Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers #16. Globalization.


Here is this week’s podcast of our radio, Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

Anne and I were at the welcome back parade for returning Puerto Rican independence fighter Oscar Lopez Rivera yesterday, down Paseo Boricua in Chicago’s historically Puerto Rican Humboldt Park neighborhood.

After Mikes intro, I shared a short sound montage of what really was more of a party than a march.


Mike Klonsky, Jerry Harris and me.

The rest of the show – aside from a little fingering wagging at Illinois Democrats who voted for pension theft last week – was all about globalization with the head of the Global Studies Association, Jerry Harris.

The trick here is to make this conversation not too academic.

It’s kind of like pensions in that sense. I’ve learned that if I get too weedy, eyes start to glaze over.

I find it is the same with the issue of globalization.

It is easy to get too academic.

But Jerry is a working class guy, veteran of the south Chicago steel mills and a product of generations of a family of working class intellectuals.

And aside from that, we have been friends since eighth grade in Los Angeles. Mike and Jerry’s brother Paul went to the same L.A. high school and played basketball together.

So, this hour of Hitting Left is no graduate seminar on global economics. It is down-to-earth conversation.

Globalization is not a spectator sport.

Check it out.

Best. Show. Ever.

The impotent Illinois Education Association is a day late and a dollar short on pension theft.

This is what the IEA posted on their web site today.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 3.10.08 PM

The IEA tells its members:

Please email your state representative and ask him or her to oppose House Bills 4027 (Durkin-R) and 4045 (Currie-D), and contact your state senator to oppose Senate Bill 16 (Cullerton-D).

What they don’t tell their members is that the senate vote was yesterday and we lost. They sent out no action  message before hand.

Please contact your state representative to vote no on pension theft.

Illinois Democrats pander to Rauner’s foolish bargain.


Democratic State Senator Andy Manar.

Perhaps the national Democrats think they can win back Congress doing nothing more than saying, “Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.”

In Illinois, Democrats are using the same strategy against an unpopular governor. Their version is to repeat “Rauner, Rauner, Rauner.”

But worse than that, Illinois Dems  are passing bad law so they can claim they are taking the high road.

Yesterday, the Illinois Senate took a low road. They passed bad law that hurts Illinois students with special needs and state employees who are depending on and were promised a pension when they retire.

Democratic Senator Andy Manar’s school funding bill, SB1 claims to change the school funding formula so help poorer districts. But it contains no significant new dollars, so all that it does is take a small pie and slice bigger and smaller pieces and pays for it with special education dollars.

On May 17, an amendment was introduced (Amendment 5) was sent directly to a Senate vote without any hearing, and passed by the Illinois State Senate by a vote of 35 to 18.

Almost no one had read this 511 page amendment, let alone understands what it would do.

Sen. Andy Manar told the State Senate “The bill is complicated.”

Although no one mentioned it, amendment 5 eliminated direct and dedicated funding for special education teachers while throwing some much-needed but not nearly adequate dollars to CPS.

With no new dollars, the so-called fair funding deal is paid for with money that should go to special education students.

I posted yesterday about the Senate passing the pension theft SB16 with Democratic votes.

Pension reform they call it. It is no such thing.

This bill comes directly from Democratic Senate leader John Cullerton. It is another attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling that the state constitution forbids any diminishment of contractual pensions.

This constitutional pension protection covers current employees, not just retirees.

Once again, it is doubtful that any Democratic Senator even bothered to read what they were voting on.

Geno DiVito, attorney for the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, wrote,

“…[T]he Cullerton proposal would force upon pension system members a choice between two diminishments of their constitutionally protected pension rights. The fact that a ‘choice’ is offered does not matter. Either ‘choice’ would be a pension diminishment and a violation of the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution.

The Illinois House must still vote on these two bad bills.

Ask your State Representative to at least read the damn things.

By the way, where were the action notices on these bills from the IEA and the IFT?

Illinois Democrats Cullerton, Harmon, Hunter, Koehler, Landek, Link, Martinez, McGuire, Morrison, Muñoz, Raoul, Sandoval, Silverstein, Steans and Trotter voted today for pension theft.

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 8.09.38 PM

From AFSCME 31:

Pension-cutting Senate Bill 16 has passed the Illinois Senate with 31 senators voting yes, 22 voting no and 6 not voting. The bill now goes to the House.

All but six Senate Republicans voted wrong. Only these Republicans voted right: Anderson, Bivins, McCann, Fowler, Rezin and Schimpf.

In all, 16 Senate Democrats did the right thing and voted no. But the following 15 Senate Democrats voted wrong, to cut pensions of state and university employees and teachers: President Cullerton, Harmon, Hunter, Koehler, Landek, Link, Martinez, McGuire, Morrison, Muñoz, Raoul, Sandoval, Silverstein, Steans and Trotter.

It’s more important than ever to call your State Representative at 888-912-5959. Tell them to VOTE NO on SB 16, HB 4027 or any pension-cutting bill.


Random thoughts. Summer comes to the heartland, left-wing radio, Aziz Ansari and Seyfarth Shaw.

The thermometer nearly hit 90 degrees yesterday in Chicago.

This morning, a beautiful morning, Ulysses sits while I have my coffee with soy across from the Logan Square Centennial monument.


The New York Times reports there is a resurgence in left-wing programming since Trump’s election.

Although the sky is clear, this appears to be the silver lining on this morning’s non-existent clouds.

And it might explain the growing audience for our radio show/podcast, Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. This week we are joined by my old pal, Jerry Harris. Jerry heads up the Global Studies Association.

Globalization is the current word for what I always thought was imperialism.  So, I am looking forward to a discussion that this week will look at the wider world through the lens of the Klonsky brothers and Jerry.

It should be informative as well as entertaining and a prime example of resurgent left-wing programming.

http://www.lumpenradio.com 105.5FM @ 11AM and podcast later at HittingLeft.libsyn.com

Meanwhile, if you haven’t been watching the Netflix show Masters of None with the brilliant Aziz Ansari you are missing something great.

The second season started with a wonderful take on the Italian film, The Bicycle Thief, with Ansari learning pasta-making in Modena, Italy. A cell phone takes the place of the bicycle in the original film by the legendary director, Vittorio De Sica.

I watched episode three last night. Titled Religion, Ansari tackles what he faces as a Muslim in America and makes it the stuff of sweet comedy.

Lastly. I noticed that the giant law firm, Seyfarth Shaw is having financial problems.

Why should I care?

Because Seyfarth Shaw is a giant national law firm that specializes in labor law.

Not pro-labor.


For years they were the firm that represented our board of education in bargaining with our local union. Even though ours was a small suburban district, Seyfarth Shaw would send in a senior partner to do the bargaining.

This couldn’t have been cheap.

What a prick.

I bargained along with our bargaining team a dozen times with their guy on the other side of the table whose main role was to try and provoke us.

The firm cut their teeth representing the California growers against Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Union.

I guess I should take it as a sign of respect that the board needed them to bargain with us.

But I’m not sorry they are facing tough times.

Action alert. Special education funding.

Today at 3 P.M. an Illinois House Committee will talk about (but NOT vote) on Amendment 1 to House Bill 2808 (changing all of school funding in Illinois). 

Amendment 1 to HB 2808 would ELIMINATE direct and dedicated funding for special education teachers (and others providing direct help for students with IEPs), and allow local schools to spend that money on anything they call special education.

Amendment 1 would change HB 2808 by taking away 10 percent of the NEW money that would go to the poorest schools (Tier I)and give that extra 10 percent instead to Tier II schools (not as poor).

Schools with more wealth (Tier III and Tier IV) would still receive almost no NEW money (just 1 percent for both combined).

We were told that THE purpose of HB 2808 was to help the poorest schools.

Your can create a Witness Slip AND call the Members of the Committee.

1. To create a Witness Slip opposed to House Bill 2808, Amendment 1, click on the following link – http://my.ilga.gov/WitnessSlip/Create?committeeHearingId=14980&legislationId=0

2. Under Section I: Identification, fill out all information. Under Firm/Business or Agency you can type None.

Under Title you can type None.

3. Under Section II: Representation, if you are creating a witness slip on behalf of a group, fill out with the name of your organization. If you are not submitting a witness slip on behalf of a group or organization, type Self or Myself or your name.

4. Under Section III: Position, under Subject Matter click on Comprehensive hearing… then click Opponent.

5. Under Section IV: Testimony, check the box stating Record of Appearance Only.

6. In the box, Type the text (that appears above it)

7. Check the box stating I Agree to the ILGA Terms of Agreement.

8. Click Create (Slip) to submit slip.


Get their telephone numbers by clicking on their name below. Leave a message on WHY you are opposed to House Bill 2808, Amendment 1. (because it removes direct and dedicated funding for special education teachers, because it gives 10 percent less money to the poorest school districts, etc.)

Chairperson :

William Davis


Vice-Chairperson :

Elizabeth Hernandez


Republican Spokesperson :

Robert W. Pritchard



Carol Ammons



Thomas M. Bennett



Avery Bourne



John Cavaletto



Melissa Conyears-Ervin



La Shawn K. Ford



LaToya Greenwood



Jeanne M Ives



Sheri Jesiel



Theresa Mah



Emily McAsey



Michelle Mussman



Steven Reick



Dave Severin



Justin Slaughter



Joe Sosnowski



Cynthia Soto



Emanuel Chris Welch

Action alert on state charter commission.

HB768, the charter commission bill, will have a hearing this Wednesday, May 16th at 8:30am in the IL Senate Local Government Committee.  Take two minutes to fill out a witness slip as a PROPONENT to support this important bill.

You can register your support for HB768 as a PROPONENT here. This just takes a minute, and it lets lawmakers know the public cares about this issue. Instructions below.

If you have another minute, please call the Local Government Committee Chair Sen. Emil Jones to ensure that HB768 gets a committee hearing tomorrow: (217) 782-9573

Charter industry lobbyists would like nothing better than to bury this bill. Tell Sen Jones you are a supporter of public schools and say thanks for getting this important bill heard.

You can read the bill here. If it becomes law, it would prevent the unelected state charter commission from approving charter schools that have been rejected by local school boards. Our existing schools are underfunded and in need of more resources, not fewer. Help stop this appointed commission from forcing charters on districts that don’t want or need them!

Witness slip instructions:
1) Fill out: name, address, city, state, zip.
2) For Firm/Business, you can put “none” or “self.”
3) For Title, you can put “self.”
4) Fill out email and phone.
5) For Representation, you can put “self.”
6) Under Position select “PROPONENT“.
7) Under Testimony check “Record of Appearance.”
8) Fill out the CAPTCHA.
9) Check to agree to the ILGA Terms of Agreement.

To learn more about why this bill is critical for the future of public education in IL, read our fact sheet. You can follow what’s happening with the bill on the IL General Assembly site.

Jim Broadway’s State School News Service e-newsletter (which we highly recommend subscribing to if you are following education policy in IL!) has said HB768 is a bill “with the potential to benefit the elected school boards in every county.

If your state senator is not yet a sponsor, you can ask them to sign on as a sponsor of the bill. Look up your state senator and their contact info here. Current sponsors in the Senate are: Linda Holmes, Wm. Sam McCann, Bill Cunningham, Terry Link, Cristina Castro, Steve Stadelman, Julie A. Morrison, Kimberly A. Lightford, Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Thomas Cullerton, Heather A. Steans and Don Harmon.

Feed the rich. Transferring EDGE corporate tax credits.


A fellow retired teacher went up to millionaire gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy and asked him what he was going to do about the $130 billion state pension liability.

Kennedy had no answer.

It’s a great question to ask all those running for governor of Illinois. And anyone running for state legislative office.

Everybody is claiming to be a progressive these days.

Which is fine and all.

But about that pension liability?

I have written before about the EDGE tax credit given to the state’s largest corporations. It was started by George Ryan and continued under Democratic Party Governor Pat Quinn. And now, Rauner.

It was supposed to be a job creation tax credit. But it is given to them with the promise they won’t cut jobs. In exchange they get to keep all the money that they collect from their employees in state income taxes.

No. It’s true.

From the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability:

Since 2015, Illinois has promised $112 million to Amazon, and $225 million to other companies, in exchange for the promise of creating jobs in Illinois — or even just not eliminating the ones they’ve already got.

A 2015 Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse in the program responsible for these tax incentives, called EDGE (or “Economic Development for a Growing Economy”), with companies getting millions in tax breaks while simply shuffling jobs from one location in the state to another, or even cutting them altogether.

But faced with a nearly three year budget crisis, a bill has been introduced in the Democratic controlled legislature to make the credits transferrable.

Right now, companies can only receive as much money in EDGE credits as they have to pay in state taxes: If they’re eligible for $20 million in EDGE credits but only have a $15 million state tax bill, there’s no way for them to get that last $5 million in credits.

But if EDGE were “transferable,” that company could sell its last $5 million in tax credits to another company with a big enough tax bill to use them. That means Illinois taxpayers would ultimately be subsidizing companies that had not even had to promise to create or save any jobs at all.


If you should run into Kennedy, JB, Ameya, Dan or any of the rest of them who are claiming to be progressives, you have two questions:

What are you going to do about the $130 billion pension liability?

And how many days with you in office will it take to get rid of these tax credits to the corporations?