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My lunch with Illinois Representative Elaine Nekritz didn’t go well.

September 14, 2012

Democratic state House Representative Elaine Nekritz.

The afternoon CTU rally  yesterday was scheduled downtown at the Hyatt Regency at 3:00.

So I had a tight schedule. I wanted to attend at least part of the North Lake Shore Illinois Retired Teacher Association luncheon scheduled for noon at the Elks Club in Des Plaines.

All the local north suburban candidates for the November elections had been invited.

When I arrived I discovered that I had been seated between Democratic House Representative Elaine Nekritz and Republican Representative Rosemary Mulligan.

Had I been set up?

Rosemary and I have had a strained relationship for years. But she usually shows up late to these things and if she ever did show up yesterday, it was after I left for downtown.

I’ve never met Nekritz before.

I promised myself to behave. Even though she has been horrible on the pension issue, I promised myself to be cordial and polite.

We engaged in some small talk. Exercise regimens. Diet and weight control.

“Why are the teachers in Lake Forest on strike?” she asked.

“Because of you,” I said.

Ouch. That wasn’t good.

“What do you mean?”

I explained that her proposal for a pension obligation cost shift to local districts had created a situation where school boards were resisting increasing compensation to teachers in current negotiations. In Lake Forest they want to create a two-tier salary schedule, with lower pay for new teachers.

“You did that with your cost shift proposal.”

Awkward silence.

Then the conversation shifted to the Chicago teacher strike.

“You did that when you voted for Senate Bill 7,” I said.

What happened to the promise I made? That wasn’t very polite.

“But your unions supported that,” she said.

“Yes, I know.” And then I went to explain how the restrictions on collective bargaining would intensify tensions between school boards and teacher unions. This would inevitably lead to more strikes.

“Hmmm,” said Nekritz.

Time was running short. I had to leave soon to get to the CTU rally.

“And then your support for the COLA – TRIP choice.”

By this time she was probably wishing I was on my way.

“You tell me how I’m going to get enough votes for a graduated tax system,” she said.

“You tell me how you’re going to get enough votes for your plans to cut benefits. You’ve been at it for four years and you haven’t been able to do it. If you had spent that time on changing the revenue system, who knows?”

She smiled at me like I was ten.

“But let me tell you this,” I said. “You have ruptured the traditional alliance between the Democratic Party in this state and the public sector unions. You did it at your peril. There will be a cost for what you are doing.  You’re making that retired teacher…”  And I pointed to a lady across the table. “You’re making her choose between her COLA and health care, and that won’t even solve your funding problem.”

No eye contact.

“I don’t know how you sleep at night.”


I probably shouldn’t have said that.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. billayers permalink
    September 14, 2012 11:49 am

    Ten year olds shouldn’t be looked at like that!

    On Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM, Fred Klonsky

  2. Maureen permalink
    September 14, 2012 12:12 pm

    Why aren’t you on wttw Chicago Tonight?

  3. MiC permalink
    September 14, 2012 12:12 pm

    You sir, are a treasure. And she’s in need of being voted out of office.

    Glad she got to hear how her actions have consequences.

  4. Dienne permalink
    September 14, 2012 12:34 pm

    I dunno, sounds like your lunch went smashingly.

  5. Carol May permalink
    September 14, 2012 12:43 pm

    Maybe you shouldn’t have said that… but I, personally, am really glad you did!

  6. September 14, 2012 1:00 pm

    This is my new favorite thing that you ever wrote.

  7. September 14, 2012 1:46 pm

    Well done! Well done! A bravura performance, Fred! But will she get it? Making good public policy decisions requires political will, not political expediency. Expediency is what landed us in this steaming pile in the first place.

  8. Sharon permalink
    September 14, 2012 3:29 pm

    I wish you were correct.The teacher’s union remain in lock-step with the Dems. There will be no consequences come November. They will endorse and send money to the people that have created this mess. Nekritz has caused great suffering for thousands of Illinois residents. I’m sure it wasn’t her intention, but it was the result.

    • ReTiredbutMisstheKids permalink
      September 14, 2012 5:07 pm

      Sharon, you make a valid point. However, let’s hope the IEA & IFT members are wising up–&–no doubt–Fred & all his readers can help them to do just that. Have you been reading Fred’s posts & comments of late? Lots of information about what’s going on (or not) with the IEA leadership. Tell EVERYONE you know to read Fred daily (he’s easier to read than Diane Ravitch!). Then, it won’t matter about who the IEA & IFT LEADERSHIP endorsed–WE, who have been or have become more educated voters, DON’T HAVE TO VOTE FOR THEM. And WON’T.

  9. Jerry permalink
    September 14, 2012 3:34 pm

    Sounds strikingly familiar. Now I HAVE to edit my letter for you.

  10. granny permalink
    September 14, 2012 5:20 pm

    Your lunch went very well. You said what had to be said.

  11. Lill permalink
    September 14, 2012 5:34 pm

    Readers in State Rep District 57, Elaine Nekritz’s district, please remember to write in CHRIS LUDKOWSKI on November 6 to remove her from office. Please pass his name on to friends, relatives, neighbors, and teachers who live in District 57.

  12. September 14, 2012 5:44 pm

    Ughh….suuuper mean article Fred. Are u sure you aren’t voting for Johnothan Greenberg?

    • CPS Teacher permalink
      September 15, 2012 7:44 am

      No. Not mean. I don’t live in her district, but I certainly will donate to her opposition.

    • MiC permalink
      September 15, 2012 9:37 am

      I love Democrats who rather than respond to the criticism say “Who else you going to vote for?” Why not just come out and say it: shut up and fall in line. I got news for you – that line works both ways.

      If you want Fred’s vote, and the thousands of those teachers like him, maybe you should try to earn it. It time you stand up for your base and not trying push policies that will tank Illinois’ economy and punish the people who lived up to their contract never missing a payment. Instead start trying to actually do something that solves Illinois’ revenue problem caused by unsustainable tax policy by Springfield politicians. How about listen to people like Fred who know a great deal more about this than you appear to? Because what you are proposing is going to ensure that Greenburg and his Republican buddies get elected.

      You caused the problem. Don’t expect us to sit by quietly as you try screw up the state economy further and screw us in the process.

  13. Bill permalink
    September 15, 2012 6:03 am

    Yeah, Fred! You sure told her. I hoped that made you feel better. You’d make a great lobbyist….for the other side.

    • Bob Brill permalink
      September 15, 2012 11:10 am

      The politicians won’t learn unless we tell them. And if they don’t listen, they will wish we did when they see that we didn’t automatically vote for them because they had a “D” (or “R”) next to their name on the ballot.

  14. September 15, 2012 11:35 am

    Hold their feet to the fire, friend and foe – – tough words need to be said. Good job, Fred!

  15. September 15, 2012 4:21 pm

    Ask Elaine why she “would love to go after the retirees’ COLA” too?

    • Fred Klonsky permalink*
      September 15, 2012 4:31 pm

      I did. She admits that those forced to give up the COLA and choose TRIP were getting a pig in a poke, and although they would provide savings to the state, it would in no way solve the problem.

  16. September 16, 2012 7:55 am

    Was that Elaine responding with “supermean article, Fred?” If Elaine cannot take the truth, then she should resign.

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