Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson says candidates lying about pensions should go to jail. | Willie Wilson for Mayor
Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson said city and state politicians who lie to voters and public employees about their pensions should be prosecuted and sent to jail.
Wilson made the comments on AM 560's Morning Answer show Sept. 7 with Dan Proft and Amy Jacobson.
"The mayor (Rahm Emanuel) and the other politicians sit by and they don't say anything. All of them need to be investigated and put in jail," Wilson said. "It's against the law to take people's property. And it's against the law for politicians to be in office and not say anything while people do it."
Wilson, 70, is an entrepreneur who owns Omar Medical Supply, headquartered in Matteson. His comments come as Chicago confronts a public pension crisis, with all funds insolvent and running dry.
"Who would be stupid enough to take from people's pensions and put it somewhere else when you don't have the money to pay it back," he wondered aloud.
To be sure, state and city politicians haven't so much re-directed pension dollars to other projects, but rather made astronomical pension promises to public employees they could never fund without tripling or quadrupling property taxes.
By making the promises but not raising taxes to fund them, city politicians were able to reap the immediate goodwill benefit of offering rich retirements to union members without facing the wrath of property taxpayers.
But they also amassed a public pension debt of $30 billion and growing.
Chicago's police pension fund will be out of money in 2021 and unable to pay benefits, according to one analysis.
Its two employee pension funds are $5.4 billion underfunded and its public school pension fund is underfunded by $11 billion, digging a bigger hole rapidly.
It paid out $1.5 billion in 2016 and earned just $7.8 million in benefits.
Wilson ran for mayor in 2015 and finished third, eventually endorsing Jesus "Chuy" Garcia against Emanuel in the run-off.
Proft is a principal with Local Government Information Services, which owns Chicago City Wire.