UPDATE: I still cannot get an answer if the retired and retiring aldermen will lose their health care insurance subsidies. There is a code of silence and a code of snorting and laughter when I ask around.
But, aldermen can retire after 20 years, plus they can buy years by kicking into their fund. So, an alderman can serve 16 years, buy 4 more and retire at 80% of their salary plus 3% a year. Some will make more in retirement than they did in their part time job.
Someone has to have an answer about aldermanic health care subsidies. It appears they do not have to make any sacrifices like the rest of the retired employees. By the way, their only mandated job is to pass legislation. That is it. They are not required to do anything else.
You can read how the aldermen sweetened their pensions in this 2012 Chicago Tribune article. City employees can and should email or write to the aldermen, editorial boards of the papers, and the so-called better government watchdog agencies demanding answers.
A law suit that was kicking around the courts for several years was finally settled. During the Daley administration, mayor Richard M. Daley decided to end health care insurance subsidies for retired city employees.
A suit was filed and went through the appeals system. The courts determined there was no right to health insurance subsidies for retired employees under the pension or other laws.
Employees who retired prior to 1989 will not be affected. Some employees who retire between age 55 and 63 will also not be affected. (Edited due to omission)
This week, the city sent out notices that subsidies for health insurance will end January 1, 2017. The city will still provide the insurance but the retirees must bear the full cost of it. They could also choose the health insurance exchanges otherwise known as Obamacare.
Employees who retired prior to 1989 will still receive a subsidy.
Monthly payments for retirees could double or even triple, depending on their family situation. Current estimates are between 1800-over 3000 dollars per month for retirees who are not eligible for Medicare.
So here is the question. Will retired or retiring Chicago aldermen and the retired mayor lose their health insurance subsidies?
I made a few phone calls. I received no answer, except a few laughs. There may, the operative word is may, be an exemption for them.
If there is to be shared sacrifice, then the public and city retirees have a right to know if the retired aldermen and mayor will continue to receive subsidized healthcare insurance, or not.
If there is an exemption, why do they get let off the hook? Political privilege? Being cheapskates, skinflints, and chiselers? Or is that just the Chicago Way.
A while back I wrote about the City of Chicago pension crisis. The aldermen were complicit with Mayor Richard M. Daley in creating it.
The Chicago Tribune also wrote a damning piece. They called out the aldermen for their cowardice.
"Nice work if you can get it. Nice and cowardly and irresponsible:
You're a Chicago alderman. Year after year you voted to approve Mayor Richard M. Daley's budgets — as if City Hall was spending no more than it would collect in revenue. Or, if you joined the City Council after Daley's departure, you didn't ask rude questions such as, "How did we get so broke?" You kept quiet. You went along."
Think about this. No one is asking questions about the aldermen's pensions or healthcare insurance, active or retired.
Then, you can think about this, from my previous article.
"Chicago alderman, by definition, is a part time job. It pays a six figure executive salary, executive style expense accounts, and Rolls Royce benefits, including pensions with health care and survivor benefits.
What part time job compensates people so well? What part time job even offers pensions, let alone Rolls Royce pensions? State legislators are right behind the aldermen with their hands out. They too are part timers by definition. They too are compensated well, with perks, Rolls Royce benefits and pensions. Their pension funds are probably as healthy, if not healthier, than the aldermen."
It is time to direct righteous anger at the fifty part time aldermen. Maybe the media should look into the health of their pension fund. Maybe the editorial boards and so-called better government watchdogs should stop giving them a free pass.
Maybe pigs will fly, unicorns will roam the earth, and I will hit the Lottery .
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