Thursday, July 12, 2012

What Rahm's 1-percenters worry about...

The early headline in this morning's Sun-Times reads: Is City Violence Hurting Tourism? By 10 a.m. the mayor's overstaffed spin department was doing damage control. Go online now and the new headline reads: Official backs down from claim crime hurting city’s tourism effort.  But Fran Spielman's story remains the same.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office swung into full damage-control mode Wednesday after Chicago’s convention and tourism chief was quoted as saying that a 38 percent spike in the city’s homicide rate and a troubling return to mob attacks downtown was hurting efforts to promote the city.
Don Welsh, president and CEO of Choose Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, "... We hope this sunsets quickly because all the good work we’re doing regionally, nationally and internationally, if this is not contained in a reasonable period of time, it will have an impact/”
 After a poke from the mayor's office, Welsh is claiming that his remarks had been “misinterpreted” and “taken out of context.”  Now he and his team are beside themselves trying to assure potential convention planners that the city is safe for white people. Welsh tells them:
"The shootings we have seen have been almost 100 percent isolated to neighborhoods outside the downtown core of Chicago where tourists and visitors from around the world frequent.”
What the rest of us worry about... 

Gee, what a coincidence! These are exactly the same neighborhoods where Rahm is closing schools, laying-off teachers, where dropout rates are the highest, and where test scores are the lowest. These are also the areas that are going to his hardest by budget cuts.

The mayor's proposed $5.6 billion schools budget, unveiled yesterday before angry crowds at the board hearings, gives an extra $76 million to private charter operators while draining Chicago Public School reserves down to zero. The spending up of the reserve fund has already led Moody's to downgrade CPS' bond rating.

Boos and hisses and Cries of “Why?” and “For the 1 percent!” greeted CPS top 'crat Tim Cawley (who I like to remind people, lives in the North Shore suburbs) as he outlined plans to "stand tall" on charters, which receive public dollars but operated very much like private schools.

According to the Sun-Times:
The plan to increase total spending on charters to nearly $500 million “is a plan to just give schools away to private operators because you apparently don’t know what to do,’’ said CTU organizer Noreen Gutekanst. “Well, we educators know what to do.’’
Gutekanst called for lower class size, especially in the early grades, and reading specialists to work with the system’s youngest, struggling readers.

The budget, due for a school board vote later this month, also proposes $144 million in cuts and generates $62 million in revenues by raising property taxes for schools to the maximum allowed by law. It writes in a meager 2% pay raise for teachers after the board reneged on the 4% raise won in the last contract negotiations. Rahm must know that won't fly. One can only assume he wants a strike.

The S-T quotes Wendy Katten of the parent group Raise Your Hands who says the budget seemed to reflect a “disinvestment in neighborhood schools” at the expense of charters. Her neighborhood school, Amundsen, lost 13.5 positions and $1.5 million in funding.

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