American Eulogy

Tattered-American-Flag-Distress
Something changed. What changed? Where did America steer off the cliff into the abyss? On the Left it is fully the fault of Reagan and the Corporations. On the Right, the demons are the unions and welfare recipients. You could drive a whole nation through that gap. Neither of them fully answers the question.

I was recollecting the other day on my first job. 1978, a week before my 16th birthday I was hired to bag groceries at a Jewel Food Store in Romeoville, Illinois. Romeoville was hardly 15,000 people at the time, surrounded on three sides by farm fields. 3 years before my parents purchased a modest 3 bedroom, one incredibly small and overworked bathroom, single story ranch with their three sons for $36 thousand at 8% interest. My father, working regular by exhausting 12 hour shifts at a Union aluminum plant, as well as a part time job as a volunteer firefighter brought home all total around $20,000. With a certain latent anxiousness, my mother relates that without that overtime and the part time job as firefighter the family would not have been able to remain in that house.

It was a very different country in 1978. As part of my orientation at my new job, a Union position, by the way, paying a grand total of $3.35 an hour, I was introduced to the various department managers. The produce manager, a tall, studious gentleman, with military-trimmed blond hair and dark framed glasses was able to support his family on what he made at Jewel. Was he well off? No, but like my father, he made enough to sustain the family. I buddied up to a sweet woman named Sylvia who was the most senior checker. A widow, she could afford to support herself and two kids on a single salary. Those positions are, for the most part, gone now. They certainly do not pay a wage that could adequately support a family. Recently, we had someone on the show working a full time job who found it necessary in order to survive to also require food stamps.

Where did that country go? What happened? Someone got rich. It wasn’t the produce manager, or Sylvia. The wages for their positions have stagnated or grown at rates which have not kept pace at all with the economy. Gas stations, which once employed one or more attendants who would pump gas, clean windows and mirrors, check tire pressure and oil are now replaced by a single minimum wage worker behind a counter, while you do all the work.

Poverty rates in America. The Welfare system began in the 1930s, the war on poverty in the mid Sixties had a positive effect.

Poverty rates in America. The Welfare system began in the 1930s, the war on poverty in the mid Sixties had a positive effect.

The numbers are telling and heartbreaking. More than that, they reveal the misconceptions too eagerly fostered and promoted by a media increasingly used as a public relations tool for government, industry and the opulently wealthy. It isn’t all their fault, like some sort of alien invasion or takeover. The average American shares some guilt, but more on who and how much each of us is to blame in a moment.

Interesting, that when I began researching this piece I got many of the same responses over and over again. Wages were predominant. They have not kept pace against inflation or against CEO pay. Since 1950 CEO pay is up 1000 against employee pay. When I started that first job in 1978 the ratio was 42 to 1. Today it is more than 150 to 1. By contrast, minimum wages in this country have actually reversed when adjusted for inflation. If they had kept pace with inflation those wages would be around $17 an hour.

Apartment prices have more than doubled in that period, while wages have not. The median price for an apartment in Edgewater, not far from where I live, is over $1000, while a full time minimum wage job, the largest growing number of available jobs nets, before taxes, about 1400 per month. Through in a couple tins of tuna and a loaf of white bread for the month, the bill for that one light bulb you can afford to burn to open the tuna, and a bus pass to get to a job that doesn’t support you, and you are already well past your actual take home pay. Want to live in a safer neighborhood in the city? Mama better be sending you a check every month.

It isn’t the welfare state. As the picture shows, the war on poverty has actually had a substantial effect. Until the crisis of 2008, a massive scheme to loot the treasury (No ski masks and not a shot fired) for which no one was even given a stern talking to, the number of people living in poverty had continued to decline. It’s higher and growing now, because those with less assets bore the brunt of the crime. Nor is it the fault of unions. As the market increased and the economy shifted from manufacturing to service union membership fell to a negligible rate from its high of a still underwhelming 33% in the 1950s, or as many call it: The good ole days. Declining over the next 2 decades, membership increased slightly to about 29% at the end of the Carter administration. From there the attack on unions by Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama, as well as rhetoric rising in direct relation to the consolidation of media by corporate interests directly aligned with government drove union membership to the current 7 or 8%.

Union wages have not kept pace either. Union members, the very few that remain had instead taken more and more concessions, including reductions in pay. Loss of 401ks, reductions in benefits and even elimination of retirements, as in the case of the United Airlines Bankruptcy in 2001. What unions have done is set standards of wages and benefits defining America’s middle class. At less than 10% of the workforce, there isn’t much more they could do. It certainly doesn’t put that great a pressure on the real economy to make a difference. Union wages only account for less than 1/7 of the total income for American workers.union

Tax rates certainly are not the whole story. The Left is wrong to believe taxing the wealthy is the only answer. It is part of the answer. Manufacturing and innovation, both of which have been virtually eradicated in America and shipped overseas is a larger piece of the puzzle. Trade reform helps to stop the bleeding. Corporate taxes, as seen here in comparison to individual taxes are certainly in need of reform. The government continues paying massive amounts of money, far eclipsing so-called welfare and food stamps, to already profitable companies, like Exelon and the oil industry.u-s-federal-government-revenue-source

State, local and federal subsidies, tax breaks and tax forgiveness to companies in the US nears $1 trillion annually, and you are asked to tighten your belt! The largest growing demographic in Washington DC are lobbyists. Under Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who promise reform and called previous governors corrupt, has seen an explosion in the number of corporate lobbyists. The biggest lobbying concern is led by an organization led by his wife, Diana.

So the question remains; what happened to America? If the good old days were the 1950s, as we are told constantly, how come unions were bigger then and the economy greater. There were far more people living in poverty in America. Somebody got paid, and it wasn’t the poor and working class. They got cut. Question is, who did the cutting and what was the result? A better America, or a weaker America. Something was stolen. Somebody isn’t telling us the truth.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Stumping with Chuy Garcia

Rogers Park, January 12- I can almost hear my father saying as to whether Jesus “Chuy” Garcia could do better than incumbent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Well, he couldn’t do any worse.” That might not be the best reason to vote out the incumbent, and depending upon who one asks, there are widely variable views on the Emanuel administration. That’s because it has succeeded in concealing an unprecedented disaster in Chicago. The destruction of the south and west sides in particular in the wake of the foreclosure crisis and the administration’s policy of bulldozing rather than revitalizing neighborhoods rivals the destruction of the Great Chicago Fire. chuy1

Select neighborhoods, primarily in more affluent north side areas have been appeased with landscaping, new parks and a virtual absence of the scourge of Red Light and Speed cameras. Jefferson Park, for example, home to a substantial number of city workers and police officers is nearly devoid of any such cameras, except 3 speed cameras bracketing a neighborhood park. The south, southwest and west sides are infested with these abusive and predatory back door tax mechanisms. Those same neighborhoods, most often Black and predominantly Latino also curiously have found themselves suspiciously overlooked for beatification, such as those lusciously horticultured center islands, and have been thoroughly abandoned both from infrastructure improvement(or upkeep) and business investment. Through neglect and dis-investment these hidden-in-plain-sight neighborhoods have become blighted.

Schools, likewise, have been allowed to whither; set up to fail so that the administration can more easily make its case for crony run and owned charter schools. As for crime, Rahm has been a hindrance rather than a resource. With violent crime down nationally, the intransigent nature of crime and hopelessness in neighborhoods like Englewood and Woodlawn can be tied directly to those atrophied communities under the Emanuel Administration. His policies have driven a deep wedge between the trust of the community and the police.

Most egregious, what should be most unforgivable to taxpayers and voters has been Rahm’s party favors for rich donors and friends from the mysterious TIF fund. TIFs, or Tax Increment Financing, are skimmed from property taxes and thrown into a slush fund under the control of the mayor, and with little or no oversight. They were designed as a redevelopment fund. Instead, it seems to have become a grab bag for the mayor to bestow the taxpayer’s hard-earned money upon the already wealthy. Recipients of TIF funds, are, among others, Target, Coca Cola, United Airlines for their move from Elk Grove Village to the Willis tower, Hyatt which is owned by Emanuel friend and supporter, billionaire Penny Pritzker’s family, and millions to Milwaukee-based Mariano’s grocery chain. The powerful and wealthy line up and schmooze for these cash gifts.

But this is less about Rahm Emanuel but more about the man with the best opportunity to challenge him: Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the heir apparent to former candidate and Chicago teacher’s Union president Karen Lewis. With a steady snow falling outside the windows of this modest northwest side condominium more than 40 supporters, would-be supporters and curious neighbors from across Rogers Park gathered to hear Garcia’s plan for turning the city from a machine run cash machine for the wealthy and powerful and make it more about a functional community that serves all of the people. Garcia, shedding his jacket spoke to those gathered with a conversational and comfortable sense of urgency.chuy

Garcia, a former Cook County commissioner, proposes a moratorium on TIFs as well as red light cameras. He laid out a plan for revitalizing schools and neighborhoods and discussed his proposal of having a graduated income tax. Taking a longer and broader perspective on the mayoral election by laying out who should represent Chicago over issues such as infrastructure, immigration and even the Latino vote in the South for the 2015 Democratic national convention. Throughout the hour and ten minute long meet and greet Garcia seemed to make a stronger case for small business and working families in stark contrast to the actions and practice of the Mayor.

But the challenge for Garcia may be in simply getting out the vote. Emanuel may be banking on voter apathy, but the key to this election lies in the Hispanic and Black communities, and that’s where Garcia may find his greatest advantage. Emanuel’s weak spot is education and schools, and that’s where Garcia concentrated much of his attention before this mixed audience. Likely this race will end up being between Garcia and Emanuel.

“Why people have given up on public schools,” he said, “we’ve been set up to expect bad schools.”

Emanuel has been abundantly transparent in his support for corporate charter schools to the detriment of public schools, allowing neighborhood schools to wither and die while pouring money and support into charter schools whose records of achievement are arguable. Emanuel closed 50 neglected CPS schools in poor neighborhoods and opened some 50 charter schools in more affluent areas of the city. The loss of a school in a neighborhood means a loss of that neighborhood’s ability to function, support local business, deter crime and generate tax revenue. Garcia is an advocate for public schools.

“I’m a Saint Rita’s boy, I graduated from UIC and was the first in my family to graduate college. I learned to speak English in CPS.”

Emanuel is also vulnerable with Latino and Black voters. Both groups were reluctant to come out for the midterm elections, likely because candidates condescended to or ignored those communities. In short, the candidates offered only more of the same: disenfranchisement, abandonment and disengagement. Of the two, the black vote may be the most difficult, but both communities represent more than 60% of Chicago voters. Garcia expressed a priority in engaging the Latino vote and feels that he is uniquely qualified to make that happen. Apparently so does friend and supporter Karen Lewis.

“Chuy,” Garcia said, relating a conversation with Lewis after her shocking withdrawal from the race over health reasons, “you have to step up and run for mayor…you’re the only person in town that can put together a campaign anywhere in Chicago and make a compelling case. You can campaign in the LGBT community, on the northwest side and southwest side.

Garcia has won a number of other important endorsements including Daily Kos, MoveOn, Latino and Black community leaders, CTU and the CTA’s largest union. This night he was working the room among these grassroots supporters for donations to build a formidable response to Emanuel’s substantial war chest. Every dollar will count as Emanuel taps big-money out of state allies. At the end of the day it’s about getting voters to the ballot box. The key could well be getting out the black and Latino vote, but their distrust of the system has been honed over the years, especially during the Emanuel administration. Is Chuy Garcia the candidate who can rally those communities and get them to the polls? That remains to be seen.

Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Clean Up Your Mess, CPS: New Report Released As Community Protests Against School Conditions Intensify

Chicago Light Brigade report accuses Chicago Public Schools, the Department of Public Health and Alderman Moore of failing to inform parents of dangerous school conditions and allowing hazards to continue unaddressed for nearly 1,000 school days.

Press Conference & Protest at Gale Elementary
Wednesday, 10/22/2014, 9:00am
Chicago Public Schools Headquarters
125 S Clark St, Chicago, IL 60603

CHICAGO 10/21/14 – Amid growing complaints unsanitary conditions and inadequate maintenance in Chicago’s public schools, Chicago Light Brigade (CLB) has released a report stating Chicago Public Schools (CPS) administrators, over a period of at least five years, knowingly exposed up to two thousand, mostly low income Rogers Park children to significant amounts of peeling lead based paint and lead based paint dust at Gale Math and Science Academy. The group is holding a press conference and protest Wednesday at CPS headquarters to debut their report, present recommendations and raise awareness of the unacceptable conditions that were allowed to develop at Gale.

Lead is an extraordinarily dangerous poison. Exposure even in small amounts, especially in developing children, can cause irreversible brain damage. Children in buildings with flaking lead paint are also exposed to lead dust, which is spread by hand and transferred on clothes by children to their homes. A 2012 Chicago Reader article sums up the acute nature of this hazard: “It doesn’t take much: a sugar packet’s worth of lead dust scattered over an area the size of a football field is enough to poison a child.”

The report charges that CPS withheld information from Gale administrators and parents about hazards at their school and illegally refused to comply with Freedom of Information Requests filed by CLB activists until attorneys intervened, prompting action from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office. It also states that the Chicago Department of Public Health and Ald Joe Moore (49) have each contributed to keeping parents in the dark about lead hazards at the school.” Again, this is consistent with the latest version..

According to internal CPS documents acquired by CLB, testing for lead at the school was first performed in 2009. Despite results showing hazards in public areas used by all students, no action was taken by CPS and parents were not informed of the health risks associated with exposure to lead based paint. In August of 2013 a second round of tests revealed lead-based paint hazards at fifteen locations in the school, and nine out of ten tested classrooms. Again, no action was taken, parents were not informed, and students and staff continued to be exposed every day they were in the building.

Following years of repeated requests for action by Gale administrators, CLB began a campaign to force CPS to take action to remove lead hazards and make other repairs to the school, including faulty fire alarms and leaking roofs. Although Alderman Moore denied knowledge of the issue, Moore’s staffers attended LSC meetings where ongoing maintenance issues were discussed.

Once the media began reporting on hazards at Gale, a new round of testing was secretly performed by CPS which proved widespread lead contamination throughout the facility. According to CPS documents, lead based paint was found in multiple classrooms, offices, and hallways as well as on entry doors, railings and post caps in the stairwells – surface areas which are touched by children’s hands everyday.

Because of CPS’ inaction and the subsequent cover up by administrators and Alderman Moore, lead based paint hazards at Gale were allowed to continue unabated for almost one thousand school days. In light of these facts, it is likely that CPS management of lead based paint across its entire system is deeply flawed.

While pressure from CLB and other community members has resulted in long overdue lead remediation efforts at Gale, CLB’s findings have a number of community members asking what else CPS might be hiding. “It’s a story you’ll hear from everyone who tries to track down information about a school: CPS just doesn’t respond to FOIA requests, unless they’re forced to. They don’t want to tell us what they knew, when they knew it, or what other schools might contain hazards. They’re supposed to have lead reports for these schools on file, and we want to see them,” said local organizer Kelly Hayes.

Other community members believe that a lack of accountability is the root problem. “If CPS can find $10 million to spend on new office furniture, they can find the money to lead test our public schools and make that information public. The problem is that they’re not accountable. If you want them to be accountable, they need to be elected, not appointed. Until then, the paint’s going to keep peeling, and the rats and roaches aren’t going anywhere.” said Chicago teacher Jerica Jurado.

CLB makes a series of recommendations in their report, including:

•CPS must locate every individual, parent, or guardian that was present or had children in Gale during the period 2009-2014, and inform them of possible exposure to lead based paint and lead based paint dust.
•An independent investigation, by medically trained personnel not employed or connected to CPS, CDPH, or other non- federal governmental bodies in the State of Illinois should be undertaken into management of lead based paint at all CPS facilities.
•A formal complaint should be lodged with the United States Environmental Protection Agency- Region 5 regarding CPS management of hazardous lead in all of its facilities.
•An independently administered fund must be created to provide ongoing medical support for families impacted by lead exposure at Gale.
•Because all lead based paint is at least thirty-six years old, exposed paint at all CPS locations must be considered a hazard and abated as soon as possible.
•Enrollment based funding cuts to Gale must be rescinded to restore the school to resource parity with institutions that were not burdened by extreme facilities mismanagement.

Selected Past Media Coverage:

May 13, 2014, CBS Chicago: Residents Want Funds To Fix Gale Math And Science Academy

May 22, 2014, CBS Chicago: Rogers Park School Is Crumbling Around Students, Parents Tell CPS

May 23, 2014, DNAinfo: CPS to Remove Lead Paint From Gale School After Complaints

June 2, 2014, Chicago Tonight: Rogers Park School Struggles to Survive, Embattled Elementary School Determined to be Heard


CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com

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Gale Elementary: The anatomy of a CPS school closure, & a strategy to stop it

On today’s show (que4.org), we’ll be discussing the conditions of Gale Elementary school with Rogers Park community members and members of Chicago Light Brigade. Earlier this month, due to the hard work & love put in by the community, they were informed of CPS plans to meet their demands. Now the school will NOT be closed, and after years of neglect by the CPS which has lead to plummeting enrollment numbers, the learning environment if these children will begin to improve. Tune into Revolution and Beer tomorrow for a live discussion with about what this school and their supporters have been up against and how to secure the gains they’ve made into the future.

Here’s a quick overview of the situation surrounding Gale Elementary School in Rogers Park, as seen on Chicago Tonight:

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A Beer with Tim Meegan, CTU Member and Candidate for Ward 33 Alderman

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Tim Meegan, candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 33rd Ward, joins us for a couple to discuss his vision for the ward he resides in. With his 10 years of teaching at Roosevelt high school under his belt, as well as his experience as a father of two boys, his commitment to the ward where he has lived with his family fuels his desire to make it safe and accessible for people of all types. He also dives into the status of public education in Chicago and outlines many of the main challenges facing our public education system. We love it when informed, working-class people like Tim run for office. We especially love it when they’ll come onto the show and speak openly about what drives them to do so.

Check-out Tim’s Facebook campaign page here.

We also recently interviewed Anne Carlson and Juan Gonzalez, two Chicago Public School teachers from Drummond Montessori about the recent parent/teacher campaign to Opt Out of the ISAT.

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URGENT: Please attend CPS “turn around” meetings to support struggling schools

1010928_213106498836621_1949213047_nThe war on teachers and low-income students continues as the CPS proposes to “turn around” three elementary schools next month. This is just more school closings by another name, and continues the aggressive campaign to privatize public education.

Schools targeted include McNair, Dvorak, and Gresham elementary schools, where 97% of the students are African American and low income, and over 50% of the staff is African American. “Turn around” means that ALL of the employees at the school will be laid-off, and the future of the school is handed over to the controversial Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) for the next school year. The AUSL has an inconsistent track record of raising performance, and has close ties to Chicago’s unelected Board of Education.

Please attend these meetings. These schools are being targeted with a strategy of isolation, but we all know that public education and the loss of jobs has a negative effect on our entire city. Please show up to the following meetings and express solidarity with the teachers, parents, and students.

 

Wednesday April 2, 2014 from 6pm-8pm at the schools listed below:

 

April 9th & 10th: Public hearings at CPS’ headquarters:
CPS Central Administration building
125 S. Clark Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60603
You can also call the Board of Education at (773) 553-1600 and voice your concerns.

 

Further info.:

 

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Interview: What Inspires a Chicago Public School Teacher?

On Saturday, March 15th, 2014, Anne Carlson and Juan Gonzalez of Drummond Thomas Montessori School in Chicago joined us to talk about what inspires them as public school teachers, and why they joined many teachers and parents across Chicago to boycott the ISAT test.

Download the MP3 here.

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Revolution and Beer Episode 6 – TIFfed Off


This episode was shot at the Peoples Church, in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Our guest was Tom Tresser of The TIF Illumination Project and CivicLab Chicago. He joined us to illuminate the issue of Tax Increment Financing districts in the City of Chicago–that is until the lights went out. Spoookyyyy…..

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BREAKING: Students-Parents Occupy Lafayette Elementary School

Around 3 p.m. this afternoon students, parents, and activists moved-in to occupy Lafayette Elementary School in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Volunteers blocked the doors to the school while the parents and students made their way into the school building to begin the occupation.

 

Lafayette’s last concert. Photo from DNAinfo.com

Earlier this month, the school performed it’s last concert for a very emotional and upset audience. These scenes of heartbreak and fractured communities are becoming all too common as Rahm Emmanuel continues to impose austerity through school closings, health facility closings, and all sorts of other cuts in public services. This ironic approach to “balancing the budget” is laughable in a state where two-thirds of corporations pay no income taxes.

“Closing Lafayette will kill our neighborhood and our families,” says Rousemary Vega, who is occupying a classroom at Lafayette Elementary. “We demand that this school stay open. We demand to keep our music programs, and our special ed program. We’re not leaving until this school is saved.” …nor should they. The favorite allotments of public tax dollars by our beloved mayor go to such badly needed things as high-end rental and condo units in neighborhoods with no real demand for them, and a $300 million basketball stadium for Depaul. Yes, our schools and institutions are getting closed while the likes of Depaul and Loyola Universities, and BJB Properties get nice slices of the tax pie through TIFs to push “business as usual” to an all new level of neoliberal budgetary scams. Guess who gets the bill, again?

So big deal that our children get shuffled around as our work days are made more stressful by sluggish CTA service, failing infrastructure, and anxiety-laden hoop-jumping in order to try and get our kids into a decent school (if you even can take the time away from the office); and affordable housing becomes an endangered species (despite being the original purpose for TIFS). Well…we know for sure Rahm Emmanuel doesn’t, unless Coca Cola wants to come in and buy up what’s left of a failed public program; with a nice little tax break to do it. If we could only see those corporate logos a few hundred more times a day, we might remember where all our money went. Then we would certainly buy more stuff.

Original Press Release:

Lafayette Elementary School Occupation – 2714 W. Augusta Blvd., Chicago
#LafayetteOccupation | #SaveOurSchools | @nini0179 (inside school) | @OCPress
BREAKING NEWS
For Immediate Release
Lafayette Parents, Students Overtake Lafayette Elementary School Classroom
to Halt School Closure on Last Day of Classes
Community calls on President Obama to overturn Mayor Emanuel’s School Closings
Chicago 6/19 2:45PM — Nine Lafayette Elementary parents and students have just peacefully occupied a school classroom, at 2714 W. Augusta Blvd., to demand Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked Chicago Board of Education reverse the school’s closing.
“Closing Lafayette will kill our neighborhood and our families,” says Rousemary Vega, who is occupying a classroom at Lafayette Elementary. “We demand that this school stay open. We demand to keep our music programs, and our special ed program. We’re not leaving until this school is saved.”
The Humboldt Park neighborhood school serves Pre-K to eighth grade students. Lafayette School focuses on fine arts and music education, boasting an award-winning string orchestra in partnership with Merit School of Music, bilingual classrooms, and an autism cluster site. The school is home to 442 students in 2012, 97.7% from low-income homes. Emanuel and the Board of Education voted to close the school as one of 50 public school closures citing “underutilization,” population decline, and astronomical building maintenance costs. Those claims have been refuted by individual CPS auditors, the media, parents, and community members, who have all been ignored by Emanuel and the unelected Board of Education.
“We are at Lafayette Elementary to support the students and parents who are fighting to keep this school open,” says Denise Bisley, a parent from the Von Humbolt school. “Shame on Mayor Emanuel, and the Chicago Board of Education. This is a national problem. President Obama told us change was coming, and his buddy Mayor Emanuel has changed the city – closing our clinics, our schools, and wrecking our children’s futures.”
CPS and Emanuel propose Lafayette students be displaced to Chopin Elementary, seven blocks away, where the future of the Merit School of Music program is uncertain, as is the program for autistic children. Emanuel and the Board of Education have faced severe public backlash and outcry against the school closures.
- END -
Steal these tweets!
GET TO HUMBOLT PARK! LAFAYETTE ELEMENTARY IS OCCUPIED! Follow #LafayetteOccupation for breaking info | 2714 W. Augusta Blvd, Chicago
Parents overtake Lafayette School, demand reversal of #CPSclosings #LafayetteOccupation
Support #LafayetteOccupation against #onetermmayor #chicagoBully & #CPSclosings Bring food to 2714 W Augusta Blvd, #chicago
Food donations are encouraged and be dropped off at 2714 W Augusta Blvd #lafayetteOccupation
Fuck you @chicagosmayor @rahmemanuel! We’re taking over #LafayetteOccupation against #CPSclosings
#SaveOurSchools SUPPORT NEEDED at #LafayetteOccupation, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd #CPSclosings

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Karen Lewis Speaking at NEIU

Chicago Teachers Union president, Karen Lewis delivered a speech at NEIU on April 3rd Entitled “Lies About Schools.”

See the other segments of Karen’s speech, captured by WC, on our Video page.

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