State Representative Art Turner began work on Monday at his new post, a Cook County government job that will earn him an additional $110,000 a year and could double his pension.
Turner was hired by lame-duck County Board President Todd Stroger to run the President's Office of Employment and Training, or POET, an office that has drawn heavy criticism for mismanagement and corruption.
His six-figure wage comes on top of his $87,627 legislative salary. And taxpayers may be paying Turner six figures for awhile. As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the new job may ultimately guarantee the ten-term representative a much larger pension:
The effect that Turner's new job will have on his final legislative pension is unclear. Generally, lawmakers' pensions are set at 85 percent of their final salaries.
If he leaves his county post under Stroger before his legislative term is up in January, that could mean Turner's pension would be based on his annual legislative paycheck or a blend of both amounts.
"This sounds like an unusual circumstance," said Timothy Blair, executive director of the General Assembly Retirement System.
Turner's hiring isn't the only "unusual circumstance" Stroger has woven since his primary defeat in February by Toni Preckwinkle. His office has come under fire for handing out so-called "24-9" census contracts to shady businesses for $24,975, just below the threshold requiring Board approval.
As for Turner, he will be tasked with renovating POET, a job training program associated with the Stroger's office. The program has been criticized for returning $8.3 million in grants between 2003 and 2008, money that could have been used to build jobs if not for program mismanagement.
A former manager of POET was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing $100,000 from the program. And in 2008, three of its employees were charged with conspiring to "siphon more than $2 million from banks and taxpayers for sham training," according to the Sun-Times.
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