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'Beautification' and then 'Helping Hands' expose another Barbara Byrd Bennett lie... Millions of dollars worth of 'central office' staff that don't exist were sent to the schools for 'beautification', then 'Helping Hands', and 'Welcoming' as Chicago schools opened

It was kind of a second city (or Second City) version of "Where's Waldo?" For most of two weeks, it was difficult to find the denizens of the Chicago Public Schools central and "Network" offices at the desks or in the cubicles where they usually poise awaiting orders. No Chicago reporter at this time in history would recognize the name of "Gigi" (Giselle) Alicea or James Ciesil; Aarti Duphelia or James Dispensa or Sue "Gann" (a misspelling of "Gamm"), let alone Adam Anderson (unless the reporter had been in court earlier in the summer) or Sebastian DeLongeaux or Annette Gurley or Tracy "Martin" (also known as "Tracy Martin Thompson" when she's giving Power Point at a Board of Education meeting). And so on and on and on and on. But they were out there, more than 600 of them, ordered to be out there as Chicago opened schools.

Flanked by Board attorney Cheryl Colson and "Talent" Officer Alicia Wincker, Chicago Administrative Officer Tim Cawley listens attentively to the public presentations at the July 24, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.And there they were, on camera if necessary, during another Emanuel administration dog-and-pony show. Between August 21 and August 23, they were deployed in their scrubs, supposedly doing "Beautification" work. That week, when no kids were yet in school but teachers had finally arrived, they were dressed down for one occasion. Most wore blue jeans or dockers, some designer jeans that cost more than a day's pay for a bus aide or lunchroom worker.

The following week, they were all back in their bureaucrat suits for the other show, this time in the schools.

The occasions (and it's a plural)?

August 21 - 23: "Beautification."

August 26 - August 30: "Helping Hands."

Rahm Emanuel's orders, relayed by Barbara Byrd Bennett were straightforward: Anyone not protected by a union contract was ordered out to the schools for two days of "Beautification" work, followed by another day or more of "Helping Hands" -- out in the Chicago's "welcoming" schools as the 2013 - 2014 school year began. One of the things the suits would be able to do, if necessary, was run interference for the mayor when someone challenged his priorities: closing the largest number of real public schools in U.S. history; whiting out the histories (and throwing out the trophies and memorabilia) from four dozen schools, some of which proudly had displayed their work in their hallways since before the mayor and his "beautification" squad members were born.

In total, Rahm Emanuel orders 646 highly paid bureaucrats from the school system's central and "Network" offices out into "the field" for the displays of happy peasants Rahm Emanuel provided to the TV cameras between August 21 and August 28. Few of those forced out of their central office jobs -- as if they had nothing else to do -- are paid less than $80,000 per year, and some, like Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley, are being paid more than $200,000 this school year (probably more; Substance hasn't received the latest CPS "Position File" yet, despite claims that Rahm Emanuel's administration is all about what they call "transparency."

Welcome to "SY 2013 - 2014" Chicago style.

While a mayoral dog-and-pony show was being attempted (not completely successfully) for the opening of the new school year in Chicago, behind the thousands of "Safe Passage" workers line up along the "Safe Passage" routes was another army of city workers, police, firefighters, and those central office workers who, less than a month earlier, Byrd Bennett had told the Board of Education no longer existed. Remember? Chicago had gotten rid of thousands of central office workers, according to the CPS "Chief Administrative Officer" Tim Cawley. According to the official version of reality, the Rahm Emanuel school board had reduced "central" expenditures by $600 million (out of a total budget that will eventually hit $6 billion) in a mere two years in power.

Another miracle for the guy who can do a Triathalon in the morning, reorganize America's third largest school system in the afternoon, and bring another hundred corporate jobs to Chicago before he goes to bed. And the trick to putting those fairy tale versions of reality on the front page of The Wall Street Journal and the Chicago daily newspapers as Chicago opened its crippled public school system during the hot last week of August 2013 is a fact of the media: reporters have been trained not to ask questions that Rahm Emanuel doesn't want to answer. Just like all those who traipsed from "beautification" work to Safe Passages and Welcoming duties, it was just another week in the Potemkin Village created by the mayor who has a large staff devoting full time (at taxpayer expense) to placing the mayor's name, face, and accomplishments in the public eye, locally, nationally, and perhaps internationally.



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