By Adam Andrzejewski
In Illinois, and many states, it sometimes feels like if anything happens for the good of the people, it’s entirely by accident. On Thanksgiving Day 2015, here are ten reasons why the bureaucrats – and their connected friends in both parties – are loving life.
10. Highly compensated Drivers Ed teachers – Four instructors clear nearly $900,000 in total compensation at Hinsdale High School District 86 (Hinsdale) "earning" base salaries up to $165,003, plus rich benefits. State taxpayers guarantee lifetime pensions.
9. Taxpayer subsidized political bloggers - 70 state agencies paid over $270,000 to a self-described political blogger based in the state capitol (specific recipient was Capitol Fax, corp: Ahead of Our Time Publishing, owner Rich Miller) since 2005. This year was the biggest ever for Capitol Fax with Republican Comptrollers Judy Baar-Topinka and Leslie Munger cutting the checks for $43,000.
8. The double dippers – Mohsin Dada, a school district treasurer in North Shore School District #112, double dipped the Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS) and the Illinois Municipal Retirement System (IMRF) for a combined income of nearly $500,000. Mohsin’s TRS pension exceeds $240,000 and his new salary as a school district treasurer under IMRF is $245,880.
7. The patronage employees with super-flexible responsibilities – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the top cop in Illinois, gave $1 million in promotional pay raises to 109 personally picked patronage employees. One of them was promoted to "supervising attorney" and was allowed to move two states away and 507 round-trip miles from the office.
6. The Republican patronage – In rock-ribbed red DuPage County, the top 10 county employees make a total of $2.021 million in pensionable salary. The county has a long history of taxpayer abuse. In 2011, a county engineer earned $340,147 and then retired. In 2014, Nancy Wolfe, a first assistant state’s attorney, earned $248,083, retired, and then was recently rehired by the county board as an ethics consultant.
5. Junior college pre$idents – In Southern Illinois, at small Lewis & Clark College (Godfrey), President Dale Chapman enjoys lavish compensation of $540,000 and a contract through 2019. In 2012, Moraine Valley Community College (Palos Hills) paid President Vernon Crawley a final year salary of $674,210 up from $399,169 the previous year.
4. $5.2 Billion Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) loophole – There are $5.2 billion in no-bid contracts that avoid competition because of a massive loophole in the Illinois procurement code. The loophole essentially allows politicians to hand out contracts to friends by contracting with another unit of government. Once a contractor is stamped "government approved," the business flows.
3. Hailing a cab to school – Fifty northern Illinois school districts spent $71 million on mostly no-bid taxi cab rides in the last eight years. These districts call for a cab on a mostly no-bid basis to shuttle students with disabilities and homeless kids. A large portion of the bill is reimbursed by state taxpayers. The taxi spending is primarily in the northern suburban districts, and 822 of the 870 Illinois school districts get along just fine without taxis.
2. Substitute teaching for 1 day reaped $1 million in teacher retirement pension – A pair of union lobbyists substitute taught for one day in the public schools, and then stood in line to receive $1 million lifetime state retirement pensions. A state law was passed to stop them. Twenty-four months later, we discovered that the union lobbyists retired and received their pensions.
1. Chicago Boss Rahm Emanuel still receiving "pay to play" – Violating his own executive order (2011) to end "pay-to-play" and "the historic culture of corruption in city hall," Emanuel received $7 million in campaign cash from 600 city vendors. Since 2002, these vendors have been paid $2 billion. While the city heads toward financial insolvency, Chicago’s elites are lining their pockets with taxpayer money.
But Illinois taxpayers can be thankful for a few things this year.
New Governor Bruce Rauner is strongly standing firm against Democratic super majorities in the legislature on necessary spending reforms.