www.winnebagocountyrta.org JANUARY 2019
Co-Presidents.………….… Norm Alpers & Fred Kunz Membership Meeting
Vice-President & Program….….….Jacqueline Bolger at MACHINE SHED
Secretary ……….………………….Dr. Laura Jernigan 7475 EAST STATE STREET, R0CKFORD
Treasurer ……………..…....……Dorothy Schoonover
Are you already tired of winter? Think it’s too soon to start planning your next trip away from the Midwest? Join us for breakfast at the Machine Shed on Thursday, February 21. A representative from Lindstrom Travel Agency will speak to us about two popular travel options: River Cruises and Alaskan Tours. He will also answer questions about any travel question that you may have. If you love to travel, you need to attend this meeting! We will have catalogs and brochures from several agencies and organizations available for you to take home! There will also be a short presentation by TRS Board of Directors candidate Doug Strand.
When: Thursday, February 21, 2019
Where: Machine Shed Restaurant, 7475 East State St., Rockford
Registration: 8:30 a.m.
Breakfast: 9:00 a.m. (order from the menu and pay on your own)
Program: 10:00 a.m.
In order for the Machine Shed to have sufficient wait staff assigned to our group that morning, we will need to give them a head count. If you are planning on joining us for breakfast that morning, please email or call Gayle Haab by February 15! Gayle’s email email@example.com her phone number is (815) 742-1331. Once again, the deadline for making breakfast reservations is Friday, February 15!
--Jacque Bolger, WCRTA Vice-President/Program Chair
Save These 2019 Dates!
Greetings, WCRTA retirees! It seems like a long time since we’ve seen each other at a Membership Meeting! In November 2018, we had a wonderful gathering of members who listened to a presentation by architect/restoration expert Gary Anderson, enjoyed a wonderful box lunch from Gray’s Catering, and toured both the Ethnic Heritage Museum and the Graham-Ginestra Home. What a delightful afternoon for the history buffs in our group!
Be sure to jot down the dates of our Membership Meetings for 2019: February 21, April 18, June 20, September 19 andNovember 21. Our speakers are engaging, informative and interesting. Like true educators, we always walk away with something new that we have learned.
In addition, we have a few social events in the works as well. Read on to get the details about our next bus trip in April; our bus trips are very popular and very reasonable! If there is interest, George may plan a summer bus trip as well as one in late fall. Finally, we would love to repeat our visit to McEachran’s Winery or other local wineries, based on the success of our tour last August. Ahhh, so many grapes…so much to explore!
Details about the membership meetings will be included in future newsletters as well as our website. We hope you will participate in all of these events and bring along a guest or two. If you have ideas and suggestions for future programs, please do not hesitate to call me.
Jacque Bolger, WCRTA Vice-President/Program Chair, 815-282-4933
Message from Norm Alpers, Co-President of WCRTA, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s hard to believe that it is already 2019. I look forward to an interesting year of events/programs from WCRTA and IRTA as well as some interesting developments in Springfield with a new governor.
In any case, please take the time to read our newsletters in order to take advantage of the programs and activities we are planning for Y O U. If you have not tried one of the bus trips that we offer during the year, you are really missing out on some interesting and “worth it” adventures. We will also keep you informed of the happenings in Springfield. I also encourage you to visit the websites of the IRTA (irtaonline.org) and WCRTA (www.winnebagocountyrta.org).
WCRTA is again among the sponsors of the Quiz Bowl. We feel this is a worthwhile expenditure and also an excellent method of getting some exposure.
I know that Fred will write about the IRTA Foundation, but I want to put in a plug for it as well. The Foundation does several things that are truly noteworthy. It gives monetary help to retirees who are in serious need of help. It gives numerous grants to current teachers to help them obtain additional teacher materials and equipment for the classroom.
If you are not a member of IRTA, I urge you to join. IRTA is the only organization committed to protecting our retirement pensions and benefits. The IRTA also promotes many benefits for its members. There is a brief listing later in this newsletter.
If you have not yet renewed your membership in WCRTA, please do so. There is a form printed in this newsletter as well as an address to renew your membership. The price is right. We really work to make it worth it.
Have a happy and awesome new year. --Norm Alpers, Co-President, 815-988-0523
News from Fred Kunz, Co-President of WCRTA, email@example.com
It is hard to believe that another year has started. Hope all of you had a Happy New Year!!! Your WCRTA Board is planning many informative and beneficial activities for our members.
A special welcome to our two new board members Wanita Grunkemeyer, Member Benefits, and Brenda Benning, Information Services. Several positions are still open. Please consider joining us on the board.
We will have a special guest at our February meeting--Doug Strand, IRTA endorsed candidate for Teacher Retirement System. We need him on the TRS Board to help keep our pensions!!!
Have you paid your 2019 dues? Don’t allow them to lapse!!! Check the membership form on the back of your newsletter. Send in your dues of $10.00 now!!!
New from the IRTA Foundation! The 2019 application and current guidelines are posted on the IRTA website at www.irtaonline.organd located under the Foundation tab. Deadline for postmark applications is March 7, 2019. Scholarships are available to incoming juniors or seniors in college enrolled in a Teacher Education Program. If you have any questions, contact Susan Goetz at firstname.lastname@example.org call1.800.728.4782.
The Illinois Retired Teachers Association Foundation is offering a total 0f $36,500 in grant money to public school educators (Pre-K through 12) for special classroom projects statewide. In order to apply for the grant, download, complete, and submit the application online from the IRTA website (www.irtaonline.org). Applications must be submitted by June 1, 2019. If you have any questions, please contact Tricia Klim, IRTA Member Services Coordinator, phone at 1.888.728.4782 or by e-mail at email@example.com. We had four winners last year--Anita Bond, Brian Zimmerman, and Melissa Angeles from Hononegah High School and Chris Noble from Harlem Middle School. Chris is one of six educators featured on the Foundation Grants Video. Please contact your friends currently teaching to apply.
Website Link http://:www.irtaonline.org/index.php/foundation/Grants
Let’s make this a great year. --Fred Kunz Co-President, WCRTA
IRTA Foundation Area 1 Director-at-Large, 815-398-7927
WCRTA 2018 Holiday Trip
The WCRTA hosted a fabulous trip to Chicago on December 11 to see the sights and sounds of the city. Over 40 people enjoyed traveling on the Van Galder Coach bus with their first stop at the Lazzardo Museum of Lapidary in Elmhurst. We enjoyed the history of the museum as well as an opportunity to walk around an admire the beautiful gemstone treasures. Our second stop was at the Kindermarket in the Daley Plaza where we experienced beautiful decorations, clothing items, and food and drinks native to Austria, Germany, and Poland.
Our luncheon was at one of Chicago’s finest restaurants, Fogo de Chao, and it was an incredible multi-course dining experience. We enjoyed an extensive salad bar and a large variety of fire-roasted meats which the Gaucho served to us tableside by cutting off a portion from a large skewer. After lunch we shopped and did some sightseeing on N. Michigan Ave. We enjoyed the beautiful Christmas lights on the way home!
We are looking forward to the next trip on April 26, 2019. Please see the enclosed 2019 spring trip flyer for details and registration.
Legislative Article Update: The Arizona Solution
As of January 14, Illinois has a new governor and a legislature that is even more Democratic than it has been in past years. We can all hope this will lead to some stability for the state and that our leaders will move the state forward towards addressing the issues facing Illinois with significantly less drama than in the past couple of years. That is the hope anyway, and Illinois could certainly use a few years of forward-looking governance. While the players may have changed, the same problems remain, and pension funding will continue to be a contentious topic for many years to come. Legislators will be looking for ways to alleviate the huge pension burden that has built up over the years via the “kick-the-can down the road approach.” We still have one area legislator who is intent on building support for a state-wide vote to eliminate the Protection Clause for pensions in the Illinois Constitution, and he has his supporters. With that in mind, I’d like to briefly review one approach to pension funding being advocated that you may be hearing more about in the future, the “Arizona Solution.” This was in the news (Chicago Tribune) briefly in early December, but it may have been lost in the holidays. I’ll be condensing a couple of IRTA articles, mainly from our Executive Director, Jim Bachman, which can be accessed on the new IRTA website under the Legislative Issues section after you log in under Members Only.
Arizona’s state constitution contains language similar to the Illinois Constitution saying that public pension benefits, once granted, can’t be “diminished or impaired.” The courts of Arizona, like the courts in Illinois, had routinely batted down legislative efforts to reduce promised pension payments and health benefits to retirees. In 2016, and again in 2018, however, Arizona voters had the opportunity to vote on two amendments to their state constitution, propositions 124 and 125 respectively, that allowed for the reduction of pensions for their police and firemen and then their corrections officers and elected officials. These propositions passed and have been challenged but, to date, no decisions have been made as to their constitutionality. Could this “Arizona Solution” be used to develop a similar “Illinois Solution”? Thankfully, according to IRTA’s attorney John Fitzgerald from Tabet, DiVito & Rothstein (the same firm that successfully defended our pensions in 2015), the answer in Illinois is NO.
Briefly, it is Fitzgerald’s opinion that, even if Illinois pension opponents could get a proposition on a ballot to amend the constitution to eliminate the Protection Clause and then convince the voters to pass it, such a proposition would be struck down as it would violate the Contracts Clausecontained in boththe US and Illinois Constitutions. Referring to the 2015 Heaton v. Quinndecision of the Illinois Supreme Court which references both the US and Illinois Constitutions, the court stated, “. . . if something qualifies as a benefit of the enforceable contractual relationship resulting from membership in one of the State’s pension or retirement systems, it cannot be diminished or impaired.” The whole argument is rather involved and references several other cases, which are explained in detail on the IRTA website article for December. Bottom line, our pensions are a contract, and thankfully the constitutions we all live under protect those contracts. --John Carleton, Legislative Chair
Endorsed Benefits Overview. IRTA has two types of member benefits--Endorsed and Informative Benefits. In an effort to improve the quality of benefits available to IRTA members, the IRTA board agreed to endorse products. These products were selected because they provide superior benefitsand competitive premium rates. These products have been heavily negotiated on behalf of retired school educators, and the IRTA board believes that they are the finest available anywhere. Informative benefits are products that are available to IRTA members as a service. Join IRTA for Complete Information
Available endorsed benefits include Annuity Policy, Credit Card, Dental and Vision Insurance, Flexible Choice Cancer, Heart Attack & Stroke Policy, Liberty Mutual, Life Line Screening, Life Policy, Long-Term Care, and Medical Air Services Association.
Available Informative Benefits include American Hearing Benefits, Apple Products, Dell Computers, Flower Discounts, Globus Vacations, Hearing Plan Discount Benefit, La Quinta Inn & Suites Discount, MediPendant, myAMBAdining.com, myAMBAdiscounts, Orlando Employee Discounts, Rental Car Discounts, Road Scholar, Term Life Express, Vacations By Rail, and Veterinary Pet Insurance.
----Gayle Haab, Member Benefits & Reservations
Thanks to all WCRTA members who have already paid their 2019 annual dues. Those who have not are reminded the $10 annual dues for the 2019 year were due starting January 1, 2019. Please check the mailing label on this newsletter to see what our records indicate, concerning your WCRTA dues status. The code “LA 2019” on the label means you have paid your dues for 2019. This code stands for “Local Annual 2019 dues for WCRTA.” If the year indicated is 2018 or earlier, you have not paid for the year 2019. This code only applies to members who pay on an annual basis. Life members of WCRTA will see the code “LL.” The second code on the mailing label refers to our local understanding of the status of your membership in the stateIRTA organization.
THANKS TO ALL INVOLVED IN PRODUCING THIS NEWSLETTER.
Thanks to the people who write articles for this newsletter, help in producing it by folding, labeling, etc., and especially to Sharon Vinson for editing and putting the newsletter together. Receiving this newsletter is one of the benefits of membership in the Winnebago County Retired Teachers Association. Recipients of this newsletter are reminded that dues must be paid to continue receiving the newsletter. Annual dues become due on January 1 of each year. Recipients of this newsletter are reminded that dues must be paid by March 1 at the latest in order to avoid a lapse in membership and in order to continue to receive the WCRTA Newsletter.
HOW CAN I JOIN THE WINNEBAGO COUNTY RETIRED TEACHERS ASSOCIATION (WCRTA)?
There are two ways to join WCRTA. Life membership is $100. Annual membership is $10 per year.It is easy to join by completing the following form and mailing it along with your dues check (made payable to WCRTA) to our treasurer, Dorothy Schoonover, 4143 Catalpa Woods Dr., Rockford, IL 61101.
Last name:_________________________First name:__________________________
Street Address:_____________________________________________ Apt. #_____
City:______________________________ State:_________ Zip Code:_________
School Attendance Center retired from:______________________________________
Year Retired: _______ WCRTA Membership desired: Annual: ($10/yr.)___ Life: ($100 for life)____(Indicate by “X)
Do you have an IRTA membership: Yes or No (Please circle)
Illinois Legislative District #________ Illinois Senate District #________