Why I’m not voting for Karen Lewis and CORE. But wish I could.


One of the most popular of my Ten Minute Drawings on this site is the imaginary poster, “Karen Lewis for Mayor.”

In some of my cartoons I depict a conversation between the mouse and the chicken. 

In this particular one there is this conversation:

“When’s the election?” asks the chicken.

“Not soon enough,” says the mouse.

I originally drew the cartoon back in September during the Chicago teacher strike.

I posted it again this weekend on Facebook.

Someone will run against Mayor Emanuel. Maybe more than one person.

Rahm’s polling numbers are in the dumpster. But he has millions of his Hollywood and corporate friends’ dollars to spend. And there isn’t any opposition candidate that the neighborhoods have united around.


So the pundits are still betting on a Rahm second turn.

Barring a perfect storm.

I was here for the last perfect storm. So I know they can happen.

That was in 1983 when a formerly little-known Congressman from the south side became the first elected African-American mayor of Chicago beating not one, but two, Democratic Machine candidates. 

Including one named Richard Daley.

In fact, Daley came in third.

Of course, CORE  and Karen Lewis are not running for mayor.

They are running for re-election to the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union.

And unless you are a member of the CTU you can’t vote in the election May 17th.

The funny (or is it sad) thing is that only a quarter of the registered voters voted for Rahm in the last election.

So the outcome of the May 17th CTU election will have as much importance to the city as the last mayoral election.

We all can’t vote. But we all have a stake in the outcome.

The CTU under the leadership of CORE has done what many unions and – as a member of a teacher union, I can say this – teacher unions haven’t always done or done well.

The CORE leadership has focused on all three of the components that characterize a good teacher union:

  • Bargaining the best contract possible and defending the working conditions of its membership.
  • Fighting for the needs of the students.
  • Engaging in the political process, particularly as it impacts public education. But also as it impacts the communities where students live.

In fact, it sometimes seems that the city’s public employee unions, with the CTU in the lead, are the only thing standing before the total corporate takeover of the city and the selling off to the private sector anything that isn’t nailed down.

Harold Washington used to joke that before he was elected mayor, if you went anywhere in the world and said you were from Chicago the people would say, “Chicago? Bang Bang!” But after he was elected they asked, “How’s Harold?”

Now when I travel to another city and I say I’m from Chicago people say, “Chicago! How’s Karen?”

2 thoughts on “Why I’m not voting for Karen Lewis and CORE. But wish I could.

  1. If I could I would vote for Karen Lewis for President. She certainly could not do a worse job than Obama. She is honest and fights for the PEOPLE. I live in L.A. and also wish I could vote for her. She is my heroine and I tell the UTLA people you should use her as a model what is your problem with electing those who do not support teachers and students?

  2. I’m not a fan of Karen Lewis, but I don’t question her sincerity and devotion to the union. The smears against her from the right on the blogosphere are vile, but I’m even more disillusioned by the current attacks by her political rivals in the union. When Lewis ran for union president a few years ago the incumbents were calling Lewis a radical and too extreme, now they’re attacking her for “giving everything away”-even when Lewis led the first CTU strike in a generation and had to contend with a much more politically hostile environment to teachers than any of her opponents’ coalitions ever had to face. Lewis deserves to be criticized, but the personal attacks on her by the UPC in the media and campaign literature appearing in teachers’ mailboxes will probably backfire and actually help get her coalition re-elected.

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