Mark Suppelsa's "Pension Games" on WGN Will Make Your Head Spin

For those of you who haven’t been playing along…you need to pay attention to what is happening with Illinois State pensions. Do not miss WGN’s Mark Suppelsa’s “Pension Games”! He will broadcast his ongoing investigative report Monday, July 30th at 9:30pm CT on WGN.

This half hour special will examine a series of reports done in conjunction with the Chicago Tribune that uncovered how political “gamesmanship” contributed to the current financial crisis in Chicago and Illinois pension funds. Immediately following the special, viewers can switch to CLTV for a live hour long call-in discussion on the topic, starting at 10pm CT.

Watch this to see just what has been going on…not only will it make your head spin, but I am pretty sure it will make you furious. And quite possibly ill!
Union leaders falsifying paperwork becoming millionaires….two lobbyists that worked as substitute teachers for one day in order to set themselves up for a six figure pension.

From the WGN website –“We began the investigation based on a single tip, uncertain of the size and scope of the problem,” commented Suppelsa. “Compiling the entire investigation into one show creates a powerful case for newer and stronger reforms.” To catch up fast, read this Chicago Tribune Pension Games link.

I admit I haven’t been paying as much attention as I should to what is going on with Illinois State pensions but it just got a little more personal.

First off, in addition to working in the private sector- I did teach for a few years. I am not sure there will be anything left in the Teachers' Retirement System for me.

Second, I now understand that a solution to the problem being discussed is to shift the burden of paying for the pensions to local school districts.

So, as a parent in a local school district that is basically broke, in a state that is cutting school funding, with children who are getting a lesser quality of an education--- I, as a taxpayer will be forced to shoulder the burden of the “scams”, loopholes, and inactions of union leaders, lobbyists and politicians.


Meanwhile, teachers will continue to be painted as greedy for counting on a pension they contributed to for retirement.

I am glad that Mark Suppelsa and WGN are investigating the pension systems. I wonder if the legislature will step up and solve the problem or continue to act cowardly? What about Illinois leaders like Rahm Emanuel, Pat Quinn, and Michael Madigan- what solutions can they offer? What recourse do we have as taxpayers?

Don’t we deserve better? Come on Illinois- watch Pension Games!

You should know:

• Illinois is facing a debt of about $85 billion in its five pension systems
• While other states are facing the same predicament- Illinois is the worst of the worst
• Each day without pension reform costs the state about $12.5 million

Read more from this article in the News-Gazette.

I look forward to your comments, especially after the show airs. Comment, Tweet, share, or contact me at


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  • The days of big pensions and free health care with no deductibles is over for the public sector employees, and so it should be. And the free ride for education is coming to an end, too. If you plan on having kids, don't have more than you can pay for. Most tax payers "get it", it's just those with no money that don't seem to understand, to them it's ALL FREE! Rahm is going to purge all the companies he can from the 'burbs, then raise the water rates, and the pinnacle will be to dump the pension fees all back on the individual districts. Yup, keep voting the libs in, and be sure to keep your checkbook out, you're going to be needing it. The sad FACT is, those that can afford to leave Chicago and Illinois, will, and those that will be left, will be those unable to afford to move. That's a pretty thought, eh?

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    "Meanwhile, teachers will continue to be painted as greedy for counting on a pension they contributed to for retirement. " I dont get it..a teacher pays 9% into their pension..we all pay 7.8% into Soc Security. The absolute maximum social security(i.e. Warren Buffet's) is about 28K a year at age 67. The average current retiree pension in Ill is over 55K and gotten by age 60. It's present value is more than double social security. If a teacher thinks they can pay 1% more but get double than they are being willfully ignorant and hoping the taxpayer doesnt notice. The taxpayer has finally noticed. There are many ways to be greedy, one is to look the other way when you are living like royalty in retirement while your peer (college educated accountant) is working at WalMart. Thank God this is being discussed now.

  • This blog focuses on reform of pension abuse, WGN's revelation of aggregious loop hole scams beginning with Gov. Thompson and continuing with lawmakers of both parties to the present. The teacher pension fund was a victim of this fraud. Our goal should be adequate pensions for all citizens including both teachers and WalMart personnel, adequate public and private plans. It should be true for healthcare as well. Stopping the abuse by the politicians is a start.

  • Thanks for information on WGN's show. Is it the teacher's fault that lawmakers have made a mess of the pension fund? Many teachers had to work 35 years in order to get a full pension. But whenever the public hears about teachers getting time off, or raises and pensions they fall back on "those greedy teachers. Nobody went into teaching for the money nor for the pension.

  • I am truly grateful for Mark Suppelsa reporting on this pension scandal. We now have a chance to tackle the problem of public corruption. Governor Quinn says that we should consider suspending cost of living increases for teachers and public safety employee pensions. He also recommends that these individuals contribute more to these plans. That's a start, but doesn't go far enough to stabilize public pension plans.

    He should also mandate that state legislators contribute to their pension plans. Also, legislation should be passed to require that pension plan rules be changed only through a public referendum. We can not realistically expect state legislators to restrain themselves from passing legislation to augment their own pension otherwise.

  • Glad to see you are back, but maybe you forgot the first principal of journalism? Where is the balance in your story about the teachers' pensions system? Where were the teachers' unions, the teachers themselves? Where was the other side's story? Did the fact that the Tribune owns WGN have anything to do with your bias? Or was this merely a remnant from your stint at Murdoch's Fox "news"--the same Murdoch that Mike Royko nicknamed "the Alien?" If you think this story was "fair and balanced," maybe WGN has also sold out to the Murdoch empire--along with the Civic Federation, the state legislature and the governor.

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    Lisa Stiegman

    My name is Lisa Stiegman and I have been a Chicago area resident all my life. Besides being the mother of three children, I have been a writer, editor, and teacher.

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