Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Taking back Chicago

I'm still high off of the energy and unity shown at yesterday's downtown Take Back Chicago rally. School, labor and community activists packed the Chicago Temple and then poured out into the streets in a demonstration of strength. Now the coalition has to find a way to translate its militancy into a successful election strategy. With Rahm's ratings plummeting, there may never be a better time, not only to take back City Hall, but to build up and expand the Progressive Caucus in the city council.

Kari Lydersen at In These Times offers us some background on two of the groups, Grassroots Illinois Action and Reclaim Chicago, working to change the city’s political course by targeting the 50-member City Council, trying to elect more progressive candidates willing to challenge the mayor while also building a durable political grassroots movement.

On November 15, Reclaim Chicago will announce its endorsements in 10 to 15 aldermanic races. Group leaders have been interviewing candidates and deciding endorsements based on a platform that includes promoting a living wage, high-quality public schools, criminal justice reform and infrastructure spending; and opposing privatization, cuts to pensions and layoffs of public workers.

On thing that bothers me about this kind of endorsement process is that this same coalition endorsed phony progressive Christian Mitchell for state rep in the March primaries. Teacher pension robber Mitchell, with big corporate, anti-union money behind him, narrowly defeated real-deal Jay Travis. If the group is really about fighting pension cuts, we don't need any more endorsements like those.

And you know what? Mitchell is still at it. Check out Brother Fred's post today.

Tuesday's Take Back Chicago Rally
I ran into Ald. Fioretti at yesterday's rally. Today he released this statement on the mayor's and David Vitale's toxic rate swaps, which have cost the schools $100 million plus.
CPS gambled our children's future with taxpayer dollars and lost big, and Chicagoans are paying for it. The City Council needs to hold immediate hearings into the risky investment strategies CPS uses and get to the bottom of why the mayor and his appointed school board are leaving Chicago taxpayers on the hook for these shady deals.
Gambling with our children's future is not the same as investing in it. This is another in a long line of examples of the administration prioritizing private interests over the public good. The people of Chicago will not stand to have their children used as investment opportunities so bankers and billionaires can profit.
The CTU's Jackson Potter writes in Tribune:
Two years ago Chicago Public Schools officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel claimed they had to close more than 100 schools to save money. It turns out that the costs of the closings, along with the installation of countless Safe Passage routes to protect children moved to new schools, have far outstripped predictions. In addition, receiving schools like Chopin and Courtenay have seen their scores plummet and culture and climate deteriorate in the aftermath of the closings.
Potter points out that a union-led coalition raised red flags at the time, not only about the phony cost-saving estimates on school closings, but on toxic rate swaps as well. 

Potter says there's still time for Rahm to make it right.
Emanuel and his appointed school board have a tremendous opportunity to claw back nearly $1 billion for a revenue-starved city and school system from the banks that profited unfairly.
As for me, I'm doubtful. Replacing Rahm and his school-board cronies with a new mayor and elected school board remains a prerequisite to straightening out the mess at CPS.

Mihalopoulos' Poop Scoop
This post is getting kind of long, but I can't close without saying something about my least-favorite Sun-Times political writer, Dan Mihalopoulos. You remember, I tabbed him as a LAR (Lazy Ass Reporter) when he "broke" the bullshit story of the year, about Karen Lewis' supposed vast real estate empire..

Today, he's got an even bigger scoop (no pun...) about Fioretti's former law firm making campaign donations to both Democrats and Republicans a few years ago. What law firm in this city doesn't? And why not? I would still take former Gov. Ryan, who ended the death penalty in IL, over any Democratic machine pol.

If his point was that Fioretti called out Rahm for being a Republican, it's a dull point. Fioretti was right on. No Republican could come close to Rahm when it comes to school closings, tax breaks for the rich or privatizing anything in this city that bears the name public. This isn't about giving money to Republican or Democratic campaigns. In this town that simply amounts to rendering unto Caesar.

And this from a guy who writes for a rag that sold its soul and the paper's credibility by doing Rauner's bidding, throwing his colleague, ace reporter David McKinney under the bus and then endorsing Republican Rauner over Quinn. As far as I can tell, Mihalpoulos had barely a Tweet about that. He might have had a great scoop there. Maybe a Pulitzer.


  1. Mike, I'm sorry--me,a little late to the party--you answered my question, "Where have you gone, Dan Mihalopoulos?" Just wrote something about Dan on Bro. Fred's post RE: David Sirota's article. Seems Dan has turned--last 2 articles neither good nor fair "investigative." Hmmm...wonder why? (Not really--think Dave McKinney {although I'd call HIM Brave Dave}.) That having been said, we have a chance to ask him in person--Dan, along with other S-T reporters--Natasha Korecki, Mary Mitchell, Fran Spielman & Neil Steinberg will be doing a program for (ahem!) the City Club of Chicago on Monday, Nov. 24th--11:30 AM Reception; 12 PM Luncheon @ Maggiano's
    on Grand--$35 members, $45 rest-of-us (or $750 for table of 10!). Go to www.cityclub-chicago.org/events/detail/953/early-often-after-november-4-before-february-24 to register. Might be fun to have a whole group of folks (you & Fred, for instance) to query Dan & co. about what they write & why they write it.

  2. Sometimes it seems like Fioretti is the only non-Rahm candidate speaking out. Where are the rest of them. So quiet.


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