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A scary pension ‘reform’ proposal

Illinois Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont)  |  Seth Perlman~AP

Illinois Sen. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) | Seth Perlman~AP

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Updated: December 1, 2012 6:20AM

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan’s continued push for shifting the costs of teachers’ pensions onto local schools should scare the daylights out of suburban property taxpayers.

Under the guise of “pension reform,” Madigan and Gov. Pat Quinn would shift hundreds of millions in pension costs to local schools — forcing massive cuts or property tax increases onto suburban and Downstate homeowners.

It makes sense for schools to have “skin in the game,” but pension benefits are set by the Illinois General Assembly. To allow politicians in Springfield to set the benefits — but send the bill to suburban property taxpayers — is a recipe for disaster.

Illinois desperately needs public employee pension reform. But we cannot allow decades of mismanagement to be shoved onto the suburban and Downstate property taxpayers and call it “reform.”

Chicago property taxpayers do pay for Chicago Public Schools benefits. But Chicago is also the beneficiary of state funding not available to suburban and Downstate school systems.

The pension cost shift being pushed by Quinn, Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their Democrat allies in the House and Senate will ease the pension burden on the state — freeing up cash to pay for more spending.

But it shouldn’t come from Downstate and suburban property taxpayers.

Christine Radogno, Illinois Senate Republican leader

Lawsuit on female firefighters’ test has no merit

After reading about the lawsuit regarding the physical abilities test for women [“Another discrimination lawsuit filed over Chicago firefighters exam,” Oct. 27], I as a woman wonder why these women think the Fire Department should lower the requirements for them. The women who came on the department before them had to pass the same test as their male counterparts, and they evidently did. So why should they receive special treatment?

When they took the exam for firefighter, they knew what the job was and the strength it takes to carry all the equipment and save lives. Bottom line: They did not pass where others have.

This is one job where no requirement should be lowered for anyone, as lives depend on it.

Marie Strickler, Plainfield

Media covered the real Romney

Does Steve Huntley not recognize the irony when he questions: “How is it Americans saw in the debates a Romney who rarely if ever showed up in their news coverage?” [Oct. 26 column] The version of Romney that showed up in the debates was not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut; supports a timeline for withdrawal in Afghanistan, and did not support traditional bankruptcy for U.S. auto companies. The media did not cover this version of Romney because it did not exist prior to the debates. If anything, the media has been criminally negligent in not demanding specifics from Romney on major policy issues, such as how he will pay for his proposed tax cuts and his proposal for replacing “Obamacare.”

Ryan Bowen, River Forest

Protect neighborhoods, too

In an Oct. 26 editorial, “Intriguing way to put more cops on the street,” the editors agreed with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the need for “building up and protecting Chicago’s downtown core, the city’s financial engine.”

With every city election, aldermanic and mayoral candidates proclaim the importance of the Chicago’s neighborhoods and their rich diversity of people and cultures! Yet after each election, the city’s attention — and taxpayer money — is focused on downtown, while the neighborhoods are minimally attended to, or in some cases seemingly forgotten. With the exception, of course, of some select neighborhoods.

The type of argument that the mayor and this paper’s editors advance is based on the belief that a bustling downtown brings in business and tourism. True. But tourists eventually go home, and many of those working downtown leave the city at the end of the day (taking their paychecks with them). As a longtime reader of this paper, I know this includes a number of its reporters. Editors, too?

The city’s neighborhoods suffer from a lack of economic development within their respective wards; crime and neglected local infrastructure. Perhaps the mayor, city government and this newspaper should shift their attention away from downtown and focus instead on improving the lot of those who live in the neighborhoods, pay taxes and even buy newspapers.

John Vukmirovich, East Side

Orland Park area needs more open space

I think the move by Cook County to acquire additional open space in the Orland Park area is an excellent idea that reflects good planning. Orland Park is beginning to look like other suburbs that are developmentally bloated. And the 159th Street “corridor” from Wolf Road to Interstate 355 is in danger of becoming part of a shopping route from Harvey to Lockport. I hope Cook and Will counties can acquire much of that wonderful land along this road before it is developed into commercial property.

The conversion of a cornfield or hardwood forest into a car dealership or an arcade is obscene when there is so much of that already..

Sandy Oneill, Orland Park

Open more charter schools

I’m a proud parent of a student at the Urban Prep Charter School. The charter schools’ academic performance exceeds that in the public schools. I support the opening of more charter schools. I want to encourage more parents to do the research and put their children in the charter schools. The young men are accepted in the best colleges and universities because they believe in higher learning.

De’Borah McDaniel-Jemison, Austin

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