BOARDWATCH: Chicago Teachers Union recording secretary leads dozens of speakers demanding arbitration against the 'toxic swaps'

[Editor's Note: Once again, Substance's BOARDWATCH feature is publishing the remarks prepared and delivered by the speakers at the monthly meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. The meeting of November 19, 2014 saw more than 500 people present for the meeting, which was held in the auditorium at Westinghouse High School. The maximum 60 people signed up to speak, and no one knows how many would have signed up had not the Board stopped allowing people to sign up when the number reached 60. Because the meeting was held in the evening and at a community location, most of those who signed up actually spoke, and Substance asked most of them to provide us with their remarks so our record here and into the future would reflect what actually was brought before the Board. The following material was prepared by Michael Brunson, Recording Secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union, delivered on behalf of the CTU, and provided to Substance by him. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

Chicago Teachers Union Recording Secretary Michael Brunson, above, spoke to the Board of Education at its November 19, 2014 meeting demanding that the Board ask for arbitration on the swap deals. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.CTU Officer�s Speech to the Chicago Board of Education November 19, 2014

Last week the Tribune published a few articles describing the interest swap agreements that the District paired with $1 billion dollars� worth of securities issued from 2003 � 2007. They calculated that CPS will overpay by $100 million over the life of the contract. That is a VERY conservative estimate I might add.

Our analysts calculate a loss of $200 million so far, to extend to $400 million over the life of the contracts. That translates to the jobs of over,000 educators � and that�s just CPS. The City of Chicago is on the hook for more than $400 million dollars in interest rate swap payments � but that�s another story.

When this Board first met in 2011, CTU members raised the issue of interest rate swaps. You were presented with individual pledge forms to commit yourselves to renegotiate the swap deals and ask the banks to return the $120 million in profits made off the backs of our students, our educators, our schools, and our communities. It was submitted to you on in June of 2011.

In the midst of paying all these unnecessary interest funds to the bankers CPS has laid off and reshuffled thousands of educators, shut down 50 neighborhood schools, opened more than 40 charters, slashed school budgets; and only 50% of our schools have libraries with librarians ... and the list goes on.

The pledge that the Chicago Teachers Union asked members of the Chicago Board of Education to make when the Rahm Emanuel Board took office in June 2011. The members of the Board have since refused to even try to bring more dollars into the system by challenging the "toxic swaps" and opposing the use of TIFs for private sector boondoggles like the McCormick Place-DePaul deal.But, as they say, �let move forward�.

� Baldwin County Alabama

� Oakland and Los Angeles California

� Detroit Michigan

These places have arbitrated and successfully pressured the big banks to end their toxic swap deals.

You can do the same. Go get that money! We will back you on this. Our students and parents will back you on this. The citizens of this city will back you on this. You have a chance to flip this thing, become heroes, become real models for real change and set an example for the city of Chicago to follow by renegotiating.

So I strongly encourage you to stop the bleeding. Renegotiate the interest rate swaps. End the payments. Demand a refund and reinvest that money in our schools!

Again, I submit the original pledge forms to you from June of 2011.

Michael E. Brunson CTU Recording Secretary


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