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That toddlin’ town roundup

Friday, Mar 24, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is a rather odd way of saying that Mayor Lightfoot slashed the CPS budget by hundreds of millions of dollars

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has also shifted other expenses from the city budget to CPS. Those include non-teacher pensions — a cost that has grown every year and which CPS officials project to reach $315 million by 2026 — and crossing guards and school police officers, worth $30 million combined. The mayor gave CPS more TIF dollars but not enough to cover the shifting costs.

And now CPS wants a state bailout.

In my opinion, the city ought to put that money back before there’s any talk of additional funding.

* Brandon Johnson press release…

Commissioner Brandon Johnson released the following statement on a breaking news story detailing Paul Vallas’ severe mismanagement of Chicago Public Schools finances:

“This report makes clear that Paul Vallas failed Chicago students and families while benefitting his Wall Street donors. Paul Vallas betrayed Chicago just like he betrayed Philadelphia and New Orleans school systems. His trail of destruction must come to an end. Paul Vallas must not be allowed to continue failing up. The people of Chicago deserve fully funded neighborhood schools, not financial schemes that enrich Wall Street while leading to higher property taxes for Chicago’s working families.”

The report, detailed in a news story tonight, shows that Vallas issued $666 million worth of so-called “payday loan” bonds that resulted in $1.5 billion in interest payments — an effective interest rate of 223 percent. These massive loan payments then went to the same Wall Street banks and huge fund donors that now back Vallas’ campaign.

The full news report is here.

* Paul Vallas press release…

Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas is releasing a new television ad that shows exactly how dangerous his opponent Brandon Johnson’s plans to defund the police would be for Chicago. “911 Unanswered” highlights the 21,000 high priority emergency calls that were not responded to by the Chicago Police Department last year due to a lack of available officers or cars. If Johnson has his way and makes deep cuts to the police, the city’s manpower crisis will become even more acute and response times will get worse, putting Chicagoans in danger.

The ad is available here:

“Chicago has an immediate public safety crisis that the next Mayor must address, and cutting the police budget like Brandon Johnson supports will only make this devastating situation worse,” said Vallas. “The only way to make our neighborhoods safer and reduce response times is to adopt a true community policing strategy, put more officers onto the local beats and rebuild trust between the police and the residents. That will be my focus on day one as Mayor.”

I don’t think that spot has the pop of previous Vallas ads.

* WTTW looks at Vallas’ pledge to convince “hundreds” of retired Chicago police officers to return to the force

In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass backed plans to rehire 200 retired police officers in January. However, representatives of the police union representing Los Angeles officers said there had been very little interest from retired officers, according to the Los Angeles Times. The department has yet to announce if any officers have rejoined the Los Angeles Police Department.

Vallas’ promise is “uniformed, naïve or dishonest,” said Tom Needham, who served as the top lawyer for the Chicago Police Department between 1998 and 2002. He now operates his own law firm and is not publicly supporting a candidate for mayor.

“It is just not going to happen,” Needham said. “He should stop saying this or offer some proof.”

Most officers decide to retire for a host of reasons after they serve at least 29 years and one day on the force, ensuring they maximize their pension benefits, said Needham, a resident of Edison Park who comes from a family of police officers. Officers also face a mandatory retirement age of 63, according to departmental policy.

“I don’t believe guys up and retire because of who is in the mayor’s office,” Needham said. “They definitely grouse about it, though.”

* Vallas…

Former Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama and longtime Chicago civic leader Arne Duncan is endorsing Paul Vallas for Mayor. The founder of the non-violence organization CRED and a former CEO of Chicago Public Schools who succeeded Vallas in the position, Duncan made his endorsement in a Chicago Tribune Op-Ed piece that ran this morning and read in part:

“… Paul Vallas would be the best person to push CPD into the modern age and bring change to a toxic, broken police culture. Vallas comes from a family of police and, as an unpaid adviser to the FOP and the union representing police sergeants, he negotiated meaningful reforms in both contracts. … given the desperate need to reform CPD, tell police the truth and hold them accountable, Vallas is our best hope for a safer Chicago.”

Duncan is the latest high-profile Democratic leader to back Vallas’ campaign, joining former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, former Congressman Bobby Rush, a plethora of local Aldermen representing all corners of the city and more.

“I have known Arne Duncan for many years and the work he has done as an education leader in Chicago and alongside President Obama in Washington has positively impacted the lives of millions of students,” said Vallas. “I have the deepest respect and admiration for Arne’s commitment to frontline work on violence prevention and re-entry support programming in our long-neglected South and West Side neighborhoods. Arne is absolutely right that our city needs a leader who has the confidence of the rank and file police in order to make the changes necessary at the department to not only make Chicago safer, but to repair the broken relationship between the police and the community. I’m grateful to Arne Duncan for supporting my campaign.”

* Johnson yesterday…

Today, former Cook County Clerk David Orr endorsed Brandon Johnson for mayor.

“I’m proud to support Brandon Johnson for mayor and believe he is the right candidate to provide thoughtful, ethical leadership for the city of Chicago,” said Orr. “Commissioner Johnson has the passion and principles to be the effective leader our city needs in this moment.”

Orr served as Cook County Clerk from 1990 to 2018, and prior to his tenure as Clerk, as Alderman of the 49th ward in Chicago City Council from 1979 to 1990. In 2018, Orr created Good Government Illinois, a political action committee to support election reform, campaign finance reform, and candidates that share good governance values.

“I’m humbled to be endorsed by Clerk Orr and am grateful for his dedication to lifting up local good government leaders,” said Commissioner Johnson. “Clerk Orr honorably served the people of Cook County and Chicago for decades and I am grateful for his wisdom and support.”

* Rep. Mah…

The first Asian American leader elected to the Illinois General Assembly, Rep. Theresa Mah—whose district overlaps with the 11th Ward communities of Armour Square, Bridgeport, Chinatown and McKinley Park—issued the following statement in response to 11th Ward aldermanic candidate Anthony Ciaravino’s comments on WBEZ dismissing the importance of Asian representation on City Council:

“After years of organizing, agitating and fighting for representation on the Chicago City Council, the Asian American community finally saw our dream realized last year with the redistricting of the new 11th Ward–the city’s first Asian-majority ward, with Chinatown as its centerpiece. It was a crucial moment that finally recognized the importance of our community’s contributions, and ensured our interests would be effectively represented in City Hall.

“That’s why it was profoundly disturbing to hear 11th Ward aldermanic candidate Anthony Ciaravino on WBEZ saying he does not see the value in Asian representation on City Council.

“In the report, WBEZ reporter Esther Yoon-Ji Kang asked Mr. Ciaravino: ‘What is your response to [Chinatown community members’] hopes for Asian representation. Is that important at all?’ Mr. Ciaravino responded: ‘I don’t think so.’

“Whether it relates to public safety, language access, small business support, social services or City service delivery, our community has unique needs that must be addressed by a leader who respects and understands them. This statement from a person seeking to represent the 11th Ward is appalling and offensive. Our community must act affirmatively to wholly reject his candidacy on April 4.”

Ciaravino is running against Ald. Nicole Lee, the first Asian American woman and first Chinese American member of the City Council.

* Isabel’s roundup…


  1. - Amalia - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 12:46 pm:

    Wow, that WTTW story on Vallas and retired cops. Wow.

  2. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:01 pm:

    Is Tom Needham a police abolitionist now or something?

  3. - Big Dipper - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==Wow, that WTTW story on Vallas and retired cops. Wow.==

    So many move to the Sunbelt that even if they were inclined to return they couldn’t.

  4. - Forever906 - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:12 pm:

    == Mayor Lightfoot slashed the CPS budget by hundreds of millions of dollars… ==

    She did so by saying that CPS should pay for CPS employee pensions, not the city government. CPS has its own taxing authority and can come up with the revenues however they like. But they want all the benefits without having to be the ones to levy the taxes to pay for them.

  5. - Sue - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:16 pm:

    Callas has been gone from CPS for what like 15 years. If he is responsible for the current budget issues then Obama is responsible for today’s inflation. Johnson is just an outright liar. Maybe he can give back his CPS sweetheart pension CTU arranges for ITS staff

  6. - Friendly Bob Adams - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:17 pm:

    Re: the quote on the Vallas proposal to hire retired cops being “uniformed, naïve or dishonest”, I think we can rule out naive.

  7. - Loop Lady - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:20 pm:

    I’m thinking if the old saying that the chickens are coming home
    to roost.

    Such a consequential election.

  8. - Big Dipper - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:20 pm:

    Uniformed is kind of a funny typo re cops.

  9. - City Zen - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:37 pm:

    == shifted other expenses from the city budget to CPS. Those include non-teacher pensions==

    Shouldn’t the pension for a school maintenance worker fall under the school district’s budget?

  10. - Rich Miller - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:39 pm:

    ===fall under the school district’s budget? ===

    The point is that much of the budget shortfall was artificially created when the mayor, in a huff over the elected school board law, cut off the funding. Don’t ask for a state bailout after that.

  11. - Original Rambler - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:44 pm:

    Retired cops are not coming back in any sort of impactful numbers.

    As to Duncan endorsement, I was reading the article this morning and the direction he was going had me convinced he was endorsing Johnson. Then he pulled the rug out from under me.

    Still undecided.

  12. - Big Dipper - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 1:51 pm:

    == and the direction he was going had me convinced he was endorsing Johnson==

    Maybe like many he is confused about what Vallas actually stands for.

  13. - Amalia - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 3:56 pm:

    @three dimensional checkers, Tom Needham’s father was a very high ranking Chicago Police officer, brass. Needham’s law biz frequently involves defending officers. He’s risking ire with the source of his biz to tell the truth as he sees it on Vallas and the myth of returning cops. it’s stunning.

  14. - TinyDanxcer(FKASue) - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 6:03 pm:

    =…Vallas issued $666 million worth of so-called “payday loan” bonds that resulted in $1.5 billion in interest payments… =

    Thank you. I remembered the bonds, but couldn’t remember what they were:

    Capital Appreciation Bonds:

  15. - TionyDancer(FKASue) - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 6:06 pm:

    I remember years ago attending a forum at the Athenaeum Theatre in which he participated and as we were leaving I stopped and asked him about the bonds, but he had no good reply.

  16. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 6:10 pm:

    Capital Appreciation Bonds.

  17. - ZC - Friday, Mar 24, 23 @ 6:54 pm:

    >> CPS has its own taxing authority and can come up with the revenues however they like.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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