Tribune editorial, teachers unions and Civic Committee head weigh in on...Dennis Byrne

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Dennis Byrne

Yes, I too was surprised. It stems from a Tribune column in which I reported a legal opinion that the Illinois public employee pension benefits might not be as secure as commonly thought. The opinion, written by the Chicago law firm Sidley Austin, argues that the state constitution does not guarantee that the state must pay for all the benefits if the pension funds go bust.

That brought an overwrought response from the union, calling me, Eden Martin (president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago) and the Tribune "tools of terror." Links are provided to the entire discussion below:
Here is the Tribune editorial: Tribune, 'Tool of Terror.'
Here is the teachers union op-ed column: Teachers: Don't blame us for mess."
Here is Eden Martin's response: Pensions, all our problem.
Here is the Sidley Austin opinion: 

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  • Two obvious points:

    (1) At least we know where all the blog commentators get the consistent line "it isn't the union's fault, it is the politicians, for not making their contributions." No one calls anyone to task for making or demanding promises that the state can't keep.

    (2) However, the response does echo what I said earlier about the Sidley opinion being sophistry, although the response does not go into the legal details about how one can't be a guarantor if one is primarily obligated.

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    Dennis Byrne

    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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