Highland Park, Illinois: The Bell Revolt Spreads

Monday, August 23, AD 2010

In this post I discussed the outrage in Bell, California over “public servant”, yes that phrase often does have a humorous sound to it these days, salaries.  The revolt has now spread to Highland Park, Illinois, a fairly wealthy Chicago north shore suburb, population approximately 34,000, with a median family income of $100,000.00 per annum.  It is a limousine liberal type of town, which was in the news earlier this year when the assistant district superintendent decided to cancel a girl’s basketball trip to a tournament in Arizona in a transparent attempt to protest the Arizona immigration law.  Players and parents were mostly outraged by the decision.

Residents got a whole new reason to be outraged, when they recently learned of the sky high salaries and bonuses paid to Park District officials.  Ralph Volpe, head of the Park District, was paid $435,000 in 2008;  finance director Kenneth Swan’s salary leaped from $124, 908 in 2005 to $218, 372 in 2008;  facilities director David Harris went from $135, 403 to $339, 302 in 2008.  Total bonuses paid to these three tireless slaves of the people was $700,000 between 2005-2008.  The taxpayers of Highland Park are not amused.  Go here to read all about it.

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11 Responses to Highland Park, Illinois: The Bell Revolt Spreads

  • Related to this are reports from all over about how public employees are paid much more in many cases than their counterparts in the private sector. Public employee Unions play a part in this.

  • What party are they? When have you ever seen a political story that doesn’t mention what party the officials are?

  • Pinky,
    In suburban Chicago politics the parties can be peculiarly local, such as the Unity Party and some such things. Perhaps that is why no mention here.

  • In most Chicago suburbs, the local municipal candidates are forbidden to identify with a party. They might team up and run together with a “Unity Party” name like mentioned above, but other than that, no.

    Kind of refreshing, although you can still ID people for what they believe.

  • As a public service and to save you all the trouble of filing a FOIA request with the Illinois Comptroller’s office, I will tell you exactly how much I make as a state employee: $35,000 per year. That has not changed in two years, and isn’t likely to go up any time soon; in fact I would not be surprised to see my pay go DOWN in the next year or two. I’m not union either. So don’t assume we’re ALL rolling in unearned taxpayer money. But I digress.

    Anyway… Mike and Therese are correct in that many Illinois municipal elections are officially non-partisan, and candidates are not identified by party on the ballot. However, the party affiliation of the various candidates is usually public knowledge, either because of their activities on behalf of other candidates or because of the recipients of their campaign donations.

  • Furthermore, local government (medium to large size cities and counties, plus some school boards) is particularly prone to this kind of salary padding precisely because everyone knows everyone else and wants to help out their “friends.” The salaries themselves may not be that high, but bonuses for serving on various committees, or filling more than one position, may bump it up. Also, the practice of giving people who were nearing retirement age big annual raises in their last year or two of work in order to increase their future pensions was rampant, at least until recently when the public caught on to the practice.

  • I live in Highland Park and at this point am honestly ashamed that I do. First the outrageous decision to ban the girls from going to Arizona and now this. This is tax payer money, and not only do the tax payers pay for the bonuses and salaries of the current year but are now forced to pay these people upwards of 150,000 dollars a year in pension. Absolutely criminal what these people have done and at age 19 im seriously considering running for a position on the board. These people all need to go.

  • “and at age 19 im seriously considering running for a position on the board.”

    That is precisely the type of positive response I hope to see from people outraged by this type of governmental malfeasance Brian. I hope you do run and win.

  • Way to go Brian! I did once know a guy who ran for a small-town city council seat at the age of 19, in his college town, and won. He served for a couple of years before leaving to go to grad school elsewhere, but I’m sure the experience served him well.

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The Bell Revolt

Wednesday, July 28, AD 2010

Bell, California is the latest flashpoint in a growing taxpayer revolt.  A blue collar, mostly Hispanic town of 38,000, 10 miles southeast of Los Angeles, local residents were in a state of shock, which rapidly turned to blazing anger, after they learned that the Chief Administrative Officer of Bell, Robert Rizzo, “earned” a salary of $787, 637 per annum with annual 12 percent raises, the police chief Randy Adams “earned” $457,000 a year, while the Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia had to make do with a paltry $376, 288 each year.  The part time members of the city council each “earned” almost 100k a year.

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9 Responses to The Bell Revolt

  • The $800 billion stimulus is working! The unemployment rate among guvmint workers is 0%.

    They must raise taxes on the EVIL rich: these guys need better raises.

    Big government! Big salaries!

  • “richly reward friends and insiders”

    And union members, of course. However, those government employees who are neither friends, insiders, or union members (and there are some, although they are a shrinking group) are the ones who inevitably end up being punished for the sins of all the others, via furlough days, layoffs, pay cuts, reductions in benefits, etc. Their unemployment rate, while lower than average, is not “zero.”

    I’m not arguing against necessary austerity measures, just saying they need to be fairly applied — there should not be one class of federal/state/local employee that is subject to all the cuts while another class is exempt.

  • these type of transparently fraudulent arrangements are part and parcel of the way Big Government does business

    Except that the City of Bell is not what is usually meant by Big Government. In theory, as Catholics we should look more favorably on forms of local government — subsidiarity and all that. In practice, city politics is probably more corrupt than anything at the federal level.

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  • Update: Rizzo, Adams, Spaccia and 5 other city officials have been arrested on charges of misappropriating public funds and other corruption charges. Bond for Rizzo was set at $2 million, I believe. Apparently some really, really massive corruption was going on there.

  • I’ve been following the latest developments also Elaine. It should be interesting to see if these criminal prosecutions ultimately uncover evidence that leads to prosecutions at other levels of government. I would suspect the former officials indicted probably have pretty tales to tell about other people in government.

  • there should not be one class of federal/state/local employee that is subject to all the cuts while another class is exempt.

    I would like to be lumped with those very resistant to layoffs of soldiers, uniformed police, prison guards, and firefighters.

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  • petition_federal_pay_reform

    1.The Max wage and benefits for a Elected Congressional service member is to be equal to a U.S.A. military service members Wage and benefits for equal years served.
    2.The max wage and benefits for Government employee shall not exceed the average non-union American Wage and benefits.