Saturday, November 16, 2013

11-16-13 Fred Klonsky | Running for our pensions. | VOTE 4 Fred Klonsky.

Fred Klonsky | Daily posts from a retired public school teacher who is just looking at the data.

Fred Klonsky | Running for our pensions. | VOTE 4 Fred Klonsky.

I spent this morning at Chicago’s neighborhood school fair.
  Roberto Clemente’s steel drum band opened today’s Neighborhood School Fair.   Sixty neighborhood schools and hundreds of parents turned out. I live in a city that is shutting down neighborhood schools, requiring neighborhood parents to travel miles to get fingerprinted before they can volunteer at their child’s school and where in opposition to the community’s wishes Rahm is spending millions

Fred, FYI–Just wanted to let you know that even though I won’t be Medicare age for a few more years I attended the afternoon CMS meeting in Peoria earlier this week with some friends. Unlike other venues, there was plenty of parking and the accommodations were more than adequate. There were plenty of little freebies as well. I must say that I thought the presentation was pretty straight forward a

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Keeping retirement weird.
  The Silence of the Lambs. I got a call from my retired friend Ed Rosenthal yesterday. His voice sounded tired. He told me that he’s been on the road. Ed lives in the western ‘burbs. He drove down to Springfield to attend the IEA Retired Council meeting. He left a bit early to drive the hour and a half to Champaign where there is a CMS meeting on the new TRAIL Medicare Advantage program. When he got there there was no parking left and they weren’t letting anybody into the already-filled room. This was for the second meeting scheduled yesterday in Champaign yesterday. The same thing happened
Bob and Pat on the TRAIL.
Dear Robert, Fred,  I just wanted to report in on my experiences with TRAIL options and information for those of us affected in DuPage county.  We have two choices, UnitedHealthCare Group Medicare Advantage PPO and the second is the TRAIL Humana Health Plan HMO. For decades many of us have had BC/BS HMO Illinois beginning when we were working and then through TRIP in retirement.  Apparently that will be gone.  Experience of my colleagues in that plan has been good even when the health problems were dire.  Many of us went from it being Glen Ellyn Clinic decades ago to DuPage Medical Group and


Council wars?
. You may be too young to remember. There was a time when there were Democratic Party and Republican Party primaries in Chicago. Then it occurred to someone that this was an incredible waste of money since there was only one party. And Chicago did away with party primaries. You may also be to young to remember Council Wars. In 1983 the great Harold Washington won election to the fifth floor of Ci

NOV 14

You can run, but not hide. Madigan schedules pension vote the day after election filing deadline.
In what one commentator sarcastically called a profile in courage, Democratic Party Speaker has let it be known that the General Assembly will be called back into session shortly after the 2nd of December. December 2nd is the deadline for filing petitions to run for the House and Senate in the 2014 election. By waiting until after the filing deadline, the suspicion is that the leaders are offerin
Skokie swift.
As part of the retiree lifestyle change Anne and I are down to one car. We traded in her ten-year old Accord and my six-year convertible Mini Cooper for a 2013 Honda CRV. Ulysses loves riding in the back. I shed a tear when they drove my Mini away. One car for two active people means the shared calendar on our smart phones must be up to date. Every new entry must note if a car is needed. In the wa
Our pensions with no apologies. Pony up.
Pony Up: A Contribution & Letter by Joni Lindgren to Gary Elmen & IRTA. From John Dillon’s blog. Pony Up: (Verb) The pony in question, a slang term for a twenty-five pound note in Britain, is certainly an idiom describing the making of a monetary payment. Other origins include allusions to English Quarter Day, which was March 25th and the day all debts were to be settled and paid. While t

NOV 13

Checkers. Charters.
I was pleased Bill de Blasio won the election for Mayor of New York. I don’t know how it will turn out now that the difficult stuff has started. But the wing nuts at the Fordham Institute have already decided. Remember when MIchael Petrilli, the boss at Fordham, damned Diane Ravitch as a double agent?  The skeptical, hard-nosed (if biased and data-slanting) Ravitch of the first half of her book t
Squeezy couldn’t have found a better mate if had gone to Illinois’ working families need another choice.
  Squeezy’s pick of Paul Vallas as his running mate was shocking to many. Not because the policies and practices of the former head of Chicago’s public schools are that different from those of Squeezy. In fact, one good look at Squeezy’s anti-unionism over the past five years reveals that he couldn’t have found a better mate if had gone to SEIU can’t be happy with the betrayal of a
The in box. Todd Mertz’ veto session round-up, including how your state rep and senator voted on the Park District pension bill.
By Todd Mertz The good news is that no pension reform bill was pushed through the General Assembly during either veto session for state employees and teachers. However, legislators were told to keep the week of December 5th open, as they may return to Springfield to vote on pension “reform” for teachers and state employees. The bad news is that there was a pension reform bill that quickly and quie

NOV 12

  1.4 million page views. 10,000 comments. Best single day: 10,216 6,745 posts. 1,200 daily subscribers. Daily average the past seven days: 2,900  
The in box. Progressive Reform Caucus to Call Votes on TIF Surplus Ordinance, Elected School Board Resolution.
CHICAGO (November 12, 2013)–The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus on Wednesday will invoke Rule 41  to allow an open debate and vote on the floor of the City Council for  two education-related ordinances that have been stalled in the Committee on Committees, Rules and Ethics for months. Under consideration is an ordinance, introduced by Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Ald. Bob Fioretti
George Schmidt. “What counts on election day is who we walk the precincts for.”
George Schmidt publishes Substance News. I’m really loving these updates on Pat Quinn’s political suicide. Quinn’s slap in the face to the Chicago Teachers Union will prove as big a mistake as any of the others. On October 25, Quinn was at our LEAD (Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner) where 2,000 CTU members and friends cheered him (although some actually booed even then). Obviously by that
The in box. “Let’s get out of our denial.”
Drawing from my blog, June 13, 2013. Fred, We already know for sure Quinn/Vallas aren’t going to be good for public education, current teachers, retired teachers, ALL unions, and regular working families in Illinois. And we know for sure that Republicans won’t offer anyone better and probably worse than Quinn/Vallas. So why don’t all the unions–including SEIU, IFT, IEA, AFSCME and all others get
Vallas is not Squeezy’s only union problem.
The Paul Vallas choice for lieutenant governor isn not Squeezy’s only union problem. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) ponied up $2.5 million the last time Squeezy ran for governor. Remember he only won by around 30,000 votes. SEIU represents the six thousand Chicago Park District employees that are covered by SB 1523. Sun-Times: Under the plan carried by House Speaker Michael Madi
Bev Johns from the CMS meeting in Springfield.
Teacher and Special Education advocate Bev Johns is attending the CMS meeting in Springfield today. She is sending me frequent reports from the meeting which I will repost during the day. Check back during the day for her latest comments. 9:02 AM: We arrived. Hard to find. Most people parked illegally in a lot that has a tow away sign. Janice Bonneville from CMS is here. Crowded already and it is
Life in Rahm’s Chicago. Who do you Trust?
In 2012 Rahm and Bill Clinton announced the creation of the Infrastructure Trust. They claimed it was a way to address the city’s decaying infrastructure using private sector money. Today the Infrastructure Trust will announce it’s first project: A $27 million plan to retrofit City Hall and some other public buildings and make them more energy efficient. Who could be against energy efficiency? Un
Yolanda relief.
The videos are almost too painful to watch. I cannot imagine what is must be like to have family there and not know if they are dead or alive. If you can, make a donation to the typhoon Yolanda relief. I prefer to donate to smaller, on-the-ground organizations. But do what you can to which ever relief group you prefer.

NOV 11

John Dillon’s to-do list.
John Dillon is a friend and pension blogger. His blog can be found here. Snow is falling outside the window; most of the leaves have fallen or been blown into the neighbor’s yard.  They rake mine, and I rake the family’s on the other side of my home. Traditions. Thanksgiving comes late this year, and Christmas will follow quickly after.  Legislators in Springfield are spreading speculations of a
The in box. “”Characterizations that affected unions negotiated and agreed to Senate Bill 1523 are inaccurate.”
We Are One: “Characterizations that affected unions negotiated and agreed to Senate Bill 1523 are inaccurate. The bill was not the final product of any negotiations. Furthermore, SEIU Local 73, a coalition member which represents 80% of the affected employees and retirees, opposes the bill, as does our coalition. “SB 1523 unfairly slashes constitutionally-protected pension benefits and harms the r
Tony at the Red Line Tap.
  “Who are you? Where’s Marty?” “I’m Sean. Marty quit.” “Quit? How come.” “She got hired to host a show on public access channel in some town in Iowa. It is going to be like Check Please! Different people reviewing restaurants.” “In a small town in Iowa? How many restaurants can there be?” “I told her that. But she said that it’s a local public access show. Nobody watches anyway. They may just do
Park District union opposes pension cutting bill.
There has been confusion as to whether SEIU local 73 which represents Chicago Park District employees agreed to Bill 1523. They did not, calling it “a devastating pension reform bill.” There is concern that the Madigan bill will be used as a template for cutting state employee pensions. Here is the SEIU local 73 statement: On November 6, the Illinois legislature passed Senate Bill 1523, a devastat
The in box. Benefits with strings attached.
Patrick Yeagle, The Illinois Times A new package of health benefits for state retirees comes with a string attached: an audit to make sure every dependent on the new plans is eligible for coverage. But some retirees say the audit is skewed to kick people off of the rolls. Historically, state retirees have paid deductibles and other costs for their state-provided health insurance, but they haven’t
Dad was a veteran of two wars.
Robert Klonsky. Between his two wars. Dad was a veteran of two wars. In 1936 at the age of 17 he fought at Jarama. The Spanish Civil War. And six years later he fought in the Pacific. The Second World War. “Your dad fought in the Spanish-American War?” The Spanish Civil War. “With Teddy Roosevelt?” With Steve Nelson. Irv Goff.  Against Franco. “Franco?” General Francisco Franco. A pal of Hitler a

NOV 10

The in box. Donate to the IRTA Legal Defense Fund.
Fred Of course, as soon as ANY bill that diminishes our current benefits passes and is signed into law the IRTA Legal Defense Fund will be hiring lawyers to challenge its Constitutionality. That fund is currently around $140,000. It will take around $300,000 for a complete Constitutional challenge. Donate below (from the IRTA website) - Paul Mikulcik Greetings from the Illinois Retired Teachers As
The Chicago Park District pension bill. A test case.
This is a day for corrections and clarifications. And not just because it is Sunday and fewer people read my posts on Sunday.  Earlier in the week I reported that although the General Assembly did not pass a pension bill affecting state employees, they did pass a bill that cut the COLAs of Chicago Park District employees. Some view it as a possible template for future action that the GA will take
A pension bill by December 5th. Corrections and updates.
A few days ago I posted about the prospect of The Gang of Ten having a COLA busting bill ready for a special General Assembly session on December 5th. I said I was skeptical. But I have since been corrected on several factual points. I thought the bill would need a super majority to pass. I have since been informed that since the bill that  would not go into effect until June 2014 it needs only a
The in box. George Schmidt. “Once the Vallas news came out by noon on Friday, the negative reaction from the CTU delegates and rank-and-file was unanimous.”
George Schmidt publishes Substance News. Fred, Pat Quinn was in danger of having the CTU sit out the last election, but Karen Lewis realized that the alternative then to Quinn was Brady — and we would have been near to being a Wisconsin. So in early October, after a previous “no endorsement”, the CTU House of Delegates voted to endorse Quinn. Karen led that change, and I helped her with it The la
Sunday reads.
See the new documentary, The Trials of Muhammad Ali. Why Paul Vallas’ brother supported Tea Party Bill Brady for Illinois Governor. Diane Ravitch updates her health status. David Sirotia: Teachers aren’t the problem. It’s the economy, stupid. Racing to the Top with one leg in a bear trap. The Progressive Fox on the Vallas disastrous choice. The Chicago Teachers Union has supported Governor Quinn

NOV 09

Why am I not surprised? The Tribune’s Eric Zorn is happy with the “balding white guy.”
  In case you are one of the millions who don’t read the Chicago Tribune, Eric Zorn is their star columnist. A few years back he got into a sparring match with my blogger pal Glen Brown over pensions. It was like Jerry Quarry in the ring with Muhammad Ali. When Glen mentioned the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution, Zorn admitted he didn’t know anything about all that. Boom! Do
Will the Zombie Lovers, Quinn and Vallas, run based on Illinois spending the least on education of any state?
I told the lady that Illinois spends less on public schools than any other state in the United States. “Impossible.” “It’s true.” “Less than Mississippi,” she asked? “Less than Mississippi,” I answered. “How will cutting pension fix that?” “It won’t,” I said. “It’s not a pension problem. It’s a revenue problem.” The movement to switch Illinois from a flat tax to a more graduated “fair” tax is ga
Illinois lawmakers penciling in December 5th for pension session.
The story is that members of the General Assembly are being asked to pencil in December 5th for a special session to deal with any pension proposal coming from the Gang of Ten. Excuse me if I am skeptical. I’m pretty sure a December 5th vote would still require a super majority to pass anything. The new regular session is in January. Some lawmakers say they aren’t pushing for a December special se
Saturday coffee.
  Jim Fennerty of the National Lawyers Guild.  Illinois teachers are still shaking their heads over Squeezy’s choice of Paul Vallas as his running mate. One teacher friend wrote saying it was enough to make her pull a Republican ballot in the primary to vote against Rauner. She was convinced a Quinn/Vallas combo could not win in November against Rauner and is terrified that Rauner would win. This

NOV 08

The in box. Medicare Advantage retiree meeting in Buffalo Grove.
Fred, Senator Julie Morrison called late this afternoon to announce that a timely meeting for the purpose of presenting information about the State of Illinois Medicare Advantage Plans has been scheduled in our area.  Both Central Management Services (CMS) and United Healthcare will participate. The meeting is a week from tomorrow in Buffalo Grove (please see below).  Please help to get the word
Ten minute drawing. Zombie Love.
Paul Vallas. We don’t want nobody sent.
  Illinois’ Bizarro World politics. “We don’t want nobody nobody sent,” is the old Chicago Democratic Machine response to newcomers who are trying to get their foot in the door for a job or political office. It means, “Get lost.” Paul Vallas is no newcomer to Illinois. Before Arne Duncan there was Paul Vallas. But we don’t want nobody sent. I thought the speculation that Squeezy would pick Linda
I’m wrong. Quinn goes with Vallas as his running mate.
  Paul Vallas as Squeezy’s running mate. My prediction earlier today that Quinn would pick Representative Linda Chapa LaVia was wrong, continuing my poor record of political prognostication. Rich Miller at CapitalFax says it is Paul Vallas. Vallas faced a problematic job future in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he is superintendent of schools. The Connecticut courts are considering whether he is q
Chapa LaVia as Quinn’s running mate. An open House seat in Aurora.
Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice is active in Chapa LaVia’s Aurora House district. What state political race could I not possibly care less about? The office of Lieutenant Governor. It is an office that only becomes important once the Governor of Illinois goes to federal prison. Which, as we know, happens often. So maybe I should care who is running. The current Governor Squeezy was Rod Blagoj
A pro-pension state rep in Aurora? Will Chapa LaVia’s House seat may open up.
Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice is active in Chapa LaVia’s Aurora House district. What state political race could I not possibly care less about? The office of Lieutenant Governor. It is an office that only becomes important once the Governor of Illinois goes to federal prison. Which, as we know, happens often. So maybe I should care who is running. The current Governor Squeezy was Rod Blagoj
Who is Bruce Rauner?
Ever since I posted about Bruce Rauner, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor of Illinois, I have been getting emails from Jon Zahm and links to his an anti-Rauner conservative web site. Zahm is convinced that Rauner is a RINO – a Republican in name only. And who can blame him? However, the actual problem is that Illinois Democrats and Republicans are hard to tell apart. Sure.