At Wednesday's meeting for the Chicago Firefighters Annuity and Benefits Fund, two of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's motions failed; one on duty disability reform, which collects $27 million a year in taxpayer-funded duty disability pay for firefighters and paramedics, and the other to divest $173,000 in stock with Smith & Wesson, an assault weapons manufacturer.
The proposed disability reforms come in light of alleged disability abuses from a series of Chicago Sun-Times reports. The reforms would have required more medical checkups for firefighters and paramedics who receive disability pay. Among other things, they would also have had to provide the pension fund with more information about their second jobs.
City Comptroller Amer Ahmad reportedly left the meeting in a huff following the votes, which lost by 5-2 on guns and 4-3 on duty disability reform.
“The Mayor remains committed to standing up against gun companies that stand in the way of commonsense reform and will continue [to] seek out necessary reforms that protect taxpayer dollars from fraud and abuse in the disability program,” said City Comptroller spokeswoman, Kathleen Strand, in an email to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“While we are disturbed by the fire pension fund’s decision, we are more so encouraged by those funds — including laborers, police, municipal, and teachers — that have chosen to stand with us against these gun companies.”
But, according to Tony Martin, secretary of the firefighters pension fund, the Chicago Firefighters Annuity and Benefits Fund has a $1 billion portfolio and the amount invested in Smith & Wesson is "a very nominal amount."
“There was no motion to adopt a broad divestment policy from assault weapons manufacturers. It was one specific manufacturer,” Martin said to the Chicago Sun-Times. “There was no intent to embarrass anybody. My trustees are always trying to do the right thing for the right reason. We’re concerned about our fiduciary duty to our participants. The goal is to put them first.”