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CTU poised to endorse mayoral candidate (if the blizzard doesn't close schools and the House of Delegates meeting)

After the lengthiest process in its history and for only the second time in more than 30 years, the Chicago Teachers Union is poised to endorse one of the four remaining major candidates for mayor in the upcoming election, which is to be held on February 22, 2011. According to reliable sources, after a heated debate an recommended endorsement was voted on at the January 31, 2011 meeting of the union's executive board.

Former Senator (and Ambassador) Carole Moseley Braun (above left) and Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle were the last two candidates competing for the Chicago Teachers Union endorsement for mayor prior to the February 22 primary. Above, Moseley Braun and Del Valle participated in the December 16, 2010 CTU mayoral candidates forum at the Operating Engineers Union Hall. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The final decision must be made by the union's House of Delegates, which is scheduled to meet Wednesday, February 2, at the Operating Engineers Union hall on South Grove St.

Two of the remaining candidates in contention for the endorsement of the largest union local in Chicago, the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union, fared poorly during final interviews, according to those familiar with the process. Gery Chico was unable to escape his own record, both as a government inside and President of the Chicago Board of Education during the opening years of mayoral control. Chico was President of the so-called Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 1999 (when the name went back to being "Chicago Board of Education"). During the entire time he served as President of the School Board, Chico supported the antics of Paul Vallas, who was the first "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools from July 1, 1995 through June 30, 2001. Vallas and Chico were replaced by Arne Duncan and Michael Scott in July 2001 after Mayor Daley noted that their support for Chicago Teachers Union President Tom Reece in the May 2001 CTU election had helped elected Deborah Lynch, who unseated Reece partly because of the unpopularity of the cooperation between Reece and the Vallas-Chico administration.

During the final weeks preceding the endorsement, supposed "front runner" Rahm Emanuel, after having snubbed a number of union sponsored events, finally showed up at the union's offices and was interviewed about his views. According to those familiar with the events, Emanuel was unimpressive and held positions that were contrary to the union's main support point. Viewed widely as the candidate of the Daley administration and Chicago's corporate rulers, Emanuel is widely viewed as being hostile to unions and ready to try and destroy the pension plans of municipal workers, teachers, police and firefighters.

The two remaining candidates were Carole Moseley Braun and Miguel Del Valle. An announcement of the expected recommendation is expected soon.

Contrary to what some have reported, the Chicago Teachers Union has endorsed a candidate for mayor in the recent past. Following the death of Harold Washington, who was immensely popular among the city's teachers despite the fact that he had helped set the stage for the lengthy (19-day) September 1987 strike, the CTU at one point endorsed Timothy Evens against Richard M. Daley for mayor, on the urging of CTU President Jacqueline Vaughn. The Evans endorsement, which was greeted with rage by members of the Daley campaign — especially Tim Degnan — cost the union in later years, including when the union faced the Republican majority in Springfield in 1995 as the Amendatory Act was being debated. The Amendatory Act, which gave Chicago's mayor complete control over the city's public schools for the first time, was passed by the Republican majorities in the Illinois House (under Republican Lee Daniels of Elmhurst) and Illinois Senate (under Republican Senator Pate Phillip) and signed into law by then Governor Jim Edgar, also a Republican. The Amendatory Act was supported by Richard M. Daley and his Democratic allies in the Illinois General Assembly at the time.



Comments:

February 1, 2011 at 12:39 PM

By: No more Mayoral control of CPS

Scott's use of CPS funds

Joel Hood's Tribune article on CPS gifts to not for profits that had associations with Mr. Williams and Mr. Scott when they were presidents of the CPS Board of Education was a serious piece of journalism that went beyond what was in the CPS OIG report. It is about time that these issues are being looked at in more depth.

There are several issues in the article that merit commenting on.

First, Mr. Rocks, the CPS general counsel, made some comments attributed to him in the article that I found disturbing. Mr. Rocks formally endorsed gift giving of CPS funds to not for profits, his only argument was that "they should be on the public agenda so that the world can see the item and then the board votes on it." Since the CPS is itself a not for profit entity there is no particular tax incentive for it give money to other not for profit entities. The CPS has no right to give the taxpayers money to not for profit entities, this is the public's money and it was collected in taxes to fund public education. It was not collected to fund not for profit entities no matter how worthy they may be, including the not for profit I work at. I would go further than that, CPS should not even pay for its employees or Board members tickets to benefits held by not for profits.

Looking at this article by Mr. Hood which now takes the total of inappropriate gift giving up to $525,000 going back to just 2005, I am galled in particular by cuts made to special education programs and authorized by President Scott. On May 24. 2006, at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Access Living presented comments in opposition to proposed reductions for special education programs that would save the school district $26 million. Several Chicago Public School students with disabilities, both current and former, also presented comments in opposition to the proposed budget reductions. Parents of students with disabilities spoke in opposition to the cuts at following meetings.

Mr. Rocks was General Counsel for CPS at that 2006 meeting and Mr. Scott was in the chair. At this meeting Mr. Scott informed the protesters that budget cuts were necessary and blamed rising health care and pension costs for the deficit. In August of 2006, CPS cut 200 teachers and 750 classroom aides who serve students with autism, deafness and other physical and serious emotional disorders.

Now I learn that Mr. Scott while blaming the deficit basically on teachers whose apparent benefit packages were too generous was giving CPS money to not for profits, apparently Mr. Rocks had no problem with that, the only issue is the process by which it was done, not the fundamental ethical issues involved. Now, would have all the possible gift giving effectively balanced the budget back in 2006, the answer is most likely no. But one or two special education aides who kept their jobs and helped severely disabled students go to the bathroom certainly would not have hurt.

Second, the Tribune needs to look carefully at CPS funded programs run by any of the not for profits associated with Mr. Scott, Williams, and any other board members. What the Tribune needs to determine is were actually services delivered for these payments, or were some of these funded programs in reality also gifts.

Lastly, as I have said before, whoever becomes Mayor come May needs to replace this current board and given Mr. Rocks obsession with procedural process and apparent lack of concern over ethics it would be more than reasonable that he too leave CPS. Mr. Rocks at the November 17, 2010 Board meeting was given a salary increase going from $168,606 a year to $182,094.48 a year. But wait I thought all the Central office high salary employees were taking pay cuts to help balance the budget, well apparently the impact of unpaid furlough days became a little less for the CPS guardian of procedural process.

Rod Estvan

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