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Mayor overplays her hand yet again

Friday, Apr 30, 2021

* Politico yesterday morning on the elected Chicago school board proposals

The mayor, meanwhile, wants to keep the decision-making under her purview. The current system makes the mayor accountable for school performance and, in turn, the $500 million the city doles out to CPS. There’s some question about what happens to that $500 million if the mayor isn’t in charge of schools. Would the state pay instead?

This threat was first made shortly before the House passed its bill the other day. So I reached out to the city to ask them for an explanation. I didn’t get a response back until late yesterday afternoon and decided to wait until today.

* From the city…

• The City of Chicago financially subsidizes Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with a variety of direct and indirect supports of students and district operations and has done so for many years.
• The biggest part of these financial subsidies is the contribution that the City is required to make per on behalf of CPS for the employer pension contributions to the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago (MEABF) for their non-teaching staff. This will grow to over $400 million in 2024.
o These financial subsidies are governed by the Pension Code of IL statute.
• The City also financially backs capital projects funded by property tax dollars to modernize CPS buildings.
• The total financial supports are estimated at $326 million in 2021, and will grow to $583 million by 2024.
• These financial supports to CPS will exceed the direct financial support that the state provides to all public universities except the University of Illinois in FY21.
• These are high levels of financial supports, and means that the Mayor needs a stake in the governance of CPS moving forward.

* Um, MEABF was created in 1921, long before the mayor was given complete control of CPS. And the split is 44 percent city employees and 56 percent from the board of education, according to MEABF. Teachers have their own pension fund.

For the city to now say that if the mayor doesn’t get her way then state taxpayers ought to fund city worker pensions (including aldermen) because the city wants to stop paying for something they’ve been responsible for (and grossly underfunded) during the past century is quite something. More details about the fund’s precarious state are here.

And as far as the capital funding goes, the city created that obligation itself.

* Politico tried to clean up its mess today

Martwick pushed back against criticism we wrote about yesterday that an elected school board could eliminate or diminish the power of local school councils or voices of undocumented parents. The LSCs would still be in place, and undocumented parents can be part of them. They can’t, however, vote in general elections so they would be excluded from sitting on the school board. “That’s a separate issue” that would only complicate the bill that’s in play, Martwick said, who thinks LSCs can still flourish under a school board. He added that Latino Caucus members wouldn’t have signed on to support the bill if they thought immigrant voices were stifled. Rep. Delia Ramirez, for example, has carried the House version of the bill.

Martwick also dismissed the idea that an elected school board would prevent the city from paying $500 million it owes to Chicago Public Schools for pensions. Critics of his bill worry that taking the mayor out of the equation to run schools would eliminate accountability for such a payment. Martwick says “that’s what elections are for — to hold people accountable.”

* Also, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has been one of Mayor Lightfoot’s biggest supporters since her election. The two are personal friends and go way back. Most of his members had long voted for an elected school board, but they flip-flopped this year on Leader Ramirez’s bill.

I asked Durkin’s spokesperson yesterday if the House GOP Leader supports the mayor’s proposal to allow non-citizens to run for school board. I was told that he hasn’t reviewed it yet.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 10:44 am:

    === I was told that he hasn’t reviewed it yet. ===

    I bet Dave Dring laughed at that one.

    When you put yourself out there as a Progressive, but the only allies you can consistently bank on are the Tribune editorial board, you are eventually going to get jammed up like this in Springfield.

    You gotta wonder how Durkin feels about Lightfoot’s threat to soak his taxpayers with Chicago’s pension problems too.


  2. - James the Intolerant - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 10:53 am:

    “Grossly underfunded”. Daley was 5 for 22, hitting .227.


  3. - Ashland Adam - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 10:55 am:

    Sen. Martwick’s bill could pass now. Mayor Lightfoot’s Would not.

    By requiring Martwick to negotiate with the Mayor’s people, Pres. Harmon is demonstrating deference and respect to the new (ish) mayor.

    At some point, after having given the city an opportunity to make its case, I would hope the senate president takes the hold off this process, and allows it to play out.


  4. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    Just in general it would make sense to consolidate all public pension plans under one house with similar rules regarding funding, but paying for that might be a trick.

    Mayor Lightfoot is going to make it harder on future reformers for pulling this stunt.


  5. - Chicagonk - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    The irony of Martwick pushing for an elected school board while two years ago he wanted to change the Cook County Assessor to an appointed role. He’s an opportunist.


  6. - thisjustinagain - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 11:01 am:

    Yet another fumble by Lightfoot and her incompetent staff. In other words, she still needs to have final say, because she’s Mayor. The “State of Chicago” has no case for their version that holds up to even weak scrutiny.


  7. - 1st Ward - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 11:04 am:

    Bruce Rauner must be advising Lori at this point. The Mayor of Chicago openly threatening to bankrupt teacher pensions. Political gold right there. How long until Lori backs Darren Bailey for Gov? There’s almost no constituency left to alienate.


  8. - Cooked County - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    Illegal Aliens running for the school board? Sure. Let’s let Russia and China name some candidates as well. The failure of our school systems is not because we don’t have non-citizen representation. It’s because we tolerate non-responsibility on the part of our parents and our neighbors.

    Yesterday’s double indictment of Thompson and Munoz offers a clear path for Mayor L. The indictments are a black mark, not on those two men, but rather the entire council. Why haven’t we provided ethical training for our alderman? That is clearly what is lacking. Thompson and Munoz can’t be blamed if they were never properly trained. /s/

    Chicago isn’t becoming a laughing stock. They passed that hurdle long ago.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 11:28 am:

    === It’s because we tolerate non-responsibility on the part of our parents and our neighbors.===

    Oh, please elaborate…

    To the post,

    What makes Lightfoot so terrible at the politics and using politics to change policy or legislation is the failure… time and time and time again… to get allies to rally around a principle or idea… and see it through with allies and support… and not be seen as someone who can’t be committed to what she ran on to become mayor.

    The rest?

    The rest is real incompetence. It starts with Lightfoot and it’s infected all around who advise and try to advocate for Lightfoot. If the mayor won’t listen or grasp outs to get wins, then staff and crew are not only failing Lightfoot but the city.

    When you overplay, like if you overcorrect, the counter to try to fix, in politics, always looks worse than just being plain wrong.


  10. - Big Jer - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 11:43 am:

    Back In September Fran Spielman of the Sun Times did an interview with Carol Marin on her career in the news business.

    In describing Chicago mayors and all big city mayors Marin used the word imperious. From web dictionaries imperious is arrogant, overbearing, with an attitude of authority and expecting obedience, and domineering in a haughty manner.

    Sounds like Lightfoot to me although I would add thin-skinned. Not much different than Rahm Emanuel but Rahm had political experience coming in where Lightfoot did not.

    The Carol Marin interview is embedded in this article in a podcast. The comments on mayors is around the 33 minute mark.

    https://chicago.suntimes.com/fran-spielman-show/2020/9/18/21446047/carol-marin-knowing-when-to-leave-wmaq-wttw


  11. - Montrose - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 12:06 pm:

    Is that the new policy? If the Mayor doesn’t have complete control over something, they won’t out any money into it? That seems perfectly reasonable. /s


  12. - Amalia - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 1:11 pm:

    I have no horse in the fight, but she is doing a terrible job and it is bad for the region and the state.


  13. - Public School Mom - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 1:28 pm:

    “Oh, please elaborate…”

    I’ll bite.

    Sadly, there are a number of parents that are delivering their children to school without proper nutrition, proper hygiene/clothing, completed homework or any level of respect for teachers and administrators.

    And yet, these parents, via food stamps have the ability to provide sustenance. Via 2nd hand clothing stores and charitable organizations, they can secure quality, clean clothes. Even if they are incapable of supervising homework, they still have the ability to provide some level of respect for authority.

    Lacking those, the child of the irresponsible parent, comes to class failing to secure a quality education, while likely impacting the educational environment for the fellow students.

    And it is against this backdrop that teachers are expected to deliver a quality experience.

    Responsible parents are, sadly, turning to private education for their children. It’s not because the education is better. It’s simply a smaller population of irresponsible parents.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 1:40 pm:

    === Sadly, there are a number of parents that are delivering their children to school without proper nutrition, proper hygiene/clothing, completed homework or any level of respect for teachers and administrators.===

    So… discipline. The parents and neighborhood *must* have disciple.

    If the family is poor, and have no food, or homeless living off others couches and such… how does that figure in?

    ===And yet, these parents, via food stamps have the ability to provide sustenance. Via 2nd hand clothing stores and charitable organizations, they can secure quality, clean clothes. Even if they are incapable of supervising homework, they still have the ability to provide some level of respect for authority.===

    So… it’s how kids are *raised*… they need to be raised better… or according to your standards… that you find acceptable? Family situations aren’t so neatly wound it’s “go to a thrift shop” simple.

    ===Lacking those, the child of the irresponsible parent, comes to class failing to secure a quality education, while likely impacting the educational environment for the fellow students.===

    You sound like Jeanne Ives.

    “We give people so much, free, they have everything, and they raise bad kids”

    ===Responsible parents are, sadly, turning to private education for their children.===

    It costs money to have private education.

    Leave behind bad kids. Dunno how society builds when you find people so… disposable… “unless they do as I deem acceptable”

    === It’s not because the education is better. It’s simply a smaller population of irresponsible parents===

    No.

    “Get rid of poor kids, undesirable kids, it’s better”

    Jeanne Ives logic.


  15. - Former Teacher - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    ” Family situations aren’t so neatly wound it’s “go to a thrift shop” simple.”

    Teaching respect, in the home, doesn’t cost a nickle.

    Get back to us, OW, after you’ve spent a day in a public school classroom.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 1:56 pm:

    ===Teaching respect, in the home, doesn’t cost a nickle.===

    You can “nickle” abd dime all you want.

    If you read for comprehension, it was about…

    “We give people all these things, they should be grateful, but their kids…”

    If you could read, it’s not about the idea of discipline… it’s the idea… “why do they have to be poor?”

    Like this doozy.

    ===It’s not because the education is better. It’s simply a smaller population of irresponsible parents===

    “Get rid of poor kids, undesirable kids, it’s better”

    Keep up. It’s not about discipline or respect.


  17. - Lyons - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 2:01 pm:

    OW,
    Too often it is believed that all solutions run through the government. But the solutions for education have to start in the home.
    If the solutions for education don’t start in the home, what’s your idea(s)?

    Because the current system is resulting in increasingly bad results.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 30, 21 @ 2:08 pm:

    === If the solutions for education don’t start in the home, what’s your idea(s)?===

    The mayoral candidate ran on a fully elected school board.

    That mayoral candidate now wants none of that, but wants a phony look but still control the school board

    You’re worried about *my* ideas, LOL, you should be wondering why the mayor can’t figure out that she’s so far out of her depths that she overplays every political problem she faces.

    === But the solutions for education have to start in the home.===

    … but let’s ignore homelessness, and let’s ignore poverty, and let’s make sure it’s about discipline when the only meal a child might get… is at school.

    “Why do the poor have to be poor” kinda rhetoric.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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