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Illinois isn’t alone

Friday, Mar 15, 2013

* Keep in mind that the Art Institute, Field Museum, CSO and Adler Planetarium [fixed link] boards are all comprised of Chicago’s elite, many of whom are now deriding public employees and demanding that the state cut pensions. From the Tribune

Borrowing and spending on the assumption that more money and visitors would follow was not the only financial risk many cultural institutions took. They also put off pension payments and borrowed at unpredictable interest rates.

Those choices allowed museums and arts organizations to pay less up front but ended up costing them more in the long run. It also made it harder to restructure their debts when times got tough. […]

In the robust early-2000s market, pension plans were flush and some institutions refrained from contributing to avoid over-funding, which is allowed under federal law. When the market weakened and interest rates fell, funding levels dropped. Yet the boards of many major cultural institutions continued to approve the skipping of annual pension payments.

The Art Institute, Field Museum, CSO and Adler Planetarium all elected not to make pension payments for several years at a time in the early 2000s, even as funding levels slipped. Now all of them have either frozen plans, closed them to new employees or increased retirement ages. [Emphasis added.]

Sheesh.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

21 Comments
  1. - Ahoy! - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:25 pm:

    seems like we need to get the pension payments out of the hands of legislators and boards or to a 401k style retirement plan. Either or would be fine with me, but there seems to be a trend that boards (even business’s) and legislatures can not be trusted to make these decisions.


  2. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:27 pm:

    Yeah, well, I guess they were just running them like a business.


  3. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    LOL.

    Just noticed that Anne Dias Griffin is a CSO board member. http://rebootillinois.com/about


  4. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:32 pm:

    Ken Griffin is a member of the Art Institute board http://www.artic.edu/about/board-trustees


  5. - House of Cards - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:34 pm:

    Let’s be honest, Jim Edgar is the author of the pension crisis. Rod couldn’t have looted the funds in his pension bond deals if the funds weren’t in trouble to begin with.

    Good game, Jim.


  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    ===Rod couldn’t have looted the funds in his pension bond deals if the funds weren’t in trouble to begin with.===

    Oh, please. He would’ve looted them even more if they’d had more money.

    Seriously, your line of reasoning is way, way off.


  7. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:37 pm:

    ===Let’s be honest, Jim Edgar is the author of the pension crisis.===

    That’s insane. The pension problems go back many, many decades. He tried to fix it. Was it a flawed fix? Sure it was.

    But without it, do you really think the unfunded liability would be lower than it is now?

    Again, that was a really uninformed and bizarre comment you made beginning to end. Don’t do it again.


  8. - Small Town Liberal - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:44 pm:

    - But without it, do you really think the unfunded liability would be lower than it is now? -

    The problem most definitely started well before Edgar, and with no change we most likely wouldn’t be any better off right now.

    However, I believe Edgar’s solution was definitely more of a kick the can than an actual attempt to fix the problem. It was a feel good now, let someone feel pain later approach. Not to mention the economy wasn’t feeling nearly as much pain in the 90s, and it would have been a great time to do some heavy lifting on the state’s finances.


  9. - dupage dan - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:44 pm:

    Ms dupage dan and I have been season pass holders @ The Goodman Theater for many years. The article noted that they waited until they had most of the cash on hand to build the new theater and made sure they didn’t overstep rational planning regarding their projections. They are actually in good shape despite the recent recession. We would all do well to take their example.


  10. - wordslinger - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:54 pm:

    Yeah, the SEC was really johnny-on-the-spot, weighing in nearly 20 years after the fact.


  11. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 2:56 pm:

    ===Edgar’s solution was definitely more of a kick the can than an actual attempt to fix the problem==

    It was both.

    Again, it wasn’t a great plan, but it was a plan. And without it, I have no doubt that we’d be way worse off than we are today.


  12. - steve schnorf - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:13 pm:

    Rich, granted we could each look it up ourselves, but it would be nice if someone would post a list of the board members of those institutions (and top staff, I guess) so we could compare it to the Commercial Club etc memberships


  13. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:15 pm:

    ===but it would be nice if someone would post a list of the board members of those institutions===

    They’re all linked in the first graf of my intro.


  14. - Fiercely Independent - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:27 pm:

    I think the link to for the Adler Planetarium should be: https://adlerplanetarium.squarespace.com/officers-and-trustees


  15. - steve schnorf - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:28 pm:

    Oh my! The problems that come from glass houses and feeling a need to cast. Thanks, Rich.


  16. - b - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:29 pm:

    Corporate hypocrisy at its finest. Do as we say, not as we do.


  17. - Fiercely Independent - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:31 pm:

    Pardon my third grade grammar. Post should have read “I think the link for the Adler Planetarium should be: https://adlerplanetarium.squarespace.com/officers-and-trustees”


  18. - titan - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    The pensions were in terrible shape in the 60s. That is what drove the guarantee language going into the 1970 state constitution.

    If the Civic Club folk were board members of these places then, there aer some hypocrisy charges to level.


  19. - Hacks - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 3:46 pm:

    The ultimate irony of politics is that many conservative politicians, like Proft, believed that Illinois should honor their debts. His ilk argued that a deal was a deal and not to be reneged.

    Yet, the public employee unions will only support Dems. Funny.


  20. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 4:00 pm:

    Just to get this on the record somewhere, I’m betting that Gov. Quinn will do recess appointments for SIU trustees late today or sometime soon when the Senate is not in session.

    Sorry to highjack the thread. Move along.


  21. - TwoFeetThick - Friday, Mar 15, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    === Yet, the public employee unions will only support Dems. Funny===

    Apparently you are not familiar with AFSCME’s history of more-than-occasionally supporting Republicans over Democrats. And why wouldn’t they - Republicans controlled the Governor’s Mansion, and all the jobs that went with it, for over two decades.

    You also must not be familiar with the IEA’s tendency to support whomever they think will win, even if that’s the Republican over the Democrat.

    You shouldn’t paint in such broad strokes.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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