Highland Park, Illinois: The Bell Revolt Spreads

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.

Time for all citizens to start paying attention and learn just how much local public employees are being paid.  How widespread is this type of plundering of the public purse?  How many officials are making ridiculously high salaries which are hiked up astronomically in short periods of time?  Most people pay little attention to local government, and we see the consequences of this type of inattention.

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

  1. Doug Moore says:

    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.

  2. Pinky says:

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

  3. Mike Petrik says:

    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.

  4. Therese Z says:

    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.

  5. Elaine Krewer says:

    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.

  6. Elaine Krewer says:

    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.

  7. Brian E says:

    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.

  8. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “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.

  9. Elaine Krewer says:

    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.

  10. […] lavish or disproportionate pay and benefits at taxpayer expense, such as in Bell, Calif., and elsewhere , frequently make headlines and prompt calls for reductions in such […]

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