From Rent A Protesters to Hired Trolls? CPS flacks tried to use Substance comments attack parents and teachers who oppose school closings

In 2011 and 2012, it was paid protesters and rent-a-preachers deployed at the expense of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's supporters to push the "Longer School Day" until we caught up to them and even Chicago's corporate media had to take notice and out the scams. In 2013 it looks like marketing and propaganda hirelings are going to try and festoon the school closing hearings and then propagandize against the reporters and parents who oppose the administration's latest attacks on real public schools. In 2011 and 2012, the flacks were deployed behind the one-note symphony from Rahm Emanuel, the claim that Chicago had the nation's shortest public school day and that everyone wanted the "Longer School Day."

Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale (above, at the Board's December 2012 meeting) is a Chicago multi-millionaire who has reorganized the Board meetings to reduce or eliminate most public participation. Appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the Board in May 2011, he began his time on the Board by lying to the public about the size of the deficit CPS was facing at a special meeting in June 2011. The reason for the lie was that the Board on the mayor's orders wanted to rescind the four percent raise owed to union workers at CPS. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Fresh from that talking point, Emanuel deployed, for 2012 - 2013, the twin claims of the "Billion Dollar Deficit" and the "Underutilization Crisis." Both were supported by the same kinds of lies, often told but never verified, that had been used to launch the Longer School Day. And now that the Chicago Sun-Times is owned by a bunch of millionaires buddies of Emanuel, in addition to running a photograph of the mayor on the front page at least three times a week, the city's tabloid daily newspaper ignores dozens of real news stories from around the city's public schools and follows the Party Line as dished by the Mayor's Press Office and the CPS Office of Communications.

Apparently, City Hall is adding Internet trolls to the game this year.

No sooner had Substance published the Labor Beat report on the response to the attempt to undermine democracy at the January 28, 2013 school closing hearing at Truman College than we received comments attacking the reporters who videoptaped the sorry attempt by CPS to shut down its own meeting and then attacked the parents and teachers who are opposing the "Underutilization Crisis" scam of 2013.

Substance's comment policy, which is made clear when anyone goes to post a comment, is that a person making a comment has to give our readers their real name -- first name and last name. When we suspect that we are dealing with a pseudonym or a troll, we temporarily remove the comment and write an email to the email address supposedly of the "person" doing the comment asking for further verification of identity. That save our readers a lot of reading. Readers who want to read trolls, hacks and cowards commenting about CPS affairs can always go to Catalyst and District, both of which are regularly spammed by CPS apologists and those in the pay of City Hall and the mayor's various front groups.

Following the almost instantaneous receipt of two emails, we sent the following message and temporarily deleted the comments:

February 1, 2013

Hello "Joe Rocks" and "Jeff Sanders"

Please verify your existence by sending us your daytime phone address. Our readers have suggested that both of you are the same troll and that your comments to were not made by real people, but by paid propagandists for the CPS and City Hall offices of dysfunction and disinformation. If indeed you gave us your real names, as required by our policies, please also indicate for our readers' enlightenment for whom you work.

In the meantime, we've removed your "comments."

Have a nice night,

George Schmidt, Editor


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