Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #44. Emma Tai of United Working Families.


Not long after we talked about crooked CPS CEO Forrest Claypool on last week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers, he was forced out.

This morning we discussed the amazing decision of the City of Chicago to file a suit against the estate of Quintonio LeGrier, 19, for the shooting that also killed 55-year-old Bettie Jones.

Both were killed “by mistake” by Chicago police officers.

Here is the Trib story.

No sooner had I walked in the door after the show then Anne yelled to me that the Mayor had announced he was dropping the suit.

The power of Hitting Left!

Our guest this week is Emma Tai, a former neighbor and executive Director of United Working Families.

UWF is backing two candidates in the upcoming primaries: Brandon Johnson for the Cook County Board of Commissioners and Delia Ramirez for 4th State Representative district covering neighboring Humboldt Park.

Brandon will be on Hitting Left on Janauary 5th and Delia will join us on January 12th.

For most of the show we pondered the meaning of Alabama’s election on Tuesday, the role of electoral battles and building a movement.

Some on the Left saw the defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama as just another election. I saw it as one more chapter in the of the long history of African American self-determination.

Emma was a great guest.

Here’s the podcast.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #43. We are guests in our own home.

It was tough handing over hosting duties this week what with all that is going on in the world, the country and in Chicago.

There are no two women better equipped to keep my brother and me in our place than Anne Emerson and Joanna Klonsky.

Anne is an expert on progressive legislation in the Chicago City Council.

Joanna is a leading political consultant for progressive Democratic politics in the city.

They were all about talking about Rahm and his latest baggage: CPS CEO Forrest Claypool.

Does the dirt being reported about Claypool’s hiring of a Jenner and Block attorney who then handed over CPS business to Jenner and Block in violation of CPS ethics rules rise to the level of criminality.

Both Anne and Joanna were puzzled as to how this was any different than the crimes that the previous CPS CEO, Barbara Byrd Bennett was charged with and sentenced to four years for.

The hosts then turned to my bro and me and wanted to know what the hell were we doing in 1968 anyway.

Time was short and we couldn’t tell it all.

But we shared some of our stories.

Here is the podcast.


Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #41. Oil spills, memories of Harold and Fritz Kaegi running for tax man.

We could have done the show at Bridgeport Coffee this morning because no sooner had my brother and I arrived then in walked our guest, Fritz Kaegi.

So we spent the next hour talking about his experiences as a student and researcher in Russia back in the 90s and baseball and other assorted topics we never have time to talk about on the show.

The current Cook County Tax Assessor is Democratic Party Machine boss Joe Berrios. He will spend a million bucks on this campaign.

Imagine. A million bucks running for Tax Assessor.

That’s a lot of favors for contributors. It is one of the things that is wrong with a system like we have in Cook County where we have so many executive positions that are elected and controlled by The Machine.

Fritz thinks this is a good thing because it allows a reform challenge. He asks, “What if the Mayor appointed everybody?”

Good question.

I’m not sure. Elections for what are essentially bureaucratic offices like tax collector, recorder of deeds and the water district are a decades-old creation of a Machine that uses those positions for raising campaign cash, offering patronage jobs and puts Black and Brown faces in a few City and County executive offices without having to deliver anything to Black and Brown neighborhoods.

Still, Berrios holds that office and Kaegi wants to take him on with the hope that voters are sick and tired of the corruption and nepotism that characterize the Assessor’s office now.

It was a lively conversation and you can here it here and on iTunes.



Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #40. Chicago was once the worst? Now the best? What do test scores tell us? With David Stovall and Josh Radinsky.

Before talking about this week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers I want to encourage all my blog readers and those who listen to our radio show or podcast to spread the word about the show.

We have tons of ways to listen and although our audience gets larger every week there is – we are willing to admit – a limit to our immediate internet reach. You can help by posting or reposting a show you liked. Our platforms are many: Listen live each week at 11am on 105.5fm in Chicago. Or live streaming at http://www.lumpenradio.com. The easiest way is to go to iTunes where all our shows can be listened and downloaded as a podcast.

Help us spread the word.

This week both my brother and I were anxious to talk to brilliant education researchers about a Stanford report on a Chicago miracle. 

Based on looking at test scores Chicago students had, according to this Standford University study, made six years growth in only five years.

We invited University of Illinois education researchers and professors David Stovall and Josh Radinsky to share their views of this kind of research and the conclusions the Stanford study comes to.

As for me, I’m for banning the word “miracle” when it comes to classrooms, teachers and students.

We ain’t Lourdes and good teaching and learning is no miracle when it happens.

And it can’t be measured by some standardized test that students and teachers spend their year prepping for.

Both David and Josh spend way too much time working with real kids, not just in some ivory tower, to be fooled by this nonsense.

Check out the show.

And spread the word.

Teacher shortages and the state of ed reform on Hitting Left this Friday.

Professors David Otomoso Stovall and Josh Radinsky will be our guests on Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

We haven’t had an episode of Hitting Left that addressed the issues of teaching and learning in a while, which is odd since we have been criticized for making education an obsession.

It is a big topic and we only have one hour a week on Chicago’s 105.5fm and live streaming on lumpenradio.com.

Professors David Otomoso Stovall and Josh Radinsky were part of a group of education researchers and academic activists that came together in 2015 and formed CReATE, the Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformtive Education.

CReATE was formed in advance of the Chicago Mayoral election when Rahm Emanuel was running as an education reformer in spite of his massive school closings in the African American community.

It is one of the ironies of Chicago politics that you can close schools and call yourself an education reformer at the same time.

CReATE took a look at the claims of the Chicago Mayor and found they came up wanting.

One issue I have posted about is teacher certification and edTPA.

Recently Illinois state Senator Andy Manar – the same guy who brought us the recent mess of a state funding bill – has complained about teacher shortages downstate.

Yet neither the Senator nor the rest of the Illinois legislature have addressed the state requirement that teachers go through the  terrible edTPA process administered by Pearson.

Back in 2015 I was quoted in Northwestern University’s  Medill Reports:

Klonsky, the retired teacher, said edTPA “bypasses the important relationship between the mentee and mentor” in that it puts more emphasis on the teaching candidates’ test portfolio and single videotaped class instruction, rather than on the dynamic between the student teacher and his or her mentor, who has seen them in action during their student teaching.

“EdTPA says that relationship doesn’t matter,” Klonsky said. “What matters is someone taking a video of you. You send that video to someone who doesn’t know you, doesn’t know the classroom, doesn’t know the kids, and doesn’t know the context.”

Klonsky also said the proponents of edTPA have a vested interest in the test.

“They’re hucksters. They’re selling a program,” Klonsky said.

I plan to bring this up with our friends from CReATE.

Join us live at 11am or download our podcast from hittingleft.libysn.com or on iTunes.




Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #39. Juanita Irizarry, the giant killer.

Mike had to inform me that the Dodgers and Houston were not playing a game 8 tonight.

But most of this week’s show was devoted to a convo with the executive Director of Friends of the Parks, Juanita Irizarry.

Both my brother and I thought the proposed George Lucas museum that the Mayor and Lucas wanted to put on the lake front was a visual monstrosity.

Juanita made it clear that they were less concerned with how it looked then where it was going to go.

And as far as the Friends of the Park was concerned it wasn’t going to go on the shores of Lake Michigan which was always intended to be open, free and clear.

Because that was the Daniel Burnham plan and because it is the law.

This was a great discussion about how a small, civic organization can use the courts to battle the most powerful people and win.

And how this was one more case of Rahm and the corporate overlords of the city trying to dictate how things should go.

No elected school board.

No elected park board.

Irizarry’s group is now working with others to make sure that the Obama Presidential Center scheduled to be constructed on park land on the city’s south side reflect community concerns and input.

Lumpen Radio’s Ed Marszewski dropped by to celebrate the first year of the station and we all mourned the loss of DNAinfo.

The podcast can be found here.

Juanita Irizarry, executive director of the Friends of the Parks, is this Friday’s guest on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

With Juanita Irizarry, Executive Director of the Friends of the Parks.

The story of Chicago is filled with Davids beating Goliaths.

One of my favorite is when a small civic group headed by a local Humboldt Park woman  named Juanita Irizarry beat Rahm Emanuel and the Hollywood mogul, George Lucas in a fight to preserve our city’s beautiful lakefront.

Juanita is executive director of the Friends of the Parks.

Full disclosure: I am a dues paying member.

If you live somewhere else and are surprised that we in Chicago live in a city where saving public schools, libraries, mental health clinics and parks requires constant battles, then you absolutely live somewhere else.

It’s what we do.

Friday morning my brother and I will be having an hour long conversation with Juanita in the Lumpen Radio studio, live at 11am on 105.5fm and streaming live on http://www.lumpenradio.com.

And the show will be posted as a podcast on hittingleft.libsyn.com.

Irizarry has held posts with the Hispanic Housing Development Corp., Bickerdike Redevelopment Corp. and The Resurrection Project.

She was active with community groups to maintain affordable housing near The 606 trail.

Irizarry also was executive director of the advocacy group Latinos United, now known as the Latino Policy Forum.

She has run for 26th Ward alderman against Roberto Maldonado garnering 34 percent of the vote.

Friends of the Parks is now closely watching developments around the Obama library on the south side.

We will be talking about all that and more.


Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #38. Floyd Webb and Peter Kuttner talking film and politics.

It was only partially sunny in the south side neighborhood of Bridgeport where we broadcast Hitting Left each Friday morning.

Someone had borrowed our producer’s car and he barely made it to the studio by our 11am CDT broadcast time. I think you can tell that by the funny start of the show. But it’s live radio and that’s what makes it all interesting at the Co-Prosperity Sphere.

I have a love of film that goes back to my high school days when my surfer buddy, Jeff Ort, would pick me up on Wednesday evenings and we would head for UCLA’s Royce Hall for the weekly film showings.

It is where I learned about the French New Wave and first saw Jules and Jim.

That love affair was transferred to the Movement when I joined L.A. Newsreel. I never actually made a movie, but I traveled all over Southern California campuses to do showing of Newsreel’s Black Panther movie.

Our in-studio guests today were long-time film makers Floyd Webb and Peter Kuttner. They are wonderful story tellers.

The podcast is here.

Hitting Left posted tomorrow.


I usually try to post the archived Mixcloud and podcast versions of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers up on the blog by Friday afternoon.

Today’s show, a great conversation with film makers Floyd Webb and Peter Kuttner, will be posted tomorrow instead.

Worth the wait.