30,000 on part-time police officers last year, he added. Full-time police officers in Warrenville came in at a cost of about $196 per resident, the 10th-highest among the departments analyzed.

As in many municipalities, Warrenville property owners cover the majority of the police costs. But in towns where per-resident police spending is the highest, residents usually aren’t footing the bill. That’s the case in places like Rosemont and Oakbrook Terrace. Rosemont abates residential property taxes each year, so the cost of police protection falls on the millions of visitors the entertainment destination hosts each year.

Similarly, in Oakbrook Terrace, a home-rule sales tax and hotel occupancy taxes are used to supplement property taxes.

“We’re a small Rosemont,” Ragucci said. “We watch our overtime.”

Ragucci said he’s heard no complaints about police spending from the village’s 2,134 residents nor the 50,000-plus workers who commute to Oakbrook Terrace for their jobs each day.

But some towns that don’t have a massive commercial tax base to rely on for police funding are finding it difficult to maintain public safety services. Winfield village trustees are currently embroiled in controversy surrounding plans to dismantle the village’s police department and turn over police protection to the DuPage County sheriff’s office. Proponents say the move could save $1 million, which could be used for needed road repairs.

Winfield spent $1.3 million on salaries for 17 officers last year, according to financial records provided by the village. The per-resident cost of those salaries is about $147. The village of just three square miles and 9,080 residents enjoys a low crime rate, with police handling two violent crimes and 59 property crimes in its 2010 report to the FBI.

Barrington Hills has a similarly low crime rate. But size might matter when it comes to police staffing costs. The village spends almost $400 per resident on police salaries for 19 officers, the fourth-highest amount among the suburbs studied. However, police officers in Barrington Hills have 29 square miles to cover with just 4,209 residents.

Unlike fire departments, police departments have no national standard for staffing that affects a property owner’s insurance rates. Officials from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a for-profit organization that certifies many suburban police departments, said staffing levels are not considered when a police department is accredited, either.

But longtime Oakbrook Terrace village Trustee Frank Vlach believes there’s another reason why municipalities spend so much on police services and why residents are willing to pay for it.

“There’s no Mayberry anymore, you know that,” he said. “We have to lock our doors now, and you don’t walk down streets that don’t have lights.”

UNION: (Illinois) Bill to strip collective bargaining rights reemerges

--While we are all focused on the pension issue they are trying to sneak this one by us--
Duke


Story at AFSCME Council 31

With barely a few hours’ notice, Senate leadership resurrected SB 1556, legislation that would strip collective bargaining rights from thousands of former state merit compensation employees who’ve joined AFSCME and other unions in recent years.  The bill was voted out of Senate Executive Committee by a 10-4 margin.  Call your senators now to urge a NO vote.

SB 1556 is moving at breakneck speed with little more than 24-hours left in the Spring legislative session.  The bill was heard in Senate Executive Committee within hours of its reemergence.  Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer was present to testify against it, but Democrats and Republicans teamed up to move the bill onto the Senate floor.  It could be called for a vote at any time.

SB 1556 passed the House in the last legislative session so it only needs to pass the Senate in order to become law.  Governor Quinn has been pushing hard for passage of this measure in order to expand his opportunities for patronage hiring.  

All those concerned with preserving collective bargaining rights—and especially those who would lose their bargaining rights if this bill passes—should call their senators right away.  

Tell them to vote NO on SB 1556.

PENSION: (Illinois) State lawmakers struggle over $83B in pension liabilities

 "At this point, I am a 'No' vote until we find something that can work for everybody. That I believe we could actually do. We could achieve that," said State Sen. John Millner, R-Carol Stream.
--Nice to see senator Millner taking a positive stance on this issue.
This issue should have and deserves its own session in Springfield. Not just added in with other discussions.
These band-aid reforms are not the answer.--
Duke

Story and Video at FOX News Chicago

May 30, 2012 9:06 PM CDT
Updated: May 30, 2012 9:51 PM CDT
By Mike Flannery
FOX Chicago News Political Editor



video

Facing Thursday's midnight deadline, legislators in Springfield have still not dealt with Illinois's biggest pile of unpaid bills: $83 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for government workers.

While legislators are working here tonight on the $33 billion state budget, action has stalled on the other big item: retirement reform for public employees; in part because even conservative suburban Republicans are hearing from hundreds of angry teachers and other public employees.

State Capitol staffer Tracy Wieters works for two west suburban Republican senators.   As the battle rages over reining in government worker retirement costs, she said they're now getting 300 phone calls a day, and another 500 to 700 e-mails.  Most school teachers oppose any cut in benefits.

The e-mails' identical subject lines and wording reveal the role public employee unions are playing.  They've been urging union members and retirees to tell legislators how angry they are.

"We've been working very hard with them to come up with ideas to make shared sacrifices. But key to us is we can't be here again in five, 10, 20 years," said Dan Montgomery, President, Illinois Federation of Teachers.

The angry calls, e-mails and union objections have not stopped top Democrats from trying to rein in the soaring cost to the state of retirement benefits.  Some Suburban Republicans, though, said it's having an impact on them.  They're also opposed to the Chicago Democrats' determination to have local school districts gradually pay a larger share of teacher pension costs.

 "At this point, I am a 'No' vote until we find something that can work for everybody. That I believe we could actually do. We could achieve that," said State Sen. John Millner, R-Carol Stream.

While most taxpayers are not following this debate as closely as public employee groups, they have a lot at stake. If some version of retirement reform does not pass, another round of big Illinois tax increases is virtually inevitable.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

PENSION: (Illinois) Illinois House committee approves pension overhaul

--This is nothing more than typical Madiganstanism. 
Mike Madigan says and everybody including Governor Bumblin' Stumblin' Quinn do. That is the Springfield way.
Madigan could care less about the effect this bill would have on suburban school districts and tax payers in those districts. As long as his money and that of his little terror team is ok, nothing else matters.
If this bill fails, AND I CERTAINLY HOPE IT DOES, Madigan will just walk away with his "see I tried" attitude and collect his money as usual.
The only way to reform the pension systems in Illinois is to remove the sitting legislature. Baring that impossibility, the pension statutes need to be thrown and rewritten with a little more common sense and lot less politics as usual.--
Duke

Story at State Journal-Register


Republicans opposed to shifting costs to school districts, universities, colleges

 By CHRIS WETTERICH
The State Journal-Register
Posted May 29, 2012 @ 12:27 PM
Last update May 29, 2012 @ 04:52 PM

 A House committee passed a pension restructuring plan on Tuesday, but it ran aground after House Republican Leader Tom Cross angrily objected to it, leading to a dramatic confrontation between he and House Speaker Michael Madigan.

House Republicans' opposition stems from the legislation gradually shifting the state’s pension costs for teachers and university employees to local school districts and universities. Most believe that any pension legislation will need support from both parties in order to pass.

Senate Bill 1673 cleared the House Personnel and Pensions Committee on a 6-3 vote, with five Democrats and one lame-duck Republican, Rep. Dave Winters, R-Shirland, voting to move the legislation to the House floor. Three Republicans, including Rep. Raymond Poe, R-Springfield, voted “no.”

After the hearing, Cross, R-Oswego -- in remarks to reporters and in a floor speech -- accused Madigan, D-Chicago, of using the cost shift as a poison pill aimed at killing pension legislation.

Madigan said the costs of teacher and university pensions need to be transferred from the state because teachers and university employees are not state employees.

“Those spending the money are responsible for paying the bill,” Madigan told reporters, alluding to the fact that school districts decide on teacher salaries and therefore have some control over how much their pensions are going to be. “In Illinois, we have a very unusual situation.”

 Madigan dismissed Republican concerns that the phased-in cost shift will result in local property tax increases.

“Their responsibility is to live within their costs, live within their budgets.” Madigan said of school districts. “Will there be some difficult (collective) bargaining? Yes … but that’s why people seek to serve on school boards.”

But Cross said Madigan wasn’t truly interested in addressing teacher pensions, only those of state employees and university and community college employees.

Cross noted comments from Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, in Tuesday’s Chicago Tribune opposing the cost shift, saying that shifting the pension cost was “craziness” and said other suburban and downstate Democrats had similar concerns.

“It really begs the question: What’s the speaker up to, and is he really serious about pension reform?” Cross told reporters. 

“I think this is typical Speaker Madigan. Let’s throw a poison pill in there so (Madigan) can say, ‘I tried. It didn’t happen.’ He told me three weeks ago he didn’t want to do teachers. I said, ‘I think you need to do teachers. Teachers need to be in the mix.’ And he said, ‘I don’t want to do them. I think it’s difficult. I think it’s complicated.’

 “So this is his way to not address the teacher problem, which is a very, very shameful approach in my opinion.”

Cross urged Madigan to take the cost shift -- which has been discussed by Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn as a part of the solution to attacking the state’s pension problems – out of the legislation and House Republicans would support it.

“Now we’re back to the old Mike Madigan way of saying, ‘I’ll draft a bill. I’ll give it to you at 7:50 a.m. in the morning. You take it or leave it because this is my building,’” Cross told reporters.

But Cross's efforts to remove the cost shift failed on the floor of the House, leading him to lambaste Madigan personally for a litany of pension abuses, including Chicago Tribune stories that exposed how an Illinois Federation of Teachers official worked for a day in a Springfield school to qualify for a state pension.

“Maybe you need to take responsibility, Mr. Speaker, for your actions!” Cross told the House. “For the last 40 years, you’ve had your fingerprints on the mess we’ve had today.”

But Madigan declined to get into a verbal tussle with him.

“Frustration, tension, interaction with different personalities pursuing different agendas – that’s life in the General Assembly. That’s life in the House of Representatives,” Madigan said on the House floor. “I’ve adopted a certain position on pension change. Some of you agree with me. Some of you don’t. That’s what happens here legitimately.

“I don’t plan to issue any kind of statements that are designed to be derogatory toward anybody. There have been some directed at me … I don’t plan to respond that. … Let’s not get swept up in the emotion of the moment.”

 Cross’s accusations aside, the cost shift puts Republicans in a difficult political position. While it could lead to local property tax increases, Republicans have been the most vocal in demanding pension reform. And a phased-in cost shift to universities and school district is backed by a key Cross ally: Ty Fahner, a former state attorney general and head of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

“In all fairness, that’s exactly where the responsibility belongs as long as it’s done over time so that it doesn’t result in an immediate tax increase,” Fahner told The State Journal-Register in an interview on Friday.

 Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna and Illinois Federation of Teachers Dan Montgomery scoffed at Cross’ contention that Madigan was colluding with unions.

“That’s a wild concoction,” Montgomery said. “That (cost shift) is not our idea. … They’re hearing from our members, and our members are outraged. They thought these people took an oath to uphold the constitution of the state of Illinois, not ignore the law to pick their pockets.”

Cross also said he would have included judges in the legislation. Rank-and-file employees in the three state-funded systems have been outraged that judges were excluded. If they were in the bill, judges would decide whether changes to their own pensions are constitutional.

“To avoid putting judges in a conflict of interest because eventually this matter is going to be up before the Illinois Supreme Court,” Madigan said of the reason for excluding the judiciary.

NEWS: (Illinois) Wayne police officer found dead in her home

--Tragic, tragic, tragic on every level--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Christy Gutowski and Joseph Ruzich
Tribune reporters
12:53 PM CDT, May 29, 2012

A part-time police officer for the western suburb of Wayne has been found dead in her home, but authorities are releasing few details.

Amy Ruff was found around 4 p.m. Monday in her home on Wiant Road in unincorporated West Chicago, according to the DuPage County coroner's office.

It would not release how Ruff died, saying only that a death investigation was being conducted. No foul play was suspected and no one was taken into custody.

Ruff had been with the Wayne police department for 10 years, according to Wayne Police Chief Dan Callahan. He also would not discuss details of the death.

A neighbor said Ruff was the mother of two young girls whom she home-schooled.

She and her husband, a DuPage County deputy, “both seemed like mild-mannered people. It’s terrible. I’ve lived here for 42 years and we never had anything happen like this before,” said Ron VanDusan, 67, who lives across the street.

He noticed emergency vehicles and police at the brick home Monday afternoon.

R.I.P.: Police Officer Jeremy Bitner

ODMP

Police Officer Jeremy Bitner
Englewood Police Department, Colorado
End of Watch: Monday, May 28, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 39
Tour: 8 years, 6 months
Badge # Not available
Military veteran
Cause: Vehicular assault
Incident Date: 5/28/2012
Weapon: Automobile; Alcohol involved
Suspect: Arrested

Police Officer Jeremy Bitner was struck and killed by a drunk driver while making a traffic stop at the intersection of South Broadway Street and East Belleview Avenue at approximately 12:05 am.

During the initial stop he had the driver exit the vehicles. As the two stood in the roadway next to the car a drunk driver sideswiped Officer Bitner's patrol car and then struck him and the other driver, throwing them both approximately 50 feet. A witness to the collision called 911 and followed the drunk driver as he fled the scene in his vehicle. Officers from the Littleton Police Department arrested him several minutes after the crash due to the witness' actions.

Officer Bitner and the citizen who were struck were both transported to Swedish Medical Center in critical condition. Officer Bitner succumbed to his injuries approximately 11 hours later.

Officer Bitner was a U.S. Army veteran. He had served with the Englewood Police Department for eight years and had previously served with the Elbert County Sheriff's Office for six months. He is survived by his wife and two children.

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

Police Chief John Collins
Englewood Police Department
3615 S Elati Street
Englewood, CO 80110
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PENSION: (Illinois) Illinois pension reform clears first hurdle

--I love in the video where  Rep. Mike Bost, (R) Murphysboro calls out Mike Madigan for what he is. Very awesome. It is about time people start standing up for what is right for public employees.
This Bill is meant to do nothing but hurt past and present employees and tax payers.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune


Video at ABC7 Chicago

video
By Ray Long and Rick Pearson
Clout Street
12:22 PM CDT, May 29, 2012

SPRINGFIELD — A pension reform plan that aims to save tens of billions of dollars surfaced at the Capitol today, but questions remain about a controversial provision to shift suburban and Downstate teacher retirement costs onto local school districts.

A House panel voted 6-3 to advance the pension measure, the first of several steps required to approve the changes before Thursday night’s adjournment deadline.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan presented the legislation that he said would scale back costs and potentially put Illinois on sound financial footing. Madigan outlined the plan with the endorsement of the Quinn administration, whose budget chief Jerry Stermer maintained the state cannot fix the state's $83 billion problem of underfunding pensions with "baby steps."

"Unless we do something bold, we have failed all of Illinois," Stermer said.

The package hinges on giving current employees and retirees a choice: they can accept retirement plans with smaller cost-of-living increases and get a guarantee of health insurance, or keep higher pension bumps but get no health insurance.

The bill also would gradually shift teacher pension costs over several years to school districts. Critics say that could result in property tax increases, especially in the suburbs. House Republican Leader Tom Cross said he opposes this provision, but would support the pension reforms if it were removed.

The proposal immediately got branded as "unfair and unconstitutional" by IllinoisAFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan. John Stevens, an attorney for a union coalition, said there is "no question" the proposal violates the state constitution's provision that says a public pension cannot be diminished or impaired once established.

And the head of the American Federation of State, County and Federal Employees contended the bill would return Illinois to the days when a retiree will be "living at or near the povery level."

Tyrone Fahner, a former attorney general representing and president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, agreed that union workers have kept their part of the deal by making payments over the years and the state officials shortchanged them. Fahner maintained the bill is constitutional despite the questions of whether the it would impair retiree benefits. He said the "ultimate impairment would be your failure to act" because it could lead to a pension system that would eventually implode.

Jim Bachman, executive director of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, said educators accepted modest salaries over the years on the belief that they would have secure retirements.

"It is unconscionable to pull the rug out from under retired teachers," Bachman said.

At the center of that move is an effort to drop an annual 3 percent increase in pensions that are based on compounded interest. The state instead would base increases on half the consumer price index or 3 percent, whichever is less, and use simple interest.

Take a government worker who starts out with a $10,000-a-year pension. Now, he's guaranteed a 3 percent yearly increase. In the second year, that means his pension base jumps to $10,300. In the third year, it grows to $10,609, then to $10,927 in the fourth year.

Under the new system, each year's pension increase would be calculated on the base and not include increases from previous years. That means for someone who retires with a $10,000 pension, the most it would increase would be $300 a year — less if inflation is under 3 percent.

To get around constitutional concerns, as described in a House pension panel today,  a retired worker could keep collecting 3 percent annual cost-of-living increases based on compound interest but would have to give up access to a retiree health care plan. At the same time, a retired worker willing to take the lower cost-of-living adjustment would have the opportunity to stay in the state's health insurance plan, said Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, a key pension negotiator.

Current workers also would have choices. Workers willing to accept a lower pension cost-of-living increase would be eligible for whatever health care plan is in place when they retire. In addition, future salary increases would be calculated into the size of their pensions, Nekritz said.

But current employees who want to keep the 3 percent compound interest in their pensions would be unable to count any more pay raises into the salary that their retirement checks are based upon. They'd also lose any state health care when they retire.

Nekritz said another change being considered would delay the start of giving cost-of-living adjustments to retirees. Under that scenario, cost-of-living increases would start at either age 67 or five years after retirement, whichever is earlier.

LEGAL: Eagins v Village of Melrose Park (Case Number 12CV3977)

--We will be following this one along with the others.--
Duke

This case was originally filed in Cook County Circuit Court on May 2, 2012. It was removed and brought into Federal Court by the attorneys for Melrose Park and the officers involved on May 22, 2012.

The Notice of Removal can be downloaded here:





The Complaint can be downloaded here:
***

Monday, May 28, 2012

PENSION: (Illinois) This is crunch time


This is crunch time. A bill slashing public-employee pensions is in the works and could be voted on at any time this week, beginning Monday afternoon (Memorial Day).

Call your legislators NOW!

Click here or dial 888-412-6570.

Public employees and their supporters have come to the Capitol, rallied at legislative offices and written tens of thousands of messages to their senators and representatives. And our union coalition leaders have met for weeks with legislative leaders and the governor’s staff, offering solutions that would ensure the solvency of the pension funds.

But published reports indicate legislative leaders are about to run a bill containing harsh and unconstitutional cuts to the modest benefits earned by public employees and relied on by retirees.

The bill will reportedly cut the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of both current employees and current retirees. It will reportedly not include any guarantee against continued shorting of the pension funds in the future.

This bill could be introduced and voted on in a matter of hours, recklessly denying the opportunity for full discussion and careful deliberation of its consequences.

We have to keep the pressure on rank-and-file legislators to stand up to their leaders and refuse to vote for this unfair and unconstitutional bill.

CALL NOW!

Dial 888-412-6570 or click to call here.

Tell lawmakers to OPPOSE any pension legislation not supported by our union coalition.
We will keep you updated with more information. Check in regularly with our website, Facebook page and Twitter feed for the latest. You can also join our text-message list by texting WEAREONE to 225568.

NEWS: Understanding USERRA: Cops in our armed forces still face discrimination at home

--It is terrible in this day and age that any person (let alone our public servants) who serves our country has to come home and face more enemies on their home soil.--
Duke

Story at PoliceOne

10-43: All Units...
with Doug Wyllie
PoliceOne Editor in Chief
05/28/2012

This Memorial Day, let's remember our LE heroes killed in wars overseas, and resolve to help cops returning from battle who must fight to right a variety of departmental wrongs

Editor’s Note: This Memorial Day, we pay our respects to all the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country... Even as we honor our fallen warriors, I want do something for the men and women who have fought valiantly for our nation, lived to return home to their families and their law enforcement jobs, and encountered mistreatment and discrimination. I’m not talking about the ugliness we saw following Vietnam. I’m talking about right now. I first became aware of the pervasiveness of this problem a couple of months ago, and chose today to call attention to it, because I’ll be damned if I wait until Veteran’s Day.

During a chance encounter at an airport bar a few months ago, I met a cop who informed me of something that shocked and saddened me. He told me about continuing and ongoing discrimination by a number of police administrations against law enforcers who are also Reservists and Guardsmen called up to serve our nation in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and countless other missions in The Long War* overseas.

Such unfairness can be as subtle as receiving the least-desirable shift or assignment with no recourse but to just “grin and bear it.” These injustices can be as flagrant as false accusations of misconduct and the initiation of specious IA investigations. It includes everything from denial of step-increases in compensation or advancement in rank to the creation of bizarre administrative barriers to receive accrued vacation time. This discrimination is not just illogical — who in their right mind would willingly injure someone who has gone downrange to protect our country from evil? — it is also illegal.

Briefly, let’s get back to my “airport friend” for a moment, because he’s central to this story. I won’t name him, quote him, or identify his PD (I did happen to get a look his agency ID, and can assure you, he’s a legitimate LEO). I will say only that he works the streets in a city somewhere west of the Mississippi, and that while I had sincerely hoped his experience would be unique, his story is anything but a one-of-a-kind thing.

Sickening Story in Short Strokes

When al Qaeda terrorists struck America on 9/11, my airport friend was simultaneously a sworn police officer and military reservist. Prior to that terrible day, he had been planning on leaving the reserves, and putting the totality of his energy toward his police career. Instead, he was called up and headed for deployment overseas. He was not alone — several reservists from his PD served at one time or another in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom... or both!

My airport friend would deploy four more times before all was said and done, and each time it became harder. Not the deployment, he told me, nor even the stress of being away from family and the creature comforts of everyday life. What became harder and harder was the treatment he got from the department’s administration upon his return home.

Intellectually, he understood (and understands) the cause for the administrative animosity. Because of the call-ups to active duty the PD was, in effect, running a business shorthanded. That’s just more difficult to do than running a business at full staff, and resentment became pervasive. Tensions began to mount on all sides.

My airport friend and all the servicemen at his PD returned home to find administrative hurdles had been erected to make it more difficult to get differential pay and leave accruals. Upon returning from deployment, eligibility for promotion was denied.

This department was (maybe still is) punishing servicemen for their service, and sadly, this department was not an anomaly.

Several Publicly-Known Cases

In South San Francisco — “The Industrial City” not ten miles from my office and home to the airport at which I met my airport friend — two officers filed a federal lawsuit against the Police Department, saying they suffered workplace discrimination because of serving extended military deployments overseas.

Howard Zimmerman, a Major in the California Army National Guard, and William Carter, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve, were denied promotions and removed from their assignments after returning to South San Francisco PD from tours in Iraq. Zimmerman, a police corporal, contended in the 2007 lawsuit that a less-qualified officer was promoted to sergeant over him. Carter, a police sergeant, contended that two people he used to supervise were promoted to lieutenant over him.

Neither Zimmerman nor Carter is my airport friend. Nor is Johnnie Paxton or Brandon Contreras, who prevailed in their lawsuits over the City of Montebello (Calif.) Police Department. Paxton and Contreras each sued Montebello over annual leave, seniority, and pay-steps which were denied to them as a direct consequence of their service in our armed forces.

The more research I did for this column, the more I came to understand that these lawsuits are not just happening in California. This is a nationwide problem, with well-publicized cases in Tennessee, Georgia, and Texas. These suits were made possible by the legal protection afforded to our nation’s servicemen and women by the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (United States Code, Chapter 43, Part III, Title 38).

“The what?!” you say?  Read on, bothers and sisters...

USERRA Defined

The Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) “prohibits an employer from denying any benefit of employment on the basis of an individual’s membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation for service in the uniformed services. USERRA also protects the right of veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and certain other members of the uniformed services to reclaim their civilian employment after being absent due to military service or training.”

Late last week I spoke with Carolina Veronica Cutler, an attorney at the law firm of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill, who represented Paxton and Contreras in their cases against the City of Montebello.

“It’s a widespread problem,” Cutler told me. “Many police departments are facing this issue, and many police departments don’t know how to handle it. I think that’s where the problem starts. They just don’t understand what their obligations are under [USERRA].”

This, despite the fact that back in March 2010, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) issued a press release indicating intentions to “fully recognize, honor and enforce the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act.”

“The IACP is proud to stand behind this important program and to support our men and women who protect our communities at home and protect our country abroad. I encourage every police chief to join with me in signing a Statement of Support to publicly honor their Citizen Warriors who serve their communities and our nation in the National Guard and Reserve,” said Chief Michael J. Carroll, President of IACP at the time.

That's a noble statement, but when I spoke with Cutler last week, she explained, “I think the main problem is that people aren’t reading [USERRA] and they’re not realizing that their policies are outdated, or that they don’t even have a military leave policy at all. Some don’t even know what USERRA is.”

I guess some folks never got the IACP memo.

USERRA Demystified

So, if certain administrators don’t understand USERRA, let’s at least begin the process of demystifying this important piece of labor legislation. First and foremost, as laws go, it is written in understandable, plain-English — there is very little legal-eagle-speak. Sure, there’s some wonky language, but it’s nothing even close to as confusing as say, this convoluted mess.

Further, it’s refreshingly short. Some laws are thousands of pages long. When I copied the full text of USERRA and pasted it into a Microsoft Word document, it came to just 30 pages — that’s nothing for a piece of Federal Legislation. Not to put too fine a point on it, but when you can fit all the basics onto a single wall poster, you’re dealing with something pretty straightforward.

Finally, and most importantly for agencies and administrators, there are abundant resources available to steer you clear of trouble. For example, this Department of Labor resource notes that:

“USERRA provides that returning service members are to be reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, (the ‘escalator’ principle), with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. ...USERRA also provides that while an individual is performing military service, he or she is deemed to be on a furlough or leave of absence and is entitled to the non-seniority rights accorded other similarly-situated individuals on non-military leaves of absence.”

Simple, right? By adhering to some pretty uncomplicated rules of the road, you’ll not only do right by your people, but you may prevent your city or municipality from a pretty significant legal challenge. Win, win, right?

USERRA Defended

Unfortunately, a shockingly-high number of law enforcement agencies across the United States have failed to adhere to USERRA, done wrong by their people, and had their violations challenged in the courts.

“Our firm is widely known in California for representing police officers, so we have a lot of cases in California, but I’ve been getting calls from all over from people who read about our cases and they realize, ‘Hey, that’s happening to me too’,” Cutler said.

Cutler — whose firm’s motto is “Former Cops Defending Current Ones” — is getting calls from across the country at a rate of about one potential new case every week. For ease of math, let’s discard the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s 50 candidate cases per year, for just one law firm.

Just to give you a sense of scale, my airport friend recently told me about an organization to which he is connected — once again, details regarding his specific situation are close hold for me — that actively tracks such data. That group estimates that there are roughly 8,000 new USERRA cases filed annually. Now, that’s across all vocations — from teachers, to lawyers, to plumbers, to doctors — but when you consider the number of law enforcement officers who are also reservists, you can begin to draw some conclusions about the proportion of cases involving LEOs.

That this is even an issue in the law enforcement community is a little confounding to me — after all, policing is a somewhat paramilitary endeavor, with paramilitary organizational structure and paramilitary-oriented personnel. Sure, I’ve heard the administrative arguments: budget crisis, staffing issues, blah, blah, blah...

Times are tough, I get that. But a lot of what’s being done to harm these cops is purely punitive — there’s absolutely no dollar amount attached to it. Punishment for punishment’s sake, pure and simple.

These men and women are American Heroes. Not only should they be treated equally among their peers, in my humble opinion they should be singled out with preferentially positive treatment (an additional week of paid leave for each year of service might be nice, but I’m not responsible for making such decisions!).

Looking Ahead, Working for Justice

Across the country, officers have been indirectly forced to choose between military service and their police careers... for every well-known case which has already been decided in court, there are surely countless others which are known only to an individual cop, their family, and of course, their adminstrator perpetrating some manner of discrimination. Perhpas one of those people is you.

If any of the above spurs you to say, “Hey, that’s happening to me too,” please be advised that there’s an organization out there willing to fight for you. Check out the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and their vast library of USERRA resources.

Additionally, anyone — and I mean ANYONE — can get further information on USERRA by calling the U.S. Department of Labor, Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) at 1-866-4-USA-DOL or visiting the VETS website. For example, if you’re a Union President, check out these resources, and then seek out the service members in your PD and get to know them — find out if they’re dealing with these issues. In your position, you may have more of an ability to do something to effect change in departmental policy or city administrative awareness of these matters.

Well-Deserved “Thanks”

I run into all sorts of people at airports, from SI supermodels to NFL Hall-of-Fame-ers, but one of the most important such encounters was with my “airport friend.” Had he not sat in the barstool next to me at that airport bar, the pervasiveness of this problem would never have been on my radar.

Thank you sir, not only for your service, but also for being the impetus for my column today. I was under the mistaken impression that these instances of discrimination were rare — thanks to you, I now know the truth.

Finally, I will pray today for all the brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have given their lives under the battle flag of the United States of America. Even as I do so, I want to thank all the returning veterans, as well as every currently serving member of our Armed Forces, for your service. I realize that Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day are totally different things, but I am not going wait until 11/11 of this year to say “thank you” to you wonderful warriors as well.

There is no such thing as a “Happy Memorial Day” in my opinion, so allow me close by merely saying, again, THANK YOU.

VIDEO GAMBLING (Suburban) Franklin Park considers video gambling

--No comment by your host at this time.--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

By Mark Lawton
mlawton@pioneerlocal.com
Last Modified: May 27, 2012 02:36PM

Franklin Park village trustees discussed allowing video gambling in Franklin Park at their May 21 meeting.

In 2009 the Illinois General Assembly approved the Video Gaming Act. The Act allows bar and restaurants with liquor licenses (though not package liquor stores) to install video gambling machines.

Local governments, however, can ban the use of such machines within their borders. A 1969 law in Franklin Park bans such machines.

Now, however, representatives from Mike O’Donnels, Underpass and DJ Nightspot have contacted Village President Barrett Pedersen to see if the village would be willing to amend its ordinance.

Pedersen said he was reluctant to approve a change in the law.

Trustee John Johnson said if it helped businesses he was OK with amending the law. He also noted that locals interested in gambling only had to drive a bit north on River Road to a casino in Des Plaines to gamble.

Trustee Tom Brimie also said he was for a change if it helped businesses.

If video gaming machines come to Franklin Park, they would also benefit the village government’s budget. Such machines are highly taxed, with a third of such taxes going to the local municipality. On average, that $2,200 a year per machine.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

R.I.P.: Trooper Amanda Anna

ODMP

Trooper Amanda Anna
New York State Police, New York
End of Watch: Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 31
Tour: 6 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Automobile accident
Incident Date: 5/25/2012
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available

Trooper Amanda Anna was killed in a single vehicle crash along Route 37 in Hastings, New York.

At approximately 11:25 pm, her Chevrolet Tahoe patrol vehicle went out of control on a curve and overturned several times after striking a guardrail. Trooper Anna was transported to a nearby hospital where she succumbed to her injuries at about 5:25 am the following morning.

Trooper Anna had served with the New York State Police for six years. She is survived by her 4-year-old son, mother, and fiance.

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

Superintendent Joseph D'Amico
New York State Police
Public Information Office
1220 Washington Ave Bldg 22
Albany, NY 12226

NEWS: (Stone Park) Strip Club Next To Stone Park Convent May Be Preparing To Open

 But current Stone Park Mayor Beniamino Mazzulla has said in published reports that he is trying to shake the sleazy image in the town.
--Does cleaning up this image include straightening out the following questions? 
The mayor owns or owned a landscaping company that made money from Stone Park?
Or owning the only licensed ice cream truck in town? 
Or silently having a part of a large bar on North Ave?
These are just a few of the questions I have been asked on top of all the ones concerning this club.

On a side note, I hear the club will not be opening this Monday night. Could I be wrong, of course but I asked a few folks and the general consensus is no.
The current state of Lake St is not conducive to success in business in that area right now.--
Duke

Story at CBS News Chicago

May 23, 2012 6:21 AM

STONE PARK, Ill. (CBS) — It is unclear whether a strip club will open as scheduled next door to a Roman Catholic convent in west suburban Stone Park.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, efforts continue by the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo religious order and their supporters in an attempt to block the “Get It” gentlemen’s club. Its back wall is mere inches from the convent fence, and about 100 feet from a portion of the facility used as a retirement home by the religious order.

Lake Street remains torn up in front of the club, and attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society said permit issues remain. But he said it sounds as if the club is preparing to open Monday, as scheduled.

“We do know that they have been practicing. There’s been loud music coming from the facility at various times of the day,” Breen said. “At this time, though, they are delayed. They have really been fluffing their chests out, but they still have permit issues to deal with, basic life safety and other health issues to deal with.”

Breen said legal action is being prepared, and will be filed immediately if the club opens for business.

The nuns and their supporters say a myriad of laws make the club illegal, if for no other reason because it is next to the convent.

The Thomas More Society, a Catholic organization that is working with opponents, earlier this month faxed and wrote Village Attorney Dean Krone and the owner of Get It Entertainment, LLC, Robert Itzkow, restating its belief that the presence of three chapels on the convent property makes it illegal under the Illinois Liquor Control Act.

Breen said he believes that the village board discussed the club in closed-door session two weeks ago, under the guise of potential or existing litigation, but cannot be certain.

A representative of the Village of Stone Park told WBBM Newsradio that if media want to know the status of the permits and licenses for the club, they will have to file requests under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Some of the nuns at the convent addressed their objections to the strip club back in February. Sister Marcana Zambiasi told CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov that the nuns don’t object only to the fact that the strip club would be in sight of their convent, but that it exists at all so close to a residential area.

“We are not concerned only about ourselves here, but about the neighborhood children,” Zambiasi said.

The nuns are not alone in their opposition to the strip club.

Ronald Serpico, the mayor of neighboring Melrose Park said in February, “I am shocked and sickened by the placement of an adult entertainment business immediately adjacent to residential areas of Melrose Park. The siting and construction of this business, which was authorized by the Village of Stone Park, was not only ill thought-out, but I can only assume that no consideration for neighboring residents was given at all.”

But in March, Dean Krone, the attorney for the village of Stone Park, said he understands the controversy, but it can’t stop the new establishment.

“I don’t think overturning the decision is legally possible,” he said in March.

For generations, the small suburb Stone Park has been infamous as a seedy place, with strip clubs and adult bookstores lining the major roadways, prostitutes working the streets, and organized crime figures running the show.

Legend has it that Al Capone himself ran a brewery in Stone Park during the Great Depression.

But current Stone Park Mayor Beniamino Mazzulla has said in published reports that he is trying to shake the sleazy image in the town.

For those who gave all......

In honor of our lost military heroes we celebrate Memorial Day this weekend.

While you are enjoying this beautiful weekend of Bar-B-Q's, beaches and family please remember those who gave all so we could enjoy weekends like this.

We will be taking it easy here at Duke's unless anything of importance occurs, then as always we will be right on it.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!



Friday, May 25, 2012

PENSION: (Illinois) State Senate moves to kill law that boosted suburban chief’s pension

Sheahan was the only person to benefit from the 2007 provision that was tucked into a larger bill aimed at safeguarding the pensions of police widows. That bill was sponsored by state Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago), who has since left the Legislature and signed on as a contract lobbyist for Oak Brook,

The above paragraph is probably the most disturbing in the story. Even more disturbing than Sheahan's arrogant statement of "I deserve every penny of it, and I deserve a lot f------ more"

This is typical of what Springfield is doing right under all of our noses. The only reason this law was "reformed" is because the tax payers found out what was going on. There was no outcry on the House or Senate floor over this. Bob Molaro took care of his politically connected buddy and was rewarded for it with a nice job in Oak Brook.


This is just another example of why the entire pension statute needs to be thrown and rewritten just like they are doing with the criminal statutes. Otherwise, there will be more of these deals that the tax payer will have to find out about and scream and yell to get it changed.


This issue with Sheahan and the issue of the inflated pensions of our law makers being publicized are the driving reasons behind Springfield suddenly wanting to get a "reform" law on the books before the session ends on May 30. The hope is not to fix the system or to be fair to employees or tax payers, the hope is draw the attention away from these issues so the politicians can continue politics as usual for themselves. --
Duke

Related Story: PENSION: (Illinois) Clout-heavy ex-police chief on $30k pension sweetener: ‘I deserve every penny’


Story at Chicago Tribune

BY DAVE MCKINNEY AND ROBERT HERGUTH
Chicago Sun-Times/ Better Government Association
Last Modified: May 25, 2012 07:14PM

SPRINGFIELD — A former suburban police chief who benefited from an obscure pension sweetener and unapologetically declared “I deserve every penny of it, and I deserve a lot f------ more” could wind up getting a lot less.

By a 31-18 vote, the state Senate Friday moved to repeal a state law that allowed retired Oak Brook Police Chief Thomas Sheahan — a member of one of Chicago’s better-known political families — to boost his pension by more than $30,000 a year.

The deal that originally benefited Sheahan passed the General Assembly in 2007 and was signed into law by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, eventually blindsiding the western suburb with a tab of $750,000 in unfunded pension liabilities.

The sponsor of Friday’s corrective measure, state Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), credited the Chicago Sun-Times and Better Government Association for shining the spotlight on Sheahan’s sweetheart deal in a March investigation.

“As long as we’re doing pension reform, why don’t we start with this one right here?” said Dillard, whose legislation now moves to the House and whose district takes in part of Oak Brook. “A three-quarters of a million dollar cost on a relatively small village from a pension scheme is outrageous.”

Sheahan — brother of former Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan and James “Skinny” Sheahan, a long-time aide to ex-Mayor Richard M. Daley — said the Statehouse move on his pension Friday was news to him.

“I don’t follow any of that, I didn’t hear,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about the first legislation, and I don’t know anything about this.”

Sheahan was the only person to benefit from the 2007 provision that was tucked into a larger bill aimed at safeguarding the pensions of police widows. That bill was sponsored by state Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago), who has since left the Legislature and signed on as a contract lobbyist for Oak Brook,

In short, the law that benefited Sheahan created a now-expired six-month window for members of one public-sector pension fund (the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund or MEABF) to transfer credit into another (the “Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Personnel” program of IMRF) if they participated in both.

That enabled Sheahan to shift five years of credit from MEABF into IMRF so he could retire in 2011 with roughly 24 years of combined service. Without the legislation, he would have had fewer than 19 years of service and retired with two pensions worth a collective $45,000 rather than one worth $77,000.

Sheahan, who worked for Oak Brook for six years, is drawing that pension now on top of a $65,000-a-year salary he draws for being the part-time village manager of Lyons.

When the Sun-Times and BGA reported on his pension deal in March, the 59-year-old Sheahan said “I worked for 24 f------ years [in the public sector], I deserve every penny of it and I deserve a lot f------ more.”

Even though the state Constitution bars any diminishment of pensions, Dillard said he believes his measure will pass constitutional muster and said that it is patterned after November legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed that repealed the pensions of a pair of Illinois Federation of Teachers lobbyists, Steve Preckwinkle and David Piccioli.

They substitute-taught for a day and, under a 2007 law, were permitted entry into the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System. The law allowed them to count their years in the union toward a state pension, permitting Preckwinkle to reap a pension of as much as $108,000 upon retirement.

“It would be the same issue with Preckwinkle,” Dillard said, when asked about any constitutional questions in repealing Sheahan’s pension. “I’d say [Sheahan] got this under false pretenses. He obviously would have to litigate it, but the set of facts is very bad for him.”

Dillard’s measure originated with Oak Brook, whose village attorney, Peter Friedman, characterized Dillard’s effort as one that “rights a wrong.”

“There’s no reason why the General Assembly cannot take action to declare the Sheahan provision to be null and void. That’s what we asked, and that is what Sen. Dillard has successfully advanced,” he said.

The village already has appealed to the IMRF to undo Sheahan’s current pension, and that process is pending.

Robert Herguth is editor of investigations for the Better Government Association.

UNION: (Chicago) Chicago police union says P. D doesn't have access to state's best health care

--When you take a job you are looking for the same things as anyone else. Good pay, good pension, and good health insurance.
I get that health care costs are through the roof. But employees should not be forced to pay for the decisions by health care professionals to raise their rates to astronomical numbers in order to get more money from the slow paying state and federal governments. 
Everyone has all the answers when it comes to public safety benefits. They call them fat cat entitlements. Sorry, but give me a break. I don't see the people doing the complaining lining up to take jobs with us.
Public employees deserve access to good affordable health just like everyone else in the working world. Giving them inadequate access to proper care ends up costing the employer more money in areas like overtime to cover for a person not getting proper care and healing slower than they probably should. And paying out more in extended care because the care is inadequate to begin with.
I am not saying an employer needs to go broke but at least be fair with your employees.--
Duke

Story at FOX Chicago News

video


Posted: May 22, 2012 8:53 PM CDT
Updated: May 22, 2012 9:47 PM CDT
By Larry Yellen
FOX Chicago News Legal Analyst

CHICAGO (FOX Chicago News) -

After being praised as the finest police department in this country following the 2012 NATO Summit, Chicago's finest are questioning why they're not entitled to the finest health care.

Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Bill Dougherty says a few weeks ago, the union received this list of 42 physical therapy companies who'd been taken off the departments "referral list."

The providers opted out of the police health plan, run by Coventry Health Care, because reimbursement rates were too low.

"It appears to us that this was cost cutting by the city, at the expense of police officers," Dougherty said.

Officers who wanted to continue with these providers would have to pick up much of the tab. The list included the famed Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where Sen. Mark Kirk recently did his rehab.

"They want to get the same care that Senator Kirk gets at RIC, they want to get treatment from people who know what they're doing, so they can get back to work," Dougherty said.

The union blames the City Council finance committee, and its chairman, Alderman Ed Burke.

"Alderman Burke has told me personally that, in his words, our officers deserve the Mercedes Benz of health care," Dougherty said. "Right now, they're not getting it."

A finance committee spokesman says right now, just 13 providers remain off the referral list. He also said officers with "catastrophic" injuries haven't been affected.

PENSION: (Illinois) Madigan outlines pension legislation

--Madigan, Cullerton, and Cross have no option except to act now. 
With the sudden exposure of their pensions in the press they need to get the spotlight off of their unfair pensions and get it back on the little guys.
Watch for them to try and ram one of their so called reforms through in the next week.--
Duke

Story at State Journal-Register

COLAs reduced, employees won't have to contribute more, retirement age not raised


 By CHRIS WETTERICH
The State Journal-Register
Posted May 25, 2012 @ 10:30 AM
Last update May 25, 2012 @ 12:57 PM

 State employees, teachers, university employees, judges and lawmakers would see reduced cost-of-living increases in retirement and the costs of teacher and university pensions would be shifted to school districts, universities and colleges under a pension plan outlined by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The Chicago Democrat, speaking to the Illinois Channel on Thursday, said that the legislature would not seek to increase the retirement age to 67 or increase employee contributions to the retirement systems. Madigan said the cost savings under the plan would be significant but not as much as Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal, which was estimated to save at least $65 billion.

“We’ve determined that the biggest cost driver that leads to instability in the pension systems is the automatic, compounded COLA adjustment,” Madigan said. “So our view is that should be adjusted.”

 Madigan indicated he has now adopted Senate President John Cullerton’s view that employees need to be offered a choice for any pension restructuring to be constitutional.

“We’re very comfortable with this theory that’s based in contract law,” Madigan said.

For employees that began work before Jan. 1, 2011 who are in the tier 1 set of retirement benefits, they receive an annual, 3 percent compounded COLA.

Madigan said the new COLA would be the same as it is for those employees who began work after Jan. 1, 2011 and receive tier 2 retirement benefits. They get the lesser of 3 percent or one-half the urban consumer price index and their COLA is not compounded.

That means if a retiree has a $50,000 pension and the consumer price index is 2 percent, they would receive a COLA adjustment of 1 percent, so their pension would be $50,500 the next year. If during the next year, the consumer price index was the same, they would receive $51,000 because the interest will always be based on the original pension amount.

The changes will not be mandatory, but employees will be offered a stark choice: Take a lesser COLA or you will not receive access to the state’s health care plan for retirees and your pay raises will not count toward your pension.

It’s unclear whether the COLA changes will apply to already-retired public employees. But union groups are sounding the alarm to their members.

“The bill will cut the COLA of both current employees and current retirees, and it will reportedly not include any guarantee against continued shorting of the pension funds in the future,” the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees wrote on its website. “This bill could be introduced and voted on in less than 48 hours, recklessly denying the opportunity for full discussion and careful deliberation of its consequences.”

 The Illinois Retired Teachers Association sent out a blast e-mail to members saying that the proposal could change but that it believed retirees will be affected.

“All retired teachers (as well as judges, General Assembly members, state college and university employees) would be required to make a one-time election between their current retirement benefit from TRS and no health care coverage or a reformed benefit with health care coverage. The reformed benefit will base future pension increases on one half of the consumer price index or 3 percent simple interest whichever is less,” the e-mail read.

But the speaker’s office refused to confirm that retiree COLAs will be affected.

“The rest of it’s still being finalized. There’s still meetings going on,” said Madigan spokesman Steve Brown.

The plan will also phase-in a shift of the pension costs to local school districts, universities and community colleges, an idea staunchly opposed by legislative Republicans.

“Today, the state of Illinois makes those payments. It’s not fair. It’s not equitable. It’s one of the leading causes of why these systems have fiscal instability,” Madigan said. “A lot of that drain is caused by employers who are passing on the cost to the state for people that never got a paycheck from the state of Illinois.

On its website, the Illinois Education Association said one proposal under consideration is barring school districts from paying the employee share of the pension contribution. At least half of the school districts in Illinois pay the 9.4 percent employee contribution on behalf of teachers and others in the Teachers’ Retirement System as a part of their compensation package.

Barring the districts from paying the employee share would theoretically open up room in those school districts’ budgets to take on what is now the state’s pension contribution to TRS.

 Madigan predicted the changes would be passed before the legislature adjourned on May 31. It is unclear when the changes will take effect and when public employees would have to retire to avoid the changes altogether.

“We’re not attempting to cause hardship for anybody, but this is a government that’s got fiscal problems and there’s some tough medicine that’s got to be adopted to correct them,” Madigan said.

UNION: (Chicago) Chicago police union demands extra pay for NATO work

Story at FOX Chicago News

Posted: May 25, 2012 11:40 AM CDT
Updated: May 25, 2012 11:40 AM CDT

CHICAGO (Associated Press) -

The union representing Chicago's police officers has a message for a city that heaped all sorts of praise on the officers for the job they did during the NATO Summit: Money talks.

The Fraternal Order of Police has filed its fourth grievance tied to the summit -- the latest one because of what the union says is the city's refusal to pay officers time-and-a-half if they worked a sixth or seventh consecutive day in a week.

FOP President Mike Shields tells the Chicago Sun-Times that the language of the officers' contract clearly states that officers are entitled to the extra pay.

The union has filed other grievances, including one over the city's refusal to allow officers the option of taking compensatory time off instead of money.