Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Madigan’s and Cullerton’s letter is an example of hypocrisy and irony


“Dear Fellow Legislator:

“As you know, Governor Quinn took unprecedented action when he used the line item veto to eliminate General Assembly members' salaries for the entire year. This action was purely political and an unconstitutional attempt to coerce the legislature to comply with his demands. We write to inform you that later today we will file a lawsuit challenging Governor Quinn's unconstitutional action.

“This matter is of fundamental constitutional importance, as Governor Quinn's action threatens the independence of each branch of government. The Illinois Constitution protects the salaries of members of the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive branch. These provisions were added to safeguard the people from a weakened judiciary, to ensure the legislature could not diminish the power of the executive, and to prohibit the governor from running roughshod over the legislature.

“By eliminating General Assembly member's salaries, the Governor has chosen to disregard separation of powers and its necessity if our government is to work properly and efficiently.

“For us to ignore the Governor's actions, or override the veto, would severely and irrevocably compromise the independence of the legislature and set a very dangerous precedent. Just as it would be inappropriate for the General Assembly to refuse to appropriate a constitutional officer's salary simply because we disagree with his or her philosophy, it is no less offensive for the Governor to attempt to withhold legislators' salaries because they have not complied with his demand for action on a particular issue. If unchecked, any governor could attempt to employ the same tactic to threaten the legislature, the judiciary, or another constitutional officer to accomplish his or her own personal agenda. In this case, the Governor is seeking changes to the pension system, but next time it could be tax policy, gun control, or education reform. The possibilities are endless.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is to protect the independence of the legislature and preserve the separation of powers. It is our hope that the court will remedy this constitutional violation and that future governors will not feel empowered to use such coercive tactics.”

Michael Madigan & John Cullerton

Michael Madigan and John Cullerton, et al.: 

You are hypocritical thieves.

“We write to inform you that [if and when you pass 'pension reform'] we will file a lawsuit challenging [your unconstitutional actions, for they are] purely political, [opportunistic] and an unconstitutional attempt to coerce [public employees] to comply with [your] demands.

“This matter is of fundamental constitutional importance, as ['pension reform'] threatens [retired and current public employees’ earned rights and benefits]. The Illinois Constitution protects [these rights and benefits. Article XIII, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois was added in 1970 as a] safeguard to protect [public employees from a diminishment and impairment of benefits earned], to ensure the legislature could not [diminish those benefits], and to prohibit [Illinois legislators] from running roughshod over [public employees].

“[By diminishing public employees’ rights and benefits, the Illinois General Assembly] has chosen to disregard [the Illinois Constitution] and its necessity if [a] state government is to work [ethically,] properly and efficiently.

“[To violate a contract with public employees] would severely and irrevocably compromise [what a contract means] and set a very dangerous precedent…” 

For all citizens have rights that must be protected. When legislators swear an oath to uphold the State and U.S. Constitutions (Article XIII, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois), then citizens of Illinois and the United States have also acquired the right to expect that they will uphold that pledge. This is also a matter of important moral concern for all citizens of a state, for all legal claims will be validated by a moral framework since the concept of justice is grounded in ethics. If citizens’ legal rights are abused, then their dignity and humanity will also be violated. 

To possess a right to a promised deferred compensation, such as a pension, is to assert a legitimate claim with all Illinois legislators to protect that right. There are no rights without obligations. They are mutually dependent. Fulfilling a contract is a legal and moral obligation justified by trust among elected officials and their constituents. 

“The purpose of [our] lawsuit is to protect [public employees’ earned benefits and rights]… It is our hope that the court will remedy this constitutional violation and that future [legislators] will not feel empowered to use such coercive tactics [ever again].”

Glen Brown

P.S.

“[Any] attempt to denigrate the validity of decades of judicial precedents about the binding nature of legislation establishing pension commitments to government employees and to motivate state courts to overturn long-settled premises about these commitments would impose its own, unjustifiable costs. The states and their instrumentalities have promised pension benefits to their employees; those employees have relied on those long-standing promises; and as a result the citizens of the states have benefited from the services provided by those employees.

“There is no sound public policy reason to conclude that these promises – based on the reasonable expectations of the contracting parties – should not be fully protected by the laws prohibiting or limiting the impairment of contracts” (Greenfield, Douglas L., Lahne, Susan G. (2012). How Much Can States Change Existing Retirement Policy? In Defense of State Judicial Decisions Protecting Public Employees’ Pensions. National Council of State Legislatures Legislative Summit, 1-16). Retrieved December 9, 2012 from http://www.ncsl.org/documents/fiscal/DGreenfield_Presentation.pdf



Updated September 27th:


A Commitment to Uphold the Illinois State Constitution:

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen ruled that Quinn's action violated the state constitution. The judge ordered Illinois' comptroller to pay legislators' salaries along with interest on the two months of pay they missed (Reuters, September 26).

A Commitment to Violate the Illinois State Constitution:

“Now that the governor’s actions have been answered by a court, I trust that we can put aside all distractions and focus on the goal of pension reform,” Senate President John Cullerton said. “Pension reform remains our top priority”(September 26).

Updated October 2nd:

Quinn filed a motion to fast track his appeal by sending it directly to the Illinois Supreme Court, bypassing a decision by the Illinois Appellate Court. 

Updated October 17th

"The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gov. Pat Quinn's appeal of a ruling that his veto of money for lawmaker pay was unconstitutional. The court issued its one-page order Wednesday [October 16] without additional comment. A hearing date has not been set."


The Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois: Net Investment Returns (from Bob Lyons, TRS Trustee)


TRS Preliminary Investment Results for FY 2013:

As of June 30, 2013: 12.3%

3 Years: 11.8% (annualized)

5 Years:  4.1%

10 Years:  7.2%

20 Years:  7.8%

30 Years:  9.1%


Past TRS Rate of Return:
     
2012: +00.7%
2011: +24.0%
2010: +13.5%
2009: -22.3%
2008: - 4.5%
2007: +19.6%
2006: +12.2%
2005: +11.1%
2004: +16.8%
2003: + 5.2%

At the end of FY 2012, TRS had $36.3 billion; at the end of FY 2013, TRS had $39.25 billion.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Beware of ALEC and the “[Ives] of March”

Take note of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), Thomas B. Fordham Institute, American Federation for Children, Walton Family Foundation, Rupert Murdoch, the DeVos family, and others and their education privatization agenda to siphon off public education funding. Beware of their corporatist agenda and their puppet legislators who sponsor corporate bills for profit-making. The for-profit K-12 education industry is a “$500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed” (Brendan Fischer, “ALEC’s Schoolhouse Rock” The Progressive). 

In Illinois, it’s the Illinois Policy Institute and their puppet legislators.

HB 3160 Jeanne Ives

Synopsis As Introduced
Creates the Workers Rights Act. Provides that no person shall be required as a condition of obtaining or continuing public-sector or private-sector employment to (1) resign or refrain from membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of, a labor organization; (2) become or remain a member of a labor organization; (3) pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges of any kind or amount, or provide anything else of value, to a labor organization; or (4) pay to any charity or other third party an amount equivalent to, or a portion of, dues, fees, assessments, or other charges required of members of a labor organization. Authorizes a person who suffers an injury or a threatened injury as a result of a violation of the Act to bring a civil action for damages, injunctive relief, or both and, if he or she prevails, to be awarded attorneys' fees and costs. Amends the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act to make conforming changes. Effective immediately.

Re-referred to Rules Committee March 22, 2013

HB 3161 Jeanne Ives

Synopsis As Introduced
Creates the Political Funding Reform Act. Prohibits a public employer from collecting, deducting, or transmitting political funds. Provides that if a person or organization (i) has used as political funds any of the funds collected or deducted for it by any public employer, (ii) has commingled funds collected or deducted by any public employer with political funds, or (iii) has deducted or collected funds from multiple levels of an organization and transmitted those funds to a single recipient who has used those funds as political funds, then, for a period of 2 years, no public employer shall collect, deduct, or assist in the collection or deduction of funds for any purpose for that person or organization. Voids existing contracts and agreements that violate the Act. Makes the provisions of the Act severable. Effective immediately.

Re-referred to Rules Committee March 22, 2013

HB 2689 Jeanne Ives & Tom Morrison

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Provides that, once an agreement is reached between a public or educational employer and its employees regarding the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, the agreement shall be reduced to writing and published on the website of the public or educational employer. Requires the public or educational employer, not less than 14 days after publishing such an agreement, to hold an open public meeting on the ratification of that agreement. Makes conforming changes in the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Effective immediately.
Tabled Pursuant to Rule 22 (g) March 20, 2013

HB 182 Jeanne Ives

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Open Meetings Act, the Illinois Public Labor Relations Act, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act. Eliminates the open meetings exemption for collective bargaining in all three Acts. Effective immediately.
  
Rule 19(a) Re-referred to Rules Committee March 22, 2013


Also read about American Legislative Exchange Council/Free Market Principles/State Policy Network = Charter Schools: Click Here.


Dancing with the Civic Committee Stars - See Local Members of ALEC at the Party? By John Dillon. ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is coming to town to celebrate its 40th birthday at the Palmer House on August 8th!  Are you invited?  Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there”: Click Here.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fahner: Civic Committee helped jaw down state’s bond rating (by Rich Miller from Capitol Fax)

"A commenter mentioned something the other day which caught my eye. The commenter claimed that the Civic Committee’s Ty Fahner admitted in a March speech to the Union League Club that he had actively helped talked down the state’s bond rating in order to put more pressure on the General Assembly to pass pension reform.

"So, I looked up the video and watched it this morning


"The commenter wasn’t quite right, but he was close.

"If you go to about the 47-minute mark, you’ll hear an unidentified questioner say this to Fahner: ‘Maybe sometimes you gotta be irresponsible to be responsible. If a political solution really doesn’t produce a favorable outcome, maybe you really need a market solution. And a market solution, I don’t mean bankruptcy, I mean actually talking down the state rating even further so the state’s bonds essentially become below investment grade. And it drives up the borrowing cost to the state and all of us to a significant level enough that you really feel the public pressure…’

"Fahner’s response: 'The Civic Committee, not me, but some of the people that make up the Civic Committee… did meet with and call - in one case in person - and a couple of calls to Moody’s and Fitch and Standard & Poors, and say ‘How in the hell can you guys do this? You are an enabler to let the state continue. You keep threatening more and more and more.’

"And I think now we’ve backed off. We don’t want to be the straw that broke the camel’s back… It hasn’t been irresponsible, but we have told them that we thought they were being irresponsible. But we stopped that a couple of months ago.'"

- Posted by Rich Miller at Capitol Fax


Commentaries:

Corporatists are alive and well in Illinois. The history of our State has been one of excessive greed and shameless hypocrisy, of corruption and oppression, of extortion and domination, of exploitation and deception, of selfishness and subjugation, of poverty and unemployment and inequitable taxation, of protection for the wealthy and their powerful interests, of exorbitant wealth for the few and scarcity of wealth for the many: government of the Committee, by the Committee, and for the Committee…

Read More: Click Here

Most people believe the citizens of Illinois are victims of a partisan polarization and well-financed organizational interest group politics and policies, of compromised corporate-owned media that has been bought by the wealthy minority to shape what and how they think about fiscal issues, that the Illinois state government is held hostage by affluent and influential “special interests” (to protect the riches of the wealthy); where both the republican and democratic parties are one and the same “Money Party,” corrupted by briberies (campaign funding) made legal (Citizens United); and by those who can manipulate the state’s politicians without consequences, set the legislative agenda, and hoodwink and oppress an oblivious populace...

Read More: Click Here