Random thoughts. Billionaire Bill.


Have you heard of The Third Way?

No. It is not an internet porn site.

It is a Democratic Party group that William Daley, Chicago billionaire banker and brother of the former Mayor Richie Daley, set up to push the one percenter agenda within the Party.

Hillary is their candidate.


They have a web site here. You have to love a group that features the post, Why We Need 95% of Students to Take Tests, and has their home page offering resources on supporting the Trans Pacific Partnership.

In the old days they were the Democratic Leadership Council. They backed Bill Clinton’s candidacy. And Bill Daley served as Obama’s White House Chief of Staff for a while until Obama fired him.

Obama didn’t say he was fired.

But he was.

So this weekend Billionaire Bill writes a column on why the huge crowds Bernie Sanders is drawing and Sanders’ climb in the polls means nothing.

Sanders can’t win, says Billionaire Bill.


Because his anti-one percenter message won’t work at the polls even if he is supported by the majority.

Does he know something we don’t?

It worked for Bush.


Sunday posts, pics and tweets.

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Political prisoner Leonard Peltier.

What can I say that I have not said before? I guess I can start by saying see you later to all of those who have passed in the last year. We Natives don’t like to mention their names. We believe that if we speak their names it disrupts their journey. They may loose their way and their spirits wander forever. If too many call out to them, they will try to come back. But their spirits know we are thinking about them, so all I will say is safe journey and I hope to see you soon.

On February 6th, I will have been imprisoned for 40 years! I’m 71 years old and still in a maximum security penitentiary. At my age, I’m not sure I have much time left. Leonard Peltier




The larger trouble with Newton is simple. He’s too big, too fast, too smart, too good at his position and most significantly as of late, too Black for the NFL. Even after delivering touchdown ball upon touchdown ball to starry-eyed children in the stands, he’s still “out of line” for his jovial celebrations which make some uncomfortable. And if Newton has to choose between fan comfortability and the vibe he needs to execute, I pray chooses the latter. How does one feel uncomfortable about him? Answers for that are simple. He doesn’t fit the respectable aesthetic of a Russell Wilson who kneels after conquering the endzone or drops quotables about God during interviews. Newton takes sideline pictures with Young Jeezy and parties on stage with Future. He’s taken “dabbing”, a dance that pays tribute to Black culture’s mesmerizing influence to international proportions, all the while speaking in press conferences candidly about fatherhood. Simply put, the confusion he spoke about in a recent press conference that he believed onlookers were suffering from, is seeing Black culture and excellence empowered by the most puissant position in American sports history. Tariq Touré


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Ted Cruz embraced the notion Saturday that waterboarding is not torture and suggested he’d bring it back in a limited way. “Under the definition of torture, no it’s not,” he said. “Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs or systems.”

Cruz said waterboarding can be effective in high-level interrogations. “Bad things happen when enhanced interrogation at lower levels,” he said.

Trump said he’d consider a more robust form of interrogation techniques. “I’d bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” he said.

Rubio, on the other hand, said candidates shouldn’t be discussing techniques in a “widespread way.” Politico



Special education class sizes are the target (again).


-By Bev Johns

“The most burdensome aspects of special education mandates identified in the survey were underfunding from state government and class sizes, especially concerning the required ratio of students with special needs to those without.” [the regulation that students with disabilities shall not constitute more than 30 percent of a general education classroom, known as the 70/30 regulation] 

The Governor’s Office, working with the leadership of the Illinois State Board of Education, is working on a package of Educational Mandates to be eliminated in any Grand Bargain or Grand Compromise or as a stand-alone Mandate Relief Bill.

The number one special ed target: Special Education Class Size Regulations.

Governor Rauner has been pushing the recommendations of the Lt. Governor Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates.

The Final Report of that Task Force shows that Special Education mandate relief is the highest priority for local school districts – Burden Ranking of 2.3 where 1 is the most burdensome. (Table 15. Prioritization of Mandates for Illinois School Districts)[the next highest is Instructional Mandates, 3.5, then Prevailing Wage, 4.5, Workers Compensation, 4.8, Physical Education, 4.9, etc.]

Special Education was the most mentioned mandate in the survey of local school districts, discussed by 19.7 percent. (Figure 8. Frequency of Mandates Discussed  – By Category)[next highest is Physical Education, 16.7 percent, then Prevailing [Wage, 15.2 percent, Instructional Mandates, 13.6 percent, Drivers Education, 8.3 percent, Workers Compensation, 7.6, etc.]

The Final Report of the Task Force states:

“The Task Force voted to endorse 27 specific proposal recommendations. All recommendations, endorsed or submitted, are included in this report to the Governor and Illinois General Assembly.”

“The three most burdensome mandates identified by school districts were special education, instructional mandates, and prevailing wage.”

“Twenty-four survey respondents provided cost estimates for special education, of which 25% of school districts estimated costs between $2 million and $5 million, and 17% estimated costs exceeding $5 million. 

“The most burdensome aspects of special education mandates identified in the survey were underfunding from state government and class sizes, especially concerning the required ratio of students with special needs to those without.”    

Note that despite the statement that UNDERFUNDING FROM STATE GOVERNMENT for special education is most burdensome, ISBE is recommending that $305 million be taken away from special education and given to General State Aid.

Keeping retirement weird. Busy days.

This is a busy Saturday.

My friend Ellen Gradman is coming by at around 8 AM and we are going over to the radio studio of WLUW 88.7 FM. The station is located off north Michigan Avenue by the Water Tower.

I promised Ellen coffee before we head out. She says 8 AM is a bit early for her on a Saturday morning.


It’s late for me. I have already had my first cup.

Mike, Katy and Thom are squeezing us in among their crowded guest list on Live from the Heartland. Among the guests this morning is the great musician Jon Langford of the Mekons and The Waco Brothers.

Our good friends from Live from the Heartland are giving us a few moments to plug the art show Ellen and I are doing and the opening party is next Friday, 6 to 10 PM at Uri-Eichen Gallery, 2101 South Halsted.

Music at our show will be provided by 4 1/2 Seconds of Reverb, a great band of Chicago teachers.

Then Ellen and I are running over to the gallery to actually put up the show.

In addition to getting ready for our exhibit (I will be showing large scale versions of my blog post drawings), Ellen has been busy.

She just finished a great poster we used to get the word out about last Thursday’s big CTU march through the Chicago Loop.

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In addition to her own work, Ellen will have examples in our show of work that kids did during the Dyett Hunger Srike and the work of students she works with at Drummond school.

Then, tonight Anne and I are joining Oscar, Theo and the kids for our second session of Critical Taco Theory. 

We believe Chicago has the best tacos in the United States. And I include my Los Angeles homeland in that claim.

But we need the data.

Our last class was held at the wonderful La Cecina in Back of the Yards. We had excellent grilled steak tacos.


Tonight we are collecting data at Mezquite Pollo Express at 2809 West 55th in Gage Park. I believe they have cochinita pibil tacos with pickled red onions on the menu.

Busy day.

I don’t want to be pushed out.


Annie Tan at Wednesday’s Chicago Teacher Union march through the Loop.

-By Annie Tan. Annie is a CPS teacher who writes on her blog, An Angry Teacher.

It’s been very hard for me to write about teaching as of late. I think most of my friends and family know I’ve had a rough year stemming from work-related issues as well as just life stuff. I changed schools- this is my fourth school in 4.5 years. I moved twice within 7 months. I found out about my Tier II pension plan just a few months ago. And all of it, alongside the current budget crisis in Chicago Public Schools, is making me seriously consider leaving Chicago.

I love teaching. I love my current school. I have a great staff, and wonderful students. We work together not just on academics but so much social-emotional building. I finally feel like, in my fourth year, I sort of know what I’m doing. And it’s showing. (When I get to teach, anyway. Don’t get me started on the 3+ weeks of MAP/NWEA and ACCESS testing I and my students have just gone through, or the long teacher evaluation cycles, or the mounds of IEPs I have to write in the next few weeks).

What is pushing me out of Chicago right now is, really, not teaching and the stresses of it. I feel okay about that. Rather, it’s a combination of two things:

  1. The instability that is Chicago Public Schools.
  2. The Tier II Illinois pension plan I’m under.

Point #1: The hot mess that is CPS.

As y’all may know, Chicago Public Schools is going through its own crises- caused by years of pension holidays, spending of assets it should have been holding onto, funds like TIFs being spent on things other than schools, underfunding from Illinois state government (which hasn’t passed a budget in almost a year), and corrupt contracts (like the one that got our former schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, federally indicted), among other things.

In response, CPS is trying to cut promised teacher salaries and benefits alongside threatening layoffs. My union, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), rightfully rejected a contract that would have had 2,000 educators, or 1/10 of our workforce, early retire for some bonus money, OR reopen the contract if not enough teachers early retired.

And now Chicago Public Schools, a day after that rejection, announced it would cut a 7% pension pickup 26 days from now, meaning I lose 7% of my paycheck soon.

More importantly, 1,000 educators will likely be laid off in the next two weeks, according to CPS budgets and principal discretion (of course CPS tosses the hard decisions to the principals). This is on top of layoffs that just happened summer 2015, and on top of the closure of 50 public schools in Chicago June 2013 and the subsequent pushout of teachers. I, as always, could be one of those layoffs, as an untenured teacher.

I can deal with layoffs, as I’m a young special education teacher with 3+ years experience and would probably find a job quickly. But I’m so tired of saying goodbye to yet another group of students, another school, another set of staff. I’m so tired of crying over this. I’m so tired of the tears shed when I think of all the students I’ve had to leave. I’m so tired of living in fear that I could lose my job any minute. I hate living in fear.

Of course, we’re going to fight this. 88% of voting members of CTU voted to authorize a strike when CTU was ready. We had 5,000 people blocking Congress Parkway and the entrance to the Eisenhower Expressway Thursday night.

But ugh, how demoralizing is this? How defeating?

Multiple veteran teachers who’ve taught 20+ years have told me it’s never been this bad in Chicago Public Schools. “If I were you, I would run.” I’ve been given this advice over the past 4 years by too many people.

Point #2: how young teachers get screwed under Tier II of Illinois’ pension plan:

Here is a chart of the differences between Tier I and II of Illinois’ current pension plan. 


I’m sure I’m missing something, but here’s what I see with these plans:

  • Tier I candidates are teachers who paid into teacher pensions before Jan. 1st, 2011. Tier II candidates are teachers who paid in after Jan. 1st, 2011.
  • Tier 1 candidates could theoretically retire at 55, if they put in all their years. For a full pension, Tier II retire at 67. A TWELVE-YEAR difference.
  • Caps for earnings for Tier I employees are higher than Tier II. By a LOT.

Now, I have always, ALWAYS meant to be a lifelong teacher.  I graduated from Columbia in May 2011, at 22 years old, and started at CPS in August 2011. 

I missed Tier I by a few months. Looking at this chart, literally, if I had finished college a year earlier, or I was born a year earlier, I would be at Tier I. I could retire with a pension at 55. After working 33.95 years, meaning I could retire at 56.

Under Tier II? I would get a full pension at 67. After working 44 years. FORTY-FOUR YEARS. I would have to work 12 more years, just because I happened to be born a year later. Moreover, I wouldn’t get half my pension at 62. After working 39 years, THIRTY-NINE YEARS, I wouldn’t get HALF my pension.

I get that pensions are political and the cause of our debt crisis in Illinois, and I get that compromises have to be made to get this together. But I CANNOT help but be extremely resentful. The economic crises of Illinois are being carried on young teachers’ backs.

When a financial guy in charge of my 403(b) retirement plan tells me, “Annie, go to ANY OTHER STATE than Illinois. The pensions are the most poorly funded in all of the United States. Literally any other state would be better than Illinois,” that’s when I need to seriously consider leaving Chicago and Illinois.

Someone at CTU told me they’re filing a lawsuit because we would get less under Tier II of a pension than we would under social security. Mind you, teachers do NOT pay into social security. I don’t know if I can wait for that lawsuit, or for laws to change. I frankly don’t think there will be a pension for any of us moving forward if funding solutions don’t come into place.


I still want to teach. I still want to be with students. I just don’t know if Chicago is the place to do it. I am tired of feeling crazy in this system when I know I’m not the crazy one. I’m not the only teacher feeling this.

I haven’t made my decision yet. I do want to be closer to NYC, where my parents are, but I have lots of things to consider. The logical choice would be Philadelphia, where I could still afford housing, where there’s an active social justice unionism and public education movement happening, and where my brother is.

A lot of me still wants to fight this system. Some of me thinks it’s masochistic to keep fighting to teach. Most of me know I can’t keep crying all the time about this system that so disrespects teachers. And I don’t want to continually be shattered by the chaos here in Chicago Public Schools. But who knows? It could be worse somewhere else.

The sad part is that this is exactly what Chicago Public Schools wants. To push teachers out before they get experienced- experienced teachers cost more. To privatize education because it’s cheaper and no longer the responsibility of the government.

“Every child, every school” is printed on my CPS ID card. What a joke.

I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

We get letters.


Hey, is that you in park ridge making 108,272 in a salary????

-Just the facts

Dear Just,

No. But I wish it was. I have been retired for four years.

– Fred



People who deal with investments know something you do not!!!!

-Look at the facts

Dear Look,

Apparently they knew how to nearly crash the world’s economy in 2008.

I’m thinking The Big Short for an Oscar. What do you think?




How about hating daily who got you here?????

-Wake up

Dear Wake,

I’m trying to be a better person and not hate daily.

It’s hard.




Just quit the infernal whining.

-Odd guy 

Dear Odd,

But then what would I blog about?

Say. How do you like the cartoons?