Editorial: Former Oak Brook chief’s undeserved pension bonanza
Updated: June 8, 2012 11:02AM
Former Oak Brook Police Chief Thomas Sheahan thinks he deserves a special pension gift quietly bestowed by the Legislature just for him.
“I worked for 24 f - - - - - - years [in the public sector], I deserve every penny of it and I deserve f - - - - - - more,” Sheahan said.
Just what makes Sheahan think he deserves a big pension sweetener at a time when many other public employees who have worked a lot longer than 24 years are being told to expect cuts?
In 2007, the Legislature mysteriously approved a provision that benefitted just one person in the state: Thomas Sheahan, a member of one of Chicago’s better-known political families, Chicago Sun-Times Media and Better Government Association reported this week.
Technically speaking, the deal let him transfer his credits from the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund to the Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Personnel program of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. The bottom line? Instead of two pensions adding up to $45,000 a year, Sheahan got one worth $77,000. That’s a bump of more than $30,000 a year.
Another bottom line? Oak Brook taxpayers are on the hook for nearly $750,000 in funding liabilities. In essence, they are paying Sheahan, 59, for work that he did elsewhere. The village has rightly filed an appeal with the IMRF.)
A lot of this doesn’t look good.
It doesn’t look good that the main sponsor of the legislation, former state Rep. Bob Molaro (D-Chicago), with a partner, wound up the very next year as a $5,000-a-month lobbyist for Oak Brook.
It doesn’t look good that no one will take credit for coming up with the idea for this legislation.
It doesn’t look good that the Legislature approved a provision that benefitted just one person.
It doesn’t look good that we’re left wondering how many other special deals like this are out there.
Sheahan now is village manager in Lyons, where he said he’s paid roughly $65,000 a year for fewer than 20 hours a week. Meanwhile, the (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported that the director of Illinois teachers’ retirement system says in a memo that cuts in pensions may have to be considered for already-retired teachers because of underfunding.
The Legislature is grappling with pension reform this session.
Ending special deals for pols would be a good place to start.