MEDIA WATCH: CPS shuts down website in the middle of budget questions, free lunch scandals

Suddenly, on the morning of July 14, 2012, anyone who tried to visit the Website of Chicago Public Schools received the following message: "All CPS web sites are unavailable on Saturday, July 14th due to scheduled system maintenance. Thank you for your patience. Please try again later." Aside from the question of why the CPS website has to ever go "down" given all the money that has been invested in it, the failure of CPS to be providing information on line adds to the school system's credibility problems.

Once again, the ever-expanding CPS "Communications" department (which Substance reporters fondly call the "Ministry of Propaganda") has refused to send even the most routine press releases to Substance, so we are unable to provide additional coverage to this morning's Page One story in which both Chicago daily newspapers are reporting that CPS has suspended "26 current and former employees" (Tribune report, Page One) for falsifying lunch applications. Although the Tribune has been following this story since they first reported on the scandal months ago, the failure of CPS to provide the public with the names of those accused once again leaves the story tarring everyone with the same brush. As regular CPS fans and workers know, for decades CPS officials have tried to goose up the free lunch numbers (just one among many "data" frauds) because the number of forms is responsible for additional poverty money to a school. That was how, nearly 20 years ago, Amundsen High School, whose community had just begun gentrifying, had a higher percentage of "poor" students than DuSable High School, which was still serving the housing projects along the so-called "State Street Corridor." Knowing that officials would never actually audit the forms, Amundsen's principal ordered that every family be required to submit a form (and some sources told Substance that school officials filled out forms for families that refused to submit them).

Unaudited free lunch forms are not the only problems currently facing CPS, and it's still unclear to CPS workers whether the Inspector General will ever investigate corruption at the top while harassing teachers and other school workers "at the bottom."

The second problem with the closing of the CPS Website is that CPS still has not released the transcripts of the six budget hearings held on July 11. Yes, there were six, since each "hearing" was actually two hearings. In order to avoid holding extensive hearings on the school system's capital needs as required by law, CPS officials played a kind of rhetorical trick: They scheduled the "budget hearings" and the "capital budget hearings" at the same time (and at three simultaneous locations).

Until CPS provides the complete transcripts of each of those hearings (which were promised by CPS officials to be ready the next day), the public will have as much difficulty learning what happened at all six of the hearings as they do in learning what is actually in the newly recreated CPS "budget" (which was only available on line).

Just another day in the city whose mayor proclaims almost as often as his buddies at the Sun-Times put his picture on Page One that we have more "transparency" than ever.


July 14, 2012 at 9:58 AM

By: Anthony Smith

Rahm, you are so TRANSPARENT dude!

I second your request that the Inspector General investigate corruption at the top.

Hello Inspector General, please investigate corruption at the top, thank you very much!

The "transparency" that Boss Rahm always talks about has nothing to do with actually seeing how he runs the city council and owns nearly every alderman.

The "transparency" that wanna be King Rahmulus discusses regularly has nothing to do with actually seeing his schedule so that reporters can have some heads-up regarding what he is going to do and with whom.

The "transparecny" that Mayor Rhambo campaigned upon to get his seat of power has nothing to do with having reporters be able to actually ask him critical questions that would lead to the voters he represents actually finding out that our Mayor refuses to answer any critical questions on the grounds that they might incriminate him.

The "transparency" that the Rhamfather so gloriously wrapped around himself, (as if to declare to Patrick Fitzgerald: "nothing to find here, no corruption here, keep moving on, nothing to see, look over there, yeah that's it.") so that the darkness that he surrounds himself with regarding back room deals, shady deals, under the table deals, you get the point, is like Harry Potter's invisibility cloak.

The "transparency" that the Rhaminator doesn't seem to bring up as much anymore, is really about how transparent he has become.

"Look at the new boss, same as the old boss" EXCEPT that Mayor Daley actually knew how to connect with people, and groups. Mayor Daley actually knew how to compromise, and sometimes be respectful. He would actually meet with people, regular people, and civic groups, not just the MONEY DONORS that Rahm primarily hangs out with. No time to spend with the regular people, no sir,not for Rahm.

We can now all see, what many of us who followed his career before he was Mayor have knew already, that he is a big blowhard, a big bully, and a world class liar, who absolutely has to have his way on everything or by God you're gonna get it. Read: tyrant, totalitarian despot, communist leader, dictator for life, etc.

We can all see that Mayor Rahm enjoys lying, a lot, big and small: "Charter schools are the best schools" BIG LIE and he knew he was lying when he said it.

"I will have a transparent government" BIG LIE and he knew he was lying when he said it.

"Chicago Public schools have the shortest school day in the nation" BIG LIE and he knew he was lying when he said it.

"I will put a 1000 more police officers on the street" BIG LIE and he knew he was lying when he said it.

Nearly all of us figured he meant what he implied, that he would HIRE a 1000 more police officers to make our city streets safer, not pull officers off of years of desk duty to go into some of our roughest neighborhoods without the knowledge or expertise necessary to do a good job.

"It's for the children" for anything and everything from speed cameras to nearly legalizing pot" continuous BIG LIE after BIG LIE.

Rahm, you are so TRANSPARENT dude that it hurts. We can all see who you are and what you would do with more power, and GOD help us if you do actually rise to that station in life. God help us all!

But that will never happen!

How can I be so certain, you ask?

Because The Emperor has no clothes on!

Transparency, works both ways Rahm.

Anthony Smith

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