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Jackson Potter takes himself off CORE ticket because Marilyn Stewart challenged his eligibility based on technicalities

Little Village High School teacher Jackson Potter, who helped found and organize Chicago's Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) announced on Sunday, January 31, 2010, that he was taking his name off the CORE slate. Potter had been slated for vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union by CORE after a lengthy and complex slating process that ended on January 6.

CORE founder and co-chairman Jackson Potter (above left) announced on January 31 that he was withdrawing himself from the CORE nomination for vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union. Potter is in a court dispute with the Chicago Teachers Union over his eligibility to run for citywide office under CTU rules. With Potter (above right) is Whitney Young High School teacher Jay Rehak, who was celebrating his election as trustee of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) on October 30 at Rosa's Blues Lounge. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt."To all those wonderful CORE folks out there," Potter wrote in an e-mail on January 31, "I regret to inform you that i will be stepping down from the VP slot on our ticket. While we received a favorable timeline from the judge who is hearing the case in state court, the timeline still does not give us sufficient flexibility to ensure a court decision would be made with enough time for us to reconfigure an eligible candidate slate. There are so many strong leaders in CORE that i believe firmly that this will not hurt our chances in the general election. While many caucuses depend upon a central leader to promote their ticket, the strength of CORE lies in our team..."

Potter was fighting a court battle after the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union declared that he was not eligible for a city-wide office under union rules. The CTU election rules require that candidates for the top citywide offices (president, vice president, recording secretary, financial secretary, trustees, area vice presidents) have three years of continuous union membership. Potter took a study leave to do graduate work at the University of Chicago three years ago, and CTU Financial Secretary Mark Ochoa declared that he had broken his union membership and did not have three continuous eligible years. Potter paid dues while on leave, but invoking a technicality, Ochoa, backed by the CTU's outside lawyers, forced Potter to take the case to court. The case is still pending, with the earliest possible resolution in March.

Petitions for nominations begin on February 19, when all candidates are eligible to pick up nominating petitions at the union's Mechandise Mart headquarters. In order to quality for the ballot, candidates must get the signatures of at least five percent on eligible voters on their nominating petitions. The CTU currently has approximately 28,000 members, which means that citywide candidates need approximately 1,400 signatures on the petitions. The precise number has not been made public by CTU leaders.

Nominating petitions are due at the union's offices by March 23, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. All candidates petitions are reviewed by the union's staff, and eligibility is announced at the April meeting of the House of Delegates. The election will be held in all schools on May 21, 2010.

Potter was one of the founding members of CORE, which began in April and May 2008, and has been leader of much of CORE's activism, including militant protests against the 2009 school closings in January and February 2009. 

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Comments:

February 1, 2010 at 6:45 AM

By: AL KORACH

RETIRED CTU MEMBER

I'M SORRY TO HEAR THAT POTTER HAS DROPPED OUT OF THE RACE FOR VP.THE CASE IS UNDER LEGAL REVIEW WITH A DECISION DUE SOMETIME IN MARCH. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF GLARING OVERSIGHTS IN THIS SITUATION. ANYONE RUNNING A CAMPAGN WITH AN ONCE OF SENSE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THE UPC WOULD LOOK OVER ANY OPPOSITION SLATE WITH A FINE TOOTHCOMB.THEY WILL DO ANYTHING TO UPSET OR DELAY ANY OPPOSITION GROUP. IN THIS CASE THEY MAY HAVE SUCCEEDED.THE SECOND ISSUE IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN CONSISTENTLY WRITING ABOUT. THERE IS OR WAS THE NEED FOR ONE STRONG CAUCUS SLATE. I BELIEVE THE TIME FOR THIS HAS PAST. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CURRENT CTU LEADERSHIP AND STAFF WILL DO ANYTHING TO PREVENT THEM FROM LOOSING THEIR ACCESS TO THEIR HIGH SLARIES, GREAT INSURANCE, WONDERFUL PENSIONS AND THEIR AUTO DEALS.THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO THEM IF THE LOOSE THE MAY ELECTION WOULD BE A RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM.

February 1, 2010 at 6:32 PM

By: Retired Principal

Jackson Potter

Who will take Jackson Potter's place?

February 1, 2010 at 8:21 PM

By: should not have been on it in the first place

set-back for CORE

too bad for you Mr. Potter and CORE has been doing a great job. He should NOT have been on the slate in the first place. Now it would be real smart to work it out with PACT or CSDU and join together--now is your chance. BUT you will not because your strategy will be to wait and see what happens in the first election--you will take that chance and then a run-off and someone else will then win. When you have the chance now to join together to beat MS. Yes, CORE is smart, and energetic and right,and just,but you now will not win on your own and if you do (highly unlikely now) you will be out of your element--no one wants to vote for a group that will have to start over. You are starting over already and showing poor judgement with Potter's (forced) resignation. CORE needs some reality when it comes to CTU parties and elections. Good luck.

February 3, 2010 at 3:35 AM

By: Nate Goldbaum

CORE's strength is in our ranks

I'm surprised by the "Can't Do" attitude of some comments. When Jackson submitted his name for the slate, we already knew that his eligibility was challenged. We also knew that UPC is talented at exploiting loopholes and technicalities to pursue their questionable agenda. We made a conscious decision that we would not be ruled by UPC's dirty tricks. Jackson was elected to our original slate on principle.

However, CORE's strength is in its ranks. We have already made nominations for Jackson's replacement on the slate. Those nominations include extremely talented union members with a history of standing up for public education and educators. Just like before, CORE will operate on principle and vote for our VP candidate. We will not base our decision on who makes the largest donation or crass, patronizing "image" considerations.

CORE will take leadership of this union. Not because of one or two personalities, but because we work together as a team -- the way a union SHOULD.

February 3, 2010 at 5:19 AM

By: Veteran delegate

Are these candidates delegates? Tested?

It's one thing to spout platitudes about "talent." It's another thing to prove you're a union leader. Usually, it's a hard job, year after year to be a union delegate represent fight for and lead the members in your school, and take the risks no matter what.

How many of these talented CORE leaders have been union leaders in their schools, and for how long? What have they risked, and how have they been tested and proven? How many grievances have they filed and for whom and for what?

It's easy to talk from the outside, hold meetings with people you agree with and protest protest protest. Sometimes it's even easier to walk around holding signs and chanting especially if the group is large enough and the chants are loud enough. But finally the union works every day the school. After all the talk about "talent," how about some details about experience as well.

February 3, 2010 at 6:17 AM

By: Al Korach

retired teacher

Dear Mr. Goldbaum

I read your blog, OOPS copout. When you state, "We already knew his eligibility would be challenged." You still went on and slated him. I do not doubt his integrity nor ability but I doubt the ability of your slating group. All of you understood the group you are running against and yet you gave them an issue to work against you with. Speeches using phrases such as exploting loopholes, crass patronizing and image considerations just take up space but do not win elections. You've had a setback. Stop the excuses and get back with the program. Good luck.

February 3, 2010 at 9:19 AM

By: Joe Linehan

Setback

I'm really not sure how this is a setback. Nominations are already in place for a replacement candidate. Jackson made a bold move to put the interests of CORE and the union ahead of his own and the nominated replacements are all leaders within the caucus. The only setback I see is that Jackson's replacement will be behind the other Vice-Presidential candidates in name recognition--VP candidates like...well I'm sure they're good people. Democracy is a lot of things, but it is seldom ever neat and tidy. That may be why other caucuses try and avoid it.

February 3, 2010 at 9:27 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

CTU opposition ground rules. Debate?

I'm hoping that Substance will be able to do at least three things regarding the upcoming battles for power within the CTU.

First, cover the news accurately and with some balance; not "objectively" which is a bourgeois illusion.

Second, help facilitate a "non aggression pact" among the opposition groups, beginning now. The reasons are too many to list, but if those who want to replace Marilyn Stewart and the UPC (hopefully, forever) want to run a unified CTU after May (and the June runoff?), the practice has to begin now. Since we have as many potential "issues" with, for example, some members of the opposition groups as anyone, I'm hopeful about that. We're also going to try to report on UPC's activities, although they seem determined to make that difficult. More about that piece later.

Third, sponsor one or two clearly defined and moderated candidate debates, to follow the completion of the nominating petitions but even before the April "certification" of candidates. All candidates should be invited, even UPC.

To begin all that, we've assigned people to cover all the caucuses, and those stories are beginning to appear here and in print. (Examples: Sarah Loftus's recent article on PACT; Sharon Schmidt's article on the SEA caucus; my coverage of CORE; Kugler's upcoming coverage of CSCU).

We're also covering every "closing" hearing, noting who is at what from which caucus. Since we know the leaders of all the caucuses (including UPC), that's pretty easy. Either people are at the hearing, or they're not. Either they speak, or they don't. If they have been signed up to speak and don't get called, that's worth noting. But if they sign up to speak and don't because they duck out of the room (which happened to one of the candidates at the January 27 Board of Education meeting), that's kind of "news."

As a result of these guidelines, I find that we are forced to report more on Marilyn Stewart's remarks at the hearings than on the remarks of all the others. Hopefully, that will change, but as our reports reflect, the manipulation by the hearing officers (to reduce the time for the public to the barest minimum) has excluded a number of people (from CORE and PACT, to my knowledge) who signed up to speak, but were never called.

Tonight there are two more hearings. The fates of more than 100 teachers and other school workers are in the balance. There is also a major third event (the Gillespie hearing at Gillespie at 72nd and Morgan). We'll report on the who, what, when and where by dawn tomorrow.

February 3, 2010 at 11:42 PM

By: Danny

Hearings not the place for stump speeches

George notes that he’s keeping track of which caucuses send representatives to the school closing/consolidation/reconstitution hearings. That’s fair because all the caucuses say they are opposed to Ren10 and support the schools on this year’s Hit List. Let's see if their actions match their words.

“Either they speak, or they don’t,” writes George.

I think it’s a bad idea to put pressure on the candidates for CTU office to speak at these hearings. It’s possible they may have some keen insight into the affected schools, but it’s more likely that they are not familiar with the school’s culture and community. They are often outsiders.

Several of the teachers and community leaders who spoke Monday night gave detailed analysis of data and research they themselves had conducted or studied. They provided documents to the hearing officer and Board bureaucrats, and presented themselves as well-prepared and informed. Others, especially students, spoke from their hearts in what was an emotionally exhausting evening. These are people who should have spoke out, and they did.

While going through security and onto the elevators to the 5th floor, I met some of the Marshall teachers. They thanked me for coming out to support them and asked what school I was from. “You came out to support us, and we’ll come out to support you,” one man said. That’s the kind of solidarity our Union needs.

As many Substance readers know, I’m running with the PACT caucus. I had one of our buttons in my pocket, but couldn’t bring myself to put it on during the hearing. I didn’t attend the hearings for political advantage, but to show my support for my Union brothers and sisters at Phillips and Marshall High Schools, and for my profession.

Frankly, even Marilyn Stewart acquitted herself well in her remarks as president of the Chicago Teachers Union. I felt as if she spoke for me (and that’s a rare occurrence).

So go ahead and report who shows up. Let those who feel especially moved to speak do so. But let’s not encourage candidates to make stump speeches during these hearings. Save those for a more appropriate time and place.

February 4, 2010 at 12:04 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Speaking is an important solidarity act

I agree that people should avoid stump speeches at the hearings, but think it's fine for people from the different caucuses to wear their buttons, etc. So far, Marilyn Stewart has spoken at most of the hearings, and most others not much. For example, tonight there were more than 100 people at the Marconi-Tilton hearing and more than 200 at the Prescott hearing. Because of the House of Delegates meeting, Marilyn Stewart wasn't there for the Marconi-Tilton. Eileen Camacho and Alex Illich were there from CTU, and Eileen spoke. Norine Gutekanst spoke from CORE, but nobody else I think.

Marllyn Stewart was one of more than 40 people who got to speak on Prescott. The hearing officer for Prescott was much better than others (he's new; Ed Santiago). He didn't waste people's time like Bates does with personal stories, slanders against the dead (like his Steve Newton anecdote) or other forms of BS. So more people got to speak, including Marilyn Stewart.

If my counts are accurate, already more than 800 people have been at the Clark St. hearings. If they show up at the Board for the February 10 demonstration and the February 24 Board meeting, it will be very important.

Ron Huberman is paranoid about the large size of the crowds that are speaking out against this year's Hit List. He doubled the size of security at the January 27 meeting, and is planning even more security over the next couple of weeks. He's also kept his face away from all the hearings.

That's all I have time for tonight. See you all tomorrow.

February 4, 2010 at 12:07 AM

By: kugler

i disagree

We as union members especially those that want to hold office(i am on no slate) should come out and fight for what is right.

every time i speak and tell the truth of what school closings do to receiving schools(destabilization, drop in scores, increased violence, teacher attrition...)people that do not know me especially community members come up to me and thank me. people want someone to fight for them that is not afraid and does not beg or try to reason with corrupt government officials(which cps administrators are during theses hearings).

If candidates do not come out and protect teachers from the closure process than what will they do for us if they get elected to protect all the membership.

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