Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Diagnosing Rahm Emanuel: Does he have 'affluenza'?

No citizen is a second-class citizen in the city of Chicago. If my children are treated one way, every child is treated the same way. -- Rahm's tearful apologia
Don Rose, a long-time activist/critic/observer of the Chicago political scene, thinks Rahm Emanuel is suffering from some kind of learning disability.
I’m not saying he is dumb, but rather what we used to call a “slow learner.” He just doesn’t get things as quickly and easily as most folks. It’s also possible that he suffers from the fashionable malady called adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)–though I’m not qualified to make a clinical diagnosis.
 Instead of condemning Emanuel, perhaps he deserves our compassion and pity as a slow learner and possible ADHD patient. At least until our record-breaking property tax bills come due later next year.
Of course, he's making light of Rahm's sudden discovery that young African-Americans may be treated differently by the police than he is or than his children are. Or that there is a "code of silence." Eureka!

It was actually Greg Hinz at Crain's who first used the term "slow learners" to describe Rahm and his CPS crew back in 2013.
Faced with a whopping budget hole, the CPS crew has climbed into its cocoon, donned the secrecy cloak and gone out of its way to offend the very folks it needs at a time of economic distress: parents. Some folks, I guess, are just slow learners.
I don't happen to agree Greg or with my friend Don. Rahm is neither "dumb" nor a "slow learner." He's just learnt different things growing up over there in Winnetka.

Couch & Emanuel: Affluenza victims?
My doctorate is in the field of curriculum, so I'm no clinical ed psychologist. But I'm not even sure there's any authentic diagnosis as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) when it comes to teaching/learning. I know the term is thrown around in schools as a broad classification for children who quickly lose interest or who are bored or rebellious (most likely me and you at times). If there is such a disease or disability, it is currently diagnosed so subjectively, with different measures of behavior used to make the diagnosis in different areas, that it's of little use and can even be damaging to children.

If I'm right, it still begs Don's question: What's wrong with the mayor? Why does he act like he's just discovered (rather than having actively covered up) racial inequality, police malfeasance, and the "code of silence" in the recent wave of police shootings?

My unprofessional diagnosis leans more towards what's sometimes known as Rich White Male Entitlement Disorder (RWMED) or Little Emperor's Disease (LED).

Also worth considering is the case of Ethan Couch, the Texas teen who pleaded "affluenza" in his vehicular homicide trial before escaping with his wealthy mom to Cuba Mexico. If Couch's plea holds up, perhaps Rahm can use the affluenza defense as well.

Anyone suffering from affluenza, RWMED or LED should, at minimum, take a medical leave or simply resign from all positions of power before he is tossed out.

Randi & Lily: Why all the smoke-and-mirrors about new law's opt-out provisions?

ESSA allows parents to opt a student out of required assessments for any reason. -- AFT
ESSA maintains the right of parents to opt their children out of statewide academic assessments and allows states to limit the amount of time students spend taking annual tests. -- NEA
These requirements do not allow students to be excluded from statewide assessments. -- D.O.E.
Are teacher union leaders shooting straight with us about ESSA, the new federal education act? Or have they just not read the bill they've worked so hard to sell to teachers and parents?
AFT and NEA leaders would have us believe that the new law eliminates test-and-punish requirements and allows for parents and students to opt out of continuing No Child Left Behind testing madness. 

Is that really true?

Here's AFT's take on the new law:
ESSA allows parents to opt a student out of required assessments for any reason.Local educational agencies are required to notify parents annually of the ability to receive any testing participation policy of the state or LEA. If requested, school districts must provide parents information regarding student participation in mandated assessments and the parents’ right to opt their child out of the tests.
With this addendum:
 While states are required to have 95 percent of students participate in assessments,each state may determine the weight of the participation measure.
Whatever the hell that means.

But here's what's coming out of Arne Duncan/John King's D.O.E.:

Ann Whalen, the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, wrote a letter to state school chiefs on December 2, reminding them of “key assessment requirements” for the statewide assessments to be taken in Spring 2016. 

She writes: 
This school year the states are still under the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Whalen notes however, “similar requirements are included in the recently signed reauthorization of the ESEA, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)."
Whalen cites the new law:
Section 1111(b)(3)1 of the ESEA requires each State educational agency (SEA) that receives funds under Title I, Part A of the ESEA to implement in each local educational agency (LEA) in the State a set of high-quality academic assessments that includes, at a minimum, assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts administered in each of grades 3 through 8 and not less than once during grades 10 through 12; and in science not less than once during grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 9, and grades 10 through 12. Furthermore, ESEA sections 1111(b)(3)(C)(i) and (ix)(I) require State assessments to “be the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all children” and “provide for the participation in such assessments of all students” (emphasis added).
 These requirements do not allow students to be excluded from statewide assessments. Rather, they set out the legal rule that all students in the tested grades must be assessed. [My emphasis]
With the new law's supposed states' rights emphasis (Mississippi goddam) there is some lingo that allows states to interpret 95% participation differently. I'll get my lawyers right on it.

But it's doubtful that cash-starved states, with huge testing contracts with Pearson and others, will risk losing hundreds of millions in federal education by risking opt-out provisions.

Despite ESSA rather than because of it, the opt-out movement will continue to grow. The question is, which side will our union leadership be on? If the new law is so great, why all the smoke and mirrors about opt-out?

Monday, December 28, 2015


Janet Cooksey, second from right, on the killing of her son, Quintonio LeGrier, by Chicago cops:  "I used to watch the news daily and I would grieve for other mothers, other family members, and now today I'm grieving myself." -- AP Wire 
Rev. Marshall Hatch
“The problem for the mayor is that this isn’t going away. Every shooting, every unpopular decision, it’s all going to be very problematic for him.” -- N.Y. Times: Rahm Emanuel, Under Siege in Chicago, Shows Contrite Side
Kim Foxx
State's Atty. candidate Kim Foxx
We arrest more kids from CPS than we do from the street corner. We need restorative justice justice programs in the schools rather than jailing so many of them. -- Speaking at Proviso Township Democratic Organization
Poet/author Claudia Rankine
When white men are shooting black people, some of it is malice and some an out-of-control image of blackness in their minds. Darren Wilson told the jury that he shot Michael Brown because he looked “like a demon”. And I don’t disbelieve it. Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people. -- Guardian
CTU's Stephanie Gadlin
 "We are very strong in our call for a Democratically elected school board. We would want the same for police oversight, not somebody that the mayor picks or someone who the mayor picks who picks someone." -- Politico

Sunday, December 27, 2015

If Bettie was killed by 'accident', what about Quintonio? [Updated]

Bettie Jones' cousin: "Her blood is crying out from the grave saying, 'Evelyn, avenge me'" -- Chicago Tribune
2 fatally shot, 1 accidentally, by Chicago police on West Side; families demand answers 

The headline in the Tribune says so little, yet says so much. If police killed Action Now activist Bettie Jones by "accident", does that mean they killed 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier, on purpose? Why?

Why did CPD answer a "domestic disturbance" call with guns blazing? There was no video this time. So we will have to rely on the police account of what happened. Why did they pump seven shots into another young man who, it appears, posed no real threat to them. I'm sure, given a little time, they will get their stories straight, like they did in the Laquan McDonald shooting. All we know for sure is that another young black man is dead. His 55-year-old neighbor is dead.

Bettie Jones & Quintonio LeGrier.
19-year-old LeGrier was an engineering  student at NIU. He graduated last year from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy with honors, for having a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. He was listed as part of a team of students who ran the 2013 Chicago Marathon to raise money for clean drinking water for African children.

Rahm is off in Cuba with his wife and children, enjoying the beaches and the warm Caribbean sun.

According to the Trib:
Police were offering few details of the early-morning shooting, the first use of lethal force by Chicago police since last month's release of a video of Laquan McDonald's death put a national spotlight on the city.
A few hours later, police shot another black man, Mekel Lumpkin, 24, on the south side.

According to FOX32:
Police said no officers were injured and that a gun was found at the scene. There were at least 40 to 50 police officers on the scene late Saturday afternoon. Cops scowled as they looked out at a the crowd of a few dozen neighbors gathering on the sidewalks beyond the police tape.
Among the group, a few jeered at the officers, angrily recounting some version of the shooting. One man said the victim had been shot five times after raising his hands, had fallen and was shot again on the ground. Others said the victim had been prone on the porch when he was shot.
The Sun-Times reports:
There were at least 40 to 50 police officers, some in full SWAT gear or carrying semiautomatic rifles, on 103rd Place in the hours after the shooting. A crowd of neighbors gathered at the police tape blocking the street despite the cold and rain.
Officers scowled at handful of vocal bystanders among the restive crowd, who cursed and jeered at officers.
“They the biggest gang in the whole city,” one man shouted at a clatch of a half-dozen officers on the opposite corner.
A collection is being taken up to help cover the costs of Bettie Jones' funeral. You can make a contribution here. I haven't heard anything about Quintonio LeGrier's funeral.

In a Christmas Day Sun-Times op-ed piece, west-side Pastor Michael Eaddy recounts his earlier meeting with Mayor Emanuel:
We are optimistic in that the mayor invited us to the table along with the top leadership of the police. We’re confident that because of his commitment to make this issue a top priority and the police listening to our grievances, we are finally on a path that will lead to real change.
That's called blowing smoke.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Was Hillary misquoted? Taken out of context?

"I Wouldn’t Keep Any School Open That Wasn’t Doing A Better Than Average Job”

Let me start by saying, I don't think Hillary Clinton has either the will or the power to close half of America's schools. But her recent comments still deserve a strong critical response.

When I posted the video of Hillary's speech in Iowa -- the one where she says she wants "below average" schools closed -- I fully expected the response I got from Team Clinton, which includes of course, both national teacher unions. Clinton apologists immediately moved into circle-the-wagons mode with the AFT damage-control squad doing the heavy lifting. Remember, it was AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten who felt compelled to endorse Hillary long before she even announced her candidacy.

First came a tweet from Hillary's senior policy adviser Ann O'Leary. She retweeted a post from (can you guess?) Alexander Russo who in turn posted Hillary's statement as quoted in US News -- the same exact statement that's in the video above -- in order to somehow show that HC's school closing call was "taken totally out of context."
No they weren't.

It's true that the gist of Hillary's speech was a call for fair and adequate funding for Iowa's rural schools. She's always been a supporter of more funding for public education as well as a voice for the expansion of early childhood programs. She deserves a SmallTalk salute for that.

But it was precisely in that context that she makes abundantly clear, her rationale for her defense of these schools is that they are "above average". As for schools that aren't -- she clearly says, they should be closed.

More from O'Leary:
School-closer Rahm laughs it up with pal Hillary.
That's great. Perhaps, O'Leary could produce just one example of Hillary's opposition to mass school closings from such a long and distinguished career. A quote or two in opposition to Chicago's school closings carried out by none other than Clinton favorite, Rahm Emanuel would do.

While she hasn't really been that significant a figure on ed policy, I remember that as the senator from N.Y., Hillary was an early supporter of No Child Left Behind, which mandated sanctions, including closing, of hundreds of low-scoring schools. Up until very recently, she was reaffirming her support for NCLB. She also been a strong backer of charter schools (she's been somewhat critical of their "cherry picking" lately) and Teach For America.

Next one up doing damage control was the AFT's Michelle Ringuette. She's Randi's assistant for Labor, Government Relations and Political Affairs. She blames the Washington Times for biased editing of HC's speech.
And then there was this  Randi Weingarten herself:
Hard to know what to make of that. So Hillary went to Iowa to fight school closings but along the way, called for the closing of "below average" schools.

If I was Randi or O'Leary or any of Hillary's handlers right now, I would sit her down and explain the problem with identifying schools as average, above average, or below average. Perhaps she's mixing things up with the Lake Wobegon effect. Or maybe she was looking back fondly on NCLB's mandate that all students will perform above average by the year 2014.

Next, I would advise her to admit that she misspoke in the Iowa speech, and then say what she really meant, ie. "I'm for fixing schools not closing them," and move on from there. If she doesn't, the Republicans are going to have a field day with her speech. Like ISIS with a Trump speech, if you know what I mean.

She might also admit, as most of her fellow Dems have already done, that NCLB was a (bi-partisan) mistake. One that it will take years to recover from.

Don't even get me started on Race To The Top, the greatest school-closing initiative in recent history.

Even under new law, Common Core still impacts curriculum

Abandon the notion of subject-matter as something fixed and ready-made in itself, outside the child's experience. -- John Dewey
Remember back a couple of years ago when Common Core critics were being raked over the coals by Arne Duncan, Peter Cunningham and others for calling CCSS a curriculum?

Here's Duncan in 2013:
The Common Core has become a rallying cry for fringe groups that claim it is a scheme for the federal government to usurp state and local control of what students learn. An op-ed in the New York Times called the Common Core “a radical curriculum.” It is neither radical nor a curriculum. … When the critics can’t persuade you that the Common Core is a curriculum, they make even more outlandish claims.
"It's not a curriculum," they scolded. "It's merely standards." Such a dichotomy! Supposedly, Common Core wouldn't tell schools what, when, or how to teach. Rather, it would only create performance goals and, of course, the battery of tests to go with them.

Well, Duncan was right about Common Core not being "radical." But Common Core sure as hell is curricular. If not, why, for example is there something called Common Core algebra as opposed to just algebra? Or Common Core U.S. History?

A year later, it was Duncan's former deputy, Peter Cunningham, now writing for Eli Broad-funded Education Post, rendering Arne even more profound.
Standards are set at the state level and define learning goals. Curriculum is the actual content that is taught and is usually chosen and developed at the local level, often by the teachers themselves.
Let's leave aside, for a moment at least, the question of whether or not teachers have the power to decide curriculum, and get to Cunningham's main point -- the supposed wall between standards and curriculum.

Bureaucratic non-educators like Duncan and Cunningham don't know a curriculum from a corral. They look at it as simply a technical process.

But curriculum encompasses the entire process and content of teaching/learning. It defines the educational foundations, the experience of the child and teacher, goals and contents, their sequencing in relation to the amount of time available for the learning experiences, the learning environment inside and outside of the classroom, the methods to be used, the resources for learning and teaching (e.g., textbooks and new technologies), evaluation and more.

Fast forward to today... EdWeek reports that Algebra 1 is a much tougher course under the Common Core and that students are now being introduced to algebraic concepts earlier in middle school. As a result, Algebra has become more of a gate-keeper and sorting mechanism than it already was. In New York, this puts even more students in peril of not graduating or going to college, widening the already vast chasm between students from affluent households, and poor, black, Latino and white students.

The percentage of N.Y. students who passed the test this year dropped precipitously: Just 63% of test-takers passed the common-core-aligned exam. That was down from 72% who passed the previous year's "Integrated Algebra" test.

That's thousands of kids who won't be able to graduate high school on time.

Why should Algebra be the gate-keeper as opposed to science, social-studies, or the arts? Who decides what's most worthwhile for all students to learn? Answer: Under Common Core, now re-ratified under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Obama this month, it's still not educators who decide -- despite Cunningham's claim.

More from EdWeek...
Common-core implementation has been fraught in New York. Many teachers denounced the speed with which they were expected to shift to the new standards, saying they lacked sufficient training and resources. 
True, some authority has been shifted from the D.O.E. to the states -- an admission that the feds had overplayed their role under Duncan's regime -- but what is tested, either by the states or the feds, is still what's being taught.

ESSA supporters, including the AFT and NEA leadership, say the new law gives states the right to reject the standards, which they say should help end any controversy over top-down control.

But is giving more power to Mississippi or Alabama pols over curricular decisions a good thing? Not in my mind. And besides, despite claims by Republicans like ESSA co-author Sen. Lamar Alexander, that the new law gets rid of Common Core, it's just not true.

No, under the ESSA, the U.S. Department of Education retains regulatory powers, including the final say on how and when states determine schools are low-performing. The law also maintains annual testing requirements for grades 3-8 and in high school. And it will still be the giant textbook and testing companies who have the real power in driving curriculum.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

That's a quarter-million #RahmResign sigs with a Q

A coalition of activists demanding Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resignation marched to City Hall Monday, carrying 250,000 petition signatures. That's a quarter million with a capital Q. 

With Rahm off with the family, vacationing in Cuba ("Never let a crisis happen while I'm in town"), his over-sized spin team is left to make happy face. They're downplaying the significance of the petitions, claiming that most of the #RahmResign signers were from out of state. That's all true. But if it were me, I wouldn't feel good about a quarter-million sigs calling for my head on a plate, no matter where they came from. 

I took it as a sign that the storm over McDonald's death and the wider issue of police abuse has a long, long way to run before it abates ... The signatures were obtained by a coalition of local and national groups, including ... SEIU Healthcare Illinois ... a big backer of Cook County Commissioner Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia in his race against Emanuel for mayor earlier this year."
I agree. It's actually more an indication of the national implications of the Chicago events. The mayor's cover-up role in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald murder is now part of the national consciousness, and might even impact a national election campaign, considering Rahm's strong ties to the Clintons. That is if he's still mayor by then.

A quarter million is an appropriate number. It's the same as the number of black community stop-and-frisks without an arrest by Chicago's finest, in a three-month period last year. It's also the number of African-Americans who have been part of the great exodus from Chicago in the past two decades. 

More pressure on Rahm to resign comes from the Latino Coalition for Change. That group is expected to announce that they're joining the "Black Christmas" march downtown on Dec. 24. They've taken up "Fuera Rahm!" as their rallying cry. 

Community says 'no' to Claypool's latest consolidation plan

This morning, parents, teachers and Little Village community activists are mobilizing opposition to the co-location of Spry's high school grades (Community Links H.S.) into space currently used by Saucedo and Telpochcalli. Co-location is part of CPS' latest school-closing/consolidation plan which was hatched by CEO Forrest Claypool without any community input.

While the high school does need a new space of its own, the move would severely compromise the two schools which already are forced to share limited space. 

Says Telpochcalli counselor Erin Franzinger Barrett:
“Telpochcalli is intentionally a small school so we have less than 300 kids and we try have small class sizes. We end up technically under the efficiency model. Can we cram more kids in? Yes. Is that what we do? No,” she said, “Because it’s not good for kids.”
CTU's Rebecca Martinez is asking supporters to gather this morning at 10 a.m. in Saucedo's parking lot (24th and California) and then move on to Ald. Cardenas' office to ask his support.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino
“I completely and utterly reject the ‘bad apples’ argument,” Tarantino said. “Chicago just got caught with their pants down in a way that can’t be denied… and the chief of police, is he a bad apple? I think he is. Is [Chicago Mayor] Rahm Emanuel a bad apple? I think he is. They’re all bad apples. That just shows that that’s a bullshit argument. It’s about institutional racism. It’s about institutional cover-ups that are about protecting the force as opposed to the citizens.” -- The Wrap
Mark Konkol
In our town, everybody knows all roads lead to the mayor's office, no matter who’s in power. -- DNAInfo
Arne Duncan
“It’s hard to educate a kid that’s dead.”Washington Post
Civil Engineering Prof Marc Edwards
 "They discovered scientifically conclusive evidence of an anomalous increase in childhood lead poisoning," Edwards wrote Monday on the website he created to track Flint's water crisis, "but stood by silently as MDEQ officials repeatedly and falsely stated that no spike in blood lead levels (BLL) of children had occurred." -- Huffington
Woodburn, Oregon Supt. Chuck Ransom 
"By becoming a dual-language district, we’ve made a statement about how much we value diversity and different viewpoints. We’ve been a big player in helping to bring prosperity and solidarity." -- Huffington
Mika Brzezinski to Rick Santorum 
Why aren’t you working on white men with guns? -- Think Progress

Friday, December 18, 2015

DuSable librarian position restored. Thanks to 'anonymous donor' or student protests?

“Thanks to a generous anonymous gift, the librarian’s job can be restored at the DuSable campus,” CPS said in a statement.  -- Sun-Times
“That was just amazing … the kids … I’ve been here a long time, and one of the advantages of a librarian is you get to know kids when they’re little green freshman, then watch them write essays for college,” she said. “It was really very moving to me that they were willing to take that chance and take action.  -- DuSable librarian Sara Sayigh

I'm always amazed, though not surprised any more, by how money magically appears in broke-on-purpose coffers of the Chicago Public Schools.

While I'm elated to hear that students at DuSable (I still call it that) have their beloved librarian Sara Sayigh back, CPS's statement explaining the whole affair, is borderline laughable.  An anonymous donor? Really, Forrest Claypool? Are teaching and staff positions at CPS now like endowed chairs at the university, dependent on the benevolence of wealthy patrons? Is that even legal? Will it become part of the next collective-bargaining agreement (if there ever is a next)?

We've already got high schools named after billionaires line Gov. Bruce Rauner, retired ComEd CEO Frank Clark and Exelon's John Rowe. What's next? The Ken Griffin Social Studies Teacher at Lindbloom? The Anonymous Donor School Clerk at Bronzeville Military?

Sayigh's retention means we're back to three out of 28 high schools with a student population over 90 percent African-American that have a library staffed by a certified librarian. The others are Morgan Park High School and Chicago Vocational Career Academy.

Everyone should know by now that the real magic behind Sayigh's comeback was performed by DuSable students themselves, who made their voices heard loud and clear in what S-T-s Lauren Fitzpatrick calls, "a disruptive 'read-in' from high school students in the historic DuSable building."

Notice that Fitzpatrick uses the name DuSable only to describe the building and not the school itself. The reason being, DuSable High School, central to the Bronzeville gentrification plan, was closed a decade ago and replaced by three privately-run charters,  whose boards at Bronzeville Scholastic Institute and Daniel Hale Williams Prep high schools. immediately dropped the name DuSable (Betty Shabazz charter agreed to keep the name, DuSable Leadership Academy).

At the time, I worked with legendary DuSable alums Timuel Black, the late Jim Wagner and the DuSable Alumni Assoc. (of which I am a proud honorary member) to stop the takeover and keep the name DuSable -- at least on the building. Prof. Black is quoted in Fitzpatrick's story:
Civil rights icon and DuSable alumnus Timuel Black said removing the librarian “would be not only an insult to the history of the school and the library, but a disadvantage to the community which has access to the library, and certainly to those of us who have spent many years in the library even after graduation for information that would not be available anywhere else.”
When students organize, and are courageous enough to stand up and speak out to save their own schools, teachers, parents, and community come with them. Next thing you know, some victories are won over an administration that is bent on balancing the budget on the backs of neighborhood schools. It is also an administration in full retreat and reeling from mismanagement and corruption scandals. We see the potential of student/parent/teacher power in the Opt-Out movement against testing madness, Black Lives Matter, and current efforts to save special education.

Now, DuSable's Betty Shabazz charter is on the chopping block as a result of low test scores.  Makes you wonder if there will be any students left at DuSable to use the library.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Still no justice for Freddie Gray

At Gilmor Homes, where Gray was arrested, Jazmin Hollaway, 20, sat crossed-legged on the ground in front of a mural of Gray. "I'm stunned. I'm speechless," she said. "When are we going to get justice?" --  Baltimore Sun
My god! They couldn't even convict a Baltimore cop of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment or even "misconduct", let along manslaughter, in the killing of Freddie Gray.  I'm not sure why they tried black cop William Porter first. He wasn't one of the cops who loaded Gray into the van, shackled, with no seat belts and then bounced him around in that steel box on one of BPD's infamous "rough rides" until he died. But he was most certainly part of the cover-up that followed. I suppose they thought they could force Porter to break the "code of silence" and make him testify in the next trial against van driver and supervising cop Caesar Goodson.

There's one thing of which I am certain. This is not over. The struggle for justice for Freddie Gray continues.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Debating Rahm's viability

Asked the next day about when he first learned of the McDonald case and who informed him, the mayor responded, “Probably read it in the paper. Uhm and some of the staff, uhm could have informed me. -- NBC5 News
Even among my friends (across the political spectrum) there's widely varying estimates about Rahm Emanuel's continuing viability as mayor of Chicago. They range from -- resignation is imminent -- to -- this too will pass -- and he'll be able to hang in there until the next election.

Rahm's now polling at around 18%. Former Mayor Richie Daley decided to hang it up when his ratings dropped to 31%.

The fact that, when/if Rahm will resign has become the most hotly-debated question in political circles far and wide, is testimony to the depths of the crisis in Chicago following the street execution of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke and the ensuing political cover-up.

The relentlessness of the Black Lives Matter movement, combined with the threat of another teachers strike, could put enough pressure on the national Democratic Party leadership (Hillary has enough to worry about without having to carry Rahm's baggage into 2016) and on Rahm's Chicago patrons, to have them pull the plug early.

Then there's the Justice Dept. investigation of the CPD which could lead to a steady drip of info about Rahm's role in the cover-up. This despite Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch's assurances that the feds will limit the investigation to the culture and conduct of the police department.

But as a host of former pols here have learned the hard way,  once you begin turning over rocks, you find all kinds of nasty things crawling around. An active press, both main stream and new (social) media will play a big role in determining the outcome.

Protester thanks Carol Marin
There's been some great and some crappy local reporting. The great includes NBC5 News Carol Marin and Don Moseley, City Hall Emails Show Trail to Top Emanuel Aides, doing what a free press is supposed to do. Holding public officials accountable.

 Their story results from an FOIA request which uncovered emails from Rahm's inner circle which not only reveal that the mayor knew about the McDonald 16-shot execution way before he said he did, but that his people had actively worked to keep the video and other news about the shooting quiet until after the election. For me, the most damning evidence is that Rahm and his crew heavily redacted the report, showing that the cover-up was politically motivated and not as Rahm claims, due to concern about the "ongoing investigation."

The crappy includes S-T's Dan Mihalopoulos, whose column yesterday mainly targeted 16-year old Lamon Reccord who's become a visible leader in the street protests calling for the resignations of Rahm and State's Atty. Anita Alvarez. Mihalopoulos' piece goes after Reccord for, of all things, his past membership in Chicago Votes, a youth-led, non-partisan voter registration project and his support for Kim Foxx, Alvarez' main opponent in the upcoming election.

He writes:
According to his LinkedIn networking profile, Reccord began helping Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s challenger Kimberly Foxx in September — well before the release of the police video of McDonald being shot. 
Reccord also has worked as an intern for a nonprofit group called Chicago Votes. The organization’s former executive director is Foxx’s campaign manager, and one of its longtime board members is the campaign’s spokeswoman. 
He should be commended for getting involved in civic life even before he’s old enough to vote, at an age when many peers appear more interested in video games. [Patronizing crap--m.k.]
But Reccord’s recent trajectory makes me wonder if the protesters include many newly converted critics of the local political powerhouses or largely the same players who couldn’t unseat Emanuel in last spring’s unprecedented runoff election.
Along the way, DM does his best to belittle the current youth protest movement and prop up a stumbling Rahm.

He's also the hack who tried to paint CTU Pres. Karen Lewis as a supposed real estate tycoon, for her family vacation cottage in Michigan and time-share in Hawaii (enjoy Karen). And then there was his pathetic Enlace budget deficit "expose" aimed at boosting Emanuel's image as a financial leader and damaging Chuy Garcia's credibility as a Rahm opponent. Rahm's liar-in-chief at the time, Becky Carroll had ads out on DM's story, one day later.

Fast forward a year and we can see that it was Rahm, and not Chuy, who was blowing smoke on solutions to the city's financial crisis. Never has a political reporter had his head stuck so far up his butt.

I don't think he's a Rahm toady. More like a scoop-hungry reporter looking for an easy target and unwilling or unable to dig beyond the surface.

None of us can say for sure how all this will play out in the months ahead or whether Rahm will resign or be removed from office or who will replace him. But whether his stays or goes, his credibility as a political leader is gone.

I may be wrong, but I'm betting on (joining with) the young activists like Lamon Reccord and the new civil rights movement out in the streets. Not Rahm and his cronies up in the suites.

Monday, December 14, 2015


John Dewey, founder of the Lab School where Mayor Emanuel sends his children, on DuSable librarian. 

17-year-old DuSable senior Sabaria Dean
“The librarian is like a mentor to me, a resource. She's dedicated her entire life to DuSable and the children in it. She deserves to be here...“Libraries are essential to all CPS schools, not just Dusable. Without resources and reliable people, such as librarians, our resources are limited. Being on the South Side of Chicago is already a huge disadvantage."” -- DNAinfo
John Kass
Rahm Emanuel has lost the city and he can't get it back. -- Tribune
Peniel E. Joseph
The ugly truth—that historically affirmative action has been exclusively reserved for privileged white Americans (mostly male until the civil rights revolution)—is rarely, if ever, acknowledged.Certainly not by Justice Scalia. -- Newsweek
 Barack Obama on ESSA
Referred to the bipartisan bill-signing as “a Christmas miracle.” -- New York Times

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Donna More is more of the same -- if not worse

As readers know, I support Kim Foxx in her effort to unseat discredited Cook County State's Atty. Anita Alvarez, who covered up the Laquan McDonald murder. But Foxx is not the only one running. There's also Donna More.

I actually think More, who claims to be a "progressive Democrat," would be More of the same -- if not worse than Alvarez.

I mean, what kind of progressive Democrat makes big contributions to Bruce Rauner's and Eric Cantor's campaign war chests? More, whose family wealth alone could transform her into a contender, has also given money to Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald and the disgraced John EnsignIn fact, all of her federal giving history has been to Republicans. 

Friday, More lifted the cap on donations to candidates in the primary race by handing herself a $250,000 contribution (Sun-Times).

More is also a big Rahm Emanuel supporter. She donated heavily to Rahm's campaigns, thinks he should remain in office, and defends him in the video cover-up scandal.

More is a throwback to the Jon Burge era. She was a deputy prosecutor under former Mayor Daley, when he was the State's Attorney. While she denies any direct connection or handling any of the Burge torture cases, it's doubtful that she, or anyone else in Daley's office, had no inkling of what was going on.

In Carol Felsenthal's article this week in Chicago Magazine, she boasted that there was one project at the State’s Attorney’s Office where she got to meet Daley. You might remember that it was Daley who looked the other way while Burge and his crew were torturing confessions out of hundreds of black men.

In 1990, she became the top lawyer for the mob (oops, I mean the) Illinois Gaming Board. And for the last 20 years, since leaving the gaming board, she has represented big gambling interests like WMS Gaming (sued over $1.5 billion merger deal) and Mandalay Resorts (just fined $500k by Gaming Commission in drug, prostitution scandal), who contribute heavily to her campaign.

She's currently Managing Partner of Fox Rothschild's Chicago Office.

More makes light of the connection.
“This is not the 1940s or the 1950s,” she says. “Some gaming companies are run by Harvard business graduates."
OK, I'm relieved. You?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Anyone buying Rahm's 'I'm sorry' (for whatever) speech?

“No citizen is a second-class citizen in the city of Chicago. If my children are treated one way, every child is treated the same way. There is one standard for our young men.” 
 "These facts defy credibility." -- Rahm Emanuel prepared remarks
Aside from a handful of Rahm's puppy-dog aldermen, I'm not sure who's buying his sorry-for-whatever speech.

One standard for Rahm's children and every child? Really? Tell that to the kids whose schools have been closed across the south and west sides, while Rahm's kids attend the chi-chi, progressive Lab School, free from dad's test-and-punish school reform.

Yesterday protest.  -- Fred Klonsky pic
The mostly young protesters in the streets yesterday, certainly weren't buying it. And for good reason. Rahm's not expressing sorrow for anything he's done. He's "sorry" -- no, outraged -- at the sins of others. After all, said the mayor, I was just "following a time-honored practice" which in this case, "you could clearly say we were adding to the suspicion and distrust.”

Time-honored practice, indeed.

According to S-T's Fran Spielman:
The cathartic speech before aldermen, who offered their own apology, did nothing to silence demands for Emanuel’s resignation.
More than 51% of likely voters now say he should resign,

At least one alderman wasn't buying it. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said the mayor’s rare show of emotion was more calculated than heartfelt.
“He had 400 days to work on that emotion and show that he was serious and he did nothing. They made sure they pushed this thing aside as long as they could. It took a court order to basically open this whole thing up for what it is,” Waguespack said.
Ousted police chief Garry McCarthy was having none of Rahm's scapegoating. He fired back that it was he who came to Rahm with a plan to clean up the CPD a year ago only to have the mayor sink it.

Several city sources told DNAinfo that McCarthy was upset because he had believed Rahm's attorney, Patton [who btw, lives in Evanston, not in Chicago - m.k.] was involved in blocking his effort to bring real reform to the department which turned it into “absolutely nothing … a bag of s---.”

As Brother Fred says: "Put ’em all in separate rooms and see who rolls on the other one first." 

Rahm's speech reminded me of when he "apologized" back in 2013, for Police Commander Burge's police torture, without any mention of his own authorized black site at Homan Square or the many Burge victims still remaining in prison.

According to attorney Flint Taylor, Chicago taxpayers have now paid more than $20 million in “pinstripe patronage” to private lawyers to defend Burge, former Mayor Daley (who looked the other way) and the City of Chicago, approximately $65 million in settlements to eighteen of the 120 known African-American victims of Burge-related torture and more than $500,000 to Burge in pension money.

SORRY WON'T GET IT...It won't get back the money or return the lives and lost years in prison to the torture victims.

But silly me was hoping for at least a tiny I'm sorry for Chicago's infamous stop-and-frisk policies, targeting mostly young men in the black community, including a quarter million S&Fs without arrest, in one three-month period a year ago. But none was forthcoming.

Under Rahm's regime, cops have been doing S&Fs at four times the rate of New York and we have overtaken NYC as the S&F capital of America (the world?).

And then there's the school closings. No I'm sorry there either.

Aaroncynic at Chicagoist writes:
If Emanuel truly wants to do more than just put on a fuzzy sweater and say that he “owns” these issues, he’ll have to address how his decisions such as closing 50 neighborhood schools, half the city’s mental health clinics, funneling money to big business in the loop and more, have disaffected the people in neighborhoods of color, who live with those decisions, which are tied to police violence, everyday.
Couldn't have said it any better.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Feds are in town to save Rahm, not to bury him

Asked specifically if the probe will be expanded to examine City Hall or the Cook County State's Attorney's office, Lynch said the investigation will focus on misconduct "within the police department."

"The Department of Justice is coming in," Emanuel said. "We welcome it, accept it and need it. It's in our self-interests as a city." -- Tribune

Boy, that was easy. Three days earlier, Rahm had made clear that he didn't didn't want no stink'n feds sticking their noses into his business. Now he's breathing a sigh of relief that Lynch has promised "not focus on individuals" but rather to "improve the system."

Rahm had no choice but to face reality after a come-to-Jesus meeting with party and White House heavies. His approval rating is now at an all-time low of 18%. To put that in perspective, that's lower than the 20% Gov. Rauner, the most hated pol in Chicago, polled last fall. As I recall, Mayor Daley was down to 31% in 2010, when he declared his intention not to seek a seventh term, clearing the way for Emanuel to take over.

Yes, Obama's cavalry is coming in to supposedly clean-up Rahm's racist and corrupt police department. The FBI has already been in town for months, trying to clean-up Rahm's no-bid-contract scandal at CPS. When is the last time you heard mention in the media about that? It appears that the best way to take a scandal off the front pages is to have the feds investigate it.

Neither the police department nor the school system are entities unto themselves. As the Tribune's John Kass notes:
And the government of Chicago, for generations — as Obama and Rahm and the Clintons know all too well — is the Boss on Five. The mayor controls the police budget, decides who gets promoted and where resources are directed. The mayor picks the superintendent and the top cops, brokers the appointment of district commanders.
But the real purpose of this latest investigation, made clear by A.G. Loretta Lynch herself, is to save the system  -- not to bury it. To "rebuild trust" and head off seemingly inevitable "civil unrest". There's little mention of "justice" coming from the Justice Dept. But sooner or later, all roads will lead to Rome Rahm. Thus, the growing pressure on him to resign before that happens.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Claypool won't negotiate with CTU. With Rahm on the ropes, he has no juice.

CPS broke on purpose. Claypool has no juice.

As Chicago teachers take their strike vote this week, CEO Forrest Claypool and Rahm's hand-picked school board, are refusing to negotiate a contract with the CTU. In a way, it's hard to blame 'em. Broke-on-purpose CPS has little with which to negotiate and Claypool has no political juice.

The board's bargaining position has been badly weakened by a mayor who has autocratic control over the schools, but whose own credibility rating is currently lower than snail shit. Not to mention, Claypool's predecessor is facing prison time and a new federal Civil Rights investigation underway over violations by Rahm's police department.

Today, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, saying they’re ready to enlist the negotiating help of a fact-finding panel that’s part of a lengthy process laid out by state law. The union had asked Chicago Public Schools in late November to seek the fact-finder to hammer out a new contract to replace the one that expired on June 30.

Pres. Lewis
In a Chicago Magazine interview with Carol Felsenthal, quotable CTU Pres. Karen Lewis, feeling "stronger than ever", shoots straight from the hip.
Is the CTU still looking for a one-year contract as opposed to CPS’s preference for a multi-year contract?It’s irrelevant now. We’re almost halfway done with the school year. And how do you sign a deal with a broke company, broke on purpose.
 What do you mean, “broke on purpose”?CPS has chosen to spend money in ways that are not the best. Take the longer school day and school year. Rahm couldn’t afford it but did it because he was determined. Or the $200 million spent on an Aramark [cleaning] contract when they didn’t even calculate square footage, and the buildings are nastier than before. CPS has not sought revenue options that are readily available. [She mentions reconfiguring TIFs, suing banks over toxic swaps, imposing a commuter tax, and closing corporate loopholes as revenue options.]
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool first announced that 500 teacher layoffs and cuts to programs would be made by Thanksgiving. Now the date has been pushed back to early February. What changed?He realized you can’t do schools with 500 layoffs. Who’s going to put the grades in? It’s just posturing. This is part of Claypool’s knowing nothing about education.
Do you talk much to Claypool?I don’t. I’ve just had a couple of conversations with him, fewer than with Barbara Byrd-Bennett, or even [previous CPS CEOs Jean-Claude] Brizard or [Ron] Huberman. Huberman was a technocrat but I had more contact with him.
I think Claypool was an unfortunate choice. He doesn’t really understand things that need to be done. It’s all about my boys and cronyism getting a residence waiver for his top guy. These guys say they have to work with their people. It’s completely opposite of what we do. We don’t control which kids are in the classroom. We have to figure out how to work with them.
Let's see if the teachers' strike vote gets things moving.

Monday, December 7, 2015


Yesterday's protest: On State Street, that great street...

Rahm Emanuel
"I own the problem of police brutality, and I'll fix it." -- Chicago Tribune
BGA Pres. Andy Shaw
It’s been quite a firestorm, and it’s scorching Emanuel and Alvarez. But it’s unconscionable that so few others been held accountable, and so little has changed, after more than half a century of well-documented police misconduct that’s taken too many lives, wasted too many tax dollars, sown too much mistrust, and inflicted too much pain on our entire city. -- Toxic Chicago cop culture dates back decades
Ando should be indicted, not just fired.
Lorenzo Davis
,,, a former Chicago police commander and top IPRA investigator, has claimed he was fired this year for resisting [IPRA head, Scott] Ando’s orders to justify police shootings. Davis’ lawyer told the Sun-Times last week that Chatman’s shooting was the video that led to Davis’ ouster. Davis himself called Chatman’s death a “murder” — one that was officially justified in an IPRA report. -- Sun-Times
John Kass
The strongman also protects his power through routine purges of those close to him, lest they be tempted. Even slavish, abject loyalty can't protect them. -- Tribune
Ald. Pat O’Connor, the mayor’s City Council floor leader has no clue.
“They’re mad at him, but I’m not exactly sure I know why they’re mad at him." -- Sun-Times
Michael Davis, Retired African-American police officer
“We don't need mayors and the so-called Independent Police Review Authority covering up for these guys and this panel the mayor created is more of the same.” -- NBC News
Mark Brown snarks Rahm's critics
Some people aren’t going to be satisfied until there is an actual riot. -- Sun-Times

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Whitenizing Chicago

The out-migration of African-Americans from the largest U.S. cities continues unabated, changing the face of urban politics, culture and education.

Greg Hinz at Crain's reports that the Chicago area is on track to become mostly people of color by 2020, a historic shift with major cultural, economic and political impact. But in Chicago proper, gentrification has created a different story -- whitenization.
The shift is almost entirely concentrated in the suburbs, with, for instance, roughly one in three residents of Will, DuPage and Lake Counties now from minority groups, up from one (or fewer) in four in 2010. In suburban Cook County, the minority share of the total population has gone from 33 percent in 2010 to 45 percent.
But the story in the city is different.
In Chicago proper, where large numbers of high-income whites appear to have moved to the booming central business district, the white share of the population rose from 31 percent in 2002 to 32 percent in 2005-09, holding at that figure in 2010-14. The African-American share continued to drop, moving from an estimated 33.8 percent rolling average in 2005-2009 to 31.5 percent in 2010-14, with the Latino share rising from 27.4 percent to 28.9 percent, and the Asian share from 4.9 percent to 5.7 percent.
The current population growth in the entire Chicago metropolitan area is being fueled almost entirely by the influx of Latinos and Asians. The white wealthy and middle-class newcomers to city are mostly younger people without families. That brings with it a declining public school population.

In the city itself, skyrocketing costs of living combined with the loss of living-wage jobs, public housing and neighborhood schools, cuts in infrastructure, social services and fear of gun violence have made life too difficult and unstable for thousands of poor and black families.

The story of urban America is indeed becoming a tale of two cities.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Rahm fallout

"If Rahm Emanuel is anything, it’s a vindictive asshole. Being a vindictive asshole has gotten him very far in politics. Though if he isn’t careful, it may soon be his downfall." -- Jordan Sargent at Gawker

I'm wondering if Rahm's free-fall will help liberate some of his puppy-dog aldermen and local pols from their leashes, much the way that the fall of the old Daley machine and the ascendance of Harold Washington did back in the day.

It certainly seem like it's liberated some CPS principals.

It was Rahm's chief puppy-dog, Ald. Joe Moore who said it best:
 "The City Council is the only legislative body in the Western world that acts like the Soviet Politburo... He [Emanuel] doesn't have inherent power. We surrender it."
Rahm's bullying tactics won't be nearly as effective now that he's been wounded by the cover-up scandal. In his meeting with black ministers last week, Rahm threatened to take away resources and jobs from their communities if they didn't keep young protesters under control (as if they could). Let's see how that goes down, now that the word's out.

Also, let's see how all this plays out vis-a-vis the interplay between the city's teacher contract negotiations and Rauner's holding the school budget hostage. If I'm Karen Lewis right now, there's nobody I'd rather be sitting across the table from than Rahm Emanuel and Forrest Claypool. Remember, if Rahm goes down, Claypool goes with him. Now, more than ever, Rahm needs the unions, not only to help save his ass politically, but to be shock troops in Springfield -- not in the streets of Chicago.

On Wednesday, CTU's House of Delegates voted unanimously to approve a strike vote. A 90% membership strike vote on Monday will send a powerful message. Another teachers strike will all but seal Rahm's fate, or what's left of it.

Whether he resigns or remains, hanging in the wind, Rahm Emanuel's political free-fall makes him a liability for national Democrats. Remember, he was always the Clintons' boy and Barack Obama's bullying chief of staff.

Fred Hampton murdered by CPD 12/4/69.
It was Hillary's people who put the arm on Rahm Wednesday, getting him to flip the script and say he now supports a federal civil rights investigation in Chicago. I think they're all hoping that another investigation, because it's done out of the public eye, will buy Rahm some time and take him out of the daily news cycle for a while.

That's why we need a People's Task Force alongside of the federal task force -- and no Rahm Cover-up Task Force.

 It's not just about Hillary Clinton, or Bernie Sanders who are distancing themselves from Rahm, lickity-split. Dems running, especially in large urban districts, across the ticket from top to bottom, need black voters just to break even in 2016. The crisis in Chicago is a Democratic crisis and it impacts issues far beyond the police violence/corruption scandal, ie. education, labor, war, and the economy.

Natasha Korecki at POLITICO writes:
What's happening to Mayor Rahm Emanuel on both a local and national level is unlike anything we've seen. Long the powerful tactician, he was the man with connections who Democrats feared. Cross him and you'll be cut off at the knees. These days, every few hours it seems, another major Democrat or major news organization was publicly pulling away from Emanuel himself or his decisions, as questions mount in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
POLITICO's Sarah Wheaton on the same theme:
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's struggles are reverberating in Washington, where he's causing headaches for his most powerful of close friends and former bosses, the Obamas and the Clintons ... And even among the president's allies, the famously profane Emanuel is a polarizing figure after playing a key role in the tough-on-crime legislation of the mid-1990s that Obama has made his mission to undo... A top GOP strategist predicted that Emanuel would become a 'massive liability' for Hillary Clinton.
I can't wait to see Spike Lee's Chi-Raq this afternoon and I wish everyone in the city a violence-free weekend.