Chicago’s next mayor. Looking forward. Looking backward.

Stacey Abrams won the Democratic nomination for Governor of Georgia.

I was holding the microphone at a luncheon of my chapter of the Illinois Retired Teacher Association in 2017. We had all the announced Democratic candidates for Governor of Illinois assembled at the front table.

My job was to move around the room and let our members ask the candidates questions.

But I couldn’t help myself.

The candidates were all white guys.

In 2017 all the Democratic Candidates for governor were white guys.

So, I broke protocol and asked my own question. “How is this going to change,  boys?”

In the coming race for Mayor of Chicago, political views and agenda matter a great deal.

But so does race, nationality and gender.

It is the way to build a winning grassroots coalition.

Some have decided that bankers and LaSalle Street deep pockets will decide who runs this city.

That’s not a new idea.

Others think we should look forward by looking backward wistfully to the Daley era, dismissing critiques of Daley and Rahm and the last 30 years as trading on fear.

To me, the political story of the year is the victories around the country won by socialists (whatever the definition), progressives and left-wing Democrats in primary after primary. It is a story of entrenched white men who thought their power would last forever being thrown out of office by women of color. And by women of color finally being credited with the fact that they are at the very least the drivers of progressive electoral wins.

Ocasio-Cortez. Presley. Abrams. And others

Chicago is a rainbow – if segregated – city. Half the voters are women. Two thirds are people of color.

There was a time when Chicago led the way, setting an example for what progressive, inclusive politics looked like.

We now have a chance to catch up.

Not by reassembling the old guard, or looking to big money, or with a history that claims  a progressive vision was given birth by somebody named Daley.

Rahm running on school success? What am I missing?

If I were Mayor Rahm there would be two issues I would want to stay away from if I was still planning on running for the fifth floor again.

One would be police misconduct and his role in the suppressing the Laquan McDonald shooting video for a year.

Of course, that’s not in his control. If Rahm decides to run again, that video is going to be on TV constantly, as it should be. The trial of Jason Van Dyke, the cop who shot McDonald 16 times – 14 times after he was on the ground – is scheduled to start soon.

It is still very hard to watch.

The second issue I would stay away from is school reform.

We have documented the Rahm school agenda. It just sucks. It began with picking a fight with CTU President Karen Lewis.

Provoking a teacher strike.

Closing a record number of schools, mostly in African American neighborhoods.

Defying the will of the people who overwhelmingly support a representative elected school board.

Rahm’s BFF, former CPS CEO Forrest Claypool hired a consulting firm with no experience in special education to rewrite sped the special education handbook and practices. This led, in part, to the take-over of special education by the Illinois State Board of Education.

One more CPS disaster.

Plus CPS has gone through more CEO’s and administrative leadership under Rahm than Donald Trump has gone through cabinet members.


I know something about schools what with being a 30-year teacher and all.

I’m not an expert of election strategies.

Clearly Rahm has decided to take a different route than I suggest and claim public school success.

Even in the face of facts.

Perhaps he has looked at what works for President Trump and thinks he can get away with it too.

The Tribune reports Rahm has a union-backed front group that is producing advertisements lauding Chicago public school success. His ads feature the current CEO, Janice Jackson.

What am I missing?



The Rahm/Daley tiff. There are no sure things a year away.

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Banker Bill Daley comes to the defense of his older brother.

I wonder.

If Rahm feels he is in a good place to be re-elected Mayor next Spring, why is he getting into a fight with the Daley brothers?

In case you missed it because you were concentrating on the big news story of the weekend: Whether it was wrong for a comedian hired to tell topical jokes, to make fun of people in power at a dinner of news reporters and celebrities in Washington?

My view is Michelle Wolf was just doing her job, a job which doesn’t even require her talent these days.

Michelle Wolf’s language was blue, but nothing compared to the real news coming out of the Trump administration. And, what? Did they not see her act before they hired her?

Back to the Rahm/Daley tiff.

Seven years in, Rahm is still blaming his predecessor for stuff.

Banker brother Bill Daley came to Richie’s defense by pointing out that Richie never blamed Harold Washington when he screwed up.

Blamed Harold Washington for what is what I want to know?

It just seems to me that getting into this kind of fight is not a sign of political confidence.

Even with Rahm’s famous rolodex.

The fact that he is attracting more opponents, a new one on a weekly basis, is a good news/bad news situation.

The good news is that more candidates in the race make it difficult for him to break through 50% in the primary.

The bad news is that progressives have not rallied around a single candidate to oppose Rahm. It would seem to me that the plan is to at least beat Paul Vallas and Garry McCarthy and then to face Rahm in a run-off.

The money behind Rahm is impressive.

The new filing includes three major trade unions: the Ironworkers Political Fund ($250,000); Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters PAC ($100,000) and IBEW Local 134 ($50,000). 

The carpenters are part of the investment group that purchased the Chicago Sun-Times.

Other large contributions to Emanuel’s fund came from: Jeffrey Hecktman, CEO of Hilco Global ($50,000); investment manager Muneer Satter ($55,600); Howard Gottlieb ($50,000) and Dick Wolf and his Wolf Entertainment, producers of the locally-produced television series “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Med” ($16,700).

The new donors also include: Bernard Schwartz, CEO of BLS Investments ($100,000); Eli Broad ($25,000) and Michael Polsky, CEO of Invenergy LLC ($25,000).

But, like I said, why get into a fight with Daley over who is at fault for the shit shape the city is in if Rahm isn’t worried?

And if after the November elections – with a Mayoral primary at the end of February – there is movement around a single progressive Rahm opponent?

Who knows what could happen?

But what do I know?

Trump is President and I never thought that could happen.

Paul “Moe” Vallas wants to be mayor of Chicago, so he moves here.

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The Chicago Sun-Times has a headline this morning which states that Paul Vallas has created a campaign committee.

This is not exactly breaking news, since he announced he was running for mayor of Chicago last week.

The Sun-Times also reported that the Committee opened a bank account in Plainfield.

Plainfield? Okay. It’s not Chicago. I don’t care. People in Plainfield probably tell their relatives who live somewhere else that they live in Chicago anyway because who knows where Plainfield is.

The Sun-Times also reports that Vallas just established his residence in Chicago. That is kind of interesting since he wants to be mayor of a city he hasn’t lived in for a while.

It does make me wonder where he has been living while he was running Chicago State University which is in Chicago.

In his defense, Vallas has been busy destroying school districts in New Orleans, Bridgeport and Philadelphia and busy running around the country marketing the “Vallas school reform model” through convicted felon Gary Solomon and his SUPES operation.

That in addition to losing every election he has run in.

Of course, the current mayor, Rahm Emanuel, also ran into trouble establishing residence the first time he ran.

I have called Rahm, Garry McCarthy and Paul Vallas the Three Stooges. The fact that neither Rahm nor McCarthy are from here and that Vallas just moved back are not their biggest problems.

Still, I try to to buy local.





I think we have a candidate.

Troy for Mayor

People who know me will think I have gone batty in my old age.

Or had too much to drink at the Hideout last night.

But I am throwing a school principal’s hat into the ring for Mayor of Chicago.

Me. A thirty-year teacher and former local union president is supporting a school principal for mayor?

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together.”

I’m quoting from the Bible? Maybe I did have one too many at the Hideout last night.

Plus, I don’t know what a fatling is.

Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke hosted their monthly meeting, First Tuesday, at the usually rockin’ Hideout yesterday. Joining Joravsky and Dumke was Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union and my past candidate for Chicago Mayor. They also invited Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine elementary school in Lakeview.

Ben asked Karen if she would run for mayor again and she said no.

By the way, when asked about her health, Karen said she was having a good week. And she sounded great.

But I heard her say to Troy, “You should run.”

That’s is when it struck me: We have a candidate.

A school principal!

And you heard it from me first.

And I heard it from Karen first.

I prefer to take that as an unofficial early endorsement from Karen.

Troy has received attention for speaking out forcefully against the education policies of the current mayor.

His own personal story of a poor Black kid of a white mother raised on the southside, joining the Navy and then finding his way, graduating from the University of Illinois to become a CPS principal, is inspiring.

He told that story last night and it was riveting.

And his critique of the political and economic corruption in this most corrupt of American cites is right on target. He goes far beyond describing what the one percent have done to our public neighborhood schools.

This guy understands what they are doing to our city and our people.

And I only had one beer.

Rahm’s environmental record deserves no endorsement.

Laura in San Fran cropped

Environmental activist Laura Sabransky

– By Laura Sabransky.  Laura’s advocacy for a more just, humane and sustainable society has been as a volunteer. Her non-profit career includes volunteer management and education, communications, special events and fundraising. She holds degrees in Psychology/Communications and Interior Design. Connect with Laura on Facebook and twitter.

A Chicago Tribune reporter told me recently “no one pays attention to endorsements.” Let’s hope that’s true in the case of the endorsement of corporatist “pay to play” Rahm by some of the largest and longest standing “liberal” organizations with whom I’ve volunteered hundreds of hours: Sierra Club, the PACs of Planned Parenthood Illinois Action and National Organization for Women.

The Chicago Group of the Sierra Club conducted an interview with Rahm prior to endorsing him on January 18. Sierra Club did not approach any of the opposing mayoral candidates to request an interview nor did they send questionnaires to the candidates. Not even to the candidate who stood the best chance of forcing the run off – Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

Special interest groups often say their endorsed candidates are “good on their organization’s issues.” But when an endorsement utterly lacks consideration of critical context, engages dubious criteria as well as a specious process, it warrants criticism – if not outright condemnation.

“I was taught that the Sierra Club was a respectable organization that stood up for the environment, but when its locals go about endorsing candidates who are in bed with Wall Street and financial firms who are not only global drivers of environmental destruction but also wealth inequality and privatization of democracy, it’s kind of hard to find any respect. Absolute shame and disgust on the Chicago Sierra Club,” said Alec Hudson on Chicago Group of the Sierra Club’s Facebook page on January 19.

As of this writing, I cannot predict who will win the mayoral election, but I am sure of one thing. The institutions I once upheld as guiding lights for activists and progressive issues have already lost.

The guy who counts votes Tuesday gets lobbying deals from Rahm.


Chairman of the Chicago Board of Elections, Langdon Neal.

Look. Nobody believes the Chicago Tribune polls. The last one showed Rahm with a 28 point lead.

That is laughable.

I ran into my friend Don the other day who predicts Chuy will win by six to seven points.

That may be optimistic.

Most believe it will be close.

It is Rahm’s millions against a mostly seat-of-the pants grass roots movement.

Of course, that is what grass roots movements are.

Yet we do win, surprising some but never surprising me.

If it is close, know that the guy counting the ballots is Chicago elections board chairman Langdon Neal.

Langdon Neal makes a lot money from deals with Rahm.

The City’s few real investigative reporters, Ben and Mick, wrote about this last year.

I was reminded of this again earlier this week, when I read the Tribune‘s fine story about the heavy-hitting real estate interests involved in the DePaul stadium and hotel project—the one near McCormick Place that’s set to use at least $55 million in taxpayer funds.

Near the bottom of the story—and you should read it to the bottom—Neal was identified as the chief negotiator for the city and McPier, the state authority that runs Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

It was the third time I’d come across Neal’s name in as many days.

David Sirota writes about it again today in the International Business Times.

If Chicago’s first mayoral runoff in history ends up razor close on April 7, the city will be relying on a purportedly independent arbiter to oversee any recount. But that arbiter, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, is chaired by a politically-connected lawyer whose firm has received secret city lobbying contracts from incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. After receiving those contracts, the chairman has already used his power to boost the mayor’s allies against anti-Emanuel challengers in other municipal elections.

Board chairman Langdon Neal was appointed to his position by the Cook County Circuit Court, not by any city official — a structure that is supposed to preserve the board’s independence from candidates for municipal office. However, the laws establishing the election commission do not prohibit Neal from getting contracts from the mayor, whose election he will oversee. How much he has made from those contracts remains a closely guarded secret: the Emanuel administration has denied an open records request for the terms of the deals, refusing to respond to International Business Times within the timeframe mandated by Illinois law.

Sirota tried to get Rahm to release the email exchanges between his billionaire pension investor pal Michael Sacks and City Hall. Rahm said no.

Cook County Clerk David Orr and 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack joined in asking for their release. Sirota, Orr and Waugespack were ignored.

By both Rahm and the Chicago press.

I don’t expect that the media sheep will pay attention to the Langdon Neal story any more than they did the Michael Sacks story.

I mean, it’s only the election.

They’re called trackers

When your billionaire Wall Street buddies have given you $30 million to spend on your campaign for mayor of Chicago, you can afford the extras.

Like trackers.

You can find them at every event where Jesus Chuy Garcia is speaking.

Like this morning at Darwin Elementary School in my neighborhood.

Chuy was there to talk about Rahm’s bad financial deals that have cost Chicago Public Schools a billion dollars. These toxic bank deals can be renegotiated.  Rahm claims they are contracts and cannot be changed.

This is an odd claim given the Mayor’s attitude towards pension contracts.

On the edge of the crowd of parents and reporters was the tracker with her mini-cam.

Her hope was to catch Chuy saying something that opposition research could use to embarrass him.

Failing that they take disconnected clips and create Chuy say something he hasn’t said by putting clips together out of context.

This was Rahm’s specialty in the Clinton campaign.

Tracking is usually assigned to the campaign employee on the bottom rung of the ladder.

Or the one you wouldn’t trust to go get the coffee order right at Dunkin Donuts.

The fighting Tenth.


Susan Garza and Karen Lewis last night.

I was back in the Tenth Ward last night.

I love the fight in the Tenth Ward.

It is pure.

Good against evil.

The Koch brothers agaInst a community of working class folks.

Susan Sadlowski Garza, daughter of a steelworker union leader and reformer, and herself a leader of the CTU, against a corrupt Democratic Party hack.

We headed down the Chicago Skyway last night and our car was full.

So was the former Steelworkers Union hall, now the Generation to Generation church.

It sits just across Avenue O from the site of the Republic Steel Memorial Day Massacre, where in 1937 striking steelworkers gathered and 10 were gunned own by Chicago Police.

It was packed with folks waiting to hear from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Nation national correspondent John Nichols, Karen Lewis, Susan Garza and Chuy.

Everyone greeted each other with what is now the common Chicago greeting:

“So, how do you think we’re doing?”

Man, I think we are doing great!