Dreyfuss Testimonial

Richard Dreyfus talks about what the loss of schools and teachers who bring knowledge of our history to our future voting citizens means for our nation.

 

LETTER: ‘Illinois math’ has led to chronic underfunding of teacher pensions

POST BY:  Chicago Tribune
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MUST BE A CHARTER!

“As required, Teachers’ Retirement System used Illinois math to calculate the state’s contribution for fiscal year 2018 and came up with $4.56B. Using actuarial math, TRS also calculated that the state’s “full funding” contribution should be $6.88B.

This legal sleight-of-hand has been going on for 78 years — and counting. The deliberate and chronic underfunding of TRS since 1939 is the major reason the system carries an unfunded liability of $71B — one of the largest debts of its kind in the country.

Consistent underfunding is the reason that 80% of this year’s $4.5B contribution to TRS, or $3.7B, constitutes a payment on the unfunded liability. That eclipses the actual cost of teacher pensions for the year: $923M.”

— Dick Ingram, executive director, Teachers’ Retirement System

River Forest District 90 will pay 100 percent of teacher pension contributions – were teachers duped?

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Although the agreement described below mIght sound like a welcome relief to teachers, Gov. Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda pushed a local property tax freeze (pg. 9) and municipal bankruptcy (pg. 12) that may allow local municipalities to declare bancruptcy.

The State Senate passed a 2-year property tax freeze under Senate bills SB482 and SB484.

OPINION: How Gov. Bruce Rauner’s property-tax freeze will hurt your kids

Currently, teachers’ pensions are protected at the State level:

CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the circuit court declaring Public Act 98-599 to be unconstitutional and permanently enjoining its enforcement is affirmed.

The question is whether or not pensions funded locally will continue to be protected under state law if moved to the local level. Current legislation suggests they may not.

HB0298 will amend the Illinois Municipal Code.  In provisions concerning finance, it provides that a municipality may file a petition and exercise powers pursuant to applicable federal bankruptcy law. Effective immediately.

The last action taken on this bill took place 1/10/2017 in the House: Session Sine Die.

HB2575 was introduced in the House on 2/8/2017.

HB2575 creates the Illinois Local Government Protection Authority Act. Provides findings of the General Assembly and establishes the Authority with the purpose of achieving solutions to financial difficulties faced by units of local government. Defines terms and creates a board of trustees. Sets forth the Authority’s duties and powers, including the ability to obtain the unit of local government’s records and to recommend revenue increases. Provides for a petition process, whereby certain entities may petition the Authority to review a unit of local government. Sets forth participation requirements.

Section 35 – Powers

The Authority shall have the power to:

m) Consider and make recommendations to the General

Assembly legislation regarding an economic safety net whereby

the State shall provide a set of fallback post-employment

benefits for employees in the event that a public employer has

not resolved the underfunding of its pension plan and

thereafter is unable to pay its retirees. The program shall use

the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation* as its model.

Contractual benefits would have to meet affordability tests

prior to being approved for safety net funding. The outcomes of

the affordability tests may result in smaller benefit payments

than were initially promised to the employees by the defaulted

employer.

Section 40 – Petition and criteria

The Authority may exercise its authority over a unit of local government

under this Act if the Authority is petitioned and the Authority

accepts the participation of the unit of local government

identified in the petition. The Authority has absolute

discretion regarding acceptance or denial of any petition and

participation of a unit of local government. The Authority

shall create rules regarding the petition, procedure, format,

and required documentation.

a) The following parties may petition the Authority:

(1)  the Illinois Comptroller;

(2)  a unit of local government;

(3)  a Significant Past Due Creditor; or

(4)  a pension fund.

If the Illinois Comptroller, a Significant Past Due

Creditor, or a pension fund petitions the Authority, their

petition shall include documentation of the unit of local

government’s approval of the petition and participation.

* The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) takes over pension plans.  The termination of a defined-benefit plan is initiated by the employer, either by a standard termination or a distress termination.

Under a standard termination, the employer must demonstrate to the PBGC that there are sufficient assets under the plan to pay all benefits owed under the plan to participants.

A distress termination occurs when the plan is being terminated but there are not sufficient assets under the plan to pay benefits.

Generally, the PBGC steps in to take over the administration of a pension plan when either a distressed termination is initiated by the plan sponsor or the PBGC determines that a plan will be unable to meet its obligations and mandates a takeover.

Distress terminations generally occur in conjunction with bankruptcy, but in most cases, a PBGC mandated takeover is the method by which the entity becomes responsible for a plan.

________________________________________________________

Post By: Illinois Policy Institute

RE: Illinois Policy Institute
•  Meet the Little-Known Network Pushing Ideas for Kochs, ALEC
•  Illinois Policy Institute (IPI)
•  State Policy Network (SPN)
•  Conservative Transparency

In the midst of Illinois’ pension crisis, River Forest District 90 has agreed to pay 100 percent of teacher contributions to the Teachers’ Retirement System – and it did so secretly

In Illinois, negotiations between local governments and government workers are done in secret. That’s a problem for taxpayers.

It means residents can be saddled with expensive contract provisions and can’t react until the contract is a done deal. And by then, it’s too late.

The latest example: River Forest District 90. That school district just renewed an agreement to pay 100 percent of teachers’ pensions contributions – the share the teachers are supposed to pay – as an additional benefit.

By law, teachers are obligated to pay 9 percent of their salary into the retirement system. But half of Illinois’ school districts take on that obligation themselves. Instead of having teachers contribute to their own retirement, the school districts agree to pay it for them.

Of course, forcing taxpayers to pay 100 percent of the contribution – while teachers themselves contribute nothing toward their retirement – isn’t the only issue.

A big problem is the secrecy of District 90’s negotiations. Bargaining between the union and school district happened away from public scrutiny. And that means taxpayers couldn’t find out the details of the deal until it was too late.

What’s more, the contract was negotiated under the leadership of School Board President Ralph Martire – whose own organization, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, or CTBA, is heavily funded by government unions.

That means taxpayers in District 90 were essentially left without true representation in the negotiation process.

URGENT: Bakken Oil Train Action – Public Comment

Please Make Public Comment

Advance notice of proposed rulemaking: The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Proposed Rule: Hazardous Materials: Volatility of Unrefined Petroleum Products and Class 3 Materials

As many know, raising public awareness regarding the hazards of transporting crude oil by rail was one of my top priorities as 2016 Candidate for Lake County Board, District 18.  Although this issue is not related to my current campaign, it is still an issue for which I’m greatly concerned.  Trains carrying highly explosive and toxic Bakken crude oil travel through densely populated areas, including our schools, and threaten the lives of well over 25 million Americans.  Lake County Board Chair Aaron Lawlor, to date, has still not publicly addressed emergency preparedness in Lake County specific to this transport.

PHMSA, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, announced that it will be seeking comment on vapor pressure thresholds of crude oil, and will evaluate the potential safety benefits of utilizing a threshold in regulating the transport of crude oil and other dangerous materials.

The petition directly addresses the fact that despite recent derailments of trains carrying crude that have resulted in extraordinary explosions and uncontrollable fires, there is no federal limit on the vapor pressure of crude oil transported by rail. This means that we have an opportunity to push for DEGASIFICATION (Stabilization) of the Bakken Oil, which would lower the vapor pressure of the oil, and make it less flammable.

The comment period ends at 11:59p, (ET), May 19th, 2017.  Comments can be simple or detailed – all are beneficial.  You simply need to fill in your contact information, and then you may copy some of the talking points below and paste them into this link and send.

Talking Points:

At the present, explosive Bakken Oil trains jeopardize 25 million people across the country living within the Oil Train Blast Zone.  There are densely populated areas, including our schools, throughout Chicagoland and its collar counties that are within feet from highly flammable train routes.

Degasifying or stabilizing crude oil is a process where the explosive hydrocarbon gases, (Butane, Propane, Ethane and Methane), are removed from the oil and stored on site, then these gases can be sold to local markets, and the oil can be transported by rail or pipeline more safely. Degasification lowers the Vapor Pressure (PSI) of the crude oil.

North Dakota has mandated a Vapor PSI for Bakken oil of less than 13.7 lbs.  It is generally reported as measuring between 11 and 12 lbs.

•  Texas Eagle Ford frack oil has a Vapor PSI of 8 lbs.
•  West Texas oil comes in at 3-4 lbs. PSI
•  Gulf of Mexico oil is 3.33 lbs. PSI
•  Bakken crude oil transported on the train that destroyed Lac Megantic, Quebec was measured at 10 PSI.

Our National Vapor Standard should fall between 4-8 lbs., following the lead of Texas since they have the longest history of degasifying oil, and their oil trains have not been exploding into uncontrolled fires upon derailment.

“Stabilization / Degasification” could make Bakken crude safer to transport, (vapor pressure is lowered from 13.7 psi to 6-8 psi with a 74 F flashpoint).  Although there are no studies to support its effectiveness in rail transport safety, Texas has a long history of the use of mandated degasification/stabilization of crude oil for both rail transport and pipeline transport.  Therefore, we can defer to their experience in this field.

Texas is the second largest area in the US with shale formations that are being fractured using horizontal drilling technology. There have been (zero) explosive fires after train derailments of Texas frack oil (8 PSI), whereas there have been dozens of explosive fires after derailments of trains carrying ND frack oil (13 PSI). Saudi Arabia has also been routinely stabilizing their oil before transport, for decades. The technology necessary for degasification/stabilization is well known and available in ND.

The PHMSA notice of rule-making follows a petition last year from New York’s Attorney General to implement nationwide a Reid Vapor Pressure of less than 9 PSI for crude oil transport by rail.

Politics are in play in the US, steering the Federal Government towards allowing more pipelines and away from oil by rail (VIEW: Desmog Blog article, Why Is the Exxon-Funded Heartland Institute Now Calling Oil Trains “Dangerously Flammable”?) – but pipelines should not be carrying explosive crude either. Texas mandated the degasification of its oil primarily for pipeline safety.

Please implement nationwide a Reid Vapor Pressure of 4-8 PSI for crude oil transport by rail and pipeline, which complies with the NY AG request of less than 9 PSI. Chicagoland and its collar counties have a vested interest in trying to decrease the dangers of these Bakken Oil trains to our densely populated communities!

Articles and Resources:

FB Group: The Coalition for Bakken Crude Oil Stabilization

Federal agency looking at pressure limits on Bakken oil trains:

North Dakota man relentless in push for safer oil by rail shipping

Why can’t Bakken oil be made safer?

RON SCHALOW: Exploding Trains Aren’t Funny

Why Is the Exxon-Funded Heartland Institute Now Calling Oil Trains “Dangerously Flammable”?

A Day Without Immigrants

As an educator, I was deeply saddened on My Day Without Immigrants. Our President's policies have faces attached to them, and these faces were missing from my classroom.

As an educator, I was deeply saddened on My Day Without Immigrants. Our President’s policies have faces attached to them, and these faces were missing from my classroom.

 

 

LTE:  Chicago Tribune, February 20, 2017

I noticed many missing faces in my classes Thursday, Feb. 16. When I asked my students during first period where the rest of my class was, they told me, “Today is ‘A Day Without  Immigrants.'”

There has been heightened concern among my students and their families  as a result of our new President’s policies on immigration. One of my Muslim students told me how relieved she was that her mother arrived back from Morocco only days before President Trump signed an executive order to ban people from certain majority-Muslim countries from coming into the U.S. My Hispanic students have asked me for documentation from the school that includes their picture and personal information to prove residency and to show they are students attending a public high school.

A Day Without Immigrants was in protest of President Trump’s administration and highlighted the need to, “expand policies that stop criminalizing communities of color,” as stated by Erika Almiron, the director of a Philadelphia-based nonprofit.

As an educator, I was deeply saddened on My Day Without Immigrants.  Our President’s policies have faces attached to them, and these faces were missing from my classroom. My students are afraid and are calling out for help. We are living in “The Land of Plenty,” and we are “A Nation of Immigrants;” yet, we still have not learned to share. As a nation, we have taken a step backward.

Maryam Judar, Executive Director and Community Lawyer from CAC, advocates for school policies that protect our students.

Maryam Judar, Executive Director and Community Lawyer from CAC, advocates for school policies that protect our students.

Because my students and their families need information regarding their rights, I contacted Maryam Judar, Executive Director and Community Lawyer from Citizen Advocacy Center, regarding the deportation issue. Ms. Judar stresses the need for school policies that protect our students. Below is information she provided – please share.

 

 


 

Hi Gerri.

I am so sorry to hear that students are foregoing school because of the issue of deportation. A few things:

(A) I know there were rumors about immigration checkpoints on CTA, but the CTA quelled these by posting on their website what is really happening (random checks for explosives).

So it may be rumors that you could check for their veracity.

(B)  I think that there needs to be policies developed at schools to protect students:

Berkeley School District in California just passed a policy, and I have attached it here, and there is the page on their website where they talk about it.

 

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-11-31-52-amEnglish, Spanish, & Arabic

Key paragraph:

“It is the general policy of the District not to allow any individual or organization to enter a school site if the educational setting would be disrupted by that visit.  Because the Governing Board believes that ICE activities in and around schools, early education centers, and adult school facilities would constitute a severe disruption to the learning environment and educational setting for students, any request by ICE to any District personnel to visit a school site shall be immediately forwarded to the Superintendent for review and consultation with legal counsel, to ensure the safety of all students, as well as compliance with Plyler v. Doe and other applicable state and federal laws.”

 

I think that we need to get our school districts to adopt this kind of policy. I am cc’ing Terry Pastika here, one of our board members and former long-time Executive Director who has opened a sister organization in Berkeley, and she brought the new policy to my attention.

(C) As for immigrant students’ right to attend public schools, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plyler vs. Doe (457 U.S. 202 (1982)) that undocumented children and young adults have the same right to attend public primary and secondary schools as do U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Like other children, undocumented students are obliged under state law to attend school until they reach a mandated age. As a result of the Plyler ruling, public schools may not:

  • Deny admission to a student during initial enrollment or at any other time on the basis of undocumented status.
  • Treat a student differently to determine residency.
  • Engage in any practices to “chill” the right of access to school.
  • Require students or parents to disclose or document their immigration status.
  • Make inquiries of students or parents that may expose their undocumented status.
  • Require social security numbers from all students, as this may expose undocumented status.

Students without social security numbers should be assigned a number generated by the school. Adults without social security numbers who are applying for a free lunch and/or breakfast program on behalf of a student need only indicate on the application that they do not have a social security number.

Changes in the F-1 (Student) Visa Program do not alter the Plyler obligations to undocumented children. These changes apply only to students who apply for a student visa from outside the U.S.

Finally, school personnel — especially building principals and those involved with student intake activities — should be aware that they have no legal obligation to enforce U.S. immigration laws. (U.S. Supreme Court, 1982)

I’ve attached an English/Spanish flyer that discusses these issues, which I found from the Oregon State Dept. of Ed.

(D) The attached Dear Colleague letter from the DOJ and DOE that also outlines students’ rights.

Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Best regards,

Maryam Judar
Executive Director/Community Lawyer
Citizen Advocacy Center

182 N. York St.
Elmhurst, IL 60126
phone ~ (630) 833-4080
fax ~ (630) 833-4083

www.CitizenAdvocacyCenter.org
Follow CAC on Twitter @AdvocacyCenter1
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Donate to CAC Today!

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” ~Dr. Seuss

CROSSROADS FUND:  Immigration Raids – Update From Our Grantees
ICE Raid Hotline: 1-855-435-7693

Attachments:

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