HITTING LEFT #145

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Autocrat Rahm's latest fiasco.

Rahm's police board. What kind of so-called community "leaders" would even go along with this charade? 
A friend of mine in Costa Rica calls this morning and asks, "How's Rahm doing? Any better?"

No, I respond. His ratings are lower than snail poop, especially in the black community which helped elect him. Everything he touches seems to turn to shit and even best friends like the Clintons won't get near him. No politician running in Chicago, will. He's toxic for Democrats and for Chicago's image (and credit rating).

Case in point: In the wake of the city' latest police scandals, involving cop killings and cover-ups at the top, the mayor does an end run around his own police board which just carried out an extensive national search for a new superintendent. To placate supposedly demoralized (video-taped) Chicago cops and take the wind out of the sails of Black Caucus leader and potential rival Ald. Rod Sawyer,  Rahm rushed to name CPD insider Eddie Johnson as interim chief, even though Johnson never even applied for the position and wasn't on the board's short list.

Sawyer and the Caucus had been demanding input into the selection, BEFORE it was made. So had the Hispanic Caucus. But collaboration isn't in autocrat Rahm's playbook. He anticipates dissent and then moves to silence or co-opt it.

His pals at the Sun-Times even ran an editorial, telling the Black Caucus to "butt out".

My friend in shock says: "No way!"

Way...

Rahm tells Eddie Johnson what to say. 
Rahm views his hand-picked police board (the same for his hand-picked school board) for what it is, a gaggle of bobble-headers who serve at his pleasure.

Now he's going to make the board do another pretend national search, spending lots of taxpayer money, only to come up with Johnson as their top choice. What kind of so-called community "leaders" would even go along with this charade? The question answers itself.

The topper: Johnson does his first TV interview and tells CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley that he’s never witnessed police wrongdoing first hand, not once in 27 years. Oops, wrong answer. Didn't Rahm's people prep him? Did they just leave him twisting in the wind? What?
“I’ve actually never encountered police misconduct, cause you got to understand, officers that commit misconduct don’t do it in front of people that they think are going to hold them accountable for it,” Johnson said. “Now that I’m sitting in this chair, if I come across it, I will deal with it accordingly.” 
As S-T's Mary Mitchell puts it: "Nothing against Eddie Johnson, but he’s being tarnished by City Hall’s shenanigans." And so is the board.

All these shenanigans and political maneuverings have little to do with solving the epidemic of gun violence in the city now known internationally as Chiraq since Rahm took over. So long as Rahm and city leaders continue to see it as mainly a policing issue, nothing will be done to change the fundamentals -- poverty, racism, black and Latino youth joblessness, gun flow,  school closings, deterioration of city services, etc...

Gov. Rauner's budget hostage-taking is bound to make things worse. Much worse.

Policing and thousands of stop-and-frisks can't prevent crime and violence. In fact, police misconduct is too often the cause. Police at their best can only try and contain it, usually by arresting and jailing, mostly young black men after the fact.

Then my friend asks, what about the schools?

Watch the news on Friday, April 1st, I tell him. No joke.

What about the Bulls?, he asks.

I'm late. Gotta run.

I hang up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Unlike a Rolling Stone...


Rolling Stone Magazine is pissing in the wind with their endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I doubt if many millennials among their readership base are buying. They just don't think another war hawk in the White House bodes well for their future. Neither do I.

Matt Taibbi writes in response to RS:
Hillary not only voted for the Iraq War, but offered a succession of ridiculous excuses for her vote. Remember, this was one of the easiest calls ever. A child could see that the Bush administration's fairy tales about WMDs and Iraqi drones spraying poison over the capital (where were they going to launch from, Martha's Vineyard?) were just that, fairy tales. 
Yet Hillary voted for the invasion for the same reason many other mainstream Democrats did: They didn't want to be tagged as McGovernite peaceniks. The new Democratic Party refused to be seen as being too antiwar, even at the cost of supporting a wrong one.
Kevin Drum, writing in Mother Jones, responds to Taibi with a pitifully weak -- she's not that bad --defense of Hillary. He even makes this concession:
On a policy level, I don't get the sense that her foreign policy instincts have changed much based on events since 9/11, and that's by far my biggest complaint about her. Finally, I'm not thrilled with political dynasties.
 The Iraq invasion: This one is totally fair. Hillary did support the invasion, and it was the wrong call. What's more, this is a good proxy for her general hawkishness, which is her weakest point among millennials and her weakest point among an awful lot of older voters too.
 Put this all together and here's what you get. Hillary's instincts on national security are troublesome. If that's a prime issue for you, then you should vote against her. 
Thanks Kevin. I already have.

Whose idea was this?
But it's not just about Hillary's foreign policy, ie. her support for the Iraq war; her prime role in the destruction of Libya as a viable state; her stated willingness to use nuclear weapons against Iran; her out-Trumping Trump in her pandering AIPAC speech; or the lunacy her policies helped create in Syria where forces backed by the CIA and battling forces backed by the Pentagon, that leaves me Hillary-horrified.

Unlike Drum, I can't separate foreign policy from domestic.

The toll of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the longest in modern history, in terms of blood and (at least $4 trillion) in treasury is unfathomable. Our inability to disengage in the slaughter, now called the eternal "war on terrorism", has not only brought that war home, but precipitated the massive structural imbalance in the U.S. and global economies, including the financial collapse, the great recession, bankruptcy of our public school systems, and steady downward pressure on wages and living standards.

As we learned during the Vietnam war, you can't have guns and butter both. Certainly not without an accompanying lost of freedom and civil liberties.

Monday, March 28, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

UNO's Rangel with Rahm Emanuel

UNO leader Juan Rangel 
...said in a written statement that the spending “must be put in the right context." -- Sun-Times
 Student Dontae Chatman
“My school is threatening to take away our field day to students who refuse PARCC, I think we all should get treated the same way, if we take it or if we don’t take it.” -- Sun-Times
NYT Columnist Frank Bruni
It’s hate worn down into resignation, disgust repurposed as calculation. Stopping a ludicrous billionaire means submitting to a loathsome senator. -- Lose With Cruz: A Love Story
Author Natalie Y. Moore
With Rahm Emanuel's 2013 school closings, Moore's concerns were compounded: "Foreclosures and short sales had already rocked my block and Bronzeville as a whole. How could a vacant school affect property values?" -- Reader
Barack Obama
I'm more worried about climate change than ISIS. -- Fusion
Steve Nelson, head of the Calhoun School
Duckworth and others have inadvertently added “you’re not gritty enough” to the long-standing “you’re not smart enough” as ways for schools and teachers to continue their unnatural practices. -- Huffington

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tour de Fork shows signs of political realignment in Chicago

The Progressive Caucus Tour de Fork fundraiser last night at the kitschy Catalyst Ranch in the West Loop was an impressive event, catered by restaurants from some of the 11 wards represented by Caucus members. But the large, spirited gathering was much more than a gastronomic success. It also signified the sea change taking place in city, state and national political alignments, thanks mainly to the emergence of Gov. Rauner as our own local version of Donald Trump.

There are now 11 caucus members, instead of 8 a year ago. This growth is testimony not only to the progressive movement's recent election victories out in the wards, but to the rapid and near-total collapse of Rahm Emanuel's political machinery and personal credibility.

In the wake of the school closings and the Laquan McDonald scandal, the mayor's approval ratings are somewhere down in the 20s, and in the single digits in the black community where voters were largely responsible for Emanuel's previous two election victories over the progressive opposition.

Rahm has lost so much juice that both Democratic Party presidential candidates avoid him like the plague when they campaign in Chicago. Liberal icon Bill Moyers is now calling on Hillary Clinton to press for the resignations of both Rahm Emanuel and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in order to "do their party and country a service."

Moyers and Michael Winship write:
And now he’s mayor of Chicago, reelected last April for a second term, but, as historian Rick Pearlstein wrote in The New Yorker a couple of months ago, “Chicagoans — and Democrats nationally — are suffering buyer’s remorse.”
 To millions, they are enablers of the one percent, perpetuators of the Washington mentality that the rest of the country has grown to hate. What a message such servants of plutocracy send: Democrats — a bridge to the past.
Alds. Munoz, Foulkes, and Sposato at Tour de Fork
Just as the Bernie Sanders campaign, combined with the existential threat of Trump presidency, has pushed the Democratic Party's campaign rhetoric leftward, the Rauner-inspired realignment in Illinois has brought some strange bedfellows together here in Chicago around an emerging progressive and pro-labor policy agenda.

Last night, veteran Caucus leaders like Alds. Scott Waguespack, Leslie Hairston, Rod Sawyer and Rick Munoz shared tacos and chicken wings with newly-elected Democratic-backed State's Atty. Kim Foxx, State Senator Omar Aquino, Rep.  Jaime Andrade,  City Treasurer Kurt Summers, City Clerk Susana Mendoza, Committeeman Aaron Goldstein, reps from the CTU, SEIU, AFSCME, and more.

Tactical alliances and overlap of interests between the progressives and the council's Black and Hispanic Caucuses could well decide the next mayor's race. Note that yesterday's Black Caucus press conference demanding greater input into the selection of the next police superintendent drew progressive support. Ald. Sawyer plays a leadership role in both caucuses.


New State's Atty. Kim Foxx speaks to Caucus supporters
I joked with some, standing in the taco line, that I half expected Rauner nemesis Mike Madigan himself to come walking through the door singing "we shall overcome".

The new political alignment in the city and the shifting boundaries around the word "progressive" may cost some Caucus desertions and precipitate new internal struggles within the ranks of union leadership. But it is more likely to liberate some pols held captive on the machine's plantation in the same way the Harold Washington movement liberated them back in the day.

It's the season of the progressives. And that's a good thing. Right?

See Ben Joravsky's latest Reader piece for another view of the realignment.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Claypool's chutzpah. He blames CTU for Rauner's assault on the schools

"We're particularly disappointed that the CTU leadership has given Governor Rauner more ammunition in his misguided attempt to bankrupt and take over Chicago Public Schools." -- CPS CEO Forrest Claypool
Rauner is holding the state school budget hostage, driving school districts to the edge of bankruptcy, threatening the closures of state colleges and universities like Chicago State, and forcing social-service agencies to close their doors. His ransom demand for release of the budget is that Democrats agree to void union contracts and bust the teacher unions entirely.

So far, Rep. Madigan and Sen. Cullerton haven't caved. But despite being personally debased by the governor, Rahm Emanuel still does his his best to appease Rauner. His 3-day furlough and Good Friday school closing, right in the middle of contract negotiations, is meant as a signal of acquiescence. The forced furlough days came after the District announced 62 layoffs, along with $120 million in cuts to its central office and school budgets.

Rather than allow this "death by 1000 cuts" or wait until they are legally allowed to strike on May 23rd, the CTU has called for a Day of Action on April 1st to protest this violation of the collective bargaining agreement and demand funding for Chicago's embattled schools. Yesterday, the union's House of Delegates voted to support the leadership's call for a walkout.

Statements of support are coming in from parents and community groups around the city. McDonald’s employees fighting for a living wage, will also be acting in concert with the CTU on this. But will the other unions will follow suit? IEA? IFT? SEIU? AFSCME? I doubt it.

The CTU says that both Rahm and Rauner are ignoring millions of dollars in “viable revenue options,” which include a financial transaction tax, a statewide graduated income tax, using TIF surplus money, and suing banks over bad interest rate deals known as “toxic swaps,” which have cost the city millions of dollars.

Instead, they both continue to try and grab teachers' pensions. Rahm's latest attempt to go after city workers's pensions was shot down this morning when the IL Supreme Court once again ruled his scheme unconstitutional. 

Now, to top off CPS's capitulation, CEO Claypool is blaming the union for giving Rauner "ammunition" in his attempt to bankrupt and take over the schools. As if he needed any. The same nonsense is repeated by the Sun-Times editors.

If you don't hit it, it won't fall.

Thursday Questions

What is Eva Moskowitz afraid parents, media and visitors will see inside of her Success Academies?

CPS teacher asks: Why is it wrong for Chicago teachers to shut it down on April 1st to demand school funding, but OK for Rahm/Claypool to use furlough day to close schools?

How did Sac's school privatization mayor, Kevin Johnson (husband of Michelle Rhee), ever get away with this?

Was Trump's speech at AIPAC really worse than Hillary Clinton's?

How did Arizona get away with calling this an "election"?

Pres. Obama says Ted Cruz' plan to "secure" Muslim neighborhoods is downright un-American. I agree. But then how does he explain this on his watch?


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rauner's game plan. Hold budget hostage until schools forced into bankruptcy.


Soon after announcing his support for Donald Trump, Gov. Rauner doubled down on his strategy for taking over Chicago's public school system.

Yesterday, Rauner repeated his call for CPS to go into bankruptcy. And his refusal to release a captive state budget, combined with a so-far weak Democratic Party response, makes that scenario a possibility. Remember, the Democrats have a veto-proof majority in both houses but Boss Madigan hasn't been able to keep his troops in line. Let's see if sellout Rep. Ken Dunkin's loss to Juliana Stratton will send the proper message to straying Rauner Democrats.

Rauner insists that Chicago schools focus on "reorganizing their debts and their contracts under court supervision" — which of course defines the bankruptcy process.
"The only other option is massive tax hikes in the City of Chicago on homeowners and small-business owners," Rauner said. "And I'm talking massive tax hikes. That would be tragic."
Some in the union are downplaying the possibility of a forced bankruptcy and state takeover, insisting that the big banks, who would be forced to take a hit, wouldn't allow it.
"I’m sure the governor’s friends in the banking industry won’t let that happen, given the lucrative debt owed these institutions by our school district," union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said. 
I wouldn't bank on that.

Bankruptcy could lead to a state takeover and Republican control over the state's largest school system, including its $5 billion budget, jobs and contracts. The banksters would be the first to be paid off. It would also allow the governor to fulfill his dream of voiding union contracts and finally busting the teachers union completely. It's the same strategy that Republican govs Walker, Kasich, Christie and Snyder have used successfully in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Michigan.

It's all based on what Naomi Klein called, The Shock Doctrine. The strategy is all about exploiting crises to push through controversial exploitative policies or in this case, a complete power shift (coup d'etat) while voters are either too emotionally and physically distracted by disasters or upheavals to mount an effective resistance or, as in the case of Michigan, have there voting rights stripped.

As Bruce Rauner's long-time pal, Rahm Emanuel used to say,
"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
The legislature needs to bail out the state's public school system through a reasonable debt restructuring process (not forced bankruptcy) and new revenue with the wealthiest paying their fair share.

But an appropriate response to Rauner-ism is militant resistance on the part of the unions, the threatened service agencies, and state universities, and a show of broad community support for public education. It can't mean just waiting passively for Madigan to do something.

Adding a few more independent voices in last week's state rep elections would have been a good start. The planned CTU action on April 1st seems like a good next step. Passage of the Elected School Board bill would be another.

If CPS is to be taken over (out of the hands of an autocratic mayor), it should be done through the election of a representative school board, not by Rauner's maneuverings.

Monday, March 21, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES '¿Que bolá Cuba?



Pres. Barack Obama
U.S. policy toward Cuba hasn’t worked “since I was born,” Obama said in an interview with CNN en Espanol last week. Giving Cubans more access to commerce and the Internet may bring about bigger changes than the embargo ever could, Obama said. In relation to the rest of Latin America, he said, it means removing “this one lingering irritant or perception that somehow the United States was trying to big-foot smaller countries in the region.” -- Bloomberg
CTU Pres. Karen Lewis on planned April 1 walkout
"I've had some people say this harms the kids, so my question back to them is: 'What do you want to do? Tell me what it is that you want to do.' You have to ask people questions if they have reservations," Lewis said Friday. -- Tribune
William Lee on black exodus
But few discuss the toll that black flight is having on Chicago, long a beacon for progress and employment for African-Americans stretching back to the days of slaughterhouses, steel mills and Pullman porters. -- Tribune
Donald Trump's dreaming of a white riot
“I don’t want to see riots. I don’t want to see problems. But, you know, you have — you have millions of people who we’re talking about,,,. -- Huffington
Rich Miller
 Almost $4.2 million was raised for or spent on Dunkin's campaign, almost all of it by Rauner's allies. That works out to about $1.4 million for every precinct Dunkin won. -- Capitol Fax

Friday, March 18, 2016

Trib's Grossman calls for an 'end to protests'. But winds of change keep blowing.


The Tribune's Ron Grossman is imploring Chicago's emergent freedom movement to "halt the protests." He's terrified that even by protesting peacefully, the movement will attract the wrath of Donald Trump who, he argues, "profited" from the UIC protest last week. 

He claims to be a life-long protester himself who...
 "...was thrilled by the sight of long lines of protesters marching on Donald Trump's recent rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The crowd's rainbow of colors and creeds was a moving tribute to America at its best — a diversity that Trump attacks whenever he steps before a microphone or television camera to rail against Muslims and Mexicans. 
But, says Grossman, "the time has come to halt the demonstrations."
They became counterproductive once the confrontation between Trump's followers and opponents at the UIC Pavilion turned violent. It doesn't matter who started it. Trump profited from it.
He offers no evidence that the peaceful protests outside, or even the scattered clashes instigated by Trump supporters inside the UIC Pavilion on March 11, benefited Trump in any way. Since then Trump's been forced to cancel nearly all of his campaign rallies and back out of scheduled debates. He's increasingly becoming a political pariah and his violent, racist, anti-immigrant message has failed to gain traction beyond his narrow base of support. 

Trump may well have met his Waterloo at the UIC Pavilion last week.

Should he win the nomination, it's doubtful that he will be able to campaign in any big city in America. Even though he's still winning most of his primaries over a pathetic field of Republican (using the term loosely) competitors, his vote totals are becoming anemic and losing elections to Cruz and Kasich that he should have won. Even his victories have been hollow with more Republicans turning out to vote against him than for. 

On Tuesday, Kim Foxx, our state's attorney candidate in IL, got more votes in Cook County than Trump won in the entire state. 

In the media and in the court of public opinion, Trump and a handful of his most virulent supporters are clearly seen as the instigators of violence. Anti-Trump protesters have shown their committment to non-violence. 

His campaign has shattered what was left of the fractured Republican Party and he has the party leadership scrambling for someone -- anyone -- to replace Trump/Cruz as the party's candidate. 

Trump is even facing criminal investigations in North Carolina and other states, for inciting to riot and now is openly threatening riots against his own party's leaders if they try and oust him in Cleveland. If they can't, polls show him losing badly in November to either Clinton or Sanders. 

Trump is a paper tiger whose violent outbursts are a sign of his weakness, not his strength. His nomination will be a gift to the Democrats.

Since Grossman can offer no evidence of how the Black Lives Matter movement or student-led anti-Trump protests in Chicago helped Trump, he tries to draw some historic parallels while making some absurd claims. He blames protesters for everything from violating "human nature" to causing Nixon's election in '68, to rise of Hitler in Germany. 
A nation is bitterly divided between advocates of change and partisans of traditionalism. The former come to power, or are close to achieving it, and violence ensues. Then a strongman seizes power, blaming the disorders on the party of change for having severed the moorings of older values. That scenario is as old as the French Revolution, as new as 1968.
 Still, the analogy that keeps me up at night is between this election season and Germany in the 1930s. Street violence between the left and the right was the steppingstone that brought Hitler to power.
He even tries to invoke the names of Gandhi and Dr. King to make the case for halting all protests, confusing their commitment to non-violence with passive acceptance of oppression. Both were advocates of protest and direct action against injustice throughout their lives, even in the face of severe repression.

I doubt that Grossman's call to end the protests will resonate with many young activists. I hope not and doubt seriously that many people under the age of 30 even read the Trib or give a damn about what Grossman thinks. If he's truly worried about the promulgation of fascist ideology, he might well look inward at his own paper's editorial board which last May, called for a man with "Mussolini-like powers" to take over Chicago's public school system.

Let's keep marching people. It won't fall by itself.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

New study finds many charters feeding school-to-prison pipeline

"It's disturbing to see so many of these schools still reporting such high suspension rates because that indicates charter leaders continue to pursue 'broken windows,' 'no excuses' and other forms of 'zero tolerance' discipline." -- Daniel Losen, the Center's director and the study's lead author. 
A first-ever analysis of school discipline records for the nation’s more than 5,250 charter schools shows a disturbing number are suspending big percentages of their black students and students with disabilities at highly disproportionate rates compared to white and non-disabled students.

This from UCLA's Center for Civil Rights Remedies at The Civil Rights Project. It identifies 374 charter schools across the country that had suspended 25% or more of their entire student body during the course of the 2011-12 academic year.

The study also finds:

  • Nearly half of all black secondary charter school students attended one of the 270 charter schools that was hyper-segregated (80% black) and where the aggregate black suspension rate was 25%.
  • More than 500 charter schools suspended black charter students at a rate that was at least 10 percentage points higher than that of white charter students.
  • Even more disconcerting, 1,093 charter schools suspended students with disabilities at a rate that was 10 or more percentage points higher than that of students without disabilities.
  • Perhaps most alarming, 235 charter schools suspended more than 50% of their enrolled students with disabilities.
The study reveals that less than half of all charters fall into the high-suspension category. But that's still a hell of a lot. This count includes only schools with at least 50 students enrolled and excludes alternative schools, schools identified as part of the juvenile justice system, virtual schools and schools that enrolled fewer than 10 students with disabilities. 

The passage of ESSA could make the problem even worse. While the new law calls upon states to take steps to improve learning conditions, including preventing the overuse of suspension, state laws that govern charter schools can exempt them from oversight. 

State accountability plans must still be submitted by every state for review by U.S. Education Secretary John King this coming fall. While a state could choose to monitor suspension rates, it also could choose to do the minimum about discipline, including exempt charter schools. 

King, like his predecessor Arne Duncan, is not likely to hold charters' feet to the fire on segregation, high suspension rates, or their treatment of students with disabilities. King himself is a former charter operator. In 1999, he co-founded one of Boston’s first charter schools, Roxbury Prep, a so-called “no-excuses” charter which had a 60% suspension rate in 2012, highest in the state. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It's okay Rahm. You can come out now.

Much of the credit for Foxx victory belongs here. 2 Down, Rahm to go.

Will the mayor come out of hiding now that pal Hillary Clinton has left town?

She succeeded in avoiding Rahm long enough to narrowly squeak by Bernie Sanders with just 50.4% in her home state. It was a race she was picked to win by double digits and surely would have lost, at least the popular vote, if the race had gone another week or so.

With the Illinois victory, Clinton secures 68 delegates and Sanders pockets 64 delegates. Not too shabby, Bernie. Credit should also go to groups like Chicago Votes who have made it easier to register, even on election day. More credit, at least in my mind, goes to the anti-Trump protests at UIC last week, which more than any campaigning, generated a sense of urgency and passion for political struggle in thousands of young folks.

Of course, the popular vote doesn't mean as much in this state, since, win or lose, Hillary controls the 29 big-shot elected officials ("super delegates") who automatically get convention seats. In that sense the game was rigged from the start.

But congrats to Bernie and his team of Chicago progressives for running an amazingly close race and engaging thousands of new voters in what otherwise would have been a dull race. The movement for social justice comes out the better for it.

Voter turnout in Chicago was over 50%, according to the Chicago Election Board, and 26,000 new voters, mostly young registered to vote on Primary Day.

The biggest win yesterday belonged to Kim Foxx who rode to victory over police-murder cover-up artist Anita Alvarez, on the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement. Two down, Rahm to go.

Proud of Harish I Patel and Jay Travis for fighting the good fight. Progressive first-time candidate Patel was not only battling political boss Dick Mell's machine dirty tricks, he also was abandoned by unions who decided to play it safe and throw in with the machine's Jaime Andrade. I hope they hold Andrade's feet to the fire.

The unions split on Travis, with AFSCME and SEIU throwing [our] money behind pension thief and school privatization (Stand For Children) incumbent Christian Mitchell. The CTU backed Jay.

Glad Andrea Zopp got clobbered. Voters remembered her role on the school board in support of Rahm's school closings in the black community and her role in the Byrd-Bennett/SUPES corruption scandal.

Theresa Mah & Chuy Garcia
Congrats to Juliana Stratton. Bye-bye to Rauner's puppy-dog Ken Dunkin. You knew he was toast when Obama pointed a finger at him and said, "We'll talk later."

Congrats to Theresa Mah for beating the machine in the 2nd Dist. State Rep race.

Congrats to Omar Oquino for beating the machine in the 2nd Dist. State Senate race.

And did you see? Sue Sadlowski Garza whipped Pope/Rahm in the Ward Committeeman race. This despite massive vote fraud (ballot box stuffing) by Pope's machine goons.

Kudos to Aaron Goldstein for kicking machine boss Mell in the ass in the committeeman race. I've been waiting 40 years for somebody to do it.

When I went to bed last night, Goldstein was ahead of Mell by 143 votes with 2 precincts left. But I'm not celebrating yet. Aaron better keep close eye on the ballot box. Remember Deb Mell was down by 26 votes to Tim Meegan last Feb's aldermanic election and then beat him by somehow "finding" enough Mell absentee votes.

The Machine does its best work after the polls close.

Now the struggle moves back to the streets, April First (no foolin') when CTU teachers hit the bricks in a citywide, one-day strike action.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Big turnout in Chicago will be good for progressives.

Sanders supporters packed the Auditorium Theater last night. 
Despite inclement weather, it looks like a big voter turnout today in ChiTown. I hope so. Big turnout can only help progressives like Sanders, Foxx, Travis, Patel, Stratton, and others. A tightening race between Bernie and Hillary should also drive turnout and more down-ticket votes.

Early voting has been high and the excitement generated by last Friday's huge anti-Trump protest at UIC will likely drive new and younger voters to the campaigns and to the polls today.

The Tribune reports that early voting in Chicago surpassed 130,000 by Sunday night. That's about 37% more than the previous high for a primary, the 81,690 votes cast before Election Day in 2008, when Obama and Clinton were running against each other. Biggest increases are reported in both black and Latino wards. Only five of 50 Chicago wards have had lower early voting turnouts this year than in 2008. More on those wards later.

Last night's massive turnout at the Bernie Sanders rally while Hillary Clinton's rally was half filled, bodes well for the progressives. Whoever gets the most votes, if the race is close, Sanders will come out the winner.

Two names not on the ballot will also have a major impact today's races, Rahm Emanuel and Laquan McDonald. Rahm, because in the wake of the the McDonald killing/cover-up, the Byrd-Bennet affair, and his closing of 50 schools, mainly in the black community, he's become politically toxic, the turd in the Democratic Party's swimming pool. Neither Bill nor Hillary will get near him, even though he's an early Hillary endorser who owes his political career and wealth largely to the Clintons.

Rep. Ken Dunkin is running his Rauner-financed TV ads targeting Rahm and not even mentioning his opponent, Juliana Stratton. Smart? Maybe. But I don't think it will work. Everyone knows Dunkin is a tool of the governor whose hate-ability rating is right up there with Rahm's. Plus, Pres. Obama has openly endorsed Stratton. Bye bye Dunkin.

As for Laquan McDonald, the very mention of his name sends chills down the spines of the mayor and State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. Check out today's Ward Room column by Carol Marin and Don Mosely. 
On South Stony Island Monday morning some signs reading “I love Laquan” and “Fire Anita” were seen being hauled away by a city Streets and Sanitation crew while other political signs were left standing. 
The shooting of the 17-year-old by a Chicago police officer in 2014 has in large part defined the race for Cook County State’s Attorney. It is also playing out in the Democratic presidential primary where the mere mention of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s name drew loud boos at Bernie Sanders’ Friday rally.

Monday, March 14, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES



Argo H.S. students do their best "Rosie the Riveter" at Chicago Bernie Sanders rally

Noam Chomsky
“I have never seen such lunatics in the political system.” -- Salon
 Donald Trump
"Knock the hell out of them. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise." -- Vox
Greg Hinz
You say things like that and, eventually, it catches up you, like it did at UIC. You get burned by your own fighting words. -- Crain's Chicago Business
Hillary won't come near toxic Rahm
While Emanuel and Clinton won’t be meeting because “their respective schedules [won't] make it possible,” Collins said, “the mayor's support for President Clinton and Secretary Clinton is well known.” -- Bloomberg
Bernie Sanders
"Based on his disastrous record as mayor of the city of Chicago, I do not want Mayor Emanuel's endorsement if I win the Democratic nomination. That is not the kind of support I want." -- Tribune

Friday, March 11, 2016

This year's IL corruption awards go to...


Dick Simpson, Tom Gradel & team document IL's "Banner Year of Corruption". Isn't every year? I suppose their annual report is like the Academy Awards of corruption.
While the Hastert indictment and conviction garnered national news headlines and was the most significant corruption story of the year, Illinois experienced many additional corruption events in 2015. In this report, we document 27 convictions, 28 indictments, and the launching of 11 corruption investigation. In addition we cover the sentencing of 30 public corruption convicts last year, most of whom were convicted in a year or two before 2015.
Chicago City Hall has long been awash in corruption and with the public school system directly under  control by the mayor, thievery, fraud, bribery, and no-bid contract kick-backs have become a way of life at CPS. The cost to school budgets is enormous.

The big one last year of course, so far as Chicago schools were concerned, was the FBI investigation launched exactly one year ago, leading to the arrest and indictment of Rahm Emanuel's hand-picked schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The U.S. Attorney charged her with steering $23 million worth of contracts to her former employer, SUPES Academy. Two executives, Gary Solomon and Tom Vranas, who owned SUPES, the company itself, and another company they owned were also charged. On October 12, BBB pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Yesterday it was announced that Rahm and his CPS board are suing BBB, SUPES and Synesi for $65M. Synesi is the consulting company behind the SUPES/BBB scandal. It was originally started by former CPS schools CEO Paul Vallas in partnership with Gary Solomon and other members of Vallas' Chicago team. Vallas was the master of soliciting no-bid consulting contracts from his network of pet district superintendents. Lucky for him, he fell out and split with Soloman before the shit hit the fan.

The suit made front-page headlines in Cleveland, where BBB long ruled the public schools, and in Detroit, where the SUPES kick-back scheme was originally concocted.
In the lawsuit, the Board of Educations states, "In plain terms, defendants have stolen money from CPS and the schoolchildren of the city of Chicago, and that money should be returned."
But I would argue that the investigation was stopped, as usual, before it got up too high, leaving BBB to take the fall herself. Board members like Andrea Zopp (now running for senator) who voted for the SUPES no-bid contract, and the Mayor himself, were complicit and should be held accountable.Why aren't they included in the suit?

More important, the suit should be a clarion call to end City Hall's direct control over the public schools and to pass the Elected School Board bill.

Trump to enter the belly of the beast is the headline on Natasha Korecki's story in POLITICO this morning.

There should be thousands on hand this afternoon to protest the Trump rally at the UIC Pavilion. The university should have never agreed to hold the rally here in the first place. Trump rallies have been marked by violence and thuggery directed mainly at black protesters.

Thousands of students have already signed up to be part of today's protests.
Korecki writes:
Doesn't know what he's in for: "Other immigrant groups, religious leaders and young African American protesters are expected to join forces in a public rebuke of Trump before his 6 p.m. rally. One group ... built an altar on Thursday and demonstrators planned to hold vigil all night in preparation for Trump's arrival.
'I don't think Donald Trump knows what he's in for here in Chicago,' UIC pre-med student Miguel Del Toral told POLITICO. 'We are very very active in our communities. We will not stand for bigotry, we will not stand for racism. He should expect to find this kind of resistance coming into a university with such a large minority population.'
People will gather at 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot across from the Pavilion.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Rahm's longer school year has morphed into furlough days for teachers



When Rahm Emanuel first ran for mayor of Chicago in 2011,  his education policy platform consisted of a demand for a longer school day and school year. As I pointed out back then, he made the case using  a bogus research model and Houston as his protype, a city where supposedly a longer school year had led to students "gaining three years" of learning time on Chicago students by the time they graduated.

But now, faced with a new budget crisis, Chicago, like Houston, is shortening its school day and year.  A new memo from CEO Forrest Claypool, tells principals to "stop spending" immediately.

The mayor's  own children were attending the prestigious Lab School, which had one of the shortest school days and years. Rahm himself had graduated from suburban Winnetka schools, where school days and years are far shorter despite spending double per student.

Funny, you don't hear anyone talking much about Houston schools these days. There hasn't been another "Texas Miracle" since George Bush was governor and Rod Paige was Houston's superintendent.

It is not the length of time but the quality of time that truly matters here.” -- CTU President Karen Lewis

After his election, Rahm went ahead and imposed his faux-research-based plan on resistant schools, teachers and principals. He did it despite having no money in his budget to pay for it and without any plan for how the extra seat time could actually improve teaching/learning. It didn't take long before lack of funds and parent protests forced Rahm to scale back his program, ending it completely for elementary schools.

Now we see the chickens coming home to roost. More seat time not only failed to produce better learning outcomes for students, the added costs have contributed to the current budget shortfall and a resulting 3-day furlough for city teachers and canceling school on Good Friday (a Catholic religious holiday). In other words, a shorter school year and more chaos and confusion for teachers, parents and students.

Oh yes, and guess what's happening in New York's Success Academies, the corporate-reformers' favorite charter schools network? That's the one that distinguished itself from district public schools by the length of its school day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Will Chicago be Trump's Waterloo?

I'm not sure what Donald Trump is so giddy about after his Michigan "win". It continues the pattern of majority of Republican voters opposing him by a wide margin, in most cases by 2-1. I'm in FL this week, where Trump's right-wing opponents Cruz, Kasich, and Rubio are out-polling him 60-40. If Rubio/Bush had any juice at all in their own state, the margin would be much greater.

Trump has won primaries in exactly the same states that segregationist George Wallace won in '68. Let's see what happens in the industrial heartland.

As I've been saying from the beginning, Trump's a paper tiger, god's gift to the Democrats. Nothing to fear, everything to oppose.

As Brother Fred pointed out so eloquently the other day, it's the captains of corporate conservatism who are most feared of a Trump nomination. The rest of us are just pissed.

GOP leaders can't really stop Trump because they can't attack the very things that are helping him succeed. They've got the same line.

The real news from MI is Berne Sanders victory when this week's polls had him down double-digits. Makes you wonder who they're polling and who they're not.
In narrowly winning the first big industrial state to vote, Sanders demonstrated that his economic message reverberates in the Rust Belt and, for the first time, proved he could win in a racially diverse state. -- Politico
Interesting that the Teamsters and UAW didn't endorse Clinton with many unionists working for Sanders. I guess many weren't buying Clinton's story that her support for the bailouts of GM and Wall Street was all about helping workers.

Trump is sure to get his comeuppance when (and If) he comes to Chicago. I, along with about 50,000 others (including lots of faculty and staff), have signed the petition asking UIC to cancel his brown-shirt rally at the Pavilion on Friday. His goon squads have been assaulting BLM protesters. But this isn't Alabama.



Monday, March 7, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES


Louis C.K. 
“Do you think they saw that s--- coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird combover who would say anything at all.” -- Daily News
Michael “Quess” Moore, a founder of Take ’em Down NOLA
“He came to the heart and the bottom of the South, and he’s not welcome here.”  -- New Orleans Advocate
Trump Supporter, Lola Butler
 “There’s nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street and my grandchildren — there is nothing and nobody that’s going to dissuade me from voting for Trump.” -- New York Times
"I'm no puppet..." 

Oakland Supt. Antwan Wilson, a graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, said he sympathized with some of the anger directed at him. But he scoffed at allegations that he is a puppet of the Broad Foundation. 
“People can connect all kinds of dots,” he said, adding that “no Broad agenda has ever been shared with me.” -- New York Times
Charter Poll
 A new nationwide poll shows the American people overwhelmingly agree that public education should not exist to enrich and profit the charter school privatization movement and they are demanding strong regulatory laws to “rein in documented fiscal malfeasance by private charter schools.” -- Politicus USA

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Claypool blinks on pension pick-up. Militant "showdown" action still planned for April 1st.

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. Frederick Douglass
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/f/frederick_douglass_2.html
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. Frederick Douglass
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/f/frederick_douglass_2.ht

CTU Pres. Karen Lewis calls for a "showdown" on April 1st.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. -- Frederick Douglas

Another way to say it is, if you don't hit it, it won't fall. Well, Karen Lewis and the CTU hit hard at Forrest Claypool's threatened dropping of the 7% pension pick-up, and it fell, at least for now.

 Unilaterally dropping the pension pick-up, especially in the middle of contract negotiations, was a serious enough contract violation that the union was prepared to strike on April 1st. On top of that, Claypool announced more lay-offs at CPS and then ordered a 3-day unpaid furlough across the entire system.

But faced with an imminent strike, which would have certainly been another, maybe the last, nail in the mayor's political coffin, Rahm pulled back the leash on his attack dogs yesterday and Claypool announced he was withdrawing his threat.

But CPS is still going ahead with the staff lay-offs as well as 3-day furlough. So while a strike may not be called, the union is still planning for militant action of some kind on April 1.
Regarding the strike, Lewis said, “It’s still on the table, just like the 7 percent pension pay cut is still on the table.”
“April 1 would be an unfair labor day of action,” Lewis said. “It’s a showdown.”
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them. Frederick Douglass
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/f/frederick_douglass_2.html

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Big News... Elected Representative School Board Bill Passes the House 110-4


It still has to pass in the senate and then get the governor's signature, but this is a major victory. It's also another major blow struck against MRE whose autocratic rule over the schools has been an educational and financial disaster.

After the vote, applause broke out in the chambers.

Should the legislation make it through the Senate, Chicago’s public schools would be overseen by 21 democratically elected members of the public rather than the seven the mayor has chosen.

Chicago is the only district in IL and one of the few in the nation, to have an appointed school board. Voters have passed several resolutions in support of ESRB sending clear messages to Springfield as to the will of the people.

Problem is, even if passed, the bill doesn't go into effect until March, 2018, leaving Rahm's autocracy in place for nearly all the rest of his term in office. Let's hope we still have a CPS by then.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What Trump thinks about education. It's golden.

“I’m a tremendous believer in education, but education has to be at a local level. We cannot have the bureaucrats in Washington telling you how to manage your child’s education. So Common Core is a total disaster. We can’t let it continue.” 
“And I have tremendous support within unions, and I have tremendous support in areas where they don’t have unions. Like in Florida, they don’t have very many unions. The workers love me.” -- Donald Trump
Right-wing think-tanker Rick Hess, writing for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), says neither he, nor anyone else knows where Donald Trump is at on education.
The “experts” are just making stuff up. You will see and hear people claim they know what Trump is going to do. After all, that’s how people get their op-eds published, keep their pundit gigs, and stay relevant. 
 One reason that Trump makes political veteran observers so nervous is that he could very well be elected President of the United States, and yet no one has any idea of what he’d attempt to do in office. So, what would a President Trump mean for education? I have no idea. And neither does anyone else.
Ah, but I do.

While it's true that Trump's an educational know-nothing and has little in the way of ideological moorings, he's said enough to give us a good indication of what schools and public ed policy might look like under a Trump administration. Actually, probably not much different than we've had under the last 15 years of No Child Left Behind, Race To the Top (Paige, Spellings, Duncan).

With a few exceptions. For one, Trump has vowed to issue an executive order to prohibit states from making schools into gun-free zones.

For another Trump pledges to get rid of Common Core and cut "way, way down" (but not eliminate, like Cruz/Rubio) the Dept. of Education. Of course, the passage of new states-rights oriented ESSA has pretty much done that. 

His views on curriculum are laughable. If elected, he promises to personally put an end to “creative spelling,” “estimating,” & “empowerment”. 

While Trump claims to have "tremendous support within unions", he (like Hess and AEI) is virulently anti-union, pro-charter and pro-voucher. 
"Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition-the American way."
 "Our public schools have grown up in a competition-free zone, surrounded by a very high union wall."
But what Trump is really about is using government to enrich himself and expand and consolidate his own personal wealth and power. To Trump and several other members of what Diane Ravitch called the Billionaire Boys Club (Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, Bruce Rauner, Michael Bloomberg...) the education sector is a cash cow, the second largest sector of the nation's GNP, that needs to be privatized and/or milked regularly.

They view public space and public decision making (Democracy) as a slow, messy, unwieldy process that needs to be "reformed" through a radical shifting of power. Too important to be left to the public. 

In the case of Gates and Broad, it's about leveraging personal wealth through power-philanthropy, to drive corporate-style reform, using their own trained and well-placed managers (mayoral control of large urban districts) and public officials. For others, like Bloomberg, Rauner and now Trump, it's about exercising autocratic power directly, rather than through surrogates. 

But if you really want to know where Trump is at on education, look no further than TrumpU.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suffered a legal setback on Tuesday when a New York state court allowed a multimillion-dollar fraud claim against Trump University, filed by the state's attorney general, to proceed. The claim is part of a lawsuit that accuses Trump and the now-defunct for-profit venture of misleading thousands of people, who paid up to $35,000 to learn the billionaire businessman's real estate investment strategies.
The real reason AEI, like others in the conservative establishment, are so ambivalent about Trump, has little to do with his policy positions, with which they mostly agree.

Rather, it's about a seat at the policy table and the money and consulting contracts that come with. Trump is a wildcard there and has the conservative establishment and edu-tankers worried The Donald might tell them, "you're fired".

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rahm gives advice to Trump on race relations


As horrific as they are, Trump's stupid racist comments are a gift to Clinton Democrats like Rahm Emanuel who only have to distance themselves from Trump, Mussolini and the KKK to become the "progressive" alternative.

From Crain's editor Tom Corfman:
Maybe Mayor Rahm Emanuel is watching too many “Star Wars” movies lately, but he accused Trump of “playing with dark forces” for not emphatically disavowing the support of white supremacist leader David Duke, the Tribune reports. The mayor also knocked Trump for retweeting a quote by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. 
“Whether it was dealing with Mussolini or David Duke, his statements or the lack of clarity around his statements, you know, you sleep in the bed you make,” he said. “And I think that playing with dark forces comes back to haunt you. And this is not a joke.”
But the mayor made it sound funny.
-- On Politics 
Yes, the mayor knows a thing or too about sleeping in the bed you make after being caught in the cover-up of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

But Rahm offered no such advice to pal Hillary Clinton on her own "dark forces", after she refused to apologize for her own Trump-like comments from a now infamous speech she gave in 1996.
“We need to take these people on. They are often connected to big drug cartels. They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called super predators: no conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
When Ashley Williams confronted Hillary and asked for an apology, Hillary responded:
“You know what, nobody’s ever asked me before. You’re the first person to ask me, and I’m happy to address it, but you are the first person to ask me, dear.” 
Really? "The first"? "Dear"?

Advise please, Rahm. It's getting late.

For more on this, read Charles Blow's excellent column in today's NYT.

Teachers get ready. Another strike looming.


CTU  members and supporters marched through the loop Feb. 4th.
With a strike authorization vote from the rank-and-file in their pocket and a schools CEO who won't bargain in good faith, CTU leaders are preparing the membership for a strike on April 1st.

Rahm's fixer, Forrest Claypool, hasn't been able to fix anything. The mayor with the tough-guy rep, has turned into a pussy cat when it comes to taking on his pal, Gov. ("Little Trump") Rauner, who continues to hold the school budget hostage in an attempt to force CPS into bankruptcy. 

Faced with a new round of lay-offs and with Claypool's contract-busting push to drop the teachers' pension pick-up, amounting to a 7% pay cut, a strike seems to be the only course left to the CTU.
"For them to say 'You can't go on strike, but we can make a unilateral change in terms of employment by way of a 7 percent pay cut,' that's just an outrageous violation of the way labor law works," CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said at an afternoon news conference. "And if they actually go through with it, you can prepare for a … strike on April 1st."
CTU Pres. Karen Lewis speaks in support of Kim Foxx.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY: March First. Vote Next.
Yesterday we rallied at Daley Plaza for States Atty. candidate Kim Foxx and then marched across the street and early voted.

TRUMP BLAMES "bad ear piece" on his conciliation with the KKK. He thought they said, "Pu Pux Plan." But today's, NYT story explains how Trump's message is resonating with white supremacists.