Risking a preelection backlash, City Clerk Anna Valencia and City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin said Friday they will accept the 20.5% raises — to $161,016 — that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2023 budget includes for those two jobs.
Seventeen of Chicago’s 50 City Council members have declined a 9.62% raise, tied to inflation, that would boost the maximum annual salary for an alderperson to $142,772.
Some alderpersons may fear how it might look to the voters many will face in the election Feb. 28 if they accept the raises.
Conyears-Ervin apparently has no such fears — though she said she is “very sensitive to inflation. We all feel it.”
Lightfoot was asked about last week’s comments by Kempczinski to the Economic Club of Chicago where he referenced the recent departures of high-profile companies such as Caterpillar, Boeing and Citadel from the area and said the city needed to “face facts.” He said that “while it may wound our civic pride to hear it, there is a general sense out there that our city is in crisis” and noted that there are “fewer large companies headquartered in Chicago this year than last year.”
At her customary post-City Council press conference Wednesday, Lightfoot used one of her favorite lines to rebut criticism.
“What would have been helpful is for the McDonald’s CEO to educate himself before he spoke,” Lightfoot said.
Those texts revealed a mayor with a hands-on management style who repeatedly snapped at critics, colleagues and even political allies. She said one alderman was “full of crap,” told another he was “bush league” and told Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a fellow Democrat, that his administration was being “petty.”
As a gay Black woman who grew up in Ohio and had never before held elective office, Lightfoot stood apart from previous mayors, and her inauguration in 2019 was seen by some as a potential moment of change for the city. She won all 50 City Council wards in the runoff election while decrying corruption and the infamous Chicago political machine. She also vowed to address the racial and economic disparities that have long defined Chicago, where the downtown and North Side have often prospered while disinvestment and violence have plagued many neighborhoods on the South and West Sides.
But Lightfoot’s tenure has been shaped by a series of crises, some within her control, others not. About 800 people were killed in the city last year, the most in a generation. Downtown has struggled to bounce back from the pandemic. And clashes with the unions representing police officers and teachers have proved destabilizing.
FFS. You notice that the parents and kids didn’t even have a seat at the negotiating table.
CTU chief of staff Jen Johnson said in a virtual press conference Monday night that the agreement includes testing at leas 10% of students at each school for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. The union had been requesting much wider testing that parents would have to explicitly opt out of, but the district and Lightfoot would not agree to that. The plan also gves clear metrics for when schools would switch to remote learning, Johnson said.
Schools will go to remote learning if they are in an area of high transmission according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 40% of students are in isoloation or quarantine due to COVID-19 protocols. Schools could also go remote if 50% of students are in isolation or quaratine even if the transmission rate is no longer considered high by CDC standards. Another scenario that could cause a school to switch to remote learning would be if 30% of teachers are in isolation and total teacher absences exceed 25% even with substitutes.
They just are. Selfish. Lazy. Horrible people. They should all be fired and stripped of their teaching credentials. They can’t call themselves teachers if they refuse to teach.
Chicago officials canceled classes for hundreds of thousands of public school students for two days this week after reaching an impasse with the city’s teachers union over whether in-person learning was safe during a wave of COVID-19 infections.
City leadership, including Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, had asked teachers to continue in-classroom instruction. But 88% of the Chicago Teachers Union’s leadership and 73% of its members voted on Tuesday in favor of remote education.
The assault on the kids is unacceptable. They should fire every single one of them and start over. Would it be disruptive? Yes, but no more so than having teachers who shut down schools by refusing to work.
CHICAGO — Teachers in the nation’s third-largest school district voted Tuesday to switch to remote learning, and city leaders reacted by canceling classes for most of the district’s 330,000 students.
The Chicago Teachers Union voted late Tuesday to pause in-person learning and work remotely until Jan. 18, or until COVID-19 cases fall below a particular threshold. The union, which has roughly 25,000 members, is also demanding the district require negative tests from students and staff before returning to school.
Chicago’s mandate for police caused concerns of a cop shortage at a time when the city is dealing with soaring violent crime.
So far this year, the city has seen 739 murders, a 3 percent increase from last year’s already elevated figure and a 60 percent jump from 2019. Shootings are up 9 percent and 66 percent from 2020 and 2019 respectively.
Lightfoot’s shaky standing with cops was worsened by the murder of Officer Ella French, with many turning their backs on the mayor when she visited French’s wounded partner in hospital.
Having previously defunded the police department, Lightfoot has now backed plowing more money into it amid worsening crime in her city.
The city insisted that those who didn’t comply with the vaccine mandate would eventually be placed on ‘no-pay status.’
They refuse to show up for work. That is quitting. Will the school board accept their resignations and go about hiring replacements that actually give a shit about the kids of Chicago?
CHICAGO — The Chicago Teachers Union said Sunday that its members voted to defy an order to return to the classroom over concerns about COVID-19, setting up a showdown with district officials who have said that refusing to return when ordered would amount to an illegal strike.
After news broke midmeeting that Chicago Teachers Union members would vote on collectively refusing to report in person next week, several parents at the Lakeview school recited a letter endorsed by 54 of them urging CPS and union leaders to come to an agreement that will put their children back in classrooms. Some teachers in turn said reopening was not safe and that championing its cause ignores the students of color who were less likely to opt for returning to in-person learning.
Before reading out the letter, parents shared a collection of anonymous anecdotes that painted a picture of despair in the era of remote learning.
There was a description of a boy’s “full-blown meltdowns” since classrooms closed in March — episodes severe enough to merit psychiatric help. There were multiple reports of other children showing possible symptoms of depression and anxiety. And still more stories of students transferring out after roadblocks in remote learning.
Aaaaaand… there it is:
But seventh grade humanities teacher Emily Skowronek questioned the rush to reopen with COVID-19 alive and roaring — and a vaccine for teachers that could be weeks away. She called on community members to recognize the “privilege” they have to be part of a school with a high return rate of students.
“By asking so loudly to return whether through actions or words, I do not believe we are sending a message of allyship to communities of color in our city,” Skowronek said. “It saddens me that this does not match the conversations and learning that we have in the classroom addressing systemic racism.”
That is a 7th grade teacher who is clearly more concerned with pushing social justice indoctrination and Critical Race Theory than reading and geometry. Frankly, I think the parents should reconsider ever putting their kids back in those schools.
Shortage of equipment. Shortage of officers. Prioritizing downtown over neighborhoods. Nature abhors a vacuum. Those neighborhoods are being filled by people taking it upon themselves to defend themselves and gangs are stepping in.
Hours after the Tribune’s story was published online, Ahern told the newspaper in an emailed statement that 48% of officers deployed downtown over the summer have since been sent back to the districts, including tactical teams.
“Superintendent Brown has repeatedly expressed and demonstrated CPD’s commitment to our neighborhoods and residents,” Ahern said in the statement. “To imply that the safety and protection of the downtown districts is of higher importance than any of our other neighborhoods throughout Chicago is categorically false.”
Police sources have said the department’s downtown deployment plan over the summer following the Memorial Day death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota, and subsequent demonstrations and looting, has left a shortage of cops in some districts, raising concern among officers that they won’t be able to provide timely police service in neighborhoods. Over the years, patrol districts have routinely struggled to meet the demand for police service.
The rationale behind Friday’s tactical team policy appeared to deal in part with a shortage of police cars in the districts. Before the policy was canceled, it called for those officers to ride in marked squad cars when they normally patrol in unmarked cars. But if no marked cars were available, they were to ride up to four cops per unmarked squad car.
That meant a district whose tactical team normally operates with six squad cars could be reduced to three. That also further diminishes the number of cops in each neighborhood available to respond to 911 calls.
Meanwhile, Chicago is starting to look like Tosa.
CHICAGO — Hundreds of people descended on downtown Chicago early Monday following a police shooting on the city’s South Side, with vandals smashing the windows of dozens of businesses and making off with merchandise, cash machines and anything else they could carry, police said.
Police Superintendent David Brown told reporters that the Sunday afternoon shooting of the man who had opened fire on officers apparently prompted a social media post that urged people to form a car caravan and converge on the business and shopping district.
Some 400 additional officers were dispatched to the area after the department spotted the post. Over several hours, police made more than 100 arrests and 13 officers were injured, including one who was struck in the head with a bottle, Brown said.
Brown dismissed any suggestion that the chaos was part of an organized protest of the shooting, calling it “pure criminality” that included occupants of a vehicle opening fire on police who were arresting a man they spotted carrying a cash register.
No officers were wounded by gunfire, but a security guard and a civilian were hospitalized in critical condition after being shot, and five guns were recovered, he said.
Tell me again about defunding the police.
Sources told the Chicago Tribune that the city inspector general’s office, which has been investigating the October incident, obtained video footage showing Johnson drinking for a few hours on the evening of Oct. 16 with a woman who was not his wife at the Ceres Cafe, a popular restaurant and bar at the Chicago Board of Trade building.
Later that night, when officers responded to a 911 call near Johnson’s home in the Bridgeport neighborhood about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 7, Johnson rolled down the window on his police vehicle partway, flashed his superintendent’s badge and drove off, sources said.
A Ceres employee who identified himself as a general manager declined to comment Monday.
On Monday, Lightfoot told reporters she had reviewed the inspector general’s report into the incident as well as videotaped evidence that left her with no choice but to fire Johnson.
“I saw things that were inconsistent with what Mr. Johnson had told me personally and what he revealed to members of the public,” she said.
With the inspector general’s report still not public, Lightfoot declined to be more specific about what the videotaped evidence showed but hinted that it would be hurtful to Johnson’s family.
“While at some point the IG’s report may become public and those details may be revealed, I don’t feel like it’s appropriate or fair to Mr. Johnson’s wife or children to do so at this time,” she said.
Sources said Lightfoot moved to fire Johnson before the superintendent had even been interviewed by the inspector general’s office as part of its investigation.
The mayor said she personally delivered the news Monday morning to Johnson, the fourth of the last six superintendents to be fired or resign amid scandal. She gave three reasons for dumping him:
— That he “engaged in conduct that is not only unbecoming but demonstrated a series of ethical lapses and flawed decision-making” in the October incident.
— That the superintendent called a news conference later the day of the incident in which he communicated “a narrative replete with false statements, all seemingly intended to hide the true nature of his conduct from the evening before.”
— That Johnson intentionally lied to the mayor several times, “even when I challenged him about the narrative that he shared with me.”
The facts that Lightfoot shared, if true, are certainly unbecoming of the superintendent and may justify his firing, but the investigation is not complete. Also, the full details of the investigation have not been made public, so the mayor’s claim that she wants to protect his family rings hollow.
I suspect that this is the real reason for Lightfoot’s hasty decision:
Johnson had been plucked from relative obscurity as chief of patrol in April 2016 when then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel bypassed three finalists chosen by the Chicago Police Board and appointed him superintendent.
As it all unfolded, Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Jason Ervin, 28th, stood at the front of the room, surveying the process and silently taking it all in. Not all of the people crowded in the room, taking copious notes and whispering to their team members, were actual dispensary owners.
But with the exception of a few women and two African Americans in the room, most of the representatives for marijuana businesses were white and male, Ervin pointed out.
“I wanted to see for myself how many applicants and where they were deciding to cite their locations. And it proved what I thought: Our communities are going to get left behind,” he said. “This will probably generate a billion dollars’ worth of sales in the city. With no African American participation, I just think that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.”
Lightfoot issued a statement acknowledging the lack of diversity and said she was not satisfied with the current equity in the city’s cannabis industry. She vowed to improve minority representation by next May.
“Transforming the cannabis industry won’t be easy, but I want to make clear that we are working with advocates fighting for equity in this emerging industry to ensure we help diverse businesses thrive and fix the unjust policies of the past,” Lightfoot said in the statement. “That’s my pledge.”
I pity the parents who have to send their kids back to school with these people.
Teachers said the strike was based on a “social justice” agenda and aimed to increase resources, including nurses and social workers for students, and reduce class sizes, which teachers say currently exceed 30 or 40 students in some schools. Union leaders said the strike forced the city to negotiate on issues they initially deemed out of bounds, including support for homeless students.
Lightfoot said a strike was unnecessary and dubbed the city’s offer of a 16% raise for teachers over a five-year contract and other commitments on educators’ priorities “historic.”
The Chicago strike was another test of efforts by teachers’ unions to use contract talks typically focused on salaries and benefits and force sweeping conversations about broader problems that affect schools in large, politically left-leaning cities, including affordable housing, added protections for immigrants and the size of classes.
The agreement approved on Wednesday was not immediately released but Sharkey said some of teachers’ wins could “transform” schools in the district. The full union membership still must hold a final vote on the agreement.
Broad outlines include a 16% raise for teachers during the five-year contract, a new committee to investigate and enforce classroom sizes that surpass limits in the agreement and funding to add social workers and nurses to the city’s schools.
It’s one thing for employees at a private company to strike. Their customers can go elsewhere and the employees are really only harming the company and themselves. But these kids are required to attend government schools and many of them can’t afford private schooling. They don’t have the choice to just go to another school. What these teachers are doing to these kids should be a crime. We have 3% unemployment in this country. If the teachers aren’t satisfied, they can get another job. Instead, they choose to hold kids hostage in their quest to wrangle more money out of the taxpayers.
Thousands of high school athletes, shut out of class for more than a week, are arguing, rallying and even filing lawsuits for the chance to compete in post-season play. Hanging in the balance, they say, are not just the pursuits of state-championship glory and lifelong memories, but scholarships that for some represent a lone opportunity to attend college and, in some cases, escape drugs and violence in city neighborhoods.
“We’ve been working for this goal of making this stage, running in the postseason, since June,” said Ian Bacon, a senior cross-country runner at Jones College Prep and a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Thursday against the Illinois High School Association. “This fight … it’s not just for us. It’s for all the future student-athletes that may find themselves in this situation.”
About 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union walked out Oct. 17 . They continue to negotiate with administrators for the nation’s third-largest school system, but disagreement remains over issues such as class sizes and staffing. The work stoppage also idled action on the gridiron, tennis court, soccer field and cross-country course.
Bwhahaha! You have to give the guy props for ballsiness.
Facing allegations that officers under him were baby-sitting his special-needs son, the Chicago police commander gave a novel explanation: He was conducting a secret study.
Grand Central District Cmdr. Anthony Escamilla acknowledged he had on-duty officers pick up his teenage son, who has autism, but insisted he worked as a volunteer in the community policing office.
Pressed by investigators from the city’s inspector general’s office, Escamilla said he wanted to watch how his son did the work and interacted with his officers, taking mental notes he planned to share with the officers later.
“I kind of wanted to just leave it to them, acting out in their job roles, and then him being a volunteer and seeing how it would go,” Escamilla told an investigator. “It’s not about my son and someone keeping an eye on him. This is about kids with his kind of disability and what we can do as a department to help them.”
The criminal complaint targeting Chicago Ald. Ed Burke reads like a cliched crime novel: Influential alderman squeezes restaurant executives to benefit his law business, delicately at first, over lunch at a private wood-paneled country club. Federal agents locate the alderman via a black Crown Victoria, his riding-around car, in the parking lot.
The alderman is known for his silver coiffure, pinstriped suits and pocket squares. His three-story brick home on the Southwest Side is landlocked by railroad tracks and industry, strip malls and bungalows — but protected by a tall wrought-iron fence with a locked gate.
He is untouchable. Until now.
Burke, of Chicago’s 14th Ward, faces one count of attempted extortion. The U.S. Department of Justice accuses him of holding up city permits and slow-walking a restaurant renovation in his ward until the company agreed to hire Burke’s law firm, Klafter & Burke, for property tax work.
The Corruption Party has had one party rule in Chicago for decades. Nothing is changing.
No one represents Chicago’s old-school machine politics — or what’s left of it — more than City Hall’s longest-serving and most powerful alderman, Ed Burke.
But in the wake of federal agents raiding Burke’s City Hall and 14th Ward offices Thursday, the 21 candidates running for Chicago mayor — most of them on a proclaimed platform of reform — had very little to say about one of the most astonishing political developments in the city’s recent memory.
There were no news releases, few tweets and little professed outrage.
That’s because many of the race’s front-runners have some form of exposure, serving alongside Burke in the city’s political hierarchy, or counting him as a friend or mentor. And as the Burke investigation plays out in the final months of the Feb. 26 mayor’s race, the political fallout will leave some grasping for how to reconcile their self-professed desire to change City Hall with their ties to an iconic Chicago politician in the crosshairs of federal investigators.
On Friday, at least, few of them were talking.
This story is amazing and perhaps explains why Chicago is as crime-ridden and violent as it is. One the one hand, it’s shocking. On the other hand, it doesn’t appear that much has changed in Chicago in 100 years. Only the names have changed.
A few months before last February’s citywide elections, Hal Baskin’s phone started ringing. And ringing. Most of the callers were candidates for Chicago City Council, seeking the kind of help Baskin was uniquely qualified to provide.
Baskin isn’t a slick campaign strategist. He’s a former gang leader and, for several decades, a community activist who now operates a neighborhood center that aims to keep kids off the streets. Baskin has deep contacts inside the South Side’s complex network of politicians, community organizations, and street gangs. as he recalls, the inquiring candidates wanted to know: “Who do I need to be talking to so I can get the gangs on board?”
Baskin—who was himself a candidate in the 16th Ward aldermanic race, which he would lose—was happy to oblige. In all, he says, he helped broker meetings between roughly 30 politicians (ten sitting aldermen and 20 candidates for City Council) and at least six gang representatives. That claim is backed up by two other community activists, Harold Davis Jr. and Kublai K. M. Toure, who worked with Baskin to arrange the meetings, and a third participant, also a community activist, who requested anonymity. The gang representatives were former chiefs who had walked away from day-to-day thug life, but they were still respected on the streets and wielded enough influence to mobilize active gang members.
The former chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin.
The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”
Many forms of political corruption—taking bribes, rigging elections, engaging in pay-to-play deals—are plainly unethical, if not illegal. But forming political alliances with gangs isn’t a clear matter of right or wrong, some say. In many Chicago neighborhoods, it’s virtually impossible for elected officials and candidates for public office not to have at least some connection, even family ties, to gang members. “People try to paint this picture of bad versus good—it’s not like that,” says a veteran political organizer based in Chicago who specializes in getting out the vote in minority areas. “Everybody lives with each other, grew up with each other. Just because somebody goes this way or that way, it doesn’t mean you’re just gonna write them off automatically.”
I’m pretty sure I saw this on Blue Bloods.
For the eighth month in a row, gun violence has declined here. October saw a 30-percent drop in murders compared to the same month last year and a 34 percent reduction in shootings, according to the report. For the year so far, there have been 57 fewer murders than in 2016, a decline of almost 10 percent. The drop in shootings is even more dramatic: 545 less than in 2016, a reduction of over 18 percent.
Police attribute the progress mainly to enhanced technology and more focused intelligence gathering on the gangs that have generated most of the gun violence. Anthony Riccio, chief of the Chicago police Organized Crime Bureau, tells ABC News that “strategic support centers” set up in some of the city’s most violent districts have played a major role.
These centers combine computerized information about people in those areas likely to commit crimes — data such as police records and incident reports — with intelligence gathered by officers on the street. The result is what the CPD calls “predictive policing” that tells the cops where and when to deploy officers, preventing gun violence before it occurs.
“It’s been pretty accurate,” said Riccio. “All this information and analysis tells us where we believe we’re going to see violence. It’s much more laser-focused than we’ve had in the past.”