Why shouldn’t Ariel Investments get a free museum on our Lakefront?


Juanita Irizarry and the public service organization she heads, Friends of the Parks, threw a monkey wrench into the plans of George Lucas, Mellody Hobson and the Mayor. The Mayor wanted to hand over, at no charge, our public lakefront so that Lucas and Hobson could build their Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

It should have been called the Ariel Investments Museum of pictures from Star Wars and the Saturday Evening Post.

Listen. Hobson and Lucas can collect any stuff they want. I have a friend who collects matchbook covers. But I don’t think we should hand over prime lakefront real estate at no charge to him so that he can build some ugly-ass building and get a tax break as part of the deal.

Hobson is President of Ariel Investments which manages billions of dollars of the city’s pension funds and was a major contributor to Rahm’s campaigns.

Hobson also sits on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund.

Sarah Karp wrote about the relationship of the Chicago Public Education Fund and the Barbara Byrd-Bennett  SUPES scandal.

The federal investigation into SUPES Academy is shining a light on a quiet though influential player in the city’s education arena: The Chicago Public Education Fund.

SUPES, of course, is the for-profit leadership training firm at the center of an FBI probe that has targeted CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett (who is now on leave). Before SUPES got its now-infamous $20.5 million no-bid contract from CPS, The Public Education Fund had given SUPES a $380,000 contract to train area network chiefs and their deputies.

The arrogance of Hobson to the courageous decision of Friends of the Parks to refuse to go along with the lakefront theft was breathtaking.

The Chicago businesswoman who chairs After School Matters said she and Lucas had worked for two years with “every relevant city agency, community leader, and policy maker” to finalize “what would be the largest philanthropic gift to an American city in the 21st century.”

How dare the people of Chicago not appreciate their philanthropy.

God save our city from any more philanthropic gifts.

I have an alternate plan.

Perhaps Rahm wouldn’t mind giving me free land across the street from his house on north Hermitage for my Fred Klonsky Museum of Narrative Art.

I have copies of some important work:



A bigger threat than Friedrichs ever was.


In reaction to the mass killings in Charleston last year, Bree Newsome climbed a flag pole in front of the state Capitol and took down the Confederate flag. A year later, the NEA has barely reacted at all.

Union teachers breathed a sigh of relief when the Supremes failed to uphold Friedrichs in a recent decision. Had the court ruled differently the right to Fair Share, or agency fees, would have been taken away from us. Agency fees are the fees all employees must pay to the union for the cost of bargaining and the duty to represent them in disputes with management.

There is a greater threat to teacher unions than Friedrichs ever was.

That threat is frequently the poor leadership of the teachers union itself. Leaders like Cinda Klickna, President of the Illinois Education Association, Lily Eskelesen Garcia of the NEA, Michael Mulgrew of the UFT and his boss, Randi Weingarten President of the American Federation of Teachers.

Yesterday I received the results of the recent elections for delegates to the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly. It will take place this year in D.C. in July.

The results illustrate exactly what I am saying.

Delegates are mainly elected by a vote of local members. But state leaders are elected in an at-large election of the entire 120,000 state-wide membership.

Compare the 2015 results to the 2016 results:



1600 votes out of 120,000 is nothing to get excited about. But this year the number of members voting for the union’s highest governing body is half of what is what last year.

Members don’t feel connected to the IEA or the NEA.

IEA Retired also sends its own group of delegates.

Disclosure: I recently resigned from IEA Retired after four years of trying to build a chapter where there had been none. Although we were successful in establishing a chapter, I no longer believe IEA serves the interests of retired teachers.

It appears I am not alone.

IEA Retired claims 12,000 members. IEA Retired delegates also elect national convention delegates on a state-wide ballot. I was elected each time I ran, an unusual accomplishment for a newly retired member.

Here is a comparison between last year and this year’s vote for Retired delegates. I did not run as a delegate this year:



Again, less than half the turn-out.

Of course, this is just one measure of membership engagement. It is a significant measure.

Yesterday I also received the final of three reports on the NEA’s leadership implementation of my New Business Item 11 from last year’s Representative Assembly. New Business 11 directed the NEA leadership to take action in response to the flying of the Confederate flag in schools and public spaces. Since it is new business, action must be taken before the next Representative Assembly.

My NBI resulted in a two-hour debate. Language calling for the removal of all symbols of the Confederacy were removed from the NBI over my objection. It then passed overwhelmingly.

The first two reports I received earlier this year reported no action had been taken.

Here is the final report I received yesterday:

NEA drafted model state legislation and a model school board resolution that were distributed to state affiliates. We also conducted a comprehensive research project to analyze state activity, and coordinated and shared model legislation and resolution language with national civil rights partners for work within particular states.  NEA shared model language with Members of Congress who have taken a leadership role regarding this issue. At the time of this report, very few states or local school boards had introduced bills or resolutions calling for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from public spaces and/or public schools.  With our model legislation in hand, state affiliates can work to get laws passed around the country. NEA has also highlighted actions in communities and states across the country.  A story on EdVotes.org is slated for spring 2016 to share information and drive activism to end the use of the Confederate battle flag.

Last year’s Representative Assembly in Orlando followed by a few weeks the mass killing of nine African American members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The killer was a white supremacist.

Bree Newsome, a Charleston activist, was in no mood to wait for officials to do something. She climbed to the top of the flag pole in front of the Charleston capitol building and took down the Confederate flag that had flown there since the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties. She was arrested by Charleston police.

“In the name of Jesus, this flag has to come down. You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today,” Newsome said.

Meanwhile the NEA responded a year later with model legislation yet to be distributed to state affiliates along with a soon-to-be-published article in EdVotes.

I will look forward to hearing which states have the model legislation offered, let alone voted on.


Teacher Appreciation Week? Again, huh?


-Karl-Heinz Gabbey

Teacher Appreciation Week? Again, huh? It brings back memories. It was the unenviable task of one our assistant principals to deliver goodies to our “division” (two departments combined into one) each day of this wonderful week once a year when we were basking in the sunshine of “teacher appreciation.”

On one of the days, she had to deliver a big box of donuts. For reasons we could never understand, she seemed intimidated by the faculty of our division. Several of us sat in our work room to put the finishing touches on our lessons before the school day began. She literally ran into the room, stopped short of the table, and tossed the box of donuts onto the table top. It bounced like a rubber ball in front of us. We were startled by the bouncing box and and her lightning flash exit from the work room. Fortunately, the box remained on the table and the donuts didn’t fly all over creation. I don’t recall whether or not she wished us a great day of teaching. It happened so fast that we had no chance to blink. We talked about the “donut box toss” for a number of years when Teacher Appreciation Week finally arrived again. “Do you remember when…?”

The retelling of the event always produced its chuckles and laughs. The deeper significance was how quickly teacher appreciation week came and went. The hasty “flash” with which she exited from the room became a metaphor for the “length of time” we really felt appreciated.

Attacks on tenure, attacks on our pensions, attacks by politicians, attacks by wealthy corporate types, attacks by right-wing religious fanatics, attacks by so-called “education reformers,” attacks by the former secretary of education, attacks, attacks, attacks… Then comes “Teacher Appreciation Week… What are we to make of it?

Fair tax. Coming and going.


The crisis of African American flight from Chicago and Illinois is not new news.

The 2010 Census showed the city of Chicago lost 200,000 people over the last decade. The city now has about as many people as it did in 1910. There are 181,000 fewer African Americans in the city, a whopping drop of 17 percent, and 72,000 fewer in the region as a whole.

But Bruce Rauner supporters and apologists recently got all fluttery about millionaires hiring moving vans.

It was a very selective concern.

Every time I write about the need for Illinois to end its low tax, low spending policies I get a flood of comments crying the blues about people fleeing Illinois because of high taxes.

The truth is that the loss of 200,000 African Americans in the 90s was because of the loss of good jobs paying union wages.

I always tell the story about how when I came to Chicago in 1973, every city neighborhood had a neighborhood school, a place of worship, a bar and a factory.

Now the factories are gone, the neighborhood schools are being closed or are often half-filled but with a charter school across the street and the places of worship are still around as are the bars.

David Roeder in the Sun-Times:

Illinois’ overall tax rate is competitive. Consider the big-ticket items: individual and sales taxes. Except for the nine states that have no income tax, Illinois’ 3.75 percent flat rate is among the lowest. Even the old rate of 5 percent that stabilized state finances was relatively low. Unlike Illinois, most states have a progressive income tax that charges more for higher earners on a percentage basis.

Indiana, at a flat 3.3 percent, can claim a lower statewide rate, but watch out: Each county in Indiana collects an additional income tax that can amount to another percentage point or two. Illinois has no county income tax.

As for the sales tax, Illinois has so many exemptions that Rauner himself plus respected agencies such as the Civic Federation have suggested broadening it to include services from haircuts to legal fees.

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute examined total state tax loads on individuals and found that in Illinois, the rate in 2013 was slightly lower than in Indiana or Wisconsin.

About the departure of millionaires?

Rauner conjures images of moving vans bound for neighboring states to create false urgency behind his non-budgetary agenda.

KDM Consulting examined tax data to conclude that any net loss of people from Illinois to Indiana and Wisconsin was explained by Illinois’ larger population. Its report also said that out-migration declined over the last 20 years.

In 2013, a nonprofit alliance called the Illinois Innovation Network examined Dun & Bradstreet data from 2012 and concluded the state had no large-scale loss of companies and workers to its neighbors. Some left, but they were replaced by an inflow from those states, an important point given the much larger economy in Illinois.

Those who drink the Rauner Kool-Aid will continue to write me and tell me how only Rauner’s anti-union turnaround will keep those in Illinois from heading to Wisconsin.

Yet it is precisely the  economic race-to-the-bottom that has sent Chicago and Illinois’ working people looking elsewhere for jobs and services. And not in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin.

When taxes are called competitive, that means they are low. In Illinois the richest and the poorest all pay the same income tax rate. Even before the current budget battle, Illinois couldn’t and didn’t pay its bills.

We get letters.


Of course, and the Hell with people simply trying to move about the city streets. But God help the protester who tries to interfere with the payment of teachers’ pensions.



Protesters interfering with pension payments? That’s an interesting idea. Have you brought it up with the Governor? Thinking of a possible chant: “Join us if you mind that their benefit is defined.” I was trying to go with something that rhymed with “direct deposit.” But I couldn’t come up with anything.




I’m not afraid to say I believe in capitalist principles. 



Mighty courageous of you.




Fred, you spend a lot of time rebutting careless critics and providing off-point answers to deflect questions you don’t wish to address.

– O.B. Server

Dear O.B. Server,

It really doesn’t take all that much time.




3.5 million site visits? Cheap Entertainment, very cheap.
As grandma used to say “you get what you pay for”.


Dear Anon,

My grandma used to say, “Abi gezunt dos leben ken men zikh ale mol nemen.” That roughly translates as, “Stay healthy, because you can kill yourself later.”



Well, Fred. What the hell?


Dear Anon,