Corporate media, corporate money, and 'Machine' ward committeemen line up... Ruling class muscling Rahm Emmanuel into mayor's office

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water after Mayor Daley announced his resignation after 20 years of corrupt machine rule in Chicago, the White House sends its dark horse galloping into the city on the lake to assure the ruling class their money is safe and any pesky working class sentiments be squashed.

Then Congressman Rahm Emmanuel (above left) joined Mayor Daley and others at the dedication of Chicago's Marine Military Academy at the old Grant Elementary School on the West Side on October 15, 2007. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.All bets are on that Rahm Emmanuel, the self proclaimed "deal maker" whose speciality is acquiring political cash, and lots of it, is now in town ready to take the next prize he believes he's entitled to — to be the new boss of Chicago.

Emmanuel was a fundraiser for Daley and raised big bucks for President Clinton before returning to Chicago to get elected as a congressman of the fifth congressional district. He then helped get President Obama elected with his fundraising skills and worked as his chief of staff. Between his time with the Clinton administration and his return to Chicago to use his financial muscle to get elected to Congress from the Fifth Illinois Congressional District, he went to work in the "private sector" for three years, reportedly earning $8 million as an "investment banker." Now he is going to be the mayor of Chicago.

Sure there are other candidates who lined up and scattered like birds once the Rahm steamroller came rolling down Michigan Avenue. There was Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart who had the hearts of southwest siders and his bright yellow signs on many lawns — but he dropped out.

Suddenly mayoral candidate Alderman Bob Fioretti — who was at almost every Chicago Teachers Union event from the day Karen Lewis was elected in July 2010 — has a bad cold and is ready to drop out as well after campaigning vigorously for some time.

Then there's Gery Chico, the former president of the Board of Education. Chico, former Chief of Staff to Daley (appointed by Richard M. Daley), school board president (appointed by Richard M. Daley), Cook County College Board President (appointed by Richard M. Daley), and financial rainmaker for his Wacker Drive law firm (thanks to the political clout he received courtesy of Richard M. Daley) is now claiming he's an "outsider." That was such a laughable statement that even Tribune columnist John Kass (who seems to be part of the media mafia touting for Rahm Emmanuel) had to make fun of that one. Chico the lawyer forgot about the Bill of Rights and led the charge to sue Substance for $1 million for publishing ridiculous CASE exam questions in 1999. He was one of the Board of Education members who voted to fire George Schmidt because of the publication of CASE at the Board's August 2000 meeting.

And then there is Rev. Sen. James Meeks, a self-pompous pastor and state senator who called the Chicago Teachers Union the worst gang in the city. Chico and Meeks would be the two jokers in the race so that city voters at least have something to laugh at in an election that will be really no different than the so-called mayoral elections of the past. The Meeks libel against Chicago's unionized teacher can be found back in Substance on line at:§ion=Article

In case anyone had any doubt, Substance finally received a complete transcript of the Meeks remarks on November 6, 2009, and published them in full on the Substance Web site:§ion=Article

The former US senator Carol Mosely Braun is also allegedly a candidate. She did blame Emmanuel for the Democrats losing the House and getting the Sun Times to take her statement seriously, as though the sad state of the economy meant nothing in the voters' decision to vote incumbents out.

There's City Clerk Miguel Del Valle, an independent who passed out his Del Valle for Mayor buttons at the Chicago Teachers Union LEAD dinner on October 29, 2010, and probably others this very minute scrambling to get petitions signed.

Emmanuel has the real Democratic Machine behind him. Two nights in a row while waiting on the L platform, I was approached by young black women asking me to sign a petition for Emmanuel. Many alderman are sending out their teams to gather the petitions. Emmanuel was getting his signatures in from precinct captains on the Northwest Side even before Tom Dart dropped out of the race, and now it's likely that the aldermen and ward committeemen on the Southwest Side are also going to line up behind him.

So what does a mayor Emmanuel mean for Chicago public schools teachers, union workers in the city and everyone who grew tired of Daley's disasterous, corrupt privatization policies?

Ten months before Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, Rahm Emmanuel, then Congressman from the 5th Illinois Congressional District, helped then President George W. Bush, then Education Secretary Margaret Spellings (hidden behind Emmanuel above), and Mayor Daley stage a heavily guarded "anniversary" party on January 7, 2008, on the anniversary of the signing of "No Child Left Behind." Daley and Emmanuel brought out a smiling background of children for President Bush's photo op, while snipers on the rooftops and phalanxes of mounted policemen outside kept protesters away from Greeley Elementary School, where the event was staged. Chicago Tribune pool photograph provided to Substance (which was barred from inside Greeley during the event). Emmanuel said it all in former "Car czar" Steve Rattner's book. Rattner and his team were put in charge of General Motors by Barack Obama after the administration agreed to bail out GM. According to the book, Emmanuel blurted out "Fuck the UAW" when told tens of thousands of autoworkers' jobs were at stake in the restructuring of the auto industry and that the union had to be part of any agreement. Substitute that with "Fuck Chicago Public School Teachers" and we might have an Emmanuel version of how he'd succeed Ron Huberman. Emmanuel is now giving interviews saying there should be more private money supporting public education. Translation: less union involvement and more charter schools. While campaigning in the Pilsen neighborhood, he carefully avoided showing any support for the Whittier Elementary parents who were demanding a new library for their school with a courageous sit-in. Even the city council supported them, forcing schools chief Ron Huberman to make a deal.

Emmanuel is Obama's hope to keep the horrorific Race to the Top alive after the Republicans landslide has come with a promise to slash stimulus money. But cutting stimulus money might not be a bad thing for public school teachers.

Race to the Top has focused on rating teachers on standardized tests and pushing for more charter schools. Tax payer dollars via stiumulus funding has financed this vicious attack on public education.

At the October 15, 2007, dedication of the "Marine Military Academy" high school on Chicago's West Side, then Congressman Rahm Emmanuel bragged to the audience that he had long supported the expansion of military schools in Chicago. Emmanuel told the audience that he had personally gotten a $1 million "earmark" for the Marine Military Academy, while then CPS "Chief Executive Officer" Arne Duncan (second from left above) and Rick Mills, then an "Area Instructional Officer" in charge of military schools, looked on. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. One could argue that Chicago received $100 million from Washington to save the teachers jobs - but ask the Chicago Teachers Union how much of that money actually saved any jobs. More than 1300 teachers lost their jobs over the summer, and according to the union more than 400 still have no jobs despite this so-called Jobs Bill.

Insiders say the Board of Education told the union they already got their money when they refused to give up teacher salary raises and Board President Mary Richardson-Lowry has stated she intends to use the money for "programs" instead. At a CTU press conference, federal legislators danced around the question if CPS is breaking the law, but Rep. Bobby Rush did say "we have given them an excessively abundant amount of money" with no indication that the Board used it to save teachers' jobs.

The corporate media was more interested in knowing why Emmanuel was not at the press event. According to ABC correspondent Jay Levine, Emmanuel is the one mayoral candidate who has made the most noise about education.

When I was approached by Emmanuel's volunteers to sign his petition, I asked them why they are gathering signatures for him. One said she likes his character, he is a liberal and those in his congressional district like him. Another said he'll be good for education because he supports charter schools.

To understand Emmanuel better — for those who support him or not — it is important to take a closer look at the policies he has promoted.

Emmanuel was one of Clinton's chief political strategists who pushed NAFTA — the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA spelled doom for tens of thousands of union factory jobs here, that were moved to Mexico where workers were paid much less. Now those jobs in Mexico are leaving for even cheaper pastures in China. This free trade agreement also resulted in exporting cheap subsidized US grain to Mexico, undercutting Mexican farmers' prices, thus bankrupting their farms and forcing many of them to take the dangerous path north to earn money for their families.

Then there's Emmanuel's flat out lies about jobs. While in Congress, Emmanuel voted against Rep. Rosa DeLauro's legislation to ban government contracts from going to companies that abuse offshore tax loopholes and evade US taxes, even though he earlier wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal where he chastised President Bush for "blocking Democratic efforts to stop American companies from incorporating through a postal drop in island tax havens." Emmanuel was appalled that "some corporations are actually rewarded with federal contracts while they move their corporate headquarters to Bermuda" - the very thing that this legislation he voted against would have stopped.

Before running for Congress, Emmanuel "never ran for office, never led a grassroots movement, never joined a community group, never participated in any citizen fight against the bureacracy and his children don't attend public schools, and he's never sat on a local school council," according to a profile on Emmanuel written by Ben Joravsky in the Chicago Reader.

One of the interesting aspects to Emmanuel's election strategy — as if he needs one — is how much he wants to be aligned with the mayor. While it's important for the corporate leaders here to know he will continue Daley's close ties to their interests, it isn't clear how much he will mention the name Daley to the people. But make no doubt about it, this self-proclaimed "New Democrat" is the machine candidate. When he ran for Congress - and received the Chicago Teachers Union endorsement - he met privately with Daley and received his blessing as well, according to Joravsky.

Rahm is the money guy — the neoliberal poster child. In 1989 he was Daley's chief fundraiser, and then he helped raise $71 million for Clinton's first presidential run at a time when publisher Al Neuharth said no one in Arkansas thought the former governor had a serious chance to be president because of his legendary womanizing that eventually led to Clinton's hilarious impeachment hearings.

"These traits (arrogant and brash) served (Emmanuel) well as a fund-raiser," Joravsky quoted a political insider in the Reader. "He didn't ask - he demanded. And he refused to take no for an answer. He'd call people once, twice, or three times if he had to. If somebody gave $100, he would call back and say, 'How about $200?"

After his Clinton days, he went to work as an investment banker at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, though he never worked in a bank before. Between 1999 and 2001, according to the Reader, he helped put together four major deals that made him $8 million. Translation: payoff from corporations who donate to campaigns to get what they need.

In other words - politics has made Rahm Emmanuel rich, while what he voted for and promoted as a politician has impoverished many people in this country.

The ruling class always seems to be a step ahead of its detractors who bemoan where this country is headed. After the dark days of President Bush and massive wars and massive protests, people cried with joy after having elected the first African American president of this country. Obama then helped lead the attack on public school teachers, bailed out the banks and hardly stopped Wall Street from its rapacious ways as more and more of the people who elected him lose their jobs and benefits.

Now Mayor Daley — who infuriated the public when it came out how corrupt his parking meter privatization deal was rewarding JP Morgan a lucrative city asset while the city lost over a billion dollars in the process — has a new, young outside candidate here to "change" things.

Emmanuel, who is particularly sensitive to building up relations in the the black and hispanic communities, already has his volunteers believe he will be better.

"My parents did not like Daley's father and I know people like Emmanuel when he was a representative," the volunteeer told me, though she couldn't name one bill he voted on. "I just like his character."

The other volunteer said Emmanuel will be great because we need year-round schools and charter schools. I then asked her if when she was a child she would want to be sitting in a classroom all summer long. And how are charter schools better when research shows they mostly perform worse than public schools while removing many special education and English language learners.

She just looked at me in a puzzled way and smiled. 


November 8, 2010 at 8:43 AM

By: Bob Schwartz

Rev Sen Pompous Pastor James Meeks

As you must know, Meeks is not only a union hater. He's a gay hater, the only Black Democrat in the state senate to oppose amending the Illinois Human Rights Act to include gays and lesbians. Its important to hype the negatives of scum-bags like Meeks.

November 8, 2010 at 3:29 PM

By: Chicagoans wake up!

mayoral control over CPS

When are the citizens of this city going to get fed-up with the politicizing of our school children? None of these men are qualified to run ANY public school system and the biggest sin is using our students as a politically negotiating tool for running or not running for mayor. A sobering example of why mayoral control of CPS must be rescinded. Chicagoans, isn’t this just disgusting?

November 9, 2010 at 9:45 AM

By: Charters CHARGE their parents

Charters charge and kick out student-proof

to allow their children to attend and then kick them out: Those detentions and a string of Fs on his report card translated into a $700 bill for his mom. The school charges students for detentions and to make up failed classes. (Student is even charged for not wearing a belt!)

RODRIGUEZ: Pues, no, le dije. Yo no puedo pagar ese dinero, porque es mi mortgage, o es la escuela de mi hijo.

I can’t pay that, Rodriguez told the school. It’s either my mortgage or his schooling.

This is a sin! CPS Office of new Schools is responsible for this!

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