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Letters: Run, don't walk, to fix pensions

Mayor Rahm Emanuel had better be careful what he wishes for when he suggests that the city may not be willing to act as the ultimate guarantor of its pensions unless concessions are made first (“Could the city walk away from pension obligations?” by Mark Brown — May 20). The language of the Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion is clear. A worker’s pension benefits accrue from day one of employment and cannot be curtailed or changed. Furthermore, neither the unions nor the city can come to an agreement that is binding on everyone. They speak only for themselves, and it takes just one dissatisfied party to file a lawsuit.

Instead of looking at pension liability as a hot potato that can be passed around to someone else, Rahm and the city would be a lot better off if they faced reality and did not try to postpone the day of reckoning. The same goes for the state legislature. It, too, must finally work with the city to resolve the problem instead of continuing to run away from its responsibility.

Edward D. Lasky, Edgewater

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Lawmakers dropped ball on pensions

By the mid-1970s, I and other state employees were becoming aware that while we were making our mandated monthly contributions to our retirement fund, the legislature in Springfield was sidestepping its obligation. That was a very long time ago and this crisis has been building steadily since then. Add to that the additional fact that the state has been borrowing from our pension fund to meet its other unfunded obligations and you have the present crisis.

Who is to blame for this? In my opinion it is generation after generation of legislators, Republicans and Democrats, who have been delivering government to the people of the state by mortgaging our future welfare for their own benefit — i.e. reelection. If and when taxes are raised in this state, I would hope that outraged citizens would blame the real villains and not state employees. We did our part and we kept our word. It is the legislators who dropped the ball.

Would I be willing to help pay for the increased taxes required to dig us out of this self-imposed hole? Yes, I would, but only if progressive taxation were returned to the state for the affluent and the wealthy and only if private industry, now protected by sweetheart exemptions, was also required to pony up and pay for the government services that they rely upon.

John Tredrea, River Grove

Emanuel hits home with inauguration speech

Chicago voters were obviously paying attention this time around when they rejected the affable Chuy Garcia in favor of the gruff Rahm Emanuel. With the city’s impending tsunami of debt threatening to make us Detroit, they went for substance over style. In his inauguration the Mayor addressed one of the other elephants in the room, the hopelessness of Chicago’s youth, hoping to spark a transformation in a culture that sends young people to the streets and ultimately to prison. For Neil Steinberg (“Rahm’s oratorical smokescreen” — May 20) this was nothing more than a futile gesture, intended to make the mayor look good.

Chicago’s financial situation is indeed a catastrophe and is being debated ad nauseam on a daily basis. But losing generations of our youth is another catastrophe, and I applaud the mayor for at least starting a conversation. Time will tell if actions follow the words, but I, for one, am sick of reading of yet another life lost in the inner city. Whether the bullet is taken or given, one body dies, and one soul is lost, and it’s a cycle that won’t be broken until the powers that be take a serious look at the issue.

Scot Sinclair, Gurnee

A pock on Chicago

Cloud Gate became “The Bean,” logical by shape and not an offensive sobriquet. If the Lucas museum is built, based on the drawings I have seen, I predict it will be called the “pimple, and worse the “zit.” Do the citizens of Chicago and Illinois want a zit on their front yard?

Norman Friedland, Highland Park

Fights for the ages

The Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout is being touted as the fight of the century. The fight of the century was Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, not to mention many other great fights: Muhammad Ali-George Foreman and Rocky Marciano-Jersey Joe Walcott. As for this fight being the greatest in history, it doesn’t even come close. The only thing great about this fight was the money people spent to see it.

Robert Bromley, Matteson