I have invented a new verb: “Quazzo.” As in, “Once again, we have been Quazzoed by the Mayor.”


My drawing of Deborah Quazzo from back in June of 2013 when Rahm appointed her to the CPS board.

When hotel heiress Penny Pritzker went to Washington to work in Obama’s cabinet she gave up her seat on Rahm’s appointed school board.

She was replaced by Deborah Quazzo.

It seems it is important for Rahm to have a rich white lady seat on his appointed school board.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 6.25.43 AM

Quazzo qualified.

Back in June of 2013 I posted a video by the newly appointed member in which she described 13 ways to make money from public schools.

Boy. Does she know how.

This morning the Sun-Times is reporting:

Companies that Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo has an interest in have seen the business they get from the city’s schools system triple since Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to the board last year, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

From 2010 until her June 2013 appointment, the total payout to companies that Quazzo invested in has come to about $930,000, the records show.

Quazzo’s companies have gotten an additional $2.9 million in Chicago Public Schools business in the year and a half since the millionaire venture capitalist joined the board to fill a vacancy left by Penny Pritzker when President Barack Obama named Pritzker commerce secretary.

In all, five companies in which Quazzo has an ownership stake have been paid more than $3.8 million by CPS for ACT prep or online help with reading, writing and math. One of them stands to collect an additional $1.6 million this year from a district contract.

So, I have invented a new verb: “Quazzo.”

As in, “Once again, we have been Quazzoed by the Mayor.”

If you love this city…


When I read that the Karen Lewis mayoral campaign committee filed papers with the State Board of Elections Wednesday morning it just added to what we all know.

Karen is running for Mayor of Chicago.

“If you love this city, write a check,” I wrote on Facebook.

When I read my own words I kind of surprised myself.

Do I really love this city?

I don’t love Rahm’s Chicago. Or Penny Pritzker’s Chicago. Or the Civic Committee’s Chicago.

I don’t love all the corporate names engraved all over Millennium Park.

Although I do love the Park.

I love Studs Terkel’s Chicago. And Tim Black’s Chicago.

The Chicago of Lucy Parsons. And Fred Hampton.

And Jackie Vaughn.

And the beloved Harold Washington.

Eddie Balchowsky.

Curtis Mayfield.

Oil Can Ed Sadlowski.

And Rudy Lozano (senior and junior).

I love the idea of Chicago. The sometimes romanticized Chicago.

I hate the Chicago that Rahm has made worse for the working people.

I hate what he’s done to our schools and neighborhoods.

Many of us had so little to begin with.

But I do love Karen Lewis’ Chicago.

If you love this city, write a check.

And then we need to get to work.

Tribune rails against a fair income tax. It must be a good idea.

The Chicago Tribune goes bonkers over the idea of a state graduated income tax.

It is no secret that Governor Pat Quinn and the people who helped him land the governorship in 2010 and raise income taxes in 2011 are laying the groundwork for a progressive Illinois tax initiative. This will require a constitutional amendment in 2014 because a graduated income tax is illegal in Illinois. They want to make the temporary 2011 tax hike permanent at five percent and tax certain individuals at ever-higher marginal rates. A progressive income tax will mean higher taxes for middle-class Illinoisans and destroy needed jobs for poor and working families. It’s time to dispel the myths underlying the progressive tax. Experts say that it will cut Illinois’ economic growth, destroy jobs and mean higher tax bills for most everyone including the middle class. Illinois should discard any notion of enacting a progressive income tax. Instead the state should become more competitive by repealing the record 2011 income tax increase and reforming its public pensions, Medicaid and other spending programs. The people we elect in the current election will make the decisions about the constitutional amendment and the tax legislation. Ask them how they would decide on this issue. For incumbents, if they voted for the present five percent tax, vote against them in the current election.

The good news is that while the those who sit in the highest offices of the Tribune Tower claim that this it is no secret, it has been a secret to me. Have you heard about this?

And if it is true, it is good news.

I agree with the Trib editors and owners. Ask your representative how they would decide on this issue. And if they think that Penny Pritzker and the housekeepers in her hotels should be paying the same tax rate, vote against them in the current election. I would have, except my representative and state senator are running unopposed. Sometimes democracy is hard to when you don’t even have the pretense of choice.

A progressive tax rate would mean higher taxes for the middle class in Illinois?

What a progressive income tax would mean is that the friends and neighbors of the owners of the Chicago Tribune would pay more.

Why? Because they have more.

If you want to reform Springfield and address the revenue issue in this state, how does it make sense to tax the poorest and richest at the same tax rate?

So, if it is true that Governor Quinn is promoting a progressive, graduated income tax and can actually get the support of the rest of the Democrats in the General Assembly, great.

But don’t count on them having any backbone on this.

As usual, we have to do the heavy lifting for what’s right. Let ’em know you support tax fairness.

Interview with myself.

Q: You’re going to Springfield tomorrow?

A: Yes. A couple of us our driving down at 7AM. Thousands more will be there.

Q: What’s up with that?

A: The Governor has called the General Assembly to meet for one day to address the pension issue. There are several ideas and bills that will be considered. They involve creating a forced choice for state workers between a cost of living adjustment and health care and shifting the cost of the state’s pension obligation to local towns and school districts.

Q: I take it you think this is a bad idea.

A: You take it right. Not only is it unfair to teachers. It is bad economic policy for a state that is still deeply in debt and state economy that continues to hit all working people very hard.

Q: Okay. We know what you are against. What are you for?

A. The issue must be reframed. Cutting working people’s earned benefits from a lifetime of hard work will only make matters worse. The Governor and the General Assembly must change the way revenue is generated. A flat tax that demands as much from the lowest wage earner making beds in a Hyatt Hotel as it does from Penny Pritzker who owns the hotel makes no sense. A graduated income tax would raise billions of dollars. It would revive the state’s economy. And it would be fair.

Q: What are your union leaders saying?

A: It is a muddled message. On the one hand they support the tax reform and restructuring. On the other hand they are still talking about agreeing to benefit cuts, including a 1% increase in the existing 9.4% contribution teachers already make to the Teacher Retirement System.

Q: Some have claimed you blame the union leadership for the current mess.

A: I blame them for the muddle. Not for the mess. Teachers want leaders to lead. We are not getting fighting leadership.

Q: What do you expect to happen tomorrow?

A: Following the angry reception that the Governor received at the State Fair on Wednesday, I expect a large crowd of angry state employees, including teachers. Most observers expect that the divisions among the Democrats and the divisions between the Democrats and Republicans will prevent anything from happening. But I’ve seen them do a lot of damage in a short time before. I would say that every teacher who is not working tomorrow and who can get to Springfield should get to Springfield. 

You can’t take your eyes off those people for one minute.

Brizard plays Eddie Haskell to the CPS board.

For those of you old enough to remember the old Leave it to Beaver show, you will instantly know what I mean when I say that CPS CEO JC Brizard is our town’s own Eddie Haskell.

Over the years, Eddie Haskell has become a cultural stereotype, the insincere ass kisser. Beaver Cleaver’ dad once remarked that “Eddie is so polite, it’s almost un-American.”

Following the successful petition campaign to put an elected school board on the November ballot in Chicago, Brizard has become embarrassing in his defense of Rahm’s appointed millionaire board members, like the union-busting Penny Pritzker.

10,000 names on petitions were submitted to the Board of Elections this past week.

Pritzker, by the way, has been well-rewarded for her service on the school board. She has received millions in TIF money to build a new anti-union Hyatt in Chicago.

In Haskell-like “Golly, Mr. Cleaver” grovel mode we have Brizard:

“I think Chicago really has one of the best school boards ever seen in history. I’ve worked for both, elected and appointed school boards. By far, this is the highest-performing board I have ever seen.”

The best in history?

All of history? Ever? The best?

Damn. Go easy there, Eddie. I mean Jean Claude.

International Women’s Day: Boycott Hyatt. Hyatt hurts women.

Hyatt Hurt Women: The Clothesline Project.

Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.

While the Limbaugh Party’s War on Women is well known, less well known is the war on working women, hotel workers at the Hyatt Hotel, who are waging a battle for respect and a decent contract.

The Hyatt chain is owned by the Pritzker family, big-time Obama campaign funders and Rahm Emanuel pals.

The Chicago-based Pritzker family was in the news last week for their success in skipping out on their property taxes. Penny Pritzker owns a seven-bathroom mansion in Lincoln Park, sits on the Chicago school board and votes to close neighborhood schools.

Her husband sits on the Chicago Park District board.

As a leading member of the Civic Committee, Penny treats teacher pensions like she treats her property tax bill. She doesn’t think the state should meet its obligations.

And talk about a war on women.

From the Hyatt Hurts website:

On August 31, 2009, Hyatt fired its entire housekeeping staff at three non-union hotels in the Boston area, replacing women who had worked at Hyatt for decades with workers from a temporary agency. Many of the fired workers report that Hyatt required that they train their replacements. Their replacements now earn minimum wage and clean as many as 30 rooms a day. Few if any of the subcontracted workers receive health insurance.

The story of the “Hyatt 100” represents just one dramatic example of how Hyatt’s aggressive use of subcontractors is destroying good jobs. Using subcontractors allows Hyatt to pay housekeepers poverty wages while evading legal liability for unsafe working conditions or hiring undocumented workers.

Dear President Obama: Dump Pritzker.

Dear President Obama,

On February 21st your campaign announced the naming of six national co-chairs from Illinois.

The list included Bill Daley, Sen. Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Penny Pritzker, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Alan Solow.

Yesterday Unite Here, which represents hotel employees at Penny Pritzker’s Hyatt Hotels, revealed that Penny Pritzker underpays the property taxes on her Chicago 7-bathroom mansion.

This is the same Penny Pritzker who refuses to come to an agreement with the union that represents the hotel employees at her family owned hotel chain.

This is the same Penny Pritzker who advocates ending public employee pensions in Illinois. As a member of the Chicago school board, she recently voted to shut down over a dozen public schools, upending the lives of thousands of Chicago students and their families and impacting the jobs and lives of hundred of Chicago teachers.

Is this the face of the Obama campaign you want?

A tax scammer? Someone who is goes after public service employee pensions. A union buster? A one percenter who makes Mitt Romney look like the salt of the earth?

Dump Penny Pritzker as your election co-chair.

-Fred Klonsky

The in box: Unite Here on Penny Pritzker.

Press Advisory for March 1, 2012
Elliott Mallen, UNITE HERE
(312) 656-5807, emallen@unitehere.org

Parents, homeowners call on Pritzker family to pay their fair share of taxes
Tax appeals by Chicago’s wealthiest family hurt public schools and city services

What: Press conference announcing the release of UNITE HERE’s report on the Pritzker family’s efforts to lower their property taxes, and a call from Chicago parents for the Pritzker family to pay their fair share.

Who: UNITE HERE Local 1 President Henry Tamarin, hotel workers

When: 10:00 – 10:30 AM, Thursday, March 1st

Where: Outside the Office of the Cook County Treasurer, 118 North Clark Street, Chicago

Why: As property tax bills come due for thousands of Chicago homeowners, hotel workers and community leaders are calling on Chicago Board of Education member Penny Pritzker to drop pending tax appeals on her home and to encourage her family members to pay their fair share. The outcry comes as hospitality workers union UNITE HERE releases a report detailing efforts by members of the Pritzker family to lower their property tax bills at the expense of Chicago’s schools, parks, and libraries.

Penny Pritzker, who has benefited from numerous successful tax appeals on her house, is one of seven members of the Chicago Board of Education, which receives most of the property taxes paid by Chicago homeowners. Two appeals on the value of Ms. Pritzker’s house are pending before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board. If the appeal is successful, refunds could come at the expense of the Chicago Board of Education and other public agencies.

UNITE HERE’s report, entitled “Tax Relief for Billionaires: Property Taxes and the Pritzker Family,” shows that tax appeals on residences of members of the Pritzker family and Hyatt Hotels CEO Mark Hoplamazian have resulted in a loss of over $300,000 in tax revenues. Advance copies of the report, which will be released on March 1, may be made available to interested reporters.

Unite Here Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union, represents over 15,000 hotel and food service workers in Chicago and casino workers in Northwest Indiana.

The Hyatt’s Penny Pritzker has seven bathrooms, appeals her taxes and screws her employees.

Penny Pritzker has seven bathrooms.

H/T: Matt Farmer

For well over two years the employees of the Hyatt Hotels in Chicago and elsewhere have been in dispute over a contract.

Hyatt is owned by the Pritzker family. Most prominently, Penny Pritzker. She served as chief fundraiser for Obama’s 2008 campaign and is a high ranking member of his 2012 re-election campaign.

Chicago Public Schools board of education member Penny Pritzker and her husband, Bryan Traubert, own a a seven-bathroom, 8,400-square-foot mansion on three typical city lots in Lincoln Park.

Seven bathrooms.

They must do a lot of reading in that house.

It’s not surprising that a multi-millionaire like Pritzker would own a Lincoln Park mansion. She probably owns several.

The issue is that when it comes to paying their taxes, they are cheap. In fact, the whole Pritzker family is cheap.


Public records show Ms. Pritzker’s cousins Nick Pritzker, Tom Pritzker and Gigi Pritzker Pucker all have filed to lower bills on their homes in Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast, for combined savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past eight years.

Gigi Pritzker Pucker?

Okay, never mind about that.

Penny Pritzker refuses to settle a contract with Unite Here, the union that represents Hyatt housekeepers and other hotel workers.

She also sits on the Civic Committee which is leading the charge against teacher pensions claiming Illinois is broke.

Seven toilets, won’t pay her property taxes, screws her employees and argues that Illinois is too broke to pay teachers the pensions they were promised. And votes to close Chicago schools.

In Chicago, we call that a civic leader.