Halloween Sunday. Boo! The blog week in review.

Live from the Heartland radio show.

This week’s drawings.

ThayerWHITEFISHCharter school staffingWILL WORK

This week’s episode of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers Podcast with film makers Floyd Webb and Peter Kuttner.


This week’s Tweets:




This week’s blog posts.

“States’ rights” was always a euphemism for racism. Rauner’s call for Washington to overturn Illinois’ constitution demonstrates that fact.

Harassment of women in the Springfield legislature.

A win. Judge lifts restraining order on striking Palatine essential ESPs.

Another piece of Rauner’s Turnaround Agenda goes down in flames: Local Right-to-work-for-less laws. Updated: Madigan’s House fails to override Rauner veto.

Best wishes to IEA President Kathi Griffin for a speedy recovery.

Claypool’s friends.

Picking the form of the defined contribution is picking your poison. Working people need a livable, dependable retirement income.

Keeping retirement weird. Springfield memories.

Sunday week in review.

El Yunque rainforest post Maria. Puerto Rico.

This week’s drawings.



This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers and guest Barry Romo, Vietnam vet and one of the founders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.



This week’s blog posts.

Where did I serve?

Puerto Rico’s urgency, the cruelty of Donald Trump and colonial history.

No tax fairness in Illinois. Business gets the EDGE.

Trump refuses to lift the Jones Act restrictions in response to Puerto Rico’s crisis.

Donald Trump loves one Alabama but not the other Alabama. Will national Democrats show their love?

Fund Puerto Rico now.

SCOTUS agrees to hear union fair share case. Scalia rises from the dead.

In the argument for fair share Plainfield District 202 is exhibit A. There is power is their collective voice.

Keeping retirement weird. Declaring war on Puerto Rico.

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.

Sunday, Sunday.

Chicago protest for DACA and more. September 6, 2017.

This week’s cartoons:

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This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers #31. Special Labor Day 2-hour broadcast on podcast.

Hitting Left guests Cory and Craig Stevenson and Anne Emerson.

Hitting Left Basement Tapes.


This week’s blog posts:

Bob Lyon’s TRS pension report (unofficial).

Rahm ordered CPS principals to lobby for voucher bill during work hours.

The return of Ben Velderman. Or how you know that I never did political lobbying during the time I was in my classroom teaching my students.

Marching for DACA in Chicago. The Mayor says we are a “Trump-free zone,” but I’m not so sure.

Deadbeat. Crain’s doesn’t get it right about who is owed the most by the state of Illinois. Our pension system state liability is $200 billion and growing.

What happens when you support Rauner’s “leadership” of bi-partisan support for Israel.

Candidate Pawar seems to have two sets of rules. One for retired teachers. Another for business

Chicago Fox news. Pension facts as phony as the actors who pretend to be the just folks on the street.

Keeping retirement weird. God and man in Florida.


Tweets and Retweets:






First Sunday in September.



This week’s cartoon:



This week’s episode of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers with guest Illinois State Representative Will Guzzardi:

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This week’s blog posts:

Voucher hucksters, snakes in the grass and the spineless.

IEA’s Friend of Education Lou Lang votes for voucher bill. More better, not more.

Betsy DeVos is the law in Illinois.

Lurching leftward with Daniel Biss. 

40th State Representative Jaime Andrade explains his vote for neo-vouchers.

It’s not just vouchers that were the big winner. Charters too.

Keeping retirement weird. Majority of Americans support unions while union leadership appears clueless.

Neo-vouchers aside, SB1 is just some more flimflam says Phil Kadner. I have been saying it for years.


Sunday link:


Photographs by David Bacon

Relying on the photographs, reporting and video in the mainstream media can give you a false idea about the marches and demonstrations against white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers in San Francisco and Berkeley last weekend.  The newsroom adage says, “if it bleeds it leads.”  But screaming headlines about violence, and stories and images focused on scuffles, were not a good reality check.Mainstream coverage was miles away from the reality most people experienced.  One racist quoted for each counterprotestor ignored the fact that there were at most a few dozen of one, and many thousands of the other.  More important, where were the reasons why people came out to demonstrate against racism and rightwing politics?  How did people organize their broad constituencies of faith and labor, communities of color, women and immigrants?In the confrontations between a tiny number of white supremacists and a very small number of demonstrators, the photographers who chased them sometimes outnumbered those involved.  At those same moments, hundreds of Black, Latino, Asian and white church people were marching up Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  The two banners of the Democratic Socialists of America (one all the way from Santa Cruz) stretched across the four lanes of the avenue.  Where were the photographers? In San Francisco thousands marched up Market Street.  I saw fewer photographers there than at any march in recent memory.

Making the scufflers so visible makes everyone else invisible.  Sure, editors choose what to put on the page or website.  But as media workers we can also see what’s real and what’s not.

Sunday, the start of the dog days of summer.

Progressive and actor, Cynthia Nixon, may challenge Cuomo.


This week’s cartoons:




This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers and guest Senator Daniel Biss:

This week, The Klonskys talk to Senator Daniel Biss about his gubernatorial bid, his position on state pensions and charter schools and much, much more in a candid and forthright discussion. Listen for the musical joke at the break. And Jamie quit! Neil does a better job than that guy anyway.




Every article, every interview, and every legislative session about Illinois public pension reform should begin with these statements: The public pension systems were not, and are still not, the cause of the state’s budget deficits. The state’s budget deficits were triggered by past policymakers’ corruption, arrogance and irresponsibility: the main reasons why the State of Illinois has revenue and pension debt problems.

Past Illinois General Assemblies have created the severe unfunded liability for the five public employees’ retirement systems over several decades. The legitimacy of the current Illinois General Assembly is dubious. The current state government is attempting to isolate and sacrifice one group of people for hardship and, for many of these public employees, create a dispossession by way of intentionally-diminishing laws while perpetuating special exceptions and windfalls for the wealthy elite. This is a mockery of justice, Daniel Biss.

It is critical that today’s policymakers protect legitimate expectations and concerns for all the state’s citizenry, especially for people who must be defended against those with excessive economic clout and inequitable schemes to pass prejudicial legislation that benefits the financial elite at the expense of everyone else.

-Glen Brown,  March 27, 2013

Posted by Glen as a comment to yesterday’s blog post.

The last Sunday in July.

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This week’s Hitting Left with with guests John Daley, Niketa Brar and Elisabeth Greer.

This week’s cartoons:



This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #25


My appearance on Live From the Heartland with Katy Hogan, Michael James and Thom Clark.


4 years ago, thought-leader Fred Klonsky called me a “Chicago activist” – I still hold it as one of the highest honors I have ever received.

He wrote, in part: “But I love what is happening at Senn. I love it because it appears to be a community of parents and teachers and community talking to each other. What counts as success is based on measures you are creating.”

Hey you, Be your own activist. Visit: http://dankleinman.org/lsc/


This important and energizing primer to all active teachers and faculty leadership goes out as schools begin to gear up for the new academic year, meetings about contracts, or possibly new board elections.

Last year, a dedicated team of teachers successfully took on the incumbent Tea Party in an Illinois School District with the help of the entire faculty and a carefully constructed plan to tap into positive messaging.  Reading this outline is so motivating and helpful, I hope you will scrutinize and pass along.   You gotta admire these guys!  – John Dillon


Sunday morning. Logan Square. Walking to the Farmers Market.


Pride Sunday.

stonewall riots
Stonewall was a riot, June 28th, 1969.

This week’s drawings:



This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers and Pidgeon Pagonis:

While Anne makes the chicken
I put the Fania All-Stars on the Sonos
and set the table on the back porch.
We sit and eat to the sound
of Willie Colon’s trombone.
Not loud.
But like the music we used to hear from
our neighbors
who provided the salsa for our summer porch dinners.
Now all those neighbors are gone.
So we have to provide it for ourselves.

-F. Klonsky ’17


The Rev. William J. Barber II leading a Bible study at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., last month. Credit Dina Litovsky for The New York Times

With Democrats until recently effectively excluded from official power, the business of pushing back against the conservative revolution has mostly fallen to outside activists — none more so than the Rev. William J. Barber II. The pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, an eastern North Carolina town most famous for its Air Force base and a couple of standout barbecue restaurants, Barber was until this month the president of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. When I met Barber on a Friday night this past winter, he was holed up on the 16th floor of a Marriott in downtown Raleigh. The next morning, he would lead over 80,000 people on a march to the State Capitol; now, as the clock neared midnight, he was working with about a dozen advisers on the speech he would give to that crowd.

Barber is a giant man with sleepy eyes and a permanent hunch — a result of a debilitating arthritic spinal condition. He is sufficiently infirm that he’s uncomfortable sitting or standing, so most of the time he can be found propped up on a stool or leaning on a cane. But when Barber speaks in his rolling baritone, not just at the pulpit or on the Capitol steps but even in casual conversation, his back seems to straighten and his eyes come alive. “One of the great gifts of Pentecost was not that they spoke but that they heard,” Barber said to his advisers, asking them to tell him what he should talk about the next day. “I think about that other text in Isaiah that says, ‘Oh Lord, open my ears every morning that I might hear and that I might have the tongue of the learned.’ ” New York Times



Fathers Day Sunday.

When you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that for all these years, there’s been schools named after the renowned union leader, Cesar Chavez, that resisted unionization and collective bargaining rights for teachers. Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Charter School was unionized back in 2013.

They called our arguments “preposterous”. DFER’s snarky response was, “No one’s holding a gun to their heads.” In other words, if teachers really wanted a union they would have one, or if they didn’t like the conditions at school like Chavez, they were free to leave and go elsewhere.

Turns out they really wanted one. Mike Klonsky’s Small Talk


Protesting against the verdict in the case against Philando Castile’s murderer in St. Paul, MN. Photo credit: Caroline Yang

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Chicago Puerto Rican Day parade. Division Street. Photo courtesy of Jesse Mumm.


Shortly after a special session of the Illinois General Assembly ended a couple weeks ago, Representative Daniel Biss described the failure to enact pension “reform” by the politicians assembled in Springfield this way:
“We all look like idiots.”
This line, widely reported, pretty much summed up the view held prior to the special session of roughly 800,000 working and middle class Illinois public employees who keep us safe, care for our sick and elderly, inspire our children, or generally ensure Illinois keeps working. But although this might be a great summation of a growing majority of those paying close attention to the actions of their elected representatives in Springfield, for me this line was more a glimpse into the esteem Springfield politicians hold the majority of people who elected them to office.
We look like idiots to them.
How else can candidates like Daniel Biss, who wants to be the next Democratic state senator from the ultra-deep blue north shore, think we won’t notice that his website describes “our promises of future Medicaid, pension, and retiree health benefits” – rather than an outdated flat tax system or corporate giveaways – as the focus of his “tough decisions” he’d make to fix Illinois’ structural budget deficit? Does he think we won’t notice that his five-point plan for “Jobs and the Economy” has as its first priority a corporate tax cut that subsidizes private sector labor costs with taxpayer dollars? Does he think we won’t notice there is no mention of the need for a graduated income tax, an end to corporate give away, or the reform of TIF district use?
Does Biss think we’re idiots? September 2012, Glen Brown’s blog


Sunday times.

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Saturday’s climate march in Chicago.


Trump and Pence may crow about bringing back coal, but the truth is more natural. The future, which they will deny and turn away from coal and fossil fuels, and instead turn to renewables.  The cost of solar and wind will become more and more economical and scientifically worthy – two areas in which neither have any faith or comprehension.

We are jolted from one crisis to another – North Korea, Syrian blasted under Tomahawk missiles, a fence and no fence, a China enemy and then friend – we are subjects now to whims, many determined in the wee hours of the morning by a sorry child-man wandering alone in the hallways of an historical building, his children hired to help prevent his emotional outbursts from throwing us all into some disaster or, worse, a nuclear Armageddon. RESIST! John Dillon, Pension Vocabulary




When you go home, I hope you all say that your trip to the White House was something very special.  I know Melania has been working with you now for quite a while.  She is a tremendous fan of wonderful teachers. But she’s worked very hard and we’re having some special times here. This is Melania’s birthday and you were very nice to sing happy birthday, even though we’re celebrating you.

So thank you all very much and God bless you all.  And you go back and keep teaching those students because, like I said — oh, look, and you’re crying —

PARTICIPANT:  Sorry, I’m always crying!  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I know, the Oval Office can do that.  I have had some of the biggest executives in the world and they’ve been here many times.  I said, have you ever been to the Oval Office, and they said no.  I mean, I once had here like the biggest, from the biggest companies. And they walk into the Oval Office and they start crying.  I said, I promise I won’t say to your various stockholders that you cried.  (Laughter.)   But I have seen people cry that you’d never believe.  It’s a very special place, and it’s a special building.  So thank you all very much.  Thank you. Donald Trump’s remarks at National Teacher of the Year event at the White House.


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May Day Chicago events.


Some 5,000 workers at 53 Chicago-area nursing homes are threatening to go on strike next week if long-running contract negotiations don’t satisfy their calls for higher wages and staffing levels.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois announced the walkout plans Thursday morning before the last scheduled contract negotiations took place between the union and Illinois Association of Healthcare Facilities, which represents the nursing homes staffed by SEIU members.

“We’ve prepared as though we’re going on strike,” said Greg Kelley, president of SEIU Healthcare Illinois.

If the walkout happens, it would begin May 4 at 15 nursing homes, with the rest joining May 5 and 6, and would continue indefinitely, Kelley said. The workers on strike would include certified nursing assistants, food service workers, housekeepers and janitorial staff. Among the 53 nursing homes affected are 10 facilities in the Alden network, one of the larger nursing home operators in the state. Tribune.




Eighty years ago, on April 26, 1937, the fascist Francisco Franco bombed the Spanish village of Guernica from the air. It was the first time a civilian population was a military target by an air force. It was the subject of outrage around the world. Pablo Picasso painted what is considered by many the greatest painting of the 20th Century.

Now bombing civilians is considered a measured response.