Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mike Klonsky's Blog: Lightfoot's empowering shutdown of Eddie Burke

Mike Klonsky's Blog: Lightfoot's empowering shutdown of Eddie Burke: But I'm Eddie Burke... Mayor Lori Lightfoot' s shutdown of indicted machine boss, Ald.  Eddie Burke at yesterday's council ...

Lightfoot's empowering shutdown of Eddie Burke

But I'm Eddie Burke...
Mayor Lori Lightfoot's shutdown of indicted machine boss, Ald. Eddie Burke at yesterday's council meeting was a joy to behold. As a veteran WGN cameraman put it, “Somewhere In heaven, Harold Washington is laughing his a** off.”

I don't know about Harold, but my biggest laugh came from watching Burke play the feminist as he and his toadie Ald. Ray Lopez tried to block the mayor's rule changes by bringing up the issue of gender-neutral wording in the new rules. Lightfoot saw right through Burke's play as we all did.

In the end, the mayor's proposed rule changes, her first big test of strength in the Council, were adopted with only 3 anti-climatic NO votes. They came from Burke, Lopez and 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale,  the group I will lovingly call, "The New Vrdolyak 3".

Lightfoot's smackdown of Burke was certainly empowering for those of us who've been at war with the vile machine for more than 50 years. I imagine it was even more empowering for women -- especially women of color -- watching the city's first black, gay woman mayor boldly deliver the blow to last remaining dregs of the old Vrdolyak 29.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

'Flooding the zone' with cops didn't work. It never does.

There were multiple accidents involving police cars as cops raced from one shooting to another. In one collision in the Austin neighborhood involving two patrol cars, 10 officers and two civilians were injured and a woman killed.
It's hard to blame Mayor Lori Lightfoot for this Memorial Day weekend's rash of gun violence and deaths. After all, she's only been in office for a week. But I can say that her strategy of pre-weekend preventive mass arrests and then of "flooding the zone", concentrating 1,200 extra cops in targeted neighborhoods in the black community, was a bust -- as it always is.

The body count from Friday afternoon to Monday is reported to be at least 42 people shot, five fatally. This, even with severe storms keeping people indoors yesterday.

Several of the victims were shot within five hours on Sunday at the ABLA housing project on the northwest side. The second shootings occurred on the same block as the first while cops were still present and resulted in five more people being shot and two of them dying.

The Tribune's account presents a scene right out of a dystopian movie:
On Monday night, felony charges were announced against two men in the second shooting. Tevin Covens, 25, was charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and Lawrence Wilkins, 29, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon after police found him carrying a gun at the scene, authorities said.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Covens will not be charged with murder after he shot and killed one of the two men at the scene in self-defense.
According to police, Covens was shot in the face at the scene by 28-year-old Antonio Green, who also shot and killed another man, 27-year-old Martez Cox, after Cox fired a TEC-9 machine pistol into the air.
Covens, also armed, opened fire on Green, killing him in self-defense, Guglielmi said. But he said Covens also unintentionally fired shots that wounded two female victims at the scene. Guglielmi said Covens was only charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and not aggravated battery with a firearm, which is a more serious crime, because the female victims did not want to press charges.
There were slightly more shootings this year than last, despite yesterday's storms and police saturation. But the toll was somewhat lower than in 2017 when 45 people were shot, seven of them killed, or in 2016, when 71 people were shot, six of them fatally. But I doubt that people in the community or the mayor are taking much comfort in that this morning as funeral preparations are being made.

There are viable, tested, long-term strategies for reducing gun violence, strategies that have been successful in other big cities like New York, Boston and L.A.. They begin with gun control and stopping the sale, manufacturing and easy flow of guns into the neighborhoods. If the image of a young man getting shot to death in "self-defense" while firing an assault weapon into the air, doesn't move us to action...

A recent Sun-Times article by Kim Foxx and Arne Duncan (Chicago must learn from L.A. and New York that murder is more than a policing problem) gets it mainly right.
Both New York and Los Angeles have coordinated, holistic, and publicly-funded plans to dramatically reduce gun violence centered on prevention, intervention, and community coordination and support. As a result, New York reached a new low of 287 murders in 2018 and Los Angeles has experienced a 30 percent reduction in homicides since instituting a comprehensive community-based strategy in 2007.
Historically, the response in Chicago to a violent night or weekend is to put more police officers on the streets. The presumption is to deter through police deployment, but the focus should be on prevention — and that happens before criminals become criminals. We all recognize policing has its place among the tools to reduce violence, but we also know increased police presence is not the solution.
A lot more could be added about community engagement, ending poverty with jobs jobs that pay a living wage, community re-investment and and end to mass school closings (pointing at you, Arne Duncan) and neighborhood clinics. Lightfoot understands the need for long term, wholistic strategies but can she put them into action? Certainly not by herself.

But one thing is certain and needs to be reconsidered by the mayor. "Flooding the zone" with cops and filling the prisons with young people of color, are proven failed strategies.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Mayor Lightfoot is sticking with schools CEO Janice Jackson for now. That's a good thing.

There's hope that CEO Jackson, once liberated from Rahm's self-serving, autocratic rule, will become a real change leader. 
Even though I've had my issues with CEO Janice Jackson's role as Rahm Emanuel's front person on school closings and charter expansion and her opposition to an elected school board, I think the mayor made the right move here. To replace her now, especially in the middle of contract negotiations with the CTU, would only further destabilize a system already in a state of chaos.

Jackson was Rahm's 5th CEO in six years.

Remember how Rahm changed school chiefs like he changed wardrobes, including dumping J.C. Brizard in 2012, the middle of contract talks and replacing him with Barbara Byrd-Bennett. The result was the first teachers strike in 25 years followed by a regime so corrupt that BBB wound up in prison and scandal-ridden Forrest Claypool had to flee or risk following her.

There's the hope that Jackson, now liberated from Rahm's autocratic and self-serving brand of ed politics, can rediscover her educator roots and become a real change leader. I hope so.

Next on Mayor Lightfoot's agenda will be choosing a new school board and here is where wholesale change (draining the swamp) is necessary and I am told, coming.

What a shame that we still have to wait years before there's finally an elected school board in Chicago. Rep. Martwick's ESB bill, was badly written. Even if passed as is, (without considering questions about the board's unwieldy size, raised by the new mayor) it wouldn't take effect for four more years and then have to be reauthorized. The whole setup would be phased out after the 2027 election unless lawmakers in Springfield vote to extend it. What kind of law is that?

There's some good ed news coming from Springfield (did I really say that?). Yes, the State Charter School Commission is on the way out. The unelected Commission has the power to override decisions made by local school boards that reject charter applications. A Democrat-backed bill passed the Senate in April, and a vote is expected in the House before the legislative session ends May 31, despite opposition from INCS and charter school lobbyists. Gov. Pritzker has said he’ll sign the bill. Gov. Rauner vetoed a similar bill last year.

Also House Bill 424, the bill that requires the ISBE to establish standards for interpreters for non-English speaking parents, passed the Illinois Senate yesterday on a vote of 53 yes, 0 nos, and 0 abstentions. The bill will now go to Pritzker for his signature.

Change is in the air.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Electing Lightfoot was just the start. Real reform comes from below.

"For years, they’ve said Chicago ain’t ready for reform. Well, get ready …because reform is here. I campaigned on change, you voted for change, and I plan to deliver change to our government." -- Inaugural speech
Yesterday's inauguration ceremony made my heart sing. Mayor Lori Lightfoot's Inaugural Address was over the top. It was at once a resounding call for change and a personal commitment on her part to carry it through. She also put the dregs of the old machine on blast, turning to the council members, newly elected and old, and promising that the old ways of doing business were a thing of the past.

This from IL Playbook:
And with that, she turned to look directly at the council members — including Ald. Ed Burke, who is facing federal charges of corruption. The crowd erupted with extended cheers and applause. Lightfoot said “the worst abuses” were a result of aldermanic privilege. Let's just say the Aldermen were slow to stand with the crowd. As her first official act as mayor, Lightfoot fulfilled her campaign promise to sign an executive order reeling in certain aldermanic powers.
But let's not fool ourselves. No executive order from the mayor is going to put an end to the culture of corruption with the Chicago City Council. There is still what's left of the old Cook County Democratic Party machinery. There's too much money and power at stake for them to fold up tent and go away just because we elect a Harold Washington, a Barack Obama, or a Lori Lightfoot. You can bet that on this very day, the Bs (Burke, Beale, and Berrios) and others are gathering in their favorite watering holes, planning their resistance and resurrection. They will lay low for a while until their opportunity presents itself.

Then there's the possibility of divisions and splits with the ranks of the progressives themselves.

The old guard still controls official party money and machinery as we head into the 2020 presidential campaign. Machine quarterback Rahm Emanuel has already feathered his nest at The Atlantic where he hopes to be a driver and fundraiser for the Biden Campaign. The irony of Mayor 1%'s first Atlantic column, calling on Dems to "become a party of justice and hold elites accountable" will not be lost on Chicagoans.

The old guard's problem is that times have changed since the days of Council Wars when the racist Vrdolyak/Burke cabal held the city hostage after Harold, our first black mayor was elected.

More from IL Playbook:
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd ), who Lightfoot wants as Finance chairman, says any aldermen "pushing back hard" now will be more "congenial once we get to work." With so many indictments or charges hanging over the council in recent years, there's little room for aldermen to fight back against changes to the ethics rules. Once new standards are set "and we begin to work with her, it will be a good legislative body working with a good executive to move forward on her mandate."
Let's hope my alderman is right. Either way, real reform, as always, comes from below. It's up to us to be organized and standing reading to protect the Lightfoot reforms, once they are in place. Having the 5th floor of City Hall and growing power in the city council helps. But unless the communities and organizations that elected Lightfoot and the new council progressives remain strong and active a machine comeback is possible.

After the inauguration we saw this...
FROM ABOVE, FROM BELOW...Walking out onto downtown streets after the inaugural celebration, folks got a real taste of what "from below" means. Only minutes after the new mayor had exhorted the audience to, "stand with women all across our country who fear for their basic rights and feel powerless..." many joined with marchers who had taken to the streets to protest the outrageous anti-women laws passed in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and other Republican states.

Monday, May 20, 2019


"Casting call for a Lipitor commercial"?
SNL's Leslie Jones 
 Jones later drew attention to the fact that every Alabama senator who voted for the law was a white man, quipping that an image of them looked like a "casting call for a Lipitor commercial." --The Hill
Missouri Rep. Barry Hovis on 'consensual rape'.
“Let’s just say someone goes out and they’re raped or they’re sexually assaulted one night after a college party — because most of my rapes were not the gentleman jumping out of the bushes that nobody had ever met. That was one or two times out of a hundred. Most of them were date rapes or consensual rapes, which were all terrible.” -- Washington Post
Sherry Boston, DeKalb County’s district attorney
"As District Attorney with charging discretion, I will not prosecute individuals pursuant to HB 481 given its ambiguity and constitutional concerns. As a woman and mother, I am concerned about the passage and attempted passage of laws such as this one in Georgia, Alabama, and other states. I believe it is a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own body and medical care, including, but not limited to, seeking an abortion, as upheld by the United States Supreme Court." -- 11 Alive
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
...became the first Republican congressman to say the president “engaged in impeachable conduct”. -- Washington Post

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Congrats to the victorious CTU CORE Caucus

CTU Pres. Jesse Sharkey
As expected, Chicago Teachers Union Pres. Jesse Sharkey and his CORE caucus easily defeated the opposition Members First slate to retain their control of CTU leadership. Now it's on to the contract negotiations which hopefully can be resolved sooner than later.

Obviously feeling charged from his victory, Sharkey issued a threat to Chicago's mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.
“We hope that the new mayor makes good on her promises to transform our public schools — if she does, she will find us to be a steadfast ally. If she does not, she will find us to be an implacable foe,” Sharkey said.
Remember, the CTU leadership had backed Lightfoot’s opponent, Cook County Board President and Democratic Party chief, Toni Preckwinkle, who lost to Lightfoot in a landslide. During the campaign, Sharkey claimed that the choice to endorse Preckwinkle was made at least in part because Preckwinkle “gives us better leverage in a contract fight."

Even if that were true (which I doubt), it made the early endorsement that much more problematic. If Preckwinkle would have won, I suspect Sharkey's quote would have been all over the media during the contract negotiations, putting added pressure on the mayor to be "tough" on the unions.

Actually, with the exception of Preckwinkle's early support for charter schools, both candidates had pretty much the same stand on ed issues and their positions corresponded closely with those of the union.

Here's Lori Lightfoot as a guest on Hitting Left back in June, 2018.  
If you look at what's been happening in the Chicago Public School system, especially this past six or seven years, you see epic failure after epic failure. You can't have a good, well-run public school system when you have five CEOs in the last seven years...Yes, I do support an elected school board. 
I wish the CTU best of luck in negotiating a great contract for its members and as always, I will join the teachers on the picket line if there's a strike. I also hope one isn't necessary.

Tune in to Hitting Left this Friday, May 24th 11-noon CDT, when our in-studio guest will be, newly-elected socialist alderperson from the 33rd Ward, Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez. 

Monday, May 13, 2019


Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle met downtown for a private lunch to discuss ways the city and county can cooperate as they try to move past the lingering hard feelings from their bruising mayoral campaign.
Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot
“I would say that we, obviously the city and the county have a lot of overlapping things in common, and I wanted to make sure the president [Toni Preckwinkle] and I started off in the right direction a week out from my inauguration." -- Chicago Tribune
 David Greising, BGA President
If [Lightfoot] continues leveraging the capacity of civic and business leaders, without abandoning the progressives who helped elect her, she could have the formula for a lasting impact on economic equity in a city that badly needs it. -- BGA 
Laura Washington
[Congressman Bobby] Rush could be a potent ally for Lightfoot. He must be. Lightfoot needs every iota of power, access and wisdom the veteran congressman can offer. Rush needs “Landslide Lori,” who was elected Chicago’s first African-American woman and first LGBTQ mayor with nearly 74% of the vote. Many of Rush’s constituents have even more dire needs. In this supposedly robust economy, African American families on Chicago’s South Side are buried in a landslide of violence, joblessness and poverty. -- Sun-Times
Clint Krislov, IIT Chicago-Kent’s Center for Open Government
“If the city had just hired LAZ Parking directly to do the pay-and-display system, the city would probably have $2 billion-to-$4 billion more over the course of the deal above the merely $1.16 billion it got up-front.” -- Sun-Times
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
 “The “opioid war” is a medical problem rather than a behavioral or law enforcement one, Warren argued....But we got a second problem in this country and it’s greed. People didn’t get addicted all on their own, they got a lot of corporate help. They got a lot of help from corporations that made big money off getting people addicted and keeping them addicted.” -- Politico
Kate Oronoff on Green New Deal
Critics have smeared the Green New Deal as a colossal waste of money, involving a level of spending sure to crater the economy and pass an unnecessarily cruel financial burden down to future generations. They seem to be confusing it with business as usual. -- Guardian
Robert Kuttner
 The problem is not that “Democrats” fail to appreciate unions. It’s that the corporate and Wall Street Democrats who have dominated the presidential wing of the party since Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton actively loathe unions. -- Diane Ravitch Blog
 Cary Huang
Worse can happen than just material loss to the countries directly involved. While a country may try to destroy another by targeting its economy rather than its military, history suggests that a full-blown trade war inevitably leads to a shoot-out between nations. -- South China Morning Post

Monday, May 6, 2019

Summing up Rahm's role as the arts mayor

Rahm sold off this public art masterpiece by Kerry James Marshall...

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
is on what I call, his image rehabilitation tour. In the process, he's trying to repaint his image from that of a closer of schools, libraries and public space, into a patron of the arts and philanthropist.
...and fought a losing battle for this. 

It's sad watching local media play along with this charade. See for example, Mary Mitchell's recent column with the headline: Mayor Rahm Emanuel to put his money where his heart is. 

Two things wrong here. One, the money wasn't his. It was a million bucks left in his campaign fund. Two, his heart is where his money is, not the other way around.

It did my heart good to hear that Mayor 1% is still pissed that we ran his pal George Lucas, along with his hideous Star Wars Museum out of town.
" It became a jihad," cried Rahm, reverting to his IDF persona. 
"You had the power of Lucas Films and someone willing to give $150 or $175 million to the city in philanthropy". 
Funny, I never saw that offer in writing. What I saw was a mayor willing to give a billionaire movie mogul public park land for his for-profit amusement show.

Anyway, whenever Rahm's pissed, I'm happy.

But it turns out, losing that gross-looking museum wasn't the mayor's biggest "arts" regret. That one was rightfully his shameful selling off of the great Kerry James Marshall work of public art.

Here's how Marshall took it:
“It just seemed like a way of exploiting the work of artists in the city for short-term gain in a really shortsighted kind of way,” he said of the plan to auction off “Knowledge and Wonder,” which Marshall painted for the Legler Branch public library on the West Side, in order to reap an expected multimillion dollar windfall that would pay for upgrading the Legler. “And so I made a decision at that time I would never do another public work.”
So to sum up Rahm's history as a steward of Chicago arts: He fought like hell for the Star Wars Museum in order to kiss a billionaire's ass in exchange for hoped-for philanthropic handouts while selling off a public arts masterpiece by one of the great African-American artists for a quick hit of cash. 


Students from Chicago High School for the Arts cheer striking teachers.
Carlene Carpenter, Chicago charter school teacher
“We’ve been bargaining since last summer, and the process has been insulting to educators,” said Carlene Carpenter, a social studies teacher at the Latino Youth High School (LYHS), which is affiliated with the Youth Connection Charter School network. “If charter operators really cared about education, we wouldn’t be here today.” -- In These Times
Gov. J.B. Pritzker to Black United Fund of IL
 “We are taking a major step forward to legalize adult use cannabis and to celebrate the fact that Illinois is going to have the most equity-centric law in the nation. For the many individuals and families whose lives have been changed, indeed hurt, because the nation’s war on drugs discriminated against people of color, this day belongs to you, too." -- Sun-Times
Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center
“Hate groups and hate activity run pretty deep in southern California, and have for a very long time. This activity is deeply rooted in Orange county and northern San Diego." -- Guardian
Brooke Binkowski
[San Diego synagogue shooter] may have acted by himself, but as history and his Internet trail show, he was in no way a lone wolf. -- Washington Post
Calvin Ramsay, N.Y.U. student
“Food was a major obstacle,” he said, “especially in Manhattan.” Mr. Ramsay said that he will need to borrow about $40,000 more to graduate, but he is unwilling to take on more debt to do so. “Why do I need to go into debt,” he said, “to eat?” -- Tuition or dinner, NYT 
Jack Kelly, executive recruiter
I contend that the gig economy is dampening compensation growth. There is a huge trend glamorizing the gig economy. Articles extol the virtues of having a side hustle, taking control of your career, working when you want to work and other wonderful tales of success. The reality is that college-educated people who can’t find suitable jobs are now working for Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Instacart, DoorDash, Grubhub, TaskRabbit, temp work at corporations, assignments through Upworks and Fivver and seasonal jobs at Amazon warehouses. -- Forbes

Derby metaphor for 2016 election in unmistakeable.