Saturday, 24 September 2011

THE CHICAGO WAY: IT WASN'T JUST GANNON

Ken Berwitz

Earlier this week I  blogged about dennis gannon, a Chicago labor leader who, because of some too-clever-by-half wording in the state pension code, is now in line to collect $158,000 a year - by "virtue" (what an improper word that is) of being rehired for one day in 1994 and then put on "indefinite leave".

Think I'm kidding?  Think that's not possible?  Think again.  You can read all about it in Jason Grotto's article for the Chicago Tribune.

This stinks worse than a 100 year old outhouse hole. In other words, it is "The Chicago Way".

But just in case you think that dennis gannon is the only beneficiary of this beyond-disgusting fraud on union workers and the public at large, read the following excerpts from Mr. Grotto's latest article:

All it took to give nearly two dozen labor leaders from Chicago a windfall worth millions was a few tweaks to a handful of sentences in the state's lengthy pension code.

The changes became law with no public debate among state legislators and, more importantly, no cost analysis.

Twenty years later, 23 retired union officials from
Chicago stand to collect about $56 million from two ailing city pension funds thanks to the changes, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation found.

Because the law bases the city pensions on the labor leaders' union salaries, they are reaping retirement benefits that far outstrip the modest salaries they made as city employees. On average, their pensions are nearly three times higher than what the typical retired city worker receives.

No one from either the state Legislature or city government will take credit for the law, which passed in 1991, and the process of drafting pension legislation in Springfield is so shrouded in secrecy that there's no way of knowing exactly whom to hold responsible.

The Tribune and WGN-TV found that Senate President John Cullerton was one of only 10 lawmakers on the committee that inserted the changes into a much larger bill. He's also the only one who is still in office.

Cullerton, who declined to be interviewed for this story, denied being involved in the changes and issued a statement that acknowledged the law now looks like a bad idea.

"Municipal pensions should be for the hard-working municipal employees, who typically toil in obscurity, loyally contribute to the pension funds and aren't about to get rich off of their retirements," he said in a prepared statement. "Outliers such as those highlighted by the WGN and Tribune reports should be corrected in order to help restore the system's fiscal and public integrity."

You would be hard pressed to find legislation dirtier than this.  It reeks of backroom deals and complete disdain for honest, hard-working union members.

Like I said, "The Chicago Way".

Here's how I put it in the earlier blog:

There you go.  Raping the taxpayers.  Right in your face.  Cronyism at its very worst. 

 

In other words, The Chicago Way.  The way that Barack Obama learned first-hand on the streets as a "community organizer" (whatever that is), then a do-nothing state senator, which he parlayed into four years as a do-nothing US senator and now, over 2 1/2 years as a do-nothing-right President.

 

And the saddest part?  We deserve this.

 

Chicago certainly does.  When was the last time Chicago elected any serious Republican presence there?  Forget the mayoralty (which has not been held by a Republican since 1927!!) - when was the last time Chicago elected any serious contingent of city Republicans councilpeople?  Not a majority, mind you, just enough to force a little scrutiny regarding the political corruption that goes on there? 

Well, in the past 20 years, Chicago has had a grand total of.....one.  That's right.  Over the past 1/5 of a century, the Chicago city council, comprised of 50 members, has had a total of one Republican. 

 

And, be assured, that as long as Chicago continues to mindlessly, reflexively, elect Democrats, and virtually nothing but Democrats, it will get - and deserve - all the corruption that emanates from its self-imposed one party governance.

 

As for the country?  We elected Barack Obama - a man we knew nothing about, other than that he was a product of the Chicago political machine, and had exactly no qualifications for the office.  

 

In this world you get what you pay for.  Well, this is what we paid for and this is what we got.

 

Will the country be smart enough to change things next election day?  The fact that it even has to be asked is appalling.

Sadly, there is no need to change even one word.

Lynsey TYVM you've solved all my pbreolms (10/29/11)


THE EURO: GOING, GOING....

Ken Berwitz

My wife's cousin Laura used to describe hopeless situations as having "one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel".  Little did we know that she might have been describing an international currency.

Excerpted from James Chapman's article at London's Daily Mail:

World leaders were warned last night that they have just six weeks to save the euro from collapse.

On another day of gathering economic gloom, George Osborne savaged eurozone leaders for failing to get a grip on their towering debts.

The Chancellor set a deadline of six weeks when leaders of the G20 group of leading countries will meet for crunch talks in France for action.

He said: 'Patience is running out in the international community. There is a sense from across the leading lights of the eurozone that time is running out for them.

'The eurozone has six weeks to resolve this political crisis.' 

Greece is almost beyond hope.  Spain is a baby step behind.  Ireland, Italy and Portugal are fast approaching from the rear (or, more accurately, heading to the rear).  And the few European countries that are doing well by comparison certainly don't want to carry the load for them - especially since European countries have disliked, even hated each other for centuries.

Call me a pessimist, but that does not look much like a prescription for euro longevity.

What would the monetary and political ramifications be if the euro collapsed?  I am, to say the least, not knowledgable enough to say.  But some people better be.  And at least some of the "some people" better be in the United States.

Does this mean our go-to guy is Timmy the Tax Cheat Geithner?  God help us.


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