CHICAGO'S BUDGET BIG LIE I: Daley, Duncan and Huberman sabotaged CPS budget by freezing local property tax revenues, diverting schools dollars to TIFs, and increasing patronage hiring to the largest extent in history

Daley in July 2008.For the past three years, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley has made certain that the Chicago Public Schools failed to raise property taxes and undertook other fiscal policies which guaranteed that the school system’s revenues were kept artificially low.

Huberman in March 2009. At the same time, Daley’s patronage policies guaranteed that the school system’s expenses for patronage — both in personnel and contracts — remained enormous, guaranteeing that in any financial crisis the school system would first sacrifice teachers and others serving the students, while maintaining the expensive overhead that has come as a result of 15 years of mayoral control.

As the debate about Chicago's supposed "deficit" heats up and more jobs are destroyed in the nation's third largest school system, Substance will being reporting on the overall facts of the public education budget for Chicago. The first and most important fact is that under mayoral control, the entire Chicago narrative about the budget has focused on the obligations of the State of Illinois, and deliberately avoided any discussion of how much local property taxes are a part of Chicago's school budget.

In July 2008, two months before the Wall Street collapse, Mayor Daley stood with his four schools chiefs (including the three top budget officers) to announce that things were going so well that CPS didn't need the approximately $100 million the school system could get by "going to the cap" and raising local property taxes so fund the city's public schools. At the time, Daley talked about how the schools were doing so well under the leadership of CEO Arne Duncan, Chief Financial Officer Pedro Martinez, Chief Budget Director Beth Swanson, and Chief Administrative Officer M. Hill Hammock -- his "leadership team" -- that the schools wouldn't need any more dollars.

Two months later, Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy, and the federal government had to bail out most of the other major banks (plus AIG and the two mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) to prop up the world financial system. Things had already been bad for those who had played casino games with the "global economy" the mayor continued telling Chicago our schools needed to compete in.

Seven months later, Daley's youngest crony, Ron Huberman, was snatched from the Chicago Transit Authority to run the Chicago Public Schools following the selection of Arne Duncan to be U.S, Secretary of Education. Within five months, Huberman had declared a massive ("$400 million") "deficit", hired more than $10 million of his cronies into administrative patronage jobs at CPS, and gotten rid of all of the three other people (Martinez, Swanson, and Hammock) who had stood with the mayor when he proclaimed that CPS wouldn't need the extra property tax dollars it was entitled to.

By August 2009, when the CPS budget was presented in a largely incomprehensible form to the public for public comment, Daley was nowhere to be seen, except through his proxies. When Daley's third "Chief Executive Officer," former cop and former transit chief Ron Huberman, announced that there was another budget "deficit" in August 2009, he left out the fact that he did not intend to raise local property taxes to the "cap" --thereby depriving Chicago's schools of another $75 to $100 million that would add to the "doomsday" budget Huberman would feed to the city's corporate media less than eight months later.

By March 2010, the magic number fixed in the public mind thanks to the corporate media of Chicago's policy of reporting propaganda as news was that CPS was facing a "deficit" of possible $1 billion -- and that the whole blame was on the State of Illinois and the public pension funds, including the well managed Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. By March 2010, however, CPS had a second new Daley appointed "team" of budget experts providing Huberman with the latest round of Daley approved numbers.

Beth Swanson was long gone as Budget Director.

Pedro Martinez was long gone as Chief Financial Officer.

Hill Hammock was long gone as Chief Administrative Officer. And the people who replaced them were not answering the public's questions about Huberman's claims, while the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune simply repeated Huberman's claims as if they had some factually basis and had been checked out.


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