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posted: 4/15/2013 5:00 AM

Don't point fingers at police pensions

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Jake Griffin's story March 13 on the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund revealed the double standard adopted by many politicians who demand reductions in benefits for police and firefighters. Mr. Griffin's excellent analysis of the investment markets' impact on pension funds proves that all retirement accounts are subject to the volatility of the markets.

It is disturbing that many politicians who fiercely try to slash police and firefighter benefits tend to turn a blind eye to the concerns of taxpayers when it comes to their own public pensions. Local politicians -- particularly those from the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference -- proclaim with pride the integrity of the IMRF while condemning the cost of police and fire pensions.

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Mr. Griffin's analysis, showing that taxpayers' contributions to the IMRF have spiked 172 percent in 10 years, is proof that all retirement plans are at the mercy of the investment markets. Our national recession was caused by financial institutional corruption that led to a housing crash. It was not caused by pension benefits for police and firefighters.

The sooner politicians admit that their own pensions are not immune to market fluctuation, the sooner reasonable discussions about pensions can take place. It is true, as IMRF Executive Director Louis Kosiba stated, that good pension fund investments result in lower costs to taxpayers. It is also true that the funding levels of Illinois fire and police pension plans have improved over the last several years due to wise investment choices made by their pension boards -- ultimately resulting in lower costs to the taxpayers.

The next time a local politician complains about police and firefighter pension costs, let's hope they remember the facts contained in Mr. Griffin's story about their own public pension plan.

Pat Devaney

President

Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois

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