We get letters.


Gee – I know you don’t like it, but last I heard, this was still a semi-sorta-theoretically free country. If money is the issue, work in the private sector. If you choose to take a job known to pay a poor rate, isn’t that sort of – like – your choice? But I’m sure you’ve got a jim-dandy argument about how that choice is irrelevant to you unionistas.

-Jim Dandy

Dear Jim,

I am pretty sure that, at least in this state, we are still free to organize, join a union, bargain a contract and strike. That’s our choice too.

– Fred


When comparing compensation to private sector you must include the value of all benefits, including pension and its associated guarantee. That guarantee is HUGE, and is worth something.

Take Fred for instance. The pension should have put aside something in the vicinity of $2,500,000 for his pension. There are very few private pensions that do that any longer. How much is that Fred, on an annual basis.

Teachers also work 3/4 of a full year, so you must take that into consideration also.
The numbers add up quickly folks. All is not as it appears.

-A troll

Dear A,

You know nothing about pensions if you believe that the pension systems “put aside” a quarter of a billion dollars for each retiree.

Our salary compensation is based on a per diem. No paid holidays. No paid vacation. If, as you suggest, teachers work on a 12 month contract, we would need to be compensated for it. Like administrators. Or did you think that would be free?



The Chicago Teachers Union seems to be going out of its way to expose each member’s individual vote. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lauren FitzPatrick reports, “The process — conducted in some school hallways where passersby also could see — is in stark contrast to the secret ballots used in December and in 2012. That means that anyone voting can see what their colleagues already decided.”

-Keep it Secret Stupid

Dear KISS,

The Chicago Teachers Union is the most democratic union in the country. There is nothing in the rules about secret ballots. In my own union I have voted on contacts and to strike – or not to strike – by voice vote, by petitions, by mail-in ballots and secret ballots.

In fact, the vote by the Illinois legislature to require Chicago teachers, and only Chicago teachers, to authorize a strike by not less than a 75% super majority., was not done in secret.

Oddly, none of them were elected to office requiring a 75% super-majority.

Did you object to that?




Weird logic.


My friend and Perfection Caucus blogger Glen Brown posted a great piece on Trump logic the other day.

My only problem with Glen is the assumption that reason and logic carry any weight these days. It is very questionable when it comes to some people.

Let’s look at an example of, in the words of Tom Paine, administering medicine to the dead.


First, to be clear, having the highest paid teachers in the country means nothing when you look at the data.

Being the highest paid in a profession that notoriously is non-competitive with those in comparable professions hardly earns a smiley face.

The difference between the salaries of teachers in major urban districts like Chicago, LA and NY is negligible. Being first means nothing.

Teacher salaries in major urban districts are way below what someone with similar college degrees, certification and years of experience earn in the private sector.

With what we know about the current CPS offer on the table is that a third of the teachers in Chicago are not eligible to receive any step or lane movement, meaning without a  fair salary increase, they will earn even less in the future.

Rather then address the illogic of his first statement about Chicago teachers having the highest salaries, Cunningham pivots to a new topic.

“Too bad the thief and his victim didn’t report it to the police together after the robbery took place.”

Forget Tom Paine. If Casey Stengel were alive today he would be turning over in his grave.

Rahm has handed Trump a dog whistle.


The tragedy of Chicago gun violence and systematic police misconduct is one felt by Chicago citizens every day.

Every decent person in this city wants to find a way to end it and is disgusted watching Donald Trump use our city’s name as a dog whistle to his racist base of voters.

He can thank Rahm, and we can blame Rahm, for that.

And now Rahm has handed Trump another gift.

Rahm’s refusal to bargain a pay raise for the teachers in our public schools has provoked a strike deadline for October 11th.

Less than four weeks before the general election thirty thousand striking teachers in their red shirts, marching down La Salle Street will make every evening news show and hourly on cable.

Trump has no chance of taking Illinois.

But Chicago, run by a Clinton Democrat, has become a Trump racist dog whistle. Chicago is the message Trump whispers behind closed doors and at his pep rallies.

He snuck into Chicago yesterday without announcing his schedule to speak to a pro-Trump gathering of Polish Americans and then ran to the safety of the Chicago suburbs.

It was the first time he stepped foot in this city since we ran him out forcing him to cancel an appearance months ago.

His message:

Hillary Democrats can’t govern. 

Hillary can’t be pleased. And Senate Democrat Tammy Duckworth, locked in a close race with Mark Kirk and key to a Democratic majority in the Senate, must be pulling her hair out.

The vote to strike on October 11th is not irreversible.

And Rahm has the money to settle it.

I’m betting Hillary wants it settled.

WBEZ’s Sarah Karp and Becky Vevea report this morning:

The teachers union presented a clear path for Mayor Rahm Emanuel that could avert a strike: Release more Tax Increment Finance funds to Chicago Public Schools. TIFs are special taxing districts that are used for economic development.

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey called the TIF fund a “slush fund for the mayor that supports wealthy developers.” The union has argued that some of that money could be used for teacher salaries and also to restore some positions closed due to budget cuts.

Rahm miraculously came up with the money to hire a thousand cops.

Without an across the board salary increase, up to 8,000 veteran teachers, members of the union, will receive no step and lane increase at all and no raise.

The morning news is good for Hillary.

The New York Times election forecast has her as a 71% favorite.

For the first time in weeks, Nate Silver has her as a better than 60% favorite.

But that all may change October 11th.

I pay my taxes. Am I smart or a schmuck?


CTU President Karen Lewis with The Girl Talk host Erika Wozniak (left) and Joanna Klonsky. Not shown is co-host Jen Sebella. Photo: Fred Klonsky

A large crowd packed The Hideout last night for The Girl Talk. I expected a crowd since Erika and Jen’s guest was going to be CTU President Karen Lewis. We got there early to make sure we got some seats.

Since CTU members just voted to give the union leadership strike authorization, a yes vote that included all but less than 5% of those voting, her appearance at this north side bar attracted the media.

The conversation went from the serious political stuff to questions about what Karen binge watches and which celebrities she has a thing for. She named three and she shot a smile to her husband, Coach John, who was sitting in the second row.

One of the serious notes:

“Look,” Lewis said at one point. “I don’t have a problem paying taxes. That’s how a community pays for schools and roads and the stuff we all need.”

I couldn’t help thinking back to Donald Trump in the debate the night before. When Hillary Clinton suggested that Trump was hiding his tax returns because the self-proclaimed billionaire pays nothing in federal income taxes, he interrupted her to say it was because he was smart.

He’s smart and we’re schmucks?

Whether Donald Trump is smart or not is not for me to know. But he’s rich and pays no taxes because his daddy left him a lot of money and the tax system is rigged in favor of the people and the corporations run by folks in his class.


Aside from Trump’s personal income tax, let’s look at what corporations pay.

According to the Economic Policy Institute:

  • Corporate profits are way up, and corporate taxes are way down. In 1952, corporate profits were 5.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes were 5.9 percent. Today, corporate profits are 8.5 percent of the economy, and corporate taxes are just 1.9 percent of GDP.
  • Corporations used to contribute $1 out of every $3 in federal revenue. Today, despite very high corporate profitability, it is $1 out of every $9.
  • Many corporations pay an effective tax rate that is one-half (or less) of the official 35 percent tax rate.
  • As of 2015, U.S. corporations had $2.4 trillion in untaxed profits offshore. Another study, looking at S&P 500 companies, found they held $2.1 trillion as of 2014. This roughly five-fold increase from $434 billion in 2005 stems largely from anticipation of a tax holiday.

Trump may think he’s smart because in a rigged system he can get away without paying his share. But in a system rigged in favor of the rich, even a dumb-ass can hire tax lawyers.


“If Somebody Would Call Sean Hannity.” A poem by Donald Trump.

If Somebody Would Call Sean Hannity

By Donald Trump

That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her

because she,


I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

Would you like to hear?

I was against the war—wait a minute.

I was against the war in Iraq.

Just so, you put it out.

The record shows that I’m right.

When I did an interview with Howard Stern

very lightly,

First time anybody’s asked me,

I said, “who knows.”


I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto.

I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox,

and he called me the other day and I spoke to him about it.

He said, “you were, totally,”

Because he was for the war.

And that is before the war started.

Sean Hannity said very strongly,

to me and other people,

he’s willing to say,

but nobody wants to call him.

I was against the war.

He said, “You used to have fights with me,”

because Sean was in favor of the war.

And I understand that side also.

Not very much, because we should have never been there,

but nobody called Sean Hannity.

And then they did an article in a major magazine,

shortly after the war started.

I think in ’04.

But they did an article, which had me totally against the war in Iraq.

And one of your compatriots said,

you know,

whether it was before or right after,

Trump was.

Because if you read this article,

there’s no doubt.

But if somebody,

and I’ll ask the press,

if somebody would call up Sean Hannity.

this was before the war started.

He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said it’s a terrible and a stupid thing.

It’s going to destabilize the Middle East.

And that exactly what this’s done.

September 26, 2016