BGA Probe: Ex-City Colleges Boss Got Sweetheart Retirement Deal

CHICAGO (CBS) — He could be the king of double-dipping in Chicago.

The Better Government Association says what’s happening with Chicago State University President Wayne Watson proves the public pension system is broken.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, after drawing a retirement package worth nearly $800,000 when he left the City Colleges, plus a $140,000 annual pension, he’s also drawing a $250,000 salary at Chicago State University — all of it on the taxpayers’ dime.

The BGA discovered Watson walked away from his post as chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago with a huge taxpayer funded compensation package.

“It’s an insult to the taxpayers of Chicago to be stuck with a bill like this, for someone who left a system in ruin,” BGA Executive Director Andy Shaw said.

During the ten years of Watson’s tenure, the graduation rate at City Colleges slid from 13 percent to 7 percent. And, yet, a BGA investigation showed Watson left those hallowed halls with a golden parachute worth nearly $800,000.

The breakdown includes:

-about $500,000 in unused sick days and vacation time;
-a bonus of $124,615;
-and a $112,602 dollar life insurance policy.

It is not clear if Watson has cashed in that life insurance policy.

Plus, Watson is pulling in a taxpayer-funded $140,000 annual pension.

“This would be like giving a performance bonus to the captain of the Titanic for running into the iceberg,” Shaw said.

Ty Fahner, President of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, studies issues such as these. He said pension double-dipping on the public rolls happens too often.

“The fundamental problem is it’s too much of a sweetheart deal,” he said. “If it sounds wrong, it feels wrong, it is wrong. … but not illegal.”

It’s not illegal, and after leaving City Colleges with all that money, Watson parachuted into another publicly-funded job – running Chicago State University.

He’s earning a $250,000 salary there as well, and living in a house on the hill in Beverly, rent-free, paid for by the university.

“It’s like no one in these education institutions has any respect for taxpayers,” Shaw said

A representative for Watson said, “He’s not going to talk to you. He’s not done anything illegal. Dr. Watson is not going on TV to defend his morality.”

The BGA also said Watson is getting a sweet lifetime health plan from the City Colleges.

A spokesperson there said that won’t happen again. It has ended lifetime retiree healthcare for current and future City Colleges leaders.

The City Colleges are also reviewing the sick day policy; and future bonuses will be performance based.

The City Colleges have a new board of trustees than when Watson left in 2009.

  • tom sharp

    Another buddy of the Daley, Madigan, Burke, Jackson clan? The ultimate irony here is that a “‘degree” from any of those schools is worth no more than toilet paper. My cat could graduate from half of these schools with honors. Shut them all down and rescind the pensions since they can’t educate anyone.

    • NWA

      Ok, where is your degree from?


      • jf

        From where is your degree?

  • Just the Average Joe

    From one taxpayer to many others, how could you ask for our money to support this compensation, this poor judgement, and the general lack of concern of hard earned resources. I don’t dislike educators, but our money is more about supporting the educators, their unions, their boards, their leaders and pensions, with little to no regard in many instances for the education of our children. I sent my child out of state for college, not because we couldn’t afford in state, but because I don’t have confidence in the system, and I don’t want to support a system that I feel lacks basic ethics. I am willing to pay more to send my child out of state.

  • Just the Average Joe

    Also, I have lived in several other states, and this type of thing truly is unique to IL. There is no way he would have been paid 500K for unused sick and vacation days, plus a bonus for poor leadership in any other place in America. The land of Lincoln is the most public employee centered state for graft and corruption of any. We have some close contenders, but IL tops the list. The guy should be fired immediately, and never hired for any public job again. This person can never survive in a private sector job simply due to pay for performance. And to think he will draw the massive pension for many years, plus health care, plus a 3% COLA, plus his other perks is a slap in the face to every person that pays taxes. I don’t owe taxes to support this, I am being forced to pay for incompetence on many levels. I really feel cheated.

  • ak

    This is yet another in a long list of abuses at taxpayer expense…it would be inconceivable if it happened anywhere else but in Chicago or the state of Illinois…the compensation and benefit plans and policies of city and state employees are long overdue for a major overhaul… most unfortunately the politicians who fail to enact mush needed reforms keep getting reelected…Chicago is a cesspool!.

  • Emmanuel Osunkoya

    CSU and City Colleges of Chicago both serves minority populations. We all know that inequalities exist in our nation. The gap between the poor and the rich is increasing. It is a known fact that minority population do not have equal access to resources in the city, state and at national level. Students who attend CSU and City Colleges of Chicago did not have equal opportunities like students in the mostly white colleges. Most minority students have to combine working full time with going to school on full time basis. This alone explain why students in CSU and City Colleges of Chicago have poor graduation rates.
    It is wrong for you to blame the poor graduation rates in these two schools on Dr Wayne Watson. You have to consider the socioeconomic background of students who attends these schools.

  • Shameful

    What it boils down too is blatant stupidity on our part as voters and taxpayers! I work within the educational arena and am not understanding how on the district and higher ed levels when superintendents/principals and chancellors/provosts/presidents are hired they receive these really messed up contracts. If one is ousted s/he receives either perks or remainder pay and a pension. In cases where there is mismanagement the SOB still gets some form of compensation. In cases where one is double dipping they still get some compensation. Those of us who vote need to use our power to change this mess so that when these creeps are fired they get nothing, when they retire they cannot double dip, when they mismanage they are made to payback from their potential pension.
    Watson, for one, led a broken CCC and talk about egos! The current leadership is no better. These are people who are friends of friends of Da Mayor and Da Mayor, Jr (Emanuel). They know nothing and reward each other for who f*&@s over the dumb public the best!

  • Nyugdíj 2012 - Özvegyi nyugdíj 2012, öregségi nyugdíj, rokkantnyugdíj

    You could definitely see your expertise in the work you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

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