SUBSCRIPT: Closing schools, adding lawyers — it's business as usual as Daley's Board of Education leaves, but chief of legal patronage Patrick Rocks remains

...There is nothing like getting prepared for the inevitable, and Rahm Emanuel knows that better than most — especially when he's spending other people's money. Everyone who has followed the Rahm's dubious career knows that he has firm beliefs. Two of those are kind of Hollywood (with a Chicago twist). You can never be too thin or have too many lawyers. On April 26, 2011, Emanuel explained to the Chicago press that lawsuits against his choice to head CPS, Jean-Claude Brizard, were going to be part of the job, without having to add that the taxpayers would be footing the bill every time Brizard lost a lawsuit for something Emanuel and Brizard consider trivial, like age, sex and race discrimination against African American women. After all, if the taxpayers are paying for your lawyers, you have an unlimited supply.

One of the few survivors of the purge announced by mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is Patrick Rocks (above right), who came in as Chicago Public Schools general counsel from the office of Mayor Richard M. Daley and who has lost a steady string of federal cases in which the Board was found to be violating the rights of teachers, students, and parents since he took power seven years ago. Rocks has expanded the number of lawyers working for CPS to the point at which there are more lawyers on the seventh floor of CPS headquarters (where the Law Department is located) than there are teachers at half Chicago's remaining public high schools. A key player in the CPS patronage system, Rocks not only assures that underqualified and overclouted children of prominent Chicagoans get legal jobs at CPS, but he also approves all the pinstripe patronage for outside legal work that brings more than a million dollars to one firm (Franczek Radelet PC) and hundreds of thousands to others. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Two days after Emanuel opined about his view of upcoming litigation, another Emanuel appointee, Board of Education attorney Patrick Rocks, hired three more lawyers to stuff into the Board’s Law Department. That’s right. At a meeting where the seven departing members of the Board voted once again to close (er., “consolidate”) schools because times are tight, budgets are tough, CPS is facing another huge “deficit” (although last year’s disappeared so completely that the Board rebated a property tax increase), the Chicago Board of Education at its April 27, 2011 meeting voted to hire three new “Assistant Attorneys” to keep the desks occupied on the 7th Floor, where the Board keeps most of its lawyers. Nobody on the Board asked Rocks why CPS should be paying more lawyers while it was cutting, again, teachers and inessential people like that. Business as usual, as the Age of Rahm approaches… 


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