Sections:

Article

Corporate attack on Chicago public workers, defined benefit pension plans escalates in Illinois... Mayor, Republicans propose legislation to destroy Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Board of Trustees and replace it with mayoral appointees

After at least six secret meetings, another of which was held during the first week of October, Illinois politicians have quietly introduced legislation that would destroy the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Board of Trustees as an elected entity with ten members elected by those affected by the Fund. The new legislation would replace the current trustees with a seven-member Board of Trustees, four of whose members would be appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Illinois Republican House leader Tom Cross, above, has introduced legislation that would take away the rights of Chicago teachers, principals and retired teachers to elect the majority of the trustees of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. Under Cross's proposal, which has the support of the Chicago Tribune and corporate leaders in Chicago (including the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club), Mayor Rahm Emanuel would appoint four members of the Board of Trustees, and the remaining three would be from other methods. The proposed change to current pension law, which was introduced by Tom Cross, the leader of the Republican minority in the Illinois House of Representatives, covers a number of public worker pension issues and has come to public light following a series of reports, primarily in Tribune Corporation media, depicting the public worker pension funds as corrupt. The proposed legislation, known as HB 3827, was introduced on October 5, 2011.

The current Board of Trustees consists of 12 members. Six of those are elected by active-duty teachers, three are elected from retired teachers, and one is elected by Chicago principals. Only two members of the current 12-member Trustees are in effect appointed by the mayor, since both of them (Rodrigo Sierra and Andrea Zopp) are members of the Board of Education that was appointed in May 2011 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The structure of the fund goes back more than 100 years and was established to ensure that those who are most affected by the CTPF are represented by a majority of the trustees, in part so that the investment decisions of the fund are not in the hands of politicians, according to informed sources and available histories of the CTPF,

A synopsis of the legislation, which was introduced on October 5 and is currently available on the Illinois General Assembly website, includes the following:

"...Amends the Chicago Police, Chicago Firefighter, Chicago Municipal, Chicago Laborers, Chicago Park District, and Chicago Teacher Articles of the Illinois Pension Code to terminate the existing pension boards 90 days after the effective date of the amendatory Act and to provide for a new board comprised of 4 members appointed by the Mayor of the City of Chicago and 3 elected members representing active members and annuitant members of the fund...."

The legislation, known as HB 3827, was quietly introduced for the Veto Session of the Illinois General Assembly by Republican Representative Tom Cross, House Minority Leader, and Rep. Denise Senger, also a Republican. According to reports in Crain's Chicago Business, the proposed legislation has the support of House Speaker Michael Madigan. The Veto Session begins in two weeks.

The complete synopsis of the proposed legislation reads as follows:

"Synopsis As Introduced

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

Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker, above during the June 22, 2011 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, was among the seven people appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2011. Priztker is a prominent member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, which has begun running advertisements across Illinois attacking the pension plans of public workers, including Illinois teachers. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The attack on the democratic structure of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and the other funds comes after several months of behind-the-scenes and public planning by Chicago's corporate elites, led by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club (an organization composed of the CEOs of the state's largest corporations) and the Civic Federation (a corporate sponsored organization that represents itself as a "non partisan" research group).

Preparation for the latest round in the attack on public employee pension plans was laid with editorials and Op Ed pieces in the Chicago Tribune, and carefully selective "investigative" news reports conducted by reporters from the Chicago Tribune and WGN. The "investigative" pieces focused on a handful of relatively large pensions being received by union officials who were able to include their union wages in their final pension calculations. The Tribune and its allies also editorialized against the public employee pensions regularly.

The Civic Committee is an exclusive club, consisting mainly of the CEOs of the largest corporations in Illinois. One of its members is Penny Pritzker, the billionaire heiress who was appointed in May 2011 to the Chicago Board of Education by Rahm Emanuel.

Despite speculation that Democratic political leaders in addition to Mayor Emanuel had come out in support of the proposed legislation, that does not seem to be the case. According to Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, the Speaker has not studied the Cross bill. "To be frank, this is the first time I've heard of the proposal to change the structure of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund," Brown told Substance. Speaker Madigan has been traveling recently, according to Brown.

The "Veto Session" of the Illinois General Assembly generally lasts two weeks in the Fall. It is currently scheduled to begin on October 25. The Cross bill could be heard at that time. Brown pointed out that to pass the bill would have to get a three-fifths vote.

Substance has requested comment from Mayor Emanuel, from the Civic Federation, and from CTPF trustees and will report those as they become available.



Comments:

October 7, 2011 at 9:39 AM

By: Jay C. Rehak

Pension fund under attack now

We need to monitor this very closely. From experience, we know the House Speaker has the ability to cause tremendous damage to our Pension Fund overnight. Part of the latest plan in Springfield (HB 3827-- currently in Committee) is to allow the Mayor to take control of the pensions of workers in Chicago. We need to oppose this collectively.

October 7, 2011 at 9:49 AM

By: Bob Busch

Latest attack on pensions has arrived

Rat.. I smell a rat here. Not only does the Mayor in effect control all the pension money in existence, but it will wipe any blame for malfeasance. Also this bill was introduced on October 5th! Thanks Jay (and Substance) for catching this bill.

October 7, 2011 at 7:09 PM

By: Bob Busch

Sticky Fingers

Piggy Bank

If things are as bad as we are led to believe why would any Mayor want to control the Pension funds? This is the question that comes to mind until you think it out. Not all pensions are equal The Teachers fund is relatively well funded compared to say the Fire department fund. Would this move allow the mayor to commingle the funds so that the strong will support the weak? Could he have a grand investment strategy? Mr. Mayor keep

your hands out of the cookie jar.

October 7, 2011 at 7:18 PM

By: John Kugler

$150,000 bribe money?

How about using the miracle $150,000 longer day money to save the budgets?

Rahm is straight out crook. At least Daley did the shuffle game. Rahm just steals it outright.

As a reward for lengthening their school days, each school is receiving an extra $150,000 in funding from the Chicago Public Schools. Teachers at the schools are receiving $1,250 bonuses and 2 percent raises.

October 8, 2011 at 10:17 PM

By: John Kugler

Take Back Chicago

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mass Mobilization

@4PM: Jobs March

Federal Plaza @ Adams/Dearborn

Daley Plaza @ Washington/Dearborn

@4PM: Homes March

Hyatt Regency @ Wacker/Stetson

@4PM: Schools March

Hilton Chicago @ Balbo/Michigan

Chicago Board of Trade @ Jackson/LaSalle

http://www.takebackchicago.org/

October 8, 2011 at 10:19 PM

By: O. Little

Pension Fund Crooks

This is horrible and if many of the current teachers don't pay attention, our money will be gone by the time we realize it. SMH

October 8, 2011 at 10:25 PM

By: John Kugler

Take Back Chicago

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mass Mobilization

@4PM: Jobs March

Federal Plaza @ Adams/Dearborn

Daley Plaza @ Washington/Dearborn

@4PM: Homes March

Hyatt Regency @ Wacker/Stetson

@4PM: Schools March

Hilton Chicago @ Balbo/Michigan

Chicago Board of Trade @ Jackson/LaSalle

http://www.takebackchicago.org/

October 8, 2011 at 11:22 PM

By: John Kugler

Pension Raid Sponsors

We need to make sure these two elected suburban officials get the message to stop the theft of our pensions.

Chief Co-Sponsor Rep. Darlene J. Senger

Representative Darlene J. Senger (R)

96th District

Springfield Office:

205A-N Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-6507

(217) 782-1275 FAX

District Office:

125 Water Street

Naperville, IL 60540

(630) 219-3090

(630) 219-3091 FAX

DuPage County

Email: sengerstaterep@gmail.com

Years served: 2009 - Present

Chief Co-Sponsor HB3827 Rep. Darlene J. Senger

Filed with the Clerk by Rep. Tom Cross

Springfield Office:

316 Capitol Building

Springfield, IL 62706

(217) 782-1331

(217) 782-3234 FAX

tom@tomcross.com

matt@TomCross.com

donna@TomCross.com

District Office:

24047 W. Lockport St.

Suite 213

Plainfield, IL 60544

(815) 254-0000

(815) 609-3994 FAX

Kendall County

Years served: 1993 - Present

October 9, 2011 at 2:07 PM

By: Romon Ortega

teachers' pensions

The mayors' way of adding more funds to an already aggressive trick to more union busting, raiding an untapped wealth for the left. These people will stop at nothing for control of the hard working employees of the CTU, see ya at the rally tomorrow!

October 19, 2011 at 12:43 AM

By: John Kugler

Deceptive Response by Cross

in a response to a Union member Rep. Tom Cross(R) sponsor of HB3827 a bill that would strip control of the teachers pension fund from the teachers, Rep Cross states:

I appreciate and respect your concern about HB 3827. The intent of the bill is to bring more accountability to the taxpayers in Chicago and Cook County.  The bill places the responsibility of the boards in the hands of the Mayor of Chicago or the Cook County Board President, both of whom are elected by the taxpayers.Â

These pension funds are made up of a majority of taxpayer money, which is why it is so important that an accountable and appointed board be assembled to represent taxpayer interests. HB 3827 was introduced to promote a discussion on the topic of restructuring these boards, so please feel free to send over any suggestions you might have on how to promote accountability and transparency in these pension funds. Additionally, HB 3827 does not make any changes to the benefit levels of employees nor does it give the pension boards the authority to make any benefit changes.

I hope this information helps to address your concerns. Please feel free to contact me at [ mailto:tom@tomcross.com ]tom@tomcross.com  or visit my website at [ http://www.tomcross.com ]www.tomcross.com

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at substancenews.net. We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 2 =