Like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, his ideological counterpart, Chicago's mayor is attacking public worker unions... Public education workers have become the new mayor's scapegoat... Rahm Emanuel continues his two Big Lies about Chicago teachers and school workers during Town Hall Meeting

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel continued his attack on public school teacher unions — and other unions representing Chicago city workers — during his second "Town Hall Meeting" on the City of Chicago's budget by repeating the two big lies he's been telling virtually all summer. Despite the fact that Emanuel's and his staff have been told it is not true (and easily refuted), Emanuel continued on August 31 to tell audiences that his "team" at Chicago Public Schools under former Rochester Schools Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard "cut $400 million from bureaucracy" since they took office at CPS in May.

The size of the crowd in the main room, the Malcolm X gym, is seen in the photograph above (Rahm Emanuel is standing to the far right). In the foreground of this photograph, the "Reserved" section can be seen. This area housed politicians, government officials, and some VIPs, but was also occupied by many people who simply went in and sat down. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Brizard, who was present at the Town Hall on August 31, 2011, repeated the lie, even after his "Chief Communications Officer" was informed in a heated exchange with Substance that the number is ridiculous, with more than 90 percent of the "cuts" — if they have taken place at all — having come from mostly low paid workers in areas like custodial work and lunchroom service.

By the end of the evening, Rahm Emanuel may have been the most significant victim of his decision to order that the air conditioning be turned off at the time of the Malcolm X Town Hall meeting. Emanuel actually referred to the air conditioning as an example of austerity during the event, neglecting the fact that the costs of electricity and natural gas from Commonwealth Edison and People's Gas are highest, part of the general corporate subsidies that have long characterized the Chicago and CPS budgets. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The statements were among several that drew boos and loud responses against the mayor and his aides during the nearly two-hour exchanges on the City of Chicago budget during the August 31 hearings.

The annual budget meetings, which began under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, reached their highest point on August 31, at Malcolm X. The extent to which Rahm Emanuel's outreach has reached could be seen from the hundreds of people in attendance in two large rooms, the Malcolm X gym and "Auditorium C," the large "overflow room" where hundreds were also seated to watch the night on a large screen.

The original format for the event was that people would write down their questions, and then the questions would be picked out and the people would be called on to ask them. Trouble began early, when the people who had submitted the questions were not to be found in the main room for the event, and many began jeering saying that the questions had been screened beforehand to favor the mayor. The mayor finally told the crowd that he would take questions from people who were in the room. Mayoral aides walked through the crowd with microphones as those who had submitted the questions stood up. Many of the questions became heated, and the pre-scripting that some had predicted was over.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel answered questions for an hour and a half during the second "Town Hall Meeting" on Chicago's budget at Malcolm X College on August 31, 2011. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Another Big Lie that has become a foundation of the Emanuel administration since Emanuel took office in May is that Chicago's public schools have been "failing" and that Chicago public schools students are being "cheated" because, according to the mayor's talking points, Chicago has the shortest school day in the USA. Ignoring the fact that he was only talking about some of the city's elementary schools when he began his media campaign regarding the "short" school day, Emanuel once again repeated his third revised storytelling version of the "shortest school day" story. By August 31, 2011, the version was recounted in minutes, instead of years, as it first began. In the process of repeating the attack on the city's unionized school teachers, Emanuel even managed to ignore a column, published earlier in the day in the Chicago Tribune, refuting most of Emanuel's claims about CPS students.

More than 300 people who arrived on time were forced to view the discussions from an "overflow room" in Auditorium C at the college, where they got to view the mayor on closed circuit TV. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The statements by Emanuel and Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard came during the often heated discussions of Emanuel's budget for the City of Chicago. The Town Hall Meeting, the second of two, took place at Malcolm X College on Chicago's West Side on the evening of August 31, 2011. The turnout for the event was so large that the school had to open and "overflow room" that seated more than 200 people in addition to the 400 people who filled the main room in the gymnasium of the community college. Emanuel was accompanied to the event my more than 100 City of Chicago bureaucrats, many of them media aides and press handlers from the mayor's office. Although Emanuel's security and media handlers ushered a large number of his supporters into the two rooms early, the majority of people who turned out for the event grew increasingly hostile to the mayor, in many cases because of the format that was used for the question and answer sessions.

The crowd inside the gymnasium at Malcolm X included union members from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), who wore their trade mark purple shirts, and the Chicago Teachers Union (who are wearing red shirts). Public workers have been the most critical of Emanuel's budget cuts. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.A large contingent, totaling several hundred people, came from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents thousand of city workers, including many of those already fired by the mayor. The SEIU members grew increasingly angry during the evening as the mayor repeatedly tried to justify his continuation of the TIF programs that have devastated the budget of every city agency, and to explain his layoffs of many of the lowest-paid city workers.

"The format used by Mayor Emmanuel was an insult to those in attendance," west side community activist Dwayne Truss told Substance. " His people screened the questions and only asked mostly softball questions. The dialogue was on way with the Mayor doing most of the talking. The Mayor blatantly basically told the lowest paid City of Chicago workers, who are mostly African-American, that he will continue to take money from schools, city services, and public safety in order to maintain his corporate welfare program — Tax Increment Financing."

Most teachers who had submitted questions were ignored, but one who did get his question in front of the mayor was Ed Hershey, who teaches at Lindblom High School on the city's South Side. Hershey's question led to an exchange of nearly two minutes between the teacher and the mayor.

Lindblom High School teacher Ed Hershey asked the mayor about cuts in custodial staff and other areas, and the mayor dodged the answer. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.First, the teacher corrected the politician. "Hershey, like the chocolate," Hershey said when his name was called, correcting the pronunciation when his name was read. "I teach at Lindblom. How do you propose to pay for lengthening the school day and school year when you aren't paying our raise, you're cutting custodians, and we don't even have kleenex at our school anymore? Kleenex are important, I had swine flu two years back."

The crowd was cheering as Emanuel tried to craft his answer.

The mayor said he had visited Lindblom, and praised the beauty of the school auditorium. Then he went on to repeat his claim that he proposed to pay elementary teachers 2 percent more for an hour and a half longer school day, which the union has calculated to amount to a "raise" of around $4 per hour (less than the minimum wage). With a straight face, the Mayor of Chicago said this was a serious offer.

In response, Hershey said "That's not serious!" and the crowd was cheering the teacher.

A teacher from Stockton Elementary School reminded the mayor that elementary teachers already work extra hours after school, and challenged the mayoral talking point that claimed that Chicago has the world's shortest elementary school teaching day. The mayor used the question to repeat his now discredited talking point about how Chicago's school day is shortest. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Emanuel had tried to continue to control the public perception of the event before things got started, telling the Chicago Tribune: “I want ideas, not insults,” Emanuel said, before things got started at the auditorium inside Malcolm X College on the West Side Wednesday. “I want people to be constructive and not just complain. Insults don’t solve $635 million deficits.”

The staging of the event and the attempt by the mayor to stick with his longstanding teacher bashing talking points generated anger among many in the large audience. "Emmanuel trotted out a new lie/distortion last night — teachers only teach five hours a day", Steinmetz High School librarian and union delegate Bernice Eshoo told Substance. "That coupled, with his continual distortion of our work days in general, nauseated me. And, again, he spouted 'CJ has cut $400 million dollars from administration at the Board".

But while the mayor kept talking about his claims that he was reducing city and education "bureaucracy", the evidence to the contrary was surrounding him. Dozens of aides, a number totaling more than 100, stood along the walls as the event went on. They ranged from the $230,000 per year head of the schools, Jean-Claude Brizard, whose pay (with bonus) will exceed that of his predecessor by more than ten percent (at a time Brizard has refused to pay the fifth year of a signed and sealed teacher contract calling for four percent raises for all school workers) to a large number of press aides and media handlers.

Since Emanuel appointed what he calls his schools "team," the number of school officials being paid around $200,000 has tripled, although CPS refused to provide the public with the precise information in forms (the so-called "Postion File") that was public information as late as two years ago. SEIU members were particularly angry at the mayor's decision to fire 71 traffic aides, who were among the lowest paid city workers. When Emanuel reponded to one critic of the layoff of the traffic aides with the glib — “But traffic is still moving downtown, people are still crossing the street" — the boos were loud.

Emanuel was also booed several times when he told the crowd of his proposal to give what he is calling a "two percent pay raise" to elementary school teachers to pay for a longer school day of 90 minutes per day and a longer school year of two weeks. “There are school systems in Detroit that literally cut salaries. I’m talking about actual extra money ...,” Emanuel told the crowd in response to critics. Emanuel repeatedly told the crowd that teachers in Detroit, which is notorious as a civic basket case, have been forced to take a ten percent pay cut, as if that justified what Emanuel was doing in Chicago.

Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard talked with some people at the end of the event, but again dodged a Substance request for an interview. Brizard also has been repeating the now discredited lie that his administration "cut $400 million in administration [or in some cases, "bureaucracy"] since his team took over in June. In fact, Brizard has expanded the bureaucracy in several departments, while making cuts only among the lowest paid school workers, such as unionized custodial workers. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Some observers noted that the problems with Detroit's schools became worse when the school system there was being run by Robert Bobb. Bobb, like Chicago's Jean-Claude Brizard, was brough into Detroit's schools after a recommendation from the Broad Foundation, one of the corporate groups (funded by California billionaire Eli Broad) that is trying to push a union-busting and privatization agenda for the nation's public schools.

One of the more controversial recent announcements by the mayor that did not receive much attention during the Town Hall meeting was the story, covered in the major media, that Emanuel had told Police Supt. Gerry McCarthy to cut nearly $200 million from the Police Department budget, while maintaining more services in the communities. Emanuel told the crowd at Malcolm X that he had added police to the city's most dangerous areas, while brushing past the questions about his proposed police cuts. The mayor also reminded the crowd that he had done a ride with police on the South Side recently, and that earlier in the summer he had done a walk through with MaCarthy on the West Side.

Criticism of the proposal to cut the police budget was especially heated from many of the city's African American leaders. Earlier, the Tribune had reported that Emanuel would change the way in which the city budgeted and reported certain things at CPD. "Making those kind of major cuts [at the Police Department] likely would involve a two-pronged approach: ending the longtime budget charade of having a force of about 13,500 sworn officers on paper but always leaving more than 1,000 positions vacant and cutting layers of bureaucracy at police headquarters, according to a source familiar with the mayor's thinking."

Seated immediately beside the podium so that the mayor could call on them were the heads of the major city departments. Above, Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard (left) checked his Blackberry at one point during the event, while Police Supt. Garry McCarthy looked on (right). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.According to news reports, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields referred to that type of approach “the Emanuel shuffle." The number now being cited in the press is a cut of "$190 million."

Like with the schools, Emanuel is trying to leave the public with the impression that the Police Department has a huge "bureaucracy" that can be cut to the tune of millions of dollars. Similarly with the schools, insiders are claiming that the level of administration at the CPD is nowhere near what Emanuel is saying. At the present time, however, nobody is claiming, as Emanuel and schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard are continuing to say (even after the numbers have been refuted) that it was possible to "cut $400 million in bureaucracy..."

Emanuel also dodged questions, from his TIF proposals to his schools reforms, about whether he is overthrowing the work done by his predecessor, Richard M. Daley (who served as an early mentor and supporter to the current mayor), and on several other issues.

Many observers have been noting that Emanuel seems to be engaging in some kind of shadow-boxing with his predecessor, long-time Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. While Daley's budget hearings were often droll after Daley began speaking (he would answer questions rudely, for example, something Emanuel did not do), there was a level of manipulation in Emanuel's first attempt at the hearings that drew comparisons.

One unfavorable comparison came from a retired teacher who attended the Malcolm X event.

On retired teacher who attended the hearings for the first time was very critical of Chicago's new mayor. "I arrived at Malcolm X between 6:30 and 7:00 P.M.," Geraldine Baginski, who taught most of her career at Schurz High School. "At that time, the gymnasium was already full and I was required to go to an Overflow Room ["Auditorium C"] where standing room only was available. Upon entering, I asked an official-looking gentleman where I might obtain a card on which to write down my question for the mayor. He directed me to a woman with a clipboard saying that whe would be able to provide me with a question card."

"Obviously, I stepped over to the woman and requested a card. She responded that I had just walked past the person who could provide me with that information. I then informed her that he was the person who had told me to see her. As I turned around, he was no longer near the door. She then told me to keep calm and, I would say grudgingly, left the room to complete my request. I followed her out of the room and met her in the hall where she, indeed, had a pen, clipboard and question card which I completed and returned to her. I felt that her initial behavior was somewhat rude and uncalled for. My question was never answered that evening, but we were told that we would receive answers to our questions via e-mail.

"During the evening, I never thought that I would find myself saying that the former Mayor Daley's budget meetings were better organized. A starting time of 6:00 P.M. also seemed less convenient. At previous meetings, Department Heads were seated at a U-shaped table with large name cards. They just seemed more accessible. Doors opened at 6:00 P.M. for sign-up and I was often able to personally speak with department heads and other city employees before the meeting which started at 7:00 P.M. In short, I was not positvely impressed with my first experience at the new mayor's budget hearing."


September 1, 2011 at 7:09 PM

By: Rod Estvan

The cuts at CPS and the cuts at CPD

I would add only one aspect to George's report. The number I have been reading on cuts to the Police Department has been $190 million. The CPS was ordered to pay CPD a serious pile of money in order for the cut to be this low. The one great truth in all of this is that Mayor Daley totally fiscally trashed this city while the city council went along with it.

There was no discussion in the FY12 CPS budget of additional payments being made by CPS to the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The original intergovernmental agreement between CPS and the CPD and then Mayor Daley was to pay $32.8 million for police services in schools for a period time from 2009 through 2012, on July 27, 2011 CPS agreed to increase this budget to $102.8 million (see Board Report 11-0727-PR18).

The CPS even agreed to make back payments to the CPD reported to be $46 million. CPS went from paying about 8 million a year to the CPD to $25.5 million with one vote. This decision added to the CPS's fiscal problems and did not have to be made because the agreement CPS made with the CPD under the Daley administration did not provide for this cost escalation.

I think it is now very clear why this was done. It reduced the cut to the CPD and helped to hold off a city property tax increase. But it effectively transfered that debt to the CPS which was paid for in full by teachers not getting their contracted pay increases which were worth over $100 million.

Rod Estvan

September 1, 2011 at 11:45 PM

By: John Kugler

Rahm => Con Artist

Let us just take the example of paying Chicago Police with education funding [$70 million; maybe illegal since police positions are allocated with funding in CPD not CPS] and all of a sudden CPD is still in the hole $190 million? So CPS gives CPD $70 million which would have covered teacher raises and layoffs, it still makes no dent in the CPD deficit. By the way talking to a brother officer tonight he mention 300 CPD positions protecting transportation funded by the federal government.

The question now needs to be is where is all this money going?

Hint: Poof in my crony back pocket


Budget Cuts Won't Hurt Safety *

(* -any more than safety has already been hurt via decades of political mismanagement, years of unqualified promotions and a complete breakdown of training.)

This is a laughable report from WBBM Newsradio 780:

Mayor Emanuel is promising that cuts to the police budget will not jeopardize public safety.

Emanuel on Wednesday confirmed that he has asked Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to cut $190 million from the police department budget.

That may mean that open jobs would be left unfilled. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that not hiring for those positions would save about $93 million, leaving nearly $100 million in required reductions.

Some guy over at the FOP actually launched a zinger at Rahm in Fran Spielman's Sun Times report:

But [some guy at] Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, questioned whether the move would actually save money.

“How does ‘eliminating vacancies’ save $93 million when zero dollars were being spent on the vacant spots in the first place?” he asked. “That’s some real Enron-style accounting.”

It certainly is some paper shuffling, kind of like Shortshanks' budgets that relied on "projections" for vast amounts of money - "projections" that actually never materialized and never seemed to take into account real-world economics.

The Tribune does a slightly better job and delves into what has been covered here for months now - months that the regular media folks have sat on their hands, reapplied their special Mayoral Ass Kissing Chapstick to their lips and located comfortable new spots on Rahm's ass instead of Daley's:

Emanuel frequently says that under his new administration 750 more officers have been put on the street, but that figure is hotly contested by rank-and-file cops.

They note that 500 officers from specialized units who already worked the streets, albeit under centralized commands, were shifted to regular patrols or five district task forces. Another 50 were probationary officers.

We covered that, what? A month ago? Nice of you folks at the Trib to catch up finally.

The Chicago Police Department is like any huge bureaucracy - inefficient in the extreme. There's plenty of room for cutting, we'd never deny that. The exempt ranks are bloated, the multitude of small units is extreme, the redundant supervision/duplicated duties is ridiculous. It needs to change.

But no one is asking the right people how to change it. McCarthy should be looking at Lieutenants, Sergeants, and yes, even the lowly Officers for ideas. These are your end users. These are the people who can spot the hypocrisy, waste, inefficiency. Look at AIRA, CLEAR, CHRIS, most of the computer systems we use - do you really think a beat cop or a detective had any input into any of these disasters? Minimal, if at all.

We are about to enter what will undoubtedly be the most contentious negotiations of all time. We need to step up and take the initiative, be it with offers, ideas, publicity campaigns, or press conferences. Otherwise, we are likely witnessing the end of the FOP as a viable bargaining agent.

September 2, 2011 at 1:29 PM

By: Anton Antoszek

Treating Thugs Like Clergy? I Don't Think So.

I get it now. We have to be civilized to authority who only need to give the appearance or illusion of civilized propriety when dealing with you.

When people like the lying house slave for the data principal at McClellan attacks teachers with mendacious duplicity and has the blessing of his equally repugnant superiors who describe other public employees with descriptions like lazy, inept, or greedy, not only are they attacks vicious and inaccurate, but criminal in their follow through and will be treated proportionately and accordingly by me.

Never treat a thug like a clergyman. Never treat a clergyman like a clergyman if they act like a thug, or respect and consort with thugs like obombmer, bush, daley or emanulie.

No individual or group can give any other individual or groups lectures on morals, ethics or illegalities unless their morals and or ethics are pristine and they do not explain away the illegalities and lies of the upper 1% and their toadies.

No one individual or group can expect perfection or meet out punishment on the 99% of population for their every failed endeavor unless the upper !% are held to the same standard for their obvious evil or ineptness toward the 99%. Only a sycophant would choose convenient blindness to explain away these current inequities or hide behind "civilized synonyms." as a reason to critique legitimate anger.

If you attack me or my family reputation, I have to defend myself or my families reputation by any means proportional and necessary.

Never respect anyone who does not respect you. People will not submit forever to indignities on the job, at home, on the streets, or when describing or interacting the aforementioned bullying types.

I would love to meet anyone of these depraved liars and they will feel the lash of my tongue. I have got proof that justifies the anger, frustration and rage against so-called legitimate society and will not be silence except by death. One cannot keep metaphorically or literally slapping someone like the teachers, homeowners, other public employees, and unions and expect submissive politeness in every encounter.

At least with a traditional criminal, not the cowards I'm describing here, You know what your getting with these scumbags. Some deception obviously or they could not commit their crimes successfully and stay out of jail.

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