Union bosses love taxpayers' wallets

Those fat pensions don't grow on trees, ya know

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What if lawmakers passed a bill that allowed two dozen hand-picked political insiders to fan out across the state and walk up to you and demand your cash?

Not ask but demand.

Got a problem?

There is no passion in the demand, no anger, no urgency. Just a flat look, impassive, the way a hungry hyena on the savanna looks at a herd of meek chumbolones and says, "That one."

Or the way a butcher sizes up some hanging beef before going to work on it. Except, you're the beef.

And after you give up the money, the guy smiles to himself and slides into a nice black Escalade. He doesn't thank you. But he sure thanks the politicians who made it happen. He helps re-elect them, so they or their families make fortunes.

But you? You don't get thanks. He'd no more thank you than he'd thank a dog.

Now, do you have a problem with that?

Pardon me? I didn't hear you. So let me ask you again.


Then you must be in Illinois.

That's the state where Chicago machine politicians and their union muscle boys slap taxpayers in the mouth, year after year after year, and all voters do is repeat that line from "Animal House," "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

It's revealed in some fascinating (and infuriating) Tribune stories by investigative reporter Jason Grotto, who in collaboration with WGN-TV uncovered some amazing city pension scams.

What's really infuriating is that it all might just be quite legal. But is it right?

The Tribune reported that in 1991, state law was quietly changed to allow Chicago union bosses to cash in and base their city taxpayer-funded pensions not on their wages from their city jobs but on their salaries as union bosses.

That neat little trick inflated the pensions dramatically. And who pays? When you're at a card game and you can't spot the sucker, guess what? You're the sucker.

So now, for example, Cement Workers Union boss Liberato "Al" Naimoli is receiving $157,752 in pension from a $15,264-per-year city job.

Chicago Federation of Labor retired President Dennis Gannon is receiving $158,258 for a $55,474 city job.

And Jim McNally, an officer with Operating Engineers Local 150, gets a $114,935-a-year pension for a $57,200 city job.

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