Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why Chicago, Cook County & Illinois Are Going Broke (part I)

Robert Dugan, a Daley crony will now collect a yearly pension check totalling $92,208. This particular case is jarring because of the issues of nepotism and corruption, but beyond that the larger, looming issue of the over $62 billion in unfunded liabilities that Illinois pensions face. Clearly no one is as careless with money as a politician or bureaucrat spending the money of the public on other politicians and bureaucrats.

Brother of Daley pal quits CTA job

Robert Degnan stands to collect two government pensions

June 17, 2009

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter/

The brother of one of Mayor Daley's closest friends in politics has quit the $116,000-a-year CTA job created just for him, paving the way for Robert Degnan to simultaneously collect two government pensions.

In 2002, Degnan retired as the city's $115,260-a-year Fleet Management commissioner to accept a $95,000-a-year job at the CTA.

By jumping through an early retirement window, Degnan got a lump-sum bonus of 10 percent of his annual city salary. He was also free to collect both a city pension and a CTA paycheck.

His May 31 retirement from the CTA means Degnan can now collect two local government pensions. His annual retirement check from the city amounts to roughly $92,208 or 80 percent of Degnan's highest city salary. After just seven years on the CTA job, he'll collect a $10,997-a-year CTA pension.

Robert Degnan is the brother of Tim Degnan, the Bridgeport buddy of Daley who preceded Victor Reyes as director of the mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said Robert Degnan's double-pension is particularly galling at a time when under-funded city pensions threaten to saddle future generations of Chicagoans with a debt they cannot handle.

"It's a shining example of why the city's pension system -- and all other local government systems authorized by the General Assmbly -- need to be reformed and structured to what is economically reasonable for taxpayers, rather than insiders who are able to manipulate the system," Msall said.

Robert Degnan could not be reached. He told CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney that he'd been comtemplating retirement for some time to become a part-time consultant.

"In 2008, he went to eight funerals and six were for people younger than him. It made him evaluate how he was spending his time," Gaffney said.

In a court filing during the 2006 trial that culminated in the conviction of Daley's former patronage chief, Robert Sorich, federal prosecutors named Tim Degnan as one of several former mayoral aides who could be linked to a conspiracy to rig city hiring and promotions in favor of the Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley armies of political workers.

Tim Degnan was never charged with wrongdoing.

Robert Degnan was appointed Fleet Management commissioner after his predecessor, Rick Santella, was accused of steering city business to perennial city trucking contractor Michael Tadin.

In almost four years at the helm of Fleet Management, Degnan ushered in reforms that saved the city money and expanded his own vehicle empire.

He signed an $11 million contract with NAPA Auto Parts that reduced the opportunity for theft by eliminating the need for City Hall to maintain vast inventories of parts. The NAPA contract was renewed last month -- for $190 million over five years.

City Hall eliminated the Chicago Fire Department's scandal-plagued repair shop and folded its responsibilities into Fleet Management. And contracts were signed with the CTA, Chicago Park District, the Chicago Housing Authority and City Colleges that called for Fleet Management to repair their vehicles.

At the CTA, Degnan served as general manager of systems maintenance support, maintaining and upgrading a 650-vehicle "non-revenue" fleet that included everything from snowplows and garbage trucks to service vehicles and construction equipment.

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