Buragas: Really? You are a lawyer!

By:  Diane Benjamin

Obviously the LAWYER on the Bloomington City Council believes David Hales instead of looking at the facts.  Amelia stated this during the last Council meeting, I had hopes you would figure out the truth by now.  No such luck.  She sent the following email to a Bloomington resident this morning:  (mis-spelled words were left intentionally)

From: Amelia Buragas <aburagas@cityblm.org>
Subject: Re: I DO NOT
Date: September 9, 2015 10:21:26 AM PDT
To: Redacted <redacted>

Redacted,

Thank you for your email. The City of Bloomington will be discussing a potential sales tax increase on Sept. 14, but likely will not take any action until Sept. 21. I think it is clear that Bloomington’s priorities differ from that of Normal and I would expect our conversation to focus on the potential impact a sales tax increase would have on our infrastructure needs.
With regard to the city pensions, this is a complicated issue that has not always been accurately reported. It relates back to a sick leave buy back policy implemented by the former city manager in 1995. It has now been revised for all new hires with the city so that the pension spikes will not happen in the future. However, our ability to change the policy retroactively is severly limited as the Illinois Constitution explicitly prohibits the state from diminishing benefits once they are earned. We do not believe that Mr. Hales could have prevented the larger IMRF payments that have been made recently even if he was fully aware of the policy when he was hired in 2009. (There was an opportunity to structure our payments differently in 2012, but I am not sure we would have chosen that option as it would have required relatively high interest payments.) It is a shame that this policy appears to have been implemented without a full analysis of its implications on our future pension obligations. For more information, I recommend you refer to this recent Pantagraph article: http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/city-s-sick-leave-buyback-policy-in-place-years/article_416264fc-b531-57ab-837f-1e5ed3dea0fb.html
Thank you for taking the time to reach out to me on these very important issues. Please let me know if you have any additional thoughts or questions.
Sincerely,
Amelia
.
.

The items in red are flat out lies by a council person who doesn’t research the facts herself.

The items in bold are bull and immaterial to the argument!

It’s not complicated Amelia.

No where in the Illinois Constitution does it say that employees are allowed to accumulate sick days and get paid for them more than 3 months before retirement so their pensions are spiked.  The 2012 law was passed to prevent pension spiking!  David Hales choose to ignore that law and ALLOW employees to spike their pensions anyway!

Why are these employees getting sick pay MORE than 3 months before they leave the City?  Who gets paid benefits BEFORE they leave?

All David Hales had to do is say “You get a check on the day you leave”.  It’s not complicated.  It doesn’t violate the Illinois Constitution.  It’s what IMRF themselves suggested.

David Hales cost the City more than $1.2 MILLION!

Get a clue Alderman!  Quit listening to the Hales CYA and start representing your Ward!

 

10 thoughts on “Buragas: Really? You are a lawyer!

  1. LoL! What a goof! She references a Pantagraph article for more information. Is that how she researches for cases as well? Girl you are on the stage if anyone ever thinks about hiring you as a lawyer,,,you have no principle, you have no gumption, you do NOT represent the peoples’ best interests. LoL! You are fired before being hired!

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  2. In case someone is not aware, all of those emails sent to the general “cityblm” address are also sent to Hales. Therefore, he has a chance to “prep” before the Aldermen sends a response.

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  3. I went back and listened to David Hales in the counsel meeting about the sick day buy back benefit.

    Starting about 1:09:50 Buragas asks Hales about the 1995 implementation. According to Hales there was a risk that the city could be sued and HE NEVER SAYS THEY WILL BE. In other words he is using the excuse that other cities have tried to change pension related items and have been sued or decided not to change in fear of being sued. He said their pension could be diminished if they changed the 1995 policy and the employees could possibly sue.

    What Buragas states and what Hales states do not match. The only test to find out if this benefit does fall under the protection of the IL Constitution would be a court case it would seem to me.

    I don’t see how this could be considered as earnings toward their pension if they have not received it until they cash it out before retiring.

    When Kevin Lower was questioning Hales about the timing of when Hales knew about the policy he put the monkey on the back of or passed the buck to who the corporate counsel was at the time in 1012. He mentions some name during the response.

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  4. I read this article below over and I don’t see much of an indication that changing the sick day buy back would reduce their pension. How can you reduce something that has not been received?

    I see it as the city doesn’t want to test the water so to speak by changing the policy. I don’t know if there was a similar prior court case or not but it would seem there hasn’t been.

    http://www.rebootillinois.com/2015/05/08/editors-picks/mattdietrich/here-is-the-illinois-supreme-court-pension-reform-decision/37609/

    http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con13.htm

    SECTION 5. PENSION AND RETIREMENT RIGHTS
    Membership in any pension or retirement system of the
    State, any unit of local government or school district, or
    any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an
    enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which
    shall not be diminished or impaired.
    (Source: Illinois Constitution.)

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      1. The city lawyer cut it short when Kevin Lower asked about Hales being liable or some similar question. It almost makes me think yes the citizens could possible hold Hales accountable. The city attorney sure didn’t want to discuss it in a public forum.

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    1. The 2012 law notifies of penalties resulting from pension spiking and provides options. There is no record Hales brought this knowledge to the Council. There is no record of signed Statement of Impact forms. A policy could have been made in 2012 that allowed the 6% spike (therefore NO penalty) with the remainder paid in cash which would not violate the Constitution. For me, Hales and Bell knew full well penalty payments would occur and did nothing to protect the taxpayers.

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  5. Off topic, I wonder if Macy’s here at Eastland will close. I saw a list of the first 14 stores of 40 possible closing. It wouldn’t surprise me given Peoria has one, Springfield and Champaign too. Egads more sales tax money possibly sailing bye bye.

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