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The latest multi-million dollar lie from David Vitale! Near North High School building was never 'sold' by the Chicago Board of Education!... Vitale's latest Big Lie will cost taxpayers $50 to $100 million in 2014 - 2015. But the lies of this Board began as soon as Rahm appointed them...

At the very end of the May 28, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, just before the six Board members went into "closed session" and after most of the Board members had said their usual scripted comments, Board President David Vitale spoke to contradict the testimony I had earlier given in public comment before the Board.

Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz (left) and David Vitale (right) pledge allegiance to the flag at the beginning of each of the monthly meetings of the Chicago Board of Education, but they have never pledged to tell the truth or respect the rights of their fellow citizens to speak out at public meetings. They began lying to the public when they voted to claim the Board didn't have the money to fund that four-percent pay raise for union members at their June 2011 meeting and have been telling lies, some small and some large, as the historical record shows, ever since. Substance photo by David Vance.I had said that the Board didn't have to build the new so-called "Barack Obama" College Prep High School on park land at the old site of the Cabrini-Green housing projects, because the Board already owned land and a high school building it wasn't using less than a mile from where Mayor Rahm Emanuel had announced "Obama High" would go. Smiling, I told the Board they could save between $40 million and $100 million on that choice alone, and given that we were always supposedly facing "tough economic times" I'm certain the Board would want to do that.

I also gave each of the Board members a photograph of the building, and noted that just to be sure it hadn't disappeared from the Board's inventory, I had driven past it on my way to the Board meeting that very morning. None of the Board members said anything to me after I gave them the photograph and told them, smiling, how we could save all that money in these times they claim we are facing "austerity".

About an hour later, at the end of the meeting, when I was not allowed to return to the podium, Vitale claimed that the Board no longer owned the Near North building, or the land at 1450 N. Larrabee St., which I had mentioned. He went on about some "litigation" and then quickly left the room.

Once again, the President of the Board of Education of America's third largest school system had lied. I went and checked immediately after the Board meeting, and there was nothing on the public record going back more than five years to indicate that the Board had taken any action to lose the Near North HS building or its land. It was a fitting exclamation point to the topic I had written down for my remarks when I registered to speak to the Board: "Meataphysics and mendacity of Board members..."

But it is also important to remember that these lies began at the very first meeting of Rahm's newly appointed Board of Education in June 2011, and have continued regularly since.

I had signed up to speak at the May 28, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education giving my topic as "Metaphysics and mendacity of Board members..." I also put down as my "organization/school" Whitney Young. There was a reason for both. I intended to share with the Board an "Orwellian lexicon" of BOARDSPEAK straight out of "1984..." I intended to being with how Henry Bienen and David Vitale talk about how they know the so-called "true facts" about things, while the speakers are WRONG. There is truth and there is "truthiness" (as Comedy Central taught us) and now, with CPS, we have "True facts..." which are a new kinds of lies.

But as the drumbeats for "Obama High" grew -- and the Board's lies about its upcoming budgets got louder -- I decided to doublecheck to see whether the Board had demolished the Near North Career Magnet High School building at 1340 N. Larrabbee -- and if they hadn't, point out that fact.

So I drove past. Near North is still there on that lovely piece of prime real estate (now that Cabrini Green has been disappeared), while Mayor Rahm and CPS officials (along with the opportunist of opportunists, Alderman Walter Burnett) have announced they are going to spend tens of millions of dollars on "Obama High..." less than a half mile from a high school building they already own.

It's always a good idea to give the Board the least possible time to figure out how we are going to hit them with the latest truths (as opposed to their "true facts"), so I held back, and then began my two minutes by saying (as you will be able to see by Tuesday when the video comes out) "I have great news about how the Board can save between $40 and $100 million!..."

Then I gave out a photograph of the Near North HS building and told them it was still there and still owned by CPS and therefore the Board didn't have to build a new building for "Obama High" because they already owned a perfectly good building already near where they announced Obama High was going to do. There was no response from any of the Board members, but scurrying from Abigayl Joseph (their Chief of Staff of Chief of Staffs) and James Bebley (the Board's attorney).

I finished and paused. No response. No thank yous. Nothing.

So then I told Vitale that Sharon, who was signed up to speak about high school newspapers, was working too hard on the end of the year Steinmetz Star and couldn't join them this morning. But, I said, with their permission I would read what she could have said and share what she would have shared.

Pause.

"One minute," Vitale said. Snarling. So I read Sharon's prepared statement and had the secretary distribute a recent issue of the Steinmetz Star for all the Board members and all the bureaucrats (most of whom, as you know, are from out of town).

End.

And so the public participation continued, and then the end came and Vitale asked whether the Board members had any comments or observations. Each did except Quazzo, who seems almost embarrassed by all the nonsense she has to shovel. As usual, Hines prattled about principals, although she isn't challenging this "Student Based Budgeting" scam and voted, among other things, to approve that $20 million for the SUPES academy program.

Jess Ruiz huffed and puffed about the "Stella Luna" fictional narrative against immigrants' rights.

And then, at the very end, Vitale said that I had my facts wrong, that due to complex litigation CPS doesn't really own that land it owns and Near North blah blah blah.

And then they all ran off into closed session.

So I came home and downloaded my photographs and then went back five years to see if there had been any mention of that property in any Board Report or Action Agenda. Nope.

Which you can read about in the May 31, 2014, Sun-Times, too. without giving Substance credit of course.

Bringing us down to April 23, 2014, when they lied about the need to feed three more schools into the jaws of the AUSL "turnaround.'

In summary, the lies, at least the Big Ones:

JUNE 2011. NO MONEY FOR THE FOUR PERCENT RAISE...

In June 2011, the newly appointed Chicago Board of Educaton was meeting for the first time, and was proclaiming a phony "massive deficit" that Vitale and Board members agreed required that the Board reneg on the final year of a contract that had been agreed to between the Chicago Teachers Union (and its then President Marilyn Stewart) and the Board of Education (and its then President Rufus Williams). The contract provided that teachers and other unionized workers working for CPS could be denied the four percent raise it CPS felt (emphasis ours) that it might not be able to pay the four percent raise. Accordingly, the Board's newly appointed "Chief Administrative Officer," Tim Cawley, presented the Board with a phony budget that mendaciously inflated expenses and deliberately underestimated revenues.

["On June 15, 2011, the Chicago Board of Education's seven members heard a Power Point presentation from the Board's new "Chief Administrative Officer," Tim Cawley," I reported at the time. "The presentation was supplemented by comments from the Board's new Treasurer, Melanie Shaker (who has been with CPS for less than one year) and "Chief Human Capital Officer" Alicia Winckler (who has been with CPS for eighteen months; prior to CPS she was with Sears Holdings).

"First, let's talk about the biggest lie told in the June presentations. Everyone who has critically examined the budgeting of the Chicago Board of Education over the previous decades has seen that CPS always has some kind of problem a "deficit," or a "projected shortfall," or a somethingorother that means there is not enough money.

"During and after the June 15 [2011] meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Board members, spokesmen for the mayor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and editorial writers have used phrases like "crisis" and "unprecedented" to justify their attack on the unionized teachers and other workers in Chicago's public schools. But they have all refused to provide the public with actual numbers, or actual public documents, reducing their version of reality to metaphors and analogies.

"In the middle of the Board of Education's June 15 budget materials came a major lie that also shows a historical link between the financial problems of Chicago's public schools and the manipulation of the schools since mayoral control began in 1995 by City Hall: The unchallenged claim that in the coming fiscal year (July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012) Chicago's public schools were going to have to pay the Chicago Police Department $70 million. It isn't true. There is no historical basis for it. And the money that CPS has been paying for police services has always been based on a dubious manipulation of policy and dollars that has served the budget of the City of Chicago at the expense of the children of the city's public schools.

"None of the assertions made in the presentation were challenged by the Board members, most of whom claim to be financially astute people. Throughout the presentation, the CPS officials who made the presentation overstated the "expenses" they expected the Board to face in FY 2012 (the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2011 and ends on June 30, 2012. One dramatic example came on Page 4 of the Power Point, where the officials claimed that CPS has to pay the City of Chicago $70 million in FY 2012 for police services in fewer than 100 schools.

"Leaving aside the question of whether CPS should be paying Chicago police for duties that are routine (and a history that shows former Mayor Richard M. Daley shifted this cost to Chicago's schools almost as soon as he took over CPS in 1995), there is nothing in the public record showing that CPS has to pay anything near this amount. The most recent Board Report passed by the Chicago Board of Education in February 2010 concerning the Intergovernmental Agreement on police services has the Board agreeing to pay $12 million for FY 2010 and the same or less for each fiscal year since, through FY 2013.

"The three executives [Cawley, Shaker, and Winckler] presented the nine-page Power Point to the Board. Based on what was presented in the Power Point, the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education, all of whom were at their first public meeting, voted to challenge the eight unions representing CPS workers by voting that CPS did not have enough money to fund the four percent (4%) raised due beginning July 1 to all unionized workers. The raises were part of the final year of a five-year contract negotiated between the Board and its unions during the summer of 2007 and approved by all of the unions by the end of September 2007.

"Members of the Board who spoke to reporters and friends all said the same thing. They had no choice but to vote for the confrontation "based on what we were told."

"But what if what the Board was told in the brief presentation was mostly fiction, half-truths, and outright lies?

In our original June 2011 report on in this story, our illustrations were the complete Power Point presented on June 15 to the members of the school board, page by page. We hoped that our readers would follow this narrative at Substance and make their contributions to the public debate, both here at Substance, within the school worker unions, and insofar as is possible, in the corporate media. The corporate media in Chicago was at the time at the apex of its corruption. The Chicago Sun-Times had long been the lapdog of corporate "school reform" and the lies about the successes of mayoral control. The Tribune was in the early days of what a later study would call "The Deal From Hell," when the Tribune was purchased by real estate developer Sam Zell and gutted as a news organization. Because TV news follows the lead of print, and only Substance and Reader were challenging the status quo of false reporting, the story stuck.

Prior to coming to CPS, Cawley had had a career in corporate management (Morotroal) and then in privatization (as an official at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, AUSL). His nine-page Power Point presentation was designed to carefully script the framing of the narrative so that the Board members (after asking their equally scripted questions, one by one) could tell the press and public that they had to vote the way they did "based on the information we received."

But as the claim that CPS will have to pay the Chicago Police Department $70 million was an obvious lie, so did the rest of the Power Point deserve closer scrutiny. This was something the Board members didn't want to do, instead repeating their (often inane) questions.

By policy, the Chicago Board of Education is supposed to hold its annual budget hearings in June of each year, prior to the end of the fiscal year. The last time the Chicago Board of Education had done that before June 2011 was in the year 2006. Since then, even though they knew virtually everything they would have in the next year's budget, the various Boards had stalled the hearings until August. By 2010, they didn't even bother to apologize to the public about the stalling, simply holding a series of quickie hearings in August and then rubber stamping the budget that had already been prepared by their staff.

In August 2010, CPS budget officials, for the first time in history, didn't even provide the public with material during the annual budget briefings. Traditionally, the school board had done a summary presentation on the budget, then listened to testimony from members of the public. At the August 2010 hearings, two CPS budget office officials (both of whom are now gone) sat and listened to public testimony. Whenever anyone asked a specific question, the CPS officials told the public that the questions would be answered "later" on the CPS website.

The questions were never answered. In addition to the problems with the tardy hearings and the sphinx-like silence of the CPS budget officials, CPS did not provide copies of the Proposed Budget in sufficient quantities for the public to actually acquire and read the extensive (2,000 page) documents. (More than half the contents of the document was on a CD included in a flap on the back of a lengthy budget book).

The leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union changed in June 2010 as a result of the ousting of the former leadership under Marilyn Stewart and the election of the CORE slate led by Karen Lewis. Each year, a group of teachers, some of whom eventually went to work for the Chicago Teachers Union, spent more than a week pouring over the enormous 2,000 page "Proposed Budget."

There was several regular jokes. Each year, for example, CPS had announced that it had cut "central administration" (usually metaphorically "to the bone") when in fact the fine print showed that most of the people who had lost their jobs were teachers who had been put into CPS spreadsheets in a section called "Citywide". Administrative jobs were being increased, while the salaries of top executives were unprecedented. The "Chief Executive Officer" hired by Rahm Emanuel's Board, Jean Claude Brizard, was paid a quarter million dollars a year and was also paid a $30,000 "relocation allowance" because he was moving from Rochester New York to Chicago.

Contrary to the claims by Brizard's predecessor, CEO Ron Huberman that "Citywide" cuts were cuts in "administration," more than 90 percent of the people who lost their jobs between June and September 2010 were teachers, psychologists, social workers, and other full-time teachers working with children every day. No one, however, expected the lies to escalate to the extent they did when Emanuel's Board, under David Vitale, took over.

One of the signal features of the way CPS had been telling the public about its budgets for the past several years has been the lack of numerical precision. Words that are used to describe the budget every winter and spring tend in the direction of less and less precision. For example, CPS officials had been avoiding using the word "deficit" because it tends to have a precise term in accounting, instead choosing inaccurate synonyms like "shortfall" or "projected shortfall." By the final Huberman years, the "projected shortfall" was "about a billion dollars." It was meant to grab headlines because, given the state of corporate media in those years, CPS officials were confident that no one would ask for more precision, let alone read the audited financial reports (which came out after the end of the fiscal year) showing that the "deficit" ("shortfall"... etc.) had been a lie.

Because the corporate media in Chicago has stripped itself of reporters as part of its own restructuring, only one or two of the reporters regularly covering the schools might remember any of the previous versions of budgetary reality propounded by CPS. And one of those was completely "in the tank" with CPS officials, while one major pundit had long ago announced that she was not going to write anything "negative" about so-called "school reform.'

In the five years before June 2011, the Chicago Tribune had six reporters covering education. By 2007, three of them had taken a buyout. One later left for The Wall Street Journal, which still believes in covering major news centers such as Chicago's public schools (she was covering the June 15, 2011 CPS Board meeting).

The current Tribune reporter, who has to cover everything in the Chicago schools and all of the materials issued by the Board of Education, is overworked and without the resources to ask the detailed questions budget jargon requires. The Sun-Times has had more stability in its coverage, but because of the bias of its main editorial writers (see the editorial on June 16, 2011, the day after the special Board meeting), the facts didn't matter.

CPS officials knew that carefully scripted talking points and lurid metaphors would define the official narrative and become the basis for what became "news." The stage was set for Vitale's era of the Big Lie.

At the same time, the major corporate news organizations began refusing to do more than recycle talking points from the CPS narrative, Chicago's "philanthropic community" has wiped out the major independent critics of the budget fictions through massive "defunding." Two of the most important groups that once provided sustained professional critical analysis of Chicago's school spending -- the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group and the Cross City Campaign -- were wiped out when Chicago charities, after vetting their programs with Arne Duncan and the mayor's office, refused to provide them with funding.

By 2008, both groups were out of business because they had depended on the same corporate leaders who were directing the narrative in one direction. The NCBD provided much of the original research that was used by Reader reporter Ben Joravsky in his lengthy and ongoing exposure of the city's TIF scandals. The last time the Cross City Campaign's researchers analyzed a budget, their presentation at the June 2006 budget hearings declared the Proposed CPS budget for fiscal 2007 the "murkiest" and least accessible in history.

One year later, both NCBG and Cross City were out of business, having been told by the city's funders that their work was no longer relevant to the future of Chicago as a global city.

Although the new leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union filed a union grievance challenging the lies in the financial claims that gave rise to the June 2011 vote to take back the raise (disclosure, this reporter was one of the union's witnesses at those hearings), a loophole in the Marilyn Stewart contract didn't require that the Board's financial claims be true -- the Board only had to "believe" it couldn't pay for the raises. The grievance lost because the Board members were expressing their "beliefs" in June 2011, no matter what the financial facts may later have proved to be.

The stage was set for a long line of David Vitale lies that became part of the universal script for what eventually became the quasi-fictional Hollywood production called "Chicagoland." But the story was only beginning of unfold in June 2011.

SEPTEMBER 2011 - JUNE 2012, THE LIES ABOUT THE 'SHORTEST SCHOOL DAY', ALONG WITH THE PAID PROTESTERS AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LONGEST SCHOOL DAY.

By September 2011, the City Hall propagandists surrounding Rahm Emanuel and their toadies at the Chicago Board of Education were pushing for the so-called "Longer School Day" based on the claim, quickly proven false, that children in Houston Texas had four more years of instruction by 12th grade than Chicago's because, according to Rahmland, Chicago had the nation's "shortest school day." After a careful examination of the supposed "facts" underlying the claims by the Longer School Day people, it became clear that the propaganda team had left out Chicago's high schools and ignored the fact that Chicago elementary teachers -- in the majority but not all of the schools -- had their lunch periods at the day's end because of a program called "Closed Campus."

By September 2011, Substance and others were challenging the "Longer School Day" campaign. One of the most serious challenges came from the Chicago Teachers Union, which tried to say that a Longer School Day without more resources would not be a good thing for children or teachers.

Substance reported on the CTU position in September 2011:

As Chicago's corporate media continued their promotion of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's talking points and the carefully staged media events of the Chicago Public Schools administration under Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard, the Chicago Teachers Union again responded to the lack of thought, planning, and care for children, parents, families and teachers in the scripted attack on the union being orchestrated.

[img=4045]In a press release dated September 26, 2011, the union stated as follows:

"Longer School Day" a political slogan is no substitute for a coherent education plan

CHICAGO. Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen GJ Lewis says the "Longer School Day" slogan adopted by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) cannot substitute for an education plan. Educators at more than 115 elementary schools have rejected the ill-advised proposal because the hastily put together campaign left no time to adequately plan how to use the extended time in the most effective manner possible.

"There has been no meaningful discussion with educators, parents or the community on how to implement the longer school day," explained Lewis. "Without adequate planning, much of this extra time may turn into simply more test prep. The 'Longer School Day' political slogan cannot substitute for a coherent education plan."

Lewis has said CPS should focus on implementing a "better school day" for Chicago students. "If we want to make an extended school day produce results for elementary school students their curricula and class sizes must mirror those in well-funded school districts and expensive private schools. We need a conversation to plan this time, not sound bites," she said.

The outspoken Union leader and 23-year educator nominated three elementary school teachers, a leader of a parent organization and a well-regarded, community activist to participate on CPS's extended learning time advisory panel. None have been seated. She also sympathized with the teachers and school employees at the six schools that are now trying to cope with the school board's rushed initiative.

"During my years as a classroom teacher I learned to adapt to dozens of ill-conceived and inadequately supported CPS initiatives from the school board bureaucrats," said Lewis. "Regardless, I know these teachers will try to do the best they can for their students."

After denying teachers and paraprofessionals their contractual 4 percent cost of living increase, citing a budget crisis, CPS then coughed up millions of dollars to campaign for its latest time allocation proposal. The Board offered elementary school teachers a mere 2 percent stipend to work 29 percent longer and promised a one-time $150,000 bonus and other incentives to any principal able to encourage staff to vote in favor of a longer school day this year.

SUMMER 2011 -- RAHM'S 'RENT A PREACHERS BEGIN PUTTING GOT ON THE SIDE OF THE EMPEROR OF CHICAGOLAND

By August and September 2011 Substance had begun reporting prophetically about Rahm's scripting for the upcoming filming of Chicagoland as he scooped the world with the lie that Houston kids got so much more than Chicago's because of the supposedly "Shortest School Day." At the time, of course, we didn't know about the careful posing that was supposed to present Hollywood with a lot of video for Rahm's version of "Springtime..." -- the film that became the infamous CNN "Chicagoland."

By the September 2011 Home Page of Substance, we reported as follows:

"For those who follow cheap Hollywood scripts and the talking points of the newest CPS officials, there has been an amazing evolution in the version of reality being coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked CPS administrators, led by former Rochester New York Schools Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard, who is currently serving as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools," Substance reported. "Looking back over the detritus of the sound bites and scripts of the past several months, we might want to call the Rahm Emanuel version of educational reality -- 'No Talking Point Left Behind.'

"According the the CPS 'Pioneers' website (of September 27, 2011) there are now 13 schools in the 'Pioneers' club. Despite the vigorous attempts by the mayor's army of press flacks and CPS officials, apparently it's getting harder and harder for CPS to drag the TV cameras to one of their posing places. But equally impressive is how much the version of reality being dragged around town by the mayor has evolved.

"Fans will remember that less than nine months ago, Emanuel was claiming, citing some non-existent "studies" from, of all places, Houston Texas, that Chicago kids got "four years less" (!!!!!!!) school during their time in school than their counterparts in Rick Perry's Texas's largest city.

"That talking point evolved to "three years less" (!!!!!) in the classroom than Houston by the time the mayor was beginning his war against Chicago's teachers in August 2011, when the Track E schools began.

"By September, it was 'considerably less' even as closer scrutiny (even from the Chicago Tribune) revealed that some of the most successful schools and districts in Illinois had roughly the same amount of time in the classroom as Chicago's.

"During the entire broohaahaa, Emanuel always carefully left out the fact that Chicago's high schools were about average in the number of hours (!!!!!!), days (!!!!!), months (!!!!), or years (!!!) in the classroom.

"By September 27, 2011, the mayor had further evolved the claims. Here is what we found on the CPS website then: 'It's difficult for Chicago teachers to impart the knowledge and skills their students require when our children spend less time in the classroom than just about anywhere else in the nation.' [Mayor Rahm Emanuel, campaign Education Address, Dec. 10, 2010...]

The Longer School Day Pioneer Program is built on a simple fact -- Chicago Public School students spend 15% less time in the classroom than the average American public school student. We have the shortest school day of all major American urban school districts. While the ultimate goal is to have a longer day in every school in CPS, we're supporting all schools that voluntarily participate in lengthening the school day by January of 2012...'

"Although the CPS website continues to talk about getting the 'facts straight,' it's CPS that's been getting its 'facts' wrong since the first day its propagandists began taking dictation from Hollywood Rahm. During the ten months since Chicago's candidate first began attacking Chicago teachers (and the Chicago Teachers Union) in December 2010 before the primary to the end of the first month of school in September 2011, Rahm Emanuel has tried (and failed) to make about a half dozen claims regarding how terribly short Chicago's elementary school days is, or was, for all, or some, or maybe most, of Chicago's elementary school children. [Emphasis added in 2014 for this history].

"Of course, given a school system that has outsourced its official calendar to the gas company and hired a boatload of new propagandists this school year to push the City Hall line attacking the schools (and lying about the CPS budget; who knew CPS had the money for 'pioneers' and a 'Chief Communications Officer' at $165,000 per year while all those 'bureaucrats' were being cut by Jean-Claude Brizard and his 'team'?), it's not surprising that CPS officials can't even say, precisely and as a matter of 'fact,' how many public elementary schools are in Chicago in September 2011.

"And then, of course, there are all those high schools that Rahm keeps ignoring while he searches manfully and with triathletic vigor for the perfect talking point to hit the CTU with next time the cameras are turned on."

AUTUMN 2011 -- RAHM'S RENT A PROTESTERS BEGIN ROLLING AROUND TOWN IN SUPPORT OF THE LONGER SCHOOL DAY

JANUARY 2012 -- CORPORATE MEDIA CATCHES UP WITH RAHM'S RENT A PROTEST AND HAS A GOOD TIME

SEPTEMBER 2012. 'THE SCHOOLS ARE OPEN' SO CPS PAYS LOCAL 73 AND OTHER UNION MEMBERS, BUT THE KIDS, INSTEAD OF STARVING, JOIN THE UNION PICKET LINES.

DECEMBER 2012 - MAY 2013. THE UNDERUTILIZATION SCAM AND THE CLOSING OF 49 SCHOOLS.

And so it goes.

If Vitale were Pinocchio, he'd need a team of six horses to haul his nose in front of him.



Comments:

June 1, 2014 at 12:46 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Near north site ownership confusing

I am finding the exact ownership of the old Near North high school site confusing, there is one report that in May 2012, the school building was purchased by the Chicago Housing Authority and to be used for mixed-income residential and open space uses. In September 2013, a group of old town and near north side residents started a petition for the city of Chicago to demolish the school building and build a city park on the site. There is another report that it was part of a swap deal with the City.

There is a memo on the City of Chicago website indicating that the Near North site would be swapped for City land as part of the Jones prep expansion. On DNA info there is a major article discussing this property dated September 4, 2013 written by Paul Biasco titled "Old Town Neighbors Eye Shuttered CPS School for Park Space." I agree with George that the CPS record of the property transfer is less than clear and it might have been part of a larger Board agenda item.

It is also possible that the swap deal fell apart and there is litigation going on. The story merits additional research by Substance.

Rod Estvan

June 1, 2014 at 1:26 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Near North title, ownership -- and school land

To say that the members of the Chicago Board of Education have been less than "transparent" on the issue of the Near North side (both the building and the land under it) is an understatement. As many readers know, Jones High School was using the gym there for years during the lengthy conversion(s) (yes, that's a plural) of Jones. A very --- VERY --- serious aspect of this story is that earlier this century, CPS did a similar "transfer" of school property to the detriment of the Chicago schools' budget -- and to the advantage of a favored institution. As I reported at that time, CPS managed to transfer the title (land and building) of the old Schiller Elementary School to another "public" entity. Almost immediately, the property was given away to the nearby Catholic school, which rehabbed the building and is now using it.

i think -- as we will be reporting -- that David Vitale was at best ill informed (but I'll stick with lying) in his attempt at damage control over the Near North site.

Needless to say, as this extended record shows, the Chicago Board of Education since mayoral control has had a bad habit of treating its properties not as a public trust for school children's benefit, but as a clout chip to benefit those with clout. There are about a dozen examples of this kind of corruption -- all kept off the public record and NEVER discussed during public meetings by the members of the Board of Education. The Schiller School building is just one. Perhaps my favorite is how during the years' long Jones expansion(s) CPS purchased almost all the land north of Jones (including, for a million dollars, the Burger King that once stood at Congress and State), then transferred most of the property elsewhere.

Only to have the land get transferred to the developers who created the condo building that now stands on the west side of State St. south of Congress.

We will be keeping a close eye (a) on the Near North building (and land) and (b) on the paper trail in the Cook County offices. I look forward to the day when David Vitale or any of the other members of the Board of Education deviates from their silly scripts and demands to know how CPS property is being managed in the interests of the children of Chicago's public schools, but I won't hold my breath. School land has been one of the most corrupt parts of this story going back a century and a half.

So this is nothing new... that corruption continues under Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Board President David Vitale. For years, people have been asking for a listing of all CPS properties, such as was public throughout the century and into the 1980s.

The Board of Education, first under Daley and now under Rahm Emanuel, has refused to produce such a complete list, and now that CPS is trying to unload the 49 buildings it wrongfully closed a year ago, the need for that list -- complete, not edited and obfuscated -- is greater than ever.

Unless "transparency" in these matters is to continue to be, as one critic said several years ago, MURKIEST.

June 2, 2014 at 12:00 AM

By: Fred Mitchell

CPS and Its Culture of Corruption

Great Job! No one has ever articulated the corruption that goes on inside CPS as well as you have. You are a Pulitzer Prize winner in my book.

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