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Things may not be okey-dokey in Cahokia

Madison County Record

Thursday, September 27, 2018  |  Editorial  |  By The Madison County Record

Local Government (60) , Metro East (65) , Pensions (70)
Imagine a police chief arresting someone suspected of committing a crime and then letting that someone investigate himself and decide if he’s guilty or not. What are the odds that the alleged perp would find himself guilty? A billion to one, right?

It’s safe to assume he’d be biased in his own favor. It’s also safe to assume that no police chief would ever agree to such an arrangement – unless, of course, the chief himself was the one being investigated.

When St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson retired from his previous position as police chief of Cahokia, he got a real sweet pension deal with benefits increased by 33 percent during his last few days in office.

Within two years of “retirement,” he had accrued more in benefits than he contributed to the fund. So far, he’s earned nearly $200,000 more than he would have with a pension based on his salary prior to the last month’s bountiful boost.

When this year’s retirement benefit of $117,500 is combined with his $98,000-plus salary as sheriff, Watson is doing okay.

Or he was doing okay, until the press drew public attention to the mounds of money he’s raking in from Cahokia. That prompted the police pension fund trustees to announce that they would investigate the circumstances surrounding his last-minute pension adjustment.

The only problem is, they’re investigating themselves. 

With Watson serving as a pension trustee, what are the odds the board finds nothing amiss, that they themselves are innocent of all wrongdoing, and that everything is okey-dokey in Cahokia?

That might have been the plan, and it might have worked, except for one thing: the Illinois Department of Insurance has informed the Cahokia Police Pension Fund that it’s “due for a compliance exam.” In a letter addressed to the secretary of the fund (i.e., Watson), the Department announced its intention to audit the