Pension trustees vote to allow Maria Rodriguez to remain as a 'teacher rep' despite her retirement

After an hour of discussion, the trustees of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) voted in a tie vote not to declare that the seat on the Board of Trustees was open and that Rodriguez would not longer be eligible to sit on the 12-person pension board. Rodriguez, who according to one Board member had served for 12 years as a teacher rep, left her position as a field rep at the Chicago Teachers Union at the end of June. Most observers thought that she would simply step down from her position, since she was no longer an active duty teacher (when she was a trustee representing teachers, Rodriguez began working for the CTU as a teacher on leave, so she kept her seat).

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund trustee Maria Rodriguez (above right, partially covering her face) refused repeatedly to tell her fellow trustees whether she was still a teacher or had resigned and put in for her pension during the July 21, 2011 meeting of the trustees of the Fund. Despite the facts, four members of the trustees (Kotis, Obrill, Pilditch, and Reilly) voted against creating a vacancy on the trustees, thereby allowing Rodriguez to continue until her term as a teacher trustee ends on November 1, 2011. One member (Blackwell) was absent and unable to phone in to vote. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.After more than an hour of legal discussion and several parliamentary questions the vote came on a motion to declare a vacancy. On a roll call vote, the votes were four "Yes" (Ashford, Freed, Rehak, and Wad) and four "No" (OBrill, Reilly, Kotis, and Pilditch). Board of Education members Andrea Zopp and Rodrigo Sierra (who were attending their first meeting) abstained. Teacher rep Jeffrey Blackwell was not present. Rodriguez also abstained.

As a result of the vote, Rodriguez will continue to serve as one of the six teacher trustees on the pension board until her term ends on November 1, 2011. The pension board has 12 trustees, six representing active duty teachers, three representing retired teachers, one representing the principals, and two representing the Board of Education. All of the trustees except the two Board members are elected by a vote of the people they represent. The Board members are elected by the seven members of the Board of Education.

The upcoming pension trustee election to be held on October 28 in the schools (for two teacher trustees) and by mail ballot (for the three retiree trustees) will determine the direction of the trustees for the next year. Petitions are available from the CTPF offices at 203 N. LaSalle St for those who wish to run.

To active duty teachers (who must have at least ten years service) will be elected in a vote in all the schools on October 28.

Three retired teacher trustees will be elected in a mail ballot vote during the same time period.

In order to be on the ballot, candidates must submit nominating petitions signed by the required number of eligible voters by the last day of September. The person seeking to run must pick up nominating petitions in person and provide the CTPF with information regarding whether that person is eligible to run for the seat.

Nominating petitions for the two teacher trustees must have at least 200 signatures by eligible voters.

Three of the four trustees who voted against creating the vacancy for the post of teacher rep on the Pension Board despite the refusal of Maria Rodriguez (face covered, far left) to acknowledge that she had put in for her retirement and was therefore no longer a "teacher" eligible to serve on Pension Board are in the photo above. Although Board of Education trustee Andrea Zopp (second from left) abstained in the highly charged vote, Walter Pilditch (third from left), a retiree trustee, Chris Kotis (second from right), the principals' trustee, and Mary Sharon Reilly (far right), another retiree trustee, voted to allow Rodriguez's stormy term on the Pension Board to continue. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Nominating petitions for the three retiree trustees must have at least 100 signatures from the eligible voters. The forms state: "Completed petitions and candidates' statements must be submitted to Attn: Election Coordinator, Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, 203 N. LaSalle St., Suite 2600, Chicago IL 60601-1231 and mut be received at the office of CTPF by close of business at 5:00 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 30, 2011." Candidates are also eligible to submit a statement and a photograph. Information about all the candidates is published for the voters by the CTPF.


July 31, 2011 at 11:12 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Where's Mario--I mean, Jeffrey?

Where is Jeffrey Blackwell when we need him? Maria's done many questionable things, in my opinion, in the service of her United Progressive Caucus (think Marilyn Stewart), but to refuse to give information about her status to the pension board and still not be voted out by her like-minded cohort takes the cake.

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