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How to fix pensions

12-8-02 Kathy Boud1981 file phoafter being sentenced 20 years life for fatal Brink's robbery. For  2002 story her sChesBoudnow

12-8-02 Kathy Boudin in a 1981 file photo after being sentenced to 20 years to life for fatal Brink's robbery. For 2002 story on her son Chesa Boudin now winning a Rhodes Scholar. AP File Photo (Sun-Times Library).

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As a veteran school district business manager, I have watched the pension fracas in Springfield with consternation. Illinois has a pension mess for two reasons: 1) the state did not make its pension contributions over many years, and 2) the Legislature passed a law nearly 20 years ago that the state pensions need to be “fully funded” by 2045. The state cannot make it work. Many plans have been devised, but none is guaranteed to pass constitutional muster or save enough money.

There are two faulty assumptions. The first is that the pension funds must be “fully funded,” i.e., 100 percent. Pension funds in other states are adequately funded at 70 percent to 75 percent of full funding. Remember that “fully funded” means being able to pay ALL the pension requirements if everyone in the pension system spontaneously retires immediately.

What is needed to adequately fund a pension fund is enough money to sustain cash flow indefinitely. This is met at about 70 percent of full funding. An easier solution is to fix the current full-funding law and reduce the funding requirement to 70 percent to 75 percent by 2045. It would also help to stop using two years of sick leave toward pension credit and to increase, slightly, contributions by school districts and pension pool members. Dramatically cutting pension benefits will not fix the state’s pension problem.

Raymond L. Costa Jr., Gurnee

No ‘liberal’ domination

Whether or not the appointment of ex-Weather Underground bomb-thrower Kathy Boudin to a faculty position showed poor judgment by Columbia University, it’s ridiculous to see this as evidence of “liberal” domination in academia [“Academia’s Liberal Bias Gets a Pass,” Mona Charen column, Sunday]. American higher education is more pro-corporate than ever.

Colleges and universities across the country are marketing themselvees as havens for capitalist entrepreneurs, downplaying humanities in favor of high-tech, career-oriented curriculums designed to enable young people to join the corporate technology industry and make as much money as they can. Most institutions of higher education are marketing themselves as glorified business schools. Where’s the “liberal bias” in that?

David G. Whiteis, Humboldt Park

Unethical cops?

Are the watchdogs trying to tell us that there are unethical cops? In Chicago? This can’t be!

Erik Armstrong, Evergreen Park

Too right-wing

What is going on with the Sun-Times lately? It’s one thing to have Steve Huntley, who is amusing in his ability to find blame for everything that goes wrong in the world back to Obama, but it’s another thing to have someone as offensive as Mona Charen. Her column screams out that liberals are bad, bad, bad, stay away!!! Your columnists from the left may not like the conservative position, but none of them has this reactionary viewpoint. I personally, as a middle of the road moderate, find her column and her views extremely offensive.

Scott Olson, Lake View

We need immigration reform

After a recent and most memorable meal at a well-known North Shore restaurant, I took advantage of the balmy, April weather, and contentedly drove home down North Clark Street, admiring it’s multicultural (mostly Mexican) business strip and many shoppers. As I arrived home, a landscaping crew was dutifully mowing my neighbor’s lawn and attending to the annual spring garden clean-up and care.

It all reminded me how visible — and invisible — our immigrant and undocumented workers are in Chicago and how indispensable they are to our well-being year-in and year-out.

It gives me hope that the voices calling for immigration reform in recent weeks are finally be heard. Congress may be able to come together and pass meaningful legislation. Wouldn’t that be a visible sign of a “climate change,” in Washington politics, as welcome as spring in Chicago?

Vance du Rivage, Andersonville



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