Illinois Infested With Public Pension Fund Abusers: Protected By Legislature

Illinois Infested With Public Pension Fund Abusers: Protected By Legislature

The list of public pension fund abusers in Illinois is long, but, if anyone wants an introduction then all they need to do is start at the Chicago Tribune Watchdog area of their website. Stories regarding Tim Baldermann of Chicago Heights and Roy McCampbell of Bellwood are just a small sampling of a nasty secret regarding public pensions that Illinois taxpayers are ultimately responsible for. Pension-padding, double and triple-dipping and good old fashioned conflicts of interest abound and it appears to be occurring in nearly every government entity, township and/or municipality. Simply put, the State of Illinois is infested with pension abusers and is protected by the Illinois Legislature. As I have said before, the majority of our politicians don't give a hoot about the people, they are in this game for other reasons. Public service used to be honorable endeavor, but our elected officials have diminished that ideal to worthlessness.

As everyone is aware, Illinois is drowning in debt primarily due to its public pensions. Satisfying our under-funded pension fund obligations now means that other vital services and essential funding have fallen by the wayside. Our, less than honorable, State Legislature and "in-the-bag" governor have made it a point to not address pension abuses and would rather attempt to cover-up their complicity by raising taxes and fees at every opportunity. The problem, however, is that those tax and fee increases do nothing in terms of making those pension funds solvent. Hell, they don't even pay the interest.

And even though there are many honest state workers paying into one of the five public pension funds, they themselves are being lumped into the same pile as those abusing the system. Sadly, not only are they sharing the blame, they will also get screwed when it is their turn to retire. Never the less, given the widespread nature of the abuse, the time has come to fully investigate the entire pension system and validity of the benefits being paid out.

In order to spare the honest workers, I would begin with a federal oversight panel immediately suspending all public pensions that involve payment from multiple funds. All recipients that are known to be double-dipping, triple-dipping or more, must be investigated first as to the validity of their pension benefits. And that means the entire trail of contributions, including those late career bumps and/or pension boosting position manipulations (title changes, bonuses, newly created positions, etc.). After those individuals have had their pensions scrutinized their accounts need to be combined and converted into a new single fund account. Any and all redundant benefits, like multiple health insurances (as we found out about with the Metra Board Treasurer) need to be trimmed down to one plan. The law needs to be amended so that health insurance must include a fair contribution amount to offset spiraling health care costs.

Any legislators that refuse to go along with changing the law for a comprehensive, and retroactive, pension reform policy needs to be targeted for defeat. Double and triple-dipping is not a benefit that should be protected by law and anyone saying that the law can't be changed, hasn't been paying attention to Wisconsin or other state's actions.

It is essential that a government workers pension account must be limited to one lifetime account (like Social Security is for non government workers). I would also hope that there are some savvy lawyers out there that can get this issue raised and into the courts as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the Illinois Taxpayer as soon as possible.

Is there a friend of the court out there?

Illinois Taxpayers have been duped by legislators, who have passed legislation to protect this sort of thing, and if anything were to smell unconstitutional, well, that would be it. I believe that Illinoisans have been unfairly taxed without fair representation. Matter of fact, what the Illinois Legislature has done over the decades, sounds down right criminal to me.

So is anyone ready for a fight on multiple fronts? The targeting of uncooperative elected officials and/or judges at the ballot box is just one remedy. I am also sure that law schools, which have now been freed-up from defending those on our vacant death row, have the time to defend the taxpayers of Illinois. Last, but not least, Illinoisans need the Federal Authorities to begin looking into the pension abuse issues.

As smart as our politicians think they are, I am sure that they haven't thought of everything. I would almost bet that RICO violations could be found by a sharp federal prosecutor. Pension investments, after all involve interstate business transactions. Besides, wasn't that part of the Joe Cari plea deal that implicated Stuart Levine, Antoin "Tony" Rezko and former governor Rod Blagojevich with the TSR Pension Fund Scheme?

Although I still don't fully understand the terms of that plea deal, given Joe Cari's prior business associations with Stuart Levine and Steve Loren which predate the TSR indictment, hopefully that will come out in its entirety during the retrial of Rod Blagojevich.

Even though Federal Prosecutors have indicted several people associated with the Rod Blagojevich Administration, the sad reality is that it hasn't done one thing to slow down the political corruption that is so common in Illinois. Corruption is a multi-headed monster and our public pension funds is but one place rife with it.

It is, however, the single most important area where we need to stop snarky politicians from double and triple-dipping a system, which has so much impact on the Illinois State Budget. Public pensions are the greatest burden on the backs of Illinois Taxpayers right now.

And that is something that has to stop right now!

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  • I have to say that we as tax payers must take them on ourselves. We don't have to agree on all fronts just unite on this one . Work together to find a way to out chisel the chiselers . I will look into a few things and see about the petition process. I am sick of being lumped in with these worthless pieces of s*#t. We need to draw a line in the sand and go forward with some kind of response. This is not sustainable. We are already broke,we don't need to be broker.....

  • In reply to waterbill:

    This does affect everyone and quite honestly I was thinking about you and a few others I know that work for state or local government. There are honest decent people working in the system for our benefit and safety, yet they themselves get screwed by the higher ups who have found a way to manipulate the pensions. That, and bartering the funds to insiders, is what has made the funds unsustainable. I wonder when legitimate retirees will be told hey sorry we must cut the benefits you worked for so we can pay those who haven't followed the rules?

    I don't know how any voter cannot have compassion for those who will lose everything? That is not ideological nor should it be. It is about fairness.

  • In reply to waterbill:

    I commented the other day on what needs to be done. However, none of this is going to be done.

    The corrupt politicians are not going to reform themselves, and have insulated themselves from accountability, by gerrymandering, funneling campaign contributions, and the like. You know darn well that what happened in Wisconsin is not going to happen here.

    As far as feds stopping current pension payments, they don't have the jurisdiction to do so. Heck, some say that the 10th Amendment even precludes the feds from passing a bankruptcy law for states, and top that with the Contracts Clause, which prevents states from reneging on current obligations, although one can clearly argue that it doesn't prevent changes forward, as the toadies in Illinois claim that the state pension clause does.

    The SEC had jurisdiction only because the state was peddling its junk pension bonds in the public market.

    Finally, indictments are all good, but as the Skilling/Black cases (and Judge Pallmayer's opinion keeping Ryan in jail) point out, there still has to be bribery or extortion to constitute a federal crime. More than likely, the pigs got theirs legally, unlike the evidence against Blago or those you mentioned.

  • In reply to jack:

    My understanding is that if a federal crime has been committed, state law does not shield. That is why I mentioned RICO because it involves interstate transactions. With TSR - that definitely was what caught them. No, let's say other federal laws were committed to deliberately attempt forming a shield? Would state law trump that? Hey our politicians may be sharp, but they invariably always get hooked none the less. All I ask is for is a sharp federal prosecutor to scrutinize the deals made and if any federal law was broken - to nail them. I bet they did too.

    Contracts laws can be broken by simply declaring the state bankrupt.

  • In reply to maciric:

    I didn't say anything about a state law being a shield. I said that as the federal law is now construed, the honest services counts only work if bribery or extortion are involved.

    RICO would require proof of "racketeering activity," and it appears that the feds even dropped those charges in the Blago case as being superfluous. In any event, 18 U.S.C. sec. 1961 defines "racketeering activity" in terms of various state and federal crimes; the one most often used with politicians is mail and wire fraud, of which Blago was indicted. Also, sec. 1962 is mostly concerned with the investment of the proceeds of racketeering activity (i.e. the reason to try to forfeit Blago's house).

    So, unless you can fit "triple dipping" into one of the categories defined by the RICO law (say, someone extorted the third job), it isn't a federal crime. One can't use "racketeering" as a vague term like "honest services" and expect the law to meet constitutional muster. Of course, I concede your point that some federal law could have been broken, but it is not obvious that one necessarily was.

  • In reply to jack:

    I get your points Jack; just indulge me for a moment. The lynch pin as I see it is that the pensions have out of state financial elements attached to them. We know about the out of state investment funds that are managed on behalf of the five funds. If it can be proven that bribery or extortion resulted in a firm getting business then you have the substance for a RICO case. That is all I am saying. No contract is on the up and up in this state.

    The feds dropped it on Blago because they wanted to simplify this go round. They have the one conviction in the pocket and he does jail time already. As with the TSR case, there was an extortion attempt made and I would bet my last dollar that there are many involved within state government that have other who fall for the pay to play unlike the firm that didn't want to play.

    I say dig and you will find - I am that sure there is a trail given the way money is laundered through businesses and redirected.

  • In reply to maciric:

    While federal jurisdiction would depend on some "commerce" element, usually found, alleging that some firm bribed to get the business is far afield from the triple dipping.

  • In reply to jack:

    I believe there have been more than enough "commerce" elements already proven over the years. And if politicians that hand out the contracts for the management of pensions and they they themselves profit from one or more of those pensions - it doesn't become that far of a stretch. The fact is that someone drawing from multiple funds may also have had a hand in "the process." Like our politicians like to "creatively legislate" maybe a savvy prosecutor should look into "creatively prosecute." You cannot deny legislators have profited from their decisions and actions can you?

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