Chicago Teachers Union LEAD dinner features endorsement of Chuy Garcia for mayor, reiterates support for Pat Quinn

Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia speaking to the Chicago Teachers Union LEAD dinner on October 31, 2014. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.More than 1,000 participants in the annual Chicago Teachers Union's LEAD dinner learned on October 31, 2014 that the union's leadership is endorsing Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for mayor. Garcia, whose candidacy was announced five days before the annual CTU event, was the keynote speaker before the crowd at the Plumbers Hall at 1340 W. Washington St. The theme of the LEAD (Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner) was "Unity is Power."

The surprise announcement came a day after the union issued a press release saying that Garcia had been endorsed by the union's "PAC-Leg" committee, which according to statements during the LEAD dinner met quickly during the week. A video of CTU President Karen Lewis, who is presently on a sick leave due to a serious illness, was featured during the event. Because of her illness, Lewis had ended her own run for mayor, which had generated a great deal of enthusiasm among union members and others. Lewis told those at the LEAD dinner that she is endorsing Garcia. The You Tube version of the video, two minutes long, is at

Others who spoke to the LEAD dinner included Interim CTU President Jesse Sharkey, who is leading the union in Lewis's absence, and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who had been listed as the union's featured speaker until the last-minute announcement about the Garcia endorsement. Additional speakers included Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Congressman Danny Davis.

CTU organizer Brandon Johnson MC'd the event.

A few hours before the LEAD began, the CTU issued a press release announcing that Karen Lewis had made a videotape to speak publicly for the first time since her surgery earlier in the month. The URL for the press release and video is:

The complete text of the press release is here:

CTU President Karen Lewis Endorses Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for Mayor of Chicago

CHICAGOIn her first videotaped appearance since surgery earlier this month, CTU President Karen Lewis endorses Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia for mayor of Chicago. "Chuy is a committed and effective public servant, and has been for the last 30 years," Lewis said, calling Garcia a "consensus builder...who will work for all of our citizens."

The Karen Lewis video endorsing Chuy Garcia was shown during the LEAD dinner. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.Garcia will be the keynote speaker at tonight's 2014 Legislators and Educators Appreciation Dinner. A 30-year veteran of Chicago politics, Garcia was elected to the Chicago City Council as alderman of the 22nd Ward in 1986, where he helped enact progressive legislation as a reformer and supporter of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1992, he became the first-ever Mexican-American elected to the Illinois Senate, where he served two terms and pushed forward a broad range of legislation to benefit working families.

The "keynote" by Garcia came at the last minute. Earlier, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn was announced as the keynote. Other featured speakers in the earlier announcement were Randi Weingarten and Danny Davis.

Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the invocation at the beginning of the event.

An earlier CTU email teased the story to life by announcing that Karen Lewis would "speak" at the LEAD. Apparently, the early email noting that Karen Lewis would "speak" was designed to get as many reporters to the event as possible. The URL for the earlier announcement is:

CTU President Karen Lewis to Make Special Appearance at Tonights Legislators and Educators Appreciation Dinner

CHICAGOChicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis will be among the speakers at tonights 2014 Legislators and Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD) at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington Blvd. This annual event, organized by the CTU Political Action/Legislative Committee, provides an opportunity for rank and file members to engage elected officials and discuss the conditions in Chicagos public schools and the Unions fight for the city that Chicagos students deserve.

Cook County Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia will be the keynote speaker at 2014 LEAD. A 30-year veteran of Chicago politics, Garcia was elected to the Chicago City Council as alderman of the 22nd Ward in 1986, where he helped enact progressive legislation as a reformer and supporter of Mayor Harold Washington. In 1992, he became the first-ever Mexican-American elected to the Illinois Senate, where he served two terms and pushed forward a broad range of legislation to benefit working families.

Among the speakers joining Garcia and President Lewis at 2014 LEAD are Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Congressman Danny Davis.

WHO: Chicago Teachers Union active and retiree members, officers, administration and staff; community partners and allies; and elected officials.

WHAT: 2014 Legislators Educators Appreciation Dinner (LEAD)

WHEN: Friday, October 31, 2014, at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Plumbers Hall, 1344 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago

Acting Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey introduced the speakers at the October 31 LEAD dinner. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.Two programs were distributed for the LEAD. The traditional program, "Unity Is Power," was in the format used by the union for the LEAD programs for decades. It included dozens of ads from supporters of the union.

A second program indicating the cult of personality that is currently undermining democracy in the CTU less that five years after the upset election of the CORE slate headed by Karen Lewis (June 2010) was entitled "Tonight's Stars." "Tonight's Stars" featured promotional profiles of Jesus Chuy Garcia, Randi Weingarten, Danny Davis, Pat Quinn, Jacqueline Collins (a State Senator) and Emanuel "Chris" Welch (a State Rep). The "Stars" also included three teachers who had led a teacher boycott of the now-defunct ISAT test during the citywide parent Opt Out movement against the ISAT last year. Those "Anchor Awardees" were Sarah Chambers, Anne Carlson, and Juan Gonzalez.

"Pioneer Awardees" were retired teachers Tom Lalagos and James Stewart. For the fourth year in a row, the PAC committee that determines who gets these awards continued the blacklist of the most prominent retiree leader of the anti-testing movement and within CORE and the union (this reporter). The irony of that blacklist is that by the time of the 2014 LEAD dinner, the CTU was endorsing a candidate for lieutenant governor (Paul Vallas, running with Pat Quinn; you can't vote "Quinn for Governor" without voting for Vallas) who had begun the blacklist in 1999 and 2000 with the infamous million dollar copyright infringement lawsuit against Substance.


I am convinced the city is going in the wrong direction and that it needs real leadership that is both accountable and accessible.

Chicago needs a mayor who has the moral courage to do whats right for all of the city, she said. That is why I am throwing my full support behind Jesus Chuy Garcia.

Chuy is a committed and faithful public servant and has been for the last 30 years, she said in which she addresses the camera straight on and in profile.

Chuy is a consensus-builder and a man of the people. If he is elected as mayor, I know he will work for all of our citizens, not just the corporate elite and the special interests who seek to privatize our public assets. Chuy is the right leader for the right time to move our city forward. South Side, West Side, North Side, everybody lets support the bigger man.

The last "Star" listed in the program was Katelyn Johnson, who works with Action Now.


November 1, 2014 at 6:23 PM

By: Jim Vail


I really am amazed that Karen Lewis endorsed Chuy Garcia for mayor. CTU delegates are the ones who decide who gets endorsed. The PAC committee and executive board make recommendations for endorsements (not endorsements!), and then the delegates vote on the endorsement. The argument may be made that she 'personally' endorsed this guy, and not the CTU. But she is the CTU in all reality. When I asked Karen at an HOD meeting last year to promise not to endorse the democrats because of the horrible attack on our pensions, she told me she doesn't make endorsements, the delegates do.

November 1, 2014 at 6:53 PM

By: Keith Plum

Karen Lewis' endorsement of Garcia

Jim, I saw the video twice, and I don't remember Karen stating she was endorsing Garcia on behalf of the CTU. And in all reality, the CTU is the CTU. Karen's endorsement is just that, Karen's personal endorsement.

November 1, 2014 at 7:42 PM

By: George Schmidt

CTU endorsement of Garcia is real

Brother Plum, it's time to reject the doubletalk along with the double-dealing. As i've reported -- and will be repotring -- the Chicago Teachers Union -- THE UNION --sent out two press releases about the Garcia endorsement. The first, which said that Karen Lewis would "appear" at the LEAD, was to lure as many TV cameras as possible to what otherwise would be another "Ho Hum" political story. The second one said that Chuy was the main speaker and was being supported. Thee is no way honestly to play hair splitting games with this. As I reported before LEAD, it was -- and is until the Executive Board and HOD meet -- the "CTU d'etat. The "PAC-Leg" committee (which should by the wyu go back to being two committees, since the jobs are distinct) has taken upon itself to speak in the voice of the union's 29,000 (not 30,000 by the way; accuracy is getting a trial from the CTU's people of late) members. That was a hijacking of the democracy we have worked so hard to build -- and which is the reason why the "CORE Team" (which includes many of us) is today in power. The Executive Board meets on Monday, November 3, some (not many) CTU members will be out with petitions for the "elected [er,what about this "representative" thingy?] school board referendum on Election Day (while the union's backing Paul Vallas for Lieutenant Governor, among other stuff) and the the House of Delegates meets Wednesday. If the democracy that got CORE elected in June 2010 is still of value (and, as Jim Vail reports, if Karen isn't just roubletalking when she uses that word today), then the House of Delegates will vote to NOT endorse any candidate until after November 24 (when we actually know who is on the ballot) and after the HOD and members get to hear from ALL the candidates (as we did in December 2010). The basic rule of thumb probably should be that you don't give the enormous power over the so-called "PAC" to people who have never voted in a Chicago election, or whose conflicts of interest are as glaring as a nun in a whorehouse.

November 2, 2014 at 3:23 AM

By: Keith Plum

Lewis endorsement

I hope I'm not splitting hairs. Nothing would sadden me more than to see our Union turn its back on democracy.

November 4, 2014 at 9:59 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Let's Honor George Schmidt Already

I know that this union leadership has given Pioneer Awards for emerging leaders to fairly new as well as somewhat more seasoned activists. However, it has been a grave oversight that George Schmidt has not been honored for his outstanding union activism in so many spheres: publishing the CASE which destroyed that exam, as well as his career--the first knell in the anti-testing movement; running for union offices and contesting the inadequacies of previous administrations; publishing Substance newspaper for 40 years (now on line)that gives teachers hope and insight--despite so many personal and monetary sacrifices. He presently runs a workshop on the union/board contract for union delegates and teachers struggling to enforce it; works on the steering committee of CORE, the leadership caucus of the union; and he's getting ready once again for the fundraiser at Second City that he's been organizing for decades. Somebody--please acknowledge visibly such dedication and his body of work and lifetime achievement!

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