This week, a scathing report by the Civic Federation made it abundantly clear that pensions in the Chicagoland area are grossly underfunded, and that lawmakers must do something to change the way these pensions are handled.
The subject has come up quite a bit in the race for Chicago mayor, including at a Monday mayoral forum, where the candidates were asked what they would do about the city's floundering pension system. Host Carol Marin accused the candidates of not being candid about how bad the pension news is, and they eventually moved on to the next topic. Rahm Emanuel, however, wanted city workers to know his positions on the pension system.
Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel has sent a personal letter to the homes of city employees -- and to other households, he says -- in an attempt to clarify his position on the city's pension crisis, but the tactic may have backfired.
City employees and union leaders are demanding to know how Emanuel got their names and home addresses.
"It's an invasion of privacy -- kind of like getting your Social Security number stolen," Lou Phillips, business manager for Laborers Local 1001, told the Sun-Times. "You're talking about my pension. How do you know what pension I got? What business is it of yours? Why do they have my address?"
Emanuel's campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt denied having a list of city workers, and said the letter went to "households across the city." Several workers who received the letter told the paper they do not believe that, and that the letter was squarely aimed at city employees. A city official told the Sun-Times that the addresses of city employees are never released.
Some of Chicago's labor unions, which endorsed Emanuel's opponent Gery Chico for mayor, were angry with the former White House chief of staff even before the letter debacle.
At a Tuesday night rally for Chico, Jim Sweeney, president of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150, said that Emanuel was "nothing but a Wall Street Judas [with] a bag of silver when he went and passed NAFTA." (Scroll down for video of the event)
The comment was delivered during a fiery speech that blamed Emanuel for sending American jobs overseas, but some interpreted it as an anti-Semitic remark that compares the Jewish Emanuel to the Jewish man responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, according to NBC Chicago.
Chico spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told the Chicago Tribune that Sweeney was not "implying anything besides the fact that Rahm betrayed the workers of this city" and pointed to a dictionary definition of "Judas" which is "traitor: one who betrays under the guise of friendship."
"We all know the history of that comment and the we know the history of that reference, which is why I have absolute confidence in the people of the city of Chicago, and what they'll see it for and they won't accept it," Emanuel said in response to Sweeney's comment, according to NBC Chicago.
Emanuel's campaign allegedly notified reporters of the comment. Chico's campaign said there was no issue, and that this was "signature Rahm-style, divisive politics."
WATCH Sweeney make the "Judas" comment here