Sunday, August 01, 2010

Park District Pension Blow Out

Park District Board MEETING--August 19, 2010, Workshop/Board Meeting will be held at the Highland Park Community House, 1991 Sheridan Road, Highland Park. The Workshop Meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. as scheduled. The Board Meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.An Open Letter to the Highland Park Community-Read Here

I was stunned and outraged to read the original Tribune article or Aug 2 followup article that described the wasteful spending of our money by our Park District Commissioners. Lorry Werhane should very much regret the increased liability of about $56,000/year (based on $166,000 Vs. $110,000 pension if done properly) of increased benefits that the citizens of Highland Park and the State of Illinois must pay per year.

Salaries for Executive Director of $435,203 his last year and the current salary of $218,372 for Ken Swan is way over the bar. Wow.... full transparency and discussion forums of this travesty needs to be implemented now. Not only should the government look for ways to recover these wrongly sanctioned payments, but we should examine all our employment contracts and benefits to be sure things are now done properly.

We will be passing a Pension Reform Resolution at our next City Council meeting to insist our legislatures reform pension law to create a sustainable pension program and STOP abuses like the Park District imposed on our backs. Karen May who is on the pension subcommittee, is our best hope to champion these efforts and create change. Drastic changes from the current benefit defined plans to contribution defined plans must be implemented for real change to occur. We must not lay any additional current employee liability on future wage earners.

The Park District issue is the tip of the iceberg and we must change government NOW....... Please speak out!

Seniors, Disabilities, Economic ability, and the GARBAGE

I have been trashed by a few of my Senior Citizens in town for not demanding in negotiations a special subsidized provision in the new garbage contract for Seniors. First of all, just being a senior does not invoke immediate subsidy on a economic level from government. People in need, no matter what there age, are the ones we must try to help. There are two reasons of hardship where we must reach out to help folks, low income and disability. While these issues might be realities for some seniors, it is not the majority. Many seniors have sufficient cash flow and pretty good physical and mental abilities. I look at my 84 year old mom and thank G_D she can still drive and live a good life on her Social Security. You don't have to be a rich senior to be able to pay the $7.50 - 25.00 costs of garbage pick up. To be able to pay under 15/mo. for garbage pick up is a real bargain. Just ask your friends in other towns. If you are disabled, can't take your garbage to the street, and cant afford the $22.35-$25.00 costs/mo. for back door service we need to come up with an alternative to help.

As someone who initiated the low income rebates for utilities for our residents, I am very sensitive to the costs of living in Highland Park. I have also been leading the way for years on reducing the costs of government for all and any escalations in non-discretionary taxation and fees (property taxes, and basic services).

While I think we have the best residential waste hauling contract we could have negotiated, we must still workout issues with those that have problems bringing their garbage to the street and can't afford the increase for backdoor service.

August 2010 Round Up

Cell phone usage while driving will be put on agenda at an upcoming City Council meeting to either limit use to hands free like Chicago and Evanston or totally ban cell phone usage while driving. I have made a pledge to not use a cell phone in my car while driving. We must lead by example and increase safety on our streets for ourselves and our community.

We Okayed waivers on street use promoting the Lincoln School Annual Fall Frolic on Aug. 26th and the Ravinia Nursery School's Annual Family Fall Festival on Oct 3rd.

Council voted 5-2 to okay City Managers Limardi's recommendation to replace Fred Allen's management of the Highland Park Theater with Kemper Sports, the management team that runs the Highland Park Country Club. Nancy Rotering and I voted against this contract ratification.

Awarded a $50,000 contract to seal the cracks on our streets this year. I again brought up the point that we should be doing a better job reaching out to neighboring communities to do more Joint bidding to reduce costs to our residents.