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posted: 12/19/2012 4:40 AM

Pension crash must minimize damage

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Pension crash must minimize damage

If Illinois public pensions were an airliner, they would be preparing for a crash landing. It's not a matter of if, but when and how severe.

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It's not the passengers' fault; they paid their full fare and followed all the rules. But the airline management kept diverting maintenance, borrowing from the maintenance budget to supplement often unrelated programs for whatever political reasons appeared compelling at the time -- an expedient, short term view.

As a passenger on the plane, I have my own frustrations about what's possibly going to happen. The cabin is rife with rumors offering a wide range of potential outcomes. To sit back, do nothing and hope everything simply works out isn't a current consideration. Obviously, I want to avoid catastrophe and reach a fair resolution without jeopardizing my own survival.

Fair? Of course it isn't fair. Fair's role has been significantly diminished. The plane is going to crash land; some damage is inevitable. The best we can prepare for is to minimize the damage while insuring the aircraft will be repairable and able to fly into the future without further such incidents. The maintenance department's credibility needs to be restored which requires that what is done now in preparation for the crash must be accomplished in an open and thoughtful process, not hammered out behind management's closed doors moments before impact.

Promises were made; not all of them are going to be kept. But it's time to stop pointing fingers, time to stop vilifying the passengers, time to actually address the very real issues and get this plane safely on the ground with a minimum of injuries.

Rich Perry

Hampshire

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