No hearings at all scheduled for the North Side of Chicago... Mayor, CPS officials evade law in scheduling 'hearings' on the 2012 - 2013 school budget

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis spoke on August 10, 2011, at the CPS budget hearing held at Lane Technical High School (where Lewis had taught chemistry until her June 2010 election as president of the union). The crowd at Lane Tech that night exceeded 200 people, of whom more than 35 spoke, and included several public officials. In order to undermine the ability of the public to participate in the budget hearings, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered his CPS officials to schedule the hearings simultanously on one night, ignore the North Side, and ensure that copies of the budget are almost impossible for the average citizen to find at libraries or public schools. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. After telling the public that they would be holding the hearings on their proposed budget in June, as required by law, and then simply ignoring the June deadline, CPS officials announced on Friday, July 7, 2012, that the 2012 hearings would not be held in Chicago's public schools, and that the hearings would be organized to prevent the public from participating in the budget process at all. Instead of hearings on three successive nights, as had been the case for decades, the administration appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has scheduled the hearings simultaneously on one night. Instead of holding the hearings in the city's public schools, CPS has decided to hold them at the City Colleges instead. And instead of providing the maximum amount of information, including printed copies of the budget, to aldermen, other public officials, and the public, CPS officials have basically hidden most of the information that had previously been available from the public.

But all the time, CPS is claiming, in carefully selected private press briefings, that it is being more "transparent" than ever.

One of the most important rules in understanding the rhetoric of the Rahm Emanuel administration is that in this Alice in Wonderland version of reality, always know that the opposite of what they say is closest to the truth. That's clear again in the cynical way in which Emanuel's appointed school officials have released their proposed budget for FY 2013 (the 2012 - 2013 school year) and in what they are not releasing.

The crowd assembling at Lane Tech High School for the first of three nights of hearings on the CPS budget on August 10, 2011, eventually grew to more than 200 people. The first night of the annual budget hearings, whether they took place in June (as they did through 2006) or in August (as they did in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011) was always on the North Side, followed by hearings on the West Side and then the South Side. In order to keep down public participation in the 2012 budget process, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered his CPS officials to schedule the hearings simultaneously away from the city's public schools and to avoid the North Side completely. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.First, the budget hearing schedules. For the first time in history, Chicago Public Schools is (a) not holding the hearings on the Chicago Public Schools budget in Chicago public schools and (b) not holding the hearings on separate days so that the public could maximize attendance and participation. The "budget" that is available (on line; not in print) is also the flimsiest version of things ever provided to the public prior to the hearings.

The hearings will supposedly take place On Wednesday, July 11, 2012, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The "hearings" on the proposed budget will be held simultaneously at the following Community Colleges locations:

Malcolm X College - Bruce K. Hayde Center, 1900 W. Van Buren

Kennedy-King College - in the Great Hall, 740 W. 63rd Street

Richard J. Daley College - in the Theater, 7500 S. Pulaski

On the second night of the hearings in August 2011, more than 200 people showed up at Westinghouse High School, and again more than 30 testified (including Zulma Ortia and Susan Zupan, shown at right in the photo above). In July 2012, CPS officials have ordered that the hearings avoid the public schools and be held simultaneously on one night to deliberately avoid public accountability and public participation. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.After several years of hearings on the North Side, CPS officials have decided not to hold the opening day of the hearings at Lane Technical High School, where they have taken place for a long long time. The reason, according to critics, is that CPS officials think that the organized parents, teachers and students on the North Side will not be able to get to the West Side for the Malcolm X hearing. CPS officials are also planning to have very tight Community Colleges security during the hearings at Malcolm X, Kennedy-King, and Daley. The entire schedule is designed to thwart public participation.

Additionally, CPS officials are reportedly claiming that the budget hearings on July 11 will also constitute the "capital budget" hearings required under the Illinois Facilities law.


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