The State of Illinois has the worst funded public pensions in the United States. Fifty states, and Illinois is 50th. It’s not easy being the worst at something, however Illinois seems to excel in that accomplishment.
Is it any wonder that during an election year, the word ‘pension’ is a buzz word, even in Naperville. City council members voted to opt out of the state’s retirement plan that would have paid an annual pension of about $2,000 per council member for life. That’s less than $20,000 per year for the entire Naperville city council.
Councilman Grant Wehrli was the bugle-boy, or point-person on this one. His timing on this is suspicious, considering he is running for a State office. I haven’t heard residents clamoring for council members to drop their pensions. There hasn’t been a petition submitted with thousands of residents’ signatures, as there was for the non-binding referendum regarding forced installation of so-called Smart Meters. Wehrli basically threw his city council peers and their pensions under the bus, so he could use this as a rallying point for his quest to be elected. He can say, “look I cleaned up the pension mess in Naperville, and I can do the same for Illinois too”. Well, he didn’t clean up the pension mess in Naperville, and he won’t be able to do it for the State of Illinois either. It’s a pretty safe bet, that if councilman Grant Wehrli is doing something, he is doing it for himself.
Grant Wehrli and other Naperville city officials did nothing to prevent Police Chief Bob Marshall from collecting his $104,000 yearly pension, while also drawing his $155,000 salary. So city officials are saving $20,000 in council pensions, while losing $104,000 because city officials ‘gamed’ the residents of Naperville by creating a framework to allow Marshall to collect his police pension while working as the Chief of Police.
Here’s how they did it. Bob Marshall retired from the Naperville Police Department in 2005 and began to draw his police pension. Naperville city officials then placed him in the position of assistant city manager until May 2012 when he was appointed police chief.
Naperville city officials ‘gamed’ the system and the residents by not swearing him in again as an officer, and furthermore did not provide Marshall with a contract. So Bob Marshall is working without a contract and is not a police officer, in order to draw his police pension along with a hefty six-figure salary. All perfectly legal, and all perfectly hideous.
The bottom line is that Marshall is getting more than five-times as much pension income per year as nine council members combined would have for one year.
The next time you see Police Chief Bob Marshall, remember that he is not a police officer, and he’s working without a contract. He did it by ‘gaming’ the system and the residents. And he did it with the help of Naperville city officials.
Gaming the system is an art form practiced by our city manager and his cast of merry men and women. As to how our non-police chief gets away with this nonsense is beyond the pale. Since he is not a sworn policeman does he have to have a permit to carry a gun? Can he be refused entrance to crime scenes or emergency situation? Since he is essential just an ordinary citizen what happens if he shoots somebody would the city be liable? If he ordered illegal actions by the police force is he personally liable? This is an absurd situation with no justification except to say cronyism and corruption at the highest levels and supported by gutless council members.
I find it amazing that the CC talks about pension reform, then tells the City Attorney to defend Bob Marshall against the State trying to delay his pension until he is actually done working. The liability issues are interesting, although I doubt Bob has a bullet for the gun. Even worse is that we will have a Mayor that will have two public pensions when he retires. How can these people govern with so many conflicts of interest?