Thursday, July 4, 2013

No food at the buffet table

I like Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey's  response to Rahm's version of the longer school day. 
"The schools are getting shortchanged.  Having a full day of school while cutting back core classes is like inviting somebody over for a buffet and there's no food on the table." -- DNAinfo
Fritchey emphasized that it's not the North Side fighting to take funding from the South Side or West Side, but that everyone has to work toward solutions for all.

Nice words.

I hope the northsiders mean it because you know that Rahm will find a way to play the neighborhoods off against one another, restoring cuts for some and not for others. That's just what he's doing now, closing dozens of schools on the south and west sides, blaming his budget shortfall on greedy pensioners and claiming that cuts can't be restored until pension "reform" is successful.

Instead, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), who hangs out on the periphery of the council's Progressive Caucus, is calling on the city to draw on surplus TIF funds set aside for economic development as a "one-time fix."  That makes much more sense so long as the funds are distributed equitably. The CTU has been pushing a similar solution. Chicago aldermen have 10 weeks to pass an ordinance giving TIF funding to classrooms. How much funding depends on the extent of budget cuts facing each school, says Pawar.

But the mayor considers TIF his own personal slush fund to be doled out to business community pals as a form of patronage. The real elephant in the room is still the state's regressive tax system. There will be no long-term solution to either city school funding or to the pension crisis so long as Illinois remains a virtual tax-free zone for the largest corporations.

Then there's the whole question of City Hall's control of the schools and the need for an elected school board to replace Rahm's hand-picked board of privateers. How many more reasons do we need?

This week's revolt of northside LSCs, who have formed the Common Sense Coalition against the budget cuts, threatens Rahm's last remaining stable base of support in the city. New polls show he's ripe for picking in the 2015 mayoral primary, providing a unifying progressive opponent has the huevos (gender neutral) to jump out there.

Side Note -- Pawar and 10 other alders have created the Asian American Caucus. The group formed with the stated goal of building legislation around issues affecting the fast-growing Asian American community, particularly immigration, advocacy and language barriers. Problem is that Pawar is the only Asian in the Caucus (we need to elect some more). The rest are pretty much a gaggle of the mayor's yes men, ie. Solis, Mell (retiring),  Moore, O'Connor, etc....

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