MEDIA WATCH: Euphemisms like 'Recess Facilitation Services' cannot camouflage Board's union-busting work as Rahm Emanuel's Board of Education approves spending tens of millions of dollars to break the upcoming Chicago Teachers Union strike

At least the main motion was honest (although it was passed in violation of the Open Meetings Act) and mentioned that the Chicago Board of Education planned some strike breaking and union busting. That resolution was called "Resolution Authorizing the Development and Implementation of a Plan to Provide Student and Family Support in the Event the Chicago Teachers Union Chooses to Strike" (Board Report 12-0822-RS10), which was not available on the public agenda, even at the beginning of the regular monthly meeting of the Chicago Board of Education on August 22, 2012. The most Orwellian of the Board's resolutions, however, approached paying $24 million for what the Board is calling "Recess Facilitation Services." Rarely has a new locution become so priceless so quickly.

Scabby the Rat faces towards the Chicago Board of Education's headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. in Chicago on the morning of August 22, 2012, two hours before the seven members of the Board appointed by former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel voted on "contingency plans" (at a cost of more than $24 million) to try and break the upcoming strike led by the 30,000-members of the Chicago Teachers Union. Substance photo by David Vance.But the Board of Education's smug plutocrats and bureaucrats had barely finished meeting when more than 750 very angry teachers and PSRPs began meeting at Lane Technical High School to begin the process of finalizing the strike of 2012. And that's where the real story was, even in Chicago where the corporate media mindlessness is about as great as it gets anywhere.

Instead, there were the usual disembodied quotations from the highest paid bureaucrat in the history of Chicago's Public Schools. It would be nice is some reporter (besides those of us at Substance) would mention the fact that every time Jean-Claude Becky Carroll Brizard speaks to the media (usually behind a veil, as in "in a statement..." because he is afraid to take questions) he has just racked up another day of not being at the bargaining table during the increasingly vicious collective bargaining sessions that CPS is orchestrating.

But the absence of the city's rookie schools chief from the most important work going on in the schools is not the only story being blacked out by Chicago's corporate version of reality (as in "news").

In the past 12 months, the Chicago Public Schools has voted to spend more than $1.1 million on one outside law firm (Franczek Radelet) to do the negotiations on behalf of CPS. Meanwhile, Brizard continues to be paid his unprecedented quarter million dollar per year salary as "Chief Executive Officer." (Plus an undisclosed bonus I have a hunch he claimed after Year One). And most of the time there is a story about the current situation in the schools, editors allow reporters to quote someone named Becky Carroll (who, ironically, attended Lane Tech back in her day), who before coming to CPS spent most of her career working for a guy named Rod Blagojevich.

As they say in Ghostbusters — What a town!

But let's get to both contingency plans the Board approved at its August 22, 2012 meeting. The main one (that was kept secret, by the way, until the end of the Board meeting, in violation of the Open Meetings Act) was the "contingency" plan. The other one was the one to spend $24 million for recess supervisions and stuff like that.

The math seems to be too hard for most corporate media outlets. The reporters seem to prefer to utilize bad metaphors instead of real numbers when discussing the latest CPS "deficit". Any publication that can gush in generalities or talk with a straight face about a "deficit" of "gazillions" (Catalyst, WBEZ radio) would have been laughed out of town back in the day when Kurt Vonnegut and Mike Royko were learning the trade at a place that had a sign on the wall that read: "If your mother says she loves you, check it out!"

But as we know, this is not Back in the Day — it's a New Day. Just ask the CPS Office of Communications or the Mayor's Press Office (both of which have increased enormously in size since the beginning of the Reign or Rahm).

But $24 million is about as hard to miss, I'd think, as tumescence in a convent. Yet it looks like it's been missed (for the second month in a row; the first iteration was $12 million in July). If, as Tim Cawley fairytaled again yesterday, the budget "crisis" is "dire", then why did CPS approve Board Report 12-0822-PR2 ("Approve Entering into Agreements with Various Vendors for Out of School Times and Recess Facilitation Services") to pay $24 million (and like to go up) for scab services once the strike begins. Not one of those plutorcratic hacks sitting up there during the meeting (which I covered for Substance) had any problem with "Recess Facilitation Services" (or any of the other union busting nonsense they are now committing to...).

One of the finer points of August 22, 2012, at 125 S. Clark St. was that the Rat finally made it out front. Rat and his cousins (yesterday's was the purple one; my preference is the yellow one, but they're a great breed) are going to spend some time on the road from now on. I can see them landing underneath the windows of that Fifth Floor office of one Rahm Emanuel, then over at the Prudential Building which currently houses the Race To The Top fan club. And finally, I would bet to the homes of each of the seven dwarfs, who voted yesterday to waste hundreds of millions of dollars they claim they don't have on a strike the city will remember for decades to come.


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