Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 68. County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry.

With Juanita Irizarry and Brandon Johnson.

So my brother is off for the week and it all falls apart.

Not the conversation with fill-in co-host County Commissioner-elect Brandon Johnson and Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry.

That was really good.

But me. At the board?

Totally messed up.

Couldn’t get the music to run. Almost lost the archived version for the podcast. Lucky we have Jamie Trecker to save my butt and retrieve it.

Meanwhile Brandon talks about his plans for working as County Commissioner and his views for expanding progressive politics.

Juanita and TFOP played a major role in stopping the lakefront giveaway to the George Lucas Museum.

But just as she argued that Chicago could build the Lucas Museum somewhere off the lakefront, she also has concerns about the use of public park land for what is essentially a private enterprise.

Compared to other big cities, Chicago does not compare well in terms of open space.

She also has concerns for a vision of parks that is driven by revenue rather than public need.

She points to the 606 Bloomingdale Trail as an example of the impact of neighborhood amenities that are intended to drive gentrification and force out those already there.

The podcast is here.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 67. The Grassroots Collaborative’s Nathan Ryan.

We invited Grassroots Collaborative’s Nathan Ryan to the show to talk about the Amazon deal.

And we did talk about it. But a comment Nathan made about the struggle around the Obama Presidential Center was also true about Amazon.

“People want the Obama Library in Chicago. They also want to be able to afford to live near it.”

Even if Rahm doesn’t get Amazon’s HQ2, he has let it be known that the city has a big for sale sign up to any corporations who want to deal.

I thought back to when Daley wanted the Olympics here.

It didn’t happen and we are better for that.

Jeff Bezos can walk.

The cost of him coming is too high.

The podcast is here.


Is the Obama Presidential Center a land grab?

Executive Director of Friends of the Parks, Juanita Irizarry on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers on Lumpenradio.

On May 10th, Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry issued a statement to the press regarding developments with the Obama Presidential Center (OPC).

Juanita said in part:

Of course, everyone wants a black and white answer.  What is the exact number of parkland that the Obama Foundation should give replace?  But it’s more complicated than that.
The answer as to the amount of green space the OPC owes Chicago is premature.  The Obama Foundation and the Chicago Park District would like Chicagoans to accept their premise based on the assumption that streets through the park will be converted to green space.  But that issue is still being studied under the required Section 106/NEPA federal review processes.  All potential alternatives are supposed to be considered in a thorough analysis that normally takes a couple of years for a project of this scope.  Yet we are being asked to sign on with support this month.  It begs the question whether we are being asked to accept a done deal that will be justified after the fact.

Additionally, they want us to accept the greening of Cornell Drive as adding parkland while they add a cement plaza on their campus.  That doesn’t sound consistent.  If it is grass that makes a space part of park replacement acreage, then their concrete plaza shouldn’t count in their figure of parkland added.


Meanwhile, the same National Park Service which the Obama Foundation and the Chicago Park District are citing as affirming their plan as a sufficient substitution for public parkland suggested at the most recent Section 106 consulting parties meeting that a baseball diamond that must be replaced could be located on the Midway Plaisance.  That is ridiculous!  So while there may be an effort to comply with the letter of the law to replace parkland, there doesn’t seem to be a priority to comply with the spirit of a truly park positive outcome.  Upon hearing a few years ago of the plans for the OPC in a park and the Obama Foundation’s commitment to a park positive outcome, Chicagoans envisioned more than what we seem to be getting.  We expected new parks to be created in the community, not just a reconfiguration of the spaces and uses within the current boundaries of Jackson Park.

Juanita Irizarry will be the in-studio guest May 25th on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers, live at 11am on Lumpenradio, 105.5fm and streaming live at http://www.lumpenradio.com. We also podcast on hittingleft.libsyn.com, iTunes and Spotify.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 66. Ra Joy.

I like to say that this is the 50th anniversary of everything.

1968 was one hell of a year.

But the reality is that the idea of 1968 is as much myth as it is reality. Stuff happened in 1967 and 1969.

But 1968 has come to symbolize an era of revolt against so much of what was wrong in society: War. Racism. The oppression of women.

Of course, those of us old enough to have been there recall that the period saw a lot of repression and violence of its own.

It’s all worth remembering.

On today’s Hitting Left we took a moment to remember that 1968 was the year my brother and Susan Eanet were married. Exactly 50 years ago.

I even played a little We’ve Only Just Begun by the Carpenters.

We were also joined in studio by Ra Joy, Executive Director of Change Illinois.

Ra was Chris Kennedy’s running mate in the recent Democratic primary for Governor. In spite of support from some progressives and the Kennedy name, Chris and Ra came in third with about 24% of the vote behind State Senator Daniel Biss and the winner, JB Pritzker.

Our discussion was pretty spirited. We struggled to define what makes a candidate progressive these days.

Just the day before Ra endorsed and introduced Lori Lightfoot as she announced her candidacy for Mayor in a crowded field against Rahm Emanuel.

The show can be heard or downloaded here.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 65. Dr. Charles Tocci.

Last year when I headed off to New York City on this weekend for the Five Boro Bike Tour (We do four boros and then drink Margaritas under the Brooklyn Bridge) I gave up my co-hosting duties to Harish I Patel.

The guy was too good and it made me nervous about ever getting my co-hosting gig back. So this year I booked my flight for later in the day.

Our usual cross talk at the start was goofier than usual. But so was this week’s news, what with Rudy Giuliani, Trump and Stormy.

Mike kept talking about having brewskies with Bruce (Rauner).

And I described my day yesterday as sitting stoned-like in front of the TV watching CNN’s talking heads, including Bill Kristol.

Was he once a Trotskyist? Or was that his dad?

It has come to this and thank god it’s Friday and we get to talk to a smart guy like Loyola Chicago professor Charles Tocci.

Mike read his column in the Washington Post about CPS using a questionable algorithm for selective enrollment admissions.

Charles used to be a classroom teacher at CPS, so he’s not some rootless, homeless, lonely academic.

“Let’s get him on the show,” said my bro.

“Let’s,” I responded.

This was not strictly a conversation about algorithms. It was about race and social justice, democracy and schools, transparency and parent and community voice.

Which is what our program is usually about.

It’s why I love Fridays.

You won’t hear that talk coming out of the mouth of Bill Kristol.

The podcast is here.


Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 64. Ralph Martire.


I claim that data, presented fairly and accurately, is inherently progressive.

Kind of like when Steven Colbert claimed facts have a liberal bias.

The hell with liberal bias. Facts should point us to radical solutions.

Ralph Martire is Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. He describes it as not a non-partisan organization but as a bi-partisan group that presents data to those in the state who make policy decisions about things like school funding and fair taxation.

He started by quoting Adam Smith to point out how whack Illinois is even if you’re after solutions that fully support capitalism.

They are very whack if you care about working people, the poor and communities of color.

Ralph and I get into a little debate about the impact of the state’s recent school funding formula and its impact on special education.

But a little debate on Hitting Left is what makes for lively discussion.

You can hear the podcast here.



Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 63. Mark Miller and Dr. Dexter Voisin. The Trauma Show.

As I watched the video of two young African American men being handcuffed and arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks – arrested for the crime on sitting two minutes without ordering anything – I was struck by how calm they seemed.

And then I thought about past videos of Black men being shot and killed in situations not so different from what occurred in the Starbucks in Rittenhouse Square.

Not resisting or arguing at a moment like that was a form of self-care and protection.

In a way you could say it was a form of coping with the trauma of American racism, both personal an institutional.

That was the topic of today’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

Our guests are Mark Miller, author of Jolt, Stories of Trauma and Transformation and the University of Chicago’s Dr. Dexter Voisin. Dr. Voisin studies the impact of racism and violence on young people.

Some studies suggest that the impact of trauma is imbedded in our DNA and passed on from one generation to the next.

I wondered about the effects of racism and violent trauma on our nation and on our nation’s DNA.

Or the trauma of capitalism.

An hour was not nearly enough time.

The episode of Hitting Left is here.


“You can’t arrest homelessness away.”

Source: The Columbia Chronicle.

From the Columbia College Chronicle.  Feb 27, 2017

A lack of counseling for children who have experienced trauma can cause them to become “numb to their emotions,” said Waldo Johnson, a professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

This February has seen a rise in crime in South and West side communities, including the deaths of multiple children—the youngest being a 2-year-old—as homicide statistics continue to rise in the city, following a year that experienced 762 murders.

With seven homicides, Feb. 22 became the deadliest day of 2017, prompting experts to agree that more needs to be done to head the trauma of city youth.

“You can’t arrest homelessness away,” said Dexter Voisin, another professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. “You can’t arrest lack of opportunity away. Policing is not going to solve this problem by itself.”

According to Voisin, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention—the federal agency responsible for public health—predicted that every homicide in Chicago affects 120 community members. The effects include  post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety in the friends and family of those killed.

Voisin said damage is seen in children who witness a homicide or know the victims, and is directly linked to low school attendance records, unsatisfactory school performance and high dropout rates. Dropping out increases the juvenile’s likelihood of becoming involved in organized crime, he added.

“Often, school counselors will be rushed in, and help will be given to those kids,” Voisin said. “The reality is when you have schools with homicide [victims] or murders in communities, those kids have been experiencing ongoing violence often on a daily basis.”

Constant exposure to violence could cause youth to worry about their own safety, Johnson said, and cause them to acquire a weapon. The most recent community violence instances have dealt with juveniles as the ones pulling the trigger, he added.

“We have to think of those individuals as being lost,” Johnson said. “To be engaged in this kind of behavior certainly suggests that something, with respect to their own lives, have gone awry.”

Johnson and others are concerned about the nearly two-year state budget impasse, which has created funding problems for child services in schools and hospitals that address emotional behavior following a traumatic experience.

“The programs and the services designed to address these very concerns are either at great risk of being reduced or of closing down in the communities where they are needed most,” Johnson said.

Andy Wheeler, a support coordinator at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, 1969 Ogden Ave., said he works with a program called Healing Hurt People Chicago.

The program pairs children with a trauma intervention specialist, who builds a relationship with them and encourages them to open up. Specialists follow up with their patients for six months to a year after a trauma incident, to assure they are feeling safe in their school, according to Wheeler.

“Right now, we have such a large caseload and such a long waiting list that we have to prioritize those who have been direct victims of community violence,” Wheeler said. “Anybody dealing with community violence could always use more resources.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is currently directing more funds toward after-school and youth-mentor programs, such as Becoming a Man and Working on Womanhood, both mentoring programs for youth in at-risk neighborhoods, as reported on Sept. 26, 2016 by The Chronicle

Voisin said city officials should be looking at long-term investments similar to what New York City and Washington D.C. did to combat youth violence and homicides—specifically investing in jobs for youth, as well as mentorship programs.

“You can’t tell a kid, ‘Don’t join a gang,’ if you don’t give them an alternative, viable opportunity,” Voisin said.


Dr. Dexter Voisin will be joined by Mark Miller, author of Jolt: Stories of Trauma and Transformation as guests on Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Live at 11am. 105.5 CDT. Download the Lumpen Radio app. Streaming at http://www.lumpenradio.com. Podcast at hittingleft.libsyn.com and other podcasts hosting sites.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 62. Brandon Johnson and Joanna Klonsky.


I am more and more convinced that I will never be at the sound board producing one of our shows without a screw-up.

Everything was going swell until the end of the show when I tried to play Going Down in Flames by our friend Matt Farmer and the Blue State Cowboys. Only I forgot to turn off my iTunes that I used to run Blues at the Border by James Armstrong so Matt ended up singing a duet of sorts with James.

Oh well. Sorry Matt. Sorry James.

Here’s Matt and the Blue State Cowboys.

Good thing we had Joanna and Brandon on. Their wisdom covered over my lack of production capacity.

Brandon was just elected Cook County Commissioner, defeating a DINO (Democrat in Name Only). It was close. My brother claims that the margin of victory closely resembles the size of our listening audience and so claims credit.

Brandon thinks it was the work of knocking on doors and talking to people.

Both Brandon and Joanna have been on our radio show and podcast often enough to be considered regulars. And we have done enough shows to describe guests as “regulars.”

Joanna works with Progressive (Big P) candidates and issue organizations to change the political landscape.

We talk about the Red State Teacher Revolt and what it means to unions in the North.

We speculate about up-coming elections in 2019 in Chicago.

You can find the podcast here.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode #61. Pat Thomas on Jerry Rubin and the Yippies.


Pat Thomas has written a book about the late radical Yippie, Jerry Rubin.

Pat came through Chicago this week so we sat down for a talk, about 20 minutes of which we share on the show.

The Yippies, which included folks like Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Stew Albert and Paul Krassner, were a creative, media savvy force in the anti-war Sixties Movement.

Pat shares some great stories even I never heard before.

The Yippies negotiating with the government over how high they would be allowed to levitate the Pentagon.

Howard Hunt suggesting to Nixon that they kidnap Hoffman.

Bob Dylan being even too weird for Abbie Hoffman.

Things are crazy now.

But it’s not the first crazy.

At the same time as the Yippies were chanting to levitate the Pentagon, I was on the west coast blocking buses filled with inductees heading for the Oakland induction center.

I was not alone.

There were ten thousand more just like me taking over Oakland intersections.

At one point I was standing next to Joan Baez.

She was there engaging in civil disobedience.

I was just being disobedient.

Here is the podcast.