Letters: Pensions not the problem
January 4, 2013 10:14PM
Updated: February 7, 2013 6:14AM
It’s important to note that delegates to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention never had to run for re-election. The document they produced still serves as the blueprint for Illinois law, and 42 years later their collective wisdom is at the front of the debate over public pensions.
Ralph Martire, executive director of the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, perfectly summarizes the problem as a debt crisis, not a pension crisis. The debt crisis has been exacerbated by the Legislature’s chronic borrowing of pension assets to cover daily expenses. It’s like a family borrowing from its home equity every month to buy food.
Now, after the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, there is a panicked attempt to strip teachers and other public workers of their constitutionally guaranteed pension benefits.
The authors of our constitution guaranteed public pensions because the unfunded liabilities of those systems in 1970 were virtually identical to today.
Can you imagine the state refusing to honor other contractual obligations, like those with vendors? Solutions must be real and long-term. Let’s start by admitting that teacher pensions did not cause our state’s financial problems.
It will take courage and vision to do exactly that.
Illinois Retired Teachers Association
Food pantry needs help
The holidays are for giving. It’s the time to do something extra for the people who are important to us.
But some people do a little more. They reach out to complete strangers, perhaps because those are the people who need it most.
On a day in late November, a Frankfort Township resident called. She’d heard about the township’s food pantry and wanted to help. So she wrote a check for $10,000.
And when she learned that the Frankfort Township pantry worked with pantries in Tinley Park and New Lenox, she gave each of those organizations $10,000, too.
“I’ve had a good life,” she said, asking to remain anonymous.
Earlier in the month, the Aileen S. Andrew Foundation of Orland Park gave the pantry $5,000. And the Boy Scouts of Summit Hill School District organized a drive that resulted in thousands of pounds of food for the pantry’s shelves. Frankfort Township is an extraordinarily generous place.
But the size of the donation isn’t as important as the size of the giver’s heart. Many people help the pantry throughout the year. Some give $20. Others give $20 a month. Fewer people go hungry in our community because of their kindness.
We like to give, too.
On Dec. 8, the township hosted the first ever “Lunch with Santa.” More than 100 adults and children met Santa, enjoyed a magician’s show, had lunch from the nearby Meatheads Burgers and Fries restaurant and visited with the elves.
Next year’s event should be bigger. We’ll have a tree lighting ceremony that will include a chance for the kids to meet local veterans.
Happy new year, everyone. And thank you.
Interpreting Constitution key on right to bear arms
On the heels of what will forever be remembered as one of the greatest tragedies of our lifetime, the debate concerning gun control looms large. However, what is being lost in this already raging debate is the fact that we will never truly know what prompted this assault — no matter how much investigation or speculation.
Accordingly, it is imperative that we not attempt to substitute our speculation for fact when having the conversation and debate about what degree of gun control is necessary. I am in favor of a complete ban on all assault weapons, in large part because the right to bear arms was originally framed during a time when there were no assault weapons.
As a graduate of the John Marshall Law School, I am well informed about the guarantees of the Second Amendment, and I respect those guarantees. However, just as there are parameters with all amendments, the same should be expected and enforced with the Second Amendment.
The First Amendment guarantees the right to freedom of speech, assembly, religion and the press, but not without its boundaries.
As we all well know, you cannot assemble under the guise
of mob action, or practice a religion which includes smoking peyote or engaging in human or animal sacrifices (such as dogs or cats).
The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, but it also includes parameters — such as when there is a reasonable articulable suspicion or even more, probable cause.
Ultimately, the Constitution requires interpretation, and that is what Congress is charged with.
Ideally, that interpretation will find a happy balance when crafting legislation for better gun control but also needs to remember — we do not know why this happened, so any legislation will not necessarily ensure it doesn’t happen again!
Mario A. Reed