Subscript: Huberman puff piece in Chicago magazine takes hit from Reader reporter

Now and then something comes up in the "We couldn't have said it better so why try?" category.

On July 29, 2009, that prize was won by Chicago Reader reporter Ben Joravsky, who posted the following on the Reader's 'Clout City' blog:


Politics / Clout City / News

Rescue Me

Posted by Ben Joravsky on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Ten months ago, on September 15, 2008, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (above, center, eyes closed) staged a major media event at Young Elementary School on the West Side to proclaim that scores on the ISAT tests had once again gone "up." See chart on the right above for proof. At the time, Chicago's schools were run by "Chief Executive Officer" Arne Duncan, whom Daley thanked for making the schools better. At the media event, Daley was flanked by Alderman Isaac Carothers (partly hidden behind Daley) and Chicago Board of Education "Chief Officer of Research Evaluation and Accountability" Ginger Reynolds. Reynolds at that time ran the office that had prepared the "up" charts when Daley requested them and also prepared the rationalizations for the "Turnaround" of so-called "failing" schools on orders from Arne Duncan. Since September 15, 2008, it has been reported that Carothers was wearing a federal government wire as part of an investigation into official corruption in Chicago. Ginger Reynolds was fired by Daley's latest CEO, Ron Huberman, in June 2009. Huberman was named by Mayor Daley to replace former CEO Arne Duncan (who is now U.S. Secretary of Education in charge of getting what many called the "Chicago Plan" into every state in the USA) in January 2009. According to press reports in Chicago magazine and elsewhere (including Newsweek), Huberman inherited a "mess" from Arne Duncan. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.I just finished reading Chicago magazine's ode to Ron Huberman ['Numbers Man' Chicago magazine, August 2009]. The gist of the story is that he's a miracle worker sent in by Mayor Daley to rescue the public schools. Lucky us.

It seems to me that mayors named Daley have always been bringing in miracle workers to rescue the public schools. By my count, this particular Mayor Daley has rescued the public schools at least three other times: 1989, 1995, and 2001.

This time around he's bringing in Huberman to rescue the system from Arne Duncan, who was brought in to rescue it from Paul Vallas and Gery Chico, who were brought in to rescue it from—oh hell, even I can't remember.

Apparently, the schools need rescuing now more than ever. "What Huberman is walking into is a mess," reads a quote from the story. (Don't tell President Obama — he hired Duncan to rescue the Department of Education.)

Curiously, another quote calls Mayor Daley a "great judge of talent."

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley stands with then-Schools CEO Arne Duncan during the speeches at the September 15, 2008, announcement that test scores had once again gone up in Chicago's elementary schools thanks to the leadership of Daley and Duncan. Two months later, U.S. Senator Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, and a month after that Obama announced he was appointing Duncan to be U.S. Secretary of Education because of Duncan's success in making things go up in Chicago. But by January 2009, Daley had appointed his protegé Ron Huberman, who had been serving as head of the Chicago Transit Authority, to become the third "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools. Within six months, the media version of Huberman's job was that Huberman had to clean up the "mess" left behind by Duncan. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.I guess he's had a lot of experience. He's got to keep bringing in new talent to rescue the schools from the old talent he sent in to rescue the schools.

On September 15, 2008, Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan (above right) spoke briefly with 29th Ward Ald. Isaac Carothers outside Ella Flagg Young Elementary School on Chicago's West Side. Throughout his career as Chicago schools chief, Duncan cemented unprecedented ties between the city's politicians and Duncan's office. The clout of Chicago's aldermen in the school system had reached its peak when Duncan was hired by Barack Obama to head the U.S. Department of Education, and the few critics who were vocal worried that Chicago had returned to the days of the last Great Depression, when the city's most corrupt politicians had control over much of the school system.

In May 2009, the press reported that during the time he was talking with Duncan (above) Carothers was wearing a wire supplied to him by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's staff. In a May 29, 2009 story, the Chicago Sun-Times reported: "One of Mayor Daley's closest allies on the City Council has been wearing a wire and secretly recording 'public officials and real estate developers' for more than a year, a City Hall bombshell that was revealed in a federal court document Thursday."

"Ald. Isaac 'Ike' Carothers (29th) was charged Thursday with fraud and bribery for allegedly accepting $40,000 in home improvements and other gifts from a politically connected developer," the Sun-Times story continued, "...but he has been cooperating with the feds since April 2008, according to court papers...."

According to the federal government, Carothers acted as an informant for a year. "A government motion filed in February asked to keep under seal the indictment of the developer -- Calvin Boender -- until May," the Sun-Times continued. "It was unsealed Thursday.... The government filing says Carothers, 54, had been 'consensually recording conversations with individuals suspected of engaging in ongoing criminal conduct.'... U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald did not disclose Carothers' cooperation in a news conference Thursday. But it might explain why Carothers wasn't arrested the way another alderman -- Arenda Troutman -- was in 2007...." Troutman was also a close ally of Arne Duncan until she was arrested on corruption charges. Among the services Troutman provided to Duncan was a "community meeting" she hosted so that Duncan could push through the closing of Englewood High School four years ago. Troutman is now in federal prison. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.
Maybe he'll do a better job picking talent to run the Olympics.

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July 30, 2009 at 1:16 PM

By: Even If

Just Do It

Good job by Ben. The funniest line was "What Huberman is walking into is a mess," reads a quote from the story.("Don't tell President Obama — he hired Duncan to rescue the Department of Education.") It's funny because credentials never trump cronyism and politicians always pontificate that they do. But we have to do the exact opposite that Ben recommends, we have to tell the President, even though it will be carrying coals to Newcastle.

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