The pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois

The pension crisis in Chicago and Illinois

An ongoing Tribune investigation finds that political dealmaking contributed to a financial crisis in Chicago and Illinois pension funds, threatening the retirement of public employees and potentially putting taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars.

December 4, 2013

Illinois approves major pension overhaul

— Illinois lawmakers narrowly approved a historic, sweeping overhaul of government worker pension systems Tuesday, overcoming years of political and philosophical differences in an attempt to address one of the state's most pressing financial problems.

Quinn now has 2 legislative wins to fuel re-election effort

8:22 AM EST, December 4, 2013

Quinn now has 2 legislative wins to fuel re-election effort

For Gov. Pat Quinn, putting pen to paper on a bill to salvage the nation's worst-funded state employee pension system will be a signature moment both literally and politically.

Illinois lawmakers reach tentative deal on pension fix

6:46 PM EST, November 27, 2013

Illinois lawmakers reach tentative deal on pension fix

Top Illinois legislators said today they’ve reached agreement on a plan to deal with the state’s worst-in-the-nation unfunded public pension liability and expect to vote on it next week.

Emanuel warns of looming city pension crisis in budget speech

4:46 PM EDT, October 23, 2013

Emanuel warns of looming city pension crisis in budget speech

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today unveiled a nearly $7 billion budget for 2014, but also focused on a year from now and warned what will happen if the city doesn't fix its pension system by then.

Lawmaker: Pension plan 'very likely' for veto session

7:54 AM EDT, September 30, 2013

Lawmaker: Pension plan 'very likely' for veto session

A key member of a legislative panel charged with finding a way to fill Illinois' worst-in-the-nation unfunded pension liability said Sunday that she believes it is "very likely" a plan to change state retirement benefits could be agreed upon to present to lawmakers next month.

Cullerton: Illinois pension debt not a 'crisis'

7:57 AM EDT, October 21, 2013

Cullerton: Illinois pension debt not a 'crisis'

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said Sunday that the state's massive public employee pension debt is not a "crisis," but instead an issue being pushed by business-backed groups seeking lower income taxes at the expense of retiree benefits.

Quinn: No ADM tax breaks until pension deal

7:05 PM EDT, October 4, 2013

Quinn: No ADM tax breaks until pension deal

Gov. Pat Quinn said today that a request by Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland for millions of dollars in tax incentives to stay in Illinois should not be considered until lawmakers first reform the state's highly indebted public employee pension system.

 Pension debate at 1970 Constitutional Convention echoes in today's crisis

7:14 PM EDT, September 22, 2013

Pension debate at 1970 Constitutional Convention echoes in today's crisis

Illinois' crushing public pension crisis has been literally decades in the making, but the present stalemate in Springfield over how to resolve it can be traced in great measure to a single point in time: July 21, 1970.

New law bans Metra board pensions, health coverage

8:15 AM EDT, July 24, 2013

New law bans Metra board pensions, health coverage

SPRINGFIELD — Generous health care and pensions will go by the wayside for future political appointees overseeing the Chicago area's local bus and train service, but the current officeholders will get to keep the benefits until they are reappointed to new terms.

8:49 PM EDT, July 23, 2013

Quinn hints at special session on pensions next month

Gov. Pat Quinn hinted Tuesday that he may summon lawmakers back to Springfield again this summer to take up public employee pension reform, saying next month's State Fair would provide an ideal time for legislators to work on the issue while also having a little fun.

September 19, 2010

Move is on to halt inflated local pensions

State Sen. Terry Link compares it to winning the lottery.

State lawmakers set up committee to tackle pension reform

5:44 PM EDT, June 19, 2013

State lawmakers set up committee to tackle pension reform

SPRINGFIELD --- The General Assembly is in special session today to form a conference committee of lawmakers who will try to come up with a way to break a stalemate on government worker pension reform.

Quinn, lawmakers agree to form pension reform committee

1:26 PM EDT, June 18, 2013

Move would unfold at Wednesday special session

Unable to round up enough Senate votes for a sweeping measure to overhaul the state’s public employee pension system, Gov. Pat Quinn has backed off in favor of a plan to a form a committee designed to forge a compromise on the hot-button issue.  

Quinn shifts gears again on pension reform

2:29 PM EDT, June 14, 2013

Offers different approach and backup plan

A frustrated Gov. Pat Quinn has once again changed strategies in his effort to get a pension reform bill on his desk as he acknowledged Friday he’s “prepared to do whatever necessary” to try to break a deadlock between his fellow Democratic leaders.

Madigan goes against Quinn on pension reform

8:40 PM EDT, June 12, 2013

Madigan goes against Quinn on pension reform

SPRINGFIELD — House Speaker Michael Madigan on Wednesday tried to increase the pressure on fellow Democrats in the Senate to get behind his version of pension reform and abandon their own as they head into Gov. Pat Quinn’s special session next week.

William Daley blasts inaction on pension reform

1:01 AM EDT, June 4, 2013

Says he could decide on governor's race within a week

SPRINGFIELD — Democrat William Daley says he is “stunned” the state failed to address the pension crisis in the spring session and indicated the legislative meltdown is moving him closer to announcing a decision on whether to challenge Gov. Pat Quinn in the 2014 primary.

Quinn says he'll meet Monday with leaders on pension changes

5:06 PM EDT, June 7, 2013

Quinn says he'll meet Monday with leaders on pension changes

Gov. Pat Quinn said today that he'll meet with Democratic legislative leaders Monday to try to find compromise on changes to a public employee pension system that's approaching $100 billion in debt.

Quinn pitches pension plan of attack but no agreement

2:23 PM EDT, June 10, 2013

Quinn pitches pension plan of attack but no agreement

Gov. Pat Quinn offered a compromise suggestion today on how to break the impasse on pension reform: combine the dueling plans into one bill and let the courts sort it out.

Quinn calls lawmakers into special session on pension reform

5:23 PM EDT, June 6, 2013

Quinn calls lawmakers into special session on pension reform

Gov. Pat Quinn today called lawmakers back into special session June 19 to deal with the public employee pension shortfall after another rating agency downgraded Illinois' credit rating.

Illinois credit rating lowered after pension reform failure

4:48 PM EDT, June 3, 2013

Illinois credit rating lowered after pension reform failure

SPRINGFIELD --- A major investor ratings service further lowered Illinois' worst-in-the-nation credit rating today following lawmakers' inability to agree on money-saving reforms to the public employee pension system.

Illinois Senate soundly defeats Madigan pension reform plan

8:28 AM EDT, May 31, 2013

Illinois Senate soundly defeats Madigan pension reform plan

SPRINGFIELD --- The Illinois Senate tonight overwhelmingly defeated a major overhaul of the state's heavily indebted government worker pension systems, throwing into question whether cost-saving reforms will be approved before Friday night’s adjournment deadline.

CPS pension holiday bill fails

10:46 PM EDT, May 31, 2013

Quinn had vowed to veto

SPRINGFIELD --- A plan to allow Mayor Rahm Emanuel to skip a large chunk of Chicago Public Schools pension payments for two years failed today after Gov. Pat Quinn vowed to veto it unless lawmakers also approve comprehensive government worker pension.

Estimates show Madigan pension plan could save $187 billion

8:08 AM EDT, May 29, 2013

Estimates show Madigan pension plan could save $187 billion

SPRINGFIELD — New estimates released Tuesday indicate House Speaker Michael Madigan’s pension reform proposal would save more money over the next three decades than had been expected.

Fugitive ex-cop's wife takes the Fifth at pension hearing

8:25 AM EST, November 30, 2011

Fugitive ex-cop's wife takes the Fifth at pension hearing

The wife of fugitive Eddie Hicks took the Fifth Amendment at a police pension board hearing Tuesday, refusing to answer trustees' questions about the whereabouts of the former Chicago police officer.

State paying 6-figure pension to ex-teachers union lobbyist

September 23, 2012

State paying 6-figure pension to ex-teachers union lobbyist

— A former lobbyist for a powerful teachers union is reaping a $100,000-a-year state pension thanks to wide-ranging retirement legislation sponsored nearly six years ago by her former boss, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and his legislative allies.

Quinn not optimistic about hitting deadline for pension reform

10:57 PM EDT, June 18, 2012

Quinn not optimistic about hitting deadline for pension reform

Gov. Pat Quinn acknowledged Monday what most others in state government have said for weeks: It's unlikely that he and legislative leaders will strike a deal on public employee pension reform by his June 30 deadline.

Lawsuit filed by Chicago Teachers Union, others seeks to overturn pension law

October 30, 2012

Lawsuit filed by Chicago Teachers Union, others seeks to overturn pension law

Pension reform in Illinois got a rare legislative victory when the General Assembly moved to close loopholes that allowed labor leaders to land six-figure public pensions based on their much higher union salaries.

Park district pension ploy pays off handsomely

July 31, 2010

Park district pension ploy pays off handsomely

As the economy was taking a historic nosedive, parks officials in Highland Park were paying three of their executives far more — $435,203 in one case — than anyone in similar posts across the suburbs, the Tribune has found.

9:39 PM EDT, August 2, 2010

Lawmakers to probe local government pension practices

Two Illinois lawmakers on Monday called for hearings to look into local government pension practices after learning how officials with the Park District of Highland Park intentionally used large bonuses to hike the pension of a district executive by more than $50,000.

Quinn: No new casinos without pension reform

7:15 AM EDT, May 21, 2013

Also argues House votes there on gay marriage bill

Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday put a finer point on a notion he's been pushing this spring: no gambling expansion will happen without comprehensive changes to fix a greatly underfunded government worker pension system.

Special pension deal a windfall for some county officials

April 10, 2011

Special pension deal a windfall for some county officials

To thank Bill Maio for his years of public service, his former colleagues on the DuPage County Board named a street after him.

Illinois Senate passes pension bill, sets up showdown with House

6:00 PM EDT, May 9, 2013

Cullerton, Madigan offer dueling versions of pension reform

SPRINGFIELD — Senate President John Cullerton today sent his version of pension reform to the House, setting up a high-profile clash with the rival plan Speaker Michael Madigan already pushed through the House.

Senate leader counters with union-backed pension plan

8:20 AM EDT, May 7, 2013

Says Madigan move brought labor to table

SPRINGFIELD — Senate President John Cullerton on Monday rolled out his latest proposal aimed at fixing the state's heavily indebted pension system, striking a deal with unions just days after House Speaker Michael Madigan pushed through a plan that's tougher on government workers.

Madigan pension reforms pass House

9:16 PM EDT, May 2, 2013

Fate less certain in the Senate

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House today approved a far-reaching pension reform plan pushed by Speaker Michael Madigan that is headed for an uncertain fate in the Senate.

Sweeping pension reform fails in Illinois Senate

5:07 PM EDT, March 20, 2013

Bill affecting teachers sent to House

SPRINGFIELD --- The Illinois Senate defeated a comprehensive overhaul of the state's broken pension system today, instead passing a plan to make changes to only the teacher pension system.

4:04 PM EST, February 27, 2013

New pension reform plan surfaces in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — The top House Republican and a key House Democrat unveiled a pension proposal today that would require state workers, teachers and others under state retirement plans to work longer, chip in more from their paychecks and scales back cost-of-living increases.

Quinn criticizes new pension reform plan tied to income tax

5:33 PM EST, February 20, 2013

Quinn criticizes new pension reform plan tied to income tax

SPRINGFIELD — A top House Democrat on Wednesday suggested a new plan to fix the state’s massively indebted retirement system: make the temporary income tax hike permanent, have state workers and teachers chip in more toward their pension and raise the retirement age for full benefits to 67.

Illinois credit rating takes hit after no action on pensions

3:07 PM EST, January 11, 2013

Illinois credit rating takes hit after no action on pensions

SPRINGFIELD — One of the nation's leading credit-rating firms put Illinois on a negative watch list today because Gov. Pat Quinn and state lawmakers failed to address the overwhelming public pension debt in the just-completed lame-duck session.

Quinn blames lawmakers for inaction on pension reform

10:57 PM EST, March 6, 2013

Quinn blames lawmakers for inaction on pension reform

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn chastised lawmakers for failing to pass cost-cutting changes to the government worker retirement system, then dangled the possibility that he'd drop his long-running opposition to a major gambling expansion to get a pension deal done.

Quinn: Pension reform before gambling expansion

5:56 PM EST, January 15, 2013

Quinn: Pension reform before gambling expansion

Efforts by the legislature to expand casino gambling to Chicago and other locations is a secondary issue behind attempts to deal with the state’s unfunded pension liability, Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday.

State lawmakers focus on pension reform

8:09 AM EST, January 7, 2013

State lawmakers focus on pension reform

SPRINGFIELD — With time running short in the lame-duck session, state lawmakers on Sunday dropped hot-button issues dealing with guns and marijuana but kept alive hopes of reforming pensions and giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

No vote on Illinois House pension plan today

4:51 PM EST, January 7, 2013

Prospects for reform dim

The Illinois House adjourned for the day without voting on a major government worker pension overhaul, casting grave doubt on the reform plan's fate.

Quinn loses Hail Mary on pension reform

5:51 PM EST, January 8, 2013

House adjourns without voting on last-ditch plan

SPRINGFIELD --- The Illinois House adjourned this afternoon without even voting on Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's desperation pension reform plan.

Quinn remains optimistic on pension reform

5:04 PM EST, December 27, 2012

But House, Senate can't even agree on which days to meet

Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday that he remains confident lawmakers can reach a deal to reform the state’s government employee pension system by his Jan. 9 deadline, despite the fact House and Senate leaders can’t even agree on which days to come to work.

Quinn, leaders to meet this weekend in search of pension fix

2:01 PM EST, January 4, 2013

Madigan may be willing to back off cost shift on teacher pensions

Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders plan to meet Saturday to try to come up with a compromise to fix financially broken government worker pension systems as the clock ticks down toward the end of the lame-duck session.

$1.5 billion a year cost to fix pensions?

10:17 PM EDT, October 1, 2012

$1.5 billion a year cost to fix pensions?

Absent significant pension system reforms, it would cost the city an extra $1.5 billion a year beginning in 2016 to start the process of restoring financial health to its pension funds, aldermen were warned Monday.

Unions blast state on plans for underfunded pensions

2:26 PM EST, December 19, 2012

Unions blast state on plans for underfunded pensions

A coalition of public employee unions issued a report today blasting state legislation to address their vastly underfunded pension systems and offering instead to make increased worker contributions if lawmakers raised $2 billion by ending tax benefits to corporations and imposing new taxes.

New Illinois pension fix floated

8:38 PM EST, December 4, 2012

It's a mix of new and old ideas for fixing state worker retirement system

SPRINGFIELD - As state government leaders struggle to reach agreement on pension reform, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is floating a plan that's a mix of new and old ideas to try to break the logjam.

July 8, 2012

Bill to limit end-of-career pension spikes awaits governor's signature

For decades, state lawmakers have drawn criticism when they leave the Legislature and take another government gig with a fat salary that greatly boosts their public pensions, but soon the state might be on the hook for less of those retirement costs for a small group of veteran legislators.

Chicago ophthalmologist indicted, allegedly stole from employee pension plan

November 30, 2012

Chicago ophthalmologist indicted, allegedly stole from employee pension plan

A Chicago ophthalmologist who was the focus of a 2009 Tribune watchdog story was indicted by a federal grand jury this month on charges he defrauded his employees' pension benefit plan of more than $180,000.

Mr. Madigan's bill, Ms. Purkey's pension

September 25, 2012

Mr. Madigan's bill, Ms. Purkey's pension

Gail Purkey wasn't employed by the state of Illinois long enough during the 1980s to earn a state pension. Her stint with House Speaker Michael Madigan's legislative staff, plus her time at the Illinois Arts Council, an agency chaired by Madigan's wife, Shirley, totaled less than seven years. Then she left public employment for a job with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, a statewide group that includes the Chicago Teachers Union.

Emanuel budget speech: No tax hikes, but pension woes loom

11:51 AM EDT, October 10, 2012

Emanuel budget speech: No tax hikes, but pension woes loom

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today unveiled a new budget that he says doesn't include new tax, fine or fee increases but contains a warning about the financial havoc the city's looming government worker pension problem could wreak.

Illinois Republicans rip Democrats ahead of pension special session

3:05 PM EDT, August 16, 2012

Illinois Republicans rip Democrats ahead of pension special session

SPRINGFIELD --- Republicans leaders today wasted no time laying the blame for the state's financial woes at the feet of powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan and his fellow Democrats, saying that now is the time to act like adults and pass sorely needed pension reforms.

Illinois voters will decide pension question this fall

1:32 PM EDT, May 3, 2012

Illinois voters will decide pension question this fall

Illinois voters this fall will be asked whether to make it tougher for state and local governments to sweeten public employee pensions under a proposal lawmakers approved today.

School board beefed up pension, pay for ex-superintendent now facing criminal charges

September 25, 2012

School board beefed up pension, pay for ex-superintendent now facing criminal charges

In the face of repeated red flags, school board members hiked the pay of a south suburban superintendent and fattened his pension to among the more lucrative in the state, the Tribune has found.

Illinois Senate president: No vote on pension reform until January

7:02 PM EDT, September 13, 2012

Illinois Senate president: No vote on pension reform until January

Don’t expect a vote on a plan to overhaul the state’s government worker pension program until after the new year, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton indicated Thursday.

Lawmakers leave Springfield without approving pension reform

6:11 PM EDT, August 17, 2012

Lawmakers leave Springfield without approving pension reform

State lawmakers adjourned a one-day special session today without approving even a scaled-back version of pension reform.

Pension reform elusive in Illinois

10:15 PM EDT, July 31, 2012

Pension reform elusive in Illinois

When lawmakers left the Statehouse at the end of May, the problem of fixing the nation's most underfunded state public employee pension system was left unresolved amid myriad political concerns and divides.

Teachers Union suit goes after law cracking down on public pension abuse

8:36 PM EDT, October 9, 2012

Teachers Union suit goes after law cracking down on public pension abuse

Fearing cuts to the pension benefits of its “ordinary” members, the Chicago Teachers Union filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court Tuesday that goes after a state law passed in January that was intended to crackdown on public pension abuses.

Senate swings, misses on sweeping pension overhaul

9:47 PM EDT, March 20, 2013

Senate swings, misses on sweeping pension overhaul

— State lawmakers continued to dance around the question of how to fix the state's heavily indebted government worker pension system Wednesday, with the latest two-step unfolding in the Illinois Senate.

Emanuel makes pension pitch at Capitol

May 9, 2012

Emanuel makes pension pitch at Capitol

Mayor Rahm Emanuel took the rare step of traveling to the Capitol to make a personal pitch for an overhaul of city government worker pensions, saying costs are out of control and the "day of reckoning has arrived."

Illinois voters to decide on pension proposal in November

May 4, 2012

Voters to decide on pension proposal

Illinois voters this fall will be asked whether to make it tougher for state and local governments to sweeten public employee pensions under a measure lawmakers approved Thursday.

How Daley beefed up his pension payouts

7:35 AM EDT, May 2, 2012

How Daley beefed up his pension payouts

Two years into his reign as Chicago's longest-serving mayor, Richard M. Daley took advantage of the state's convoluted pension system to significantly increase his potential payout while saving $400,000 in contributions.

Daley adviser Degnan gets $130,000 pension

May 2, 2012

Daley adviser Degnan gets $130,000 pension

Former Chicago MayorRichard M. Daleywasn't the only city official to take advantage of little-known provisions in the state's pension code. His adviser Timothy Degnan made the same moves.

Generous rules govern aldermen's pensions

8:29 AM EDT, May 1, 2012

Generous rules govern aldermen's pensions

Retired members of the City Council stand to reap millions, thanks to a quietly engineered pension boost in 1991 early in the Daley administration.

Quinn pension plan could shift costs to schools

April 22, 2012

Quinn pension plan could shift costs to schools

As Gov. Pat Quinn seeks to overhaul Illinois' public employee pension system, one of the more politically tricky elements also happens to be the one he's talking about the least.

Quinn wants public employees to pay more, work longer

April 21, 2012

Quinn offers plan to reduce pension shortfall

Gov. Pat Quinn wants to fix Illinois' debt-ridden public pension system by getting government employees to work longer, pay more toward their retirement and accept less in benefits.

Illinois pension reform measure passes House

March 30, 2012

Illinois pension reform measure passes House

A local government that gives an ex-lawmaker a fat paycheck would have to pick up the costs of any automatic increase in his state pension under a proposal the House passed overwhelmingly.

Runaway overtime spending at CTA

January 15, 2012

Runaway overtime spending at CTA

At the CTA, the liberal use of overtime pay poses a runaway problem that sharply increases the agency's pension payments and could lead to fare hikes and service cuts.

January 11, 2012

Governor vows to take on pension reform to boost credit rating

Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday sought to ease concerns about a recent downgrade in the state's bond rating that cemented Illinois as the state with the nation's worst credit rating, saying he will push for major pension reforms this year to try to reverse it.

Quinn signs landmark pension abuse reforms into law

10:19 PM EST, January 4, 2012

Quinn to sign landmark pension abuse reforms

Sweeping reforms are aimed at curbing public pension abuses by union officials revealed by a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation.

Private workers, public pensions

3:01 AM EST, December 17, 2011

Private workers, public pensions

Illinois State University opens retirement system to private education groups, Special Olympics.

3:01 AM EST, December 17, 2011

Many find their way into state's higher education pension system

Workers for unions, an alumni association, university foundations manage to qualify.

Digging a pension hole

12:43 AM EST, December 16, 2011

Digging an $85 billion pension hole

Springfield politics have wreaked havoc on the state's retirement code, which is riddled with giveaways, funding flaws, excessive borrowing and pension holidays.

December 16, 2011

Ex-lawmaker nearly doubles his pension with one month of work

All it took for former state Rep. Robert Molaro to nearly double his public pension was spending one month as an aide to Ald. Ed Burke, the powerful chairman of the Chicago City Council's Finance Committee.

Watchdog Update: Feds probe union pension deals

8:16 AM EST, December 8, 2011

Feds probe Chicago union pensions

Federal authorities have begun a criminal investigation into how nearly a dozen union officials became eligible for inflated city pensions, according to subpoenas obtained by the Tribune and WGN-TV through an open-records request.

Pension abuse crackdown heads to Quinn

7:41 AM EST, November 30, 2011

Pension abuse crackdown heads to Quinn

State lawmakers took a strong stand Tuesday against union leaders fattening their public pensions, overwhelmingly sending the governor a measure that would close a series of loopholes in response to a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation.

Legislative scholarships flowed to top union lobbyist's kids

November 27, 2011

Legislative scholarships flowed to top union lobbyist's kids

Teachers' political director also received perk that allowed him to be a sub for a day and get a pension.

Pension overhaul advances in Springfield

10:29 PM EST, November 8, 2011

Pension overhaul advances in Springfield

A major overhaul of the way Illinois government handles pension benefits for current workers won a key victory, but its fate remains uncertain because of heavy union resistance.

October 27, 2011

Pension abuse reform legislation moves forward in House

State lawmakers have advanced reform legislation aimed at thwarting lucrative pension abuses by some labor leaders.

11:07 PM EDT, October 24, 2011

Illinois House panel attacks union pension abuses

House lawmakers attacked union pension abuses in response to Tribune/WGN-TV investigations, including one that exposed how two lobbyists got public teacher pensions for a single day of substitute teaching.

2 teachers union lobbyists teach for a day to qualify for hefty pensions

1:16 AM EDT, October 22, 2011

2 teach for a day to qualify for hefty pensions

Two lobbyists with no prior teaching experience were allowed to count their years as union employees toward a state teacher pension once they served a single day of subbing in 2007, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.

Bill would halt pension double dipping by Chicago labor leaders

8:50 PM EDT, October 12, 2011

Bill would halt union leaders' double dipping

Less than 24 hours after the Tribune reported that at least eight union officials eligible for a city pension also stand to receive one or more union pensions for the same period of work, a House leader filed legislation that would limit them to just the one.

Double-dipping labor leaders stand to reap millions

1:09 PM EDT, October 12, 2011

Labor leaders handed 2 pensions for 1 job

At least eight Chicago labor leaders who are eligible for inflated city pensions also stand to receive union pensions covering the same work period, thanks to a charitable interpretation of state law by officials representing two city pension funds.

Head of Chicago pension fund tried to collect an unearned union pension

October 12, 2011

Head of fund tried to get unearned union pension

The laborers union ousted James Capasso Jr. after he tried to get a pension he didn't deserve, but he kept his job running a billion-dollar pension fund.

Top union leader steps down after pension revelations

11:33 PM EDT, October 3, 2011

Union chief steps down after pension revelations

The head of one of the largest labor unions in Chicago resigned Monday in the wake of reports that he had been receiving a six-figure city pension while participating in a second pension plan.

Republican lawmaker calls for end to union leaders' costly pension perks

September 23, 2011

Lawmaker: End union leaders' pension perks

House Republican Leader Tom Cross is moving to halt a perk that has allowed Chicago union leaders to reap inflated retirement benefits from ailing city pension funds.

One-day rehiring nets former Chicago labor leader a $158,000 city pension

10:00 PM EDT, September 21, 2011

Rehiring nets former leader $158,000 pension

For former labor leader Dennis Gannon, the keys to securing a public pension were one day on the city payroll and some help from the Daley administration.

Law gives huge pension perks to union leaders

September 21, 2011

Law gives huge pension perks to union leaders

All it took to give nearly two dozen labor leaders from Chicago a windfall worth millions was a few tweaks to a handful of sentences in the state's lengthy pension code.

Union officials attempt to flout deal with city pension fund

11:26 PM EDT, September 12, 2011

Union officials attempt to flout deal with city pension fund

After labor leaders were forced to give up union pensions because they already were getting lucrative city pensions, their lawyer attempted to tap into union funds for retirement benefits again.

Other union officials also violated law by drawing double pension benefits

September 1, 2011

Other union officials also violated law

Thomas Villanova isn't the only official from Local 134 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers who participated in a city pension and a union pension at the same time, in violation of state law.

Union leader draws lucrative pension perk based on false information

11:09 PM EDT, September 1, 2011

Union leader draws lucrative pension perk based on false information

Every month, Thomas Villanova gets a $9,000 reminder of how lucrative it can be to serve as a union leader in Chicago.

New report details scope of public pension shortfalls

1:06 AM EST, February 10, 2011

New report details public pension shortfalls

The Civic Federation releases a report showing the unfunded liabilities for 10 city and county pension funds grew sixfold from 2000 to 2009, with shortfalls now totaling nearly $23 billion, or $11,000 per Chicago resident.

City overstates furlough savings, inspector general says

10:58 PM EST, February 8, 2011

City pensions take a hit from furlough days

The funds, already reeling financially, were shortchanged more than $24 million over a three-year period, according to the Chicago's inspector general's office.

9:28 PM EST, December 2, 2010

Lawmakers press Chicago, suburbs on fire, police pensions

After decades of making retirement promises they weren't fully paying for, Chicago and many suburbs could be forced to set aside more money under sweeping changes to police and firefighter pensions headed to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk.

11:40 PM EST, November 17, 2010

Secrecy shrouds some pension investments in Illinois

Aside from the risks inherent in private equity and real estate investments, some pension experts have raised concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding these bets.

Pension bets not paying off

11:40 PM EST, November 17, 2010

Part 2: Pension bets not paying off

Trustees of Chicago's failing public pension funds have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into highly speculative investments that not only have failed to realize outsize returns but also saddled them with underperforming, long-term assets that can't be sold off.

11:46 PM EST, November 16, 2010

What happens if Chicago pension funds run out of money?

With some city pension funding levels dropping below 40 percent, a question arises that seemed unthinkable just a decade ago: If a pension fund runs out of money, who pays for the retirement security promised to city workers?

Politicians helped bring Chicago's public pension funds to the brink of insolvency

9:33 PM EST, November 16, 2010

Part 1: Chicago pensions on the brink

Chicago's public pension funds are teetering on the brink of insolvency in large part because city officials and union leaders repeatedly exploited the system, draining away billions of dollars.

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