Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Future looks dim for Cook County Dems without a change at the top.

Polling around the Chicago mayor's race has been pretty accurate. In the first round the pollsters were nearly perfect. But I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around latest numbers showing Toni Preckwinkle Polling at only 17% with just over a week to go.

I know she's run a terrible campaign, but still. I mean this is a sitting prez of the Cook County Board, running with endorsements and big money from the CTU and SEIU. She's also the successor to Boss Joe Berrios as chair of the Cook County Democratic Party. How in the hell are her numbers so low? Lower even than Mayor Rahm Emanuel's, which reached the point where he had to drop out of the race to avoid an embarrassing butt kicking.

What's happened to the mighty Chicago Democratic Party machine?

This raises more questions...1) If she loses this election as big as expected, can TP hang on to her party post? Lots of Democrats are facing tough races next year. Can she garner their support after such a dismal showing in her own election campaign? 2) Consider question #1 in light of TP's failure to repudiate Cong. Bobby Rush's outrageous attack on Lori Lightfoot voters, claiming that all thousands of these mostly liberal and progressive voters have "blood on their hands". Will TP be able to rally these bloody voters behind party candidates? 3) Will her most avid supporters running for re-election, pay a price for her defeat, especially after they to remained silent after Rush's absurd comments. Most also stayed mumm after hateful, anti-gay flyers were spread over south-side churches and neighborhoods by Lori-haters.

All this isn't likely to go away after April 3rd.

Monday, March 25, 2019


CA public schools chief, Tony Thurmond
“There has been, for many districts, a significant fiscal impact and loss of revenue directly attributed to the growth of charter schools...We have to have tough conversations including the fiscal impact of charter growth on the traditional districts and come out in a way where we can do what’s best for all of our students in the state.” -- CALmatters
Laura Washington
Ironically, if Preckwinkle had not made her late mayoral entry after Rahm Emanuel’s exit, she would likely have supported Lightfoot for mayor. -- Sun-Times
Cong. Bobby Rush at Preckwinkle rally
"This election is really about what type of police force we're going to have in the city of Chicago, and everyone who votes for Lori, the blood of the next young black man or black woman who is killed by the police is on your hands." -- Tribune
Lori Lightfoot responded
"There is no room in this campaign for hate-filled rhetoric, and I call on (Preckwinkle) to denounce the tactics of division and fear-mongering as this campaign enters its final days." [She didn't]. -- Press Release
Shia Kapos
What it all means: As Preckwinkle trails in fund-raising and polls, she’s allowing surrogates to attack Lightfoot in an attempt to weaken her numbers among black voters. -- IL Playbook

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Preckwinkle promised Rahm she wouldn't run against him. She kept her word.

Chicago's progressive movement, unified for a short time around the Sanders campaign, has become badly divided during current mayoral election. 
Well, the split amongst progressives over (of all things) the Chicago mayor's race, is now complete and likely irreparable. The unity that was built behind the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016 has been obliterated. It's way past the point now where Humpty Dumpty can be put back together after the election. The FBI's '60s Operation COINTELPRO couldn't have done a better job of creating disunity by spreading lies and disinformation.

It culminated at a south side Preckwinkle rally yesterday organized by vestiges of the old political machine and Rahm Emanuel supporters who four years ago pushed the anti-Chuy vote in the black community, that carried Rahm to victory. Can they do it again? It's possible. I've been sceptical of polls showing a Lightfoot blowout. Overconfidence is the worst enemy of any political campaign. Ask Hillary Clinton.

The worst of the bunch, I'm sad to say, was old friend, Cong. Bobby Rush, who accused Lori Lightfoot of being "pro-police" and suggested more black people would be killed at the hands of cops if she’s elected.

A week earlier, it took 19 hours before Preckwinkle repudiated the mass distribution of hateful, anti-LGBTQ flyers at southside churches. Her followers (except for a small few) remained silent on that one.

Rush, who backed Rahm Emanuel last time around and endorsed Bill Daley in the February election, is now blaming potential Lightfoot voters for the city's string of police murders. His repulsive comments drew cheers from many lefty Toni supporters.
"Everyone who votes for Lori, the blood of the next young black man or black woman who is killed by the police is on your hands,” claimed Rush. 
I'm waiting to see if Toni and her supporters repudiate that absurd claim. Don't hold your breath. Things have gone to far.

Preckwinkle & Burke
Rahm backer and old party warhorse,  Secretary of State Jesse White compared Lightfoot to Republicans former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Donald Trump. How ironic since he and all the above can be tied to old party boss Joe Berrios and indicted Ald. Eddie Burke.

Burke worked for Trump for 12 years, persuading Cook County officials like Berrios, to cut the property taxes on the president’s namesake downtown skyscraper by a total of more than $14 million.

Burke and his wife Anne raised more that $116K for Preckwinkle, which she reluctantly returned after Burke was indicted. She took care of Burke's son, and, as president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, gave the son of Burke a $100,000-a-year county job at taxpayer expense.

Remember, it was Preckwinkle who cut her deal with Rahm back in 2014, promising him that she wouldn't enter the race for mayor against him.
Emanuel has said Preckwinkle told him privately earlier this year that she wouldn’t run for mayor, a point Emanuel made Wednesday when asked whether he was concerned about her as an opponent. “I trust her when she’s said multiple times that she’s not running,” Emanuel said. “I think she’s a person of her word.”  — Bill Ruthhart in the Trib 
She kept her word.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Timuel Black's endorsement of Lori Lightfoot

Press Release – Professor Timuel D. Black, Jr., noted Chicago civil rights activist and historian, endorses Lori Lightfoot for mayor

Mar 21, 2019

Civil rights leader and scholar Timuel D. Black today announced his support for Lori Lightfoot in the current mayoral runoff election. Black, a career educator and author of several major volumes on the history of Chicago’s African-American community, released a statement about the mayoral race:

“I’ve been listening to political candidates for most of my 100 years of living. I feel confident that I can discern quality, intellect, and integrity when I hear it. I’ve been impressed by Lori’s thoughtful discussion of the complex issues we face as a city, and her commitment to make essential changes.

“Above all, I am so proud that we will have two African-American women in leadership positions When Lori becomes mayor, we will have two strong, accomplished and dedicated female executives–one in charge of the City of Chicago and the other in charge of Cook County. This is good news for the city, the county and the State of Illinois, and women especially can take great pride in this historic moment. That’s why I support Toni Preckwinkle to remain as the President of the Cook County Board, and I’m supporting Lori to take on the mantle of mayor.

“We will prove that we truly ‘hold these truths to be self-evident’–that all human beings are created equal. I’m just so pleased that I am here to witness this momentous event in our history. I’ll be casting my vote for Lori Lightfoot on April 2.”

“Dr. Timuel Black is a living legend and I am so honored to receive his endorsement for mayor,” said Lightfoot. “As an educator, a historian, and a civil rights activist, Dr. Black has always stood on the side of justice and fought to empower the disadvantaged and the dispossessed. As mayor, I will always strive to live up to Dr. Black’s immense legacy and work to lift up voices that are too often ignored.”


Monday, March 18, 2019


Garcia endorses Lightfoot

U.S. Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia 
 “A new mayor in City Hall and across the hall, on the fifth floor, a very competent president of the (county) board who I had the great honor to work with for eight years and move Cook County government forward, leaving behind the old reference that it was Crook County... But Garcia also said Lightfoot “ushers in a new era that Chicago has been waiting for a long time.” -- Tribune
Lori Lightfoot
I support eliminating cash bail. Our jails should not be debtors’ prisons for the poor, and I've long supported the work of the Chicago Council of Lawyers and others to advocate for the elimination of this system. -- FB post
 White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
"The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that." -- FOX News Sunday  
U.N. Anti-Nazism Resolution 
"Combating glorification of Nazism, Neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance," was approved by the U.N.'s human rights committee on Friday with 131 in favor, 3 against [U.S. was one of the three] with 48 abstentions. -- CBS News
White Nationalist Rep. Steve King echoes Trump's call to violence
One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use...Wonder who would win...” added King, apparently not noticing that his home state was depicted on the losing side. -- Huffington


Coming up Friday on Hitting Left with the K Brothers. Live at 11am. 105.5fm and streaming world wide at lumpenradio.com and then on our podcast. Flint Taylor, the people's lawyer and author of the new book, The Torture Machine. Racism and Police Violence in Chicago.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Some unsolicited advice to both mayoral candidates

Despite protests, plans for the $95 million West Side police academy sailed through the City Council on Wednesday
As readers know, I've pretty much committed to voting for Lori Lightfoot in next month's mayoral election. I won't rehash all the reasons why right now. Suffice to say that while I have big issues with both (all) candidates, I find Lightfoot, basically a good-government candidate, (no radical or @AOC by any means) to be the most unchained to the old, corrupt machinery. In a race with no true hard-core progressives or lefties in it, that's good enough for me.

On key policy issues of police and neighborhood violence, as well as on education issues, both Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle appear about the same. At yesterday's mayoral forum hosted by the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, both stressed more community investment as a response to street violence.

According to Chalkbeat's report on the forum:
Both candidates pledged to devote more staff and resources to public safety, and honed in on underlying issues that contribute to violence, like poverty, housing and disinvestment, while emphasizing the need to provide mental health resources in communities wrestling with trauma. 
On police reform, both oppose the Rahm Emanuel's $95M Cop Academy. But they both see more police training as at least part of the solution, in step with with the DoJ report and the negotiated consent decree. Lightfoot said yesterday, that she would even consider using some of the city's shuttered schools for decentralized, community-based training, rather than the new cop academy, just approved by the city council.

While I'm OK with more and better cop training, I can think of at least 10 better re-uses for those buildings. I'd like to push the discussion beyond training. Racist police murders, like the killing of Laquan McDonald are not mainly "training" issues. They are systemic issues emanating from a system of white supremacy and class power, where cops are the enforcers. I wish we had some candidates who would talk about systemic change. But we don't. That's left to us.

On school policy, each candidate opposes charter school expansion and further school closings. Each call for an elected school board. Neither appear to be over-influenced by the school privatization, vouchers lobbyists -- so far at least.

It's true that Preckwinkle won the early endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), an endorsement I respect, if not agree with. I think it was a mistake, on par with the AFT's early endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in 2016. Feeling confident back then, that Hillary would have the best chance of defeating Trump, union leaders thought they were putting a lock on a seat at the table under the new administration. They were wrong on all counts. All they succeeded in doing was splitting the rank-and-file.

The CTU endorsement of Preckwinkle was understandable in the first round of the campaign when it looked pretty certain that Bill Daley, the man from JP Morgan, would be in the runoff and the hope was that Preckwinkle would have the best chance of defeating him. They and many of us were wrong about Daley who turned out to be a paper tiger despite his massive campaign war chest. He folded like a cheap suit, paving the way for a late Lightfoot surge into first place and a significant lead in the runoff polls. It now appears Lightfoot leads Preckwinkle in every demographic with three weeks to go.

But as we all know, anything can happen


Now we have two African-American women, one openly gay, running for mayor. How great is that! But it's a situation fraught with danger. The campaigns have split the progressives into two pretty hard camps. In my mind, the progressive movement in Chicago, at its peak after the Bernie Sanders campaign, might have unified around it's own candidate for mayor and IL governor two years ago. But it didn't. Instead of building on the Sanders insurgency within the party, which produced successful electoral revolts in N.Y., Detroit, and other cities, we are fighting pitched battles over which mainstream candidate will take us to the promised land.

Now attacks are flying back and forth on FB and on Twitter, including sharp personal attacks which won't easily be forgotten.

Soon after the election, the camps will hopefully be able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again and unite to roll back Mayor Emanuel's boondoggles like the Cop Academy and Lincoln Yards, and to support the teachers union in their upcoming contract negotiations, and possible teachers strike.

Here's some unsolicited advice to both candidates. Whoever wins will unfortunately, at least for a while, have autocratic control over CPS -- control that neither claims to want. But the contract negotiations won't wait for the passage of stalled elected school board legislation to be passed or for the elections to follow.

Both candidates should make it clear now that their election won't mean a continuation of Rahm-ism without Rahm. First it means having a democratic (not autocratic) style of work. Second, it means clean house, if not immediately, soon after the election. Bring in your own team and tell us now who they will be. Next, it may already be too late, but playing the stall game on Lincoln Yards and the Cop Academy and call for an immediate stop to both.

In other words, show leadership now and not wait until you are elected.

Also, please stop the anti-teacher rhetoric about "supporting teachers" but supporting students "even more". The CTU has been in the lead when it comes to negotiating smaller class size, more nurses and social workers in schools and special ed resources. Teachers, students and parents have the same interests in the upcoming negotiations.

Monday, March 11, 2019


The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are on strike after walking out of contract negotiations Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. Their current contract expires at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, and they say they will not return to work until a new contract is reached.
Stephen Lester, CSO bassist on strike today
“We have been clear from the beginning that we will not accept a contract that diminishes the well-being of members or imperils the future of the orchestra,” said Stephen Lester, CSO bassist and chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee, in a statement. -- Tribune
Soon-to-be-indicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
In response to a comment by Israeli actress Rotem Sela, who wrote on social media that Israel is a country of all its citizens: "Israel is not a state of all its citizens. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People - and them alone." -- Haaretz
You ask how the mayoral campaign debate is going?
Well, let's just say, with a few weeks to go, it's umm, moved to another level.

 Tucker Carlson
...Used the c-word, said women are ‘primitive’ and ‘like dogs,’ and joked about a 13-year-old being molested during newly unearthed radio appearances. -- Now This
Coming up this Friday on Hitting Left...
Jamie Kalven, writer and human rights activist.  His work has appeared in a variety of publications.  In recent years, he has reported extensively on patterns of police abuse and impunity in Chicago.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Preckwinkle campaign, like watching a slow-motion train wreck

Berrios & Preckwinkle...breaking up is hard to do. 
I realize, despite my best intentions, I'm a little preoccupied with this mayor's race. I've never really had a handle on it. I admit, I expected a Daley/Preckwinkle or Daley/Mendoza runoff and was amazed by Lori Lightfoot's come-from-behind charge in the opening round.

I loved it that the big-money guys like Daley and Chico turned into big losers. I was a little disappointed that Paul Vallas didn't make the cut. He couldn't even get out of single-digits. But only because over the years of battling his influence peddling in the field of education reform, I have so much unused op-research filed away on PV that I was itching for a chance to use it all.

But in the end, I was overjoyed to see two African-American women, one openly gay, and both with progressive credentials, make the cut. The inevitability of a black, woman mayor taking charge of what Carl Sandberg called, the city of "stormy, husky, brawling...big shoulders" still leaves me high as a kite -- Harold Washington high.

All the post-op pain killers I've been taking have also helped.

But another reality, not opioid-driven, is now setting in. With election day only a few weeks away, and Lightfoot apparently pulling far ahead, internecine warfare has broken out among the progressives to such a degree it's going to be hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again when the election madness is over.

While both campaigns are going negative in their TV ads, (as Harold used to say, "politics ain't bean bag") I mainly put the blame for this on a self-righteous, dispirited and angry group of Preckwinkle supporters who can't believe they are losing and that the rest of the progressive left doesn't see Lightfoot in their one dimensional way.

Now I'm likely overreacting. I know it's probably just a small group of Facebook lefties that are portraying former Police Board chief and former prosecutor Lightfoot as a "cop" or "defender of killer cops". But the tone of the official campaign ads is nearly as negative and reactionary.

This isn't necessarily the case with the CTU leadership, which endorsed Preckwinkle when it looked like she was the only alternative to a Daley victory. I likely would have voted "strategically" for her if it came down to Toni/Daley as well. My god, I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

CTU leaders while still strongly backing Toni, seem to be taking a more savvy and seasoned approach while still showing leadership where it really counts, in community battles, like stopping plunder of the city by Sterling Bay Corp. around Lincoln Yards.

They must realize that in three weeks there's going to be a new mayor on the fifth floor at City Hall and whoever wins, it will be a mayor who, in sharp contrast to the current one, the union can work with, one who opposes school closings, charters and vouchers, and favors an elected school board.

The union will also need its school/community base to stay unified if it is to keep the pressure on whoever's elected, especially with contract negotiations coming up and possible strike on the horizon.

FINALLY, I'M STUNNED at the ineptitude of the Preckwinkle campaign. Every day, I feel like I'm watching a slow-motion train wreck. It's not just about the reactionary overreach of anti-Lori negativity in their propaganda, which can't help but backfire. It's the daily miscalculation, the ducking a dodging, and misreading of the depths of anti-machine hostility directed at Preckwinkle on the part of voters.

"Change agents", White, Burnett and Preckwinkle
Take the past two days which saw the campaign accept official endorsements from Sec. of State Jesse White and and Ald. Walter Burnett. No matter what you think of this pair, it's impossible for most of us to consider them as change agents. Yet, the campaign pitched them both as "representatives of change".

S-T's Fran Spielman writes:
The state’s leading vote-getter and his political protege stood with Toni Preckwinkle Wednesday to help her make the case that she is the candidate for change in a change election because she has already delivered it.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) endorsed Preckwinkle, but that was hardly surprising. Both men are longstanding Preckwinkle allies and stalwarts of the Cook County Democratic Party she chairs.
 On Wednesday, Burnett made a dramatically different argument. He argued that Preckwinkle’s decision to succeed her longtime ally, former Assessor Joe Berrios, as chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization would pay handsome dividends for Chicago taxpayers if she becomes mayor.
Then, the second shoe dropped...
Never mind that White’s office hired Joe Berrios’ sister and friend when newly-elected Assessor Fritz Kaegi fired them.
As the Tribune reported in December...
 The secretary of state’s office, which has around 3,700 jobs, has long been known as a patronage haven under both Democrats and Republicans. The two women will each make $37,992 a year as public service supervisors in the Vehicle Services Department, said Dave Druker, White’s spokesman.
Yes, change agents.

These latest endorsements are going to make it even tougher in the final three weeks, for Preckwinkle to unhook from her own ties to Burke, Berrios and the rest of her old machine pals in the eyes of the voters.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Election thoughts...Blaming the messenger.

Who thought it was a good idea for Toni Preckwinkle to duck the S-T debate?
Who on Team Toni thought it was a good idea for her to duck out on the Sun-Times debate? Her lame excuse? The S-T has already endorsed Lori. But so what? That makes no sense.

With all early polls showing Toni running far behind, you would think that there's no better place to be than in the home of the opposition, appealing directly to their base. But Toni backed away, lashing out at Lori as she ran for the door.
"Starting with the NBC debate Thursday night, we look forward to hearing corporate lawyer Lori Lightfoot defend her record representing a Wall Street bank accused of massive discrimination and of defending Republican politicians trying to hold onto their power," spokeswoman Monica Trevino wrote in a statement.
There are plenty of valid criticisms of Lightfoot, but trying to make her look like the monied, Wall Street candidate was another misstep by Team Toni. That was Bill Daley. Daley and Preckwinkle outspent Lori in the first round by 3 and 4:1.

Preckwinkle has been the most aggressive and negative campaigner so far. It's a style that misreads the times we're in, and she's used it to whip up her Facebook supporters, lashing out with personal invective against Lori voters and neutrals. This has only helped her opponent look reasonable and likeable while further dividing Toni's base.

The latest polls show Preckwinkle trailing in every demographic. Lightfoot leads among women (60%) and men (56%). Lightfoot leads among all age groups: 54% of voters younger than 50; 55% of voters between ages 50 to 64, and 55% of those 65 and older favor Lightfoot.

Team Toni's response: They say that since the poll was paid for by the pro-school privatization group, Stand for Children, it can't be trusted. Their takeaway is that SFC supports Lori and therefore they produced the poll. The argument rings similar to the Sun-Times argument. Since S-T endorsed Lori, the debate must be rigged.

Actually, the polling was done by respected Democratic pollsters FM3. Their poll found that while both candidates are viewed favorably by a majority of voters, 64% view Lightfoot favorably and 53% have a favorable opinion of Preckwinkle. However, Preckwinkle also has a greater number of detractors. While only ten percent of voters view Lightfoot unfavorably, more than one-third have an unfavorable opinion of Preckwinkle (37%).

They might have had a point about SFC popularizing the poll results, except for the fact that SFC has every reason NOT to support Lightfoot. After all, like Toni, she's running on a promise to end charter school expansion and to support an elected school board.

There's also the problem for Team Toni that everyone now has done internal polling that could easily refute FM3's poll if theirs were divergent.

Team Toni says she's not running scared. She says she's prepared to debate Lori 5 more times, including in an event sponsored by the rival Tribune. But why? Remember, the Trib endorsed her opponent Bill Daley before he was knocked out of the race last week.

Strange game they're playing. May be time for Team Toni to retool.

Monday, March 4, 2019


Bernie Sanders at last night's rally in Chicago: "Real change never takes place from the top on down, it always takes place from the bottom on up." (Fred Klonsky pic)

More Bernie
Asked if he's interested in any advice from Clinton, Sanders replied, "I think not.""Hillary and I have fundamental -- you know, fundamental differences. And that's what it is," he explained. -- CNN
CTU Pres. Jesse Sharkey
“The top two vote getters are people who have lifted up public education and support a number of our key policies,” Sharkey said. “That said … the case to our membership has to be about what are the concrete things we’re actually going to see.” For example, Sharkey said he was happy to hear Preckwinkle’s stance against closing schools, but he wants to hear her views on other critical issue facing the district. For instance, “can we get a nurse in every school — every day,” he said.
-- Chalkbeat
Toni Preckwinkle would keep Rahm's school chief
 Preckwinkle said Friday she plans to keep Jackson for two reasons: CPS needs stability after a revolving door of five CEOs in the past eight years and Mayor Rahm Emanuel got it right with his fifth try. -- Sun-Times
Chicago law firm explains how it pays its lawyers
 "Our system is a little more, I hate to say socialist, but it's a little more evenly distributed among the folks involved in the team." -- Crain's
 Joe Ferguson, Chicago's inspector general, wants focus on corruption 
"Chicago [is] at one of those paradigm-shifting moments. And its confluence with an election at a point in time that the city still has to grapple with significant fiscal issues because of a pension crisis both locally and at the state level, means that this corruption moment is one that actually could matter," Ferguson says. "If the shift doesn't come as a result of the election, I'm not sure what's ever going to make it change." -- WBUR [Joe Ferguson will be our in-studio guest on Hitting Left on March 29th]
Dumbest quote comes from defeated Alderman Joe Moore... 
A little democracy could be a good thing, but I think people need to understand it’s coming at a very inopportune time." -- Tribune