A simple proposal. Give public school teachers an extra year of retirement service credit for the pandemic year.

I’ve been out of the classroom for nearly a decade.

But as I speak to my colleagues who have taught this year it is mind boggling.

That is true whether they taught remotely, in-person or hybrid.

I have a simple proposal. It doesn’t begin to demonstrate what should be our profound thanks.

The Illinois legislature can act to give every public school teacher an extra year of creditable service.

Now some Republican state representative has introduced a bill that offers that up, but only to teachers who did in-person teaching. A days credit for a days in person teaching.

Frankly, that’s bull.

It’s totally divisive. As it was probably meant to be.

Here is the TRS web site with information of Tier 1 creditable service requirements.

Of course, Tier II has got other problems that need to be addressed, but nothing prevents the legislature from offering two years credit to both Tier I and Tier II (those entering the system after January 1, 2011).

It’s a small token.

American anti-Asian racism has a history.

Anti-Chinese mobs in San Francisco.

Writing in the New York Times, Qian Julie Wang describes the experience of being Asian in America.

The last time I took the train to work, in March, a man put his face inches away from mine and shouted “chink” while looking me dead in the eyes. Not one person came to my defense. The slur rang through my ears, transporting me back to my childhood. I haven’t set foot on a train or a bus since.

I’m far from alone. The United States has had a surge in violence against Asian-Americans during the pandemic. Between March and December 2020, Stop AAPI Hate, an initiative that tracks and responds to reported incidents of violence and discrimination directed at Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, received more than 2,800 reports of incidents against Asian-Americans. Stop AAPI Hate also found that women are twice as likely as men to report coronavirus-related harassment.

Though Anti-Asian sentiment has increased during the pandemic, it is woven into the very fabric of this country. The Page Act of 1875 effectively barred Chinese women, who were believed to spread sexual disease and to pose a threat to white values, lives and futures, from entering the country. The Chinese Exclusion Act, which was signed into law in 1882, was the first and only enacted legislation to prohibit immigration of all individuals of a particular national origin. The exclusion laws weren’t repealed until 1943, when Congress established an immigration quota for China of about 105 visas per year.

The country’s legal framework dehumanized Asian immigrants, and in turn emboldened Americans to brutalize us. In the Chinese Massacre of 1871, a white mob hanged nearly 20 Chinese immigrants in makeshift gallows in Los Angeles. In 1930, hundreds of white men roamed the streets of Watsonville, Calif., terrorizing Filipino farmworkers for days before killing a man. After Pearl Harbor, an angry nation used Japanese-Americans as a scapegoat. After the Vietnam War, the Ku Klux Klan tried to drive Vietnamese-Americans out of Texas by burning their houses and boats — a symptom of anti-Vietnamese sentiment across the country.

The recent spate of attacks is targeting the most vulnerable members of our community. Two assailants slapped an 89-year-old woman in the face and set her shirt on fire in Brooklyn last fall. In January, an 84-year-old man died after he was brutally attackedwhile on a morning walk in San Francisco. This week a 52-year-old woman waiting in line outside a bakery in Flushing, Queens, was rushed to the hospital after she was violently shoved and blacked out.

Stop the attacks on Asians.

Violence against Asians in America has reached epidemic proportions.

The murder of eight people in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors is the latest example.

Although the authorities are trying to downplay the racist hate aspect of the crime, six of the victims were Asian women.

There have been at least 3,795 hate incidents targeting the AAPI community from March 19, 2020, to Feb. 28, 2021. More than 500 of those incidences occurred in 2021.

Although violence against Asians in America goes back over 100 years, and includes the internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II, the current targeting of anyone who is from an Asian country or has ancestors from an Asian country is simply unacceptable.

Much of the current wave of racist attacks can be traced to Donald Trump and his use of “the China flu” to describe the pandemic.

It has been common for racist street violence against Asians to be accompanied by the use of the term “China flu”.

Even basketball star Jeremy Lin told NBC news that another player called him “coronavirus” during a game. Lin has continually used his platform as an Asian American athlete to denounce racial violence and call for unity.

Other athletes reacted.

While Trump’s anti-China campaign may have given the race hatred a boost, the Democrats’ hands are not clean on this. The Biden administration has chosen to increase tensions with China. International campaigns directed against a specific country with the accompanying aggressive language has consequences here in a U.S., a nation of immigrants. When U.S. policies single out any nation, immigrants and descendants from those countries end up paying a price.

As Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted:

Stop the hate.

Living wage? Union rights? Voting rights? Democrats must bust the filibuster.

It ain’t exactly Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It’s more like Mr. Cruz goes to Cancun.

Democratic Party control of congress and the White House presents an opportunity to end the Senate filibuster and expand democratic rights.

We shouldn’t let them leave this moment without action.

Whether its is expanding federal laws regarding voting access, a living wage or current legislation passed by the House to expand the rights or organize a union, they can all be stopped in the Senate even though Democrats have a voting majority.

You can read about how the filibuster works here.

It ain’t exactly Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

It’s more like Mr. Cruz Goes to Cancun.

But the bottom line is that Democrats by a simple majority can end this anti-democratic parliamentary procedure.

This is the moment.

President Biden talks about being the most progressive, pro-union, pro-social justice president in generations.

Talk is cheap.

Bust the filibuster.

Retirees and the Covid relief plan.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s in the Democrats’ Covid relief plan, now signed by President Biden.

I say “Democrats” because not one Republican senator voted for it.

Most retired teachers in the state of Illinois receive no Social Security and depend on our teacher pension which averages $50,000 a year.

So, many retired teachers qualify for the one-time $1,400 payment authorized under the law. The payment goes to those with up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income and then payments phase out between $75,000 and $80,000 of AGI.

Since many teacher retirees have an AGI below those levels, they can expect a check.

An important part of the law provides approximately $12 billion in dedicated emergency funding earmarked for expansion by states of Medicaid home and community-based services for one year.

We elders are most aware of the toll that the virus has taken on those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. They account for 35% of all Covid deaths. Until the pandemic, federal Medicare dollars have been directed to these facilities instead of home care, which many of us would prefer.

The bill marks a change, with a shift to home care and community based care.

We should demand this expand further and become permanent.

As for pension debt relief, I have already posted about the Republican attempt to make it seem as if the bill is a bail out for public employee pensions.

There is no truth to this.

No relief money goes to state pension so-called bailouts.

The rescue act provides up to $86 billion in grants to pay full benefits to participants in multiemployer pension funds.

The crisis in private sector pension funds preceded the pandemic but the job losses from the pandemic have only made it worse.

Saving these multiemployer funds is a good things.

Tucker Carlson. What makes an army “masculine”? Maybe bringing them home.

I’m not a big fan of Tammy Duckworth, Democratic Senator from Illinois.

My issues are with her centrist politics.

Although I disagree with her on many political issues, her reaction to Fox’s Tucker Carlson nailed it.

“Fuck Tucker Carlson,” Duckworth tweeted.

She politely left out the last three letters of the word, “Fuck.”

I always find that practice kind of weird. Like when we read, “F— Tucker Carlson” we don’t know the Senator Duckworth means “Fuck Tucker Carlson”?

Of course we do.

I mean, we read it as “Fuck,” so why not just say, “Fuck Tucker Carlson”?

The Tribune reported:

Illinois U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth joined with top Pentagon and senior military officials Thursday in sharply condemning Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, who decried efforts to accommodate women in the military while “China’s military becomes more masculine.”

Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran combat veteran who lost her legs after her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, took to her campaign’s Twitter page to declare: “F— Tucker Carlson.”

I’m kind of interested in Tucker Carlson’s description of China’s 2.3 million member People’s Liberation Army as becoming more masculine.

I don’t imagine Tucker means that China’s army has fewer women serving in its ranks. That’s just not true. Everything I’ve read says just the opposite. Like most modern armies, more women are serving and leading in China’s military than at any time since 1949.

I’d rather point out one huge difference between China’s army and the U.S. military that Tucker Carlson may not realize or would rather ignore.

Although China’s PLA has over 2.3 million soldiers, almost none are stationed outside of China’s borders.

The United States has over 400 military bases all over the world and our military is stationed at all of them.

So, Tucker.

I don’t know if it is masculine or feminine to bring our troops home.

But I’m pretty sure China is being a whole lot smarter about it.

Trump’s cease and desist order to the RNC. Doing it the Madigan way.

There was some talk after the election that Trump might split from the Republican Party and form his own Party.

It is unclear whether that idea has been put to rest.

The anti-Trump wing of the Republicans, also known as the Lincoln Project, seem to be having troubles of their own. They have reported sexual harassment issues. In addition, some of these never-trumpets appear to be grifters much like Trump.

What is becoming clear is that Trump is creating his own political fundraising operation to fill his own pockets and back Trumpers who are planning to primary anyone who isn’t a Trump loyalist.

And he doesn’t want to share it with the Republican Party.

In fact, his lawyers have filed a cease and desist order to stop the official Party from using his mug on their fundraising efforts.

This sounds familiar to me.

It appears Trump has spent time studying the Michael Madigan way.

Madigan, in addition to his long time as Speaker of the Illinois House, was also Chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party.

However, financial support for Democratic Party candidates didn’t come from the Illinois Democratic Party bank account. Madigan kept that account to a minimum balance.

Candidates had to go to Friends of Michael Madigan, his own personal PAC.

Even though Madigan was head of the Illinois Democratic Party, his personal PAC was much larger than the Illinois Democratic Party PAC. Union dollars went to fund his personal PAC.

Friends of Michael Madigan has a balance of $13,472,855 as of December 31st, 2020.

Now that Madigan has been forced out of his Speaker’s office, what happens to the money?

According to a story by reporter Derrick Blakely at the Center of Illinois Politics over a million dollars of that his to spend as he wishes.

Guess where Illinois and Chicago teacher union political action money went?

Not to the Party PAC. It went to Michael Madigan”s PAC.

In the last quarter the CTU PAC gave The Friends of Michael Madigan $8,000.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers’ COPE gave The Friends of Michael Madigan $210,000.

The Illinois Education Association’s IPACE gave The Friends of Michael Madigan $57,000.

So, if Trump is going to learn his latest grifter game, it makes sense to look to Madigan. As a grifter, Madigan was the best of the best.

Republican lies about “blue state pension bail out.” There is not one dime in the rescue bill for public pensions.

More than one-third of the workers affected are Teamsters, as the deregulation of trucking slashed the number of union drivers. The Teamsters say more than 50 of their pension plans would be immediately eligible for aid if the relief bill passes.

The Democrats’ Covid rescue bill hasn’t even been signed into law yet, but the Republicans are using it to attack public pensions like ours in Illinois.

Because of the failure of legislators to adequately fund them for decades, public pensions are billions in debt. And while federal help might not be such a bad idea, that’s not what is in the rescue bill.

The GOP says:

For years, states like Illinois have been hoping for a federal bailout. Illinois currently carries a mind-boggling $224 billion debt burden.

Well, Illinois lawmakers must be breathing a big sigh of relief, considering it appears more likely than ever that the federal government will pump out $350 billion to states and local governments, under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Even Donald Trump wouldn’t tweet a whopper like this. Not one dime of the rescue bill will go to public employee pensions funds.

The pension rescue contained in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill now waiting for expected House approval and Biden’s signature will go to private multi-employer pension plans and will assist workers in blue and deep red states.

Not one dime will go to public pensions.

The pension portion of the rescue bill is sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). It would create a Treasury Department agency called the Pension Rehabilitation Administration that would sell bonds and use the proceeds to give grants to troubled pension plans. That money would enable underfunded multiemployer pension plans to pay all benefits owed to retirees through 2051 without any cuts, giving them time to become solvent again.

Multiemployer pension plans cover more than 10 million people who regularly work for different employers, such as truckers, miners, construction workers, stagehands, and musicians. More than 1.3 million workers and retirees are in the more than 120 plans in danger of becoming insolvent, as the number of active workers contributing to them isn’t enough to cover payments promised to retirees. Many plans also lost both investments and contributing workers during the Great Recession.

“Reckless Wall Street behavior, industry deregulation, and employers’ deviant use of corporate bankruptcy have threatened the financial security of millions who’ve worked hard only to have that promise robbed from them,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler, United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone, and Joseph Sellers, general president ofSMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, said in a joint statement Feb. 27. “The current pandemic has only exacerbated the dire situation and the need for immediate action.”

More than one-third of the workers affected are Teamsters, as the deregulation of trucking slashed the number of union drivers. The Teamsters say more than 50 of their pension plans would be immediately eligible for aid if the relief bill passes. Those include the Central States Pension Fund, which has about 400,000 participants, and is projected to go broke in 2025, threatening cuts as high as 70% of benefits. Other Teamsters plans would become eligible in 2022.

Other large plans on the endangered list include the Bakery and Confectionery Union and Industry International Pension Fund, which has more than 110,000 people enrolled, and the United Mine Workers of America 1974 Pension Plan, with more than 100,000. The American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund applied to the Treasury Department for permission to reduce benefits in 2019, on the grounds that it had entered “critical and declining” status — projected to run out of money to pay benefits within 20 years.

But now we have a rescue bill.