Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mayor Lightfoot is sticking with schools CEO Janice Jackson for now. That's a good thing.

There's hope that CEO Jackson, once liberated from Rahm's self-serving, autocratic rule, will become a real change leader. 
Even though I've had my issues with CEO Janice Jackson's role as Rahm Emanuel's front person on school closings and charter expansion and her opposition to an elected school board, I think the mayor made the right move here. To replace her now, especially in the middle of contract negotiations with the CTU, would only further destabilize a system already in a state of chaos.

Jackson was Rahm's 5th CEO in six years.

Remember how Rahm changed school chiefs like he changed wardrobes, including dumping J.C. Brizard in 2012, the middle of contract talks and replacing him with Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The result was the first teachers strike in 25 years followed by a regime so corrupt that BBB wound up in prison and scandal-ridden Forrest Claypool had to flee or risk following her.

There's the hope that Jackson, now liberated from Rahm's autocratic and self-serving brand of ed politics, can rediscover her educator roots and become a real change leader. I hope so.

Next on Mayor Lightfoot's agenda will be choosing a new school board and here is where wholesale change (draining the swamp) is necessary and I am told, coming.

What a shame that we still have to wait years before there's finally an elected school board in Chicago. Rep. Martwick's ESB bill, was badly written. Even if passed as is, (without considering questions about the board's unwieldy size, raised by the new mayor) it wouldn't take effect for four more years and then have to be reauthorized. The whole setup would be phased out after the 2027 election unless lawmakers in Springfield vote to extend it. What kind of law is that?

There's some good ed news coming from Springfield (did I really say that?). Yes, the State Charter School Commission is on the way out. The unelected Commission has the power to override decisions made by local school boards that reject charter applications. A Democrat-backed bill passed the Senate in April, and a vote is expected in the House before the legislative session ends May 31, despite opposition from INCS and charter school lobbyists. Gov. Pritzker has said he’ll sign the bill. Gov. Rauner vetoed a similar bill last year.

Also House Bill 424, the bill that requires the ISBE to establish standards for interpreters for non-English speaking parents, passed the Illinois Senate yesterday on a vote of 53 yes, 0 nos, and 0 abstentions. The bill will now go to Pritzker for his signature.

Change is in the air.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Electing Lightfoot was just the start. Real reform comes from below.

"For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready …because reform is here. I campaigned on change, you voted for change, and I plan to deliver change to our government." -- Inaugural speech
Yesterday's inauguration ceremony made my heart sing. Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Inaugural Address was over the top. It was at once a resounding call for change and a personal commitment on her part to carry it through. She also put the dregs of the old machine on blast, turning to the council members, newly elected and old, and promising that the old ways of doing business were a thing of the past.

This from IL Playbook:
And with that, she turned to look directly at the council members — including Ald. Ed Burke, who is facing federal charges of corruption. The crowd erupted with extended cheers and applause. Lightfoot said “the worst abuses” were a result of aldermanic privilege. Let's just say the Aldermen were slow to stand with the crowd. As her first official act as mayor, Lightfoot fulfilled her campaign promise to sign an executive order reeling in certain aldermanic powers.
But let's not fool ourselves. No executive order from the mayor is going to put an end to the culture of corruption with the Chicago City Council. There is still what's left of the old Cook County Democratic Party machinery. There's too much money and power at stake for them to fold up tent and go away just because we elect a Harold Washington, a Barack Obama, or a Lori Lightfoot. You can bet that on this very day, the Bs (Burke, Beale, and Berrios) and others are gathering in their favorite watering holes, planning their resistance and resurrection. They will lay low for a while until their opportunity presents itself.

Then there's the possibility of divisions and splits with the ranks of the progressives themselves.

The old guard still controls official party money and machinery as we head into the 2020 presidential campaign. Machine quarterback Rahm Emanuel has already feathered his nest at The Atlantic where he hopes to be a driver and fundraiser for the Biden Campaign. The irony of Mayor 1%'s first Atlantic column, calling on Dems to "become a party of justice and hold elites accountable" will not be lost on Chicagoans.

The old guard's problem is that times have changed since the days of Council Wars when the racist Vrdolyak/Burke cabal held the city hostage after Harold, our first black mayor was elected.

More from IL Playbook:
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd ), who Lightfoot wants as Finance chairman, says any aldermen "pushing back hard" now will be more "congenial once we get to work." With so many indictments or charges hanging over the council in recent years, there's little room for aldermen to fight back against changes to the ethics rules. Once new standards are set "and we begin to work with her, it will be a good legislative body working with a good executive to move forward on her mandate."
Let's hope my alderman is right. Either way, real reform, as always, comes from below. It's up to us to be organized and standing reading to protect the Lightfoot reforms, once they are in place. Having the 5th floor of City Hall and growing power in the city council helps. But unless the communities and organizations that elected Lightfoot and the new council progressives remain strong and active a machine comeback is possible.

After the inauguration we saw this...
FROM ABOVE, FROM BELOW...Walking out onto downtown streets after the inaugural celebration, folks got a real taste of what "from below" means. Only minutes after the new mayor had exhorted the audience to, "stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless..." many joined with marchers who had taken to the streets to protest the outrageous anti-women laws passed in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and other Republican states.

Monday, May 20, 2019


"Casting call for a Lipitor commercial"?
SNL's Leslie Jones 
 Jones later drew attention to the fact that every Alabama senator who voted for the law was a white man, quipping that an image of them looked like a "casting call for a Lipitor commercial." --The Hill
Missouri Rep. Barry Hovis on 'consensual rape'.
“Let’s just say someone goes out and they’re raped or they’re sexually assaulted one night after a college party — because most of my rapes were not the gentleman jumping out of the bushes that nobody had ever met. That was one or two times out of a hundred. Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible.” -- Washington Post
Sherry Boston, DeKalb County’s district attorney
"As District Attorney with charging discretion, I will not prosecute individuals pursuant to HB 481 given its ambiguity and constitutional concerns. As a woman and mother, I am concerned about the passage and attempted passage of laws such as this one in Georgia, Alabama, and other states. I believe it is a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body and medical care, including, but not limited to, seeking an abortion, as upheld by the United States Supreme Court." -- 11 Alive
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
...became the first Republican congressman to say the president “engaged in impeachable conduct”. -- Washington Post

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Congrats to the victorious CTU CORE Caucus

CTU Pres. Jesse Sharkey
As expected, Chicago Teachers Union Pres. Jesse Sharkey and his CORE caucus easily defeated the opposition Members First slate to retain their control of CTU leadership. Now it's on to the contract negotiations which hopefully can be resolved sooner than later.

Obviously feeling charged from his victory, Sharkey issued a threat to Chicago's mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.
“We hope that the new mayor makes good on her promises to transform our public schools — if she does, she will find us to be a steadfast ally. If she does not, she will find us to be an implacable foe,” Sharkey said.
Remember, the CTU leadership had backed Lightfoot’s opponent, Cook County Board President and Democratic Party chief, Toni Preckwinkle, who lost to Lightfoot in a landslide. During the campaign, Sharkey claimed that the choice to endorse Preckwinkle was made at least in part because Preckwinkle “gives us better leverage in a contract fight."

Even if that were true (which I doubt), it made the early endorsement that much more problematic. If Preckwinkle would have won, I suspect Sharkey's quote would have been all over the media during the contract negotiations, putting added pressure on the mayor to be "tough" on the unions.

Actually, with the exception of Preckwinkle's early support for charter schools, both candidates had pretty much the same stand on ed issues and their positions corresponded closely with those of the union.

Here's Lori Lightfoot as a guest on Hitting Left back in June, 2018.  
If you look at what's been happening in the Chicago Public School system, especially this past six or seven years, you see epic failure after epic failure. You can't have a good, well-run public school system when you have five CEOs in the last seven years...Yes, I do support an elected school board. 
I wish the CTU best of luck in negotiating a great contract for its members and as always, I will join the teachers on the picket line if there's a strike. I also hope one isn't necessary.

Tune in to Hitting Left this Friday, May 24th 11-noon CDT, when our in-studio guest will be, newly-elected socialist alderperson from the 33rd Ward, Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez. 

Monday, May 13, 2019


Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle met downtown for a private lunch to discuss ways the city and county can cooperate as they try to move past the lingering hard feelings from their bruising mayoral campaign.
Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot
“I would say that we, obviously the city and the county have a lot of overlapping things in common, and I wanted to make sure the president [Toni Preckwinkle] and I started off in the right direction a week out from my inauguration." -- Chicago Tribune
 David Greising, BGA President
If [Lightfoot] continues leveraging the capacity of civic and business leaders, without abandoning the progressives who helped elect her, she could have the formula for a lasting impact on economic equity in a city that badly needs it. -- BGA 
Laura Washington
[Congressman Bobby] Rush could be a potent ally for Lightfoot. He must be. Lightfoot needs every iota of power, access and wisdom the veteran congressman can offer. Rush needs “Landslide Lori,” who was elected Chicago’s first African-American woman and first LGBTQ mayor with nearly 74% of the vote. Many of Rush’s constituents have even more dire needs. In this supposedly robust economy, African American families on Chicago’s South Side are buried in a landslide of violence, joblessness and poverty. -- Sun-Times
Clint Krislov, IIT Chicago-Kent’s Center for Open Government
“If the city had just hired LAZ Parking directly to do the pay-and-display system, the city would probably have $2 billion-to-$4 billion more over the course of the deal above the merely $1.16 billion it got up-front.” -- Sun-Times
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
 “The “opioid war” is a medical problem rather than a behavioral or law enforcement one, Warren argued....But we got a second problem in this country and it’s greed. People didn’t get addicted all on their own, they got a lot of corporate help. They got a lot of help from corporations that made big money off getting people addicted and keeping them addicted.” -- Politico
Kate Oronoff on Green New Deal
Critics have smeared the Green New Deal as a colossal waste of money, involving a level of spending sure to crater the economy and pass an unnecessarily cruel financial burden down to future generations. They seem to be confusing it with business as usual. -- Guardian
Robert Kuttner
 The problem is not that “Democrats” fail to appreciate unions. It’s that the corporate and Wall Street Democrats who have dominated the presidential wing of the party since Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton actively loathe unions. -- Diane Ravitch Blog
 Cary Huang
Worse can happen than just material loss to the countries directly involved. While a country may try to destroy another by targeting its economy rather than its military, history suggests that a full-blown trade war inevitably leads to a shoot-out between nations. -- South China Morning Post

Monday, May 6, 2019

Summing up Rahm's role as the arts mayor

Rahm sold off this public art masterpiece by Kerry James Marshall...

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
is on what I call, his image rehabilitation tour. In the process, he's trying to repaint his image from that of a closer of schools, libraries and public space, into a patron of the arts and philanthropist.
...and fought a losing battle for this. 

It's sad watching local media play along with this charade. See for example, Mary Mitchell's recent column with the headline: Mayor Rahm Emanuel to put his money where his heart is. 

Two things wrong here. One, the money wasn't his. It was a million bucks left in his campaign fund. Two, his heart is where his money is, not the other way around.

It did my heart good to hear that Mayor 1% is still pissed that we ran his pal George Lucas, along with his hideous Star Wars Museum out of town.
" It became a jihad," cried Rahm, reverting to his IDF persona. 
"You had the power of Lucas Films and someone willing to give $150 or $175 million to the city in philanthropy". 
Funny, I never saw that offer in writing. What I saw was a mayor willing to give a billionaire movie mogul public park land for his for-profit amusement show.

Anyway, whenever Rahm's pissed, I'm happy.

But it turns out, losing that gross-looking museum wasn't the mayor's biggest "arts" regret. That one was rightfully his shameful selling off of the great Kerry James Marshall work of public art.

Here's how Marshall took it:
“It just seemed like a way of exploiting the work of artists in the city for short-term gain in a really shortsighted kind of way,” he said of the plan to auction off “Knowledge and Wonder,” which Marshall painted for the Legler Branch public library on the West Side, in order to reap an expected multimillion dollar windfall that would pay for upgrading the Legler. “And so I made a decision at that time I would never do another public work.”
So to sum up Rahm's history as a steward of Chicago arts: He fought like hell for the Star Wars Museum in order to kiss a billionaire's ass in exchange for hoped-for philanthropic handouts while selling off a public arts masterpiece by one of the great African-American artists for a quick hit of cash. 


Students from Chicago High School for the Arts cheer striking teachers.
Carlene Carpenter, Chicago charter school teacher
“We’ve been bargaining since last summer, and the process has been insulting to educators,” said Carlene Carpenter, a social studies teacher at the Latino Youth High School (LYHS), which is affiliated with the Youth Connection Charter School network. “If charter operators really cared about education, we wouldn’t be here today.” -- In These Times
Gov. J.B. Pritzker to Black United Fund of IL
 “We are taking a major step forward to legalize adult use cannabis and to celebrate the fact that Illinois is going to have the most equity-centric law in the nation. For the many individuals and families whose lives have been changed, indeed hurt, because the nation’s war on drugs discriminated against people of color, this day belongs to you, too." -- Sun-Times
Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center
“Hate groups and hate activity run pretty deep in southern California, and have for a very long time. This activity is deeply rooted in Orange county and northern San Diego." -- Guardian
Brooke Binkowski
[San Diego synagogue shooter] may have acted by himself, but as history and his Internet trail show, he was in no way a lone wolf. -- Washington Post
Calvin Ramsay, N.Y.U. student
“Food was a major obstacle,” he said, “especially in Manhattan.” Mr. Ramsay said that he will need to borrow about $40,000 more to graduate, but he is unwilling to take on more debt to do so. “Why do I need to go into debt,” he said, “to eat?” -- Tuition or dinner, NYT 
Jack Kelly, executive recruiter
I contend that the gig economy is dampening compensation growth. There is a huge trend glamorizing the gig economy. Articles extol the virtues of having a side hustle, taking control of your career, working when you want to work and other wonderful tales of success. The reality is that college-educated people who can’t find suitable jobs are now working for Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart, DoorDash, Grubhub, TaskRabbit, temp work at corporations, assignments through Upworks and Fivver and seasonal jobs at Amazon warehouses. -- Forbes

Derby metaphor for 2016 election in unmistakeable.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

More empty advice for Lightfoot. This time from Mayor 1%.

Lightfoot talks with south-side residents at Kennedy-King College.
Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot has so far been good at soliciting input from community members. But along with that has also come lots of empty, self-serving advice from the old guard. I guess it goes with the territory.

Last week it was Bill Daley's flack Peter Cunningham counseling the incoming mayor to think small, forget the "black, gay, female agenda" and city corruption, and focus instead on garbage collection and pothole repair. 

The latest bits of wisdom come from Rahm Emanuel, Mayor 1% himself, urging Lightfoot to copy his autocratic style of leadership in handling the city council. I call it the S & M model or what Freud called the pleasure principle (Lustprinzip). 

Rahm advises Lightfoot...
“You have to not so much walk in somebody else’s shoes [as] you have to think about what’s the benefit [for them]. … What’s the pain to pleasure?”
For Rahm and old-line machine pols like Eddie Burke, this has meant buying loyalty from obedient  aldermen with TIF money and re-distributing funds from the big downtown developers. Crumbs from the super-profit table to dole out to some and not others. The pain/pleasure principle.

On point, S-T's Fran Spielman writes this morning:
But being mayor isn’t only about making tough decisions and giving people what you deem to be in their best interests. It’s about listening to disparate views with sensitivity, building consensus and giving people at least some say in their own destiny. On that test of leadership, Emanuel failed.
Hopefully, the mayor-elect, who ran and won handily on a promise to make a clean break from Rahm's pain/pleasure style of politics, will follow her own course and Rahm will save his advice for his patrons at his new job.