Take a knee Sunday.


This week’s drawings.


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.

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?

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.

Hitting Left. Last week and Friday’s show.

It is frequently said that in Chicago, election politics is a contact sport.

Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers features some major players: County Clerk David Orr and Chicago Votes’ Steve Valles.

We have a governor’s race coming up and this week Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced she would not seek another term.

Good for her.

Thanks to the efforts of Orr and Valles’ Chicago Votes organization, Illinois now has some of the most progressive election procedures in the nation.

Illinois? Would you believe it?

But making voting easier doesn’t mean we have the best candidates to vote for. That is a whole other can of worms.

We will be talking about voting rights, combatting voter suppression and better choices on Friday’s episode: 11AM. 105.5fm and streaming at Lumpenradio.com

And you can download last Friday’s show with attorney Flint Taylor on podcast.

Can you hear me now? Making Medicare better.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wrote a provision calling for a public option as a transition to the “Medicare for all” proposed in Bernie Sanders’s bill. CreditMichael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

Last week I wrote about how the demand for a Medicare for All replacement to Obamacare was limited by the fact that Medicare, in spite of all that is positive about it, is no substitute for a true national health care system.

I focused on the issue of hearing aids, which are not covered by Medicare in spite of the fact that half of those over 75 suffer from severe hearing loss. Today, the following letter appeared in the New York Times:

To the Editor:

Re “In Outline of ‘Medicare for All,’ a More Modest Starting Point” (The Upshot, Sept. 16):

We support proposals that look to the Medicare program as a starting point for expanding coverage. Before doing so, however, Congress should improve Medicare for its current and future beneficiaries. Drawing on our expertise from serving people with Medicare, these improvements are critical:

Fill in coverage gaps, including vision, hearing and dental coverage; include a cap on out-of-pocket expenses and a prescription drug benefit in the traditional Medicare program; strengthen assistance for low-income people; ensure the right to buy supplemental Medigap insurance for all Medicare beneficiaries, including those under 65; and ease transitions into Medicare from other types of insurance.

The Medicare program is a national treasure. We should preserve and enhance it as we work toward the goal of comprehensive universal coverage. Then Medicare can truly help reduce the national uninsured rate to zero.


The writers are, respectively, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy and president of the Medicare Rights Center.