'Nothing's colder than dead clout...' (classic Chicago political reminder)... Who's Ron Huberman's clout now that Richard M. Daley is dethroning himself?

The abrupt announcement by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley that he was not going to run for re-election next year caught even sophisticated observers by surprise. But by the end of the afternoon on September 7, 2010, both the Associated Press and Crain's Chicago Business had confirmed the story and were running with it, while the rest of Chicago's corporate media was scrambling to catch up with one of the biggest political stories in American politics today.

While Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman read from his platitudinous script, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley had showed his interest in Huberman's words to the press as the two announced that Chicago high school test scores had gone "up" again. It all took place during a media event on July 27, 2010, at Chicago Vocational ("Career Academy") High School. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. "There's nothing colder than dead clout," is a saying I first heard from friends who were born and raised in Chicago's 11th Ward, original home of the Daleys before they moved to more trendy environs, in relation to school politics when Ruth Love was trying to hold on to her job as Chicago schools superintendent in 1983 after a vote of the Board of Education made it clear to her that her time had run out (and her ear for political nuance turned out to be dead).

And "dead clout" may have finally caught up with Ron Huberman, whose latest job has been "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools system. What happens next remains to be seen.

Dwarfed within the Daley story was another story, one that would have an immediate impact on the city's public school system. Chicago Public Schools currently has more than 410,000 students, at approximately 680 schools (nobody can give an exact number because of the proliferation of small schools and charter school "campuses" under Daley) with, according to the latest official statements, more than 40,000 full-time workers (and by this reporter's estimate, another 8,000 to 10,000 part-timers and consultants).

Will Daley's clout extend beyond Daley's regime?

And will that clout — the clout that put a controversial "ex-cop" with an inflated reputation for wizardry with numbers in charge of the nation's third largest school system — last for Ron Huberman? One year after an almost ridiculous bit of hagiography ran off the cover page of Chicago magazine praising Huberman (and replete with so many inaccuracies that even critics were nonplussed), has the Huberman era in Chicago politics finally run out?

Only time will tell, but the scramble for position in the post-Daley era will begin immediately now that Daley has officially become a lame duck. One of the biggest questions to ponder is whether that lame duck status will extend to some of Daley's most famous and powerful proteges — foremost among whom is Ron Huberman.

Substance would like to begin a thread of comments to this. Please give your name, of it you are not using your name, be sure that you give Substance your true e-mail address.


September 7, 2010 at 6:51 PM

By: Jay Rehak

What's next.

The CTU was the last group to protest at City Hall against the mayor and the TIFS ( I believe the TIFs are the Achilles heal of the current mayor). I hope the CTU will ask that the new mayor review the TIF policy and also insist that the School Board be returned to educators and not the business people who have driven it into a financial ditch.

I think we all have to assume that the Mayor will handpick his successor, to ensure that the TIF scandal not become Mayor Daley's lasting legacy.

I would think Mr. Huberman would be replaced by the next mayor, or before the next election even. That said, Mr. Huberman's meteoric rise through the ranks suggests he has very powerful friends.

From my nascent political perspective, I would think Mr. Huberman would have to be replaced by someone who has an educational background, but again, it depends who gets the job.

Finally, I wonder if it is in Mayor Daley's best interest (his legacy) to have a strong, articulate Mayor succeed him.

September 7, 2010 at 7:04 PM

By: bob



I hope that the mayor is leaving for personal reasons but I sense a darker one .

For weeks now a lot of incumbent Democratic officials have been bailing out of

office, or announcing they will not run. With today’s announcement by the mayor

a real economic bomb must be about to explode .Stay tuned

September 8, 2010 at 10:15 AM

By: Retired Principal

Ron Huberman

I have been hearing rumors about Ron Huberman leaving CPS from different sources. Now I see that maybe it's true.

September 8, 2010 at 3:35 PM

By: Isabell Scott

Mayor Daley

I'm wondering if there is a connection to the late Michael Scott.

September 8, 2010 at 7:22 PM

By: celeste m

the mayor

I think it is obvious that the Mayor is not running again because his wife, Maggie, is very very ill. When he said personal reasons, it is personal. I hope the best for them both.

September 8, 2010 at 10:12 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Mayor Daley

I have met and worked with Maggy Daley when I was at Spalding. I wish her and the Mayor the best but I don't believe she is the only reason that he's not running!! If it was, we would not have so many top aides resigning or deciding not to run.

September 8, 2010 at 10:29 PM

By: 2nd Ward Dems


Dear Friends of Alderman Bob Fioretti:

Please join Alderman Bob Fioretti and the 2nd Ward Democratic Organization for a VERY IMPORTANT meeting this Saturday at 9am at the 721 S. Western office.

Obviously we have some big things to talk about and need your input and help. If you have any friends interested, please bring them along as new volunteers are always welcome.

Any questions contact Marty at

September 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Thinking bigger than does Huberman go or stay

I think progressive teachers should be thinking bigger than if Mr. Huberman is in or out. Why should one person, the Mayor of the City have the power the Illinios General Assembly has given to that office? I think you all should be thinking about PAC money and what changes you want to see in how CPS is run. I think we need some type of elected school board, for better or worse. I do not think the office of the Mayor should have as much power as it does over public education in Chicago. The CTU, the Chicago Federation of Labor, and other non-corporate interests can in the coming election be a real force if only people think beyond what currently exists.

September 9, 2010 at 8:16 PM

By: Bob

the Primary

I wish the Mayor good luck on his retirement .After 42 years at CPS that word

is beginning to seem more than an abstract concept to me. But we as a union should see

A golden opportunity to flex our political muscle, and proven organizational

Prowess. I remember when the President was a virtual unknown seeking CTU

endorsement how we supported him. I also see how he repaid this political debt.

I sincerely hope the current CTU leadership chooses wisely who we endorse

And in the best Chicago tradition “Don’t back no losers”.

September 10, 2010 at 12:43 PM

By: Isabell Scott

the Primary

Instead of starting out with the traditional pugnacious Chicao attitude of "Don't back no losers," why not start out with the aim of returning decency, honor, efficiency and clarity to CPS.

September 10, 2010 at 3:26 PM

By: Bob

The primary


Would you be so kind as to inform me when CPS ever

Reflected the attributes you refer too?

September 11, 2010 at 9:40 AM

By: J.S. Whitfield


Clout, where have I heard that word before?

John Whitfield, GWHS CTU delegate

don't forget to celebrate Hispanic History month! (we Americans had a lot of clout even way back in 1946, didn't we?)(what a bargain !

(we got the whole southwest!)

Hispanic Heritage Month (9/13, "Los Niños He`roes")


Though most Americans know little about the war with Mexico,

Mexicans view the war as a crucial event in their history.

On September 14, 1847, General Winfield Scott captured Mexico City, after the hard fought battle of Chapultepec, the site of

the Mexican military academy.

There, six young cadets leaped from Chapultepec Castle (now a History museum)

to commit suicide rather than surrender to the U.S. army.

There is a monument in Chapultepec Park that honors los Niños He`roes (the boy heroes It inspires pilgrimmages every September.

Henry David Thoreau in "Civil Disobedience", quoted Abraham Lincoln as having

said; "The war with Mexico was a senseless war."

In Chicago as you know at 83rd & Commercial is a school named after "Los Niños".

September 22, 2010 at 9:28 PM

By: Former Art Teacher

My letter to Unemployment regarding "discharge" or "layoff"

(Please do not include my name or e-mail) The following is a letter I just delivered to the Unemployment Office:

To: The Department of Employment Security

From: _______________non-renewed CPS Teacher

Re: Unemployment and the difference/discrepancy between a discharge and a lay off

Date: September 22, 2010

Background: Ron Huberman, CEO of Chicago public schools, laid off more than 2,000 CPS teachers, staff and para-professionals between May and August of this year. At the same time, he gave himself and his staff unprecedented raises while stating that the Chicago Public Schools was in a grave financial crisis.

My bio and the letter I received from Huberman:

I have been teaching at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago as an Art Instructor for 18 years without incident. Within CPS when I received my non-renewal letter for ___________school, the letter states (and I quote) “If you are reappointed to another full-time teacher position within ten months, you will not suffer a break in service for tenure and seniority purposes.”

If I was being discharged for cause, I would not have the opportunity to pursue another position within CPS. In fact, if I were let go for cause, I would have been escorted out of the building with security and not given the opportunity to reapply for other positions within CPS in the future.

In fact, as a Probationary Assigned Teacher (P.A.T.) one’s position is at the pleasure of the principal. If the principal does not want to renew your contract for any reason whatsoever, and hire someone or two people with less experience and less expense a principal can do that at his or her discretion. I was an expensive teacher because of my years of experience factored into my teaching. Two young teachers could replace me at my salary.

I realize that CPS will also have to deal with a hike in their Unemployment Insurance, if they allow all the people they let go (many with tenure and without just cause) to pursue Unemployment. Hence it behooves CPS to fight my request for unemployment, as I will add to the adverse financial drain to them, and adverse publicity in the plethora of teachers and staff requesting Unemployment.

In addition, the Union is fighting my lay-off and has filed a grievance against CPS. The board also passed a rule that allowed principals to redefine a teacher’s status (regardless of tenure) and allow the teacher to be laid off/terminated, and let people go as late as mid August under the new redefinition law.

I allege that my lay off is more connected to the gratuitous, cavalier and callous actions of CPS’s Administration, and not due to dereliction of duties as an art teacher on the far south side of Chicago. I am a professional. I am a selfless, hardworking and gifted teacher. I brought in and bought my own art supplies, created an art library and brought equipment into the public school, which gave me nothing with which to teach art to the children. I fully expected to find another position within CPS following my tenure at ____________school. This year would have been my tenure year with CPS – but again, I am expensive, and CPS would like to save money.

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