SB1 is a bad school funding bill and that’s not crazy talk.


If I write about pension theft in Illinois someone inevitably will tell me that all I ever talk about is pensions and I’m selfish and I don’t care about the needs of others.

Of course,  the current attack on pensions is not directed at folks like me who are already retired, but at current active state employees.

Damn, I can be such a jerk.

If I write about Senate Bill 1, a school funding bill that eliminates direct funding for students with special needs in Illinois, I get accused of talking crazy and besides, I don’t personally have kids in Chicago schools anymore and this is the only chance to get money for CPS and I am being selfish.

See how that works, I am such a jerk.

I am told that opposing SB1/HB2808 is crazy talk.

The thing is that SB1, now being considered in the Illinois House as HB 2808, is a bad bill that increases funding for some Illinois school districts at the expense of support for children with special needs and for special education students.

There I go again, being selfish.

Senate Bill 1 would provide funds for just one position for every 141 Pre-K children with disabilities.

It would  provide for just one position for every 141 K-12 general education students including a special ed teacher OR speech/language OR social worker OR OT OR PT, says special education advocate Bev Johns.

Johns is another one those selfish people who has spent a career guarding the needs of children with special needs.

With some people it is always “me, me, me.”

As now amended, the bill will cut 10 percent of funds from the state’s poorest districts.

Even if $3 billion in new dollars were were added today220 school districts would be funded at 79 percent or less of adequacy, based on an Advance Illinois analysis.

Johns says we will be lucky to get $350 million, not billions added.

It has been noted that even if the maximum of $3 billion were added, most of the downstate districts would still miss their ‘adequacy targets’ by a mile.

The bill will end direct and dedicated funding for special education teachers statewide and will permit districts to spend those dollars on anything they want, leaving our most vulnerable children and families unserved.

That’s crazy talk.

The Sunday times.


Robert E. Lee, New Orleans.


Stanley Green died on Friday in Paris. He was 68.

“He was one of those journalists who went toward the bullet,” Ms. Tucker said, “because that’s where the story was.”

Stanley Greene was born in Brooklyn on Feb. 14, 1949, and grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y. His father, also Stanley, was an actor, producer, filmmaker and director; his mother, Javotee Sutton Greene, was an actress. His father, an activist devoted to black culture, was blacklisted as a Communist in the 1950s and was reduced to taking anonymous bit parts.

Aleppo, 2013. CreditStanley Greene/Noor

The younger Mr. Greene had a “somewhat privileged yet traumatic childhood,” said his longtime friend Jules Allen. “There was a loneliness there that was insatiable, but he was blessed enough to at least partially deal with his pain through photography.”

As a teenager, Mr. Greene joined the Black Panthers and was active in the antiwar movement. His dreams of becoming a painter gave way to photography, and he was encouraged in that pursuit by the renowned photojournalist W. Eugene Smith.



Tonight the IDF violently attacked our Sumud Freedom Camp as we were celebrating our second night restoring the displaced village of Soroura.

Our coalition of Palestinians, Israelis, and Jews from around the world stood our ground as the military tore down our structures and assaulted our people.

I was pushed, choked, pulled, and rammed with the butt of a soldiers rifle. Many friends were shoved, punched, and jeered at. We did not push back. Instead we sang. Our movement is rooted in nonviolence.

Our actions – upholding the right of Palestinians to live with dignity on their own land – drew out the violence of the occupation.

I am safe and ok. We are here under the stars planning our next steps.

We will not back down. We will build the world with love.

Please donate now and share:

Ethan Buckner’s Facebook Page


Teachers at Passages Charter School will walk out of their classrooms next Thursday if they can’t come to an agreement with the school management by midnight Wednesday, union leaders said Friday.

At a rally outside the school at 1643 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Friday afternoon, third-grade teacher Gina Mengarelli said they’ve had no success coming to an agreement with Asian Human Services (AHS), which runs the school.

Two weeks ago, teachers voted 43-0 to give the bargaining committee the power to set a strike date. It was the third time this year a charter school in Chicago has threatened to strike, according to the Tribune.

The teachers union, ChiACTS Local 4343, was scheduled to formally meet with officials at the school Friday. Over the next few weeks, several meetings are also scheduled, according to a note posted to the school’s website. DNAinfo





In response to Northwest Side Unite’s City Hall press conference, members of Neighbors for Affordable Housing in Jefferson Park also addressed the media outside the Council Chambers.

Organizer Sara Gronkiewicz-Doran said opponents of the seven-story apartment complex were motivated by “unvarnished bigotry.”

The apartment complex — which developer Full Circle Communities has yet to formally ask city officials for approval — would rent 20 units at market rate and up to 30 units for residents from CHA wait lists. The rest would be held for tenants making between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income — roughly $25,000 to $45,000 per year.

At least 10 units would be built explicitly for wheelchair-users, and the operators have vowed to reserve at least half the apartments for military veterans and people with disabilities.

Nick Kryczka, who supports the development, said city officials next week will “face a clear choice — whether to open Jefferson Park to new neighbors” and bolster the effort to help low-income Chicagoans find adequate, affordable housing.

Gronkiewicz-Doran said opponents of the apartments’ were using concerns about the height of the building as a “convenient cover.”

Opponents of the development interrupted the news conference by supporters until a reporter asked them to allow him to do his job and act with courtesy.

The introduction of the development at a meeting in February created an immediate firestorm, with most of the attendees who spoke excoriating the complex’s affordable housing component, saying it would threaten homeowners’ property values and attract crime to the relatively safe neighborhood.

Napolitano first criticized the Jefferson Park project in February in remarks to a DNAinfo reporter, violating the longstanding practice of aldermen refraining from opposing developments outside their wards supported by that ward’s alderman.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), the council’s fourth most senior alderman, said he had never seen one alderman violate the unwritten rules of the council so blatantly.

“The freshman alderman from the 41st Ward should focus on his own ward and stay out of the 45th,” Munoz said.

Munoz also criticized Napolitano for “claiming to be a patriot” but opposing a project where the developer has vowed to prioritize veterans and to strive to set aside half the units for former members of the military. DNAinfo

When decency and kindness is a radical concept. My bed is made.


Even though this is a dreary, rainy Chicago day I’m in a good mood. Yesterday morning we did a great Hitting Left with our friend Jerry Harris. And then last night we had dinner and good conversation with old friends.

In a few weeks this blog will hit the 4 million page views mark. Our podcast numbers are increasing each week. A lot of people like what we say.

But inevitably the small – I want to emphasize small – number of trolls need to send nasty and mean spirited comments. It’s not that they disagree. I’m good with that. It is that they are mean and anonymous and know that their comments will never see the light of day on this blog.

They just get off on sending them.

I mentioned on the radio show yesterday that it seems that a political party with a program of decency and kindness would seem radical in today’s climate.


To show you what I mean I will make a rare exception. This morning this appeared in my in-box:

One can get tired of listening to the bitching from people that freely chose a path in life for reasons that had little or nothing to do with money and then at the end they decide to count the chips, they find out there are not as many as they thought.

So you bitch, piss and moan out of jealously and a perceived lack of fairness in the world, then try to figure out ways to get some for yourself based on the mistaken belief that you some how “deserve” it.

After all you did work hard and are good people, and contributed a lot more to society than the assholes that got it all.

To you I say KISS MY ASS!!!!

Or as grandma would so eloquently put it “you made your bed…………..”

As I said, I’m in a really good mood this morning and so I’m going to respond to this worm wearing a happy smile.

First, anonymous, you are wrong on the facts.

I didn’t just discover I don’t get chips. Our chips were taken from us by the state.


I always find it ironic that those who lecture us about freedom and how bad big government is have no problem with the idea that the government can steal and violate contractual obligations and respond with, too bad and kiss my ass.

Some free market advocate you turned out to be.

Beyond contracts and law, what is most annoying about these anonymous comments is their total ignorance of the lived lives of people in this country and around the world.

It is like that Republican Congressman who, in voting against healthcare said that healthy people were good people and people who got ill were bad people. “Good people,” he said, “don’t have pre-existing conditions.”

The argument my anonymous troll is making is that your status in life is a result of the choices you have made.

If you are poor, you made a bad choice.

If you are rich it is because you made all the right choices.

If pressed, anonymous might even admit that luck enters into the equation.

But those who argue life is all about the choices you make will never concede that we live in a system of institutionalized racism and gender discrimination. They will never concede that profit trumps decency.

For them, it is all about choices.

For them, a system based on decency and kindness is a sucker’s game.


Tell your Illinois state representative to vote no on pension theft. I did. Will Guzzardi responds.


Illinois’ 39th District State Representative Will Guzzardi.


The “consideration model” in Senate Bill 16 is plainly unconstitutional. Retirees would be forced into choosing between one diminishment of benefits and another, and that choice can only reasonably construed as a diminishment. It’s like a restaurant that only sold burgers and hot dogs calling itself a vegetarian restaurant because you had a choice between two options. 

And as for the savings by creating a Tier III, it’s not at all clear to me that Tier III benefits meet the Safe Harbor test — that is, that the benefits are at least as generous as Social Security. If not, we’ll end up putting all those members in Social Security, which means the savings they plan to realize won’t come to fruition.

All in all, it seems like SB 16 is trying to cleverly avoid the plain fact stated by the Illinois Constitution and affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court: pension benefits are a promise we have to keep. There’s only one real way to fix the unfunded liability. We need to raise revenues and pay what we owe. 

Will Guzzardi

State Representative 39th District

Keeping retirement weird. Wealth matters? It sure does.

One of the subjects that Dad and I didn’t need to talk have a talk about as he approached his passing at age 85 was handling the inheritance.

There wasn’t any.


Vicki and Ron Weiner have talked with their two daughters about the wealth they will inherit. “The thought of being left all of this money is outside of their frame of reference,’’ Mr. Weiner said.CreditAlex @roblewski for The New York Times

Dad had Social Security and some veterans benefits. But after a lifetime of hard work there wasn’t anything in the way of savings or investments.

Like millions of working class Americans, he left the world leaving pretty much nothing behind in the way of money or possessions.

It made his final years stressful, to say the least.

It is a common story.

That is why when state legislators threaten to take away pension benefits that were promised to those who are depending on those benefits, as Illinois senators did last week, it is really shitty.

Someone wrote me last week complaining that all I do is talk about the problems of pensioneers (sic).

I don’t. But it wouldn’t be wrong if I did.

Then there are the wealthy.

The New York Times runs a column called Wealth Matters.

And it sure does.

This morning, writer Paul Sullivan addresses the issue of how those with over $20 million dollars in assets address the inheritance issue with their offspring.

Hey. It’s really hard for them.

Two-thirds of the 57 people polled by Wilmington Trust, a bank founded by the du Pont family in the early 20th century and now owned by M&T Bank, said they were “apprehensive about sharing inheritance details.” All participants had a net worth of more than $20 million, and only a tenth of them said they had given complete information about inheritance to their heirs — apparently for fear of dampening their work ethic.

Absolutely. You don’t want your kids laying on the couch all day watching Judge Judy when they will have $20 mil coming soon.

You gotta have the talk, people!

Joel Treisman, a family wealth coach who leads a monthly group for Tiger 21, an investment club for people with more than $10 million, said he had been left to surmise his family’s wealth on his own. He is a descendant of the Cullman family, whose wealth came from Philip Morris tobacco, and also the Lehman banking family.

“Despite a Stanford degree and a Yale M.B.A. with all these financial management courses, I was totally unprepared to be an inheritor — and that was in my 40s,” Mr. Treisman said. “There was no family preparation. It was delegated to the family trust-and-estate lawyer to send me a letter on my 21st birthday to talk to me about wealth that was going to revert to me outright.”

I just want to say, “Me too.”  I was totally unprepared to be an inheritor.

As it turns out, I didn’t need to spend any money on a family wealth coach.

Podcast Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers #16. 

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers #16. Globalization.


Here is this week’s podcast of our radio, Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

Anne and I were at the welcome back parade for returning Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera yesterday, down Paseo Boricua in Chicago’s historically Puerto Rican Humboldt Park neighborhood.

After Mikes intro, I shared a short sound montage of what really was more of a party than a march.


Mike Klonsky, Jerry Harris and me.

The rest of the show – aside from a little fingering wagging at Illinois Democrats who voted for pension theft last week – was all about globalization with the head of the Global Studies Association, Jerry Harris.

The trick here is to make this conversation not too academic.

It’s kind of like pensions in that sense. I’ve learned that if I get too weedy, eyes start to glaze over.

I find it is the same with the issue of globalization.

It is easy to get too academic.

But Jerry is a working class guy, veteran of the south Chicago steel mills and a product of generations of a family of working class intellectuals.

And aside from that, we have been friends since eighth grade in Los Angeles. Mike and Jerry’s brother Paul went to the same L.A. high school and played basketball together.

So, this hour of Hitting Left is no graduate seminar on global economics. It is down-to-earth conversation.

Globalization is not a spectator sport.

Check it out.

Best. Show. Ever.

The impotent Illinois Education Association is a day late and a dollar short on pension theft.

This is what the IEA posted on their web site today.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 3.10.08 PM

The IEA tells its members:

Please email your state representative and ask him or her to oppose House Bills 4027 (Durkin-R) and 4045 (Currie-D), and contact your state senator to oppose Senate Bill 16 (Cullerton-D).

What they don’t tell their members is that the senate vote was yesterday and we lost. They sent out no action  message before hand.

Please contact your state representative to vote no on pension theft.

Illinois Democrats pander to Rauner’s foolish bargain.


Democratic State Senator Andy Manar.

Perhaps the national Democrats think they can win back Congress doing nothing more than saying, “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.”

In Illinois, Democrats are using the same strategy against an unpopular governor. Their version is to repeat “Rauner, Rauner, Rauner.”

But worse than that, Illinois Dems  are passing bad law so they can claim they are taking the high road.

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate took a low road. They passed bad law that hurts Illinois students with special needs and state employees who are depending on and were promised a pension when they retire.

Democratic Senator Andy Manar’s school funding bill, SB1 claims to change the school funding formula so help poorer districts. But it contains no significant new dollars, so all that it does is take a small pie and slice bigger and smaller pieces and pays for it with special education dollars.

On May 17, an amendment was introduced (Amendment 5) was sent directly to a Senate vote without any hearing, and passed by the Illinois State Senate by a vote of 35 to 18.

Almost no one had read this 511 page amendment, let alone understands what it would do.

Sen. Andy Manar told the State Senate “The bill is complicated.”

Although no one mentioned it, amendment 5 eliminated direct and dedicated funding for special education teachers while throwing some much-needed but not nearly adequate dollars to CPS.

With no new dollars, the so-called fair funding deal is paid for with money that should go to special education students.

I posted yesterday about the Senate passing the pension theft SB16 with Democratic votes.

Pension reform they call it. It is no such thing.

This bill comes directly from Democratic Senate leader John Cullerton. It is another attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling that the state constitution forbids any diminishment of contractual pensions.

This constitutional pension protection covers current employees, not just retirees.

Once again, it is doubtful that any Democratic Senator even bothered to read what they were voting on.

Geno DiVito, attorney for the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, wrote,

“…[T]he Cullerton proposal would force upon pension system members a choice between two diminishments of their constitutionally protected pension rights. The fact that a ‘choice’ is offered does not matter. Either ‘choice’ would be a pension diminishment and a violation of the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution.

The Illinois House must still vote on these two bad bills.

Ask your State Representative to at least read the damn things.

By the way, where were the action notices on these bills from the IEA and the IFT?

Illinois Democrats Cullerton, Harmon, Hunter, Koehler, Landek, Link, Martinez, McGuire, Morrison, Muñoz, Raoul, Sandoval, Silverstein, Steans and Trotter voted today for pension theft.

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 8.09.38 PM

From AFSCME 31:

Pension-cutting Senate Bill 16 has passed the Illinois Senate with 31 senators voting yes, 22 voting no and 6 not voting. The bill now goes to the House.

All but six Senate Republicans voted wrong. Only these Republicans voted right: Anderson, Bivins, McCann, Fowler, Rezin and Schimpf.

In all, 16 Senate Democrats did the right thing and voted no. But the following 15 Senate Democrats voted wrong, to cut pensions of state and university employees and teachers: President Cullerton, Harmon, Hunter, Koehler, Landek, Link, Martinez, McGuire, Morrison, Muñoz, Raoul, Sandoval, Silverstein, Steans and Trotter.

It’s more important than ever to call your State Representative at 888-912-5959. Tell them to VOTE NO on SB 16, HB 4027 or any pension-cutting bill.