Media Watch: Mayor, minions continue discrimination against Substance in press notifications

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his press managers continued their policy of discrimination against Substance and on September 15, when the Chicago Board of Education's Office of Communications failed to notify Substance that there would be several mayor opening of school events, causing Substance to miss the stories.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (above, center) has tried to ensure that his press conferences and meda events at public schools are not bothered with critical questions. Daley's Press Secretary, Jacqueline Heard, refuses to provide Substance with the daily press calendar that is regularly provided to reporters. Above, Daley appeared at a media event in October 2006 at Little Village High School. Behind Daley are (left) Alderman Patrick O'Connor and (right) Alderman Ricardo Muñoz. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.According to Malon Edwards of the Board's Office of Communications, the Chicago Board of Education does not inform the press of events involving the mayor at public schools. "We did not put out any material on those two events," Edwards told Substance on September 16.

The problem then arises when the Mayor's Press Secretary, Jacqueline Heard, continues to refuse to provide Substance with the daily calendar of mayoral events that is routinely distributed to the press in Chicago. For the past several years, despite repeated requests both verbally and in writing, Heard has refused to provide Substance with this information. On September 15, 2009, this refusal meant that Substance was unable to cover the dedication of two public schools. A call to the mayor's press office again got the runaround on September 16. A person identifying hereself as "Jasmine" (who refused to give her last name) took the information requesting that the mayor's media calendar be distributed routinely to Substance. "Jasmine" would not even provide Substance with the manner (e-mail, fax, other) in which the mayor's calendar is normally distributed to the press.

According to "Jasmine", the mayor's press office currently has a Press Secretary, a Deputy Press Secretary, and three "Press Assistants."

Since the new administration took over at CPS in January 2009, the large CPS Office of Communications has also refused to provide routine information to Substance. Monique Bond, who is Chief Officer, Communications, told Substance that calls should be done by e-mail, since Bond said she rarely takes phone calls.

Mayoral Press Secretary Jacqueline Heard (above, at Little Village High School three years ago) has refused to provide Substance with the daily media calendar prepared by the Mayor's press office. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.All staff people at CPS have been ordered by Ron Huberman to refer all press questions to Monique Bond. Monique Bond, in turn, ignores most of the questions.

On August 12, 2009, Substance requested from Monique Bond (by e-mail) the prepared text of comments by CEO Ron Huberman and "Chief Education Officer" Barbara Eason-Watkins on the proposed CPS budget, which was released that day. Substance reported on the hearings on the budget on August 17, August 18, and August 19, and on the Board of Education meeting on August 26, 2009, when the budget was approved without discussion or debate.

As of September 15, 2009, Ms. Bond has not provided those documents to Substance.

On August 29, 2009, Substance requested interviews with CEO Ron Huberman, Budget Director Christine Herzog, and Treasurer David Bryant regarding a story we were preparing on the investments CPS had in derivatives through Lehman Brothers Holdings, a New York investment bank that entered into bankruptcy on September 15, 2008. In the request for the interviews, Substance noted that CPS had gone into bankruptcy court in New York in the Lehman case, asking that the court reject a claim by the Lehman creditors against a debt in excess of $1 million that CPS allegedly owes in the Lehman matter.

As of September 15, 2009, Ms. Bond had not responded to those requests.

On September 3, 2009, Substance requested from Monique Bond (by e-mail) Power Point presentation made by CEO Ron Huberman to the August 26, 2009, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education regarding the proposed 2009 - 2010 budget. On the same date (September 3) Substance also requested a copy of the Power Point presentation that Mr. Huberman was having shown in the schools for teachers, the subject of which was Mr. Huberman's methods and key words for "data driven management."

As of September 15, 2009, Ms. Bond had not responded to those requests.

On September 4, 2009, by e-mail, Substance requested the prepared remarks from which Mr. Huberman spoke when he delivered his speech to the City Club of Chicago that day.

As of September 15, 2009, Ms. Bond had not responded to that request.

On September 16, 2009, Substance requested an interview with Mr. Huberman and Michael Scott, President of the Chicago Board of Education, on the transfer of the De La Cruz building to the UNO charter schools, and specifically on the meeting held with Alderman Danny Solis about that matter.

Prior to the mayor's appointment of Ron Huberman to be Chief Executive Officer of Chicago's Public Schools, the provision of information to the public had been improving. By the end of the years during which Arne Duncan served as CEO, copies of documents used by CPS officials (such as the prepared remarks for public events, which are generally provided to the officials and kept in CPS computers at the Office of Communications and elsewhere) were regularly provided. This enabled Substance to quote with an unrivaled degree of accuracy on many public events.

One of the other troubling developments in the Huberman administration is that Ron Huberman fired the person who had been handling Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in the Office of Communications. All requests are now being handled by the Board's Law Department, which has begun a systematic campaign to stall ever request, forcing the public to resort to legal action to acquire public information that is routinely supplied in every other school district in Illinois. 


September 17, 2009 at 5:13 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Editor. Editorial policies.

I just deleted a posting that appeared this morning to this thread because it was signed "Jacqueline Heard" and a check of its origin showed that the person doing the posting was not Jacqueline Heard. While we disagree with Ms. Heard about many things, as outlined above, we will not post information in her name that is not sent by her.

The posting included a reprint of an article from the Chicago Sun-Times which the Sun-Times has subsequently apologized for. Anyone who wishes to read the story, by Sun-Times reporter Frank Main, can locate it through any reasonable search engine without our help here.

Anyone who attempts to post using the name of someone else at "Comments" here at SubstanceNews will not only have the posting deleted, but may have all subsequent postings automatically deleted.

We do not mind anonymous comments here, but we will not permit posting falsely in the name of another person.

This is an expansion of the editing policy utilized here for Comments at this evolving site.

Careful readers will also notice that we have eliminated Comments for one article (from last February) that was attracting an unlimited number of juvenile, sexist, racist, and otherwise stupid comments. While we want people to be free to discuss the important matters we report, a continued abuse at any one story (in this particular case, the Walter Reed hearings story) will simply end all "Comments" to that piece. That article (Walter Reed wants to stay open, by Kristine Mayle, February 2009 Substance Home Page at http://www.substance articles.php? page=621§ion=Article) is still available, but comments are blocked. Why? Because we received more than 50 pornographic and otherwise infantile stuff to that story over a three month period) is still available, but without "comments."

Similarly, using someone else's name will eliminate the falsifier from commentary if the problem persists. Post in your own name, or with an obvious pseudonym. You may not use the name of a real person known widely to all of us as your pseudonym here. If your imagination fails, try deceased celebrities or something like that. Were we to receive a message from beyond the grave signed "Marlon Brando" or "Karl Marx", we think most readers would know it was a pseudonym.

We host this site to encourage accurate news and analysis of Chicago's public schools, and of education stories in general. It anticipates maturity on the part of everyone invited to participate.

Given the reality of Internet blovations, the current standard of "news" commentary (see, for example, Fox News), and local blogging realities, well...

Things will be constantly adapted. We're in a brave new world, and I can find how people dealt with this kinds of thing last time around (say, from 1450 to about 1800, after the printing press began revolutionizing information dissemination across Europe and then to the colonies of the European powers).

Anyway, have a good day.

George N. Schmidt

Editor, Substance

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