Friday, October 31, 2014

Ty Fahner: Same Old...

Ty Fahner: Same Old…

The last time I saw Ty Fahner, we were together, riding the down elevator at Loyola University in the city.  We had just exchanged opinions regarding a way to ease the pension debt of the State of Illinois.  Charles Thomas, an ABC moderator, had provided me an opportunity to ask a question at the evening’s “pension crisis forum” – one that contained notables like Henry Bayer, Dick Ingram, Andrew Shaw, and Ty Fahner.  I was just a retired teacher in the audience, but I did get a question out at the very conclusion of the debate.

That was about two years ago, and my question was prompted by an earlier meeting with Glen Brown and Ralph Martire of the CTBA about the possibility of amortizing the nearly $100 billion in pension debt to ease the adversely negative drain of the 1995 “ramp,” in which the General Assembly remains chained to a schedule of increasing payments that climbs impossibly vertically until 2045.

Mr. Martire had explained – as he has now for many years- that the State would actually see an initial year or two of fiscal expense as we amortized the outstanding debt, like the initial payback levels of a couple’s house mortgage, but the payment would then remain flattened for the rest of the expenditures.  Therefore, given increased income and inflation, the cost would stabilize, become manageable, and finally be paid off. 

“Wouldn’t such a schedule of repayment be advisable and preferable than the current ‘ramp system’ of increasing payments we now use?” I had asked.

Fahner, president of the Civic Committee, was quick to comment on the issue.  “This is indeed something we may need to look at as we stabilize the pension system,” he responded. 

Since then, nothing – at least on amortizing the repayment schedule.  Since then, only the same warnings by the leader of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. - warnings that are always carefully spiced by a dash of hysteria and a strong recrimination for those current political leaders.

And now, Ty Fahner is back in print – first in the Daily Herald the other day and now in the St. Louis Journal Register.  It’s Fahner’s usual “declaration of doom unless… 

“Ty Fahner: What if the Court Rejects Pension Reform?”

The timing is excellent, so I suspect we might see his opine in the Tribune shortly.  They like Fahner at the Tribune Editorial Board, and they have always endorsed finger-wagging, bending historical facts, and serving the Civic Committee agenda.

Fahner’s entire piece can be found here: 

In the meantime, Fahner once again retreats to his litany of inconsistencies, half-truths, and pontifications.  And, as one might expect, Fahner evidently never looked – as he suggested he might – at the possibility of an amortized schedule.  Indeed, with his tight hold on the “ramp,” he can project even more dire scenarios.  Happy Halloween!

I’d like to share with you some exceptional passages quite appropriate to the well-heeled friend and formerly appointed attorney general to Governor Thompson, who himself diverted payments to the pensions in order secure his own long-term political advantage.

If the Court rejects the law, $145 billion in state contributions is immediately added to the taxpayer tab over the next 30 years. Whether through even more tax hikes or continued service cuts, that money has to be accounted for. We would pay a lot more for a lot less in return.”
In fact, for nearly half a century Illinois citizens have paid a lot less for a lot more.  Thompson and others (who are now incarcerated) avoided making the normal costs for pensions, but it was Thompson in his final speeches who boldly exposed his own theft and oversaw a precipitous decline in a funded ratio from nearly 90% to 30%.” 
As for that ridiculous “ramp?”  Well, there it is again.  Thirty years from now is 2045, and under the “RAMP,” we will have to pay that ever-increasing amount.  Not only did Fahner ignore the possibility of an amortization, he pretends that the Court decision might erase or add the unfunded liability.  Those awake to the problem in Illinois know that the debt must be paid – REGARDLESS OF HOW THE COURT RULES.  
“One in four residents says Illinois is the worst state in which to live. Many vote with their feet. Every ten seconds, someone leaves.”
Fahner (and Tea Party creatures) love this anecdotal statistic.  But, let’s get realistic?  Most inhabitants of large, urban-heavy states would love to leave for better pastures.  New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and other states deliver like percentages of people who’d like to be somewhere else.  Where would they go?  Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, New Hampshire…  (
“Property taxes could rise to the highest in the nation. School districts could face further budget strain. Tens of thousands of seniors, children and mentally ill could face significant reductions, if not loss, of the state assistance on which they rely. The security of the pension systems themselves would be jeopardized.”
Another retiree educator cut to the chase this afternoon:
“Ty Fahner – ‘the sky is falling.’  What a bunch of bull.  If he wants to have a conversation, why doesn't he bring up a graduated tax like other states have, making big corporations pay their taxes and re-amortizing the pension debt.  Together these three things would probably solve all the problems without gutting pensions and the end of the world, but Fahner won't hear any of it because a few of the Civic committee members might make less than 50 million a year, and the unions would survive.”  Well-said, Ruth!
“To its credit, the Illinois General Assembly passed a pension reform bill that gives Illinois and its citizens a fighting chance...Unfortunately, the law has been challenged by the very people it aims to protect and is currently in litigation.”
Once before, another insightful pensioner described these kinds of Civic Committee arguments synonymous with an abuser’s delusional refusal to be morally (and legally) honest:  “I did it to help you.  You needed that to save you from what might have happened.  You were asking for my intervention…” 
Better Title?
Ty Fahner: We stole from you while we Constitutionally promised that we would honor our contract with you; but now we want to void that promise and ignore our obligation in order to protect you.
What If?
What if you were an honorable, responsible, moral, and legal party?
What if the Illinois Supreme Court is?  


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  3. Could Fahner go to prison for what he did about rigging the bond market, or will the Tribune and Sun Times protect him? Isn't what he did WORSE than what Martha Stewart did?!!?