Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’
November 25th, 2013 at 5:52 pm
After Obamacare, Cities Want Pension Bailout Too

After decades of kicking the financial can down the road, some of America’s biggest cities now want to try throwing it up the ladder.

Starting January 1, Detroit will move its retirees to Michigan’s federally-run Obamacare exchange. Instead of the previous full coverage paid for by taxpayers, each retiree will get a $125 monthly stipend. The move is projected to save the city roughly $120 million.

Chicago and other cash-strapped cities are considering similar options.

But the move to offload state and local obligations onto federal taxpayers is just getting started. Writing for City Journal, Steven Malanga explains that municipal debt related to unfunded pensions far outweighs the amount owed to retiree health benefits.

To big city mayors the solutions, of course, are identical – Ask Uncle Sam for a bailout.

At some point, America’s entitlement culture – up and down the socio-economic ladder – has to take a back seat to fiscal reality. We’ll see if enough people are ready to have such a debate when the 2016 presidential election rolls around.

September 27th, 2013 at 3:03 pm
Top 10 Biggest Civic Pension Liabilities in America

“Most of the 50 local governments with the largest pension debt have worker retirement liabilities that are greater than their annual tax revenue, according to a new report from the credit-rating firm Moody’s,” says the lead in a Washington Post story.

The emerging leader in the deepening pension saga is Chicago, whose “pension liabilities were equal to 678 percent of its revenues as of 2011,” notes US News & World Report.

Here are the others in the top (or is it bottom?) ten:

Rank Debt Issuer Pension Liabilities as Percentage of Revenue

1. Chicago 678.2 percent

2. Cook County (Ill.) 381.6

3. Denver County School District 1 341.6

4. Jacksonville, Fl. 326.9

5. Los Angeles 324.5

6. Metro. Water Reclamation District of Chicago 323.4

7. Houston 312.4

8. Dallas 292.5

9. Clark County (Nev.) School District 259.1

10. Phoenix 240.2

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September 12th, 2012 at 12:59 pm
Chicago Charters Are Better Bargain Than Teachers Union

Christian Schneider  writing in City Journal shows the vivid cost/benefit contrast between members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and their public charter school counterparts.  CTU members average $76,000 in annual salary before benefits, while public charter school teachers make $49,000.

Charter school teachers are a bargain.  A study by the Illinois Policy Institute cited by Schneider indicates that nine of Chicago’s top ten performing schools are open-enrollment, non-selective charter high schools.

Faced with this kind of competition, CTU members did what any self-respecting public employee union would do when offered a sixteen percent pay raise in exchange for linking employment to student test results – they went on strike.

Change is coming to all levels of the education industry.  Groups like CTU need to adapt to the new reality of pay-for-performance or risk expulsion from the system.

September 11th, 2012 at 7:17 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Chicago Teachers
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

November 23rd, 2011 at 6:13 pm
County-Level Secession Movements Growing

You know political differences are coming to a head when state and local leaders takes step – albeit unrealistic – to break away from misbehaving neighbors.  Earlier this year liberal Pima County made noise about seceding from Arizona.  A county official in conservative Inland California called for meetings to legally distance themselves from spendthrift Sacramento and the loony Left Coast.  Now, two Republican state lawmakers in Illinois have introduced a bill to divide Illinois into two states: liberal Cook County (home of Chicago), and the other 101 municipalities.  Claiming that “Chicago-style politics” are dominating all other concerns in the state, the GOP legislators want to part ways and limit the influence of Second City Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a smaller geographic area.

Will any of these ideas work?  Almost certainly not.  But the popularity of political separation just underscores how divided America is becoming.  That we’re still together is something to be thankful for, if not an occasion for perpetual rejoicing.

May 12th, 2011 at 1:12 pm
Education Reform: First Mitch Daniels, Now Rahm Emanuel?

Maybe there’s a Midwestern Miracle in education reform unfolding.  Outgoing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (R) was hailed last week for getting an expansive school vouchers program passed.  The Detroit public school system is seriously considering allowing 41 of its schools to become charter schools.  Now, Illinois is within a majority vote of its state House of Representatives of curbing the power of teachers’ unions.  The chief beneficiary of this latest reform: newly elected Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Right now, Emanuel’s people aren’t talking, preferring to let state lawmakers take heat for giving the new Hizzoner the right to extend the school day and weaken the teacher tenure system.  Though I think Emanuel is far from the best potential education reformer, I won’t be surprised if he extracts some serious concessions from teachers unions.  If the bill weakening Illinois’ educators’ “rights” to disrupt the education of the children they serve passes, the moment may be ripe for Illinois – through Emanuel – to return a shard of the public school spotlight where it belongs: on the pupils.

February 19th, 2011 at 8:05 pm
Rahm Emanuel Takes Google Analytics to Municipal Campaigning

In a good overview of Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago mayoral campaign this nugget stands out:

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, Emanuel employs the most cutting-edge techniques. A focus on social networking and demographically targeted e-mails is part of “using the Internet in ways not previously used in a municipal campaign,” says Chicago-based Democratic consultant Eric Adelstein. Emanuel is harnessing Google Analytics to micro-target voters based on their Web surfing. “So you look for ‘Chicago Bears’ and there may be an Emanuel message that might interest you, a sports fan between the ages of 40 and 60,” Adelstein says.

H/T: Time

January 25th, 2011 at 1:10 am
Rahm Emanuel’s Mayoral Race & the Rule of Law

Three cheers for textualism rang out when an Illinois state appellate court ruled former Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel ineligible to run for mayor of Chicago.  CFIF previously highlighted Emanuel’s dubious residency claims.  Then, it was obvious Emanuel did not meet the 1 year Chicago residency requirement because he had been living in Washington, D.C.

Tellingly, no one disputes this now.  Instead, Emanuel’s defenders (including the Chicago Board of Elections) support the theory that a candidate’s intent to return should be read-in (i.e. judicially legislated) as an exception to the residency requirement.  The state appeals court had none of it.  In a straightforward opinion, a 2-1 majority ruled for textual integrity and struck Emanuel’s name from the ballot.  Of course, he’s appealing it to the state supreme court, but that shouldn’t deter that body from applying the same plain meaning of the statute to his situation.

No one is saying that Rahm Emanuel can never run for mayor of Chicago, just that he must comply with the legal standards for assuming the office.  If that’s too much to ask of Rahm, then maybe it would be too much to expect a faithful application of other laws once he’s in office.

December 16th, 2010 at 11:52 pm
Rahm Emanuel’s Residency Problem Poses a Serious Question About the Rule of Law

It’s one of the ironies of modern judicial interpretation that textbooks and master theses masquerading as court opinions go to great lengths to unearth vague notions of ‘legislative intent’ in arcane statutes, but brush aside the plain meaning of rules like residency requirements to run for public office.  Which poses the question: do all the laws matter except those that apply to candidates  running for office?

For example, there is precious little required to run for Mayor of Chicago.  A candidate must be:

  • 18 years old
  • A registered voter
  • A resident of the city of Chicago
  • Without any debt, unpaid tax, lien or other obligation to the city of Chicago
  • Without a felony conviction or conviction for any infamous crime, bribery or perjury

Candidates must also produce a minimum of 12,500 signatures and file at the Board of Election Commissioners between November 15 and November 22, 2010.

Note that a candidate doesn’t have to be married, literate, employed, able to speak English, or competent to read a budget.  One presumes that the reasons for the requirements that are listed is to ensure that a person running to become the most powerful local official: 1) has reached the legal age to contract, 2) demonstrates a current political stake in the community, 3) isn’t running to dodge a public debt, and 4) hasn’t been convicted of criminal dishonesty.

If a candidate for mayor cannot meet these slight – but important – criteria, he doesn’t deserve to run.  Everyone knows that Rahm Emanuel has not been a resident of the city of Chicago for the last year because he was living in Washington, D.C. with his family while working at the White House.  If the requirement is to have any validity, Emanuel shouldn’t be allowed to run for mayor until he reestablishes his residency.  The rule of law and common sense demand it.

July 2nd, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Chicago: The City Council That Never Sleeps

Never underestimate the speed and focus possible when the politicos in charge of government set their minds to getting something done.  Less than four days after the United States Supreme Court said that the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment applied to states and municipalities like Chicago, the Second City’s aldermen rose to the challenge.

Unfortunately, they responded by deliberately passing a law to discriminate against gun owners to the maximum extent the Constitution might allow.  (Lost amid most of the coverage this week on the result in McDonald v. City of Chicago is that Justice Alito’s plurality opinion announces only that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms applies to Chicago.  It leaves to lower courts the careful work of figuring out which gun control laws are in fact unconstitutional.)

Let’s try a mind experiment.  Suppose a controversial Supreme Court opinion came down applying a universal right guaranteed in the Constitution against states and municipalities that had to do with, oh, let’s say…racial discrimination.  If the losing city in the decision responded in less than four days with an ordinance that deliberately tried to see how far it could still discriminate and pass constitutional muster, would that city council be lauded for its activism?

Maybe there’s a North Coast bias.

October 2nd, 2009 at 6:25 pm
Olympian Disappointment
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There’s a fair bit of schadenfreude going around the conservative blogosphere over the International Olympic Committee’s decision to deny the 2016 summer games to Chicago despite a personal trip by President Obama and the First Lady to Copenhagen to lobby for the Windy City’s cause.

I’m not quite as triumphant as many on the right. The reality is that an American city still missed out on the games. That in and of itself shouldn’t be a cause of celebration for anyone who wants to see their country honored.

That being said, the moment is an instructive metaphor for the Administration’s broader foreign policy. As late as last night, the speculation was that there was no way the First Family would make the trip without knowing for certain that Chicago would emerge the victor. Now we know that obviously wasn’t true.

So what we have is proof that the Administration believed that the force of Obama’s personality alone would be enough to woo the IOC members. In light of the outcome, I wonder how anyone can still take seriously the notion that the same strategy will somehow work in situations where there are legitimate national security interests at stake.