Keeping retirement weird.

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Where did they find this retired cop?

Rahm Emanuel is running for re-election by claiming success in the financial management of our City.

Rahm’s latest attack ad has the tag line: We Can’t Afford Garcia.

It features a retired Chicago cop discussing his concerns about Chuy.

And praising Rahm.

Milton Dixon is shown seated at his kitchen table with his hand on a coffee mug and a newspaper in front of him.

“It makes it a lot harder when you see politicians like Chuy Garcia. He’s been too quick to raise taxes: property taxes, parking taxes,” Dixon is quoted as saying.

“He makes all of these big promises costing us billions of dollars. Which means more property taxes or devastating cuts to city services — like police.”

Through my fight for pension rights I have come to know a lot of retired Chicago cops and other retired public employees. Ask them what they can’t afford and the first thing that comes to their mind is not Chuy Garcia as mayor.

I’m thinking that this is just something thought up by Rahm’s campaign handlers. The ones who thought up the fuzzy sweater and the I-know-I-rub-people-the-wrong-way slogan.

That idea was a stinker.

The other alternative is that Rahm suffers from a psychological disorder. A total lack of self-awareness.

I once had a superintendent who had that problem.

I was union president at the time. She was just terrible to work with. She lacked affect. Her first answer to all issues was no. In 2003 she hid in the back room while we tried to bargain a contract which led to a week-long strike, the first strike in our district in 25 years.

Almost Nixonian, she was convinced the strike was personal, rather than about the sky-rocketing cost of health insurance for our members.

She was just a born bureaucrat. With no sense of self-awareness.

My final term as union president ended as she retired. As we walked out of our final meeting together she turned to me and said, “You know, Fred. I think we’ve made a pretty good team.”

The look on my face must have surprised her.

“Really? And what on earth would lead you to think that?”

Just no self-awareness.

So Rahm releases an attack ad claiming Chuy can’t manage finances on the same day the Sun-Times features a story headlined: CPS Facing $200 Million+ Penalties as Bond Ratings Plunge.

Like the school board, the city of Chicago also entered into risky swap deals with termination clauses based on its credit rating, and the city’s fiscal woes had left it facing potentially huge termination payments.

If Milton Dixon is a real retired cop and not an actor then he is the rare public employee retiree who thinks Rahm’s economic practices have helped anyone but the wealthy of this city.

Even these bond ratings help the banksters and screw retirees.

Retired officer Dixon is confused.

Rahm is either a liar or suffering from a case of self-delusion that would make my former superintendent seem wholly grounded in reality.

My guess is he is a liar.

Not everyone in SEIU 73 is neutral about Rahm.


Andre Reed and Joe Iosbaker are co-chairs of the SEIU 73 unit at the University of Illinois Hospital.

This past weekend the Illinois state council of the Service Employees International Union voted to end their neutrality in the race between Rahm Emanuel and Chuy Garcia.

Chuy received their endorsement.

Matt Brandon, Secretary-Tresurer of SEIU Local 73 was not at all happy with that decision.

Although the leadership of the Local has given financial support to Emanuel, they had argued for the neutrality position. In what most observers believe will be a close race, a position of neutrality by the powerful SEIU was basically supporting the Mayor.

“Nobody here is for Emanuel,” said Joe Iosbaker who shares the position of co-chair of the SEIU Local 73 unit with Andre Reed. The unit represents employees at the University of Illinois Medical Center on the west side.

I took the bus to meet up with Andre and Joe for lunch today. I wanted to hear what was going on inside SEIU Local 73.

The UIC unit has provided strong union representation for their members at UIC for years.

“I’ve tried to be a good unionist,” said Iosbaker who is a well-known political activist in Chicago.

Following the endorsement, SEIU Local 73 Secretary-Teasureer Brandon had accused the state council of SEIU and its President Tom Balanoff, of having a socialist agenda.

Both Reed and Iosbaker laughed at that analysis.

Reed and Iosbaker said that there had been no vote among members of SEIU Local 73 as to who should be endorsed or if there should be an endorsement. There was no vote by the rank-and-file when the Local wrote a $25,000 check to the Emanuel campaign.

Meanwhile the UIC unit is organizing a campaign in support of city legislation that would create an independent civilian review committee that would enable prosecution of police abuse cases like Homan Square and Jon Burge.

If it is not obvious, the campaign is squarely directed at the mayor.

Rahm screams at mental health activists, “YOU’RE GONNA RESPECT ME!”

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Photo montage of Rahm at Wicker Park incident: Kenzo Shibata.

– By Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle as posted on the Mental Health Movement’s Facebook page.

Mental Health Movement members Debbie Delgado and Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle just confronted Rahm face-to-face about his mental health clinic closures. Rahm was about to address a small room of developers and residents at the Wicker Park field-house. 3 years after he closed half of Chicago’s public mental health clinics, he may have thought the issue had gone away. But then Debbie, sitting in the front row, a few feet from the mayor, stood up to tell her story. She told of losing her son to gun violence.

She told him how her other son was holding him as he died. She told about how the city’s Northwest Mental Health Clinic in Logan Square saved their lives, helped her and her son deal with the PTSD and depression.

Then she asked why he took that clinic away from her. Why he closed a clinic and now a bar sits in that space. Why he closed five other mental health clinics. Why he thought she would be able to travel an extra hour past three cemeteries to get to the clinic she was supposed to be transferred to without having an anxiety attack on the way. Why he has left her with no options. Why he has left her with her son closed in, barely leaving the house anymore, refusing to see a new therapist since Rahm Emanuel took away their clinic.

After trying to keep his cool, he told us that he would speak to us after the event in a separate room. There, we saw the Real Rahm.

Now off camera, Rahm’s voice raised, his demeanor changed, in no time he was shouting in Matt’s face, nose-to-nose “YOU’RE GONNA RESPECT ME!”

He corrected Rahm’s faulty statistics, saying that no, psychiatric services were not expanded, that in fact the city cut $2.3 million by closing 6 clinics and only redistributed $500,000 of that to private clinics and that those clinics have only seen a couple hundred additional people, whereas 3,000 people are unaccounted for since he announced the closure of those mental health clinics.

The Real Rahm accused Debbie and Matt of “creating a circus in there,” to which we responded that two close friends – Mental Health Movement heros Jeannette Hanson and Helen Morley – had lost their lives because of his decision to close their clinics, that there is nothing humorous to us about what we did in there, that we had tried since months before the clinic closures to meet with him, that Helen (who was looking at Rahm from Debbie’s t-shirt) had shouted to him “If you close my clinic I will die” only to die a month after he ignored those shouts.

When Rahm told Debbie he is going to have the new Commissioner of Public Health personally find her a new mental health clinic to go to, she said “this isn’t about me, this is about all of us, about the movement, about the south and west sides of the city that don’t have mental health now. Don’t try to just fix my situation, re-open all of our clinics.”

He had his PR guy take our number and left, unable to respond. This is the Real Rahm. Calm and collected in public, raging angry and self-defensive behind closed doors.

The only people in the room were two PR staff, two body guards, us and the man that closed half of Chicago’s public mental health clinics – Rahm Emanuel.

Who is claiming easy victories?


Nothing easy about this. Carlos Rosa wins the 35th.

I read In These Times regularly.

And so should those who want to follow what is going on in the Progressive Movement.

I say that not just because they have published a column by me a couple of times.

So, I was surprised to read an article on their online edition suggesting Chicago progressives were claiming an easy win over Rahm Emanuel.

“The City’s Progressives should claim no easy victories,” warned the pundit.

The warning to claim no easy victories come from the Guinean anti-colonial leader and revolutionary Amilcar Cabral.

“Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories…”

This is good advice whether you are making revolution in Guinea or working on electing an alderman in the 35th ward.

I could not help but wonder what progressives the pundit was referring to.

Who was claiming this easy victory?

I didn’t think any of this was easy, even for the victories we did win: Carlos Rosa in the 35th, five of the seven Progressive Caucus alderman, two more incumbent progressives surviving a $2 million campaign assault by the mayor. Diane Dalieden’s amazing 40% against Pat O’Connor, the mayor’s man in the City Council. And the many runoffs that those aldermanic water carriers for Rahm must now endure. And possibly lose.

It was a continuation of the change in the political landscape the CTU President Karen Lewis called for. We are building on Will Guzzardi’s electoral win last Spring. And the surprising showing by Jay Travis against Christian Mitchell.

Certainly a number of national observers noticed that Rahm did not win and that Chuy did what had not been done in Chicago in 30 years.

The real question, instead, was whether he’d be able to win more than 50 percent of the vote, and thus avoid an April runoff election. Historically, this is something Chicago’s mayor has almost always accomplished with relative ease; it’s even more perfunctory than when an incumbent president “runs” in his party’s primary before the general election. Yet despite his national profile, the backing of the city’s formidable Democratic machine, an ungodly sum of money, and the support of his former boss (and fellow Chicagoan) President Obama, Emanuel fell short. Experts on Chicago politics described his failure as “a huge embarrassment.”

I guess we can argue all day on what constitutes a victory. There are all kinds of victories. There are moral victories, symbolic victories, real victories, false victories and partial victories.

But nothing that happened last week was an easy victory.

What did happen is the result of the hard work of a new generation of young activists knocking on doors in white, Latino and African American wards with energy for an election not seen in this town since 1983.

I think they deserve a pat on the back. And more than that.

Another victory April 7.

Still crazy after all these years.


I used to live in Dick Mell’s 33rd ward.

I didn’t move. The ward did.

If they hadn’t redistricted Mell farther north he and his organization couldn’t have survived where I live.

They tried to dilute the Logan Square progressive vote by dividing our neighborhood up into four different wards. I’m not exactly sure, but I think my living room is in the 32nd ward, my bedroom is in the 35th and I crap in the 26th.

The divide and conquer tactic by the Machine has failed, of course. It has given Logan Square the opportunity to send more progressives to the Chicago city council. The 35th now has Carlos Rosa joining Scott Waguespack in the Progressive Caucus.

And we have Will Guzzardi in the Illinois House.

I still crap in the 26th which is represented by Machine tool, Roberto Maldonado.

Maldonado’s main claim to fame is turning a good neighborhood middle school into a military school in spite of the overwhelming objections and the vote of his ward.

And he was one of the Latino politicians that stood behind Rahm Emanuel yesterday re-endorsing him.

How many times can you be dragged in front of a camera to re-endorse the Mayor?

Look for Monday when Maldonado, Gutierrez and the UNO’s alderman, Danny Solis will endorse Rahm again.

And again on Thursday.

On Friday expect Luis Gutierrez to get before a camera, waving his arms excitedly and yelling, “I endorse the Mayor. Again!” Except he will take longer to say it because Luis never says anything in a few words when he is in front of a camera. When they put him in front of the camera on Tuesday night to introduce Rahm and explain his historic fail, he spoke so long I thought he was the one who lost and not the Rahm.

Back in the old days before Dick Mell bequeathed his council seat to his daughter Deb, he ran an old style ward operation down here. Like other leaders of the Machine crime families, he ran it tough. If you wanted to take on Mell in the old days we had to be ready to take on precinct captains whose resumes rarely included masters degrees in political science from an Ivy League school. For all you knew they could be packing. Not suit cases.

In 2007, Dick failed to re-register his extensive firearms collection.

It was required by Chicago’s gun control law.

Which he had written.

To their credit, Mell’s precinct captains could turn out their voters, dead or alive. Drunk or sober.

As a poll watcher in 1983 I watched some poor wino standing in a voting both too drunk to remember what he was supposed to do or the name he was supposed to vote for. He was crying to one of Mell’s wise guys, “I don’t remember what to do. I don’t remember!”

He probably couldn’t remember what day it was. Or whether the wise guy had bought him a bottle of white port or Boone’s Farm.

We had things so organized that there were more poll watchers than poll judges and the Machine guy could only stand there, only slightly embarrassed.

Chicago public school teacher Tim Meegan took on Dick’s daughter in the 33rd ward and kept her from avoiding a run off.

By Wednesday morning she was just short of the 50% plus one vote.

By Thursday some votes were discovered.

All of them for Mell. Who would have guessed?

The election board says there are still votes out there to be counted.

Maybe in the back closet of the office Dick illegally paid for his daughter to use for campaigning.

Or in a Paul Powell shoe box somewhere.

There is an old saying about Chicago elections:

It’s not how many votes you get. It’s who watches the count.

My post at In These Times: Why is Unite Here supporting Rahm?


Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery at 2011 protest in front of the Chicago Hyatt Regency. UniteHere Local 1 member and Hyatt housekeeper speaks to a crowd of union supporters. 

– In These Times has published my post.

In the winter of 2011, I was running as a delegate to the annual Representative Assembly (RA) of the Illinois Education Association (IEA), the largest teacher union in the state. The 1,000 delegates to the state’s RA had long met at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont. Running as a union delegate in 2011, my platform was simple and concise: “If the IEA RA is held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, don’t vote for me because I won’t attend. I don’t cross picket lines.”

UNITE HERE Local 1, who represents the housekeepers and other employees of the Hyatt Hotel chain in Chicago, were engaged in a labor dispute with the company. The downtown Hyatt Regency and North Michigan Park Hyatt were targeted with mass protests and non-violent arrests.

Members of my teachers local and I had joined with hundreds of others demonstrating union and labor solidarity against one of the city’s wealthiest and powerful corporate families, the Pritzkers. The owners of the Hyatt chain, the Pritzker family were prominent supporters and funders of the national and local Democratic Party. Penny Pritzker had been the chief fundraiser for Obama’s first presidential bid, and would soon serve on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s hand picked board of education; later, she would leave to be President Obama’s Commerce Secretary.

I wrote to the president of Local 1 and asked that a letter be sent to Ken Swanson, then-President of the IEA, supporting my call for the RA to leave the Hyatt for another location. And the IEA did move its convention. So did the National Education Association, which held its 10,000-delegate national meeting in Chicago the next year. Soon after, many other large organizations also cancelled their meeting contracts with the Hyatt.

This history with UNITE HERE makes my disappointment in the union’s support of Rahm Emanuel in the 2015 Chicago Mayoral election that much more bitter.

In service to Mayor Emanuel’s campaign, UNITE HERE produced a slick and, assumedly, expensive video showing Rahm and a group of hospitality workers who are members of the union. Near the beginning of the video, Local 1 President Karen Kent introduces the mayor by saying, “The best city in the world, the best hospitality in the world, [and] the best mayor.”

Read the entire post here.

Keeping retirement weird. Vote today. Or Tuesday.


This is me last summer. Not in Brooklyn.

– Posting from Brooklyn.

I woke up yesterday morning and it was colder where we are in Brooklyn then it was back home in Chicago.

Last night we got to do the grandparent’s thing with the grandkids. I made mac and cheese, ice cream sundaes with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and the largest maraschino cherries ever. Then we watched Guardians of the Galaxy.

Joey congratulated me for my mac and cheese. “Just like Whole Foods.” This is high praise since Whole Foods’ mac and cheese is his favorite.

A great evening.

Did I mention that I have already voted in the Chicago municipal election. First day.

Today is the last day of early voting.

Vote today or Tuesday. But vote.

Vote for the Progressive Caucus Seven. Vote for Carlos, Sue, Tim, Maureen, Rafael, David, Juanita, Zerlina, Tara, Dianne, Denice or anyone running against a Rahm water carrier in their ward.

Sue Sadlowski Garza (10th; Maureen Sullivan (11th); Rafael Yanez (15th); David Moore (17th); Chuks Onyezia (18th); Matthew O’Shea (19th); Michael Zalewski (23rd); Frank Bass (24th); Ed Hershey (25th); Juanita Irizarry (26th); Zerlina Smith (29th); Tim Meegan (33rd); Carlos Rosa (35th); Tara Stamps (37th); Dianne Daleiden; and, Denice Davis (46th)

Vote for anybody but Rahm.

If this needs explaining one more time I will now explain it one more time.

Rahm needs half the votes plus one. The more people who vote and vote for someone other than Rahm the better the chance of a run-off.

I met the Trib’s columnist John Kass the other day. I have not been a fan of his over the years. But meeting him, I liked him. And we agreed about this much.

Don’t give Rahm a victory on Tuesday.

Think of it as a gift, one that can be given to Chicago on Tuesday, Election Day, Feb. 24.

Only those who live in the city and love Chicago the most — those who will vote Tuesday — can give this gift to the city. I live outside the city. So I can’t. But you might.

What is this one thing Chicago desperately needs?

It needs Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fall short of winning re-election outright Tuesday.

There, I said it.

Kass was writing about us.

About those who live Chicago. Even sitting here is Brooklyn I am thinking about Chicago.

The great Nelson Algren – who lived not far from my Logan Square home – wrote, “Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”

I won’t romanticize what is too much of the reality of Rahm Emanuel’s style of corporate rule.

But I have also been a witness to and known so much of the lovely.

Enough of the reality of corruption, violence, racism and the gross economic inequality.

Vote today. Or Tuesday.


We fly home on Monday.

Tuesday night you will find me at a party.

What was Rahm doing at the memorial honoring Pullman workers?


Rahm went after the Chicago Teachers Union in 2012. 

– Posting from Brooklyn.

President Obama came to Chicago to dedicate the Pullman national monument.

The monument is not there to honor capital’s robber barons of industry. It’s not there for George Pullman. It is there to honor its workers, labor unions, the African American union of sleeping car porters.

Much is being made of the fact that Governor Private Equity was kept off the stage when the President was signing the paper establishing the monument.

Capitolfax posted these tweets:

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Even Crain’s pro-business Greg Hinz was forced to admit that Governor Private Equity appears to be in the tradition of George Pullman.

Rauner acted like a rich guy protecting his class in one key area: While poor people and middle-class people and workers and transit riders and just about everyone else is being asked to take it in the ear in the name of “shared sacrifice,” people of means get off scot-free. In fact, they’re actually better off.

Yet everyone agrees that the timing of Obama’s trip to Chicago had more to do with saving Rahm Emanuel’s behind than honoring labor.


The very same mayor who used the most offensive gutter language to the country’s most beloved teacher union leader?

Also kept off the stage was Rahm’s primary opponent, Alderman Bob Fioretti.

Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd, questioned why he was not granted a ticket to attend the event, given his history as a past president and current member of the Historic Pullman Foundation board.

Considering the mutual contempt with which Governor Private Equity and Rahm hold unions, they both should have been kept behind the velvet ropes.

But honoring labor, unions and the Pullman porters wasn’t really what today was all about.

Rahm, DFER slime machine attacks Chicago Progressive Caucus Alderman John Arena.

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is a corporate education reform group that is working hand in glove with Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s political action committee, Chicago Forward.

Chicago Forward raised $3 million to spend on preventing progressive challenges to incumbent aldermen.

In many of these wards this effort has fallen flat.

In some cases I hear reports that Chicago Forward has withdrawn its efforts entirely.

In retreat they are focused on defeating the incumbent members of the Progressive Caucus of seven alderman

One of these members of the Progressive Caucus is 45th Ward Alderman John Arena.

The slime attacks are lies.

They remind me of the mailings that the Democratic Machine sent out in their attempt to defeat the progressive Democrat from my State House District, Will Guzzardi.


Will Guzzardi won the primary and defeated the daughter of Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios.

The Machine mailings showed the figure of a dark-skinned man with his hand on the shoulders of a little white girl and claimed Guzzardi defended the rights of child molesters.

The Machine’s slimy appeal to racism failed.

The Rahm/DFER mailings attack Arena for voting against public education.

Shameless coming from this pack of charter vultures. Shameless when John Arena stood against school closing and against Rahm’s sutting down mental health clinics throughout the city

Rahm must be defeated and the Progressive Caucus, including Alderman Arena, must be returned to the Council Chamber so that they can be joined by the other Progressive challengers.

Here are some examples of the Rahm/DFER slime.

Contributions to John Arena’s campaign can be made here.

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