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“We need teachers in the hall! Not more money for DePaul!!” Protests before July 24 Board meeting... Protest over Cuts to Chicago Public Schools versus DePaul Taxpayer Giveaway

The Chicago Board of Education was not scheduled to begin its monthly meeting at its headquarters at 125 S. Clark St., but hundreds of protesters were working to highlight the Board's latest attacks on the city's public schools long before that part of the day began. Marchers filled the sidewalk on the block, then walked a half mile north to protest at City Hall and the State of Illinois building.

Protesters swarmed inside the State of Illinois building (the Thompson Center) during the protests on July 24, 2013. The protests marched from the Board of Education's headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. and later returned to the Board meeting after leaving a message with a representatives of Governor Pat Quinn. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.By 9:00 AM on Wednesday, July 24, 2013, on the morning before the monthly, downtown meeting of the unelected Chicago Bored of Education, roughly 500-600 protesters marched in front of the 125 S. Clark Street location filling the street from Monroe St. to Adams St. A majority were wearing red t-shirts, creating the image of a churning, moving river of red flowing along the length of that block of Clark Street and around the corner to continue down and then back around almost the length of that block of Adams.

The crowd included a lot of Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers — but also parents, students, and concerned citizens as community partners in education. The messages on the many different handmade or prepared Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) posters listed some of the reasons for the protest for anyone driving or walking by to read, including: Money for Schools NOT for Stadiums; "Loop Capital Drains School Budgets"

"Bank of America - Renegotiate NOW!"

"Students Before Bankers" "Toxic Swaps Hurt Kids"

“Rahm Needs to Get Laid Off.”

Part of the crowd during the press conference at the State of Illinois Building. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.There were lots of chants, many of which were carried over from the previous fall’s CTU strike. One new chant/song was: Give me an M! M! We got your M! We got your M! Give me an O! O! We got your O! We got your O! (continue to spell out MONEY) What’s it spell? MONEY! What’s Rahm got? MONEY! What’do we need? MONEY!

A particular focus for the July 24 protest, march, and rally was the recently passed bill that presently sits on Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s desk in Sringfield, according to union organizers. The legislation includes an earmarked part of that bill gives $55 million to DePaul University for a new stadium in near McCormick Place in Chicago.

Since the DePaul proposal was announced there has been massive and growing opposition to the subsidy for a private university while the public schools are forced to make cuts and are being drained for financial resources. Union, parent, student and community organizers, while explaining how TIFs are taking money from the schools, have been educating thousands of people across the city about the DePaul plan, the latest in the long line of TIF scandals.

Governor Pat Quinn has an office within the James R. Thompson Center (the State of Illinois building) located at 100 W. Randolph, at Randolph and Clark. [The phone number for Governor Quinn’s office is: 312-814-2121].

So the river of red moved itself away from 125 S. Clark and redirected toward the Thompson Center four blocks north. The crowd quickly moved into the building before anyone inside could try to lock them out. Chanting ricocheted off the insides of the building, including: “WE NEED TEACHERS IN THE HALL! NOT MORE MONEY FOR DE PAUL!”

Referring to the legislation before the governor, the protesters chanted: “DO NOT SIGN! DO NOT SIGN!”

One of the signs on display near the sculpture across from City Hall, where the protest was held at the State of Illinois Building. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.Information from CTU organizers made its way around the crowd: CPD (Chicago Police Department) needed the chanting crowd/us to exit the premises. "We will do that if a team from the governor’s office agreed to meet with our representative team," protesters said.

This was agreed upon, and so the crowd moved outside. Once outside, the protesters began a press conference with parents, students and community partners in education describing recent cuts to their children’s schools. One parent with a child attending Lincoln Park High School loudly called out Barbara Byrd-Bennett as a LIAR! These cuts were not as she lied they would be – -removed from the classrooms so as not to impact the students. “She’s a LIAR!” Regarding the recently pink-slipped, CPS teachers, the crowd chanted: “WE NEED THEM BACK!” Someone started, and the crowd joined in with: “ONE-TERM MAYOR! ONE-TERM MAYOR!”

CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey spoke. He said that we were sick of these incessant cuts, year after year. And we were sick of the old tactic of being told that the cuts were due to the old list of: pensions, public libraries, mental health clinics... We were sick of the attempts to pit us as taxpayers against each other, against retired teachers, senior citizens. As if we cannot have kids in classrooms because the seniors/retirees like to eat. Yet not paying for those pensions in 2010/2011/2012 did not lead to anything but more layoffs.

After filling the block in front of CPS headquarters, the march headed north to City Hall and the State of Illinois building. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.Mr. Sharkey continued. Illinois is a state next to last on funding equity. A quarter of a billion dollars in our city is not going to schools due to TIFs (tax increment financing). The system is in a systematic and structural funding crisis. We have a governor who will scour through legislation to find one particular line to veto, the one that stops the paychecks of the legislators [in order to force them to work on “pension reform” in the state].

Student protesters who began their day outside on the streets brought their message inside the Board meeting and presented an organized message before being forced out of the Board Chambers by CPS security on orders from Board President David Vitale. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The protesters were asking him to now take a pen, and Jesse Sharley said he had one for him if he needed it, and scroll down and veto that line that gives $55 million to DePaul for a stadium that they never asked for and do not need. Sharkey continued, "We have a mayor who has great energy and flair when it comes to raising money for NATO parties and initiative after initiative. But for raising funds for CPS, he is nowhere to be seen. If taxes in Illinois were put back to where they were in 1995, we would have an extra $500,000,000 per year. If we wanted to have a state that would lead to a more equitable society, that would require taxing millionaires. But instead, we have politicians deciding on cuts for us as the only way out. Charity should be given where it was needed most."

Three high school teachers (from Kelly, Social Justice, and Collins) stepped to the mic for the presentation of a letter to the governor asking that he not give money to DePaul. A representative from Governor Quinn’s office came out of the building to accept the letter (and apparently the pen from Jess Sharkey as well). The governor's representatives then went back into the building. The crowd headed back toward 125 S. Clark for the unelected Bored of Education meeting. As reported in other reports here at substancenews.net, some of the protesters continued during the Board meeting.



Comments:

July 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Confusion about the DePaul deal

There is some confusion among the protestors in relation to 12,000-seat arena for DePaul University at McCormick Place. CTU representatives and protestors opposed to the utilization of CPS property tax dollars diverted into TIF projects continually are referencing the use of $55 million in TIF funds for this project.

While that is true, it is not true that $55 million is being taken away from CPS. Of that $55 million about $30.4 million will come from property taxes that would have gone to CPS. This is because TIF property tax dollars are taken from all taxing bodies in the City. CPS' share is about 55.2%.

But also another false impression is being put out and that is the TIF dollars are being transferred in bulk to the for DePaul project. They are not. It's actually worse than that.

What will happen is TIF revenue bonds will be issued for $55 million that will be handed over to the project. These bonds will be backed by TIF dollars and there will be interest involved in this deal to be paid to the bond investors. Overenthusiastic projections on future tax receipts are routine, and tax increment financing use is typically accompanied by large and mounting debts.

For bond investors the upside of TIF revenue bonds are Tax increment revenues supporting the bonds is that they are not subject to disruption or diversion in the event of a bankruptcy filing by Chicago, if that ever happened, in accordance with the definition of special revenues under Chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code.

The downside is that the TIF revenue bond holders have no lien on the City of Chicago if the TIF defaults. In Kansas City, Missouri on April Fools' Day, bondholders who supported tax-increment financing for Brywood Centre learned that their bonds were in default.

The developer, an affiliate of Illinois-based Tri-Land Properties Inc., went into bankruptcy in 2012, so there appears to be little recourse for those bondholders, whose identities are not publicly known. But the TIF was structured in a way that made these investments attractive - not so much for the well-heeled, who might be better positioned to absorb a loss, but rather to mom-and-pop investors.

But there is even more to the DePaul story, actual public dollars are not limited to the $55 million in TIF money. It also includes $70 million from a McPier Bond fund, which has resources left over from a 2010 restructuring. McCormick Place bonds are backed by local hotel and motel taxes. Just for those who don't know McPier taxes include:

• 1 percent tax on restaurant sales in downtown Chicago district

• 2.5 percent tax on hotel and motel rooms in Chicago

• 6 percent tax on auto rentals in Cook County

• $4 minimum taxi/livery airport departure tax

• Up to a $54 per bus/van per vehicle airport departure tax

But protestors should understand that if they were successful in stopping the use of TIF dollars for the DePaul project CPS would not get handed $55 million or even $30.4 million to offset cuts for the next school year even if the Mayor agreed to divert surplus TIF money back to CPS. The TIFs in question have not yet accumulated the $55 million, it will take years for that to happen.

Rod Estvan

July 29, 2013 at 4:34 AM

By: Rodney Pruitt

Displaced teachers 'collateral damage' to CTU?

You know that Angry Displaced Teachers Feel “Sold Out” by CTU!

I must ask the Substance News to shed light on the plight of Displaced Teachers. This body is very angered by the treatment that they receive, not only by CPS -- but CTU.

If they remain affiliated with CPS, it is very likely that they will end up employed as substitutes earning a fraction of their previous pay. Yet CTU will do nothing concrete to address issues such as the reality lack of actual rehiring and prohibition of unemployment compensation during the summers, while you have no deferred pay or promise of any employment in September. Many of my cohorts have lost homes, cars, families, etc., while treated as “collateral damage” by an organization that always solicits the support of the displaced, yet treats them as if they are invisible. If you’re an African American displaced the realities of my statements are evident. All attempts to get answers are countered with political “double talk” to cloud the fact that they will do nothing for you. Just try to get any information out of them. This is exemplified by the "blog" that contains nothing but CTU articles with absolutely no input from membership. Yet CTU continues diligently to collect your dues. I personally know displaced teachers who have applied for numerous positions, yet receive no calls for interviews. Unofficially, my peers’ state that principals are discouraged from rehires, especially if you are experienced (older). Unfortunately, these statements fall on deaf ears as CTU seems to be more interested in being a PTA rather than fight for those who have already lost their jobs. We want actual information that pertains to those already cut. Parading out CTU "cheerleaders" to empathize with us are not paying our bills. This numbers of displaced continues to grow. I fear that this latest cut is not over. The mission of any union is to protect its members.

Rodney L. Pruitt

CTU Member

Displaced Teacher/ Day to Day Sub

July 30, 2013 at 10:23 PM

By: Amy Gooden

Displaced Teachers

Mr. Rodney Pruitt's comments are long overdue. Unfortunately, displaced teachers are "collateral damage". Veteran teachers are under attack for being experienced,their age,their race,etc.

There will be more layoffs. Therefore,the people who feel they are safe in administrative positions should watch their backs too.

CPS approves the budget at the end of August.

This will give them more time for their Machiavellan actions.

If student membership (read attendance) is not at the right level by the 20th day more teachers will be laid off.

Displaced teachers should also be saying "look at what they make you give." (From the film Bourne Identity)

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