CTA prez got a honey of a pension deal: Sun-Times report

CTA President Dorval Carter gave up a $137,000 pension earned at the CTA through 2009 to return and run the place, according to an exclusive Sun-Times report.

And he earned just over $750,000 in total pension payouts from November 2009 till April of this year. He returned to the CTA in May at a salary of $235,000.

How did he manage to qualify for the large CTA pension? Well, it's all perfectly legal in the wacky world of pensions.

From the Sun-Times report:

He’d worked for the CTA from 1984 to 1991, then, after working for the Federal Transit Administration, returned in 2000, staying until he accepted the early-retirement deal in 2009.

That amounted to a total of 16 and a half years with the CTA. But he was able to get a pension based on nearly twice that — 30 years of service — because the CTA, hoping to save money by encouraging higher-paid employees to retire early, allowed him to get credit for the nearly eight years he’d worked for the federal government and to buy credit for additional time.

Carter had been making contributions to the CTA Employee Retirement Plan — the pension plan for rank-and-file transit workers, who typically would be expected to retire by 65.

He also was vested in a separate “supplemental retirement plan” offered to CTA executives.

In 2008, the CTA board decided to close the supplemental plan for executives and offer them the early-retirement incentive. It offered a “voluntary termination program” allowing about 150 executives like Carter to move the money they’d put into the CTA’s regular pension fund to the supplemental plan if they agreed to retire by June 30, 2011.

For its part, CTA spokesman Brian Steele says Carter didn't get any special treatment in the various machinations of the deal.

It's well worth reading the rest of the Sun-Times story for more details.


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  • Goes back to the days when various government entities thought they were saving money by putting people on pensions, thus getting their wages off the budget. I don't know how much the 2008 RTA Act cleaned up the CTA pension mess (at least Kruesi called attention to that about 5 years earlier), but the result with respect to most units of government was that they didn't make the contributions, and the Supreme Court said they can't cut the pensions, so now they were bit in the posterior, except they want to bite the taxpayers (like Toni Preckwinkle being reported tonight to contemplating being a fink).

    Public employees going on pension and then taking a second job is nothing new, nor is Carter's pension now being put on hold, since this is about the same thing as when Judy Barr Topinka lost the governor's race, but then came back as Comptroller.

    With the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision, I don't know what anyone can do about it (other than natural causes, as in the case of JBT).. Mike Madigan doesn't look like he'll live to see a pension, since he would have to let go of power, first.

  • Neither the sweetheart deal, or the lack of comments here, is surprising. In the Land of Lincoln (Motto: Will the Defendant Please Rise), we've become so accustom to this cr*p that we don't blink any more. Sad, really.

    I'd like to think that if this was the private sector, people would be going to jail for financial malfeasance. However, after the recent housing and banking crisis, even that's not a given. Sheesh.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Part of it is that the public sector thinks it can throw money around like it is the private sector.

    While private CEOs also get buyouts (another problem raised in the Metra and College of Du Page messes), the difference raised in this case seems to be that while in the private sector you can't draw your pension until you are 59-1/2, just about any public employee was able to retire after 20 years, draw the pension, and get another job. The other difference I noted in my first post is that the public employees have constitutional guarantees nobody else has.

  • In reply to jack:

    On the surface, I don't have a problem with someone drawing an early pension if the yearly payout is adjusted for the additional years that will be covered. However, they start drawing a full pension on day 1 of the early "retirement", and the money is just not there.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Again, that's a difference between the private and public sectors.

    Some time after I was no longer an employee, I received a letter from the pension trustee saying that I would get so much if I cashed out now, so much a month if I retired at age 62, and so much a month if I retired at age 65. Since I was past COBRA, I wasn't getting any retiree health benefits under any option. However, in the public sector cases, it is assumed one gets full benefits after 20 years, or, apparently in this case, upon accepting the buyout. The article indicated that CTA was giving various employees an option if they retired immediately, not that CTA was laying them off and that they would get their vested benefits on the type of schedule I was offered.

    Since I mentioned medical benefits, private employees do not have a vested right to them on retirement, while there was an earlier Illinois Supreme Court case that free medical benefits were protected by the Pension Clause, and retirees could not be forced to pay premiums.

  • In reply to jack:

    At my company, one can keep the health insurance if one has 15+ years. However, the full monthly payment is the responsibility of the retiree. The cost is based on the group rate, so it's a bit cheaper than buying it outright. I can't imagine too many private sector companies extend full health coverage to their retirees.

  • I don't trust anyone Emanuel sends.

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