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BOARDWATCH: 'Tendentiousness' can serve a public purpose... CPS Houdini routine does a 'Now you don't see it... Now you do...' with 'Action' agendas

At the January 23, 2013 meeting of the Board of Education, I mentioned that CPS had eliminated the "Action Agenda" reports for 2000, 2001, and 2002 from the CPS website. That was one of several puzzles on my agenda, although I only got to go through two before the two-minute time limit was up. Instead of continuing to post the "Action" agendas going back in time, I told the Board, someone had eliminated the first three years of the 21st Century, and we still don't have anything from the 20th Century at all (let alone the 19th, when CPS began...). The reason why the Action Agenda is important public information is simple: It actually reports almost all of the things the Board has voted to do (for example, hiring two or three more lawyers every month for the past couple of months at six-figure salaries; that stuff is not on the public agendas and only becomes clear from the "Action" agenda...).

Board member Henry Bienen (above left) speaks during the January 23, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education while Board President David Vitale (right) listen attentively and Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz takes notes. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The six Board members present did not know that their official history was bring purged with the click of someone's mouse. (Who was clicking off that piece of history is another story for another time...). But they actually wanted to know and during the month they actually did something about it. One cheer for that.

One of the Board members asked the Board Attorney (James Bebley) to investigate the purging of the history, pointing out (accurately) that this Board has been more "transparent" about some things (e.g., posting the record of closed sessions that the previous board had kept secret from 1995 through May 2011) than its predecessor.

On February 19, 2013, the Action Agendas for 2002 and 2001 suddenly re-appeared on the Board's website. For those who are interested, they can be found at

http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/The_Board_of_Education/Pages/Boardactions.aspx

I also mentioned that the FY 2012 CAFR hadn't yet been posted, and was assured by CPS officials that it would be up ad midnight, January 23. Which it was.

My note that the CAFR would prove that the Board members had been lying about their "deficit" at the beginning of the FY 2012 drew a response from Board member Henry Bienen, who utilized some strange word to imply I didn't know what I was talking about, and that, he does. Beinen was one of the seven members of the Board of Education who voted at their first meeting (June 2011) that the were facing a FISCAL EMERGENCY and therefore didn't have to pay the four percent raise for the final year of the five-year contract negotiated by former CTU President Marilyn Stewart (who was defeated by Karen Lewis in June 2010).

According to Bienen's version of reality, the FISCAL EMERGENCY in June 2011 required the Board to break the contract with the union workers because CPS was in dire financial straits and was going to have to draw down its "reserves" to zero.

One of the possible reasons some people at CPS had for erasing some of the historical record of Chicago Public Schools was that the Board of Education used to meet on alternating months at a school-based location, then at 125 S. Clark St. Because of the expense of parking and other expenses associated with attending downtown meetings, the Loop location of all Board meetings since June 2002 has reduced public participation and excluded many of the city's poor and working class families. Above, the Board Report (communication) from March 2002 announcing that the April 2002 meeting would be held on the West Side at Herzl Elementary School, which is was. Also worth noting are two other things about the April 2002 meeting. The meeting was held after working hours, so more parents and teachers were able to attend. And the notice specifically said that public participation would take place BEFORE the business portion of the meeting. Since David Vitale became Board president in June 2011, the Business portion of the meeting had pushed back public participation, all meetings are held at 125 S. Clark St., and the possibility of public participation has been reduced dramatically by the new (January 2013) CPS policy of on line registration. By one minute after midnight, the FY 2012 CAFR was up, and it showed just how much the difference was between the claims Bienen had voted to support in June 2011 and the facts of the Board's financials by the time the books were audited and the audit made public in January 2013. Now, to be fair to Bienen (and the other six Board members who voted in favor of that "Chicken Little" scenario), they were relying on numbers provided to them in one of those famous POWER POINT presentations they are fed every month. So her had no reason to know the numbers he was being told were phony.

But, tendentiously speaking, that's not true any longer, since with his Ivy League pedigree and other experiences, Bienen can read the FY 2012 CAFR himself. Neither he nor any of the other Board members has to rely on the latest spin from Becky Carroll's dwindling number of phrase creators (that's another story for another time; Becky's official CPS response to the fact that the CAFR showed the lie totals out to more than a half billion dollars).

And instead of tendentiously tendentioning about facts, maybe some of the members of the Board will ask why the turnover rate in the ever more expensive "Office of Communications" continues at a shocking pace.

Those who want to read the FY 2012 CAFR can find it on line at: http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Financial_information/Documents/Final2012CAFRPDF-LR.pdf



Comments:

February 19, 2013 at 1:33 PM

By: Seth Leeds

The 4% back pay

Why is the CTU unable to go after the 4% that was illegally taken from the last year of our (previous) contract? Seems like a no-brainer, now that actual facts exist.

February 20, 2013 at 12:17 AM

By: John Kugler

UPC/PACT Contracts Gave 4% Away

if you read the contract negotiated by the people who now want to get back into power, the Board could at anytime not pay the raise. Just to be clear, the Lynch administration also negotiated a contract with the same language.

By the way the current Union leadership had this removed from the current contract.

---------------------------------------------

47-2.2. Any adjustments to the increase of 4% for Fiscal Years 2005, 2006 and 2007 to Appendix A of this Agreement are contingent upon a reasonable expectation by the BOARD of its ability to fund the increases for FYs2005, 2006 and 2007. Therefore, any adjustments to the scheduled increases to Appendix A for FYs 2005, 2006and 2007 shall not be effective until and unless the BOARD adopts a Resolution no later than fifteen (15)calendar days prior to the beginning of each Fiscal Year that it finds there is a reasonable expectation that it will be able to fund such increases for that fiscal year. In the event the BOARD fails to adopt timely such a resolution, the UNION may, by written notice to the BOARD no later than ten calendar days prior to the beginning of the fiscal year in which the BOARD fails to adopt such Resolution, demand that negotiations begin anew with respect to Appendix A. In the event that said negotiations fail to result in an agreement, the UNION may, on thirty calendar days’ written notice, terminate this Agreement and, accordingly, retains whatever lawful rights it otherwise might have under Section 13 of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, including the right to strike.(p 187, 2003-2007 CTU Contract)

47-2.2. Any adjustments to the increase of four percent for Fiscal Years 2009, 2010,

2011 and 2012 to Appendix A of this Agreement are contingent upon a reasonable expectation by the BOARD of its ability to fund the increases for Fiscal Years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Therefore, any adjustments to the scheduled increases to Appendix A for Fiscal Years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 shall not be effective until and unless the BOARD adopts a Resolution no later than fifteen calendar days prior to the beginning of each Fiscal Year that it finds there is a reasonable expectation that it will be able to fund such increases for that Fiscal Year. In the event the BOARD fails to adopt timely such a Resolution, the UNION may, by written notice to the BOARD no later than ten calendar days prior to the beginning of the Fiscal Year in which the BOARD fails to adopt such Resolution, demand that negotiations begin anew with respect to Appendix A. In the event that said negotiations fail to result in an agreement, the UNION may, on thirty calendar days’ written notice, terminate this Agreement and, accordingly, retains whatever lawful rights it otherwise might have under section 13 of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, including the right to strike.47-3. 2003 Amendatory Act. The inclusion in this Agreement of any provision that is a permissive subject of bargaining or a provision which was otherwise affected by virtue of the 2003 Amendatory Act to 115 ILCS 5/4.5 of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act shall not be deemed in any way as a waiver, concession or compromise of the BOARD’s or the UNION’s rights under said Act, including the right during the term of this Agreement to request to bargain such provision or to invoke the impasse resolution mechanism in 115 ILCS 5/12(b) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act.(p 117, 2007-2010 CTU Contract)

February 20, 2013 at 5:08 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

UPC - PACT gave away the four percent raise

CORE will continue to repeat the facts of how the Board was allowed to vote -- based on a lie now exposed in the FY 2012 CAFR -- at its "special meeting" in June 2011 that it could not reasonably expect to be able to fund the four percent raise for the 2011 - 2012 school year. But the facts are as John reports: the raises were based on the ability of the Board of Education to claim -- note CLAIM, not prove -- that is didn't have the money to fund any year of the raise.

In June 2011, at its first meeting following its appointment by Rahm Emanuel (who was inaugurated in May 2011, remember) the new Board of Education, the Board met, as required by the contract, and voted as the contract required. Cynically, as I reported at the time, based on doctored financial data presented in a Power Point by "Chief Administrative Officer" Tim Cawley. We immediately saw that part of the claim of "no money" was based on the inflation of the cost of Chicago police in the schools by $70 million (the raises would have cost approximately $100 million, despite the usual CPS claims that the cost was higher).

What happened then required calculus to understand, not the simple minded arithmetic that had gone into the contract work of the UPC and PACT.

The union leadership, in its first act in office, could have "reopened negotiations" and faced the prospect of a Board orchestrated attack on the union during the first months that Karen Lewis was in office. Instead, the union leadership decided to organize the union's members over the year before the expiration of the contract (which was June 30, 2012) so that the union's members would understand what was at stake.

All of this -- especially the fact of the loopholes that both PACT and the UPC had left gaping in the contracts they negotiated -- is a matter of historical fact. The antics of the UPC and PACT leaders (actually, the remnants of them, since a large number of the rank-and-file of both have of late joined CORE) are a matter of record. Also of record is what they did following the June 2011 challenge to the union, and how they behaved as the leadership was organizing for the massive rally and march (May 23, 2012), the strike authorization vote (June 2012), the final negotations, and the strike itself.

What will become clear as the record is debated during the next three months is who did what.

But for now, the union's members once again get to practice that massive democracy that defines the CTU. No one knows who will be on the ballot for the May 17 vote until the caucuses turn in their nominating petitions at the end of March 2013. And even then, the union must examine each candidates, since eligibility for office depends on certain union membership qualifications.

It's interesting that the new "coalition" thingy decided to begin its election campaign before it even had a name, a website in its own new name, or the nominations complete. But once it becomes more clear who is part of this "salvation" movement they are coalitioning for, it will be easier for the union's members to debate, study and decide based on the record of the candidates who was doing what and when.

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