Listen to Hitting Left with guest Matt Farmer

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Despite federal investigation, the battle rages on in post-election Chicago

KOCO Executive Director Jawanza Malone responds to latest attacks.  (Jeffrey Bishku-Ayku)
“Peace: A period of cheating between two periods of fighting.” -- Ambrose Bierce. 
Please excuse all the military metaphors, but it's war out here on the third coast folks.

Those of you who were hoping the post-election Little Emperor would turn back into sweater-wearing Mr. Rogers -- think again. Even while a full-scale federal investigation of pay-to-play at CPS is going on and with Barbara Byrd-Bennett on the lam, the spoils of war are being spread around to Rahm's loyalists with impunity, while the guillotine is being greased up for the progressive opposition.

First on Rahm's agenda is consolidating power in the City Council by handing out key committee positions to toadies like Will Burns. But that won't be so easy given the victories by all seven members of the Progressive Caucus who ran for re-election and the stunning upset victories by progressives over Rahm-back incumbents out in the wards.

Victorious Sue Garza & Chuy
We're all celebrating yesterday's announced victories of Sue Sadlowski Garza over Petcoke Pope in the 10th and Milly Santiago over Rahm's deputy mayor and yes-man Ray Suarez in the 31st.

S-T's Mark Brown calls Garza, "tough as steel rivets". He's right.

Pope will also have to be replaced on Rahm's Infrastructure Trust. I doubt that he will appoint Garza. Don't you? But the Progressive Caucus will be all the stronger for her presence.

Now comes word that the day after the election, the CPS Office of Innovation and Incubation received at least 50 charter school proposals. This despite BBB's promises not to allow any charter schools to open in school buildings shuttered in 2013.

KOCO leader Jitu Brown leading the fight for Dyett
As for the guillotine, they're hoping to use it on the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO)  the group leading much of the resistance to south-side school closings and taking it right to Ald. Burns in the battle to save and transform Dyett High School. The attack on KOCO is being led by Rep. Christian Mitchell, who despite being bankrolled by the machine and pro-privatization groups like Stand For Children and backed by powerhouse County Board Pres. Toni Preckwinkle, barely squeaked by KOCO leader and community activist Jay Travis. But taking on KOCO won't be so easy. Community support for the organization is strong and building.

Did I mention that Travis and newly-elected Ald. Carlos Rosa will be on our panel at Saturday's NPE Conference? And KOCO leader Jitu Brown is among the keynote speakers. Should be exciting.

Some good news on the charter front. The House just passed a bill by a 60-40 vote, that would strip away power from the State Charter School Commission. That's especially good news for those inner-ring, mostly-black and Latino suburban districts who have become the target of charter school expansionism. Charter profiteers are banking on the Commission to overrule local districts who vote against them.

Of course the bill must first get through the Senate and then be signed by Rauner. Not likely. So enough votes must be garnered to override his veto. But it's something.

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