Memorial Day Sunday.

“The children will be taken care of, put into foster care or whatever.” -John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff.

My drawings this week.



This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers with co-host Brandon Johnson and Juanita Irizarry.



This week’s Tweets.


Blog posts:

Parents keep the kids home to protest gun violence? These school reformers should just keep their brilliant ideas to themselves for a while. Their record isn’t good.

Defending stupid. It’s not even better than nothing.

Study: 2013 School closings hurt Chicago’s children. But CPS CEO Janice Jackson says she will not be deterred from closing schools.

Illinois schools sue Rauner over failure to provide adequate school funding.

The Obama Presidential Center, parks and democracy.

Chicago is becoming a bourgeois town. Spread the news all around.

“Whose your daddy?” says Rahm to Amazon’s Jay Carney.

Keeping retirement real. Six years out and remembering the teachers lounge.

Keeping retirement real. Six years out and remembering the teachers lounge.


My first day teaching I pulled into a space in the school parking lot by the chain link fence that separated it from the playground.

Sitting alone in the teachers lounge a few minutes later as others chatted and drank bad coffee from the old coffee urn on a counter covered in floral contact paper, a woman walked in, put both hands on her hips and demanded to know who had parked in her parking spot.

Everyone turned and looked at me.

She was the third grade teacher, the senior teacher on staff, and that was how my teaching career began.

I recently re-connected with a teacher, also now retired, who insisted that when I started teaching with her at the middle school nobody liked me..

Micky told me, “I remember that you came into the teachers lounge acting like you knew everything!”

I still cannot convince her that I never taught with her in the middle school. That building was torn down long before I started teaching.

Which is not to say she is wrong about whether as a new teacher I was liked.

Although, believe it or not, I did keep my head down the first couple of years

It is not really accurate to call the room a teachers lounge. It is really a staff lounge, although over the years the various principals I worked for tended to stay out.

During a brief two-year period toward the end we had this really, really terrible principal. She would walk in just at the moment I or somebody else was talking stuff about her.  Colleagues were convinced that Marcy had turned the intercom into a listening device and could hear every word we said.

I doubted it. I just figured she was clueless about the school protocol that the lounge belonged to staff who actually worked with students and not to administration. As she was clueless about so much.

When a delegation of us went to the superintendent to talk to him about her, he angrily declared there was no chance of her being let go.

Two weeks later she was gone.

When I first started teaching, smoking was allowed in the lounges. After a while people put “smoking” and “non-smoking” signs on the tables, although the signs didn’t keep the entire room from filling up with smoke.

Peg Luby and I were among the smokers and shared a smoking table. A year after I started teaching, Peg retired. A year later she died of lung cancer.

I heard the news and quit.

I would head for the lounge after I felt a student teacher was ready to fly on their own. If I sat at my desk the students would tend to come to me and ask questions about the work. Since staying in the room tended to undercut the student teacher’s position, I would leave.

One year the social worker looked through the lounge door window and saw me bent over. I was checking email messages.

Rather than coming in, she walked all the way down the hall to tell Matthew that she thought I was dead.

Which I wasn’t.

Also, don’t reheat yesterday’s salmon in the lounge microwave oven.

The smell never goes away.


Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 68. County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry.

With Juanita Irizarry and Brandon Johnson.

So my brother is off for the week and it all falls apart.

Not the conversation with fill-in co-host County Commissioner-elect Brandon Johnson and Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry.

That was really good.

But me. At the board?

Totally messed up.

Couldn’t get the music to run. Almost lost the archived version for the podcast. Lucky we have Jamie Trecker to save my butt and retrieve it.

Meanwhile Brandon talks about his plans for working as County Commissioner and his views for expanding progressive politics.

Juanita and TFOP played a major role in stopping the lakefront giveaway to the George Lucas Museum.

But just as she argued that Chicago could build the Lucas Museum somewhere off the lakefront, she also has concerns about the use of public park land for what is essentially a private enterprise.

Compared to other big cities, Chicago does not compare well in terms of open space.

She also has concerns for a vision of parks that is driven by revenue rather than public need.

She points to the 606 Bloomingdale Trail as an example of the impact of neighborhood amenities that are intended to drive gentrification and force out those already there.

The podcast is here.

“Whose your daddy?” says Rahm to Amazon’s Jay Carney.

Amazon’s Jay Carney and Joe Biden. “Whose your daddy? asks Rahm.

“Whose your daddy?”

That’s what Mayor Rahm emailed to Jay Carney, who is Amazon’s senior vice president of corporate affairs.

The email exchange between Carney and Rahm was part of a package of emails that were exposed as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests by both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.

It is not so much what the emails said as it was the private  and cozy relationship that exists between the Mayor and the corporate giant.

The email exchange reveals that Emanuel has a direct line of communication with Amazon, as Chicago remains in the running for the site of the company’s second headquarters, which is expected to bring as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs and a $5 billion investment by Amazon.

Carney and Emanuel have previously worked together. Carney was Vice President Joe Biden’s communications director while Emanuel was President Barack Obama’s chief of staff.

There is no evidence to support the idea that bringing Amazon to Chicago will provide 50,000 high-paying jobs.

It is more likely that the Carney/Rahm bro thing would leverage into Amazon’s favor if the deal was cut to bring the operation to Chicago.

I mean, who really is whose daddy?

Meanwhile, the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reported on emails that show who was giving advice to Rahm in the face of Christopher Kennedy’s claim that Rahm’s policies had been targeted and devastating to the Chicago African American community.

We haven’t heard much from Kennedy since the Democratic primary for governor.

Kennedy’s assessment was one of the few high points of an otherwise lackluster campaign landing him in third place behind JB Pritzker and State Senator Daniel Biss.

But the FOIA emails show that the criticisms cut deep to some of the Mayor’s allies and advisers as Rahm faces an election early in 2019.

Longtime Democratic activist and public relations maven Marilyn Katz continued the tell-it-to-you-straight approach in an exchange with the mayor’s chief of staff Joe Deal with a copy sent to Emanuel.

Katz noted there has been “an actual and substantial increase in investments in the African-American communities over the past seven years” under Emanuel.

“That is not to say that things are great. The leaving of firms like Nabisco, etc. — which you should have challenged. I did — [and] the recession have been unkind to the city and Illinois, reducing peoples’ incomes, reducing good jobs and replacing them with lower paid ones. That said, I believe investment is actually up. … You should be quantifying that,” Katz wrote.

Katz, who has done work for the Chicago Housing Authority, argued there is “more affordable housing available to more people in more communities than ever before,” that “vouchers have been increased from 30,000 to 47,000” and that CHA owned or co-owned apartments are now available in 75 neighborhoods.

“Someone should have this data. As to African-Americans leaving, I suggest that you … dig deeper behind the numbers to understand what is up. Come on guys, there is plenty to be said,” Katz wrote.

“Should you follow my suggestion and do the easily accessible research, you could then decide who should study or say things. You simply saying these facts will not cut it. You need third-party, respected validators. Yep, it’s time to turn a tennis match into a team sport.”

It is ironic that the email release comes the same day as the release of census data showing that Chicago is becoming a place where only the most wealthy can afford to live and that African Americans continue a three decade-long reverse diaspora from the City.

Just as Kennedy said.

And in direct contradiction to Rahm’s advisers’ email claims.

Chicago is becoming a bourgeois town. Spread the news all around.


Chicago’s population stood at an estimated 2,716,450 as of July 1 last year, compared with 2,720,275 the same day in 2016.

Ledbelly once sang about Washington DC:

Lord, in a bourgeois town
It’s a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free

I don’t wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie

Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around.


But if Ledbelly was still with us, he could sing the same song about Chicago.

If you are poor, working class or African American, Chicago is becoming a bourgeois town.

Of course, the bourgeoisie always owned it.

But the poor, the immigrants and the working class were allowed to stay.

In fact, as a city of workers, we were needed for the city’s big and small manufacturing.

And we were a union town.

Over the course of the last three decades those numbers have been reversed. When Harold Washington was elected Mayor, Chicago had over a million African American residents.

Now the African American population is around 800,000.

New numbers out today show a continued exodus of African Americans and those who make less than $75,000 a year.

Chicago’s population is exploding for those who make over $75,000 a year.

Demographer Rob Paral says, “The estimates display population trends that have taken place in Chicago the last few years: African Americans are leaving the city while immigration slows down and wealthier people move in.”

The population drop since 2006 among native-born residents is exclusively concentrated among those who earn less than $75,000 a year and, in the case of the foreign-born, less than $25,000. But the region has gained more than 350,000 residents since 2006 who earn at least $75,000 year, she says. (Those figures are not adjusted for inflation.)

Slow employment growth in many sectors likely is the reason, she says. “Our job growth is just lower than (in) other regions,” for middle-skilled positions in fields such as manufacturing and administration that require some post-high school education but not a college degree. But among the college-educated, the region continues to grow.

Another finding: While immigration from Latin America has tailed off, more people are arriving from Asia, boosting the Asian-born population here by an estimated 60,000 since 2010.

The report’s bottom line: “Continued population loss is a worrisome trend. While the region appears to be gaining high-income residents, this increase is not offsetting losses due to stagnant immigration and domestic outmigration of low- and moderate-income residents.” Crain’s

It is interesting that the City’s Hispanic population continues to grow, but not one of the growing number of challengers to Rahm Emanuel is Hispanic.

The Obama Presidential Center, parks and democracy.


It was not a surprise.

When the deal for the Obama Presidential Center came to a vote in the Chicago City Council today only one alderman voted no.

David Moore.

Some south side alderman expressed concern about the impact of the Center on nearby working class African American and Latino communities in terms of gentrification. In the end, they voted yes.

As Nathan Ryan of the Grassroots Collaborative said on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers last week, nobody is against the library.

“We just want to be able to afford to live near it.”

Alderman Eddie Burke compared turning down the OPC to losing the George Lucas Museum a few years ago.

That was probably a poor comparison. Lucas and Mayor Rahm lost that Turd on the Lake based on continuing legal action by the Friends of the Parks. It was never going to happen.

Los Angeles now gets to have it and they are welcome to it.

While the Council Committee hearing that passed on the proposal last week was an open and noisy affair, no public comment was allowed before the aldermen’s voted today.

It was also tough getting into the council chamber to witness the vote, according to some who tried.

Also voted on and approved by the Chicago aldermen today was money for the controversial $95 million Cop Academy.  The plan for a fancy new police academy was one of the recommendations made following the killing of Laquan McDonald, shot sixteen times by CPD officer Jason Van Dyke.

It promises to be a continuing issue now that Lori Lightfoot has announced as an opponent to the Mayor in the election next Spring.

She also opposes the academy. 

“Putting this edifice to policing in this high-crime, impoverished neighborhood where relations between the police and the community are fraught, without a clear plan for community engagement, is a mistake,” Lightfoot said.

Questioning how a $37 million funding gap will be closed, she said: “The allocation of any funds for a police academy — and certainly one that will likely exceed $100 million when all is said and done — is viewed by many as further affirmation that needs of the people will never be prioritized over those of the police.”

Lightfoot argued that the “young people of color” who have organized around the Twitter hashtag #NoCopAcademy are “smart, organized and determined” — and not going away.

“For these young people, every dollar spent on policing is a dollar not spent on the needs of their communities,” she said.

The Friends of the Parks which led – against all odds – the construction of the Lucas Museum on park land on the lake front, has taken a different approach with the OPC.

Their position can be found on their blog site.

The Sun-Times African American columnist Mary Mitchell is like many who are conflicted about the process.

In a piece she wrote before the Council Committee took its vote last week, “Barack needs to return to his roots as an organizer,” 

What many of the residents I talk to want are the amenities that would come from having the presidential center for the first African-American president located in their neighborhood.

They also want a “seat at the table.”

“Why are they so afraid to even engage with local folk?” one homeowner asks.

Right now, there is so little trust between the Obama Foundation and grass-roots activists, we might as well be talking about the Chicago Police Department and Black Lives Matter.

On Wednesday, Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama were in Chicago hosting separate events. Obama met with the inaugural class of Obama Foundation fellows. Mrs. Obama hosted a roundtable discussion with 11 high school seniors  at the Stony Island Arts Bank across the street from the center site.

Now a powerful man of the world, former President Obama will never again have to worry about his place at the table.

But it’s not that powerful man who is going to gain the trust of community activists who know all too well how quickly promises disappear.

It is the community organizer.

The Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry will be joining my guest co-host County Commissioner-elect Brandon Johnson and me on this week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Live broadcast at 11am on Chicago’s 105.5fm, live streaming on the internet at and podcast later on various podcasting host sites.