I think we have a candidate.

Troy for Mayor

People who know me will think I have gone batty in my old age.

Or had too much to drink at the Hideout last night.

But I am throwing a school principal’s hat into the ring for Mayor of Chicago.

Me. A thirty-year teacher and former local union president is supporting a school principal for mayor?

“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together.”

I’m quoting from the Bible? Maybe I did have one too many at the Hideout last night.

Plus, I don’t know what a fatling is.

Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke hosted their monthly meeting, First Tuesday, at the usually rockin’ Hideout yesterday. Joining Joravsky and Dumke was Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union and my past candidate for Chicago Mayor. They also invited Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine elementary school in Lakeview.

Ben asked Karen if she would run for mayor again and she said no.

By the way, when asked about her health, Karen said she was having a good week. And she sounded great.

But I heard her say to Troy, “You should run.”

That’s is when it struck me: We have a candidate.

A school principal!

And you heard it from me first.

And I heard it from Karen first.

I prefer to take that as an unofficial early endorsement from Karen.

Troy has received attention for speaking out forcefully against the education policies of the current mayor.

His own personal story of a poor Black kid of a white mother raised on the southside, joining the Navy and then finding his way, graduating from the University of Illinois to become a CPS principal, is inspiring.

He told that story last night and it was riveting.

And his critique of the political and economic corruption in this most corrupt of American cites is right on target. He goes far beyond describing what the one percent have done to our public neighborhood schools.

This guy understands what they are doing to our city and our people.

And I only had one beer.

Greeks and bullies.

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Karen Lewis and Chuy Garcia.

In election news this weekend, the Greeks voted against crushing economic austerity and elected a Leftist government.

Things have gotten so bad for the working people of Greece that even the bullying of the European debt-holders couldn’t frighten them any longer.

That didn’t stop the bullies from trying.

“The Greeks have the right to elect whoever they want; we have the right to no longer finance Greek debt,” Hans-Peter Friedrich, a senior member of Ms. Merkel’s conservative bloc, told the daily newspaper Bild on Monday. “The Greeks must now pay the consequences and cannot saddle German taxpayers with them.”

Right.

Who has more to lose in this? The Greek people who have carried the weight of austerity for years? Or the German bankers who are threatened by the loss of billions of dollars if they refuse now to bargain the cost of the debt?

There always comes a time when the people have had enough.

Which brings me to another election.

Here in Chicago.

Rahm has collected $30 million dollars for his campaign.

One poll a week or so ago showed Rahm just over the required 50% mark to avoid a run-off.

Yet all other polls since then show him to be where he has been for nearly a year. Far short and at about the 40% mark.

The movement in the polls seems to be over who will come in second and face Rahm head to head in the run-off. Chuy Garcia or Bob Fioretti?

Both are bona fide progressives.

What if $30 million can’t buy the incumbent $30 million Mayor a first round win?

The election is a month from now.

One lesson from the Bill De Blasio win in New York is how quickly things can move and change.

Greece came as a surprise to many.

Six months before De Blasio’s win, Bloomberg’s hand-picked choice to succeed him was expected to do just that.

It’s a question of if we have had enough. If that is the case, then $30 million isn’t near enough.

Lewis endorses Garcia. Garcia endorses an elected school board. I should leave town more often.

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Karen Lewis endorses Chuy Garcia.

I leave Chicago for a couple of days and things sure get interesting.

Yesterday CTU President-on-leave Karen Lewis endorsed Chuy Garcia for mayor.

And at a CTU dinner, Garcia endorsed an elected school board and criticized Rahm for his school closing policies.

Garcia has not to my knowledge expressed support for an elected school board before now. But the race to be the progressive standard bearer has caused all kinds of shifts and rethinking.

That has been the error in thinking that too many candidates helps Rahm.

If the strategy to beat Rahm is to increase turnout, focus on Rahm’s tale of two cities disastrous policies and no circular firing squads among progressives, then this has been a good couple of days.

The other leading progressive candidate is Alderman Bob Fioretti. Bob is already on record for an elected school board and has been vocal in opposition to the the Mayor’s school closings.

Maybe I should stay away longer.

Here’s part of the Sun-Times story:

Speaking publicly for the first time since she underwent brain surgery, Karen Lewis appeared in a video Friday thanking Chicago for its “support, love and … best wishes,” promising to “remain encouraged and focused in the days ahead” — and endorsing mayoral challenger Jesus  “Chuy” Garcia.

The fiery Chicago Teachers Union president, who had all but announced her campaign to challenge Rahm Emanuel, bowed out from the race after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

That apparently hasn’t put a stop to her battle against Emanuel.

Speaking calmly and clearly in short sentences and wearing a headscarf, Lewis said, “I am convinced the city is going in the wrong direction” and that it needs “real leadership that is both accountable and accessible.” 

“Chicago needs a mayor who has the moral courage to do what’s right for all of the city,” she said. “That is why I am throwing my full support behind Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia.”

“Chuy is a committed and faithful public servant and has been for the last 30 years,” she said in which she addresses the camera straight on and in profile.

“Chuy is a consensus-builder and a man of the people. If he is elected as mayor, I know he will work for all of our citizens, not just the corporate elite and the special interests who seek to privatize our public assets. Chuy is the right leader for the right time to move our city forward. South Side, West Side, North Side, everybody — let’s support the bigger man.”

In a separate video, played to a crowd of 600 at the CTU’s Legislators and Educators Appreciation Dinner Friday at Plumbers Hall in the West Loop, Lewis repeated the endorsement for Garcia and added praise for Gov. Pat Quinn.

“We cannot forget that Pat Quinn is the best choice for governor of Illinois,” Lewis said.

Garcia, a Cook County commissioner, was the keynote speaker at the dinner, where Quinn also made an appearance.

When Garcia spoke, he said that he had visited with Lewis that afternoon and described her as “one of the best warriors that Chicago has experienced in over a generation.”

Garcia called for an elected school board and said “instead of closing schools we believe we ought to build new schools.”

 

The Chicago Transit Authority and Rahm’s water carriers at the Sun-Times.

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CTA boss Forrest Claypool and his boss.

After the Sun-Times pushed out their Springfield bureau chief David McKinney, Sun-Times reporters asked for some kind of assurance that their paper will change its spots and become an independent civic voice.

You know. Like a newspaper.

McKinney wrote the “Why I Left” letter, documenting how the editor, publisher and owners (which once included Bruce Rauner) caved to pressure from the billionaire candidate for Illinois Governor.

I have already reported that some journalists believe that the political advisors to the Mayor are expecting the Sun-Times to play a crucial and supportive role in the campaign.

The paper will try to muddy up Bob Fioretti – and Chuy Garcia if he decides to run – and ignore the lesser known candidates.

Hints of the strategy could be seen in the hit pieces the paper ran on Karen Lewis, claiming she was was a major real estate holder because of a family cabin in Michigan and a time share in Hawaii.

Today they feature this headline to a story that is barely more than a mayoral press release:

No fare hikes, service cuts in CTA’s $1.44B 2015 budget

This is so transparent. Even my dog Ulysses is more skeptical than this.

The only challenge to this pre-election smoke machine in this news item is a two short paragraph nod to unhappy CTA riders.

Some questioned why rail lines were adding service but not bus routes, which have seen cuts in recent years. Proposed cuts to the No. 11 Lincoln Avenue bus and some express bus routes, as well as pass price increases, brought hordes of protesters to the CTA’s 2013 budget hearings. CTA officials said at the time that cuts eliminated “redundant” service, including the availability of CTA trains within half a mile.

“They are ignoring the bus riders,’’ said Kevin Peterson, of Citizens Taking Action for Transit Dependent Riders. “The reason we lost all that ridership was because of the fact they did all those bus cuts.’’

The CTA bureaucrats consider bus lines a redundant service if they are within half a mile of train service.

Ask a senior, a parent with children in tow or someone with a disability if a half mile walk to a train stop over a bus on the corner is redundant service.

Did I mention that Metra ticket prices are going up by nearly 70%.

When I wrote a post a couple of months ago about the hoops seniors have to go through to get a reduced fare pass on the CTA, members of my Skokie Organization of Retired Educators (SORE) chapter thought it would be a good idea to invite someone from the CTA or Metra to come and speak to one of our chapter meetings.

They were unavailable.

To get answers to our questions about CTA service we need reporters to challenge the hype.

Good luck with that.

McKinney’s “Why I Left” letter is a classic Chicago story of right and wrong. Bad news for Rahm.

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When I reposted former Sun-Tmes Springfield bureau chief Dave McKinney’s Why I Left letter yesterday afternoon, I didn’t expect 3,000 6,000 page views  by this morning. But that is what I got.

I should not have been surprised. It is a classic Chicago story.

A stand up reporter doggedly follows a story that shines a negative light on gubernatorial candidate billionaire Bruce Rauner. Rauner goes to his friends who own the Sun-Times to get the story killed. The reporter gets gagged when Sun-Times editor and publisher Jim Kirk pulls him off the Springfield political desk. The reporter resigns and releases a letter that lets the world know what happened.

McKinney’s Why I left letter got so many internet hits yesterday that KcKinney set up his own blog to publish it.

It’s kind of ironic that famed Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee died Tuesday. Sun-Times editor and publisher Jim Kirk is no Ben Bradlee. This guy caved to Rauner faster than the Cubs at mid-season. If you were looking for a Chicago version of All the President’s Men, you won’t find it in the Sun-Times newsroom.

If they ever make a movie, Kirk is more likely to be played by Pee Wee Herman than Jason Robards (I know. Robards is dead. But go with me on this).

This is all very bad news, not only for Rauner, but for Rauner’s BFF, Rahm Emanuel.

Let me explain.

It is no secret that Rahm unofficially supports Rauner in the race for Illinois Governor. When Obama came to Chicago this week for a Quinn rally on the south side, every Democrat was there except the Mayor.

Rahm and Rauner’s friendship goes back to the days when Rauner set post-Clinton Rahm up in the hedge fund business.

Plus their pro-business views are identical.

And they share friends among the Sun-Times bosses.

The role of the Sun-Times is very valuable to Rahm in the race for mayor.

We saw a taste of it when some Sun-Times reporters and gossip columnists wrote some stink pieces on Karen Lewis, claiming she was a real estate tycoon because she had a time share in Hawaii.

As I understand it, as soon as the November election is over, the plan was for the Sun-Times to go after Bob Fioretti with similar mud.

Following Karen’s withdrawal from the race due to her illness, Bob Fioretti is the progressive alternative to Rahm.

In some polling I have heard about since Karen withdrew from the race, Fioretti and Rahm are even.

The perception and reality for the Sun-Times is that its news coverage can be bought.

Already reporters like the great Carol Marin, who worked with McKinney on the Rauner story, are putting distance between themselves and the Sun-Times.

And others who behaved so badly in reporting on Karen will have Dave McKinney’s principled stand as a model of journalistic behavior.

It’s bad news for Rahm.

And bad news for Rahm is good news.

Karen Lewis. While I’m in this fight, please know I’ll continue to stand for the city we love.

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CTUnet.com

“My husband, John, and I wish to thank each and every one you for your outpouring of support, thoughts, prayers and well wishes over the last few days,” said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. “Your expressions have given me a sense of renewed energy as I shift my focus to restoring my health. It has been said, that our city is one of big shoulders. I cannot agree more; today those shoulders have become the compassionate arms from brothers and sisters from all walks of life. I want to personally thank you for respecting my privacy during this difficult time. While I’m in this fight, please know I’ll continue to stand for the city we love and deserve; and look forward to joining you again on the battlefield.”

Keeping retirement weird. Get well, Karen.

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“I don’t want to see any picture of this on your blog, Klonsky.”

I promised there would be no picture.

It was a classic hot and muggy early summer day in 2012.

A couple hundred of my closest friends were eating free food and drinking free beer at the Red Line Tap.

It was my retirement party.

Matt Farmer and Steve Doyle were rocking it. The Carpenter Ukulele Society (of which I was a member) had performed their set.

It was CTU President Karen Lewis who had issued the warning to me.

She had arrived with a bunch of friends from the CORE caucus who had been having a backyard barbecue a few blocks up the street.

The historic Chicago teachers strike was still six months away. But Karen was already locked in a fierce battle with The Mayor and the mainstream media was not entirely friendly towards CORE, the CTU or to Karen personally.

Big name columnists were demanding she resign as president of the CTU.

Karen was a little gun-shy about the media.

And had every reason to be.

But she was a rock star to all of us at the Red Line Tap that evening.

So I helped her climb up onto the stage.

She spoke a few words to the crowd.

And then Matt and Steve broke into a red hot version of The Weight.

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead.
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “no” was all he said.

And, holy shit,  there I was singing back up on the chorus.

With Karen Lewis.

Take a load off, Fanny.
Take a load for free.
Take a load off, Fanny.
And you put the load right on me.

The news of Karen’s illness – “serious” CTU VP Jesse Sharkey called it – has made for a shitty week for all those who care about the City. And more importantly – far more importantly – care about Mrs. Lewis.

Unlike some of the ghouls in the Chicago media, I fully understand the request for privacy.

Karen’s job now is to get better.

I never did post the pictures of us singing back up.

And I never will.

Get well, Karen.

The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass is a heartless pig.

The Tribune columnist John Kass is a pig.

This morning he wrote a column – and the Trib printed it  – that demands Karen Lewis come clean about her health.

If she were a private citizen, I wouldn’t write this column, but she’s not exactly a private citizen anymore. She was considering a political challenge to Emanuel and now there are legitimate questions about her health, about whether she can campaign, about whether she could govern.

So just wanted her to know this:

Karen, you’re a public figure now. It was inevitable that the information would get out. Your team should come forward with a full briefing. That’s what the potential candidate owes her city.

My question for Kass: Did you hit the keyboard about this while Karen was in surgery? 

Did you think you were scooping the rest of the ghoulish Chicago press corps with this hard-hitting piece of bullshit journalism?

Our thoughts are with Karen tonight.

Early evening news reports are that our dear friend and union leader Karen Lewis is in surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Here is the link.

While reporters and pundits speculate on what this means for Chicago’s politics, our family is concentrating on the health of our friend.

Join us in keeping her in your thoughts.

We wish her and John nothing but the best.