Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Call me “naïve” regarding the breaking of a contract in Illinois

Call me “naïve” or an “idealist” for believing public employees and retirees have pension benefits that must be protected against being “diminished or impaired,” that an employee’s and retirees' rights to a constitutionally-guarantee compensation and the legislators’ obligation to safeguard that promise will be found irrefutable in state and federal courts of law.

Because the foundation of citizens’ rights is the State and U.S. Constitutions, I believe that state contracts are protected; that the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution protect due process of law, and Article XIII, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois protects public employees' and retirees' pensions.  I believe the legal basis for protection of past-and-future public pension benefits and rights are established in both constitutions unless, of course, they are foolishly traded away through consideration or modification of contract principles.

I wrote many times in this blog that a constitutional contract between the State of Illinois and its public employees must be viewed as a legal, moral commitment and requirement of justice, that justice demands we keep our covenants with one another, and keeping an agreement means a concern to promote the well-being of public employees and retirees and to secure their rights and benefits without any devaluation of the contractual agreement.

I believe this wholeheartedly, and I refuse to accept and certify the so-called contrived “New Reality” promulgated by legislative factions downstate, the plutocratic-owned media, and a few leaders of the unions (IEA and AFT) who agreed to Senate Bill 2404. An acceptance of this “New Reality” is a dangerous precedent to validate, for it will also diminish our constitutionally-guaranteed benefits and reshape our moral and legal principles.

Furthermore, we can conclude that if some members of the Illinois General Assembly do not take individual rights and contracts seriously, but would rather challenge them in a court of law, then we can assume they will not take any of their other laws seriously either.

It is “naïve” for us to believe that all members of the Illinois General Assembly will be assuaged after passing any so-called pension reform (such as Senate Bill 2404), that this bill is a solution for the state’s incurred pension debt, for needed revenue enhancement, and for restoring Bond Ratings. We already know what Tyrone Fahner of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and Laurence Msall of the Civic Federation hanker after, and it isn’t union endorsement or the preservation of public pensions.

What’s more, to “let the courts decide” (Senate Bill 1), as Michael Madigan has suggested, is a mockery of justice, a costly condescension and contempt of the rule of law and a legislator's oath of office.  For Madigan to insinuate arrogantly that he knows four Supreme Court Justices will decree that his illegal and immoral pension reform is constitutional corroborates how dishonest and unethical he and 61 other members of the Illinois House of Representatives are and that some members of the highest court in the State of Illinois are possibly unethical as well.

-Glen Brown

What is this New Reality?


  1. I too believe in the rule of law. Without it, there is chaos.

    The threats to break contracts with public employees are a kind of extortion, hostage taking. Negotiating with such people only encourages bad behavior in the future. Call them out for what they do. Immoral and illegal acts.

  2. Sounds like a challenge all the way into federal courts may be required.

  3. This says it all.
    The "New Reality" is propaganda.
    The legislature is a owned and operated by the Civic Committee.
    Illinois is a Plutocratic feeding trough. If legislative behavior continues in this direction, we know by the most recent history of the USSR what will happen next.
    -Ken Previti

  4. OK Glen you asked for it -- You are an Idealist.

    I think an idealist is good, Idealists should be cherished and given forums to write commentary and philosophy.

    I understand your disappointment -- even anger and outrage at the political reality that chooses to ignore the constitution and morality and what is good, and fairness and the contributions people have made to society and arrogantly uses and abusea power.

    I tend to be a bit more pragmatic. Moral indignation at Speaker Madigan's actions and unfairness will not effect the process.

    SB2404 is an attempt to counter Speaker Madigan and SB1.

    SB2404 is risk. SB 2404 might be an alternative squashed by Darth Madigan but it is a counter. A counter punch. It is an attempt to mitigate the damage done by injustice. IT is an attempt to remake the system.

    Outrage is not going to make Madigan change - just laugh arrogantly. Have any of you tried to negotiate with Mile Madigan? It is an experience.

    What IEA is trying to do is find away around that massive arrogant unjust roadblock. What IEA is trying to do is reset the board. Might not work. The IRTA is doing is just making climbing Mount Everest more difficult.

    I think the language in SB2404 on a legal option to non-payment to TRS is a useful tool .... The state is not constitutionally required to fund the pension systems. Under SB 2404, it will be. More than 15 years ago, IEA was involved in a lawsuit to force the state to pay it's portion to the pension systems. The court ruled that the state must honor the pension benefits but the state didn't have to pay into the systems. So, what we have put into SB 2404 is language mandating the state pay the systems, and allowing the systems to sue if the state doesn't pay.

    Many of your colleagues have ridiculed that provision - I support my Unions General Counsel who thinks it is very significant. I'm not a lawyer -- I'm a pragmatist. I listen to lawyers.

    This legal fix it requires SB2404 to be passed into law -unamended...un-sullied by the forces of darkness -- a tall order.

    That is why we are reinforcing our bid to change the legal reality with a bid to change the political reality.

    Yes that requires a pragmatist to get involved with making the sausage of laws is a challenging process that can sully the idealist -- that is why us pragmatists hang around.

  5. The reason we have the courts is because we cannot trust the legislature. This will never be settled properly by legislative process. See them in court..

  6. Naively, or stupidly, the IEA and IFT agreed to the "Pension Holiday" which allowed the legislature to not fund the TRS annual obligation for several years. This is a major cause of the current outrage which has put TRS in the headlines often. Was Haisman a member of the IEA hierarchy at that time? Just wondering.

    1. Haisman was the IEA president from 1993-1999. He is one of the people responsible for Public Act 88-0593 in 1995, the current unsustainable funding law called the "Pension Ramp." During Haisman’s years:

      1993 fiscal year actuarial requirement: $833,000,000, actual payment: 281,904,000;
      1994 fiscal year actuarial requirement: $918,000,000, actual payment: $278,109,000;
      1995 fiscal year actuarial requirement: $1,156,000,000, actual payment: $279,258,000;
      1996 fiscal year actuarial requirement: $1,350,997,000, actual payment: $341,269,000;
      1997 fiscal year actuarial requirement: $972,842,000, actual payment: $395,348,000;
      1998 fiscal year actuarial requirement: $983,312,000, actual payment: $477,685,000;
      1999 fiscal year actuarial requirement: $932,909,000, actual payment: $603,603,000 (Bob Lyons, TRS).