From the CTU: Stop the voucher sell-out.

From the Chicago Teachers Union:


In the last 24 hours, the Illinois House has cancelled its previously scheduled special session for today while leadership attempts to work out compromise language. In the mix are vouchers, a naked attempt by Governor Bruce Rauner and his right-wing allies to move even more taxpayer dollars away from our public schools and into private coffers. Governor Rauner’s former mentee, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has expressed support for this hare-brained idea.

We owe it to public school students across the state to aggressively oppose this privatization scheme and reject vouchers.

To that end, we’re again asking you to reach out to your state legislator and demand that they reject vouchers as a “compromise” to getting a version of SB1 passed—at the same time that we urge state representatives to override Rauner’s veto of SB1 as the Illinois Senate did on August 13.

Rauner’s amendatory veto drastically cuts the amount of funding for our school communities. Both the House and the Senate remain on record as rejecting his draconian changes, which gut funding for public schools over the long term.

We can do this—with your help. Click here to tell your state rep to oppose any voucher scheme as a ploy to win passage of SB1, and demand that they support the override of Rauner’s veto.

Click here to tell your state rep to support the override.

Even if the House overrides Rauner’s veto, Chicago public schools will still be short. CPS is currently spending $70,000 per day in interest on the school system’s debt—debt our taxpayers and our communities are paying because Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked school board refuse to provide responsible, sustainable sources of revenue for our schools. Meanwhile, each of our students are being shorted $2,700 per year to bring funding for their education to even a bare minimum level of responsible spending.

Emanuel has real revenue options—from TIF surpluses to reinstating the corporate head tax he eliminated in 2011 as a favor to his big business allies.

That’s why, in the coming days and weeks, the Chicago Teachers Union will engage in a number of actions to combat CPS’ starvation budget and to pressure Emanuel and his City Council to provide the funding our students need and deserve. Keep an eye out for future communication about these crucial actions.

And as always, thanks for all you do to support our students and the struggle to provide them with the education resources they need and deserve.

This Friday on Hitting Left. Public schools with Wendy Katten and Cassie Creswell. Co-host Brandon Johnson.

Screen Shot 2017-08-23 at 8.56.49 AM
Cassie Creswell, Wendy Katten, Brandon Johnson.

With an override of the Governor’s veto put off until probably next week, Friday will be a good day to tune in to Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

I will still be on Block Island.

But my brother will be hosting Raise Your Hand’s Wendy Katten and Cassie Creswell from More than a Score.

And sitting in the co-host chair will be CTU political organizer Brandon Johnson returning from last week’s show.

Tune in live at 11am on 105.5fm in Chicago. The show live streams on

We post the podcast at

And you can still listen to Brandon Johnson, me and my bro from last Friday’s show here.

“A red line for Democrats.” Nah. Vouchers are in the mix.

Chicago protest. Pass SB1. No vouchers.

According to this morning’s Politico report from Natasha Korecki negotiations between Dems and Repugs in Springfield over SB1 includes a huge voucher component.

Yes. The voucher plan that Democratic candidate for governor Dan Biss correctly said should be a red line that Democrats should not cross.

But, they will cross it.

On the table to bring Republicans on board SB1 in the House: $75 million in private school scholarships. Under serious discussion is a 75-cent-on the dollar credit to families choosing private schools, with a five-year sunset on the program. That reflects the desires of Cardinal Blase Cupich and other advocates of the program, sources tell POLITICO.

Not just Cardinal Cupich. The vouchers are okay with Rahm Emanuel as well. He and the Cardinal met a week or so ago. Rahm will never miss an opportunity to undermine Chicago public schools.

And that is what a $75 million or a $100 million voucher plans is aimed to do.


The IEA and other education groups were planning on a rally in Springfield today but called it off when Michael Madigan put off the override vote. Why? Is passing SB1 with this voucher attachment not worthy of protest and a rally?

What happens if the Democrats were to say no to vouchers?


Democrats don’t have the numbers alone to override Rauner’s amendatory veto, but believe eight Republicans are leaning heavily toward an override — even without the scholarships. That’s after various degrees of pressure for SB1, including support from superintendents statewide. Democrats point to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s education proposal, which didn’t get a single “yes” vote last week. Every day another member announces he or she won’t seek reelection, leaving behind a potential for more brazen voting. Add tanking poll numbers and ongoing turmoil in Rauner’s office and you have a governor holding a weak hand. The worst-case scenario for Republicans is for another override to happen and they have nothing to show for it.

If scholarships really do happen, that would be something Rauner and Republicans statewide could campaign on. School choice in a blue state?

So, if the Democrats kneel before the Cardinal, the Mayor and the Governor and divert public money to Catholic and private schools through a massive voucher program, they may be handing Rauner a victory he wouldn’t have won on his own.


Letter from Block Island. The Illinois legislature will vote to override but at a cost.

Catholic schools will be the chief beneficiary.

It is an gray overcast day on the island. Not a beach day.

We went to see Kim, the bird bander, explain how she tracks bird migration. She explains it every week, every year to island visitors with the help of young volunteers. It is fun to come back and see the kid who was eleven when I first came still helping Kim. He is now pre-med in college.

There are now four wind turbines just off the coast that supply the island with all of its electrical needs. “Has it affected the migratory sea birds,” asked a visitor. Kim explained that the research done since the turbines have been erected seem to indicate that the sea birds see the turbines as a single object and fly around them.

Back home the Illinois legislature is still considering an override of Governor Rauners’s school funding veto.

Greg Hinz has a terrible piece in Crain’s this morning.

But CPS has to do more. Maybe teachers—the median CPS teacher makes $81,566 a year and has 11.9 years of experience, according to CPS—will have to make do with less. Maybe we need to bring back the old School Finance Authority, an outside body that had to approve all CPS spending and budgets.

Bring back the SFA? At a moment when the overwhelming majority of Chicagoans want the right to elect their school board, Hinz wants to bring back an unelected group of businessmen to be in charge of CPS contracts, bond sales and finances.

What could possibly go wrong?

And what of the reference to teacher salaries and years of experience?

I can tell you that the CTU will not give back salaries. And what Chicago students don’t need is teachers with less experience.

What’s left to do.

Raise revenue.

SB1 doesn’t really do that. It does not provide adequate funding to public schools. It’s claim on equity is a foolish claim. How can you provide equity without adequacy?

But for schools to open and remain open the veto cannot be sustained thanks to Republican votes.

How will those Republican votes be bought and paid for?

With public money for vouchers to the districts represented by those Republicans.

Former TRS trustee Bob Lyons tells me, “The GA will vote to override the veto of SB1. The Dems have gone to individual Republicans that they think they can do business with and, after determining their district’s private schools, they add scholarships to those schools to an amended bill.”

Can I quote you, I asked Bob?

“The Democrats will add to the bill that people that send their children to private schools will be given tax credits for what it costs them.  Catholic schools will actually be the main beneficiaries.  Even Rauner will like this added feature and enough Republicans will be added to the override.  Sure, you got it from me.”

A few weeks ago Democratic Party Senator and candidate for Governor Dan Biss said on our Hitting Left radio show that vouchers were a red line that Democrats should not cross.

The red line?


Letter from Block Island. Berrigan, the birdwatchers and Block Island.


From the Block Island Times.  May 6, 2016.

By Lars Trodson


Father Daniel Berrigan, the Jesuit priest who died on Saturday, April 30 at the age of 94, was an author, a man of faith, and a peace activist who had global influence, but Block Island was very much part of his life.

It was here that Berrigan spent countless dinners and quiet time with friends that included William Stringfellow, Jim Reale, Joanne and John Warfel, Mary Donnelly and her family, and Nancy and Malcolm Greenaway, among others.

Block Island is also where Berrigan was arrested in the cottage that the Associated Press called a “former stable” on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 1970 by a phalanx of FBI agents that had come here disguised, as some remember, as birdwatchers.

Berrigan was part of what became known as the “Catonsville Nine,” a group of activists, including his brother Philip, that had burned draft records in Catonsville, Maryland in May 1968 and were wanted on federal charges.

“I don’t know the first year that Dan came to Block Island, but it surrounded his friendship with [William] Stringfellow and [poet] Anthony Towne. Bill was a lawyer and theologian, published author, and who was indicted for harboring Dan when he was arrested by the FBI,” said Reale.

Reale said he met Berrigan in 1984, during a time when he was taking care of Stringfellow, who was very ill at the time.

“Dan would come out for summers. A very interesting guy, a priest, an author, who worked with AIDS patients and was really an amazing man.” Reale said that, at the time, he personally was not a peace activist, but Berrigan “took a shine to me and we developed this great friendship. That was how I got into the peace movement.”

He said that he felt Block Island offered Berrigan “a retreat center, solitude for him. He could write here.”

In fact, Berrigan published a book of poems called, simply, “Block Island.”

One of the poems offers this view of island people and their habits:

Mutual island greetings; understated, telegrammatic.

I’d grin like a banshee, riding the jitney to town

Passing conveyances, their mode of greeting.

Exuberance, aus mit! Not a hand lifted.

Anthony gazed straight on,

Forefinger barely lifted from wheel’s round.

Monotone, monochrome. Landscape, seascape,

Befitting gestures. These Yankees

Know when to leave one alone!

Reale said he has been participating in a documentary produced and co-directed by Sue Hagedorn, who previously produced and directed “Island Nurse,” about the life of Mary Donnelly.

Hagedorn said she has been working on the film for about a year. It includes footage of Berrigan, and interviews with Mary Donnelly and her daughter Marguerite, Martha Ball, John Henry Tripler, John Gasner and others. She hopes to have it ready for film festivals by the fall.

Reale is participating in a documentary produced by island resident Sue Hagedorn, who previously directed “Island Nurse,” the story of Mary Donnelly.

One of the stories told in the film is about Berrigan’s arrest, Reale said. One interviewee remembered that there were a bunch of people sitting at the bar of the old National Hotel, and in came three strangers dressed in suits carrying walkie talkies. These were some of the FBI agents out here to arrest Berrigan.

Reale said it is his belief that Berrigan was not on Block Island to hide, but to seek solace among his friends, Stringfellow and Towne.

“He had a very good suspicion he was going to be caught by the FBI and he was here because of his good friendship with Bill and Towne. He wasn’t going to stay underground forever,” Reale said.

In the Associated Press story of the arrest that was published in 1970, Stringfellow is asked why he gave safe haven to Berrigan, and Stringfellow is quoted as saying “Where is a person in his situation to turn but to his friends?”

Berrigan had a profound effect on Reale’s life. When he started to think he should move off-island for other life experiences, Berrigan suggested he move to the Bronx. Reale did, and ended up rehabbing a soup kitchen for three months, and also witnessed a moment of “resistance work,” at the Riverside Research Institute where work was being done on the military program that was colloquially known as “Star Wars” during the Reagan Administration.

“I went back to Block Island and Dan asked me what I thought of the Bronx. I said I really liked it but the resistance work speaks to me very deeply,” Reale said. He eventually went to work and live at the Jonah House in Baltimore, and participated in the Ploughshares peace movement.

“One of the amazing things about Dan was that he wasn’t just an intellectual, which he was, or that he was animated by the heart, which he was. He was animated by both. His heart really gave direction to his mind,” said Reale. “That’s what I got out of his friendship. He was so natural, so down to earth — a world-class peace movement Jesuit, but so ordinary when you were with him.”

Mary Donnelly said she had been invited to dinner one night by the Breydert family, who said they were “going to have Daniel for supper and you’re coming with us. I went and that was the beginning of a long friendship. Everytime he was here he came over for supper.”

Donnelly said Berrigan was a “holy, strange man. He was his own person.”

Echoing what Jim Reale said, Donnelly said Berrigan came to Block Island for “peace and quiet. It was certainly a retreat. The people here left him alone. Of course, he was captured here. He was up at Stringfellow’s house. The ‘bird watchers’ were here, all dressed up,” she said.

When Donnelly and others held small peace rallies against the Iran and Iraq wars, Berrigan would sometimes stand with them. He did a poetry reading to raise funds for The Mary D. Fund.

When asked what she felt when she heard that Berrigan had died, Donnelly said, “He hasn’t died as far as I’m concerned. He’s always been a presence. I’ve had so many good things happen in my life, and one of them was Daniel.”

Letter from Block Island. Two weeks from today you can help Hitting Left and Lumpen Radio celebrate Labor Day.


Dear Readers,

What a great day at the beach.

Look. This is New England, not the Caribbean. The Atlantic Ocean is a bit chilly.

The weekend crowds are gone and the beach was wide open. We shared our eclipse-watching glasses with those around us.

“First time free,” I joked. “Fifty bucks a look after.”

It was all in good fun. It was that kind of goofy shared experience that comes along every once in a while.

By the time the sun was over 60% hidden by the moon, the temperature dropped enough for us to decide to pack up and head up the hill to the house.

A shared experience is what is planned for the Co-Prosperity Sphere and our Labor Day Bash.

The purpose is to raise a little cash for the community that shares Lumpen Radio. It has given my brother and me a radio home for the past six months and when we suggested a Labor Day Bash to the folks who run things, everybody thought it was a good idea.

It will be from noon to seven on Monday, September 4th. I’m not exactly sure when our two hours will be broadcast live. But I will let you know.

Food from the world-famous Kimski restaurant. Marz Community Brewing. Live music and DJs. Mario Smith whose program From the Service Entrance will also be broadcast live. And John Daley’s Radio Free Bridgeport.

Like a great day at the beach.

Full sun.

3219 South Morgan in the always sunny neighborhood of Bridgeport.

On Chicago’s south side.

I don’t much care for statues. But this?

I don’t much care for statues.

But why is there a statue of Jefferson Davis in the U.S. Capitol

And not one of John Brown?


Or Ida B. Wells?

Or James Meredith?

Or Frederick Douglass?

Or Sojourner Truth?

Or Harold Washington?

Or James Chaney.

Andrew Goodman

And Michael Schwerner?


How is it that there is a statue of the traitor Jefferson Davis in the U.S. Capitol, but not the hero, John Brown?


There once was a statue of Thomas Starr King in the place they call Statuary Hall.

King was an abolitionist from California.

A Unitarian.

It is said that King was instrumental in keeping California in the Union.

His statue was removed and replaced with one of Ronald Reagan.


I don’t much care for statues.

But this?

A letter from Block Island. John Brown and Jefferson Davis.

The monument to John Brown in Akron, Ohio.

Dear Readers,

Even on this beautiful spot of land an hour ferry ride off the Rhode Island coast I can’t get away from the politics of the nation.

Historican Eric Foner writes in this morning’s NY Times:

Neither Mr. Trump nor the Charlottesville marchers invented the idea that the United States is essentially a country for white persons. The very first naturalization law, enacted in 1790 to establish guidelines for how immigrants could become American citizens, limited the process to “white” persons.

What about nonwhites born in this country? Before the Civil War, citizenship was largely defined by individual states. Some recognized blacks born within their boundaries as citizens, but many did not. As far as national law was concerned, the question was resolved by the Supreme Court in the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857. Blacks, wrote Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (a statue of whom was removed from public display in Baltimore this week), were and would always be aliens in America.

This was the law of the land when the Civil War broke out in 1861. This is the tradition that the Southern Confederacy embodied and sought to preserve and that Mr. Trump, inadvertently or not, identifies with by equating the Confederacy with “our history and culture.”

Those who are offended by what they call the historical or artistic revisionism of the removal of Confederate memorial statues ignore the fact that there are at least two versions of our history.

Take Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederate revolt and defender of human slavery and John Brown, the abolitionist who led an armed revolt against the institution of slavery.

A statue of Jefferson Davis, who committed treason, stands in the Capitol rotunda in Washington D.C.

John Brown was convicted of sedition and treason and executed by the United States Government.

John Brown has a monument. It sits in disrepair behind a fence in the parking lot of the Akron city zoo.

A monument to one of Akron’s most important sons, and forever a controversial figure in American history, stands behind a locked fence and up a steep hill overlooking an Akron Zoo parking lot.

Vandalism has taken a toll. A bronze eagle has been missing from the top for decades.

The 101-year-old memorial to abolitionist John Brown remains as contentious today as the man himself, labeled throughout history as both a hero and a terrorist.

Even though an Akron study committee recommended in 2003 that the memorial be relocated, it still remains inaccessible to the public.

Two versions, as different as black and white.

Letter from Block Island. Daniel Berrigan.

Berrigan after his arrest by FBI agents on Block Island, 1968.
Dear readers,

We are back on this lovely rock where we have come at the end of each summer for the last half dozen years.

Our rented house is nothing fancy, but big enough to sleep members of the family that come and go over the week and a front porch with a view of the pond and the ocean that is priceless.

Tomorrow we will find a good spot to watch the eclipse with the approved glasses Anne was smart enough to purchase online several weeks ago.

Tuesday night we will go to the town library to watch a movie about the peace activist, Daniel Berrigan. The library has an exhibit about Berrigan that will be there through October.

This from The Block Island Times:

“Seeking Shelter from the Storm” is a documentary film that evokes the life and faith of Father Daniel Berrigan and William Stringfellow on Block Island. The documentary will make its debut at the Island Free Library on Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 5:30 p.m.

Known internationally as theologians, poets and peace-makers, Berrigan and Sringfellow found respite — shelter from social and personal storms — on Block Island. Using interviews, photos, writings and island footage, the viewer is immersed in 1970s and ‘80s Block Island, Berrigan and Stringfellow’s writings and actions, and the Block Island community. Sue Hagedorn, Jim Reale and Seedworks Films ( paint a portrait of Daniel Berrigan and Bill Stringfellow that reflect on the history and beauty of island life that inspired and included these revolutionary thinkers and poets. 

“Seeking Shelter” features Island residents and visitors John Gasner, Nancy Greenaway, Jim Wallis, Mary Donnelly, Jim Reale, Patrick Cobb, Keith and Kay Lewis, Ann Tickner, Frances and Gordon Smith, and Martha Wilson, and was assisted by Pam Littlefield Gasner and the Block Island Historical Society, Martha Ball, Amy Jaffe, and Missy Conant. Funding included grants from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and the Roosa Fund. The film was made in the context of the creation of the “Seeking Shelter from the Storm”exhibit, coordinated by Denny O’Toole, that is on view until Columbus Day at the Island Free Library.

Last summer I posted this about Berrigan and the history of politics on Block Island.

In 1968 Berrigan was part of a group that burned draft records in Catonsville, Maryland in protest of the War in Vietnam.

Convicted, Berrigan fled and hid in the Block Island barn of two locals who provided him space.

“We have chosen to be branded peace criminals by war criminals,” Berrigan famously said while a fugitive of justice, days before his arrest by FBI agents in a barn on Block Island.