Politicians who helped cause Chicago pension crisis getting six-figure pensions
I guess you could say this is part of the "Chicago Way," too.
Fifteen former Chicago aldermen are receiving six-figure pensions, with several having payouts totaling more than a million dollars.
Of the 38 former elected Chicago officials currently receiving pensions, 15 former aldermen see yearly payouts exceeding $100,000, according to documents from the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, or MEABF. Two additional aldermen receive annual pension payouts just a few thousand dollars shy of $100,000.
On average, the 15 former aldermen collecting six-figure annual pensions have accumulated $768,500 in total gross pension benefits. Four of those ex-aldermen have accumulated more than $1 million in gross benefits.
Some of the same officials responsible for fueling the city's $36 billion pension crisi sare among the system's biggest beneficiaries. Taxpayers, on the other hand, are not benefitting from this unstable pension system. In 2016, Chicago City Council approved a new tax on water and sewer services proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help shore up the city's underwater pensions.
For years, city government refused to fully fund public employee pension funds leading to the current crisis. Most of those same politicians now receive up to 80% of their average salary from their last year of service. It's part of a pension scheme for cronies fashioned by former mayor Richard J. Daley:
The law also permits aldermen to effectively buy their way to eligibility for maximum pension benefits, without having served the required 20 years. Former Ald. Thomas Allen, 38th Ward, for example, served only 17 years but was able to purchase additional "pension credits" at a cost lower than the value of the retirement benefits he'd receive. Allen currently receives a gross annual pension of nearly $106,000, according to MEABF records. But that isn't the only lofty income the former alderman collects from taxpayers. Since 2010, Allen has also earned an annual salary upwards of $190,000 serving as a Circuit Court of Cook County judge.
It wouldn't take much of a shock to send the entire house of cards crashing down. And taxpayers would be left to pick up the pieces.