If A Golden Apple Award for Teachers, Why Not A Golden Handcuff Award for Politicians?
Since teachers have the Golden Apple Award I thought it only appropriate to have a similar award for politicians called the “Golden Handcuff Award.” Whereas the Golden Apple recognizes the highest achievement in the classroom, the Golden Handcuff would recognize those politicians with the highest achievement in garnering political contributions from the teacher unions. To get the Golden Handcuff Award you must have received at least $100,000 in teacher union contributions.
I call it the Golden Handcuff because once you have received money from the unions you are no longer able to lift anything heavier than a 5-figure contribution check. The heavy lifting involved in curbing $170,000 Drivers Ed teacher salaries, $400,000 administrator salaries, ten-million dollar pensions, free health care, vouchers, endless property tax increases etc cannot be done when you are encumbered with the Golden Handcuffs. No sir, all you can do after your Golden handcuffs are snapped closed is sign on to (or sponsor) bills providing more money and benefits to the teachers. Things are good if you are an Illinois politician and you avoid talking about any of these troublesome issues.
$51 Million Reasons Why Teacher Salaries, Pensions and Benefits Continue To Go Up.
Although the state does have a website to track political contributions it is not easy because the contributors can use many different names thereby making tracking more difficult if not impossible. Of course the various teacher union organizations do their best to confuse the public. For example the largest contributor ($15 million plus) the Illinois Political Action Committee for Education (IPACE) can be found using the following names: IPACE, I.P.A.C.E., 1 PACE, !PACE, IPACE PAC, IPACE-Il, IPACE-PAC, IPACE-ILLINOIS, IPACE/ILLINOIS, LPACE, Ipage, IPACE-EDUC. In addition the various teacher organizations launder their contributions by sending money back and forth to each other in a manner befitting a Columbian drug cartel.
Therefore the $51 million total I have managed to come up with is probably low even though that is frightening enough. For example if you search for contributions from organizations containing the word “teach” in it you get $32 million, for the letters “ift” (Illinois Federation of Teachers) $14 million, the letters “aft” (America Federation of Teachers) $7 million plus the IPACE $15 million gives you $68 million including the money laundering amounts back and forth. And all of the money does not come from Illinois: over $4.6 million came from the American Federation of Teachers headquarters in Washington DC. In all, over $15 million in political contributions from the teacher unions have been fed into IL politics just since Jan 1, 2008.
Teachers Are Equal Opportunity Givers.
You will notice that although Democrats dominate the following list there are enough Republicans to make certain that the union’s demands are met no matter which party is in power. I mean $487,000 to Republican House Minority leader Tom Cross is a fair piece of change. If there is a teacher-related bill on the agenda how do you think he is going to vote?
Teachers Give 510% More In Illinois Than Exxon Gives Nationwide.
Liberal Democrats are constantly complaining about “corporate” special interests such as the current corporate bad-boy Exxon. Federal contribution records show Exxon has made political contributions totaling $10 million since 1990.
So if you call $10 million contributed nationwide “special interests” what do you call $51 million contributed in just in Illinois?
So if you are wondering why 14,000 plus public school employees have salaries over $100,000/yr, why 2,668 retired teachers have pensions over $100,000/yr even though they average less than 33 years in-state work, and why the teacher pensions range from four to 8 times what Social Security would pay for the same years worked and salary earned just look at how much money changes hands.
Top political recipients:
Although most of the top recipients are Democrats many are notable Republicans. It doesn’t matter, it is not an ideological position the IEA is taking it is a monetary one.
Top contributions by amount:
Not surprisingly the top contributions went to Democratic stalwarts Quinn and Blagojevich. But who is Thomas Kilbride? Well he was Democratic candidate for the Illinois Supreme Court in 2010 and the teachers, being worried about the constitutionality of the pension guarantee, were not about to let another Republican on the court.
Top political contributions by organization:
Who would guess Peoria school teachers would contribute over $369,000?
Bill Zettler is a free-lance writer and consultant specializing in public sector compensation. He can be contacted at this mail address.