No tax fairness in Illinois. Business gets the EDGE.

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I have written about the Illinois EDGE program before.

Begun under Governor George Ryan, the program allowed the largest corporations to collect state income tax from its employees and then keep it.

This in a state that constantly claims it is broke and will not change its regressive tax structure, even when it had Democratic majorities in both chambers and a Democratic governor.

So, when I read that the EDGE program had been extended by both chambers of the General Assembly with huge majorities of Democrats and Republicans and then signed by Governor Rauner, I wrote my state representative, Will Guzzardi, who was among those that voted for it.

Will,

Can you explain the benefits you found in the EDGE program, which seems to be another tax break for business, and why you voted for it?

Fred

As always, Representative Guzzardi responded promptly and to the point.

Hi Fred — 

The EDGE program was going to get re-authorized no matter what — leadership on both sides was eager to see it continue. A group of us in the legislature expressed our strong concerns about the program to the bill’s sponsors, and were able to win significant concessions. We’ve essentially cut the size of the credit in half — companies can get no more than 50% of the incremental income tax generated by their project, rather than up to 100% as previously written. We’ve created clawback provisions where if companies take the credit and then try to move their jobs out of state, we get the money back. And there are strong new provisions requiring employers to focus on hiring from underrepresented groups and in high-unemployment areas.

As you know, I think tax credits to big corporations are the wrong way to create and grow jobs. It’s a race to the bottom where we compete with our neighboring states to see who can give away the most public dollars to big business. I voted for this bill because it considerably narrowed the EDGE program and focused it on the instances where it will most help communities in need.

Thanks as always for reaching out. Happy to talk more anytime. 

Sincerely,

-Will

I agree with my state rep that tax credits are definitely the wrong way to create and grow jobs.

It appears though that the race to the bottom will continue for a while.

Puerto Rico’s urgency, the cruelty of Donald Trump and colonial history.

A week after the destruction of Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria I watched the news with Lester Holt last night as the first planes with bottles of water took off from the mainland for San Juan.

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Trump’s description of the economic conditions of Puerto Rico are purposefully written in the passive form.

As if the economic conditions on the island just were. As if they were a natural thing no different than the hurricane itself.

Trump’s twisted tweets were intended to do two things.

Trump wants to cover his ass for the slow response to what now is turning into a major humanitarian disaster.

Trump wants to cover up the history of the U.S. colonial relationship towards Puerto Rico.

As if what Trump calls the aging infrastructure and debt has nothing to do with how the island has been used since it was seized by the United States in 1898.

U.S. imperial ambitions prompted politicians to position Puerto Rico as a showcase for capitalism in Latin America.

In the 1940s Puerto Rican Governor Luis Muñoz Marín and U.S. government officials implemented a massive industrialization plan called Operation Bootstrap.

The program used tax breaks, duty-free trade, exploitable local labor, natural resources and cheap foreign crude oil and electricity prices to attract investors. Manufacturing, pharmaceutical and oil-based industries flocked to Puerto Rico.

Beginning in the 1970s, however, these incentives decreased. As tax exemptions expired and wage standards rose, numerous companies left Puerto Rico. The net effect of Operation Bootstrap was to aggravate economic inequality and unemployment and contribute to the territory’s debt and environmental crises.

Currently the territory’s unemployment rate fluctuates between 10 and 12 percent. The legacies of rapid industrialization include polluted landscapes and heavy reliance on oil.

Flights from San Juan to Chicago and New York have begun again and the one flight a day is filled those who have families here.

The Puerto Rican communities in the U.S. are sending help as fast as they can.

But Puerto Rico has always been viewed by Washington and Wall Street as a source of profit, investment or disinvestment, without concern for the welfare of those who live there.

Nothing has changed about that.

Except that Maria is the excuse for Wall Street and Washington to make another financial killing from one more disaster.

Where did I serve?

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Sitting in at the Oakland Induction Center. Stop the Draft Week. October, 1967.

It seems that the Ken Burn’s doc about Vietnam has stirred the patriotic fervor of some of the trolls who write to this blog.

I have received a few like this from the usual chicken hawks: “Watching the Ken Burn’s series makes me have to ask, where did you serve, Fred? Or did you?”

I assume these anonymous trolls were chicken hawks because the men and women I know who went to Vietnam don’t hide behind anonymity when they talk about their experience.

Like my friend Barry Romo. Barry went to Vietnam and came home to oppose the war as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Barry will be on our Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode this Friday at 11AM on Chicago’s 105.5fm and streaming on the internet on http://www.lumpenradio.com

As for me? I registered for the draft when I turned 18 in 1966.

But the Selective Service System was set up to sort who would go to fight and who got to stay home and it was a clearly race and class based system.

Go to college and you received a deferment for as long as you stayed in school. Otherwise you were classified 1-A, which meant you were drafted.

Draftees were overwhelmingly Black, brown and working class.

Even though I was a student, I refused the privilege of a student deferment. More than that, I along with thousands of other students and non-students, organized opposition to the war.

Opposition to the draft during the Vietnam war was both a way of disrupting the war effort and exposing the unfairness of the draft itself.

In 1967 I received my notice to appear for a pre-induction physical at the Los Angeles Selective Service induction center.

My fellow members of Students for a Democratic Society came with me and caused a ruckus forcing them to lock the doors. Nobody went through the process that day.

Later that year I helped organize Stop the Draft Week in Oakland.

Tens of thousands of people surrounded the Oakland induction center preventing the buses filled with draftees from getting through.

Selective Service never asked me to show up ever again.

But I did keep showing up.

So, anonymous. That is where I served.

 

 

Take a knee Sunday.

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This week’s drawings.

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This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers with guests Cook County Clerk David Orr and Chicago Votes Stevie Valles.

This week’s blog posts.

Equifax, accountability and the cost of doing business.

Medicare for all? Medicare and more.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode #33. Cook County Clerk David Orr and Chicago Votes’ Stevie Valles.

Our problem has become that one hour isn’t near enough to talk about all the things we want to talk about, especially when we have guests like David Orr and Stevie Valles from Chicago Votes.

David is, of course, the retiring Cook County Clerk which is the office that runs the elections in Cook. This is not your daddy’s Cook County operation which was known for ghost voters and shoe boxes full of uncounted ballots.

It was a perfect match of guests. Because of the work of Chicago Votes, even Governor Rauner was forced to sign a bill allowing for automatic voter registration in Illinois. At a time of voter suppression by Repugs all across the nation, Illinois has the potential to add a million more registered voters.

But to vote for who?

And that becomes the principle issue.

How do we turn election campaigns into political movements that hold office holders accountable and elect progressives in the first place?

Money has definitely become a corrupting influence as never before.

My brother quotes Harold Wahington’s campaign manager, Al Raby, who said, we’re not leading an election campaign. We’re leading a movement.

David Orr reminds us that Harold’s election was in many ways a perfect storm of an arrogant, white, Democratic Machine, a movement and the perfect candidate.

We got to find a way to make that storm systematic.

Listen to the entire podcast here.

*Some of the pics in this post are by Lucy Gunderson Klonsky of Brooklyn, New York.

CPS CEO Claypool must go.

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CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and general counsel Ronald Marmer.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that CPS general counsel Ronald Marmer  supervised $182,000 in work that his former law firm did for CPS while the firm simultaneously was paying Marmer a seven-figure severance package.

Inspector General Nicholas Schuler issued a report to the board and to CEO Forrest Claypool last June saying Marmer was in violation of the CPS ethics code.

Claypool, pal of Mayor Emanuel, heads the unelected board which was also chosen by the Mayor.

The Sun-Times reported last year that Marmer was getting a $1 million package from Jenner & Block LLP, the Chicago firm hired to help CPS sue the state to try to win more funding for city schools wile Marmer was on the CPS payroll.

But Schuler says six lawyers — four at CPS and two from outside firms — privately advised school officials that Marmer was violating the ethics code by supervising Jenner & Block’s work.

Only after CPS went to a seventh lawyer, in June 2016, did Claypool secure a legal opinion defending Marmer’s conduct. That opinion came from J. Timothy Eaton, a lawyer who has contributed to Claypool’s political campaigns.

“The clear inference is that Claypool had to shop through six lawyers until he found a seventh one who would publicly clear Marmer,” Schuler wrote to the Board of Education in the confidential report, which the Sun-Times reviewed.

The inspector general also wrote that administrators and Eaton have obstructed his office’s investigation “into the apparent whitewashing of Marmer’s ethical violations.”

Claypool was chosen by Emanuel to replace CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She also was a mayoral pick and is currently serving four and a half years in prison for her role in a bribery scandal involving school consultants. Claypool was then selected  by Emanuel to be CEO. Claypool picked his friend, the unethical Marmer, as the top board lawyer.

Claypool must go.

Rahm closed record number of neighborhood public schools. Now he wants a $95 million cop school?

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Rahm shows off his plans for a $90 million cop school.

Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel closed more public schools at one time than ever in American history.

Fifty schools in predominantly African American neighborhoods.

Now he plans to open a $95 million dollar cop school on the west side in Garfield Park.

While existing CPS schools go begging, many without even libraries, the cop school will  include two buildings, including one for classrooms, labs, simulators, conference rooms, an auditorium and offices.

The second building will include a shooting range and space for “active scenario training.”

The campus will also include a driving course, skid pad and and a place for “hands-on practice in real-world situations.”

No libraries for neighborhood schools. Skid pad for a $95 million cop school.

Ironically, the Cadillac facility is being justified by calls for police training in response to years of police abuse and the killing of Laquan McDonald.

Ask for training?

Be careful what you ask for.