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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Teachers Union Pres Responds To Death Threat

Authorities are investigating an anonymous letter threatening the lives of anyone in line to receive state-funded pensions. The letter was mailed to several legislators and at least one public radio station. In big letters, the mailing says “Dead people can’t collect fat state pensions,” and goes on to warn lawmakers and union leaders of death by arson, strangulation or other unspecified means.

The writer demands that lawmakers change the actuarial tables for pensions, remove the pension clause from the state constitution before enacting any graduated income tax proposal, and claw back “outrageou$ pension payout$”.

The writer specifies that public school teachers are not exempt from this death threat.

But Kathi Griffin, president of the state’s largest teachers’ union, says she’s more concerned getting mental health services for the letter-writer than she is about her own safety.

“People who are well do not make threats like this. And I am hoping that nothing happens to anyone, and I’m hoping that we find whoever this person is, and I hope that w?e’re able to help them,” she says. “I feel confident that our police will find who is behind this, and I feel confident that this is someone who is acting solo, and I‘m going to be just fine.”

Earlier today, before learning about the letter, Griffin held a press conference to announce the results of a union-sponsored statewide survey. In an unplanned irony, the survey showed that 75 percent of Illinois residents want teachers to receive their full pension payment.

Teachers, like most state employees, do not collect Social Security, and must rely on the state pension system.