Rauner’s I.C.E. investments and Rahm’s polling numbers. Lightfoot positioned to force a run-off.

Lori Lightfoot on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

Two stories this morning.

POLITICO reports that Bruce Rauner profits from a company that is working with I.C.E. detention centers, facilities that hold immigrant families with children.

His investments started in 2011 at GTCR, the private-equity company where Rauner was a partner

The “R” is the Governor.

GTCR has invested more than $15 billion through this and other funds in more than 200 companies, according to recent company statements. In this particular case, Rauner disclosed that he earned more than $5,000 from a fund in which Correct Care Solutions is an important part of its portfolio.

Investment funds 101. The fund buys a portion of the company, in this case Correct Care Solutions (CCS), for a certain price. That price today may be above or below the purchase price, but either way, it’s just a paper gain or loss until the fund actually sells.

It’s a lot like taking a check and not cashing it.

This is not the first time Rauner’s connections to GTCR have made this blog.

A blog post from December 2017: Before running for Illinois Governor Rauner ran GTCR, a private equity firm that owned, among other things, a chain of nursing homes.

In November of 2014 In These Times writer David Moberg wrote:

GCTR had also assembled a chain of nursing homes, Trans Healthcare, Inc., for which Rauner had been making decisions four years after it was founded, the Chicago Tribune discovered—not the one year that Rauner claimed he had been involved. During those years, the nursing homes were sued and charged over $1 billion for at least six wrongful deaths. At the same time, investors, including GTCR, created a financial shell for all of the chain liabilities that was turned over to one of the residents of the nursing homes, thus protecting the assets of the investors.

Then there was yet another disquieting twist in the final weeks of the campaign. The Chicago Sun-Times, recently purchased by a group of investors including Rauner and still owned by many of his friends, pulled Dave McKinney, the paper’s long-time statehouse political reporter, off his reporting on the nursing home story and all politics on the grounds of questionable appearances because his wife works as a political consultant.

Six people died as a result of GTCR management.

Meanwhile Rahm’s poll numbers are in the toilet even before Lori Lightfoot entered the race. Lori Lightfooot, who was our guest on Hitting Left two weeks ago, is poised to take a spot in the inevitable run-off.

Chicago Sun-Times: 

This latest poll was conducted roughly two weeks before Lightfoot declared her candidacy by condemning Emanuel’s autocratic, “us-vs.-them” style of government.

At the time, McCarthy’s 70 percent name recognition vaulted him into second-place, with 16 percent of the vote, followed by Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown with 15 percent and former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas with 9 percent.

Lightfoot was in the 2-to-3 percent range, just slightly above County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, who is poised to enter the race in days.

But, when Lightfoot’s background was described, simulating a “modest amount of paid communications,” she moved into second-place.

And when voters were told enough about Lightfoot to simulate a “well-funded campaign” — her status as Emanuel’s preeminent challenger was “solidified” and the former Police Board president managed to consolidate much of the anti-Emanuel sentiment in a head-to-head race, building a 50-to-40 percent lead in a potential run-off.



Christian Mitchell chosen to lead Illinois Democratic Party in “stepping away from the #MeToo scandal.”

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That night at the Hide Out. Pic: Michael Klonsky

The announcement that State Representative Christian Mitchell has been chosen as interim head of the Illinois Democrats reminded me of that night four years ago at the Hide Out with Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke.

Let Ben Joravsky tell what happened.

One of that show’s highlights came when Mitchell went at it with Fred “the Hammer” Klonsky. Not to be confused with Fred “the Hammer” Williamson, star of Adios Amigo and other great action flicks from the ’70s.

Not that anyone would normally confuse one Fred with the other, but just in case.

Klonsky is the retired suburban art teacher, Logan Square political activist, and education blogger who’s particularly outraged by Mitchell’s vote to cut teacher pensions.

Klonsky’s included.

In the questions-from-the-audience segment, Klonsky demanded that Mitchell explain that pension vote.

That debate will be hard to top. 

I bring this up as a brief reminder that while even I am hoping for a Democratic wave in November and the ousting of Bruce Rauner from the governor’s mansion, many of us do not forget that it was the Democrats that led the fight to gut public employee pensions with a bill Christian Mitchell actively endorsed and which was later ruled unconstitutional.

Many of us have not forgotten.

Just ask Elaine Nekritz (gone), Daniel Biss (gone) and Pat Quinn (gone).

According to Illinois Sunshine, the pro-charter Stand for Children still leads in contributions to Mitchell.

Even pro-charter blogger Peter Cunningham (who lives nowhere near Mitchell’s south side district) is a small donor to Mitchell.

Don’t be surprised that the IEA also gives Mitchell some small change. However, the IEA’s PAC donations remain mysterious. The IEA and the NEA continue to refuse to withdraw PAC dollars from politicians like Congressman Rodney Davis backed by the National Rifle Association.

Has Mitchell been appointed as temporary replacement for Tim Mapes – who recently ran the party – in order to clean house of abusers of women or to sweep it all under the rug?

Mapes was ousted after being outed by Sherri Garrett, a longtime speaker’s office employee, because of Mape’s history of harassment and bullying.

Garrett’s exposure of Mapes brought the #MeToo movement right into Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan’s office.

Mitchell’s job?

Make it go away.

Reports the Sun-Times:

A South Side lawmaker will serve as the interim executive director of the Democratic Party of Illinois as the party tries to take back control of the governor’s office — and to step away from a #MeToo scandal that led to the ousting of Tim Mapes last month.

Nope. No stepping away.

I never called any teacher in my district a freeloader because we never had any.

NEA Executive Director John Stocks.

NEA Executive Director John Stocks scolded the delegates at the recent NEA Representative Assembly about calling those who refused to join or pay agency fees “freeloaders.”

This is not a time to isolate ourselves. We won’t get far by labelling people free loaders. We can’t shrink away from people or partners. Just the opposite. This is a time to lean in. This is a time forge deep relationships with all who share our values. Our core values are timeless.

Of course, I don’t know when it was a time to isolate ourselves. But John is right. This is certainly not the time.

Which is why when Evanston delegate Clare Kelly proposed a New Business Item asking NEA members across the country to donate an additional $3 over and above their dues for strike support for actions like we saw last year in the Red State Teacher Revolt, the NBI passed overwhelmingly.

If only a third of the 3 million NEA members sign up to give the three bucks, that’s three million dollars.

That’s a floor. Not a ceiling.

Plus there is this.

I never called anyone in my local a freeloader because we didn’t have any.

We had one counselor who didn’t join but paid his fair share.


Every Fall I would talk to every new hire and explain why they should join and be active (after a year or two of focusing on their classroom and teaching practice).

I also explained about their Weingarten Rights. I explained how they should always call for a union rep anytime an administrator wanted to meet with them about a work issue.

That was their right. It was one of the benefits of being a union member or a fee payer.

Some never believed they would need that benefit. It only took one experience to convince them otherwise.

I don’t think the problem is calling freeloaders freeloaders.

Freeloaders won’t be a problem if we build strong locals that encourage active, engaged membership, that monitors and enforces the contract, that bargains tough and well, that believes in and fights for social justice, where local leaders are well trained and supported by state and national leadership and where members are consulted when leadership makes their political endorsements. Then we will see every potential member be a member.

Amazon paid no federal taxes. So lets tax retirement income.

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When I write about how the state of Illinois doesn’t raise enough revenue to pay for the basic services the people of the state deserve I inevitably get someone writing to me to complain that retirement income in Illinois is not taxed.

Which it is not.

By the way, that’s true for everybody’s retirement income income in Illinois. Not just teachers, which is what I think they think it means.

The truth is that if the state were to end the crazy practice of taxing everybody else’s income at the same rate, rich or poor, JB Pritzker and the housemaids at the Pritzker family Hyatt Hotels, and enact a progressive fair tax, I would have no problem having my pension included as taxable income.

But then I hear from Bernie Sanders that Amazon paid no federal income tax last year.

Yep. That Amazon.

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon. The Jeff Bezos who is now the richest man in the world.

The Jeff Bezos who wants more tax breaks to bring his second headquarters to a city near you.

Politifact reports:

Amazon lists two line items that likely got them here: tax credits worth $220 million and stock-based compensation worth $917 million.

These reflect the normal workings of the tax system, according to Annette Nellen, professor and director of the Master of Science in Taxation program at San Jose University.

“I would stress Amazon is just following the provisions that are in the law,” Nellen said.

Companies aren’t required to spell out which tax credits they claim in their annual report, but Nellen said they likely include write-offs for research and development, domestic production, and equipment depreciation for Amazon.

Stock-based compensation, on the other hand, is spelled out a bit more clearly. Stocks are often handed out as a form of compensation to employees (usually executives) at small startups without much cash on hand. It’s also a common incentive for executives to make the company more profitable.

Companies are taxed on their income, which is revenue minus costs. When stocks are offered as compensation, they are counted as a cost. This reduces the company’s taxable income.

The trick for companies? They get to write off the value at which the stock was later traded, not the original price for which they sold their stock to employees.

In a related issue, read about the working conditions at Amazon.

Now I get that with this argument I am mixing state and federal tax laws. But it is even crazier that retirement income is taxed by the feds and Amazon pays nothing.

The average teacher pension in Illinois is $50,000 a year with no Social Security.

Even if you taxed it, how in the world does this address the revenue shortfall in the state when we are giving it all away to companies like Amazon?

It’s Sunday.

Andrew Gill/WBEZ
Students at Washington High School on Chicago’s Southeast Side show a picture of what kids call “the Washington waterfall.” It’s a big hole in the school’s roof. Water and tile fall from it, making passing periods dangerous, they say.




Encore podcast of Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers with Karen Lewis Jennings.





Blog posts.

In the wake of Janus, another comeback for Ben Velderman.

Getting the Midwest wrong. How the Democrats lost to Trump.

NEA Representative Assembly. Allies and enemies.

A city only the rich can afford to live in.

NEA RA. Opening membership to education allies.

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

Watching the NEA RA from afar.

NEA RA. Applauding David Hogg one day and defeating an anti-NRA New Business Item the next.

NEA RA. Applauding David Hogg one day and defeating an anti-NRA New Business Item the next.

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Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg speaks to the 2018 NEA RA.

One of the mysteries coming out of the NEA Representative Assembly that just ended in Minneapolis is how David Hogg, survivor of the deadly mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida could be warmly received at a RA session one day and delegates could vote to reject an anti-NRA New Business Item on another day.

The NBI was simple. It said that the NEA should not be giving political action money to candidates supported by the National Rifle Association.

The NRA is not just an association of gun owners. It is a racist and right-wing political organization that opposes any constraints on gun sales, and constraints on the distribution or ownership of guns, even military assault weapons.

Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis is our local poster boy for someone who receives both NRA and NEA campaign dollars.

When this issue came up at this year’s Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly with wording similar to the NBI presented to the NEA RA, it was opposed by the IEA leadership and defeated on the floor.

Jim Grimes, member of the IEA and NEA board of directors, took to a microphone and spoke in opposition to the anti-NRA resolutiion, clearly representing both national and state leadership’s position.

Grimes and other union leaders justify their position by claiming politicians like Davis take pro-education votes.

What education issue is balanced by teacher union support for politicians receiving NRA blood money?


Watching the NEA RA from afar.


Like the guy in Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain, when it comes to the NEA’s Representative Assembly, I just can’t quit it.

It has been several years since I ran and went as a delegate. I have been following it as best as I could, what with their live stream constantly going down but with constant texting from friends who were attending.

The Minneapolis meeting ended last night after business that included 129 New Business Items and votes on constitutional amendments.

Although smaller in the number of delegates, it seemed, at least from afar, that it was a typical RA, with NBIs that addressed a bazillion different issues.

Some mock this. But I go with those that support my old teaches union addressing more than just a narrow list of so-called education issues. Even if most of these NBIs end up in a file cabinet somewhere in NEA headquarters, never to be heard from once the delegates go home.

And I remain dumbfounded that an NBI 91 was voted down.

“The RA directs the NEA PAC Council to consider guidelines to prevent the recommendations of any political candidate who takes and/or solicits support from the National Rifle Association (NRA).”

This wasn’t even an anti-gun statement. It was an anti-NRA statement. It is the contradictions within the NEA RA that Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School’s’ David Hogg can be warmly greeted on one day and then delegates vote against an anti-NRA New Business Item on another day.

On the other hand, a New Business Item to establish a $3 per member voluntary contribution to strike support was a rank-and-file member response to the Red State Teacher Revolt that swept through the south and west this past year in states from West Virginia to Arizona.

Although a majority of delegates voted to open up non-voting membership in the NEA, it was not enough to meet the two thirds requirement to change the constitution.

The defeated language would have created a new membership category of “Community Ally” and charge the NEA Board of Directors with establishing the dues, benefits, and services for such members, while preserving NEA governance positions for education professionals and active equivalents.

Although I supported the amendment, a minority of delegates expressed distrust of the leadership. Some argued that this was just a trick to get more dues money or get corporate reformers in as members.

There is plenty of history to justify distrust.

But realistically Janus has put a potential financial hit on public employee unions.

Beyond that, I believe we do have to rethink the way our unions, particularly public employee unions, respond to the new world workers are facing.

In the Sun-Times this week Robert Bruno, professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, wrote:

In this environment, the very substance of bargaining in the public sector has to be re-conceptualized. Instead of a union bargaining as merely an economic agent for the financial good of its members, it must reorient contract negotiations around the public interest, with the union bargaining on behalf of the community and fighting for the services it needs. Unlike conventional transactional labor-management relations, the bargaining demands are broad and inclusive. Most importantly, unions are able to transform the aim of bargaining into advocacy for the common good.

And the need to forge community alliances is paramount. What I fear is that the there is a systematic effort to wipe clean our national memory of the benefits of unionism and collective bargaining. When the facts about labor and its undeniable profound role in building the middle class becomes fiction and vice versa, we make it harder to remember a past when collective action produced prosperity.

Janus may shrink the resources available to effectuate public sector collective bargaining, but it cannot prevent citizens and workers from finding a common voice. Contrarily, the decision is a powerful inducement to give fresh meaning to a clichéd belief that “an injury to one is an injury to all.”