“It’s a new day, Klonsky,” wrote a friend in an email to me this morning. “You’re in an IEA video.”
I had to laugh.
“Nah,” I wrote back. “It is just testimony to how few members the IEA bothered to mobilize yesterday. I was a desperate choice.”
It was only over the past couple days that the IEA encouraged people to attend the special session that the Governor called. And even then they made is clear in bold type that they would make no special efforts, no busses and no financial support. Any member who wanted to get to Springfield was on their own.
So Park Ridge Education Association President Erin Breen and I grabbed a couple of Peets coffees at 7AM yesterday and hit I-55. Three and a half hours later we were in the Capitol rotunda. Glen was there. So was John. But IFT and IEA members were as hard to find as an honest member of the Illinois General Assembly.
Glen wrote the truth.
There is nothing to celebrate but much to defend for the middle class. It wasn’t teachers or their unions that stopped the Illinois General Assembly from attempting to break a constitutional contract with public employees, for there were only a handful of them in Springfield on Friday, August 17th; it wasn’t other state employees or their unions that stopped the General Assembly either, for there were only a few hundred of them protesting in the rotunda.
It was the legislators’ apprehension about their upcoming election and their incompetent, reckless power politics that prevented their unethical and illegal bills (HB 1447 & SB 3168) from being passed once again.
We were standing outside Boss Madigan’s office when two guys came by in suits.
One stopped to read my t-shirt: My pension. I paid. You promised.
“Two guys in suits,” I said to him. “Around here, guys in suits are the ones planning to steal my pension.”
I stuck out my hand. “Fred Klonsky, retired teacher.”
He gave me his name and shook my hand. He said he was from the Illinois Policy Institute, a corporate think tank.
“Ah, so you are a guy in a suit trying to steal my pension.”
“What do you propose we do about the pension crisis?” he asked.
“Change the way we generate revenue,” I said. “Create a progressive tax system. How does it make sense that a woman who makes beds at the Hyatt Hotel is taxed the same as Penny Pritzker who own the hotel? How can the state pay its bills if the heaviest tax burden falls on those who have the least money and those who make the most are let off the hook?”
“I don’t know about Penny Pritzker,” the IPI guy said. “But…” At that moment his buddy grabbed his arm. “I have a meeting,” he said.
“A meeting to plan how to steal my pension?”
It wasn’t a joke.