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It’s just a bill

Friday, Mar 26, 2021

* Chalkbeat Chicago

A union-backed bill to establish a 21-person elected school board in Chicago is regaining momentum in Springfield. But critics including business groups and the city’s mayor remain opposed.

That hasn’t stopped the bill from passing a key committee this week and heading to the House floor. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s opposition, which some suggest helped derail previous versions of the bill, has encouraged opponents to push for a compromise proposal, to reduce the size of the elected board or seek a hybrid model with some members appointed and others elected.

Earlier this week, at a House Ethics and Elections Committee hearing, a Lightfoot deputy hinted at an alternate proposal in the works. When asked, her spokeswoman would not provide specifics.

“We are working toward some governance changes for the district,” said Patrick Hall, the deputy director of intergovernmental affairs. (Lightfoot campaigned on an elected school board but recently told the New York Times that reopening campuses amid the COVID-19 pandemic would not have been possible without mayoral control.)

* CBS 2

A bill to stop illegal gun ownership in Illinois could be closer to becoming law. […]

“It insures we do background checks, it ensure we obtain finger prints, it ensures were are giving the Illinois State Police the ability to take the guns of folks that shouldn’t have them and it makes sure that we’re getting funding, life-saving mental health funding, to the communities that have been most impacted by gun violence ,” Sen. Ram Villivalam said. “The time to act is now.”

The senator says he has 25 co-sponsors in the state Senate and needs five more to sign on.

Those last five will obviously be the toughest.

* Center Square

The Classrooms First Act aims to free up school district administrative dollars and target the money to schools. […]

The bill would create the school District Efficiency Commission which would then make recommendations on consolidation. The recommendation would go directly to voters, allowing parents, teachers and taxpayers living within that school district to make the final decision. The goal is to reduce the total number of school districts by 25%.

The bill faces opposition from the Illinois Association of School Boards and from over 100 school administrators. According to Illinois Policy, 21 of the administrators make a salary above $200,000 a year.

In Illinois, district-level general administration costs $598 per student, which is 2.5 times the national average. In the past 4 years, both student enrollment and teacher employment at Illinois K-12 public school districts fell by 2%, while the number of administrators grew by 1.5%, according to Illinois Policy.

* Another from Center Square

Members of the Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee advanced a bill Thursday that would allow suburban Chicago counties to spend tax revenue that is protected by the state constitution’s lockbox amendment on “nonvehicular public travel, sidewalks, and bike paths.”

State Rep. Bob Morgan, D-Highwood, said his bill would not require counties to use the revenue in this way, rather just give them the choice. […]

Republicans feared the expansion of the protected funds would further siphon money away from the state’s ailing roads and bridges.

“It’s probably better-served that most sidewalks, bike paths, things like that are covered by other counties, municipalities, park districts and things where people expect some of those projects to be funded from,” said Rep. Tim Ozinga, R-Mokena. “Nearly 80% of the voters made it very clear that they want their motor fuel tax and road funds to be used for their roads.”

Ozinga is the vice president of Ozinga Bros. Inc., which lays concrete and participates in projects that likely use the aforementioned tax revenues.

* ACLU Illinois…

ACLU Celebrates Approval of House Bill 1727 - The Bad Apples in Law Enforcement Accountability Act - by the Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee

“Today’s vote in Committee is significant. In response to repeated examples of egregious police misconduct – often captured on videotape for the world to see – Illinois residents are told that these horrific experiences reflect “just a few bad apples” in law enforcement. But the public is often frustrated by the reality that these supposed “bad apples” rarely are held accountable. For too long, special protections like qualified immunity create an almost insurmountable barrier to justice for people whose constitutional rights have been violated by police. HB 1727 changes that and provides the people of this state a chance to hold bad police officers accountable when they violate someone’s constitutional rights.

In polling conducted late in 2020, nearly 70% of Illinois voters supported this initiative. We thank Representative Tarver for his leadership in moving this bill forward and look forward to a vote on the floor of the House. Now is the time for the General Assembly to take action. We can’t afford to wait.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - cermak_rd - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 11:58 am:

    Bike transit is transit. I know several employees who ride their bikes to work anytime the weather is decent. That gets their cars off the roads (and out of our parking lot) which makes things better for motorists as well.

  2. - cermak_rd - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    Why does the mayor oppose a school board being in charge of Chicago schools? Does she not trust the voters? The people who would run? At least she could stop being blamed for school issues if she is not in charge of them.

    I’ve long supported a real school board for the city. It is the taxpayers who are paying for it. Give them a say.

  3. - Nuke The Whales - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 12:09 pm:

    I never understood why CTU thinks an elected school board would be a slam dunk for them. Having all of the charter school parents, charter school teachers, Catholic school parents, Catholic school teachers, Republicans, so on and so forth vote on who runs CPS seems like a recipe for a board that is just as likely to oppose their interests only with community connections and a democratic mandate to do so.

    Also, without the big bad Mayor to go up against come negotiation time, how can they really rally people behind what are increasingly absurd demands? Only 49% of parents supported the 2019 CTU strike on DAY ONE of the strike.

    Remember, unions invented charter schools and that worked out great for them.

  4. - Practical Politics - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 12:10 pm:

    Chicago is unique: Chicago Board of Education, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Park District, and the Chicago Public Library all have commissioners or trustees appointed by the mayor. In almost every other district in the state these same positions are elected.

  5. - Blake - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    As many local elected officials as we have & how low name recognition is, a better way to help voters point to someone to hold accountable may be to make school board members appointed statewide by mayors & county board members based on how many constituents of the school district within a mayor or county board member’s constituency similar to how the General Assembly fills mid-term vacancies except using elected mayors & county board members instead of party officials in the GA’s case.

  6. - Lake county - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 12:24 pm:

    How would this cost money in any way? The IL constitution says that school boards must remain unpaid positions right?

  7. - low level - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 12:38 pm:

    If Chicago gets an elected school board, we will get candidates backed by big business running against candidates backed by CTU and other unions. Hello big dollar contests.

    We may also see structured roll calls with safe seat members voting to approve tax hikes and vulnerable ones taking a pass.

    I’m really not sure we want that.

    If it does pass, there are bound to be research issues for candidates as Caskey always says. It would definitely be good news for consultants, etc.

  8. - Telly - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 1:17 pm:

    == At least she could stop being blamed for school issues if she is not in charge of them. ==

    I can see how that might be appealing to a mayor, but as a Chicagoan I kinda want the mayor to have some skin in the game. At the same time, having a school board that rubber stamps every little thing the mayor wants hasn’t worked so well. A hybrid appointee/elected board might be worth a try.

  9. - Elmer Keith - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 1:45 pm:

    “It insures we do background checks…” IL State Police already runs criminal background checks on FOID holders EVERY DAY.

    “…it ensure we obtain finger prints…” Arrestees are fingerprinted by police, so Villivilam believes that all gun owners are criminals- this is unacceptable.

    “…it ensures were are giving the Illinois State Police the ability to take the guns of folks that shouldn’t have them..” ISP and local police can already break down doors and seize guns from anyone whose FOID is suspended or revoked. This bill is promoting the militarized police state.

  10. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 2:09 pm:

    Classrooms First Act.

    Adam Schuster of the Illinois Policy Institute: “… and the only people who really seem to be strongly opposed to it are those with a financial interest in keeping the bureaucratic waste.” Uh, Mr. Schuster, ever been in a small town like Fancy Prairie, Illinois. In small towns, it is dogma that if the school closes, the town dies. Good luck in your quest to clean the Augean Stables.

    [Disclaimer - I’m an immigrant who thinks Illinois should heed the example of Nevada and Florida, and have one school district per county. 750 local governments disappear, and if the only position eliminated is the superintendent, we’ve saved $75 million / $100,000 average compensation / superintendent.]

  11. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 2:59 pm:

    ===spend tax revenue that is protected by the state constitution’s lockbox amendment===

    Absolutely not.

    local municipalities are already harming agencies like park districts through the abuse of the TIF designation within park district properties. I know locally we could have easily doubled our existing bike paths for the cost of what has been lost to a municipality through TIF.

    If park district can not afford to update or expand their bike paths, then they need to start calling attention to the villages taking money out of the park districts pockets in the form of TIF districts.

    Let those municipalities use the TIF funds they are already taking.

    Show me TIF reform, and maybe an exception for the lockbox amendment would make more sense. But not until then.

  12. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 26, 21 @ 4:54 pm:

    ==In small towns, it is dogma that if the school closes, the town dies==

    The Classrooms First Act specifically bans the recommendation of any school closures. The consolidation would occur between district offices, not schools.

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