MEDIA WATCH: Three white guys and a Tribune reporter show WTTW's Chicago Week in Review colors

Anyone who wanted to know about what was really happening in the Chicago public schools or in the contract negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools certainly wouldn't have learned much by watching the pretentious "Chicago Week in Review" on WTTW (Chicago "public" TV) on Friday, July 20, 2012. The show featured three people from the Chicago Tribune and a guy from the Sun-Times who apparently believes he knows what the "public mind" is at this point. Not one teacher, not one person from the teachers' union was apparently available, at least according to the WTTW censors, to correct event the simplest factual errors as the pundits pundited.

Although a few people credited Tribune reporter Noreen Ahmed Ullah with a bit of insight into what is going on, since she simply repeats the CPS talking point about the major "deficit" facing CPS (and the bogeyman of massive layoffs if the CTU gets salary gains), the talking heads might have been listening to CPS propaganda chieftain Becky Carroll. One item of consensus among those who rule Chicago is that every year the CPS "deficit" claim is true, even though every year it proves grotesquely false.

Of course, that's to be expected, since the Tribune doesn't keep a reporter on the education beat for more than a year or two, so why would its current education reporters remember that the last time CPS pulled out its "doomsday" budget scenario was less than two years ago, when Ron Huberman (another memory lapse) told the Chicago Board of Education's seven members (those, also long departed) that CPS was facing such a budget crisis that CPS at a cost of $1 million in pinstripe patronage, had to establish a "line of credit" of $800 million because, according to Huberman, the Sun-Times, the Tribune, Catalyst, and the usual list of pundits, not only would CPS be out of "reserves" by June 30, but would be in the red. Hence, Huberman insisted that CPS be ready to borrow some of that $800 million.

It turned out, however, that CPS not only didn't need to dip into that "line of credit," but that by the end of that particular fiscal year (that's FY 2011), CPS had the largest reserves in its history! That's right. At the beginning of FY 2011 (in June 2010), then CPS "Chief Executive Officer" Ron Huberman told the then seven members of the Chicago Board of Education (and then mayor Richard M. Daley) that indeed, this time the sky was indeed falling. Broke, CPS would be. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The books, you see, don't get audited until 18 months after the latest screaming about the latest "deficit" is screamed. So when the Huberman books were finally audited and the audit released in December 2011, there was a brand new "Chief Executive Officer" (Jean Claude Brizard), and a brand new seven member Chicago Board of Education (all the Daley Board members were long gone).

And a brand new education beat team of reporters from the Tribune.

Apparently, nobody ever reads the audits that finally tell the truth about what actually had happened during that most recent fiscal year when the most recent Chicken Little "deficit" screams were being screamed.

Had they bothered to read that audit, which is available on line (it's called the CAFR), reporters would have learned that at the end of Ron Huberman's last Chicken Little "deficit" scream, CPS wound up with more than $700 million in its "unrestricted cash balance."


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