Pritzker digs Chicago financial hole deeper by increasing city firefighter pensions – Wirepoints

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Chicago households are on the hook for a combined $63,000 in Chicago-only debt, based on Moody’s calculations. It’s why the city and the school district have been junk rated for years.

Pritzker’s COLA increase runs against what most of Illinois’ political elite already know – COLA cuts are necessary and inevitable at all levels of government. As Greg Hinz said in his review of Wirepoints’ Pension Solutions, “…that juicy perk over time has amounted to megabillions that state government just doesn’t have.”

The COLA hike will cause more financial headaches for Chicago. Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the COLA increase will cost the city an additional $18 to $30 million a year in pension costs. In all, the perk will force taxpayers to pay an additional $850 million over time.

Author(s): Ted Dabrowski, John Klingner

Publication Date: 8 April 2021

Publication Site: Wirepoints

Illinois governor signs bill that increases Chicago’s pension liabilities

Link: https://fixedincome.fidelity.com/ftgw/fi/FINewsArticle?id=202104061236SM______BNDBUYER_00000178-a783-de03-a7ff-b7e7bf7e0001_110.1#new_tab

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation that benefits retired Chicago firefighters, rejecting city warnings adding to its already burdensome pension tab could damage ratings and drive up taxes.

The added cost to bring cost-of-living adjustments for all firefighters in tier one up to a simple 3% annual increase despite their birth date amounts to $18 million to $30 million annually and up to $823 million in full by 2055 when the fund is slated to reach a 90% funded ratio.

Pending legislation to do the same for the police fund carries a steeper price tag of up to $90 million annually and $2.6 billion through 2055.

Author(s): Yvette Shields

Publication Date: 6 April 2021

Publication Site: Fidelity Fixed Income

Aldermen Vow to Keep Pressure on Banks that Hold the City’s Cash to Lend Equitably

Link: https://news.wttw.com/2021/03/22/aldermen-vow-keep-pressure-banks-hold-city-s-cash-lend-equitably#new_tab

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Aldermen endorsed a measure Monday that would allow the city to expand the number of banks authorized to hold its cash — even as city officials vowed to keep pressuring financial institutions to do a better job lending to Black and Latino Chicagoans.

Led by Ald. Harry Osterman (48th Ward), the chair of the City Council’s Housing Committee, and Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, city officials plan to form a task force and a working group to draft new requirements for banks to meet if they want to keep the city’s lucrative business.

Author(s): Heather Cherone

Publication Date: 22 March 2021

Publication Site: WTTW News

Blocked shots? City limiting its share of United Center vaccinations to five ZIP codes hit hard by COVID-19

Link: https://chicago.suntimes.com/coronavirus/2021/3/10/22323505/illinois-coronavirus-united-center-vaccinations-cases-deaths-pritzker-covid-19-mar-10

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In a bid to vaccinate more people of color in neighborhoods hit hard by COVID-19, city officials Wednesday limited registration for United Center appointments to Chicagoans in a handful of South and Southwest Side neighborhoods.

Anyone who lives in the 60608, 60619, 60620, 60649 or 60652 ZIP codes can sign up for an appointment at events.juvare.com/chicago/UCPOD/ with the code “CCVICHICAGO,” or by reaching the multilingual call center at (312) 746-4835.

Chicago residents from outside those ZIP codes who try to sign up will have their appointments canceled, according to a city flyer circulated by several community groups.

Chicago will be allotted 60% of the vaccines administered at the United Center for its residents, while Cook County and the state determine rules for other residents. That’s the latest change in a signup process that has caused confusion from the start.

Author(s): Mitchell Armentrout, Brett Chase

Publication Date: 10 March 2021

Publication Site: Chicago Sun-Times

Cracks develop as top Chicago union leader testifies about convention industry: “We can’t exist” with the governor’s “Phase 4 limbo”

Link: https://capitolfax.com/2021/03/04/cracks-develop-as-top-chicago-union-leader-testifies-about-convention-industry-we-cant-exist-with-the-governors-phase-4-limbo/

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* The Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association live-tweeted testimony today by Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter to the Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee about the city’s convention business

@BobReiterJr from @chicagolabor during IL Senate Tourism Cmte. hearing: Decisions made now will impact the #travel industry for this summer and beyond. Without a roadmap, current regulations are causing events to be canceled as far out as 2022.

@BobReiterJr: Other states like Nevada & New York are moving ahead w/ changes to allow for events to reopen. We have been working w/ health experts on protocols and believe events should resume w/ 50% occupancy cap and no maximum as long as precautions are implemented.

A balancing act needs to be had that protects people’s health but also need to look at what needs to be done to get people back to work. 25-30,000 union hospitality & convention workers are out of work & are making the decisions b/w paying for healthcare, mortgage or buying food

Author(s): Rich Miller

Publication Date: 4 March 2021

Publication Site: Capitol Fax

Banks Snub Chicago Aldermen On Equitable Mortgage Lending

Link: https://www.wbez.org/stories/banks-snub-chicago-aldermen-on-equitable-mortgage-lending/f470444a-42e1-478c-997e-db8dfe52229f

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Home ownership rates in Chicago’s Black and Latino communities have been falling, according to information presented by Anthony Simpkins, president and CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago.

Citing research by the DePaul Institute for Housing, Simpkins said not only are banks lending less in Black and Latino neighborhoods, they are also filing more foreclosures.

And he said borrowers of color who are able to get a loan are often charged a higher interest rate; in 2019 he said Woodstock Institute found nearly 35% of African American mortgage borrowers in Chicago paid higher rates, 17% of Latino borrowers.

Author(s): Linda Lutton

Publication Date: 27 February 2021

Publication Site: WBEZ

‘Just not equal at all’: Vaccine rollout in Chicago a microcosm of racial disparities nationwide

Link: https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/health/2021/02/12/data-analysis-chicago-vaccine-rollout-reflects-us-racial-disparities/4418978001/#new_tab

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It’s possible some majority-white ZIP codes have higher rates of vaccination in part because they have higher concentrations of people in groups prioritized for the first round of vaccines.

Experts said the findings reflect festering systemic problems, including poor health care access and distrust of vaccines, colliding amid a chaotic rollout that failed to ensure equal access to communities of color.

Author(s): Nada Hassanein, Grace Hauck, Jayme Fraser, Aleszu Bajak, USA TODAY

Publication Date: 15 February 2021

Publication Site: USA Today

If Pritzker and Welch really want voters’ trust, they’ll do this

Link: https://www.chicagobusiness.com/joe-cahill-business/if-pritzker-and-welch-really-want-voters-trust-theyll-do

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If Pritzker and Welch are serious about winning trust, they’ll allow Illinoisans to vote on a standalone constitutional amendment repealing the so-called “pension protection clause.” To build public support and treat retirees fairly, such an amendment could be narrowly drawn to permit only reductions in future pension increases under the COLA mechanism.

Sure, public employee unions are likely to fight any change in pensions. But it’s worth trying to win their support. It can be done; Arizona unions backed a narrow amendment to a pension protection clause in that state’s constitution. If unions won’t cooperate, Pritzker and Welch should forge ahead anyway, as Rhode Island officials—led by Democrat Gina Raimondo—did in tackling a similar pension crisis.

Only after passing such an amendment and reducing the overall pension obligation can state officials justifiably ask taxpayers for money to close the remaining gap. Would a graduated income tax be the right way to raise the necessary revenue? Maybe. I’m not opposed to it on principle. The vast majority of states with an income tax charge higher rates on higher incomes. And the necessity of a constitutional amendment would give voters the final say.

Author(s): Joe Cahill

Publication Date: 25 February 2021

Publication Site: Crain’s Chicago Business

Lightfoot sends letter to Pritzker urging him to veto firefighters pension bill

Link: https://www.radio.com/us99/news/local/lightfoot-urges-pritzker-to-veto-firefighters-pension-bill#new_tab

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is urging Governor JB Pritzker to veto a bill boosting pensions for thousands of Chicago firefighters.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, passed in the waning hours of the lame duck session and awaits Pritzker’s signature or veto.

Mayor Lightfoot said the pension legislation will lead to perpetual property tax increases.

Author(s): Mike Krauser

Publication Date: 19 February 2021

Publication Site: WBBM Chicago

Officials Pledged to Address Rising Black Suicides in Chicago. Six Months On, There’s Still No Plan.

Link: https://www.thetrace.org/2021/02/chicago-black-suicide-data-cook-county-mental-health/#new_tab

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In July, a city official told The Trace andthe Sun-Times that the city would be releasing additional funds to address mental health, including several million for the expansion of existing mental health services and $1 million for suicide prevention. The official also said the city would seek proposals for a suicide-prevention plan in late 2020 or early 2021. 

In October, the city announced that more than 30 community-based mental health organizations would receive $8 million in annual grants to expand existing services. However, the grants do not fund suicide prevention specifically. Asked about the status of the city’s suicide-prevention efforts, a spokesperson with the Chicago Department of Public Health declined an interview request and said the agency was “finalizing our planning in regards to what we will be funding.” 

Author(s): Lakeidra Chavis

Publication Date: 19 February 2021

Publication Site: The Trace

Lightfoot urges Pritzker to veto firefighters pension bill

Link: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/2/18/22290071/chicago-firefighters-pension-bill-unfunded-liabilities-martwick-lightfoot-governor-pritzker-veto

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A bill that awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature would boost pensions for about 2,200 active and retired firefighters, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants the governor to veto it. Sun-Times file photo

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto a bill boosting pensions for thousands of Chicago firefighters, arguing it would saddle beleaguered taxpayers with perpetual property tax increases and cripple a pension fund dangerously close to insolvency.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, a Lightfoot political nemesis, passed in the waning hours of the lame duck session and awaits Pritzker’s signature or veto.

It removes the “birth date restriction” that prohibits roughly 2,200 active and retired firefighters born after Jan. 1, 1966 from receiving a 3% annual cost of living increase. Instead, they get half that amount, 1.5% — and it is not compounded.

Author(s): Fran Spielman

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: Chicago Sun-Times

When it comes to pensions, we have crises of leadership on more than one front

Link: https://www.chicagobusiness.com/greg-hinz-politics/when-it-comes-pensions-we-have-crises-leadership-more-one-front

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I’m not saying solving Illinois’ pension mess will be easy. It won’t. But dead silence surely won’t solve it. Voters hired Pritzker to fix problems. On this huge problem, he’s been a sad failure.

Which leads to pension story No. 2: That’s the utter turmoil that seems to have overtaken one of the larger public retirement systems in the state, the $11 billion Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, which receives a nice chunk of Chicago homeowners’ property tax payments every six months.

When I last looked at the fund in October, its executive director and other key officials had just resigned, one commissioner had been censured by other board members, and board President Jeffery Blackwell was publicly complaining of an agency “culture of intimidation, intentional misinformation, discrimination, slander, misogyny, fear-mongering, blatant racism, sexism and retaliatory actions.” But interim Executive Director Mary Cavallaro said in a statement there was no reason to worry, and that “the fund is committed to ensuring financial stability, operational efficiencies and seamless service to members.”

Well, guess who now has resigned—with a blast? That would be Cavallaro. “I can no longer tolerate the chaos and toxicity of the boardroom, along with the vile disrespect and insults directed toward me, the leadership team and the hard-working staff of the fund by certain misinformed trustees,” she said in a letter to the board. “I have grave concerns about the ability of fund operations to sustain the continued loss of key staff members because of bad trustee behavior and poor board governance.”

Author(s): Greg Hinz

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: Crain’s Chicago Business