Retired Chicago Police and Firemen Getting Rich From Locally Funded Pensions (Revised)

CHICAGO— Retired Chicago police and firemen receive lavish, gold-plated pensions, and, according to Jim Tobin, President of the Illinois Taxpayer Education Foundation (ITEF), the reason Governor Patrick Quinn signed Senate Bill 3538, the $500,000,000 Chicago property tax increase, is to pump more taxpayer dollars into extravagant city pensions. The bill also forces local governments to raise property taxes statewide to fund local pensions, instead of requiring real pension reforms.

“I acknowledge that firemen and police have high-risk jobs,” said Tobin, “but that is no reason to force taxpayers to fund pensions that are making pension millionaires of many of these retirees.”

Jim Tobin announces the top pensions for Chicago's Police and Firemen to WGN TV, FoxTV Chicago, and ABC TV 7 at a News Conference held at the ITEF office Tuesday, February 8.

“Those receiving the largest annual pensions are retired Chicago police,” said Tobin, “and the proposed property tax increase pumps even more tax dollars into these pension funds. Of the top 10,000 police pensions, the average annual pension is a whopping $48,900. The largest annual police pension went to Philip Cline, whose annual pension is $146,973– $12,248 a month. Another retired Chicago cop, Dana Starks, is pulling in $11,243 a month with his pension, that’s $134,924 annually. Terry Hillard, another retired Chicago cop, is pulling in a lavish $140,701 annual pension.”

“The property tax increase will also pour more tax dollars into the Chicago firemen pension fund, which provides an average annual pension of $58,900 to its 2,560 pensioners. The largest pension goes to James T Joyce, who received an annual pension of $137,800 — $11,483 a month.  James Kehoe is a close second with an annual pension of $126,650, which comes out to $10,554 a month. Another top pensioner is Norbert Diaz whose monthly pension is $10,325– $123,910 a year!”

“With the median fulltime wage for Chicago area households at $36,900 and the unemployment rate now at 9%, Chicago property tax increases to pay these extravagant pensions are inexcusable, and pension plan reforms are needed. The Chicago City Council and Mayor must end pensions for all new government, which hires will eventually eliminate unfunded government pensions; putting new government hires into social security and 401(k)s would achieve this. Furthermore, requiring public employees to pay for one-half of their health care premiums would save even more.”

***Thanks to the keen eyes of our readers, it was brought to our attention that there was an error in the Top Chicago Police Pensions list released last week. We apologize for the misinformation, and thank our ever-watchful readers for spotting the error. The revised list can be viewed by clicking the link below.***

Click here to view the revised top pensions for Chicago Police.

Click here to view the top pensions for Chicago Firemen.

Click here to view Troopergate-Part 2.

Click here to view this article as a PDF.

22 Responses

  1. N. Miller says:

    The city workers earned and deserve their pensions. They pay into it similiar to a matched 401K. Im guessing you dont have a pension and are not willing to do the work of the city worker ie.
    How much do you make off this organization with donations? How much of the donations are you using to live off of?

  2. anonymous says:

    99% of the police pensions that you mention were exempt members (command staff) of CPD. The blue shirts and low ranking supervisors DO NOT receive lavish, gold plated pensions.

  3. Steve Bigden says:

    I think this is nonsense. How is it possible for a Sergeant like the one you call the top pensioner to make a pension of 172K when his base salary is nowhere near that? I doubt your numbers.

  4. steve bigden says:

    On second thought, not only do I doubt your numbers, I think they are fraudulent. Sgt. Degenhardt contracted a disease a few years ago while employed by the city. He nearly died from that disease. At the time of his retirement his salary was probably around 90K a year. If he was medically retired which I suspect he was, he would be eligible for a pension of 75% of that 90K, a far cry from the 172K you mention. I suspect what really happened is that he sued the city and reached an out of court settlement paying him the 14K a month your story indicates. But that is NOT pension money if that is the case. But you as a smart man and I believe an attorney would or should know this. Which makes me wonder about incompetency in your investigation or simple dishonesty. Which is it Mr. Tobin. And before you try to explain this away with “those are the numbers the city gave me”, as a man with some common sense you should have realized that 75% of 90K does not amount to 172K. Hence my question of incompetency or dishonesty.

  5. john sintic says:

    Your being missled. I’m recently retired CPD.
    I get $2992.00 a month before taxes for 25yrs
    0f service. I paid 9% of my gross paycheck for all those years. What your saying is true
    about these out of line pensions, but they’re
    not the regular cops or firemen. The bosses get all the perks for there pensions. You could cut them in half and it wouldn’t hurt. Take 5% from
    me, it changes my life. try to get a job at my age, with no connections.

  6. Richard J. Tracy says:

    Mr. Tobin What does “Of the top 10,000 police pensions, the average annual pension is a whopping $48,900 mean”? What does the bottom 10,000 police pensions average?
    I am a retired Police Capt and my pension was based on 75% of my highest 4 of the last 10 years. Which comes to about 60% of my last years salary. That is not a lavish, gold-plated pension. And, persons of lower rank receive even less.

  7. Pension Watcher says:

    “the average annual pension is a whopping $48,900”

    I’m agreeing with anonymous above and calling BS. The average police officers’ WHOPPING pension is probably closer to $30K. It’s all about Daley taking care of his cronies with their gold braid retirements, and then HE’S got the stones to complain about the pensions? … DISGUSTING!

    It gets worse, too. A number of those “pensioners” have been “rehired”, like Daley cousin-in-law Tom Byrne, now the head of Streets & Sanitation,(you know, the one who was in charge when 900 cars got snowed in on Lake Shore Dr last week). Now dozens of them are working on 2nd or 3rd pensions! It’s all legit.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Many of us cops who came on the job at 40 and over get screwed with our pension because Daley changed the retirement age from none to 63. We are not wealthy cops.

  9. Norman Schmit says:

    Look into the exorbitant salaries of Politicians and Educators, to save money,before the Police pensions.

  10. trivialthings says:

    Maybe Mr. Tobin should tell his tale of woe in the CORRECT format. As a retired officer I DO NOT get anywhere near those pensions. Those are EXEMPT RANK, as in CEOs, V.P.s etc. in the BUSINESS WORLD. The average rank and file officer does not get a pension like that. How about some TRUTH Mr. Tobin? Oh and while you’re at it how about some TRUTH as to why this problem has come about. How about you tell the TRUTH that the politicians WHO BY LAW were supposed to be making contributions to the pension plans REFUSED and STOLE the money for their own purposes. How about you tell the TRUTH and say how 9% of my paycheck was taken out before I even saw it for my pension. How about you tell the TRUTH and say these officers, firemen, and other City Employees ALSO PAY TAXES and support their own pensions.
    How about it Mr. Tobin? THE TRUTH not the vilification of the individual who EARNED that pension. VILIFY the politicians who CREATED THE PROBLEM and now seek to blame those who are BLAMELESS. Your lieing bull story makes me think YOU and your organization are in the POCKETS of the DemocRATic party or you are just an IDIOT who believes these lieing DemocRATs to cover their own reaar ends.

  11. anonymous says:

    You should research what you are talking about. A percentage of everyone employees salaries are payed in to pensions just like your own 401k.

  12. Bob Paczkowski says:

    Dont blame all of the Police & Firemen for something we have no control over if you must Blame somebody Blame the Daley Family and all of the past & present City Council for the mis management of the money that they are in control over..Regular police & Fireman work hard for what they get, Working Holiday,s & weekends that normal people have off to spend with there family,s Big Boss,s are mostly CLOUT jobs in the City everybody knows It..Where have you been !!!!!! DONT BLAME THE LITTLE GUY…

  13. GN says:

    I see that Mr. Tobin is a very gullible man. and ignorant if he thinks that pensions are the cause of tax increases. What needs to be reformed is what these politicians are feeding us, this belief that the pensions are this cause of Govt. short falls. What needs to be reformed is the welfare system, how much does that cost tax payers year after year? How about the lavish pensions and health care packages these politicians are receiving? and most are getting more than one pension, Why? Oh yes lets not forget about Govt. waste there certainly isn’t any of that. So I say Mr Tobin it’s time you open your eyes and close your mouth. When you actually go to work and put your life on the line than maybe you would know that a pension is well deserved by all emergency responders across this great country of ours.

  14. john Knox says:

    Please remind your readers that this is not the Firefighters, Paramedic and Police officers that is going to the fire or police stations everyday. The State of Illionis Pass a so called “Brass Bill” and this covered exempt rank remembers only …

  15. Tania Ferrera says:

    Mr. Tobin, I am not a fat cat retired government employee. As someone who has to live on a limited income while paying my mortgage, I thank you for the research you are doing. Believe me, there are a lot more of us out there than there are retired government types, and we vote! Thank you!

  16. Connie Lobo says:

    Most retired persons I know get about $1,500 a month from Social Security, and, if they’re lucky, a small pension in addition to that.

    Are we really supposed to feel sorry for retired government bureaucrats who get pensions of “only” $40,000 or $50,000 a year? These guys are living in a bubble, and their bubble is about to burst. They are totally disconnected from reality.

  17. Phillip Borris says:

    These pensions are ridiculous. Asking to see the bottom 10,000 pensions doesn’t excuse the excessiveness of these top ones.

    Reform needs to happen, Illinois will just sink deeper in dept if things continue this way.

  18. Rich Garowski says:

    I think the average guy probably doesn’t get a huge pension but that doesn’t make it right that some do. I get barely enough social security to cover my bills but I still pay tax to help pay for some of these big pensions. That is not right to me. I am a good citizen and don’t mind paying my share for things so I am not saying that people should not get paid. But I am not sure how much I should pay for someone who is not even working or paying taxes and never paid much for there own retirement.

  19. Larrie Viles says:

    The truth of the matter is the Gold Brass group get promoted to high paying rank in just enough time to “earn” high pensions. The system is ripping the pension plans. If I had invested what the city charged me in pension payments I would have had much more money and future. The funding was do-able when enacted but the politicians plundered the money on pet projects ignoring funding obligations. Remind you of SS. or does supporting everyone under 18 in N. Korea a better idea.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Lets see, there is Tom Byrne, another Daley higher-up “brown nose” trying to pad his pension with another City pension, that he could eventually receive. Then there is the Illinois State politician (among many) who retired with a pension of over $70.000 a year, and took another position with the State of Illinois, worked for only a few weeks at this new position, retired again from that position, and received approximately $40 or $50 thousand dollars more added on to his first pension for life ! Call the BGA for more information.
    Illinois State politicians and these City higher-ups are to blame for the financial mess we are in today. Stop blaming the average police officer and fireman for the financial problems we now have !

  21. Ned Depugh says:

    Another awesome write-up my man! thanks.

  22. Victoria says:

    Who the fudge is Jim Tobin???? Retirees pay their fare share and the city was suppose to match. The city has not paid their fair share and now is reneging. Is Rom Emanuel paying this guy? After all, there is only about 20 thousand city employees vs a city of 4 million.

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