MIHELICH THANKS PARENTS, SAYS FATHER WOULD BE ‘REALLY PROUD’ OF HIS EFFORTS TO GIVE BACK TO THE CITY OF JOLIET
(Joliet, Ill) “I was born and raised in Joliet. For the first 12 years of my life I did not have hot water in my home,” Mihelich said at the University of Saint Francis Mayoral Debate Thursday in Joliet. Mihelich slept on the couch in his family’s living room until his parents moved to larger home at 210 Ross Street in Joliet. His parents lived there until Andy’s mother’s death in 1996. “I am thus very sympathetic to homeowners who tell me they have to take fewer showers because they cannot afford their water bill.”
Mihelich explained through hard work, education, the help of his parents, and prayer, he was able to get to where he is today. Now, instead of retiring he’s offering to use his skills and abilities to give back to the City of Joliet, which made him the man he is today.
In 1969, Mihelich graduated from Joliet Catholic High School and in 1973 graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in Business. In 1985 and 1986 Mihelich led his family’s “Set the Captives Free” campaign after his uncle (and Joliet Hero) Fr. Lawrence Martin Jenco was taken hostage in the Middle East my Islamic terrorists.
For 30 years Mihelich helped Joliet families find success through education at Joliet Junior College. During that time he earned 2 graduate college degrees. He retired as an Associate Vice President. For 20 of those years Mihelich directed all of the college’s economic development and worker retraining programs.
“Residents of Joliet, let me speak to you directly and from the heart,” Mihelich said during the opening statement. “I know you are suffering. You pay too much in taxes, your water bill is too high and crime and illegal drugs are a part of this community.”
“Our current city council has squandered or lost millions of your tax dollars. Everyone is concerned about how they are going to make ends meet,” Mihelich added.
At the debate Mihelich put to rest what he called misconceptions.
He said that as mayor he would balance the city budget with no increase to property taxes and water rates. The budget he said would also meet the city’s commitments to the police and fire pension funds. “Our current City Council has not funded these obligations. We need to meet our commitments to retirees; we owe it to our city retirees!”
What sets Mihelich apart from his 8 opponents is his in-depth accounting and leadership skills that have provided unprecedented light on the city’s financial circumstance. “To balance the city’s budget, with a forecasted $27 Million deficit without reducing personnel costs would require a 77% increase in property taxes,” Mihelich highlighted.
“Hopefully, none of my opponents want to raise property taxes by 77%,” Mihelich said. “If they are unwilling to significantly increase property taxes, they cannot continue to skim over the issue of personnel reductions.”
“Tough decisions on personnel costs have to be made and I am prepared to make these tough decisions. No one said addressing personnel costs would be easy or painless. I did not get us into this mess, but I am prepared to get us out of this mess. The City Council not only sold out the taxpayers of Joliet, they sold out the city’s employees. The employees should not be held accountable. Our City Council should be held accountable,” Mihelich said.
Where were their plans before they decided to run for mayor, Mihelich asked. “Where are their plans even today? “When casino revenue is down 40% and new development revenue is down 95%, the current salary structure cannot be maintained. Just like a household budget, the City of Joliet has to live within its means. Their tax and spend policy to maintain the status quo has to end,” Mihelich boldly stated.
Mihelich concluded by reiterating that the City needs need safe and clean neighborhoods. “We need to create awareness on the problems of gangs, illegal drugs, and the homeless and work to solve these problems,” Mihelich said. “My name is Andy Mihelich and I am asking for your vote on April 5th.”
Andrew “Andy” Mihelich is the son of Joliet residents Andrew and Verna Mae (Jenco) Mihelich, both deceased. The Mihelich and Jenco families have been a part of the Joliet community for more than 100 years. “My dad worked religiously to provide a better life for his children. I know he’s looking down upon me now with pride. I want the families of Joliet to have the same opportunities I had growing up. I’m running for mayor to give back to this community that has given me and my family so much,” Mihelich said.
Learn more about Andy Mihelich at his website, http://andyformayor.com
By Adam Andrzejewski
In 2008, Joliet hired a new City Manager. His starting base salary was $189,000. For 2011, the base salary increased to $196,500 and the City Manager out-earned every governor of the 50 states. In addition to this lucrative salary, $7,500 of taxpayer money goes into a “deferred compensation” retirement plan. The deferred comp plan is in addition to what the taxpayers pay into his pension plan: $28,800 into Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) pension. Contractually, Joliet taxpayers are required to fund lucrative perquisites: $6,000 in estimated annual car allowance; an estimated $4,000 in continuing education, fees and costs to maintain the Managers’ personal law license; and an estimated annual $17,500 of taxpayer funded premium payments for life, health, and dental insurances.
Click here to review our overview of Joliet City Manager 2011 Compensation Analysis. Then the City Manager became a “banker”. When the City Manager was hired in 2008, he negotiated a “vacation bank” and a “sick bank”. His “vacation bank” of 4 weeks is valued at $15,100 and his “sick hours bank” of 1,500 hours is valued at over $141,300. In 2011, the taxpayer liability associated with these two “banks” totaled approximately $156,400. As Donald Trump said, “You’re fired.” Ahh, think again- taxpayers.
A lump sum severance payment for this City Manager could be as high as- $375,900! The City Manager has the “financial insulation” of a friendly severance clause. If terminated for any reason except felony conviction or official mis-conduct or manager ‘abandonment of office’, taxpayers are on the hook for a lump sum payment equal to a full year of base salary and “any other benefits paid by the city’s fringe benefit ordinance”. The lump sum severance liability is calculated as follows: Base salary ($196,500), Insurances ($17,400), Car Allowance ($6,000), Vacation bank ($15,000) and Sick hours bank ($141,000). Despite the incredibly lucrative employment contract terms described above, this City Manager successfully negotiated for even more “dollars”. The City of Joliet agreed to file form IMRF 6.05 and back the manager’s claim that he was owed an additional 9.5 years of extra retirement credits. This would have added 9.5 credit years and $760,000 of credit “earnings” to the calculation of the City Manager’s future pension. Taxpayers would have been on the hook for this new massive lifetime pension liability. Thankfully, the application form 6.05 was rejected by IMRF administrators. But, the City Manager wasn’t finished with his claim. He appealed it to the full IMRF Board of Trustees. The full Board then issued a final rejection saving Illinois taxpayers an incredible amount of money. The City Manager of Joliet is re-defining “public servant”. You serve Him.
1. Mihelich has spent 30 years contributing to one of the jewels of Joliet as an administrator at Joliet Junior College where he balanced multi-million dollar budgets, a skill the city desperately needs
2. Mihelich recognizes the importance of quality social services provided by non-profits as highlighted by his service on behalf of the Spanish Community Center in Joliet
3. Mihelich is the is the only mayoral candidate to introduce a comprehensive economic development plan that leverages Joliet’s assets to encourage entrepreneurship and support the expansion of existing businesses and the location of new businesses in Joliet
4. Mihelich was the first mayoral candidate to ask for conversations with our public sector unions on how they want to be part of the solution to the budget crisis.
5. Mihelich stands up when he should stand up—as he did most recently in rallying residents to keep Caterpillar in Illinois and 1,400 Cat jobs in Joliet
6. Mihelich is the only mayoral candidate to introduce a plan to make Joliet government more transparent and better inform residents about city government plans so that we avoid wasting tens of millions of dollars on bad investments as the city has done repeatedly in recent years
7. Mihelich is the only mayoral candidate to commit to holding the line on property taxes and rolling back the recent hikes in residential water rates. His plan to balance the budget also includes meeting our commitments to the police and fire pension funds, our retirees deserve nothing less.
8. Mihelich is the only mayoral candidate who volunteered to not take health care or pension benefits as mayor.
9. Mihelich is not a career politician who hasn’t been part of the bad decisions made by the current City Council that have Joliet on the brink of bankruptcy.
10. Mihelich is the only mayoral candidate as concerned with the household budgets of Joliet residents as he is with the city budget. His focus on pursuing policies that help Joliet families find success is the proper focus.
Mar 15, 2011 2:13AM
I am self-employed. I work long hours each week to earn a living. There are no picket lines demanding better pay or benefits for me. If I don’t work or get sick, I don’t get paid. My retirement benefits are what I save.
I pay federal taxes, including double Social Security and Medicare taxes for being self-employed. I pay state and city taxes. My real estate taxes support schools and other government entities.
It has been interesting watching the whole country debate union public worker “rights” in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and other states. I respect unions and their fight for American workers to receive decent pay and benefits. My father was a Teamster during his entire working career. But, I believe we, as a nation, have been hoodwinked by union leaders and politicians whose only interest is maintaining their own power regardless of the harm to their members and our country.
Sweatshops are long gone. It used to be that pension benefits negotiated by unions for government workers helped offset the lower salaries those workers received for not working in private industry. According to a recent Herald-News editorial, that is not the case anymore. Government workers are among the highest paid in the country. One in three Joliet city workers annually gross more than $100,000.
Government pensions were originally designed to pay for the worker’s retirement after 20 years as an incentive to work at lower pay. Yet, how many times do you read that a government worker retires with his or her pension from one public unit and, immediately, begins a new pension-eligible government position? Double-dipping government pensions are the norm.
We are broke. We cannot afford to maintain government spending at current levels and need to start making some hard choices. The federal government made more than $700 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act available to help stimulate new “shovel ready” jobs.
I recently read that the Plainfield School District decided to use money they received from the federal act to pay one more year’s worth of existing nonteacher salaries. After that money is spent, those employees have been told to start looking for work.
If a private business can’t afford payroll, employees are terminated. Government units just raise our taxes to cover bloated payrolls.
It is time to reevaluate how public employees are paid. How about like the rest of us mortals?
Rich Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read post in Suntimes Media
Mar 27, 2011 2:34AM
Too much spending is problem
Recent articles in The Herald-News articles and WJOL radio interviews have tried to help us decide who to vote for in Joliet’s mayoral and council elections. The main emphasis, and rightfully so, has been how each candidate would tackle the financial mess left by the previous bunch of wastrels. Most of the candidates have danced all around the subject, but hesitate to take a stand. One candidate did take a stand — raise taxes.
The ease at which our elected officials decide to further burden the taxpayer is the reason we’re in this mess. Our city council sold us down the river at contract time for years, and now something seems to be colliding with the fan. Of course, we could forestall the inevitable with another tax increase.
A tax increase makes sense to politicians unwilling to cope with the real problem, excessive spending. But then, it’s easy, even fun, spending other people’s money. One suggestion was to ask the city workers to propose budget solutions. This would be akin to asking the fox to protect the henhouse.
Others tried to forcefully state they would most definitely not raise taxes, unless needed. If the candidates were being honest, they would say that changes have to be made in city union contracts. If the city wages published in The Herald-News were not enough to wake them up, I fear they’re not using the brains God gave them. Until we come to grips with these issues, there will be no solution.
Public employees add nothing to the pot.
They pay taxes but do it out of the money paid them with taxes paid by the private sector. Is the average city worker worth $90,000 a year? Should these employees receive free health care and far better pensions than the private sector? Who’s working for whom anyway?
Thank you for contacting me about federal funding for Planned Parenthood. I appreciate hearing from you.
The Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011, H.R. 1, would eliminate the grant program of the Public Health Service Act, Title X. In addition, an amendment to H.R. 1 agreed to by the House would prohibit the bill’s funds from being used “for any purpose” by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America or by any of the 102 Planned Parenthood affiliates or offices.
Title X of the Public Health Service Act provides over five million women with a wide range of services designed to improve maternal and infant health, lower the incidence of unintended pregnancy, and prevent abortions. In addition, this program provides funding for breast and cervical cancer screening and prevention.
Under Title X, the federal government provides grants to 89 public and private organizations for the provision of comprehensive family planning services and information. Grant recipients may include state and local health departments, hospitals, university health centers, independent clinics, public and non-profit agencies, including Planned Parenthood affiliates. These funds may be used for a wide range of family planning activities, including infertility services, contraceptive education and services, abstinence education, and programs that combine the latter two approaches.
I want to make it very clear that federal law already in place prohibits Title X funding from being used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning. Projects that receive these funds are closely monitored to ensure that federal funds are not used for abortion.
Title X has a proven record of success. Without this funding, it has been estimated that nearly two million unintended pregnancies would occur every year, resulting in almost a million additional abortions. Moreover, for more than half the clients, Title X clinics are their “usual” or only source of health care and 70 percent of total clients live at or below the federal poverty level.
We should encourage abstinence among our youth and support family planning to avoid unintended pregnancies that may lead to abortion.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. I will keep your concerns in mind as the Senate debates funding for Title X programs. Please feel free to keep in touch.
Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator
To the Business Leaders of Joliet – From Andrew “Andy” Mihelich
Dear Joliet Leader,
On April 5th we will make a decision about the future of Joliet.
Will we settle for one of the members of the City Council who has presided over the worsening financial condition of Joliet to the brink of bankruptcy? Or will we chart a new course?
I am running for mayor because the city needs new leadership that is focused on how we help Joliet businesses and families achieve success. The current administration has provided the example of what not to do: raise taxes, squander millions in bad investments, pay salaries and benefit levels for city workers that are unaffordable.
I have spent my campaign focused on what needs to be done. If we’re serious about addressing our $27 million budget deficit, for example, then we have to get serious about bringing public sector salaries in line with what Joliet families can afford. I’ve taken a lot of heat for daring to raise this issue, but that’s okay. Because what is not okay is an average city employee salary of $83,500 in a community where the average household income is $48,000.
If we want Joliet to attract businesses and grow, then we need to advance policies that support growth. I am the only candidate to issue a comprehensive economic development plan that includes: partnering with Joliet Junior College’s Small Business Development Center to create a culture of entrepreneurship in Joliet; extending job training to Joliet residents; and making sure opportunity is extended to everyone in Joliet by ensuring the city meets its minority participation goals.
Finally, in light of the devastation that has been wrought by a government that operated in the shadows for too long, it’s time we shed more light on city government operations. I am the only candidate to introduce a transparency initiative—“Sunshine Joliet”—to provide more ready access to public information and better engage the public on important projects that will impact their quality of life before the board acts.
My major opponents in this race had an opportunity to address any one of these matters during their time on the City Council. They chose not to do so. It doesn’t make them bad people. But it does demand some accountability with respect to what has happened to Joliet on their watch.
All of the information I’ve referenced above and more can be found from my homepage at andyformayor.com.
After careful review and consideration, I hope I can count on your vote on April 5th so that together we can pursue policies that help Joliet business and families achieve success in the years ahead.
Candidate for Mayor of Joliet
(Joliet, Illinois) –Conservative Mayoral challenger Andrew “Andy” Mihelich continues to distinguish himself as the only candidate interested in changing the way the City of Joliet does business this time launching a new website, http://jolietrealitycheck.com and a cartoon video detailing his experience and commitment to hold the line on taxes and fees.
In contrast to city council incumbent mayoral candidates, who have plainly stated they would raise taxes if elected mayor, Andy Mihelich offers an unequivocal “No.” Mihelich’s three opponents currently serving on the city council all either support a tax increase—as they have in the past—or left the door open.
After rejecting the notion of a tax increases, Mihelich took it one step further expressing frustration that the question should even be on the table saying, “I think it’s irresponsible that our city council has gotten us into a position where we look at a tax increase.”
“We cannot tax our way to fiscal solvency or prosperity,” said Mihelich. “That’s what my opponents currently serving on the council have tried to do and it has left us with a smaller tax base and bigger deficits. We have to chart a different course and that begins with a city government that lives within the means of the Joliet families who pay for it.”
Early on in the campaign Mihelich unveiled his “Jobs for Joliet” economic recovery plan. The key components of the Mihelich plan:
- Partnering with Joliet Junior College’s Small Business Development Center
- Creating a Joliet Economic Development Commission
- Job-training for Joliet residents
- Review of contracting to ensure the city is meeting its participation goals for minority-owned and woman-owned businesses
And while tough decisions will need to be made about the size and expense of city government in the short-term, Mihelich understands that economic growth is the long-term solution.
Mihelich has framed his campaign around a simple proposition: As mayor, he will ask a simple question when considering each and every policy proposal, “Will this policy help Joliet families to be successful?”
The first thing a family needs to be successful is a job.
The centerpiece of the Mihelich plan is for the city to aid in the development, launch and support for small businesses.
“Every community wants to bring in the big manufacturer or the big retailer, and I do as well,” said Mihelich. “But instead of seeking only home runs, we need to start hitting some singles and doubles. Small businesses are the engines of job growth in our economy and can be in Joliet.”
Mihelich noted that of the nearly 1.2 million businesses in Illinois, 88% of them are so-called “microenterprises” with less than five employees. (source: Association for Enterprise Opportunity)
Mihelich proposed that, in addition to the city’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the City of Joliet work more closely with the Illinois Small Business Development Center located at Joliet Junior College.
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to educate our residents about the services and support that is out there to create a culture of entrepreneurship in Joliet,” said Mihelich.· “The Small Business Development Center already works in conjunction with federal and state economic development agencies and retired executives to provide a wide range of services that help small businesses get off the ground and support them once their doors are open.”
Mihelich said that very few existing businesses much less prospective ones know about the services available. Mihelich proposed district-by-district seminars on everything from writing business plans to financing options available.· Mihelich also suggested creating an Entrepreneur’s Speakers Series for successful entrepreneurs to mentor those just starting out.
Mihelich said his plan wouldn’t cost the city money as it simply would coordinate resource providers and educate Joliet residents as to the resources available for small businesses and start-ups.
Mihelich also proposed creation of a Joliet Economic Development Commission where business, labor, and civic community leaders will be recruited to map out reforms they believe are needed to make Joliet a place that keeps existing businesses and attracts new ones that feature good paying jobs with benefits for Joliet families.
“It is important to gather the input of leaders in a variety of sector and fields of endeavor to make sure we don’t miss anything when it comes to the reforms needed to make Joliet a destination for business,” said Mihelich.
Mihelich said his first charge to the newly minted city-specific commission will be; (1) to ensure Joliet is getting a good return on its investment with the Will County Center for Economic Development; and (2) To aid in the transformation of downtown Joliet, including its street layout, to better embody a 21st century city.
Mihelich also believes it is important for the mayor to be an ambassador for the city. Mihelich will personally visit existing Joliet businesses to gain an understanding of the specific challenges they face and how the city can help.· He will also serve as the city’s lead recruiter for new businesses to make sure the interests of every neighborhood and every family is represented at the table as it pertains to new economic opportunities.
Mihelich will also make job-training a priority to ensure Joliet families have the skills they need to compete for new jobs in the city. Mihelich’s experience at Joliet Junior College will be key to developing the necessary partnerships to make available the core skills-training required for residents who need help preparing for success in our global, digital economy.
Finally, Mihelich emphasized the need to review the city’s minority contractor participation program to ensure participating goals are being met and exceeded.· The city has a 10% minority set aside.· “We need to begin by getting minority contractors certified to bid on contracts.· We also need to construct city contracts in such a way that minorities can competitively compete.”
Mihelich’s commitment to fair competition and equitable participation in city businesses earned him the Latino Business Association’s Community Advocate of the Year Award in 2008.
Putting his plan into action already, Mihelich organized a rally in Joliet on Sunday afternoon as a show of support for the Peoria-based manufacturer Caterpillar and to call on Governor Pat Quinn and the General Assembly to respond to the concerns raised by Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman in his March 21 letter to the Governor.
“Illinois cannot afford to lose Caterpillar and Joliet cannot afford to lose Caterpillar,” said Mihelich, who has made job creation and business location the main thrust of his mayoral campaign.
“This is a wake-up call for the state and for our community. I want to show Caterpillar that at the local level we want to do everything we can to keep them here and that includes pressuring our legislators and elected officials in Springfield to pursue policies that keep Caterpillar in Illinois.”
Mihelich retired as Joliet Junior College’s Associate Vice President after 30 years of service.· For 20 years he directed all of the college’s economic development programs, including dislocated worker assistance, small business development and entrepreneurship training, worker retraining, and community development.
During his career at JJC, Mihelich also served on the Grundy Economic Development Council for twelve years.· He chaired their Business Growth and Expansion Committee and served on the Executive Committee.· He received their Community Member of the Year Award in 2000.
Additionally, Mihelich served on the Joliet City Center Partnership Board of Directors for over a decade.· He helped create the partnership’s vision for downtown redevelopment.