CTU House of Delegates decides to endorse all candidates for Chicago Teachers Pension Fund trustees

The House of Delegates on Wednesday, October 19 decided to endorse all candidates running for the pension election November 4, rejecting the executive board’s recommendation to endorse Tina Padilla and Raymond Wohl. Five candidates are running for two teacher seats on the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) board of trustees. The voting will take place in all schools on November 4. Teachers who are part of the pension fund (including charter school teachers) are eligible to vote.

Pension Fund trustee candidate Ray Wohl with his testimony during the September 15, 2011 meeting of the trustees of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Several delegates affiliated with the United Progressive Caucus (UPC) stated that the union should not be divided and instead show its support for each candidate.

Delegates who are members of the Coalition of Rank and File Educators (Core) pointed out that corrupt deals were made under UPC trustees John O’Brill and Linda Goff, including giving $25 million to DV Urban, a company run by a cousin of former mayor Richard Daley. The fund eventually lost $24 million on that deal, according to CORE literature.

Linda Goff said she was not a trustee when this deal went down.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund president John O’Brill was also singled out for allowing the fund to lose $87 million in highly speculative derivative funds invested by Northern Trust on behalf of the pension fund, pension trustee and delegate Jay Rehak stated. Rehak said it wasn’t until he and Lois Ashford were elected as trustees that the fund decided to sue Northern Trust. The lawsuit was made public on the Substance website.

O’Brill pointed out that Rehak, who made the motion to support the two CORE-endorsed pension candidates at the delegates meeting, had a conflict of interest because he is a trustee and should not have recommended an endorsement to the executive board.

Interestingly enough, pension candidate and delegate Pam Touras also argued that the House should not be divided at this crucial time and therefore all candidates should be endorsed. However, Touras, who is also a member of the executive board, asked to be the third candidate endorsed by the exec. board along with Padilla and Wohl after the members rejected endorsing all the candidates.

Each pension candidate was given three minutes to make their case to the delegates why they should be elected trustees.

Padilla touted her background as a national board certified math teacher at Lane Tech who has earned an MBA at Keller School of Management and worked as a mortgage broker.

O’Brill said he has served as a trustee for nine years during which the pension fund has earned on average about 8 percent in returns each year, pensioners have never missed a pension payment, and retirees have 60% of their hospital costs covered.

Wohl said he has been a teacher for 18 years and remembered that when he first started teaching in 1994, the pension fund was 100% funded, but today it’s only 58% funded. “I have never missed a pension payment, but the city has,” Wohl said. The city has diverted its pension payments over the years to pay for other things, just like the federal government has used stable social security funds to pay for pet projects. The state just recently agreed to allow the Board of Education to sidestep $1.2 billion in pension payments to be paid at a later date.

Unlike the other candidates, Wohl outlined an active approach to promoting and protecting the pension fund. Wohl fought to save teachers’ jobs after the Board closed his former school Irving Park Middle School. He argued that the teachers should transfer along with the students to Thurgood Marshall Middle School as part of the NCLB requirement that minimal disruption for the students would include keeping their teachers.

Touras, a 22-year teacher at McPherson Elementary School, noted her numerous positions in the union which include serving as her school’s delegate as well as being a member of the executive board, the professional problems committee, the rules and election committee and serving on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s committee for a longer school day, which president Karen Lewis has refused to be a part of, but appointed Touras and four others instead to serve on.

Goff noted that teachers are being called “greedy.” She said she has the experience, having served as vice president of the CTPF for two years.

CTU President Lewis focused on the pension attack in her speech to the membership. She noted House Bill 3827 will give the mayor control of the fund and Senate Bill 512 will feature a three tier plan that will eventually destroy the defined benefit pension plan.

Lewis pointed out that one of the members of the Board of Education who Emanuel appointed was also serving on the board of Bear Sterns, the investment bank that crashed in 2008 due to toxic risks.

“So now the mayor wants to take control of (the fund) and do what he wants,” Lewis said. “These people make all the laws without the facts. They listen to business experts in the Civic Federation who drove the economy off the cliff.”

Lewis told delegates to call their state reps and senators to oppose the anti-teacher pension bills in the legislature. Lewis mentioned that another bill (HB 3813) would not allow union workers to pay into the teachers pension fund, nicknamed the Dennis Gannon bill, after the two major dailies profiled union officials who earned high pensions in two funds.

There was other news from the meeting. Lewis said the union is also seeking “injunctive relief” for the schools currently under an extended day after the Illinois Labor Relations Board found that the Board of Ed had violated the rights of teachers to vote on a waiver in their contract to implement the longer school day.

Teachers can go to the website and punch in their zip codes to send a message to their legislators to oppose the anti-pension bills. The CTU will also have a couple of buses going to Springfield and leaving at 6:30 am next Wednesday, October 26 to lobby against the bills.

Lewis noted during the question and answer period that while all the other unions are geared up to fight these toxic pension bills in and out of committees, the unions’ million dollar ad campaign to fight SB 512 earlier this year, dubbed “We Are One” in response to the business lobby’s the “State is Broke,” will be tough to repeat because of the high cost.

The delegates unanimously passed the executive board resolutions for a 30 member contract bargaining committee, a strike fund and support for Occupy Chicago.

The House also agreed unanimously to endorse Rudy Lozano for state representative in the newly created 21st district. It was noted that Lozano is being heavily contested by union buster UNO Charter Schools, which helped Rep. Burke narrowly defeat Lozano the last time he ran.

Next Friday Oct. 28 the CTU will host at Plumbers Hall its annual Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner or LEAD beginning at 3:30pm. Tickets are $30 per person and can be ordered from the CTU.


October 22, 2011 at 10:39 AM

By: Edna Otero

HOD meeting - Pension

Memo to Jim Vail. It is sure interesting to read an "unbiased" article by the paper that supposedly supports and protects ALL teachers. Personal information about how a specific pension candidate "defended" his teachers against a school closing was superfluous. I am positive that ALL of the pension candidates have participated in numerous activities and personal acts of protecting teachers from CPS's vile acts, especially the veteran teachers having more than "18 years of service."

October 24, 2011 at 9:47 PM

By: Linda Goff

HOD meeting - Pension

Jim Vail - Your article in Substance is very one-sided including the fact that you repeated false accusations, although you could have easily researched their validity and reported the truth in your article.

You are aware that the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Minutes are Public Record. Anyone can access them through the CTPF website. Check out the minutes for the March 17, 2005, meeting on page 326. It is very easy to check things out to get to the truth.

Why didn't you?

October 24, 2011 at 9:58 PM

By: Xian Barrett

Rudy Lozano

Didn't the CTU also help defeat Lozano last time? He only lost by several hundred votes. If we had supported him, he would be a representative already...

October 25, 2011 at 2:37 AM

By: John Whitfield

Rudy Lozano Sr.

Any cold case information on the murder of Rudy Lozano Sr., a working class hero,and Harold Washington support, murdered by the system. Chuy Negregete's song went; "They say that it was Escobar, they say that it was Escobar, " "pero nadie creia en los cuentos de la policia."(but no one believed in the police stories)

Wasn't it something to do with charter schools Xian, and Rudy Lozano's stance on charter schools? That is, why CTU didn't throw its support behind Rudy Lozano Jr. That's important.But surely he has become the awakened one on that issue.

October 25, 2011 at 9:05 AM

By: Linda Goff

HOD meeting - Pension

Mr. Vail,

Your article repeats false statements concerning accusations of "corrupt deals."

The decision to give, "$25 million to DV Urban, happened in March 2005. The two current UPC candidates for Pension Trustee, John O'Brill and I were not even on the Board.

A member of CORE and current candidate for Retiree Pension Trustee, made the motion to give $25 million to DV Urban, and voted in favor of it. John O'Brill and I weren't even on the Board.

The teachers that are counting on a Pension when they retire deserve to know the truth.

Why aren't you reporting it?

October 25, 2011 at 7:27 PM

By: Kimberly Bowsky

HOD Floor Fight

The article analyzes the arguments and positions of people, as it is meant to do. Let us not be hoodwinked by time served and the code word "experience." Teachers can ill afford to have our trustees play with derivatives and speculation when we get no Social Security and annuities no longer perform solidly because they're rigged by government cronies--the ones who crashed this economy and made a mint, remember? We want friends of the worker, not yes-women/-men of others in high places. I want to be able to live the life I worked for. At this rate, if there's more of the same (of the 2000s), then someone else'll be living my life. Some healthy questioning of the past and some skepticism is in order. It's our future that we're talking about.

October 27, 2011 at 5:35 AM

By: George Schmidt

Vail article accurate. Goff was manipulating historical record...

During the oath at trial, a witness not only swears to tell "the truth..." but the "whole truth and nothing but the truth..." Those who developed the oath and affirmation during the long history of English Common Law and American jurisprudence knew that leaving out a part of the "truth" was as much a lying as lying. One of the characteristics of the members of the United Progressive Caucus during their long time as leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union was their willingness to lie — or at least to manipulate the facts — to suit any purpose in the furtherance of their power. The latest example of this comes in the comments of two UPC members in response to Substance reporter Jim Vail's report on the October meeting of the CTU House of Delegates.

In her comment (above) former CTPF trustee Linda Goff claims that Vail is wrong in saying that she approved the lucrative award to relatives of former Mayor Richard M. Daley in the form of a contract with "DV Urban" run by Daley family member. The original deal was approved by the trustees in 2005. Goff claims that "The teachers... deserve to know the truth..." and then claims that she and John O'Brill didn't vote for the DV Urban deal while trustees of the fund because they were not even on the fund at the time of the original DV Urban deal.

It's Goff who is playing loose with the truth. The deal was renewed three years after initially awarded, and by that time Goff and O'Brill were trustees. As the minutes of the CTPF (below) show, Goff (and O'Brill) both voted to renew the DV Urban deal. While it is accurate for Ms. Goff to claim that she was not a member of the trustees in 2005, when the DV Urban deal was originally approved, by 2008, when the deal was renewed, she was, as the minutes of the special meeting of the trustees of July 17, 2008 show. The editors of Substance stand by Jim Vail's original report that Linda Goff and John O'Brill approved the DV Urban deal.


OF THE Public School Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago

"Special Meeting – Official Report Thursday, July 17, 2008

"A special meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Public School Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago was held Thursday, July 17, 2008.

"The President, Mr. John F. O’Brill, called the meeting to order at 9:43 a.m

ROLL CALL Members present: Mr. Carrero, Ms. Goff, Mr. Kotis, Ms. Nelson, Mr. O’Brill, Ms. Otero, Dr. Pilditch, Ms. Reilly, Mr. Ward—9. Members absent: Ms. Davis, Ms. Rodriguez, Ms. Williams—3.

Ms. Rodriguez arrived during Public Participation.

"Also in attendance were Mr. Kevin Huber (Executive Director), Ms. Patricia Hambrick (Chief Operating Officer), Mr. Joseph Burns of Jacobs, Burns, Orlove, Stanton and

Hernandez (Legal Counsel), Ms. Kristin Finney-Cooke, Mr. Douglas Kryscio, and Mr. Patrick Silvestri of Mercer Investment Consulting (Investment Consultant), Mr. Robert

Kochis and Ms. Cara Wood of The Townsend Group (Real Estate Investment Consultant), Mr. Henry P. Anselmo of Henry P. Anselmo and Associates and Mr. Eugene M. Barnes of E.M. Barnes and Associates (Lobbyists), and various observers and staff members.

"... DV Urban Commitment Period Extended

Mr. Huber reported that DV Urban has requested to extend their commitment period for an additional year. Mr. Huber recommended approving an extension, with appropriate contract changes based upon invested capital. A motion was made by Mr. Ward, seconded by Ms. Nelson, and unanimously passed, to extend the commitment period with DV Urban..."

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