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Obama hails from Illinois, the land of government. No other state can compare with Illinois when it comes to the various layers of government.

Is it no coincidence that Illinois is going broke? With all the help we Illinois taxpayers get from our various governments one might think we would be in good shape.

So to you Mr. President, I say, don’t make the rest of the country into your home state. It just doesn’t work.

Here’s an article by Peter Creticos that documents how Illinois became number one in the nation in the depth and breadth of government.

A true love story: the Illinois government glut

Peter Creticos
Jul 22, 2014 507 0

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Illinois government tax

More bodies of Illinois government than any other state — by a long shot

Illinoisans are in love with government – lots and lots of governments. So many governments – more than 8,400 – that not even rabbits can keep up. Lay on top of this how much Illinoisans love elections, and we are probably the most represented people on the face of the planet. This is especially true in the Chicago metropolitan area, which accounts for 1,723 units of government. It is not quite to the point that we can describe the number of elected officials in the metro area by the square foot, but it seems that we are getting close.

So Illinois is a paragon of democracy? Well not quite. The proof? If you are a Chicagoan, name every position and person who you elect to the city council, the Illinois House and Senate, Congress, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Cook County-wide offices, the Board of Review, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. If you are in the suburbs, add to this list your school board or boards, the community college board, the library board, the park district board, the township, and maybe one or two other special districts. When you have a problem, whom do you call?

A simple map by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning drives home the point. It uses Cook County as the example, but this is not about Cook County – the rest of Illinois is just as chopped up.

Illinois governments

The colored or shaded areas are municipalities or unincorporated Cook County respectively. The lines are those of all other taxing districts.

You see that Chicago looks really clean – which makes sense since the Chicago Public Schools, the City Colleges of Chicago and the Park District, while legally independent bodies, are run by mayoral appointees and the boundaries are the same as the City.

Most other municipalities are chopped into several special units of government. Hoffman Estates in the northwest corner of Cook County is one example. It straddles four townships and is divided among several local governments. Annexations and a high concentration of forest preserves contribute its overall amoeba-like shape. But, the more telling characteristic is that many lines crisscross the municipality.

The problem of overlapping government is not confined to communities like Hoffman Estates. Oak Park looks pretty clean. But, unlike Chicago, there are five units of elected government that share exactly the same boundaries. These include the village, the township, the library board, the park board, and elementary school board. The same is true for neighboring River Forest is like Oak Park. As it happens, the same high school district serves both communities. To be fair, River Forest, Oak Park, and Hoffman Estates work well, but the issue is whether they can work better if they were not saddled with jurisdictional babel.

This problem is not the result of a plot driven by machine politics. It actually dates back to the 19th Century. From 1870 to 1970, Illinois was governed by a constitution that put severe restrictions on local public debt. But, Illinoisans are a creative bunch, and the workaround was to create new local governments to accomplish what a single unit of government could not. We are living with a legacy that some people now try to rationalize by arguing that this enables voters to stay close to their elected officials. What really happens is that many public officials are able to stay anonymous and essentially unaccountable because they get lost in the background noise.

Having lots of governments is also expensive – very expensive. Imagine that you are in charge of a business and you want to move it to Illinois. Then imagine trying to figure out the cost of doing business and how it may vary just within a single municipality. Layer in special taxing districts – a favorite in Cook County – and it is possible that an answer to that question may change by few yards here or there. This is great for real estate lawyers, but not so good for economic development.

These many layers of governments also create huge costs for taxpayers. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently completed a study of city productivity across the U.S., Germany, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom. It found that larger cities are more productive than smaller ones – doubling the size of the city is associated with an increase by two to five percent in productivity. Productivity appears better for smaller cities when they are near larger cities. On the other hand, fragmented governance is costly. The OECD found that “for a given population size, a metropolitan area with twice the number of municipalities is associated with around six percent lower productivity.” This is a cost that no metropolitan area can afford. This is especially so for Illinois metro areas that are struggling to recover from the recession – of 2001.

Consolidations are clearly needed – not only among special units of government and school districts, but even municipalities. The longer that we cling to the current structure, the harder it will be to overcome institutional barriers to maintaining the state’s economic competitiveness and for delivering critical services to its residents.  At the same time, processes for forming new relationships across boundaries are often difficult and contentious and may create winners and losers. So it will take significant political courage and must involve all of civic leadership.

It is possible to legislate change, but that will not truly resolve the inevitable conflicts. The more likely pathway is to establish legal and financial incentives that reward consolidations. These may come in the form of additional financial aid, expanded authority, or tax relief. Voters can help propel change by demanding that candidates for office to more specialized units of government justify the existence of these units. The big picture issue is whether special districts and financially unsustainable governments should be standalone operations or whether they should be part of a comprehensive set of coordinated and complementary services provided by comprehensive municipal governments

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smug barack

We pay this man’s salary. He is an elected employee of the people. That includes you and me. It’s a general practice in the private sector to give an employee an annual performance review. I did a lot of those in my business career. Here’s my review of our president. You are welcome to disagree.

Strengths(things the president does well in rank order)

1. campaign

2. fund raise

3. play golf

4. vacation

5. bloviate

6. photo ops

7. play the blame game

8. lie

9. travel

10. play basketball

Here are the things the president doesn’t do well(he dislikes doing/ or can’t do)

1. lead

2. work

3. work with others

4. focus and prioritize

5. follow-through(close Gitmo was his first promise) or the line in the sand, you pick, there are many

6. accept responsibility

7. tell the truth

8. say anything in 50 words or less

9. get any job done-exceptions are Osama and ObamaCare

10. fire anyone

11. assemble a competent team

There you have it. Call the man in and go over the review. Be prepared for debate. Like any narcissist he won’t agree to much. He will challenge every point. Like they say on Fox: fair and balanced. Stick to your guns. This is the first step in replacing this man on this job. It may take a couple of years and more documentation to get HR to agree to show him the door.

Or, you could just do it like this:

a teaching moment

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1 interesting comment, join the discussion

The state of Illinois is broke. Here’s a list of financial obligations the state owes 50 retired school superintendents. There is no private pension plan that pays like the public pensions in the state of Illinois.

Extend this to all other public employees in the state who have retired and are receiving these lucrative pensions with cost-of-living adjustments and you will see how hopeless it is for the state to avoid bankruptcy.

When you click on the link below be sure to put your cursor on the green area on the left of your screen and click. It’s compressed data.


So, you can see the pension obligations range from $5 to 10 million and the average paid-in percentage amount is 4%.

One name on this list jumped out at me since he was the superintendent in our local district. Here’s some interesting informatin about Mr. Catalani.

Gary T. Catalani

10825 Dover Creek Avenue

Las Vegas, NV 89134


Ed.D. Northern Illinois University 1992

M.S. Northern Illinois University 1978

B.A. Lewis University 1972

Professional History

Associate of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. (IL)

1999-2007 Superintendent, Community Unit School District 200 (IL)

1995-1999 Superintendent, Thornton Township High School District 205 (IL)

1994-1995 Superintendent Elect, Thornton Township High School District 200 (IL)

1991-1995 Principal, Thornwood High School, Thornton Township High School District 200 (IL)

1985-1991 Principal, Hubert H. Humphrey Middle School, Valley View School District 365U (IL)

1979-1985 Assistant Principal, Bolingbrook High School, Valley View School District 365U (IL)

1978-1979 Dean of Students, Lockport East High School, Lockport Township High School District

205 (IL)

1972-1978 Instructor, Romeoville High School/Bolingbrook High School, Valley View School

District 365U (IL)

A local citizen in our community requested a copy of Mr. Catalani’s contract to see what our school district was paying him and what benefits he was receiving. He was denied that by the school district. Here’s what ensued.

Community Unit School District 200: Fight to know why superintendent made more than $380,000 a year heads to state Supreme Court

March 27, 2009|By Jo Napolitano, TRIBUNE REPORTER

Mark Stern of Wheaton wanted to know why the superintendent of his school district earned more than $380,000 a year, so he asked to see the man’s contract.

Community Unit School District 200 denied the request, and the fight has escalated all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Illinois Supreme Court upholds disclosure of superintendents’ employment contracts
Employment contracts of school superintendents are public documents, according to an Illinois Supreme Court opinion filed May 21. Such contracts are not exempted under “personal privacy” nor “personnel file” clauses within the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
“This is a home run for Illinois citizens trying to find out what their government is up to,” said Shawn Collins, the Naperville attorney who represented Mark O. Stern against the Wheaton-Warrenville Community Unit School District 200, the FOIA lawsuit that led to the decision.
The district had refused to release former superintendent Gary Catalani’s employment contract to Stern even though it had already been released to the media and despite two letters issued by the Illinois Attorney General’s office supporting disclosure.
“It’s sad that common sense had to climb this far up the ladder,” said Don Craven, general counsel and interim executive director of the Illinois Press Association. “But we are very pleased to have this opinion. It is highly definitive case law that answers this question once and for all. Public employment contracts are public documents. Period.”
The high court’s ruling does allow for redaction of personal information, such as social security numbers and bank account numbers. But the unanimous opinion, written by Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald, includes a strong warning against redacting too much.
The high court directed the circuit court to inspect the contract for personal information. “We do not intend, however,” the opinion reads, “for the in camera inspection to become a battle of details, requiring the circuit court to parse the contract and determine whether each individual paragraph or subsection bears on Catalani’s public duties.” The document as a whole is a public document, the court stated, and with narrow exception “must be disclosed in its entirety.”
The court did not address Stern’s claims that the school board waived its right to exempt the document when it released the contract to the media.
Collins said this case is a perfect example of why the state’s FOIA needs to be rewritten. He said he hopes that it sends a message to public officials that they “have to treat citizens better.”
He added that he hopes the legislature reads the opinion and realizes “what a Swiss cheese of a document the FOIA statute is” because of all the holes created by exemptions. He added that he thinks any FOIA reform should include penalties for non-compliance. “There must be [penalties] if this law is going to mean anything,” he said.
He said his firm worked “hundreds of hours without charge to our client” because this case was so important. He said that an overwhelming number of citizens “have no choice but to stop the fight” because they don’t have the resources, the contacts, the energy or the wherewithal to take on government officials. “I hope and believe this [opinion] will benefit them as well.”
He added, “The most disappointing thing is that it took three years.” Catalani doesn’t even work for the school district anymore, “so what’s the need for secrecy? … It took three years and all levels of Illinois courts just to learn why the school superintendent is making almost $400,000 a year. It’s obnoxious,” Collins said.
He said the district spent more than $60,000 trying to keep the superintendent’s contract under wraps. “That really adds insult to injury,” he said. “Taxpayers had to pay the superintendent’s salary but also had to pay the lawyers. That’s obnoxious.”
The school district had relied on the appellate case, Copley Press Inc. v. Board of Education for Peoria School District No. 150, which opined that anything contained in a personnel file was automatically exempt from disclosure.
The Supreme Court said that notion conflicts with the fact that the FOIA specifically states that contracts are public documents and also states that information bearing on public duties of public employees are public documents. It further noted that the Copley case was not about employment contracts, so the language in it regarding contracts is not binding.
The high court instead relied on Reppert v. Southern Illinois University, which notes that the FOIA allows disclosure of non-exempt documents contained within exempted records.
“The fact that an employment contract may be physically maintained within a public employee’s personnel file is insufficient to insulate it from disclosure,” Fitzgerald wrote.
Craven, who represented Reppert in the case cited by the Supreme Court, echoed Collins’ comments regarding FOIA reform. “Unfortunately, this case is not unique,” he said. “I’ve got three more just like it sitting on my desk right now. This case will help tremendously, but we need a better FOIA.”

Here’s what we learned from the disclosure.

Gary Catalani, former superintendent of Wheaton’s District 200, cashed in $288,230 for 185 unused sick days, among other payments, when he left in 2007. He also used 140.5 unused sick days toward retirement, according to records.Catalani initially received 25 vacation days per year. In 2003, it was increased to 28, and like sick days they also accumulated without limit year to year. He could cash in up to 12 unused days at the end of each year, and at the end of his term, he would be reimbursed for all the remaining unused days. He left District 200 with 58 1/2 vacation days, and cashed them in for $1,558 apiece. Between his unused sick leave days and vacation days, he was reimbursed $379,373.

insurance He and his family received full medical, dental and vision insurance under the district’s own plan, and he had a $450,000 term life insurance plan. The district paid the premiums for all. Last year the health insurance premium for District 200 employees was a few cents more than $22,754.

continuedcoverage District 200 will continue to pay his insurance premiums until he turns 71 in 2022. Combined over the last two years, coverage for him cost $44,220.80. This spring Catalani became superintendent at the unit school district in Scottsdale, Ariz. There he earns a salary of $195,000, but he waived health benefits. Instead, he receives an additional $10,000 a year.

severance If the District 200 School Board had unilaterally terminated Catalani’s contract without cause (an example of “just cause” would be neglect of duty, according to the contracts), his severance package would have been two years of salary and benefits.

Dr. Catalani took his little package from my school district in Illinois to my school district in Arizona.

The Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board met on May 2, 2011, and accepted the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Gary T. Catalani effective June 30, 2011. During the meeting, the Board discussed the process for finding interim and permanent replacements. Interviews for Interim Superintendent candidates will take place May 25th and 26th. The Governing Board will name an Interim Superintendent at the May 31st meeting.

“Dr. Catalani has been a tremendous leader over the past two years. He has been dynamic, engaged and accessible to the community at all times. He has shepherded us through two of the hardest years we have had. In addition to the override, there has been a bond measure, and the successes go on and on. One of the greatest gifts that he has given us is that he has positioned the District very well for next year. We’re not in crisis, we‘re in very good shape,” said Governing Board President Jennifer Peterson.

Dr. Catalani, who is resigning due to heath and family reasons, has been with SUSD since April 2009. During his tenure with the District, SUSD successfully passed a K-3 Override Renewal, Prop 100 and the 2010 Bond Project for $118 million that will rebuild four middle schools and make necessary mechanical and electrical upgrades and renovations to nine elementary and middle school sites.

Former District 200 superintendent Dr. Gary Catalani has quit his new superintendent job at the Scottsdale, Arizona school district, as reported by Arizona Central and several correspondents in Scottsdale.  Catalani’s Arizona contract had two years remaining, and required him to give 90 days notice of resignation, which apparently he did not do, citing “health and family reasons.”  Catalani turned 60 in January of this year.  If he has a personal health problem, we certainly wish him the best, but he will be well provided for, as his prior contract with District 200 (the subject of my FOIA lawsuit) mandates that District 200 taxpayers continue to pay directly for his and his wife’s health insurance, with no deductibles or co-pays, through the year 2022, in addition to paying (via the State of Illinois) for his pension, one of the highest in the state of Illinois.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you’d like to post a blog, go here to get started

Now, Dr. Catalani will get a nice retirement package from the state of Arizona to add to his generous payout from Illinois where he made the $400,00o in salary before he left.

There is never going to be the tax revenue from the private sector workers in the state of Illinois to pay the obligations the state has rung up with the generous pension benefits. Detroit is coming to Illinois, it’s just a question of when.

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