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Pension fund demands full payment as deadline of June 30 looms... and CPS continues to claim that some obligations are more important than others... pensions and retired teachers are not worthwhile to David Vitale, Jesse Ruiz, and the members of the Board of Education...

The executive director of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) made it clear in a public statement on June 17, 2015, that the fund expects the Chicago Board of Education to make the full payment of the money owed to the fund, and to end both the stalling and the lies that have pushed the fund into trouble during the last ten years. But consider the logic of every action taken by the members of the Chicago Board of Education as they have voted since their appointment by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, beginning in May 2011.

As more and more details of the corruption of the Chicago Board of Eduction -- and all of the Board's seven members -- becomes more and more public knowledge (see Sun-Times clip below), every member of the Board faces demands for accountability. Above, Board member Mahalia Hines was aggressive and nasty with critics of the Board during the Board's January 28, 2015 meeting (above). By that time, the investigations in the corruptions surrounding Board CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett's dealings with SUPES Academy and other outfits getting business from the Board were moving forward. But Hines regularly voted in favor of every privatization and teacher bashing scheme brought before the Board without discussion or debate. On most days, it was Hines who made the motion that the Board go into "Closed Session" to keep the public out of discussions. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The city and the schools needed a $20 million no-bid contract with a corrupt suburban outfit called SUPES Academy, instead of putting aside money for Chicago's retired teachers. And Chicago definitely needs a "Department of Innovation and Incubation" headed by a $175,000-per-year guy imported (again, no-bid) from outside Chicago -- instead of having the money ready to pay the pension fund. And, for a time, Chicago's public schools needed a "Chief Portfolio Officer" (at $165,000 per year) and a complete department under the guy who, again, was hired with no-bidding for the job and no discussion of what "Portfolio" offices did in public schools. And on and one. Chicago's public schools currently have more than a dozen "chiefs of staff" (including one "Chief of Staff" for a department that doesn't exist!), all also established with out public discussion or debate -- no-bid deals.

It's long been a question of priorities, with the city's real public schools, the city's real public school teachers and other school workers, and the retired teachers and PSRPs left out while dozens of out-of-town hirelings got lucrative Chicago jobs in departments that don't exist anywhere else in education in the USA except in America's third largest school system.

But the "crisis" is not a crisis of nonsense in hiring CPS officials. Nor is it a "crisis" in charter school cover ups, which have been going on now for more than a decade. No -- the whole "crisis" to read the screaming headlines is because CPS has a legal obligation to pay into the teachers' pension fund! (Disclosure: This reporter is a retired Chicago teacher who pension is less than $35,000 per year).

On June 17, 2015, the CTPF issued the following statement, which came from Charles A. Burbridge, executive director of the fund...

CTPF Executive Director Charles A. Burbridge Calls for Full Pension Funding. CHICAGO - June 17, 2015

As the due date for the Chicago Board of Education's pension payment to the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund approaches, Charles A. Burbridge, CTPF Executive Director, is calling for full payment to the Fund.

"We recognize that there are tough choices to be made," said Burbridge. "These choices are consequences of the education funding policies of the past 20 years and we must collectively set a new course if we are to fully fund the education our children deserve. Our members are expecting the full payment required by statute and we have no authority to negotiate payments with CPS."

With the explosion of revelations about the corruption of the Chicago Board of Education and its now departed "Chief Executive Officer," Barbara Byrd Bennett, more and more questions arise even in Chicago's corporate media about why the seven members of the school board simply rubber stamped every teacher bashing attack on the city's teachers and every privatization attack on the city's real public schools. On June 16, 2015, the Chicago Sun-Times ran a delightful story about how even the members of the Board weren't told until the last minute what they were expected to do. For example, in October 2012 when the Board members were told to vote to oust Jean-Claude Brizard and hire Barbara Byrd Bennett as "CEO," the Board members were basically ordered to vote on the deals by Board President David Vitale. A 10-year pension holiday from 1996-2005, combined with reduced payments from 2011-2013, cost CTPF more than $3.2 billion in revenue. As a result, the Board of Education has to make a payment of $634 million to the Fund before June 30.

"Beginning July 1, 2015, the Fund will celebrate its 120th anniversary. If pension obligations are to be fulfilled for another 120 years, we must make changes," said Burbridge. "We must have an adequate, stable and guaranteed source of employer contributions to pair with the existing reliable stream of employee contributions and investment earnings."

Ensuring the long-term viability of employee pensions is not only critical to Chicago's education system, it is also important to the city and state economy. Roughly 85 percent of CTPF retirees continue to live in Illinois with about 50 percent of those residents in Chicago. In 2014, the Fund paid out $1.2 billion in pension benefit payments to residents across the state generating roughly $1.7 billion in economic impact for Illinois. "Our members have dedicated their lives to the children of Chicago and to building a strong city," said Burbridge. "Our job is to educate and inform our members and other stakeholders, invest their assets, and administer their earned benefits. Lawmakers and elected officials must honor the promises made by fully funding CTPF pensions. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past with another pension holiday."

ABOUT CTPF

Established by the Illinois state legislature in 1895, the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund manages members' assets and administers benefits. The $10.9 billion pension fund serves approximately 63,000 active and retired educators, and provides pension and health insurance benefits to more than 27,700 beneficiaries.

CTPF MISSION STATEMENT To provide, protect, and enhance the present and future economic well being of members, pensioners and beneficiaries through efficient and effective management of benefit programs, investment practices and customer service, and to commit to earning and keeping the respect and trust of the participants through quality service and by protecting retirement benefits, in compliance with applicable laws and standards.

CTPF BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Jay C. Rehak, president

Lois W. Ashford, vice president

Bernie Eshoo, financial secretary

Raymond Wohl, recording secretary

Carlos M. Azcoitia

Jeffery Blackwell

Robert F. Bures

Tina Padilla

Walter E. Pilditch

Mary Sharon Reilly

Jerry Travlos

Charles A. Burbridge, executive director



Comments:

June 26, 2015 at 9:07 PM

By: Sammy Hill

Mayor's Appointed Board Must Go

David Vitale is the worst example of a Board president ever. He has done nothing but screw up finances and make bad decisions. The flippant out-of-touch Mahalia Hines, Ruiz and all the rest of the mayors puppets have to go. It's utterly ridiculous to have these individuals making decisions for kids and teachers. It's almost like the system is a play-toy for them and the mayor. Clean house. That is the only way we can fix this. We gave up the opportunity to fix the mayor in the election, but I'm hoping public pressure can help eradicate this board

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