By John Ruberry

For decades Illinois, Chicago, and many other Land of Lincoln municipalities have been kicking the can down the road in regards to public worker pension obligations.

Harvey, a poverty-stricken southern suburb of Chicago with a long history of corruption, has not just reached the end of the road, it has run off of the cliff, in the manner of Wile E. Coyote. Because Harvey has not been adequately funding its police and fire pension plans for years, a state law–Illinois ironically is guilty of the same sin with its pensions–requires the state treasurer to withhold the city’s portion of sales tax revenue, $1.4 million, to pay into those funds instead of that cash being deposited into the town’s general revenue account. Harvey’s police and fire pensions are funded at only 51 and 22 percent, respectively.

On Friday Harvey laid off half of the employees in its police and fire departments, along with about a dozen other municipal workers.

Ironically two firefighters with 18 years on the job were among those given pink slips, they are two years away from qualifying for their own pensions.

Harvey has had many other brushes with malfeasance, and like Wile E, it has used a bag of tricks from its own version of the Acme Corporation to remain airborne. It purchased Lake Michigan water from Chicago, resold it to neighboring towns and used that revenue for payroll and other expenses. Until Chicago sued Harvey didn’t pay the larger city for that water. Its four-term mayor, Eric J. Kellogg, was fined $10,000 and banned from participating in future bond offerings after Harvey diverted cash from a hotel development plan to other items, including payroll.

The FBI, according to the Chicago Tribune, is investigating bribery allegations involving a consultant of Kellogg, the former mayor of neighboring Dixmoor who is a twice-convicted felon. The case is centered on secret recordings made by Harvey’s comptroller, who committed suicide in 2016, the same year that Fox Chicago, citing reports from experts, said the city is “worse than broke.”

Abandoned factory on the Harvey-Dixmoor border

Ah, it’s easy to dismiss Harvey as an aberration even in a state with a national reputation for corruption. In my lifetime four Illinois governors have been sent to federal prison and a fifth faced trial for tax evasion but was found not guilty.

Pension troubles such as the one Harvey is facing can’t come to my Prairie State town, can they?

They sure can.

A researcher from the University of Chicago says there are 74 other police or fire departments with pension funds that are comparably underfunded as those of Harvey. One of those towns in that predicament is Niles, the village west of the Chicago suburb where I live. I have some friends who reside there and they pride themselves on their low–well, low for Illinois–property taxes.

Niles is one of those 74 towns. In 2010 its mayor for nearly five decades served a year in prison for his role in a kickback scheme.

Term limits anyone?

Which Illinois municipality will be the next Harvey? Perhaps Chicago, as its pension plans are the worst-funded among the nation’s largest cities.

As for Illinois, its pension funds are among the worst-funded among the fifty states.

Blogger in Harvey

Harvey is losing population.

Chicago is losing population.

Illinois is losing population.

Who will be the “last man standing” over the edge of the cliff stuck with the bill?

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Illinoisan, continues to eye his exit strategy while he blogs at Marathon Pundit.

James Madison:  If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

Federalist #51 1788

4th Doctor:  Tremas, we must stop Kassia becoming the Keeper, and for that we need the master plans.

Tremas: But I swore an oath, Doctor.

4th Doctor: Well of course you swore an oath! Now you have to choose. Your personal honour against the safety of the whole of Traken.

Nyssa:  Yes, father.

Tremas:  I can’t, Doctor.

4th Doctor:  Well, that’s fine. That’s fine, Tremas. I mean, when this thing has taken over the entire Source you’ll have the consolation of knowing that you kept your honour intact.

Doctor Who:  The Keeper of Traken 1981

I’ve talked about the desire of lobbyists & establishment pols to co-opt tea party type candidates and the desire of said tea party candidates to resist.  It’s thinking about this problem that has made re-evaluate my position

I’ve always been against Term Limits based on three principles:

1. We have terms limits already, they’re called “elections”

2. The people have a right to the person they want

3.  It will empower the Washington lifers.

These are both very solid principles and are worthwhile, but the more I examine the problem I’m afraid I must come to the conclusion that since the goal is the best possible representative government those principles requires a change.

I’ve concluded that the term limits descried in #1 just aren’t effective, the choice in #2 is still in play with such a change and term limits will not empower Washington elites any more than they already are.

Therefore I have decided to achieve the goal I have previously stated it is necessary to implement term limits of some type.

I don’t make this change lightly.  I think it’s a shame that such a change is necessary but one must look at reality, after all it’s a shame I can’t walk down the roughest street in Fitchburg with my wallet hanging out of my pocket at 3 AM without risk of robbery.  In an ideal world that would not be the case but reality doesn’t apply to that wish.

So from this point on let me officially state that I will support term limits and hope that they can be implemented with all speed.

Sen Joseph Paine: Thirty years ago I had your ideals. I was you. I had to make the same decision you were asked to make today. And I made it. I compromised – yes! So that all those years, I could sit in that Senate and serve the people in a thousand honest ways.

Mr Smith Goes to Washington 1039

The shields can’t take much more of this (or words to that effect)

 Star Trek Seemingly every episode 1966-1969

10th Doctor:  Water always wins

Doctor Who:  The Waters of Mars 2010

In part one of my piece I explained how Washington breeds a symbiotic relationship between Pols (Group A) and money seekers (Group B) and how that relationship is threatened when voters (Group C) get fed up and vote in people like the Tea Party members of congress (Group TEA) who are not part of the symbiotic relationship between groups A & B.

When such people are elected the establishment of both parties who benefit from this system seemingly are in trouble, particularly in the house when the voters have to be faced every two hours so there is an excellent chance that they might be punished but time is always on the side of the establishment.

Sooner or later an issue will come up that the member of (Group TEA) and the voters in their district care about, a vote that they will care about, and at that time the full power of the establishment comes into play, or maybe a tough election fight will come up and money and support will be necessary, or maybe a problem will come up that needs solving or maybe a hundred other things will come up where that member of congress will want the help or support of other members.

What makes this even harder is such people are surrounded every day by people making and rationalizing every single one of those compromises they are making and reaping the rewards of wealth and increased power.

For anyone one of these situations a person of average character might be able to resist that temptation.  it’s easy to resist but over time like water on a rock these pressures become harder and harder to take.   A person with a character of steel might be able to resist year after year term after term, but Rosie O’Donnell not withstanding even steel bends and breaks.  I’m sure such tea party members want to resist.

But how?

“As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

Trent Lott on Tea Party Senators

Washington is a funny town.   It has two things in almost infinite supply:

Money:  Even in the state it’s in America is a wealthy nation and money flows through it like water over Niagara falls.  Constant, unending amounts of money.

Power:  The People in Washington have the power over hundreds of millions, directly and practically the whole world indirectly

The odd thing is you pretty much have two groups of People in Washington:

Group A:  The people who have the power (elected officials) by law don’t have access to the money.  They also are not allowed to vote themselves money.  If they want to be rich they have to find money for re-election or personal wealth it has to come from another source.

Group B:  These are the people who want access to that money group A controls, some are friends and relatives, some are businessmen, some are people who advance causes, and some are the very rich who while powerful want the type of power only a pol can provide.  Yet by law they can’t have that money unless it is given to them by the very people who aren’t allowed to have it.

So you end up with a symbiotic relationship Group A votes the money to members of Group B

Group B kicks the money back to Group A in the terms of campaign contributions, jobs for friends, book deals and advances, paid speeches and when members of Group A leave government jobs working for Group B to obtain funds for Group A.

Unfortunately for Group  A & Group B there is one group they have to contend with that lives outside of Washington.  They are Group C.

Group C are the people who the money is extracted from.  They are also the people who select who is in Group A.  They accept Group A as a necessity and understand that Group B is a logical outcome of the existence of Group A.

As practical people they know you can’t have a 100% clean government any more than you can have a 100% safe car.  So generally don’t give a damn what Group A & Group B are doing as long as they leave them pretty much alone and don’t get in their way.

But Human nature being what it is Group A eventually gets drunk with power and Group B gets drunk with money and it Every now and then though Group A & Group B decide to overreach and that’s when Group C decides to remind people who the boss is and elects members to Group A (lets call them Group TEA).

Group TEA goes to concerned with Group C’s interests.  This causes a lot of problems for Groups A & B.  If Group TEA become strong enough they can stop Group A from giving money to Group B which means can’t give it back to Group A. So they must be stopped.

But how?

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Olimometer 2.52

I spent most of Sunday away from the PC so it’s not surprising that This week’s paycheck $300 paycheck is only at $2.

It’s Patriots day when people of Massachusetts remember how much more sense and guts those who lived here before us did (watch this week Subscription Commentary as I expand on that). When you become of the 15 weekly (a subset of the 60 monthly) folks to kick in that $20 to make my paycheck you keep at least one Conservative here to make the fight.