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*** UPDATED x3 *** Tribune editorial board chief’s Ken Griffin interview goes off the rails

Tuesday, Aug 9, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Question to Ken Griffin from Tribune Editorial Page Editor Chris Jones

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said you and he met privately and that you agreed to drop your opposition to his graduated tax proposal if he took on pension reform in Illinois. True?

Um, no. From Greg Hinz’s original story

Griffin told Pritzker he had a rare opportunity to run the state not from the political left but the center, dealing with unaffordable pension costs, such as a 3% compound annual cost-of-living increase for retirees, while stabilizing state finances with additional revenues, the Griffin account goes.

“If you do these things, I certainly won’t get in your way and in fact will support you,” Griffin told Pritzker in so many words. In other words, Griffin urged Pritzker to make pension changes that could result in the governor getting some political cover from his rightward flank for a companion tax hike.

Reading comprehension is key. There was no talk about the graduated income tax.

* And it goes downhill from there…


* From Griffin’s comments

To be clear, that was a fracturing moment between the two of us. … He does not want to use his political capital for good. He wants to maintain that capital to maintain the certainty of staying in power. Which I find perplexing in a state with a two-term limit.

Illinois has no gubernatorial term limits.

* More Griffin

And there’s another issue, which is that the costs of the promises made by cities and counties are not borne by the cities and counties directly, they’re socialized across the entire taxpayer base of the state. So it’s pretty easy for the behavior of a number of Illinois cities to offer incredible increases in pay in final years to boost pension benefits. And that cost comes back to all Illinois taxpayers.

Local pension costs are funded locally.

* On a side note

Operation Warp Speed came from a conversation between myself and members of the (Trump) administration. And we only saved a few hundred thousand lives with that phone call. Scientists and Moderna are heroes, but the entire U.S. pharma complex came together to win that war. But it started with an idea.

In running my business, I’m exposed to a whole litany of ideas. We should be engaging with our leaders in government sharing the best ideas that we’ve been exposed to. This is one thing that I do think President (Donald) Trump did really well. He had an extensive Rolodex of people he spoke to, especially in business. Good leaders are always keeping their ears open for good ideas.

*** UPDATE 1 *** They’ve now edited out Griffin’s term limit comment without making note of it. That’s pretty darned dishonest.

*** UPDATE 2 *** From the interview

And there are elements of that I think are attractive, but because the state employees do not participate in Social Security…

From comments…

State employees have been part of the social security system since at least the 1970s. Teachers don’t pay into the social security system.

*** UPDATE 3 *** After deleting the Griffin term limits comment, the Tribune has now added it back and included an editor’s note

Illinois does not have term limits for governor. Griffin acknowledged he misspoke.

       

42 Comments
  1. - The 5th Deputy Governor - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:02 pm:

    Guy truly does think that he knows everything, huh?


  2. - NotRich - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:03 pm:

    2 term limit for Illinois Gov?? I see why Mike Z was able to hoodwink him for $50+ million on the Irvin campaign.


  3. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:06 pm:

    That guy is a government scholar specializing in Illinois. I bet he was heartbroken when Big Jim had to step down. And he is right about Trump and his huge Rolodex (guy can’t use a computer) but it mainly is a must of defense and bankruptcy attorneys. /S


  4. - Reasonable - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:06 pm:

    The pension spiking he cites is absolutely example of socialized costs, or at the very least an externality. School districts can boost pay with no regard to effects on the pension system as a whole.


  5. - Telly - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:08 pm:

    If he said “school districts” instead of “cities and counties” he would have been right. Not that I’m looking to cut him slack. When you hold yourself out as a civic leader and pretend to have all the answers you should get the details right.


  6. - Jilted - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:08 pm:

    It’s stunning how rent free pensioners live in billionaires heads.


  7. - Keyrock - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:08 pm:

    Harvard education + umpteen billion dollars = this?


  8. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:09 pm:

    “Talk less. Smile more”

    In Griffin’s case… “so folks won’t realize you know less than a wooden door”

    Perspective…

    … ready…

    Rauner ran on term limits… Griffin funded things to enact… term limits…

    If I’m Z… no matter how many hundreds of thousands he made off Griffin… Z left money on the table.

    Love of… PETE

    Term limits?


  9. - Benjamin - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:09 pm:

    “Good leaders are always keeping their ears open for good ideas.”

    …and closing their ears to the nutty ones, which, uh, Trump could have done better.

    Why on Earth would Griffin bring that up?


  10. - Benjamin - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:12 pm:

    Also, I just read this story, and…what the hell? Why was this published in toto? Who prepared former theater critic Jones’ questions? Why does anybody care about what Ken Griffin thinks?[banned punctuation]


  11. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:14 pm:

    What a dilettante.


  12. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:15 pm:

    “He does not want to use his political capital for good.”

    I love how the world’s best business boy gets to make these kinds of declarative statements without any meaningful pushback from the drama critic his puppets at the Tribune send to record his Deep Thoughts.
    God forbid Ken would ever get in the ring himself and find out just how much all those simple non-billionaire voters agree with his political vision.


  13. - Shytown - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:16 pm:

    I just want to know what was Chris Jones thinking? How does he not correct Griffin and did he even do any homework ahead of this interview? And since when do editorial board editors do interviews that their news staff should be doing? Jones either needs to wear the editorial hat or go back to writing about culture and arts and leave covering the news to reporters.


  14. - hisgirlfriday - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:16 pm:

    Why give him this real estate in the op-ed section?

    Did he pay for it?

    Who cares what some Florida man thinks? Not Illinois voters.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:18 pm:

    ===That’s pretty darned dishonest.===

    That’s the Chicago Way, as a newly minted Hoosier Kass might mumble.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:21 pm:

    I’m beginning to think Z saw Griffin as a mark, not unlike Proft with Uihlein, and all this since 2013 has been about how deep Z could get into Griffin’s pockets, even if it meant wholly ignoring that Griffin lacks any honesty or knowledge to the governing or politics his money could change or shape.

    The checks cashed, and Gruffin is no smarter than any in-law uncle that thinks Kass knows the score.


  17. - Chicago 20 - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:22 pm:

    Griffin must be lucky, he’s certainly not smart.


  18. - Facts Matter - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:25 pm:

    Griffin also made the erroneous assertion that state employees don’t pay social security. State employees have been part of the social security system since at least the 1970s. Teachers don’t pay into the social security system.


  19. - Nick - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:25 pm:

    This is the same guy that once said he thinks politicians don’t listen to rich people enough, right?


  20. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:25 pm:

    “If he said “school districts” instead of “cities and counties” he would have been right.”

    No, he still would have been wrong. TRS pensions are funded by state contributions up to a certain amount of increases, which is then partially funded by an 9% board contribution of that same salary(usually fully paid for by the school district). Any spiking above that is the responsibility of the local district to pay for as an additional contribution into the pension system.

    There are formulas for how fast a salary can increase in the last 5 years of employment. It doesn’t stop the pension spiking happening in local districts, but it does change only the financial liability of that specific district.


  21. - Baloneymous - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:27 pm:

    Finally getting to see that billionaires are not the total geniuses that the media and general public often make them out to be. When I’ve made comments to friends that Elon Musk or other billionaires doesn’t know everything or isn’t smart in certain matters, they come back with he must be really smart because he’s so rich. Ugh. Obviously, Griffin in very savvy in certain financial areas, but he’s proving he doesn’t know much at all about Illinois politics or even basic government. And his obsession with pensions is unhealthy. I thought he was moving to Florida, so he doesn’t have to think about Illinois pensions anymore.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:33 pm:

    If the Tribune finds itself having to edit all the things Griffin says that are wrong… they might only be left with the correct spelling of Griffin’s name


  23. - Herbflus - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:34 pm:

    “go back to the federal government and get into Social Security again”.

    Again? what’s he talking about?


  24. - Big Dipper - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:36 pm:

    ==Who prepared former theater critic Jones’ questions?==

    He still reviews theater which may explain why he doesn’t have time to do his nominal job properly.


  25. - Live Wire - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:40 pm:

    Cities and Counties have 6% caps for raises within 4 years before retirement too.


  26. - Bruce( no not him) - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:43 pm:

    “ a state with a two-term limit.”
    He just got confused with the prison terms of past governors
    /S


  27. - Baloneymous - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:48 pm:

    And there are elements of that I think are attractive, but because the state employees do not participate in Social Security…

    Does Griffin even realize that FICA is the payroll tax on employees’ paychecks that funds Social Security and Medicare, including pretty much all state workers? After his Gov term limits comment and now this comment, I’m starting to wonder.


  28. - Rabid - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:52 pm:

    preconceived misconception is truth


  29. - Anon E Moose - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:52 pm:

    “state employees do not participate in Social Security”

    Really? Because I sure did at the Illinois AG.


  30. - Friendly Bob Adams - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 4:55 pm:

    1. He’s wrong on term limits and wrong on state employee Social Security. You wonder what he’s right about.

    2. Somebody needs to bash the Trib repeatedly about editing out previously published text without any comment. Extremely bad journalism.


  31. - Excitable Boy - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 5:00 pm:

    If you spent much time reading the Rahm/Griffin/Rauner emails, it became very clear that Grif and Rauner had extremely limited knowledge of how our various governments actually work. They just want their phone calls answered and their taxes lowered. That’s it.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 5:02 pm:

    ===*** UPDATE 3 *** After deleting the Griffin term limits comment, the Tribune has now added it back and included an editor’s note…===

    Well, that’s better than what the Trib did with Statehouse Chick’s editorial that was “re-edited” and never acknowledged as such.

    This is fun.


  33. - ZC - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 5:15 pm:

    I thought Chris Jones had too much power as a Chicago theatre critic but he had undeniable talent and Chicago could have done much worse. I’m getting the sense he should have stuck to that beat.


  34. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 5:44 pm:

    For the pension experts out there…

    6% isn’t a “spike” especially considering private sector increases these days. 6% is the maximum increase that an educator can experience during the period of their pension calculation (usually the highest 4 of their last 10 years) without the district incurring a roughly $13 dollar for every $1 dollar over the 6% limit penalty.

    The fact is that all you have to do is look at salary schedules and find out that some teachers are getting increases that exceed 6%, just not in the years that determine their pension.

    Pension spiking is an old trope that people choose to use but is generally false.

    And, school actually pay 11.5301% of the educators salary to TRS.

    Hat tip to @TheInvisibleMan for getting it mostly right as few people ever get close.

    As for Griffie, SSI is definitely socialised and I have paid in for many years never to get a nickel back. So were the loses of Wall Street back in 2008-2009. Your welcome Ken.

    I would be happy to give him a special deal on a private Civics class so that when he whines about stuff he is actually correct


  35. - Norseman - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 6:07 pm:

    === … use his political capital for good … ===

    Good for Griffin or good for the majority of IL residents? I’ll take JB’s definition of good over Griffin’s.


  36. - Big Dipper - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 7:23 pm:

    Maybe one of the business leaders on his Rolodex recommended injecting bleach.


  37. - Lincoln Lad - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 8:38 pm:

    I thought Griffin was foolish in how he wasted his money on Irvin. Now it turns out, he actually has no idea how things actually work under law - he’s not just foolish, but also not at all smart. I think I might try to sell him an auto repair warranty.


  38. - Pundent - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 8:52 pm:

    Nice to see that the Tribune is willing to show us that the emperor has no clothes. On second thought, never mind. Okay yes, he has no clothes.

    For Griffin this was always about achieving his vision of utopia even if it was completely detached from reality, which it was. He couldn’t support Pritzker because he wouldn’t take on the causes that Rauner couldn’t people to support. Ken Griffin wanted nothing more than a governor who ran the state for his personal benefit regardless of what that meant for the citizens as a whole. He won’t be missed.


  39. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Aug 9, 22 @ 8:57 pm:

    I’ve seen the comments about the interviewer. Does that mean the trib considers Griffin waxing about policy as some sort of performance art?


  40. - Give Us Barabbas - Wednesday, Aug 10, 22 @ 1:50 am:

    (Narrator:) “It turned out that it was Ken’s term that became limited, along with Bruce.”


  41. - Rufus T. Firefly - Wednesday, Aug 10, 22 @ 7:37 am:

    Another right-wing billionaire heaping praise on Rahm Emmanuel. Imagine that.


  42. - The Old Man - Friday, Aug 26, 22 @ 10:02 am:

    We miss you Jim Edgar


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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