Topinka’s pension and Illinois Republican politicians

Every now and then a mystery gets solved, the curtain is drawn back, the smoke clears out of a back room and what’s really is going on is caught on camera. This is the equivalent of what happened with the news reports this week about former state treasurer and GOP nominee for governor Judy Baar Topinka’s pension.

Kudos to the Chicago Sun-Times for their investigation into how it is that old Judy’s pension is $141,482 per year. Topinka also gets $25,000 a year because she was appointed to the RTA board.

Men like businessman Bill Zettler have been shining light on the public employee pension scandal here in Illinois for several years now. You can click through Bill’s archive here.

But it’s always helpful when newspapers like the Sun-Times actually practice journalism. Illinois politics is a target-rich environment—there is more corruption than almost anyone has time to uncover. Unfortunately, most media outlets don’t like making big government look bad.

While the Sun-Times series only scratches the surface, dramatic cases as the one involving Topinka and other big political names help the cause. An informed electorate is the key, and today more people realize why so many Republican politicians are silent when it comes to the state pension scam.

Why are they silent? Because they’re in line for one of those big fat pensions too.

How is it that this chronic problem persists? Why don’t our political leaders speak up year after year while school boards and teacher unions agree to contracts that allow for unaffordable pensions and benefit plans? You now know the answer. Our Republican state legislators get to enjoy the same kind of deal at taxpayers’ expense.

Read the following excerpts and tell me that we don’t need a Republican Renaissance. And while you’re at it, good luck making the case that the Illinois Republican Party doesn’t need the critical reform that SB600 would bring (click here to learn more). Friends, it’s time to clean out the GOP barn once and for all.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Public pensions, fat retirements

“Want to retire with a fat pension? Get a government job in Illinois.

Nearly 4,000 retired government workers have pensions that pay them at least $100,000 a year. They include politicians, judges, doctors and school administrators, as well as top cops, firefighters and park officials.

More than half have collected more than $1 million each since they retired. A few have topped $2 million. And five have gotten more than $3 million each, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation found.

And these numbers are soaring faster than taxpayers can afford.”

Click here to read the entire article.

How Topinka got such a sweet deal

“Former Illinois Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka has one of the biggest state pensions — and it’s based on a salary she never received.

That’s because of another of the many peculiarities of a pension system Illinois legislators created that enriches themselves and statewide officials like Topinka, who carefully crafted an image as a fiscal conservative so cautious with a buck that she bought her clothes at thrift shops…

In the two-plus years since she retired, Topinka has collected $340,076 from her state pension.”

Click here to read the entire article.
Oh, and the Sun-Times series continues tomorrow:

Sunday: Double-dippers — collecting a pension and a paycheck from the taxpayers.

Monday: Fat pensions for union bosses — and you pay for those, too.

Tuesday: Can this mess be fixed?”

We’re looking forward to it.

©2009 John Francis Biver