Juan Elias (aka Johnny Elias) is President of 1st Ward First (1WF), an independent Democratic political organization of the 1st Ward and its current Alderman Proco Joe Moreno.
Updated: July 4, 2013 6:12AM
The BGA and the Chicago Sun-Times learned when interviewing me for their story, “City job safe, despite felony convictions, after Quinn pardon,” that the city did confront me in the mid ’90s about my past criminal record, which was already paid in full to society and later when I was fully pardoned by Gov. Pat Quinn at the recommendation of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board.
The PRB heard my full story with my family, co-workers and neighbors by my side — supplemented with letters of support from elected leadersand community leaders. It was dissapointing that nonprofit community agencies that supported me were left out of the article.
As the city stated, they looked at my work history and dedication to serving people impacted with killer diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS for 23 years when they decided not to pursue discipline or termination. I disclosed to city officials my true story back in the early ’90s. I am grateful to the city for its support then and again today for looking at the entire picture, not just a time period when I was a 19-year-old punk running the streets.
I’ve been in public service for 23 years and recently opened a small business in my neighborhood that employs people who were once in my shoes. I also make it a point to stay involved in apolitical community volunteerism and politics because I want to participate and have a say in the direction of our community, the First Ward.
The thousand-pound gorilla in the room is why would someone check “no” in the box that outs them as a convicted felon? The answer is simple; people who are in my shoes want a chance to work and provide for families. Many have given up looking for work because they have no chance to prove they can do the job. What are their options? Go back to ills of the past? Or seek education, training and development, which has been a lifelong process for me.
Since the day I came on board with the city, there has been lot’s of talk about reducing recidivism by allowing people with criminal records opportunities to work in and out of government. I’m not sure how successful re-entry programs have been. However, I could look at one case study — me.
Pension failure puts state in peril
I believe the Senate Democrats failed to properly represent all their constituents when they rejected the public employee pension cutting plan. They stated the plan was unfair and illegal. The state Constitution has promised teachers and state workers a secure retirement.
The pension programs promised by Illinois legislators are ridiculous. The benefits promised by these plans are not sustainable. As an example, a teacher can retire after 37 years with 75 percent of their base pay with a salary contribution of 9.2 percent, which covers their retirement and health benefits. Assuming a final salary of $100,000, that would qualify an individual to a $75,000 annual pension with a 3 percent cost-of-living allowance applied each year. The pension amount will grow to $100,800 in just 10 years and double in 20 years.
The argument the pensioners put forth, is the pension plans would be in good shape if the state had made their contributions on a regular basis. That is partially true. However, if the state had made regular contribution they would still have a shortage because the state could not consistently earn the financial returns necessary to fund retiree benefits with the consistent annual 3 percent COLA.
If the Legislature does not take action at some point, then I believe there are several possible outcomes. The state will raise taxes of all kinds, essential services will be eliminated and/or the state will go bankrupt. What will happen to the pension plans with bankruptcy?
Ronald Fuchs, St. Charles
Greeley was a class act
I was saddened to hear about the passing of the Rev, Andrew Greeley. During his time as a journalistic contributor, I did not totally agree with all that he wrote. However, an essay of his on greed not only hit home with me, it also was one of those rare articles that I copied and passed out to many of my friends. That particular article should be required reading for all school-age children.
Mike Koskiewicz, Portage Park
Don’t sell confiscated guns
The League of Women Voters of Central Kane County is strongly opposed to the St. Charles police department raising funds by selling confiscated or turned-in guns. One goal of the League (and presumably of the police) is to prevent violence and protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility of handguns. Even if the guns are being sold to “legal” distributors, there is still a possibility that these guns will find their way into the hands of people who use them to commit crimes.
We urgently request that the St. Charles City Council oppose the proposed sale of guns.
Jean Pierce, first vice president,
League of Women Voters of Central Kane County