Is Blue Island Going The Way Of Cicero?
Posted in the Blue Island Forum
#1 Oct 14, 2013
Promotion cost Cicero commander 2nd pension, but he’s happy
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN AND JON SEIDEL Staff Reporters
Updated: October 14, 2013 2:13AM
Cicero cop Raul Perez is collecting more than $200,000 a year between his state pension from his days as an Illinois State trooper and his current Cicero town salary.
But the former bodyguard to disgraced ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich has lost out on a second pension that could have boosted his income even higher after the Chicago Sun-Times reported on his recent promotion to the rank of commander at the Cicero Police Department.
The good news about the promotion: It nearly doubled his pay.
The bad news: It came a little too soon.
Turns out Perez didn’t spend quite enough time in his previous civilian job to get vested in his municipal pension. So he can’t collect.
A state investigation discovered the issue after the Sun-Times published a story about the swelling ranks of police management in the Town of Cicero.
Perez just shrugged it off. The 57-year-old said in recent weeks:“I’m fine with it.”
The Sun-Times reported in July that the Cicero police department expanded the number of commanders on its force from two to 10 — promoting Perez and seven others to the new posts as part of a restructuring plan, officials said at the time.
Then the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund got an anonymous phone call that prompted an investigation, a spokeswoman said.
The retirement fund determined that Perez’s new job means he can’t participate in the fund for civilian municipal employees because he’s now “performing police protection duties,” according to a letter the fund sent last month to the Town of Cicero’s human resources department.
He has been contributing to that fund since August 10, 2005, according to the fund. That’s a day after he was hired in Cicero, the town’s payroll records show. He previously worked in the Cicero Police Department’s criminal analysis unit and as director of the Cicero Juvenile Improvement Program, according to his profile on the professional networking website LinkedIn.
Before this summer’s investigation, Perez officially had eight years and one month of service credit with the pension fund, spokeswoman Linda Horrell said in an email. That means he was vested and eligible for a pension once he retired. But now his records will be “adjusted” to reflect his promotion in April.
“Once the adjustment is made, he will have less than 8 years of service credit with IMRF. Therefore, he will not be eligible for a pension,” Horrell said.
Horrell would not estimate what Perez’s pension benefits would have been. She said the benefit payments are “based on the years and months of service credit and a final average salary.”
Perez said he won’t try to recover his lost pension.
“They followed the law and did the right thing,” Perez said.“What’s wrong with that?”
The commander also said he’s “blessed” to have a job helping the people of Cicero:“I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it is.”
“Money is not everything,” he added.
Perez is now collecting more than $200,000 a year from his state pension and his salary in Cicero.
He collects $7,748 a month from the State Employees’ Retirement System of Illinois, the agency’s executive secretary said. That’s about $93,000 a year. He retired from the state police on Sept. 1 2006, while already on Cicero’s payroll, records show.
Add to that the $108,375 he earns as a Cicero commander, payroll records show.
But that’s not what he earned when he was first promoted on April 9.
At the time, Perez’s base pay rose from $55,825 to $75,000. August payroll records now show he has joined the list of commanders with an annual $108,375 base salary.
Perez said, and records reflect, that’s the standard pay for most commanders.
Perez said he has no control over his own salary.
Ray Hanania, the Cicero spokesman, did not respond to questions about Perez’s salary or pension.
#2 Oct 14, 2013
Back in his days working on Blagojevich’s security detail, Perez was once disciplined for failing to report that the former governor’s driver had been drinking. He also faced questions about accidents with state vehicles and a state police patch he had allegedly given a motorist.
Perez said he’s happy to now be working in Cicero, cracking down on street gangs and improving the quality of life for its citizens.
“God has blessed me with another career, and I’m fine with it,” he said.
#3 Oct 18, 2013
Gov. Quinn again suspends state funding to UNO, putting $15 million on hold
By DAN MIHALOPOULOS Staff Reporter October 17, 2013
For the second time this year, Gov. Pat Quinn has suspended state funding to the scandal-scarred United Neighborhood Organization, the biggest charter-school operator in Illinois.
A Quinn spokeswoman said Thursday the state has frozen the final $15 million of a $98 million state school-construction grant that the Illinois Legislature promised UNO in 2009 to help build a network of charter schools.
“As a result of our own internal review conducted earlier this year, we have not approved any new projects, and we have suspended future capital projects,” spokeswoman Sandra M. Jones said.
Her statement came a day after the disclosure that the federal Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the clout-heavy group for possible securities violations.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that, in a Sept. 20 letter to UNO’s board, an attorney from the SEC’s enforcement division in Chicago notified the organization that the agency “is conducting an investigation ... to determine if violations of the federal securities laws have occurred.”
The SEC is asking UNO for records related to $37.5 million that the group raised by selling state-backed bonds in 2011.
Its investigators also want records from UNO regarding two contractors hired to help build schools with state grant funds. In February, the Sun-Times reported that the companies, owned by brothers of a top UNO executive, had been paid $8.5 million in grant funds. The executive, Miguel d’Escoto, resigned days after the report, and the Quinn administration suspended funding for UNO in April.
Quinn restored the state funding in early June, saying he was confident UNO had implemented reforms, including the appointment of a new board chairman. Longtime UNO boss Juan Rangel stepped down as board chairman but has remained as the charter operator’s $250,000-a-year chief executive. Rangel served as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2011 campaign co-chairman.
Less than three weeks after the state restored funding, Quinn’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity — which oversees the grant — got a letter from the SEC requesting documents about UNO.
The brief suspension of state funding had halted construction of UNO’s $25 million high school at 51st Street and St. Louis Avenue on the city’s Southwest Side. By restoring the grant, the state allowed work to resume on the half-built facility, and the new UNO Soccer Academy High School opened last month.
Asked why the state continued funding UNO despite the federal probe, Jones said Thursday,“The funding was released because the work had already been completed, children needed to go to school, and the contractors needed to be paid.”
An UNO spokesman could not be reached Thursday night for comment.
UNO officials had hoped to build two more schools with the remaining $15 million and with another $35.2 million they asked state lawmakers to provide earlier this year.
Last month, Chicago businessman Martin Cabrera Jr.— whose appointment as UNO chairman was cited by Quinn as an important reform — resigned.
The governor has attended UNO events, including the ground-breaking for the UNO Soccer Academy High School, and signed the legislation awarding the grant to UNO. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) sponsored the grant, which is believed to be the largest government subsidy in the country for charter schools.
UNO also has close ties to Ald. Edward Burke, a major Quinn fund-raiser. The alderman had urged the governor to reverse the initial suspension of the grant.
The new high school is in Burke’s 14th Ward, and his daughter-in-law has worked for UNO. Contractors with close Burke ties also have done work for the charter operator.
#4 Oct 18, 2013
Founded in the 1980s as a Hispanic community activist group, UNO went into the charter business in the late 1990s, and its network has grown to include 16 schools across Chicago with more than 7,600 students.
While the massive state grant and more than $70 million in private loans have helped the charter network expand rapidly, most of its operating budget — as well as the money to repay the loans — comes from the Chicago Public Schools, which gives UNO tens of millions of dollars a year.
#5 Oct 18, 2013
#6 Oct 20, 2013
i cross the river
#7 Oct 20, 2013
It is horrible on both sides of the river; empty promises resulted in everything going from bad to disgracefully much worse.
#8 Mar 1, 2014
If you are an AMERICAN in the Town of CICERO, you will begin to understand what it was like to be a JEW in Nazi Germany.
3rd generation American
#9 Jul 23, 2014
Pal of Cicero Town President Larry Dominick to plead guilty
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter July 22, 2014
A federally indicted pal of Cicero Town President Larry Dominick plans to plead guilty in the tax fraud case against him.
Plumber George Hunter — whose sewer business has received more than $1.8 million from Cicero taxpayers without a contract — is accused of dodging more than $400,000 in taxes.
His lawyer claimed at the time of his indictment in October that Hunter, 59, was only targeted by the feds as payback because he’d refused to cooperate with the FBI against Dominick.
But court records filed this week show that Hunter now intends to plead guilty on September 3. Details of any plea deal he has with prosecutors have yet to be made public, and Hunter’s attorney did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Tuesday.
Dominick’s political opponents have repeatedly alleged that Dominick was a partner in Hunter’s business, Superior Sewer Solution, which the feds say failed to pay taxes in 2007 and 2008, and which the Sun-Times in 2011 reported got nearly $2 million in work from Cicero without bidding for contracts.
Dominick has denied having any business dealings with Hunter.
But in court depositions for a lawsuit previously filed by one of Dominick’s brothers against the town, several people testified Hunter and Dominick were partners in a sewer business in the 1990s.
And after Hunter starting getting money from Cicero, the plumber bought Dominick’s Stickney home for $100,000 more than the town president paid for it.
The feds are clearly interested in Hunter’s connections. In 2012 they used a grand jury subpoena to grab records of the company’s dealings with Cicero.
Dominick’s spokesman, Ray Hanania, did not immediately respond Tuesday for comment.
#10 Jul 23, 2014
Has the Current Blue Island City Council Voted to Approve No Bid Contracts?
(Mayors and elected community officials Aldermen/Board members across the suburbs know better.)
#11 Jul 23, 2014
Any elected official should know; "No Bid Contracts Are a No No".
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