Saturday, November 17, 2018

Disinvestment & Gentrification: Two sides of the same racist coin

On yesterday's Hitting Left show, community activists Christian Diaz and Cory Stevenson both agreed. Southside disinvestment and northside gentrification were simply two sides of the same racist coin.

Nowhere is this more evident than in city policies of closing dozens of schools in struggle south and west side communities while opening up new charter and selective enrollment schools on the north side. This tweet from the parent group, Raise Your Hand, brings the contradiction into clear focus.

Cory Stevenson pointed to the impact the closing of two southside Target stores could have on his community and relatives in terms of loss of hundreds of jobs and access to basic needs for families that don't have cars.

The Target store closings are symptomatic of the structural disinvestment and erosion of public space and public decision-making now taking place in predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods. This includes the closing of schools, clinics, stores and other city services, making many areas of the city uninhabitable.

While across town, gentrification has created a housing crisis for poor and middle-class, mainly Latino families in neighborhoods like Logan Square. This, according to Diaz, who is the housing organizer at Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA).  LSNA has been organizing community meetings and marches to protest high rents and support affordable housing projects.

While supporting the push for new rent-control laws, Diaz doesn't think current emphasis on lifting the ban on rent-control is the best tactic. "My fear is that we're talking about a campaign that may take 10 years and in the meantime, families are losing their homes and rents are climbing, making affordable housing out of reach."

Instead, LSNA is pushing for a "community land trust" where a nonprofit, community-based organization develops and stewards affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other community assets on behalf of a community.

Harold died 30 years ago. 
At our holiday family gathering this week, we will take a moment to remember Chicago's greatest mayor, Harold Washington, who suffered a fatal heart attack the day before Thanksgiving 30 years ago. Today the city is more in need of a mayor like Harold, than ever.

Instead, big-money corporatists and old-line machine Democrats have jumped into the race following Rahm Emanuel's departure and they appear to be sucking up all the air and money from the campaign as they try and push out upstart progressives. The shakeout will begin in earnest after Nov. 26, the day that nominating petitions are due. Without a big campaign war chest and paid staff or ward organization to round up the needed 12,500 valid signatures, several of the early runners are likely to drop out. Actually, campaigns really need to collect at least double that amount so they can withstand a challenge.

More on that to come. But for now there two developments in the past week that caught my attention. The craziest came from candidate Bill Daley, who more than all the others, combines the worst of big-money corporatism with old-line machine politics. Daley, trying to outflank former top-cop, Garry McCarthy as the law-and-order candidate, says he wants to have thousands of camera-equipped drones flying over the city.

He tells the Sun-Times:
“I’d have as many cameras as we could buy so the people could feel safer wherever they’re at … I’d have a camera on every block in the city if I could.”
Chicago’s network of 29,000 public and private surveillance cameras is already billed as the largest “federated” system in the nation. But I'll bet there's a Daley family member or close business associate who'd be thrilled to get that drone contract. Kind of like Rahm's red-light camera plan.

The other recent development is the entrance of Susana Mendoza into the race. Mendoza, who has always been viewed suspiciously by progressives as a Rahm/Madigan machine puppet, is now staking out progressive territory and trying to outflank frontrunner Toni Preckwinkle on the left. She promises to stop school closures, including the closing of embattled National Teachers Academy, the re-opening of the clinics closed by Rahm, and support for an elected school board.

You can believe her or not. But for now at least, other candidates will have to respond on these issues.


Monday, November 12, 2018


 "I’m about to lose everything that I own and become homeless," Roundtree said. "I don’t want to be that veteran on the street begging for change because I haven’t received what I was promised." -- Shelley Roundtree, Afghan War vet
 When the guns fell silent in 1918, both victors and vanquished turned against the black and brown men who had fought in what the victory medals then being struck for each allied soldier called “The Great War for Civilisation”.  -- David Olusoga in The Guardian
"If Watergate is algebra, this is calculus. It's one thing to subpoena John Dean. It's another thing to subpoena a Russian oligarch." -- Rep Mike Quigley, Intelligence Committee member
 Sitting next to Emanuel was New Jersey’s former Gov. Chris Christie. “We agree, don’t we, Rahm?” Christie asked at one point. “Don’t tell my mother,” said Emanuel. --MRE on Stephanopoulos show
“I understand why charter schools exist,” said Alessandra Biaggi, who will represent part of the Bronx in the State Senate. “But we’ve got to focus on improving our public schools.” -- New York Times

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Arizona voucher bill defeated by SOS coalition. A great red-state win for teachers.

Gov. Doug Ducey and his Koch brothers network of "dark money" bazillionaires have set their sights on saving Arizona’s expanded voucher law – the one that a grassroots group and 100,000 Arizona voters put on hold last year via referendum. -- Citizen Times
Arizona voters Tuesday, overwhelming rejected, 65%-35%, a massive expansion of the state's private school voucher program which drained millions from public schools and give it to rich parents to fund their kids' private school tuition. A vote for the measure would have removed all preconditions for students to get vouchers. 

Vouchers were first approved in 2011 to provide alternatives for students with special physical or emotional needs that their parents said could not be met at either traditional public or charter schools.

Proposition 305 was placed on Tuesday's ballot through the efforts of grassroots organizers in Save Our Schools Arizona and the more than 100,000 people who signed petitions to block the 2017 expansion championed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, Betsy DeVos and the Koch Bros.  Their goal was nothing less than the total elimination of the state's public school system as we know it. 

According to
All that energized those who contend that vouchers effectively siphon money from public schools, with private schools free to take — or reject — who they want. Organized as “Save Our Schools,” it took advantage of a provision of the Arizona Constitution that holds up enactment of any new law if foes can get 75,321 valid signatures within 90 days after the end of the session, giving voters a chance to ratify or reject the legislative action.
They actually got far more and weathered a legal challenge by voucher supporters who tried to keep the measure off the ballot.
Now we need to do the same thing here in Illinois. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Victories in WI & IL Gov Races leave educators relieved

Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes
Many Illinois and Wisconsin educators are breathing sighs of relief this morning.

Democrats swept the floor clean in yesterday's IL election, tossing one-term governor, Bruce Rauner out on his ear. It was Rauner who used his veto power to hold the state's education budget hostage for nearly three years, relenting only after Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel agreed to bring vouchers into the system. Rauner lost to billionaire J.B. Pritzker and  in the most expensive ($284M) gov's race in history.

Now that boss Mike Madigan has a veto-proof, supermajority in Springfield, Dems have no excuses on adequate school funding, cap on charter expansion and elected school board for Chicago. Let's see if any of that happens.

The victory also means the state will see its first African-American lieutenant governor in state Rep. Juliana Stratton.

In neighboring WI, right-wing bag-'o-crap Gov. Scott Walker was finally given the boot. Walker busted the state's teacher unions and led the assault on the once-great, state university system. It was only right that he lost, in a close race, to Tony Evers, the state's school superintendent and running mate, former state Rep. Mandela Barnes (great name), who will become the state's first African-American lieutenant governor.

The loss probably puts the kibosh on Walker's presidential ambitions. Although who knows?...Republicans elected two congressman facing federal indictments, a dead pimp, and gave 53,000 votes to an open nazi yesterday.
Barnes quote: "We are bringing education back to the state of Wisconsin. We are bringing science back to the state of Wisconsin and we will bring equality back to the state of Wisconsin."
Brother Fred and I will be summing up yesterday's elections Friday on Hitting Left with in-studio guests, Rebecca Sive, author of Vote For Her: A Manifesto, and Cassie Walker-Burke, Chicago bureau chief for Chalkbeat. Tune in at 11 a.m. CT to WLPN 105.5 FM, streaming live at 

Monday, November 5, 2018


Who in the Pritzker campaign thought this was a good look?  (M.Klonsky pic)
“And most importantly, the character of our nation is on the ballot." -- Barack Obama, Yesterday at the UIC Pavilion
So here we are, our time to say what matters, or doesn’t. -- Greg Hinz at Crain's
 If Republicans succeed in polarizing the electorate, they could take advantage of their underlying geographic advantages and hold down their losses in the House and gain seats in the Senate... But a narrow Democratic majority might take weeks to become clear as California and Washington count late mail ballots. -- Nate Cohn, NYT
Yesterday at the Pavilion.
“All we have to do is get out and vote, while it's still legal, and we will wash those crooked warmongers out of the White House.” --Hunter S Thompson (1937-2005)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trump backs Bost at IL MAGA rally. Guess who else backs him?

Trump holds MAGA rally to boost Bost.

Trump didn't disappoint his favored right-wing candidate Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, who is competing for re-election in a tight race against Dem. Brendon Kelly for Illinois' 12th Congressional seat. Even in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue murders and against the advice of top advisors who who thought it unseemly,  DT couldn't resist another MAGA rally before his adoring deplorables. So he headed down to Murphysboro to give Bost a boost.

And it was here in Southern Illinois, in a race that has big national implications as Dems try and take the House back, that Trump found himself with some strange bedfellows. Also giving Bost and the GOP a boost was the IEA. Yes, that's right, the state teachers union. Bost is one of 10 House Republicans recommended by the National Education Assoc. (NEA) for re-election. Union leaders claim Bost and the other nine are "supporters of public education" and are most likely to win.

But a closer look reveals that Bost is anything but. He is a big and open supporter of privately-run charter schools and school vouchers.  Bost is also behind the state's testing madness and so-called "merit pay" for teachers based on student test scores.

I don't know much about right-centrist Democrat Kelly nor about Randy Auxier, SIU-Carbondale professor and Green Party the Green Party candidate in the race. I can only say Trump's not supporting them, nor is the IEA.

So why the IEA's support for Trump clone on ed issues? Beats the hell out of me -- and not just me. Some IEA members were also astounded. In a letter to the Southern last Thursday, the union members wrote:
“As a congressperson, Bost has been a consistent supporter of the anti-student, anti-education policies of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.” 
The letter says that Bost backed DeVos’ plans to “eliminate loan forgiveness plans for students who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges; to roll back protections for students who are victims of sexual assault on campuses and services for students with disabilities; to shift money away from public education to private schools; and to eliminate programs for teacher training and college prep for economically vulnerable students.”
In response, IEA Vice President Al Llorens, tried to explain away the organization’s decision.
“There are several reasons our members have chosen to support Bost, but most importantly, we support Bost because he supports us,” the statement says.
There you have it. Offer the dog a bone and you can make him roll over.

New York Times poll shows a close race.

Monday, October 29, 2018


We are the people,” Gearah Goldstein said as she opened Sunday’s program in Chicago. “As we stand here together, we must hold love and light in our hearts because those are the forces that will extinguish the darkness and hate that has been called up in our country and around the world.”
Rev. Michael Pfleger, of St. Sabina Church
"When we stand up and when we unite together across all faith lines and race lines, when we do that, we will win.” -- Sun-Times
Progressive Pittsburgh Jewish leaders to Trump: 'Stay away!'
"In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God," the authors write. "While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say: President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us." -- You can read the full letter here.
David Simon, creator of "The Wire" to Israeli Minister
"Go home. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s interventions in US politics aided in the election of Donald Trump and his raw and relentless validation of white nationalism and fascism. The American Jewish community is now bleeding at the hands of the Israeli prime minister. And many of us know it." -- Haaretz
President Donald Trump this morning...
 ...attacked the “fake news media” as the “true enemy of the people” following a week of terror and violence in the United States. Five days after a pipe bomb was sent to CNN, a network frequently bashed by the president, Trump tweeted that “inaccurate” reporting is partially to blame for the “great anger in our country.” -- Huffington
Former President Jimmy Carter to Brian Kemp
In Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, popular confidence is threatened not only by the undeniable racial discrimination of the past and the serious questions that the federal courts have raised about the security of Georgia’s voting machines, but also because you are now overseeing the election in which you are a candidate. -- AP