Alton Daily News | Six Figure Salary for Staffer

TUA President Jim Tobin was quoted by the Alton Daily News in a story about Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’ salary.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he won’t take a salary or benefits. Neither will his wife. That’s not the case for everybody on the team.  Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, a former Springfield television reporter who has more recently been press spokeswoman for then-House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and then-Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, will serve as chief of staff to the first lady, Diana Rauner. Jimenez’ salary will be $100,000.

Jimenez will be the point person for such initiatives as a campaign to renovate the Executive Mansion. Her hiring was made known days after the governor announced a freeze on “non-essential spending.”
Jim Tobin, president of the Chicago-based Taxpayers United of America, says the hire practically screams “non-essential.” “It’s pretty close to home for the governor,” Tobin said with a laugh. “I think he should have a talk with his wife and find some way to pay this person out of private funds or private donations. This is not a way to spend taxpayer dollars.”
While the definition of “non-essential” can be debated, Illinois has not had a first lady since Rod Blagojevich was governor. Rauner’s predecessor, Pat Quinn, is a divorcee.
Press play below for a summary

Crain's | Endorsements, debates and polls as ward races heat up

A study by TUA on Chicago police and firefighters pensions was mentioned by Crain’s Chicago Business in a story about endorsements on the campaign trail.

Some bits and pieces from the campaign trail on endorsements, a 2nd Ward poll, police and firefighter pensions, and aldermanic debates.
The Chicago Federation of Labor is out with its endorsement list and, while there are no shockers, I found a few eyebrow-raisers.
The group backed no one for mayor, which represents a victory of sorts for incumbent Rahm Emanuel. For alderman, it endorsed some prominent independents such as Rick Munoz, 22nd, Ameya Pawar, 47th, and Leslie Hairston, 5th, but left off the list Scott Waguespack, 32nd, and Joe Moore, 49th, making no endorsement at all in the latter two contests.
In absolutely not surprising news, CFL endorsed the latest standard-bearer for the Daley clan, Patrick Daley Thompson, in the 11th Ward. But it dumped 44th Ward incumbent Tom Tunney in favor of alternative culture entrepreneur Mark Thomas of “The Alley” fame. It also voted against Michele Smith in the 43rd Ward, backing Jennifer Kramer instead.
Also on the CFL’s list was 27th Ward incumbent Walter Burnett. But he probably doesn’t need the help, even though the ward’s demographics are changing quickly and he faces a challenge from businessman Gabe Beukinga.
According to a poll prepared for the Burnett campaign by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, 60 percent of voters back or lean toward Burnett to 11 percent who back or lean toward Beukinga, with more than 1 voter in 5 undecided.
The benchmark poll of 340 votes was conducted in late November, so it’s a bit old, but Beukinga at a minimum needs to get a lot better known.
Meanwhile, look for a new report issued by anti-tax gadfly Jim Tobin on pensions for Chicago police and firefighters to spark some chatter.
Among other things, the study finds that the pensions paid to retirees—thousands of “top” pensioners are listed by name—include payments of $100,000 or more to scores of retirees.
With the average cop now retiring at age 57, “the top 1,000 pensioners for the Chicago Police Department are collecting nearly $88 million from taxpayers annually, and the top 1,000 Chicago Fire Department pensioners are collecting nearly $90 million from taxpayers annually.” That, in his view is not sustainable.
Finally, I’m going to be hosting two candidate debates for aldermen in the North Side 2nd Ward, which lacks an incumbent, and the 43rd Ward, where Ald. Michele Smith faces several foes.
The first will be held tomorrow evening at 7:30 at Latin School, Clark Street and North Avenue, and is sponsored by Carl Sandburg Village. The second is at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the DePaul University Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave., and is sponsored by the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Diversey Harbor Lakeview Association.
I’ll try to keep things interesting.

News Coverage of Chicago Police and Fire Pension Release

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CHICAGO – Yesterday, Taxpayers United of America (TUA) released the results of a new study of more than twelve thousand Chicago Police and Fire Department pensions.
“There are thousands of retired Chicago police and firefighters receiving lavish pension payments, each exceeding the cost of hiring nearly three new employees for either department,” said Jim Tobin, president of TUA.
“Taxpayers are compensating police and firefighters for more years of retirement than years of actual employment; the pension system as currently structured is unsustainable.”
The press conference was covered by three Chicago television stations and Crain’s Chicago Business.
· Click here for yesterday’s CPD and CFD pension news release
· Click here to see the complete list of 9,192 CPD pensions
· Click here to see the complete list of 2, 822 CFD pensions
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