NRO’s eye on debt and deficits . . . by Kevin D. Williamson.

Illinois Fiscal Meltdown: A Continuing Series


The Land of Lincoln (or, if you prefer, the Origin of Obama) is going broke, in a big, big way, as I have noted earlier. The main reason is it going broke is because its public-sector caste is robbing the rest of the state blind.

Have the taxpayers finally had enough? Is nearly a half-million dollars a year for a suburban Chicago parks director too much?

Dozens of Highland Park residents confronted their Park District commissioners Thursday night, demanding that they resign for approving a series of exorbitant bonuses, salary increases and pension boosting payouts to top district executives between 2005 and 2008.

. . . former executive director Ralph Volpe, finance director Kenneth Swan and facilities director David Harris were awarded bonuses that totaled $700,000 during a four-year span.

Additional salary increases during that time have or will provide the three executives with pensions that rival or surpass their total salaries to run the district in 2005. By 2008, Volpe’s total compensation topped $435,000.

Swan’s salary, which was $124,908 in 2005, spiked to $218,372 in 2008. Harris’ pay jumped from $135,403 to $339,302 during that time.

Even though Harris resigned in 2008, Park District officials confirmed that he was paid the remaining $185,120 left on his three-year contract. The district also gave him a sport utility vehicle while his compensation without the SUV in 2008 still totaled $339,302 for eight months on the job, officials said.

As Derb says: We’re in the wrong business. Get a government job.

Highland Park has 34,000 residents. Its park system is not exactly monumental. Get this: By way of comparison, the head of the Central Park Conservancy in New York City earns only  (only!) $364,000 — and the conservancy itself raises most of the park’s $25 million annual budget. New York is not exactly famous for the austerity of its public institutions. That Central Park boss must feel like he’s getting the short end compared to that Highland Park parks tycoon.

Tags: Angst , Despair , Fiscal Armageddon , General Shenanigans , Illinois , Obama , Rip-Offs


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