One of the liveliest civic conversations taking place in Illinois is the debate over public pension reform.
Are public pensions sustainable? Should inflation adjustments be reduced? Are teachers and other public employees being disrespected? Why has the state failed to fund the system? Are some school districts gaming the system? Should some of the funding responsibilities be pushed to the local taxpayer?
What is fair?
Will the problem ever be solved, and if so, what will that solution look like?
The arguments over all of this have been frequently acrimonious and polarizing.
Please reserve seats with us for a public forum intended to search out some common ground.
On Wednesday night, April 24, we are partnering with Reboot Illinois to sponsor this community discussion. Wheeling Township is opening the doors to its town hall at 1616 N. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights.
Reboot Illinois is a civic-minded nonpartisan digital media operation that aims to engage the citizenry in understanding and addressing the state's challenges.
In that regard, its mission is similar to our own, and we're excited to work with the organization on this event. Frankly, we hope to collaborate with Reboot on other public service projects too.
Reboot has put together a panel that includes State Rep. Elaine Nekritz of Northbrook, State Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine and Cinda Klickna, president of the Illinois Education Association, to bring a variety of perspectives to the topic.
“Pensions now cost taxpayers $17 million every single day. There's no more critical challenge that touches each of us,” says Madeleine Doubek, chief operating officer for Reboot.
We'll join Reboot in asking some questions. We plan to ask panelists to spell out their visions of a solution. We also plan to ask them how they'll work together. And how serious they are about finding real solutions.
But our questions aren't the important ones. Yours are. Our role is to provide the setting and then get out of the way. We look to you to lead the discussion.
If this problem is going to be solved, it's going to be because the public, from all walks of life, rose up and demanded a solution.
This is your chance to be a part of that.
The forum takes place at 7 p.m. April 24. Admission is free, but seating is limited. Advance registration is required.
If you're interested in attending, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us your name, address, phone number, the number of tickets you need and a brief sentence about why you want to participate. Or you can register online at http://rebootillinois.com/pensiontalk.
Thank you for reading. I hope you can join us on April 24.
(We encourage you to talk with the editor by joining the Facebook conversation on today's column. We want a provocative discussion but one that also abides by general rules of civility ... Please also consider friending John on Facebook by searching John Lampinen Daily Herald and following him on Twitter @DHJohnLampinen.)Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.