Wednesday, January 7, 2015

For Rahm, education is just another profit center

"Chuy" Garcia
Mayoral candidate "Chuy" Garcia accused Rahm of treating education "as a profit center for people with powerful connections." He couldn't be more right. Latest case in point is the mayor's defense of his hand-picked board member, Deborah Quazzo, who uses her board seat to protect her ed-biz investments.

Of course, Rahm's pay-to-play style extends well beyond school board contracts. There's good reasons for clout heavy companies to be over-filling his campaign war-chest.

Foulkes & Waguespack
He's using an outrageous sum of $2 million from his “Chicago Forward” super PAC to go after two members of the City Council's  Progressive Caucus -- Alderman Toni Foulkes (15th) and my Alderman, Scott Waguespack (32nd). Scott was one of only 4 aldermen with spine enough to vote against the mayor's budget, which fed downtown at the expense of the neighborhoods. We can't let Rahm take them out.

PENSION THEFT...The pension theft bill, signed by outgoing Gov. Quinn is likely to be declared unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court. But with pension-grabbing billionaire Bruce Rauner replacing Quinn, the battle on behalf of teachers and other public employee retirees is just heating up.

Rick Pearson reports today on Clout Street:
Unions pumped millions of dollars into the campaign in an effort to stop Rauner, who peppered his Republican primary campaign rhetoric with harsh anti-labor attacks before softening them in the later stage of his general election campaign against Quinn.
It's not that the unions were pleased with Quinn. They had little love for him after he signed into law the major pension measure that vastly changed retiree benefits and extended retirement ages in an effort to ameliorate the state's pension debt over 30 years.
 Quinn is going away, but the fate of the law he signed is in serious legal jeopardy. With Rauner taking over, the pension debt remains unsettled.
What still amazes me is how little weight supposedly pro-teacher progressives place on the pension-theft issue. It remains virtually ignored at most progressive-ed conferences, including a couple coming up here in the next few months. Plus many progressives turned the Quinn campaign into a (losing) religious crusade which sucked up union money like a massive vacuum cleaner, leaving little behind for the current battle to unseat Rahm in the mayor's race. Quinn got off without being punished by union leadership but the rank-and-file stayed home.

Quinn leaves office wringing his hands and shedding crocodile tears over his pension "reform" failure, a mission he claims he was "put on earth" to carry out.

God cringes.

P.S... I wish Quinn well, hoping that once he's out of the State House and not hanging out with the wrong crowd, he will be able to return to the independent progressive values he had back when we knew him as a Local School Council member at our neighborhood school. Sometimes it works that way. But not often.

THE SMELL OF BLOOD... Elsewhere it's the same story. In Arizona, even former Enron trader and Texas billionaire John Arnold (why is he still at large?) has jumped on the pension-busting wagon, donating more than $1 million to a November 2014 initiative to reform the public pension system in Phoenix. Arnold’s donation to Proposition 487, also known as the Phoenix Pension Reform Act, constituted close to 75 percent of total donations for the ballot measure, which failed. Had it passed, it would have moved new state employees from a defined benefit plan into a less generous (and less expensive) defined contribution plan such as a 401(k).

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