Byrd Bennett began conniving as soon as she arrived in Chicago... That 'history' claiming that Jean-Claude Brizard was ousted as CEO of CPS because he failed to stop the 2012 strike is just another City Hall disinformation campaign, one of Rahm Emanuel's Big Lies...

During the first year he presided over Chicago's public schools (via those he appointed to the Board of Education and as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Education Office of the nation's third largest school district) Rahm Emanuel utilized the services of his first appointed CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, as part of "Rahm's Rainbow" -- the visual proof that the mayor was practicing diversity. Above, Rahm Emanuel and Jean Claude Brizard stand in front of a massive press group as Rahm praises the Noble Network of Charter Schools at the Network's "Pritzker Campus" in December 2011. During such events, Rahm's media handlers assigned people to stand arrayed around the mayor so that the cameras always viewed and photographed the "diversity rainbow" that was part of the mayor's partly successful media strategy during the early part of his first term. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. As the records of the relationship between Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked second "Chief Executive Officer" for Chicago's public schools becomes more clear thanks to investigations by the Chicago Sun-Times and Substance, one thing is very very clear: Byrd Bennett arrived in Chicago as a "consultant" in March 2012 with more power than the then-CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard. Contrary to one of the many deceptive narratives that have been fed to Chicago by the Emanuel administration and its allies, Byrd Bennett was heading into the CEO job from the moment she arrived in Chicago, evan though at the time she was still working to undermine the public schools of Detroit.

On October 11, 2015, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that Byrd Bennett had been making significant demands on City Hall as she prepared to get the kickback that has led to her federal criminal indictment -- and guilty plea. On October 12, 2015, the Chicago Tribune reported on an equally intense attempt to gather the facts of the SUPES deal and activities at City Hall on behalf of the SUPES owners, who had been associates with Rahm Emanuel for some time (not yet revealed).

Both newspapers are reporting that Emanual and his associates at City Hall are stalling on the release of emails and other documents that will show in more detail the involvement of the mayor and his closest associates in the SUPES crimes.


Mayor's office withholds records on school contract scandal

John Chase, Jeff Coen and David HeinzmannContact Reporters Chicago Tribune, October 12, 2015

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office was more involved in a $20.5 million school contract with a now-indicted consultant than previously disclosed, public records indicate, but his administration has refused to release hundreds of emails that could provide a deeper understanding of how the deal came to be.

Emanuel and his aides have maintained that the mayor's office had nothing to do with the contract to provide leadership training for principals that is at the center of a federal bribery indictment against ex-schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the consulting firm where she once worked.

When asked in April if his administration had any role at all in the SUPES contract, Emanuel told reporters, "No, you obviously know that by all the information available. And so the answer to that is no."

Yet the mayor's office and schools officials have been in an ongoing struggle with the Tribune over reporters' public records requests that could bear directly on the controversy, withholding many emails for months before releasing them, several so heavily redacted that little more than the subject line and addresses remain.

The Emanuel administration has declined to provide about half of the roughly 1,000 emails requested. As part of that fight, the Tribune in June sued the city under the state Freedom of Information Act after the mayor's office redacted or withheld about two dozen emails emanating from Emanuel's office.

While much of the picture remains missing, the email logs and documents the administration did release show frequent communication among key Emanuel aides, Chicago school leaders and the heads of the SUPES Academy consulting firm in the months, weeks and days leading up to Emanuel's hand-picked school board awarding the contract in June 2013.

The consulting firm's ties date to the beginning of Emanuel's administration in 2011; in addition to recommending Byrd-Bennett, SUPES co-owner Gary Solomon helped recruit Emanuel's first schools CEO.

Specifically, the email logs indicate that key CPS officials and SUPES executives had numerous discussions about the SUPES firm and principal leadership training a crucial element of Emanuel's education agenda ahead of education meetings in the mayor's office in May 2013 and in June 2013, prior to the board vote. Those meetings included the mayor, his top education adviser Beth Swanson, Byrd-Bennett and top CPS officials involved in the SUPES discussions, according to copies of Emanuel's public calendar.

On Thursday, Byrd-Bennett and the co-owners of SUPES were indicted on charges that she steered them the no-bid business in return for promises of more than $2 million in kickbacks, other perks and a future job. Prosecutors alleged that Byrd-Bennett schemed with her SUPES colleagues even as she was joining CPS.

Much of the alleged scheming is laid out in the federal indictment by way of emails between Byrd-Bennett and Solomon. It's unclear what type of email accounts were involved and therefore hard to know whether the emails should have been turned over in response to Tribune requests for public records.

SUPES' work at CPS predated Byrd-Bennett's time as CEO. The firm had begun providing leadership training for school executives in 2012, months before she took over the reins at CPS.

But by early 2013, efforts to expand the program were growing, and emails obtained by the Tribune show SUPES' co-owners and CPS officials discussing how to secure more money to broaden the training. Some of those emails were exchanged on the same day in May that CPS officials were scheduled to meet with Emanuel. The emails often referenced the phrase "CELA," shorthand for the Chicago Executive Leadership Academy, an Emanuel-backed initiative to train school leaders.

In one email, the CPS official shepherding the SUPES contract, Alicia Winckler, received an update from a procurement officer about how much money had already been spent on SUPES, expressing concern about a budget "gap/shortfall" in the near future unless a new contract is approved. At almost the exact same time, Winckler was emailing SUPES' co-owners, Solomon and firm President Tom Vranas, with the subject line "Budget." The Tribune has not received that email.

Then just hours before the meeting with the mayor, Winckler sent an email to Robert Boik, a top aide to Byrd-Bennett, with the subject line "Mayor's Report DRAFT for Talent." As the "talent officer" for the district, Winckler headed the department responsible for principal recruitment and training. The administration has withheld the email containing that report.

Within hours, Boik was scheduled to attend the "Vision/Action plan" meeting in Emanuel's office with the mayor, Byrd-Bennett, Swanson, other top Emanuel aides and two members of the school board, David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz, according to the mayor's calendar.

About a month later there was another series of emails between key players prior to an education meeting with Emanuel.

The back-and-forth on one string in June was completely redacted by CPS except for the message Swanson wrote to Byrd-Bennett: "Getting my frustration out today via email!"

The subject line on that email was "Next wed." Because it is redacted it is hard to know what was discussed. But the following Wednesday, Emanuel was scheduled to meet with Swanson, Byrd-Bennett, school board members Ruiz and Vitale, the board chairman, according to the mayor's calendar.

Then the day of the meeting with the mayor two weeks before the board vote CPS officials forwarded around and discussed several SUPES-related emails, including one titled "SUPES Board report." School officials did not provide those emails to the Tribune, but that title is the same one used for the summary report to the school board outlining the no-bid contract.

In the final days leading up to the June 26 school board meeting, the mayor's office was involved in a flurry of communications with Byrd-Bennett and her top deputies about SUPES, according to email logs and the email records provided by the Emanuel administration. That included emails between SUPES co-owner Solomon and the contract's overseer at CPS, Winckler.

In an email thread titled "City Hall questions on SUPES," a CPS aide states, "The Mayor's Office has asked us for additional information on the SUPES board report." The questions included where the money is coming from and if there are any principals or others outside CPS who could speak favorably about the SUPES program, according to the email.

"There is some concern that we're spending a large sum on some principals while laying off others, and teachers," wrote Dave Miranda, a now former deputy spokesman for CPS. The email does not mention any concern about the no-bid nature of the deal or the ties between SUPES and Byrd-Bennett.

While Miranda's email touched off a burst of exchanges within CPS and to City Hall, Emanuel's office refused to provide related emails between Swanson and her boss, Emanuel chief of staff Lisa Schrader.

Among the first emails sent on the topic was from Becky Carroll, a longtime Emanuel aide who at the time was heading up CPS' communications office. She wrote, "I'm calling Lisa to explain," a possible reference to Schrader. Carroll declined to comment on the email chain when reached by the Tribune last week.

After more internal emails within CPS were exchanged, Byrd-Bennett sent a note only to Swanson, venting to her that she was being "second guessed" and micromanaged.

"I can not be second guessed like this...the level of micromanaging by people who have no track record and have not led or managed anything is in some ways insulting," Byrd-Bennett wrote.

"I wear all of the problemsno credit for anything positive and now everything info is micro questioned," Byrd-Bennett continued. "Either people think I can do this or.what do they want Can you call me?????"

Around the same time, Winckler wrote to Byrd-Bennett to inform her she would soon answer the questions and stated she would also call "B. Swanson," which Byrd-Bennett encourages her to do. The next morning, Winckler emailed Byrd-Bennett to say she called Swanson.

"Think we're good," Winckler wrote.

As those emails were shuttling back and forth, another email thread shows Solomon communicating regularly with Winckler, telling her Byrd-Bennett and Swanson were on the phone late into the night after the City Hall questions were raised.

"She was pissed," Solomon wrote of Byrd-Bennett.

Solomon followed up, asking if there had been any word back from City Hall. He said he understood Emanuel aide Swanson and Byrd-Bennett had spoken but added he wasn't sure where the school board chairman stood on the deal.

"Vitale is my concern," Solomon wrote.

At the board meeting the next day, Vitale and Ruiz were part of the school board's 6-0 vote to approve the SUPES contract without discussion.

"I don't recall talking to the mayor about the SUPES situation at any meeting," Vitale told the Tribune recently. Vitale said he did remember talking to Emanuel about school closings during that time frame; on May 22, the board had voted to close four dozen public schools.

Ruiz likewise told the Tribune he did not recall any discussion of SUPES in any meetings with Emanuel.

Schrader, who is no longer Emanuel's chief of staff, declined to answer questions about the events. But she said in an emailed statement that "it was our role to ask questions regarding proposed items, which we did in this case."

Asked if federal investigators had sought emails or interviews with anyone in the mayor's office, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said "no one from this office has been subpoenaed, nor has anyone been contacted or materials been requested."

Neither Emanuel, his aides nor his communications office would answer detailed Tribune questions based on the email and meeting records. Quinn said in a statement that the mayor "was not briefed on how CPS would contract for such services."

Emanuel said little about the matter Thursday in reacting to the indictments.

"I think when people serve the public, they should uphold the trust the public puts in them," Emanuel told reporters. "At least based on the details around the charges, that wasn't the case here."

Winckler and Boik did not return calls for comment.

Swanson declined to comment. Her attorney has said she cooperated with the federal investigation and was not a target.

A log of emails from the mayor's office showed Swanson, the mayor's education point person, sending or receiving SUPES-related messages more than a dozen times during the days before the board vote.

But Swanson's responses were not included in the documents turned over to the Tribune. The mayor's office has declined to release what emails it has in its possession from this chain, stating those emails are covered by an exemption in the state law for "preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated."

The mayor's office defended its redaction of some of the emails it did release on the grounds they contained personal information or would have been an invasion of the privacy of either the sender or recipient.

Federal prosecutors said Byrd-Bennett is cooperating with investigators and plans to plead guilty to the charges and testify if necessary. Solomon's attorney also said his client did not anticipate going to trial, a signal that he likely will plead guilty as well.


October 13, 2015 at 2:12 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Thank the Chicago Public Education Fund for SUPES

Why did Chicago Public Education Fund provide seed money 4 the SUPES canard, when every educator said SUPES was BS?

The Chicago Public Education Fund provided $380,000 of seed money to bring SUPES into CPS. Then, CPS gave SUPES 20 million in a no bid contract. All of which to say, either these private funders, the unelected school board, the Mayor etc are all asleep at the wheel or it's worse than that.

The fact remains, the Chicago Public Education Fund "legitimized" the illegitimate SUPES group before CPS handed the SUPES folks 20 million of our tax dollars.

The question is why????

October 13, 2015 at 2:16 PM

By: Mark Thompson

BBB and the Inspector General's Investigation

So here's my question. What was the result of the Inspector General's investigation of the Supes contract? Was it the IG who turned it over to the FBI or was there an independent complaint to the FBI? I know the CPS IG was corrupt under James Sullivan and appears to remain corrupt under the new clown, Nicolas Schuyler, who has ignored emails detailing how the Director of Investigations Linda Brown staged a false rape complaint against a teacher in retaliation for filing a lawsuit against the Board. I'm wondering as to why there was a large time gap between the IG's investigation and the FBI getting involved. I just can't imagine James Sullivan doing a legitimate investigation of BBB or anything that would make Rahm look bad. I'm working on a letter to legislators detailing the IG and law departments corruption. Claypool will never be successful in clearing out corruption until people like Schuyler, Brown, Ciesil, Colston, Wong, and Krieger are permanently eradicated from the CPS system.

October 13, 2015 at 2:32 PM

By: Rod Estvan

IG investigation and role of general counsel

Mark Thompson raises a more than legitimate question and it appears the IG's office was involved in the case. Mr. Fardon the DA announced the indictment of BBB along with John A. Brown, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Nicholas J. Schuler, Inspector General for the Chicago Public Schools along side of him. The public education system is harmed when a high-level insider chooses to line their pockets with public funds," CPS Inspector General Schuler said at the indictment announcement on October 8. "My office is committed to rooting out corruption at any level through joint investigations such as this one.


There was no indication that the then CPS General Counsel who signed off on the no bid contract as being legal was involved in going to the FBI. In fact the general counsel was subpoenaed by the Grand Jury.

Three CPS officials were subpoenaed: general counsel James Bebley, chief-of-staff Sherry Ulery, and Rosemary Herpel, executive director of leadership development.

October 13, 2015 at 2:45 PM

By: Mark Thompson

Nicholas Schuyler

Well, I disagree with Schuyler's statement that his office is committed to rooting out corruption at any level - as long as he has Linda Brown working for him. He has failed to investigate clear cut corruption allegations against Linda Brown when she was working under James Sullivan. I still would like to know how the FBI got involved and why it took over a year after the IG began "investigating."

It wouldn't surprise me at all if James Bebley knew what was going on. He was absolutely a corrupt piece of garbage as his acting predecessor Cheryl Colston.

October 13, 2015 at 4:34 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

IG's history of corruption

Since the Inspector General's office had a bent ex-cop (actually ex-sheriff's deputy) named Lemual Hogue working for him as an "investigator," I've warned people never -- how do you say NEVER!!! -- to go to the IG and expect anything but the reverse of your hopes. The IG has always been a director pipeline to the Boss, not to "justice." The most dramatic recent example is the BBB coverup, but during those same months (as the IG and General Counsel were trying desperately to cover up for BBB, SUPES, and others) the IG had assisted Arne Duncan, CPS officials, Rahm Emanuel, and the corrupt administration at Juarez High School do the Juarez cover up -- as opposed to the expose of grade changing and attendance rigging that Juarez delegate Manuel Bermudez had exposed. The reasons for the Juarez coverup? In one word -- Duncan. Arne went to Juarez to bring national attention to the "Juarez Miracle" in raising attendance and improving grades. Trouble was, all the "data" at that "data driven management" school had been rigged, as the whistle blowers at Juarez tried to show -- only to be persecuted. For more than 25 years, the IG has specialized in hurting whistle blowers and helping the cover ups. The year that changes, Substance will be the first to report it. The headline will be: "Honesty -- finally! -- at the CPS IG." I don't have that story yet, but will be glad to run it. Meanwhile, during the next three months we will get that screaming headline about the latest IG report, OMG! OMG! another 200 residency violations! Teachers reading porn of the library computers! A dozen or so chickenshit theives (even some stupid enough to get caught on video stealing classroom computers). Like the proverbial virgin in the whorehouse...

October 14, 2015 at 5:44 AM

By: Joyce Hutchens

The Board and Judge Edmond Chang

BBB's judge, Edmond Chang, who was appointed by Obama to the bench in 2010, is the same judge who the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed on March 24 of this year after I appealed his decision in a lawsuit I had against the Board for what turned out to be nearly six years because of his repeated, unwarranted continuances in my case. He is the first Asian-American judge in the Northern District of Illinois Court, and I alleged in my appeal that he illustrated "unbridled bias" in his ruling against me. Apparently, the 7th Circuit agreed, for I won the appeal pro se (without an attorney). Despite the fact that the Board had absolutely no documentation whatsoever to corroborate a single one of the nearly 30 lies they told on me, and despite the fact that I filed more than 1,000 documents in court which proved my managers were lying on me, and which also substantiated my claims against the Board, Chang ruled against me - first on the Board's motion for summary judgment and later on my motion for reconsideration which I had filed 15 months earlier. My appeal marked the first and only time Chang has been reversed by the Seventh Circuit, and I have been unable to identify any other case in which a pro se Appellant has won a lawsuit against the Board in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. I wrote both of my own required appellant briefs and argued my case against the Board's lawyer. Google the following: Hutchens v. Chicago Board of Education, 7th Circuit, to read the opinion of the three 7th Circuit judges which included Judge Richard Posner who has been described as "One of the most brilliant justices in American history" and who called the statements of the Board's witnesses in my lawsuit "A tissue of lies." The court's decision prompted dozens of blogs from law firms, educational institutions, HR associations and others which also can be viewed online by Googling the same thing.

My March 3, 2014 oral argument against the Board's attorney also can be heard online at

David beat TWO Goliaths.

October 15, 2015 at 8:57 AM

By: John Kugler

Union Dependence on Lawyers

Most Union leaders I have talked to in the USA, Canada and Mexico all agree that when lawyers are involved to enforce or negotiate a contract, the workers will always loose.

The reason is quite simple: a lawyer has no vested interest to win. A worker on the shop floor has no option to loose, he needs to win at all costs because it is his working conditions that are directly impacted by enforcing their own rights.

Lawyers litigate the law, workers enforce they work place rights. The power workers have, does not come from any book or Latin bullshit; it comes from the strength on the shop floor.

Congrats on your case. It should be used as a case study on how to win cases.

October 19, 2015 at 12:12 AM

By: Mark Thompson

Slow IG Supes Investigation Politically Motivated?

The issue for me is that the corrupt former IG James Sullivan began investigating the Supes deal in 2013, but no results were ever made public. Then suddenly after the mayor's election in 2015, the Fed's announce their investigation. It is my belief that one or two things happened. The IG, under Sullivan and later under Schuyler, deliberately withheld their knowledge of wrongdoing from the FBI until the mayor's election was over; or someone independently went to the FBI because the IG wasn't doing anything. I am now wondering if Sullivan's declination to continue as the IG was related to knowledge of criminal wrongdoing with the Supes contract but was encouraged by the Mayor's office to withhold this information from law enforcement until after the Mayoral election, which would be a violation of the IG statute. So did Schuyler deliberately withhold knowledge of criminal wrongdoing from the FBI until after the Mayoral election once he replaced Sullivan?; did Schuyler have no intention of ever doing a complete or proper investigation?; or did someone make an independent complaint to the FBI? Regardless, it appears BBB was paid an additional $250,000 plus salary because the investigation was slow-moving, which now appears to be deliberate for political reasons. All the more reason why an elected school board needs to be in place as soon as possible. Schuyler needs to be fired.

October 19, 2015 at 12:22 AM

By: Mark Thompson


Assuming Rahn or someone in the Mayor's office knew that the Supes deal involved criminal conduct prior to the election but had discouraged the IG from reporting it to law enforcement as required by law, it makes sense as to why Rahm will not release all emails related to the Supes deal. Rahm is hiding something.

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