Truth and lies about Rahm Emanuel.

Protesting in front of Rahm’s house. February, 2012. Pic: Fred Klonsky

Rahm could have won re-election but he wanted to save the city from a bruising election campaign.

This appears to be the major media and pundit meme to explain Rahm’s not-entirely surprising announcement yesterday that he won’t be running for a third term.

Rahm’s return to the fifth floor of City Hall was far from assured, even with thirty million campaign dollars in the bank.

After all, he barely squeaked into a second term when Commissioner Chuy Garcia, a stand in for the ill Karen Jennings Lewis, forced him into a run-off after just a couple of months campaigning and vastly out spent.

Rahm has more baggage than a flight to Miami in January.

This morning, some pundit wrote that with Rahm’s announcement current and future candidates no longer had Rahm to run against.

That’s not exactly true.

Rahm was more than an individual Mayor. He was the embodiment of an urban policy.

We have documented the failure of those policies over the past seven and a half years.

Privatization. Union busting. School closings. A revolving door of corrupt school leadership and an unelected school board. Disinvestment in communities of color. A police department out of control. Public pension debt. An epidemic of violence. The forced exodus from the city of hundreds of thousands of African Americans. A tax burden on working class neighborhoods while corporations are given a free ride.

Eight years and the list is long.

Whoever is running or steps up to run now must present an urban policy that breaks with Rahmism.

There are already more than a dozen candidates who have announced. It is expected more will do so.

For the entrenched powers the spoils are too great to sit back and let the mayor’s office go to whoever.

I will be keeping my eyes and nose open.


A most disgusting act by those in charge of a city that makes it hard to be any more disgusted.

ct-met-bait-truck-controversy-20180808The Mayor of Chicago lectured its citizens on their lack of values.

We suffer, he said, from a deficiency of spirituality.

Actually, he was specifically referring to the citizens of Chicago’s south and west side.

Yet the Mayor and his police superintendent, in an act of profound spirituality, park a truck full of Nikes, purposefully unguarded, next to an Englewood playground where kids are playing basketball.

The purpose. Entrapment. A bait truck.

An effin bait truck parked in front of a playground to sting kids and adults in Englewood.

So, when David King, 36, who is deaf,  was arrested as part of “Operation Trailer Trap” on August 2,  he told police via sign language that he entered the trailer hoping food was inside because, well, he was hungry.

Where are his values?

CPD is working this sting in cahoots with Northfork Southern Railroad which says they are trying to stop break-ins of their railroad cars.

The nearest Northfork rail yard is a mile from the park.

Reacting to this past weekend’s gun blood bath, Rahm and Superintendent Eddie Johnson said they would flood high crime neighborhoods with hundreds of cops.

There is no evidence that these kind of short-term stunts do much to curb gun violence anyway, since cops can only act after the fact.

And that is another Chicago problem altogether.

Unless they are too busy doing sting operations aimed at teenagers playing basketball on the south side.

And trapping a hungry, deaf guy.

By the way, if a kid is playing basketball take a guess what they’re not doing.

Unless you try entrapping them.

So the Mayor’s idea of spirituality is to get more kids into the criminal justice system.

15th Ward Alderman Raymond Lopez doesn’t seem to have a problem with bait trucks. Instead he thinks that kind of operation should be left to the private sector. “I think CPD has enough issues going on in our communities not to have to resort to bait cars. Leave that to the railroad police,” Lopez told reporters.

I think Alderman Lopez is missing the point.

Meanwhile 6th Ward Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer called out the Chicago Police and the Norfolk Southern Railroad for the joint operation.

“This bait truck operation is an unacceptable and inappropriate use of police resources,” Sawyer said in a statement. “In a moment where police capacity is clearly under extreme strain, these sort of tactics are the last thing we should be spending manpower and energy on.”

With nearly 80 gun shootings in the last five days, I’m not sure it is  mainly the police who are feeling the strain.

Still, at least Alderman Sawyer wants this stuff to stop.

And no more values lectures from the current Mayor, please.



The shortage of values is in City Hall.


Adam Shortlidge is the Art teacher at Darwin elementary school down the street from my house.

He posted on my FB page about this past weekend’s carnage in Chicago.

” Horrible…former student from Darwin was one of them.”

In the most corrupt city in America, our Mayor blames shortage of values for the deaths on our streets.

Whose shortage of values?

Not every neighborhood, he says. “We are a better city.”

Did the victims have a shortage of values? So many victims that Mount Sinai, the hospital on the west side, with their ER filled with wounded, so many wounded that they called in all their staff and finally had to turn the incoming away and send them to other hospitals to be treated.

Like it was a plane crash or a terror attack.

Their values?

Perhaps he meant the values of the families struggling on the west and south sides?

Those who are still jobless in a period of official record low unemployment and economic recovery.

Maybe the Mayor meant the values of the families whose neighborhood schools have been closed.

Did he mean the values of those whose neighborhood mental health clinics he has closed?

In our neighborhood, the local churches and community groups have been collecting signatures for the November ballot so we can have the right to tax ourselves extra to reopen our now-closed mental health center.

The center he closed.

Our values?

Perhaps after next April, the Mayor will have time to contemplate the nature of values. He may even have the time to write a book about it.

Lots of time.




Rahm can’t even deliver garbage cans. Or maybe that’s the plan.

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For poor and working class people, Chicago has never been a city that really works.

But if the Democratic Machine could deliver anything, they could deliver garbage cans.

At least in exchange for a vote.

When this was Dick Mell’s ward before it was Luis Gutierrez’s ward, before it was Vilma Colom and Rey Colon and now Carlos Rosa’s ward, our precinct captain would promise a new garbage can in exchange for a vote.

It was weird because we lived in an apartment building and didn’t need city garbage pick-up.

But that was the standard promise.

Block Club Chicago has been reporting that these days the city can’t even make good on its promise of garbage cans.

The city is behind 14,000 requests for new garbage cans.

“I want them to catch up and get rid of the backlog. It’s unacceptable,” said (22nd ward Alderman Ricardo) Munoz  His residents are “very antsy, they’re very restless. It’s ridiculous. One shouldn’t have to wait three, four, five months for a garbage can.”

By the way, Ric will be our in studio guest a week from this Friday on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. 11am. 105.5fm. Streaming at and on podcast.

It’s not for lack of money. The City Council gave Rahm a million and a half more bucks for new cans.

Rahm is a guy who can’t do the most basic logistical stuff of a city manager.

But I’m thinking that maybe this is Rahm’s plan.

Rahm has been offering anything to get Amazon’s second headquarters in Chicago.

Think about this.

If Rahm paid $120 to join Amazon Prime he could have the 14,000 garbage cans delivered  by tomorrow.

Privatizing must be the plan because I just cannot believe the city famous for garbage-cans-for-votes cannot deliver on garbage cans.



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.

A city for the rich. The gentrification of Chicago.


Having lived in my Logan Square neighborhood for 42 years, the current signs of gentrification are everywhere.

You only have to sit on our front porch and hear the quiet on a summer afternoon. No kids playing ball in the middle of the street. No paleta cart ringing his bell. No elote man honking his horn. No parking spaces because three single twenty-somethings, each with a car, are sharing a $3000 apartment next door that once was home to a family.

But those that have made Logan Square a poster neighborhood for hipsters and gentrification are missing the point.

The exit of poor, middle class and people of color from Chicago is a city-wide deal that goes way beyond Logan Square. The loss of population among African Americans is staggering.

Overall, the region lost black residents in the 11-year period, about 69,000 in all. All of the decline was in the city, which lost 104,000 African-American residents, with some but not most moving to the suburbs. “Those trends suggest that black residents from Chicago are choosing to leave the region altogether,” mostly for Sun Belt cities, the report says.

That’s consistent with findings by Metropolitan Planning Council researcher Alden Loury, who in a recent report specifically examined what’s happening in Chicago proper. The loss is focused among low-income households, Loury added, and is much bigger than in most other major metros.

The population of whites here has dropped, too, down almost 200,000 in the seven counties as a whole, according to Census data crunched by CMAP. But not in Chicago.

In the city, largely in the booming central area and nearby neighborhoods, the white population is up almost 60,000 even as almost twice as many blacks left. The Hispanic population also is growing in both the city and suburbs, though not nearly as quickly as it was a decade ago, with the fastest percentage growth among Asians, although from a fairly small base.

“Chicago’s growth is relying now on whites, growing at 6,000 per year,” Chicago demographer Rob Paral told me after examining the CMAP data. “Really a remarkable change.”

However, the biggest news may be economic: Lower-income people are leaving the city and to a lesser degree the region, replaced by higher income groups.

For instance, among whites in the region, the number of households earning less than $50,000 a year dropped almost 150,000, and the number earning $50,000 to $99,999 declined more than 100,000. But the number of households earning more than $100,000 a year soared by more than 200,000. That loss of the middle class phenomenon has popped up in other data, but rarely that clearly.

Chicago is becoming a home for the rich. All others can leave.

“I make the trains run on time,” says Rahm.

The Italian Fascist claimed he made the trains run on time. He didn’t, by the way.
No sooner had I pushed the publish button on my post about the stalled negotiations between the Mayor, the CTA and the transit workers union than I opened up the New York Times to find Mayor Rahm echoing the words of the Italian fascist, Benito Mussolini.

“In Chicago, the trains actually run on time,” the Mayor boasted.

What is the deal with the obsession with the fascist Mussolini and the Rahm administration?

A few years back the Tribune, which loved the fascist back when Benito was still around, suggested a Mussolini-like turnaround guy for the school system.

CPS desperately needs a turnaround specialist. It needs deft financial management.

The people hired to take on corporate salvation projects have to have “Mussolini-like powers to execute and implement,” turnaround expert Bill Brandt of Development Specialists Inc. tells us.

Perhaps it was Il Duce’s use of slave labor that the Mayor admires.

His Second Chance program for non-violent ex-offenders to clean the busses and trains is awfully close to the slave labor of the Italian dictator.

The Amalgamated Transit Union and the second chance worker hoax.

Ken Franklin, Elmondo Pass, Clem Balanoff and Debra Lane of the Chicago local of the Amalgamated Transit Union representing rail line workers on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

On last Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers we were pleased to have Ken Franklin, Elmondo Pass, Debra Lane along with Clem Balanoff to share the state of current bargaining between the Chicago Transit Authority and Local 308 of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Ken Franklin, the local’s president and business agent announced on our program that the local had  asked their members if they were willing to strike. 97% of those voting said yes.


One of the issues being bargained for the past 18 months is the CTA’s Second Chance program.

The program hires non-violent ex-offenders to do basic custodial work for the CTA.

It sounds good giving first time non-violent offenders a job to make their lives better. 

When you know the facts though it is not a second chance. It is little more than indentured servitude or cheap labor for the CTA.

The facts are:

Second Chance workers make $10.50 an hour.  This is less than the executive order that Rahm Emanuel signed and asked sister agencies to follow to pay workers $13.50 an hour.

Second Chance workers pay 3% of their wages to a healthcare fund but do not get healthcare.

Three strikes and you are out! 

That’s right.  If a CTA Second Chance worker is late, misses a day because of illness, needs to take care of their child or attend the funeral of a loved one, that is a strike.  Three in a one year period and you lose the job.

 Second Chance workers are not given any sick, vacation, personal or holidays.

 Participants are supposed to be limited to one year in the program and then get hired. 

The fact is that the CTA has them work on the bus side for a year then on the rail side for a year before moving them back to the bus side for an additional year.  Very few ever are made permanent and full-time.  They are treated by the CTA as simply cheap labor.

Only about 9-15% of Second Chance workers ever get a job with the CTA.  Some have been bounced around for over 3 years, making slave wages under difficult conditions.

CTA management call it an apprenticeship program. The only learning that goes on is janitorial:  How to push a mop, wipe off a seat, clean-up a spit, deal with bed bugs and human waste

 This is not a second chance but a cheap labor program for Rahm Emanuel and the CTA.

The ATU thinks the program should be a real apprenticeship program that pays a living wage, has benefits and leads to a permanent job.

City Democrats betray their base.


When I applauded the plan to merge the Chicago Teachers Union with ChiACT, the union organizing charter teachers, former Arne Duncan press agent Peter Cunningham, who I assume is a Democrat, suggested it was just a way for the unions to recruit more members.

I had to explain to Peter that a union recruiting members was the point.

It is called “organizing the unorganized.”

But attacking the electoral base of the Democratic Party is what the Democrats seem to be doing these days.

It was a factor in the national Democrats loss, giving the White House to Covfefe.

Cities simply do not produce the turnout in key states that the Democrats need to win.

Democrat Pat Quinn lost to Republican Bruce Rauner in a blue state by attacking AFSCME and cutting state public employee pensions. Rauner didn’t win by much. He didn’t have to.

While Illinois went blue, Chicago Democratic Party leaders and the Mayor continue to go after the very folks who would be expected to vote Democratic.

And so we see the loss of 150,000 African Americans from Chicago just since 2000 because of Democratic mayors with economic development and policing polices that encourage African Americans to leave.

This morning there is this:

Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who released a report this morning suggesting City Hall has backed off too easily in labor negotiations in the past and needs to take a tougher approach, now that contracts covering 90 percent of the 30,000-person workforce soon will be open.

This is more of the same stuff. Protect the wealthy and go after the unionized work force.

Get tough with city unions, and do it now, because “tens of millions of dollars” a year in potential taxpayer savings are on the line.

That’s the message from city Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who released a report this morning suggesting City Hall has backed off too easily in labor negotiations in the past and needs to take a tougher approach, now that contracts covering 90 percent of the 30,000-person workforce soon will be open.

The irony of this, if not the purpose, is to give electoral wins to the Rauner’s and Trumps.