Police Pension Plunder

Funds pay for board sec's law school

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    The law school tuition of a pension fund secretary is under fire.

    The Chicago Police Pension fund pays out approximately $450 million in annual benefits to retirees, widows, and disabled officers. But as Larry Yellen reports on Fox News Chicago, it's also paying the law school tuition of the executive director's secretary.

    The $22,000 annual payments -- over four years because the secretary is attending school at night -- may not seem like much considering it's a $2.8 billion fund, but new board pension board trustee Michael Shields, himself a Chicago police officer, tells Yellen that the pension board is "strapped" and "[we] cannot afford to do this."

    Pension fund executive director John Gallagher Jr. says the $2.8 billion fund's financial condition is "open to many interpretations." Yellen reports that it's down 30 percent in the last year.

    It's true that many organizations have tuition reimbursement plans - even taxpayer subsidized plans. Yellen notes that he has previously reported that 120 employees of the Water Reclamation District were receiving money under such a plan.

    But the pension fund has no positions for staff lawyers; it's not clear that the skills Gallagher's secretary will learn will be of any value to anyone but her next employer. Should taxpayers help pick up the tab for that?

    It's not a staggering amount of money, but we'd all love to have it. And this is how it works - a little bit here, a little bit there.

    Shields raised the issue before the board on Thursday. The board took no action.