Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trump plans to do away with public school systems

Trump surrogate, Paladino calls educators, "pot-smokers from Vietnam era". Ouch!
If there was any doubt, Trump surrogate Carl Paladino made it perfectly clear that if his boss is elected his goal will be nothing less than the elimination of public education and complete liquidation of the nation's teacher unions.

Paladino, Trump's N.Y State co-chairman told a group of urban school superintendents yesterday, that Trump would seek to do away with “corrupted, incompetent” public school systems in America’s cities, replacing them with charter schools and vouchers for private schools.
Such an approach would “encourage competition in the marketplace and eventually dismantle the corrupted, incompetent urban school districts that we have in America today,” said Paladino, Trump’s New York State co-chairman, drawing audible boos from an audience composed largely of people who run the school districts Paladino criticized.
Paladino was unfazed: “A monopoly will not continue to work, it will not solve the problem,” he said, decrying what he described as school districts’ dysfunction and their “incestuous relationships with teachers unions.”  
I had to laugh when Paladino went on to attack higher education, referring to academics on college campuses as former “pot-smoking hippies back during the Vietnam era.” Was he referring to me? Has he visited a college campus recently? The median age of tenured faculty (who are now mostly replaced in the classroom by much younger adjuncts) is around 50. That would have made them about 5 years old in the Vietnam era.

Contrast that with Hillary Clinton's likely approach -- continuing Democrats' expansion of privately-run charters, side-by-side with support for traditional public schools with a common-core standards/curriculum and unionized teachers -- and you get a clear picture of the choice available to voters on Nov. 8th. It's not a great choice, but it's a choice.

There's also a progressive education platform, adopted after much internal struggle at the Democratic Convention, around which to organize, once HC is elected. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Looking back on the Chicago anti-Trump protest

"I was wondering what happened with my rally in Chicago and other rallies where we had such violence. She’s the one, and Obama, that caused the violence. They hired people, they paid them $1,500, and they’re on tape saying, be violent, cause fights, do bad things." -- DT
I was out of town on March 11, when thousands of protesters surrounded the UIC pavilion and sent Donald Trump packing. My loss. Turns out, at least according to the Trump campaign, I would have collected $1,500 from Hillary's people if I would only have taken part. Of course I would have had to engage in some fisticuffs to collect my money. It could have marked the beginning of a glorious prize fighting career, even at age 72.

Then again, my brother Fred and sister-in-law Anne took part and neither of them collected any dough -- at least that's what they told me.

I said at the time, that we would one day look back on the Chicago protest as the beginning of the end for his campaign. Now that the Republicans seem headed for a landslide defeat, up and down the ticket, the Chicago protest is being looked at once again as an early source of Trump's slide into the political abyss.

The mainly-peaceful (there were only 4 arrests) but militant protest not only forced Trump to cancel his planned, hate-filled anti-immigrant rally in the heart of Chicago, it also set the stage for the wave of youth activism and protest across the country, making it near impossible for the racist demagogue to campaign in cities with large black and Latino populations.

Some 43,000 undergraduate and graduate students had signed a petition asking UIC to cancel the rally by March 6. Up until March, Trump rallies had been marked by violent attacks on peaceful protesters, attacks encouraged from the podium by Trump himself, and aimed at intimidation. But surrounded by a huge young, multi-racial crowd, the bully was forced to retreat. His tough-guy mask ripped off.

The protest also helped the Sanders campaign activate enough support among young activists to nearly carry Illinois. If Hillary's campaign was indeed behind the protest (which they weren't) it was a colossal mistake on their part. At the time, Trump blamed Sanders for the clashes in Chicago, insisting that the protesters were "Bernie's crowd."  Actually the anti-Trump response was organized at the last moment by  University of Illinois Chicago students, as wee asBernie Sanders supporters, to their credit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Chicago Pipeline Connection

Back from Standing Rock and already thinking about returning. There was some great news out of Morton County yesterday. A judge tossed out the "riot" charges against Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. Standing Rock friends tell me this morning that all the other felony cases have also been dropped.

But still, almost everywhere I turn, racist symbols abound. Watching Cleveland vs. Toronto in the ALCS, the racist Indian insignia is constantly in your face. If you Google Cleveland Indians you won't find the symbol on their page. Too embarrassing? But watching the game itself, it's displayed prominently.

Then I read this headline in the WSJ: Elizabeth Warren Claims a Scalp Remember, Trump is fond of referring to Sen. Warren as "Pocahontas".

I'm trying to write something for the MSM about the Chicago connections with Standing Rock and the pipeline protests. There's plenty of connections to write about. That's for certain.

For one thing, IL is on the asshole end of the 1,134-mile-long Black Snake that transports fracking oil from the Bakken region of ND down through IA, crossing about 40 rivers, threatening the drinking water of millions of people, before dumping it all out in our state.

Environmental racism is another connection. Remember, the pipeline was originally supposed to run through predominantly-white Bismark until residents protested and pushed it down to Lakota Sioux territory. In Chicago, isolated, poor black and Latino neighborhoods have become the main targets for toxic waste dumps, coal power plants, petcoke, and incinerators.

Then there's the politics of waterToday's DNAInfo reports that water at nearly half of Chicago parks has high levels of lead. There's even higher rates of lead pollution at the city's public schools drinking fountains.

And oh those pipeline investors. Bank of America, which has profited from those toxic debt swaps that helped bankrupt the schools, J.P. Morgan Chase (Bill Daley), Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, to name but a few. All big contributors to Rahm Emanuel's campaign.

The Chicago students who were with me on my last trip to Standing Rock are making their own connections. I'm sure we'll be hearing from them soon.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman
"I came back to North Dakota to fight a trespass charge. They saw that they could never make that charge stick, so now they want to charge me with rioting. I wasn't trespassing, I wasn't engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters." -- Huffington Post
Racist Derek Black's epiphany 
He studied the 8th century to the 12th century, trying to trace back the modern concepts of race and whiteness, but he couldn’t find them anywhere. “We basically just invented it,” he concluded. -- Washington Post
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP
“The NAACP’s resolution is not inspired by ideological opposition to charter schools but by our historical support of public schools ― as well as today’s data and the present experience of NAACP branches in nearly every school district in the nation. Our NAACP members, who as citizen advocates, not professional lobbyists, are those who attend school board meetings, engage with state legislatures and support both parents and teachers.” -- Huffington Post
Northwestern Prof Joseph Ferrie on New inequality Study
 New research suggests that social mobility in America may be even more limited than researchers have realized. “Any measure of mobility we have is too high. Whatever you thought, it’s worse.” -- Washington Post
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker
“In our democracy, those who vote decide everything; those who count the vote decide nothing,” -- Miami Herald

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Rehabilitating Rahm Emanuel

After spending much of the past year in the Democrats' dog house, it appears Rahm is being rehabilitated. Now that Clinton feels that IL in the bag, it's becoming safe for party regulars, including POTUS himself, to be seen and even have their pictures taken with the mayor.

On Tuesday, Emanuel felt confident enough to announce that he intends to run for a third term in 2019. He's taking credit for putting city finances back on "solid ground" after crying just weeks ago, that the city was broke. He also wants props for averting a teachers strike.

The latest batch of Wikileaks posts confirm what many of us already knew and have been reporting for some time. They show Clinton campaign chair John Podesta being urged last March, before two Democratic debates and the Illinois primary, to have Clinton “separate big time” from a politically toxic Rahm, in the wake of the Chicago police shooting scandal and school closings.

At the time, Rahm's numbers in the city's black community were tumbling into single digits. They're not much better than that now. But it's pretty clear that Chicago's black voters are going to turn out for Hillary. After all, she's not Trump.

Emanuel’s woes in Chicago were also part of the fight between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who came within a whisker of out-polling the mayor in the IL primary. The warning came in a March 5, 2016 email to Podesta from Neera Tanden, a Clinton money bundler, who runs Podesta's Center for American Progress and who had been battling with black civil rights leaders to keep black voters in the fold.
“I got into it w Ben jealous last night and he was all obsessed w how Hillary hasn’t condemned Rahm,” Tanden said of the former NAACP leader who backed Bernie Sanders in the primary. “I’m sure you guys are all over this for the debate but just thought I’d send in that they may well go there for the debate. My rec is to separate big time.”
Cecelia Muñoz tried to prevent Rahm appointment
Some other leaks go back to 2008 when Obama was considering Rahm for his Chief of Staff. Cecilia Muñoz, currently director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, panicked at the idea. She wrote Podesta:
So I hate to bug you with anything else knowing how much must be going on, but the Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff rumor is circulating like wildfire...folks know how explosive that would be in my part of the world, no? The FIRST thing we'll get asked is why he picked someone who has been consistently hostile to immigrants, and we'll have to respond.
Obama did go on to appoint Emanuel just days after Muñoz' missive and Rahm used the COS position to block any and all immigration reform initiatives, just as she had feared. Rahm called immigration, the "third rail" of American politics.

With Rahm working to re-invent himself as a progressive and mending fences with the teachers union, it may now be safe for him to come out from under the bus and for Dems to be seen with him.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Big biz slams Rahm 'retreat' on CTU contract. But he was right.

Chicago teachers have won a major victory without going on strike. But the mayor is under fire from his own LaSalle Street pals for "taking the easy path" and "leaving another eventual crisis for somewhere down the road." They may be right on the latter, but Rahm had no choice but to use his corporate-friendly TIF slush fund if he was to avoid another teachers strike.

Crain's Greg Hinz scolds the mayor for his retreat on TIF, the 7% pension pick-up, and the building of another selective-enrollment high school in Lincoln Park.
After imposing more than $1.1 billion in new taxes for workers and related items last year, Emanuel apparently has decided not to push the limits of the public's patience any further. Or, for that matter, to risk a teachers strike just when Chicago Public Schools is showing signs of improvement, along with Emanuel's rating in the polls.
 Initially, Emanuel defended the TIF program against all attackers. Gradually, under pressure from both his financial bottom line and his political foes, he relented, agreeing to cap most expenditures in the city's thriving central area, and to carve off 20 percent of unencumbered TIF funds, or "surplus," each year and pass it out to CPS and other governments.
 So the schools, at Emanuel's direction, backed off. Yes, teachers hired after Jan. 1 will have the 7 percent deducted from their pay. But starting CPS pay will be increased 3.5 percent on Jan. 1, too, and bumped up another 3.5 percent July 1, so it's a $140 million wash.
In other words, faced with the CTU's unanimous show of rank-and-file solidarity in last month's strike vote, along with growing parent and community pressure to avoid a strike, Rahm did the only thing he could do. He bought four years of likely labor peace and maybe even a third term in office. And he did it without any help from Republican Gov. Rauner, who continues to hold the state's school budget hostage and who is the big political loser in the deal.

Is Rahm back in Clinton & Obama's good graces?
Rahm also took a potentially politically embarrassing (for Democrats) headline off the nation's front pages in the days leading up to the election. Maybe now Clinton/Obama will be willing to be seen with him once more.

As for his plan to build an elite Barack Obama High School on the north side, where selective-enrollment schools blossom like Starbucks, that deal is dead, at least for now. Rahm says his retreat is only "temporary" but I doubt that all the king's horses can put that Humpty Dumpty together again.

Of course his business pals are right. The fix is only temporary. But that's because neither Rahm nor the legislature will dare raise taxes on the state's wealthy, powerful one-percenters.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A life changer

Arely Morales photo

The trip to Standing Rock was a "life changing experience" for these Chicago students.
Our group of 11 young people and 3 “old heads” from Chicago got back on the afternoon of “Indigenous People’s Day.” We are not the same people who left last Thursday. The stories and the people we met, the way were welcomed by elders, participating in traditional dances, the drums and prayers, the smoke rising in air, the incredible spirit of community and vision for a future that respects all people and all of life–all of it changed us. 
Lili Diaz Sanchez 
Arely Barrera
Arely Morales
More to come on this.