Pantagraph: Research YOURSELF!

By:  Diane Benjamin

Oh, I forgot the Pantagraph doesn’t do investigative reporting.  Printing ridiculous statements from Tari Renner and David Hales is better?  For who?  Your bottom line?  The story today proves the Pantagraph is the last place to get news!

David Hales claims to have investigated the accelerated payments problem for Sick Leave Buy Back.  He claims to have talked to Representatives in Springfield, IMRF, and the Municipal League.  If he did, why did it take more than 3 years from when the law changed?  Why was the City policy changed in 2012 for all new hires and NOTHING has been done since?  Why did it take Emily Bell on the front page of the Chicago Tribune as the WORST offender in the state for this to be an issue?

Unanswered question after unanswered question.  Thanks media.  Exceptional reporting!

Your story today stated that some long-term employees timed payouts to boost their pensions.  I didn’t know employees could tell employers when they want paid!  Did Emily Bell conspire behind Hales back with employees just waiting for her turn?  The reporter didn’t think that was a valid question?  Or, did Hales know and didn’t care how much it cost taxpayers?

Here’s some questions Renner should have been asked:

Even if a change to SLBB was done and 2012 to avoid accelerated payments, and the unions filed a lawsuit, how much would legal fees have been?  More than the $1.3 MILLION taxpayers have been billed?

Tari, do you ever listen to your very expensive Springfield lawyer?  Did Jeff Jurgens fail to tell you about the email from IMRF last August stating that changing the payment date doesn’t violate the law concerning diminishing pensions:  (click to make it bigger)

JurgensEmailzThe real question is:  Why did it take more than 3 years and $1.3 MILLION for someone to ask?  The City would have continued to throw away money if the Chicago Tribune hadn’t done the story.  I wonder what happened at City Hall when they opened that paper with Emily on the front page?  Yes they subscribe:

ADMIN Periodicals Chicago Trib Subscriptio $ 142.57 Subscription renewal 9/26/15 – 12/15/15

The fix is simple.  Springfield doesn’t need to write new laws.  Other cities with more competent leaders aren’t forced to shell out taxpayer money so employees can retire with bigger bucks.  No grandfathering!  Employees are selfish if they think they have a RIGHT to spike pensions at taxpayer expense.  Make the change immediate.  More have already cashed in.  I will continue to FOIA the IMRF for details.

Obviously nobody at the City cared about the taxpayers.  Obviously the Pantagraph doesn’t care about the truth.  We will see Monday if the Council cares about either.  Don’t hold your breath.

7 thoughts on “Pantagraph: Research YOURSELF!

  1. According to Hales, the sick leave buy back is put in a Health Savings Account (RHS). That Resolution, approved by the City Council in 2004, allowed the RHS to be included as IMRF earnings. I don’t understand how the spiking can occur if the sick leave buy back is placed in an RHS account.

    At the Feb. 9, 2015 Council meeting (Consent Agenda 7G.) A revision of the 2004 Resolution was approved. The background packet includes the following statement.

    “The monthly contributions of sick leave have never been reported as earnings to IMRF. There will be no change to the City’s pension liability with the adoption of the recommended revised resolution. Adopting this resolution will result in IMRF resolution records matching the City’s practice.”

    Apparently, the City has chosen to continue the spiking knowing its fiscal impact.

    April 11, 2003

    “The IMRF Board of Trustees recently amended the IMRF definition of earnings to provide an employer option for reporting compensation directed into a Retirement Health Savings Plan. Contributions to a Retirement Health Savings Plan are not included as IMRF earnings, and therefore not reportable to IMRF, UNLESS the employer’s governing body adopts a resolution making that compensation reportable.”


  2. So let me get this straight. Hales laments about future pensions but allows them to spike. He preaches that less rank and file employees are needed but hires more administrative personnel that usually draw higher salaries and can’t do anything without hiring consultants for more studies and plans to put on the shelf. It would appear as though Hales intends to bankrupt the city. Typical liberal agenda.


    1. I think the quote, “never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity”. I think he is just the Peter Principle in action. He has all the hallmarks of a poor leader — inability to make a decision, budget mismanagement, demoralized staff, oblivious to what it is like at the bottom, uses threats to maintain control, etc.


  3. Just because they subscribe to the Tribune doesn’t meant that they can READ and UNDERSTAND it! Kinda like a 3rd grader learning fractions! I’m to the point where I believe that Tari and associates (consultants, Hales, Council, etc) are TOTALLY oblivious to reality and live in some kind of LA-LA land! Maybe that’s what happens when you get a full belly at lunch and have to nap all afternoon before you go home and eat. It’s probably REALLY tough for them to just make the MONDAY meetings of the council on a REGULAR basis, let alone question, think and wonder WHERE all the money comes from and goes to!
    IF they were NOT politicians-WHAT would they be doing? Huh? Really, STOP and think, if ANY of them carried on in the private sector like they do, WHAT would their qualifications and job review look like???? Tablecloth inspector?? Bongo drum salesperson? Fly swatter designer?


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