Is Robert Allen Jr. working hard or hardly working?

By The Madison County Record | Oct 3, 2018

In New Orleans, they know the story of the good old boy who loved to fish and had a dream job. He went fishing every day. Sometimes he brought home an ice chest full of catfish, bass, red snappers, or trout. Other times he caught nothing at all, but he’d had a nice relaxing day in his Jon boat out on the water.

Whether he caught anything or not, he was doing what he liked to do and getting paid at the same time.

It was a nice life and it lasted a long time – until some busybody happened to discover that he was actually a city employee and hadn’t shown up for work in almost 20 years. He’d fallen through the cracks somehow, but the checks kept coming.

His story was an extreme case, but he wasn’t the first or last government employee to take advantage of generous benefits and lax supervision. Some public servants work hard and do their jobs well. Others try to get away with as much as they can.

Our state law requires local government officials to work at least 20 hours a week to qualify for enrollment in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF). That’s hardly a rigorous requirement, and yet some would-be beneficiaries quibble about it.

St. Clair County board member Robert Allen Jr. was dropped from the fund for failing to document that he had worked at least two and a half days a week, every week, and now he’s suing to be reinstated.

His lawyer, former chief judge John Baricevic, claims that Allen inadvertently left off some hours from four monthly reports. Plus, the IMRF never specified whether it considers a year to be a calendar year, a fiscal year, or some other 12-month period, and whether or not months below the minimum can be averaged with higher months.

Allen shouldn’t have to keep time sheets anyway, though, because he’s always on the job. According to Baricevic, “Elected officials serve in their capacity 24 hours a day.” 

Oh, brother! Give us a break.

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