Legal Corruption: Substitute Teach 1 Day get $108,000 Pension from TRS

(Revised October 30th, originally posted five days ago.)

How many pigs can fit at the pig-trough?

Steven Preckwinkle, Illinois Federation of Teachers lobbyist, made $93 substitute teaching for one day in 2007. However he made up for that rather modest payment by being made eligible for the Teachers Retirement System with 16 years service credit.

Preckwinkle is currently making $245,000 (2011) marking four years in a row over $200,000 all of which are used to calculate his pension. If he retires next year when he is 60 years of age his TRS pension will be in the neighborhood of $108,000/yr. At age 60 the total pension payout assuming an average life expectancy is about $3.8 million. Not bad for one day’s work.

“A spokesman for the Illinois Federation of Teachers emphasized that the lobbyists’ actions were legal.”

That is a common response by those taking advantage of the legal corruption. For example former State Senator Arthurs Berman pulling down over $203,000/yr in pension payments responded to BGA’s (Better Government Association) expose “Sticker Shock: Illinois’ Public Pension Crisis” by saying “Everything I did was legal.” Of course it was.

Likewise Roland Burris on being confronted about his $126,000 pension (over $1.6 million total collected so far) said “It’s legal and the law allows it and that’s all I’ve got to say”. Note that Burris is an attorney also.

Another one-day worker, Dennis Gannon, union boss of the Chicago Federation of Labor went to work for the city of Chicago one day in 1993 and ended up with a city pension of $158,000. His response, no surprise, was “I always followed the pension laws.” Sure you did Dennis.

Of course all of these corrupt practices were/are legal. This is Illinois after all. All the key decision makers are and have been attorneys. They will make absolutely sure that any legislation codifying corruption will be legal.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Governor Rod Blagojevich, Senate Leader John Cullerton, Senate Minority leader  Kirk Dillard and House minority leader Tom Cross attorneys each and every one.

This particular corrupt law was passed in 2007 shortly after the 2006 elections were held. During the calendar year 2006 teacher representatives gave Mike Madigan a total of $230,000 and Rod Blagojevich two checks totaling $500,000. And it is not just Democrats either. Republican Kirk Dillard received a nice juicy $250,000 from the teachers last year when he was running for Governor.

Let’s see how much the most powerful attorneys in IL have received from the teacher’s union.

In fact Steve Preckwinkle’s name appears on the contributors list as donating $25,000 to the Madigans’ campaign war chest on June 24, 2006 although I am sure the money came from the Illinois Federation of Teachers. I mean why use your own money when you have access to tens of millions of dollars of teachers’ money sitting in the IFT’s war chest?

These people are neither teachers nor public employees so why do we have to pay them a “public” “teacher’s” pension?

How many other non-public, non-teacher union officials are gorging at the TRS pig trough?

Looks like 34 union officials pulling down more than $4 million total per year in pensions at taxpayer expense. That is an average of more than $119,000 per year each and a total payout over their expected lifetimes of $121 million including the 3% annual Cost Of Living Allowance.

Note the average union retiree only worked 28 years about 2/3 the average of the rest of us. One of them only worked 8 years in IL and is pulling down almost $100,000 per year in pension payments.

Preckwinkle will soon join these illustrious recipients at the pension pig-trough:

Reform the pension systems by “retiring” the pension systems.

When all public employees are on a 401K type system there will be no way to game the system because it will be just like the rest of us have. And God knows we can’t game the system.

So let’s adopt Tom Cross’ SB 512 proposal with the 401K option only.

Then and only then will the legal corruption end.

Bill Zettler is a free-lance writer and consultant specializing in public sector compensation. He can be contacted at this email address.