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Pension cartoon riles board members

Members of Evanston’s fire and police pension boards are upset about a political cartoon.

The image, originally published in the Springfield Journal Register, was included in a presentation developed by the Northwest Municipal Conference that accompanied a resolution aldermen were scheduled to consider Monday urging state lawmakers to adopt pension reform legislation.

The image shows two obese men labeled pension costs, dressed in fire and police uniforms, being carried on the backs of two tiny figures labeled taxpayers.

The firefighter figure says "Get used to it. It’s called a fireman’s carry," while the police figure pokes his taxpayer with his nightstick and says "Giddy up!"

Timothy Schoolmaster of the city’s police pension board called the cartoon "offensive."

Pat Dillon of the fire pension board said it was "distasteful and inappropriate."

Schoolmaster also challenged numbers used to detail the scope of the pension problem in the resolution saying "there are a lot of bad numbers here. We need to take time off" and review the issue.

The resolution would urge the state General Assembly to stop approving new and increased public safety pension benefits and give local governments more control over pension funding.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said that after reading the presentation, "I felt we were going to war, us against them. I didn’t like the tone at all of any of this. All these snide remarks, it’s … childish."

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, after disowning the cartoon, said, "We do want them [the state legislature] to stop passing all these benefit increases."

Alderman Delores Holmes said, "We’re not sending" the municipal conference’s "presentation, we’re simply asking that the legislature doesn’t impose more benefit increases without providing the money to pay for it."

"I would think the firemen and policemen would support that," Holmes added.

The aldermen voted to hold the resolution in the Administration and Public Works Committee and discuss it further at the committee’s next meeting March 24.

The council last month voted to substantially raise property taxes and other charges to start paying off a $140 million shortfall in the city’s public safety pension funds.

Want to see the cartoon yourself?
It’s on p. 141 of the council packet (a 37MB download).

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