It is primarily women who will be hurt by Senate Bill 1. Photo: Fred Klonsky
Aunt Mary – who was not my actual aunt – grabbed the live lake perch out of my hand and said, “You do it like this.” Aunt Mary proceeded to smack the fish’s head against a tree.
My brother-in-law and I had been out on Lake Champlain off the Adirondack camp his family owned. We had spent the day fishing by Split Rock. Which, as far as I could tell was an excuse to go through a case of beer.
I did, however, land a few lake perch.
“That’s how you kill it,” Aunt Mary lectured me.
“Now you can go gut and scale it,” sounding more like a drill sergeant than the slight elderly lady who stood before me.
I am pretty sure that Aunt Mary would have described me as a sissy. Her word. Not mine. I had no experience fishing lake perch. In fact my only fishing experience was as a nine-year old with my professionally unemployed actual Uncle Al.
A word about my Uncle Al.
He was a large Hawaiian shirt-wearing guy who was married to his long-suffering wife, Aunt Frances. Having no children of their own, Uncle Al took pleasure in terrifying his young nephews and nieces. The youngest of us would break into tears at the very sight of him walking into the room we were in.
On the other hand, Uncle Al and Aunt Frances were the ones who took me to Disneyland when our family first moved to Los Angeles from Philadelphia.
And Uncle Al took me to go fishing on a barge off the coast of Southern California. My first fishing experience.
My only catch of the day was a mackerel.
I was terribly exited. At which point Uncle Al took the 8 inch fish off the hook and threw it back in the water, grumbling, “garbage fish.”
I was horrified. And, of course, broke in to tears.
Back when Aunt Mary was showing me how to kill lake perch, Anne was working in a male-dominated private sector industry and I was teaching in the female-dominated elementary school industry.
Our different careers only served to secure Aunt Mary’s suspicions of me and she was even further unimpressed by the fact that I was the one who was going to cook the perch and serve it with the apple pies I had baked.
Aunt Mary came from a generation where men brought home the bacon and the women cooked it up.
About the female-dominated elementary school industry: Male privilege ends with a K-5 teacher’s paycheck. It works like this: The younger the age of the kids you work with the lower your pay because it is more likely that you will see women doing the work.
In my old district the board of education was made up of mostly men, the superintendents over the years were mostly men and the principals were mostly men.
In Park Ridge, where I taught for 30 years, there are two school districts. There is a K-8 district and a high school district. There are two collective bargaining agreements. Same town. Same families. Same tax base. Guess which teaching job paid more? The K-8 district or the high school district?
This gets us to the pension issue.
You didn’t think I was going to ignore the pension issue, did you?
Which gender is primarily getting smacked by the loss of our post retirement benefits as a result of Senate Bill 1?
And in Chicago, it is primarily African-American women who will be hurt by Rahm Emanuel’s plan to cut post retirement benefits. While the percentage of African-American teachers in CPS has dramatically dropped over the past twenty years from nearly 60% to barely 20%, a huge percentage of retired Chicago teachers are African-American women. Back in the day, public school teaching was one of the few professional fields African-American women were permitted to work in.
As the Chicago Teachers Union points out:
Retirees living in the city’s majority-black zip codes earn more than $600 million in annual pension incomes from the four public funds. The African-American middle class in Chicago will be the hardest hit by reductions in retirement benefits.
I write all this because today is International Women’s Day. It has been celebrated in Chicago since 1908.
It’s not the only day I think about my Grandmother Esther Wainer and Helen Klonsky, my mom. Both strong, independent and politically active women. And the rest of my family – mostly women – Anne, my daughters, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Powerhouses. Each and every one.
And I send a heart-felt shout out to my colleagues and retirees.
Running for her political life, Toni Berrios is trying to to recreate herself into a progressive.
But with a 12 year record to run on, that is hard to do.
Twelve years of pension underfunding. Twelve years of voting for pension theft.
Twelve years of bowing to her patrons, Mike Madigan and Big Daddy Berrios.
Back in November my wife Anne wrote Representative concerning SB1342. It was a bill that would require mandatory sentencing and add an estimated 4,000 people to the state’s enormous prison population.
Anne wrote to her State Representative to express her opposition to the bill.
Please stand strong against new mandatory minimums, because mandatory minimums do not deter gun violence. SB1342 would increase the penalty for unlawful use of a weapon to 3 years. This new mandatory minimum would only serve to crowd our prisons and drive up our budgets without increasing public safety.
The Illinois Department of Corrections estimates that SB1342 will add nearly 4,000 inmates to the already-swollen prison population at a cost of nearly 1 billion dollars over 10 years. Yet mandatory minimums have not proven effective. When Florida enacted a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence for certain gun crimes, a study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Crimonology found that it “did not have a measurable deterrent effect on violent crime.”
Other states have been realized that mandatory minimums are the wrong way to go. Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart Greenleaf, Republican Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently opposed a proposed two-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone convicted of illegally possessing a firearm in Philadelphia: “I introduced most of the mandatory sentences in Pennsylvania over the years. We thought we would get really tough on crime, and reduce violent crime and have lower recidivism and things like that. Well, just the opposite happened . . . All we did was fill our prisons up and violent crime continued to go up.”
This bill would be a huge step backward for Illinois. Please stand strong against any new mandatory minimums in Illinois, including SB1342, and tell your colleagues to do the same.
Five months later and after early voting has already begun, 39th State Representative Toni Berrios got around to responding to Anne’s letter.
Thank you for reaching out to me about Senate Bill 1342. Constituent input is important to me when voting in Springfield. As the legislative session moves forward, I’ll keep you informed on the bill’s progress through the legislative process. Again, thank you for contacting my office. Please let me know if my office can be of service to you.
Was she for SB1342? Against it? Who knows? It seems Representative Berrios does not know what happened to SB1342.
Someone should let Representative Berrios know that SB1342 failed to be called for a vote back on December 3rd, the last day of the last session of the last General Assembly.
And so it died.
DFER’s Joe Williams wants to kick our ass.
If you don’t know what DFER is, don’t feel bad.
They hide in the shadows, known only to a deep-pocketed charter promoters, bought-off politicians who are recipients of their largesse and education geeks.
A few years back DFER Director Joe Williams wrote that he would kick my ass for writing mean things about them.
But he didn’t. Or couldn’t. Or something.
Anyway, DFER stands for Democrats for Education Reform.
Their idea of a reform agenda means three things: Charter schools. Charter schools. And charter schools.
Democratic Party strategist David Ormsby has circulated a subscription memo that suggests DFER is gearing up for the 2015 Chicago election.
Ormsby reports that DFER has hired hired a Stakeholder Engagement Director, Sean Harden, a former Daley executive assistant. And Owen Kilmer, who worked for the Illinois Democrats and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Ormsby also says that Democrats for Education Reform has collected $60,500, including $21,000 from the Crown family and $5,000 from Jennifer Steans, the sister of State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).
The Crowns are also big financial backers of Stand for Children Illinois.
DFER’s Chicago fundraising goal is a million bucks for 2015.
Why would New York-based DFER be so interested in Chicago aldermanic races? The Mayor controls more than 40 of the 50 seats in the Council and the reliably Progressive Caucus numbers aldermen in the single digits.
They will come into Chicago to teach elected officials a lesson: Oppose charters at your peril.
Of course City unions like the SEIU, the CTU and AFSCME also have some money to spend.
Even Ormsby warns, “Democrats for Education Reform will face a formidable challenge outmaneuvering the CTU.”
I’m not sure they care.
It’s not my ass that Joe Williams wants to kick after all.
It’s Chicago’s ass.
Greg Hinz in Crains also makes reference to the Ormsby report and ties DFER to Obama strategist David Axelrod.
News of the group’s new activity was first reported by David Ormsby in the Illinois Observer, but the group already is being smacked around pretty good by the CTU-affiliated Chicagoans United for Economic Security.
In a statement released late yesterday, the group blasted Democrats for Education Reform for intervening to help what may be the CTU’s top legislative target in the March 11 Democratic primary, state Rep. Christian Mitchell, a South Side Democrat who defied the union in voting for state pension reform last year.
Democrats for Education Reform is a “notorious” group that serves “as a front for financiers that seek to spread charter schools in Chicago,” and even went so far as to try to raise money for Mr. Mitchell and name him its “reformer of the month” in January, according to CTU.
It’s worth noting, though, that among those helping Mr. Mitchell is former top presidential aide David Axelrod, who worked with Mr. Mitchell in the Obama campaign and will hold a fundraiser for him at his home next week.
- Lee Talley is a retired Illinois school teacher.
After watching the March 5th watching the debate for Republican governor I noticed that candidate Bruce Rauner was stumbling over the question posed about his daughter getting preferential treatment for admittance to Walter Payton Preparatory High School. He stated that the family moved downtown to his wife could be closer to her non-profit work with early childhood education. This is now his main residence, not the house in Winnetka.
But in watching further it seemed strange to me that no one has asked Rauner to publicly disclose his tax returns. So I emailed Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune with this question.
“My question to you and other media, why has nobody asked him to release his tax returns so we can see exactly where his money is coming from and, more importantly, what he pays in taxes (or more pointedly, how does he manipulate the tax code for his own enrichment). I think all regular citizens would be interested in this.”
He thought it was a good question and forwarded it to Mike at the Rauner campaign.
Zorn wrote to Mike: ”Mike, What about it? Seems like a sensible and standard request. Will Rauner release his tax returns before the primary? EZ”
Mike’s reply to Zorn:
On Thursday, March 6, 2014 12:14 PM, Mike wrote: ”Bruce and Evelyn pro-actively released 3 years of state and local 1040′s back in November. Additionally, when filling out the Statements of Economic Interests, the Rauner-Sanguinetti ticket used a broad definition of “doing business in Illinois” to determine what to include. In fact, Rich Miller of Capitol Fax said the disclosure report “is infinitely more detailed than mandated by law.”
Zorn forwarded this reply to me which also included a link to Rauner’s 2012 federal and state tax return (only the first two main pages of each). It was quite the read. Rauner earned over $53 million in 2012! Also interesting was that Rauner’s return listed his Winnetka as his principal address, which directly contradicts his statements in last night’s debate. http://brucerauner.com/downloads/Rauners_2012_Tax_Returns.pdf
After reading through the tax return and Mike’s reply to Zorn, I wrote Mike the following email asking two other questions:
Mike, this is certainly an interesting read, but I find the information incomplete. I see a lot deductions, yet where are the other schedules that gives the specifics for what they are?
Also, it lists a Winnetka address on the filings…Last night Mr. Rauner stated that they live in a high-rise downtown. So which is correct? Thanks, Lee
I have yet to receive a reply from Mike or the Rauner campaign.
Subject: NEWS RELEASE: Rep. Christian Mitchell’s Anti-Public Education Platform.
- Chicagoans for Economic Security PAC
CHICAGO – While thousands of parents across Chicago were fighting school closing, reports indicate deep ties between Rep. Christian Mitchell (26th District) and groups committed to dismantling the public education system. Rep. Mitchell’s connection to these groups not only includes endorsements, but thousands of dollars in political contributions funded by corporate special interests.
One notorious group, “Democrats for Education Reform” (DFER), is a front for financiers that seek to spread charter schools in Chicago, even at the expense of neighborhood public schools. DFER has given extensive support to Christian Mitchell, placing him on their “Hot List of 2012” and naming him their “Reformer of the Month” for January 2014, in which they solicited political contributions on his behalf.
Rep. Mitchell has also accepted over $100,000 in political contributions from “Stand for Children,” an organization that wants to defund public education through voucher programs and other failed policies that only hurt Chicago students.
Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 neighborhood schools which put more than 80,000 children at risk. The closings are the largest in U.S. history. Rep. Mitchell showed little support to his constituents as they protested the drastic action. Instead, he has loudly supported private charter expansion, which research shows have little accountability and a questionable academic success rate.
Additional concerns have been voiced on Rep. Mitchell’s connection to the “We Mean Business” PAC, which was formed to push statewide teacher pension cuts. Financed by a small group of prominent Chicago businessmen, such as Lester Crown and GOP mega-donor Craig Duchossois, the group and allies have donated over $47,000 to Rep. Mitchell. Despite a promise to protect teachers’ retirements during his 2012 campaign, Rep. Mitchell voted for SB 1, a bill backed by the “We Mean Business” PAC that extensively cut pensions for teachers and other Illinois public servants.
“It’s an absolute breach of the public trust for Christian Mitchell to promise he would stand by educators, and then betray them once he got into office,” said Karen Lewis, President of the Chicago Teachers Union. “He sold out the community to benefit special interests that would profit from school closures and pensions cuts, plain and simple.”
Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) recently named Rep. Mitchell as “Reformer of the Month” for January 2014. “But, it’s not too late to set a 2014 goal that lasts more than a fortnight by donating to our January Reformer of the Month, Illinois State Rep. Christian Mitchell, as he battles for re-election. […] [Mitchell] has also led the fight for education funding reform and the replication and expansion of quality charter schools.” [http://www.dfer.org/blog/2014/01/because_youve_a.php]
DFER is pro-charter schools. [http://www.dfer.org/list/issues/issues/]
Christian Mitchell was on DFER’s “Hot List” in 2012. [http://www.dfer.org/blog/2012/10/hot_list_2012_t.php]
On the campaign trail in 2012, Mitchell was on the record as opposing a bill to reduce pensions for public employees. “Both (Johnson and Christian Mitchell) oppose a bill to reduce pensions for public employees. Mitchell rejects it because it was developed without broad input.” [Chicago Sun-Times, February 28, 2012]
From 2012-2014, Christian Mitchell received $100,000 from “Stand for Children.” [Illinoissunshine.org]
“Stand for Children” supports voucher programs, charter schools and other policies that drain funds from the traditional public school system. [http://standleadershipcenter.org/what-we-stand-school-choice]
Chicagoans for Economic Security PAC is an independent expenditure political and economic interests of public employees, parents, and communities that have been targeted by predatory corporate interests.