Pension trustees continue to deal with complex issues, while cleaning up some old problems

The trustees of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) met for their monthly meeting on October 18, 2012, and worked through both complex problems facing Chicago teacher pensions in the face of corporate "pension reform," while also continuing to clean up some problems that had been left with the fund from previous years. Lengthy discussions were held about the way Chicago teachers' pensions will be defended in Springfield against the combined onslaught of corporate pension reform (which seeks ultimately to abolish defined benefit pension plans) and the specific problems facing the CTPF because of the failure of the Chicago Board of Education to pay its required share of the money into the pension fund over most of the past 20 years.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund trustees Lois Ashford (left) and Jay Rehak (center) listen to one of the reports at the October 18, 2012 meeting of the trustees of CTPF. On the right is attorney Joseph Burns. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.During most of the meeting, ten of the twelve trustees were present. These included all six teacher trustees, two of the three trustees representing retired teachers, the trustee representing principals, and one of the two trustees appointed by the Chicago Board of Education. Absent for the entire meeting were retired teacher trustee James Ward and Board trustee Andrea Zopp.

The discussions were careful regarding how the CTPF will proceed during the fall "veto session" of the Illinois General Assembly and the January "lame duck session" of the same body. Pressure is on in Illinois to do what is called "reform" to all public employee pension funds. The problems faced by the different funds vary according to the circumstances.

Except for the editors of the Chicago Tribune and the CEOs on the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, everyone agrees that all the problems faced by the CTPF are because of the failure of the Chicago Board of Education to pay its required share into the fund.

Teacher trustees present were Jay Rehak (Preisent of CTPF), Lois Ashford (Vice President of CTPF), Jeff Blackwell, Jeanne Freed, Tina Padilla, and Ray Wohl. All of the teacher trustees are working teachers. The retiree trustees present were Mary Sharon Reilly and Walter Pilditch (James Ward was not present). Rodrigo Sierra, one of the two Board trustees, was present for parts of the meeting, while his fellow Board member Andrea Zopp was absent.

Rehak and Ashford, who were first elected teacher trustees in October 2009, are running for re-election this year. The election that will be held on November 9 to avoid conflicts with the general elections being held on November 6. The two people opposing Rehak and Ashford were not present at the October 18 CTPF meeting and have reportedly never been to a meeting of the fund. This year, the only trustees elected are two teacher trustees, all of whom have been elected for three-year terms.


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