Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reform and Renewal Strikes Again - UPDATED

From the "Bobbi Steele's Got Nothing on Me" Department comes news that former Sen. Ronen is the latest to take a ride on the taxpayer-funded Pension Gravy Train Express.

Former state Sen. Carol Ronen's brief gig in Gov. Blagojevich's office has proven as lucrative as a win in the Illinois Lottery.

Ronen worked just eight weeks for the governor earlier this year, but that job will provide her with a windfall of at least $37,995 every year for the rest of her life.

Ronen's stint as a Blagojevich senior adviser is enabling the governor's onetime Senate floor leader to reel in a $102,000-a-year state pension. Ronen, 63, will earn 35 percent more in retirement than she did as a $75,301-a-year legislator representing part of Chicago's North Side lakefront.

Had Blagojevich not hired Ronen and she retired from the Senate at this time, her pension would be $64,005 annually.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that her shameless efforts to shill for the Governor as a political attack dog seem to be the only thing that anybody can point to that she did during her two-month stint as a 'senior adviser'. Par for the course I guess.

But there should at least be some kind of rule among pension hustlers that if you're going to pull a move like this, that you have the decency not to try to defend it. Carol must not have gotten that memo:

Ronen defended the money she will earn in retirement...

"My entire career has been devoted to public service, part of the time in the Legislature and part of the time in the executive branches of state and city governments," Ronen said. "My pension is based on all those years of service. It's not a scam."

Um, it may not be illegal, but it sure as heck is a scam. She's going to make more in retirement than she ever did while working. That doesn't fly in the private sector and it stinks in the public sector. I'm glad that at least that loophole was closed several years ago.

But unfortunately, the last laugh is once again on the taxpayers as Carol will be laughing her way to the bank. Year after year after year.

UPDATE - And from the "Timing is Everything" Department, we get another eye-opening look at just how bad Illinois' pension problems are.
In the time it takes you to read this sentence, Illinois taxpayers will be $200 deeper in debt.

The state’s pension debt will exceed $44 billion this summer, increasing at a rate of about $120 per second, according to Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration.

The debt already tops $42 billion — enough to give every one of Illinois’ 12.8 million residents a check for $3,300 or buy 937,000 Cadillacs at $45,000 a pop.

The combination of debt in terms of both money and percentage gives Illinois the infamous distinction of having the nation’s worst pension problem, according to an Associated Press review of records and interviews with experts. And there’s no solution in sight.
You have to give the Administration credit, it takes a lot of testicular virility to dole out golden parachutes to loyalists and then talk about the need for pension reform.


At May 25, 2008 at 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After the embarrassing performance that she put on during Chicago Tonight, Ronen deserves the bad press.

What she doesn't deserve is a trunkload of cash for being Blago's lackey.

At May 25, 2008 at 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are a teacher or school secretary or other employee, Illinois will not allow you to take any social security that you may have earned over your life and severly restrict the amount from your spouse. The reason-They do not want any double dipping. What a bunch of double dealing hypocrites.

At May 25, 2008 at 9:37 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At May 26, 2008 at 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's really strange is that the older Rod and Carol get, the more they look alike. Must be something in the Kool-Aid.

At May 26, 2008 at 1:40 PM, Anonymous Jon Bauman said...

To the 3:17 poster: Let's be clear about the Social Security restriction. First of all, "Illinois" is not involved at all-the regulations, known as "Government Pension Offset and Windfall Elimination Provision" are Federal law. Secondly, not all government employees are affected by these rules; only those who did not pay into SS during their working career. In Illinois, that includes teachers, University/community college employees, and police officers/firefighters. These laws were passed in the mid-1980s after some enterprising Texas (go figure)bureaucrats found a way to get SS by working 1 day. The rules have led to many unintended consequences and repeated efforts to repeal or alter them have been made in Congress. The SSA is firmly opposed, as they don't want to further increase their deficit. For further information, visit and clink on the "Legislation" and "Federal Legislation" links.

At May 26, 2008 at 1:41 PM, Anonymous He Gone said...

Agreed. Like long lost brothers.

At May 26, 2008 at 6:57 PM, Anonymous Aesop said...

The moral of this story - Don't antagonize Fritchey and Franks (especially in a futile defense of the Governor).

At May 28, 2008 at 2:23 PM, Anonymous lake county democrat said...

It takes a lot of testicular verility for state Dems to have abandoned Glen Poshard or Dawn Clark Netsch when they ran for governor and not be treated like dirt. It takes a lot of testicular verility to claim you respect civil rights and have anything to do with Mike Madigan (you still owe us a promissed post on Madigan!). It takes a lot of testicular verility to endorse Barrack Obama and claim you are a reformer (check out his jokes about Daley corruption and John Kass, then move to his plan to interfere with the Justice Department monitoring the Teamsters). Does that leave anyone in Springfield out?

As the late Curtis Mayfield sang, "If there's Hell below, we're all going to go."

At May 28, 2008 at 3:10 PM, Blogger Rep. John Fritchey said...


For whatever it's worth, I supported Poshard and have zero regrets about having done so. And my ability to work with the Speaker has allowed me to advance a lot of laudable legislation, most recently, the pay-to=play bill which I intend to call tomorrow for a vote. And I likewise am steadfast in my support for Sen. Obama.

Judge me on those issues as you well, but I am comfortable with my stands on all of those fronts.

At May 29, 2008 at 10:57 AM, Anonymous lake county democrat said...


I'm sorry, I should have made crystal clear that my comments were directed at Democrats in general, not you specifically.

Poshard/Netsch ticked me off because there was no excuse for Dems to abandon either of these candidates after asking us to "Punch 10" for years. Poshard was particularly demonized (Ronen included), basically on a single issue (abortion) (and if anyone is reading and doesn't know, John wasn't in office for Netsch's race).

The rest I think just demonstrates the maxim "let he (or she) who is without sin cast the first stone." Or maybe it's Machiaveli's "ends justify the means." I can say I'll hold my nose and vote for some of these people as the lesser of two evils because the so much is at steak, but thankfully I get to hang onto enough of my soul to call evil evil. To take one example, whether it's Karl Rove or Barrack Obama, interfering with the Justice Department's criminal oversight for political reasons is evil. Are Blagos moves really that much worse? Are they any worse? In my opinion they aren't and it's wrong to continually bash one and not the others.


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