Chicago teachers union – greed and budget gaps

Editor’s Note – The Chicago School System issue is Wisconsin writ large. Please read the entire article below to glean the continuing lesson we are learning about public service employee and teacher unions. Isn’t it about the children; that’s the classic line from the left?

As we see here, the unions consistently support the very people they are dealing with in contract negotiations. Chicago has been a Democrat city for as long as anyone can remember (From Open Secrets):

Led by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, teachers unions contributed about $5.4 million to federal candidates, parties and committees during the 2008 election cycle.

As is true with unions in general, most of the money coming from this category goes to Democrats. Teachers unions contribute 95 percent of their funds to Democrats — a rate that’s above average among labor unions across the board. [Read more Background]

Chicago Teachers Strike Proves What Scott Walker Knows All Too Well: Unions are Greedy and Unnecessary

By John Giokaris – PolicyMic

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) went on strike on Monday after a summer-long standoff in which they were demanding a 30% raise from Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system.

After witnessing what Chicago’s mayor, as well as both Democratic and Republican governors of Illinois and Wisconsinhave been dealing with between satisfying organized labor and trying to close widening budget deficits, one has to now examine two questions that have not yet been discussed in the public sphere: Are unions even necessary in America anymore? And have union bosses become greedy?

Juan Williams and Kyle Olsen produced an excellent documentary earlier this year chronicling what Mayor Emanuel has been going through in trying to reform the Chicago public school education system called, “A Tale of Two Missions,” which I highly recommend watching.

When Emanuel came into office in May 2011, one of his most ambitious reforms was trying to extend the CPS school day. Until recently, the CPS school day was a mere 5 hours and 45 minutes – ranking last among the 10 largest cities in the U.S.

Emanuel argued that the city was unfairly “shortchanging” CPS students in instructional time, resulting in fewer future opportunities for them. He proposed extending the elementary school day to 7 hours and 30 minutes.

The CPS, in turn, then demanded a 30% salary raise. Keep in mind that CPS is a system where the average median salary for teachers is $76,450 a year, compared to the $53,976 made by the average private sector employee, where their graduation rate is barely half (55%), and where only 6 out of every 100 children in a system responsible for over 400,000 children will go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 26-years-old. A 30% raise would bring the average median salary to around $100,000 for a profession that works 170 days out of the year.

Chicago Teachers Strike Proves What Scott Walker Knows All Too Well Unions are Greedy and Unnecessary

Meanwhile, the CPS system was facing a budget deficit of $665 million in the $5.73 billion 2012-2013 fiscal year. To close it, Emanuel had to raise property taxes to their absolute legal limit, cut costs anywhere possible, and completely drain all its cash reserves. That still left $46 million to give CPS teachers a 2% raise for the longer school day.

Emanuel even scaled back his longer school day proposal from 7 and a half hours to just 7 hours in an effort to negotiate, but CTU boss Karen Lewis wouldn’t budge. So instead, Emanuel decided to hire an additional 477 teachers to fill in the longer school day with programs that are always on the chopping block such as music, art, foreign language, and physical education, which delivered students a longer school day without requiring CPS teachers to work longer hours.

Basically, there is no money left. Yet not only will the CTU not back down from its salary raise demands, but they’re also asking for unprecedented administrative powers that are traditionally reserved for the CPS, including managerial rights, job security guarantees, and a scaling back of teachers evaluations based on standardized test scores.

And they’re holding our students’ futures hostage by striking for the first time in 25 years.

With all the talk from liberal circles of private sector and corporate greed, how come no one has yet discussed public sector union greed? Because that’s what this is.

Meanwhile, Democratic Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, has his own problems with unions. Pension costs in Illinois are out of control. The state’s total unfunded pension liability now stands at $203 billion, ranking Illinois as the worst funded pension system in America. Illinois also owes $43.8 billion more than the net value of all its assets combined, also leaving us with the worst deficit in the nation, again due largely to our pension system. This has resulted in Illinois seeing its credit rating cut repeatedly by all major credit rating agencies, ranking us … you guessed it, dead last again in the nation.

In an effort to stop the state from drowning in pension debt, Quinn passed the largest tax hike in Illinois history: a 67% increase on all income earners and 46% increase on all businesses – all of which went to our pension system and still wasn’t enough to cover last year’s deficit, let alone any of Illinois’ other outstanding bills.

Quinn then proposed modest reforms to fix the system and extend its longevity, including: increasing public employee contributions by 3%, reducing the automatic annual cost-of-living increase in retirement, and increasing the retirement age to 67 for current employees, among others. According to Quinn, we could have our pension system 100% funded within the next generation by passing these reforms.

Not so fast, says the Illinois AFL-CIO boss Michael Carrigan, who on behalf of a coalition of unions, called the plan an endorsement of “unfair and unconstitutional cuts.”

Illinois unions have persistently protested and heckled Quinn all summer long for trying to fix our pension system, even chasing him all the way to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention.

After trying everything else, Quinn has nowhere left to go but to ask for some sacrifice from the people he has protected most in this state (and his voter base): the public sector unions. But they’re still fighting him every step of the way and won’t give up anything.

Meanwhile, north of the Illinois border, we all remember what Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker went through in passing his “Repair the Budget” bill, which reformed collective bargaining rights so that public sector employees contribute more for their own benefits (specifically, 5.8% toward their pensions and 12% toward their health care coverage – about HALF the private sector national average). The results have seen Wisconsin turn a $3.6 billion budget deficit into a $154 million surplusbalancing its budget for the first time in 30 years.

What’s more interesting, though, is what has happened to union membership in Wisconsin since passing CBA reform. Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) — the state’s second-largest public sector union after the National Education Association (NEA), which represents teachers — fell to 28,745 in February 2012 from 62,818 in March 2011.

Let me repeat that: After Walker passed CBA reform, the state public sector employee union contracted by more than 50%! The Wisconsin affiliate of the NEA has declined to comment on any membership change.

A provision of the Walker law that eliminated automatic dues collection is what hurt union membership. When a public sector contract expires, the state now stops automatically collecting dues from the affected workers’ paychecks unless they say they want those dues taken out. In many cases, the union dropped members from its rolls after it failed to get them to affirm they want dues collected.

So let me get this straight; when rank-and-file public sector union members are finally presented with an opportunity (or more like given the right) to break away from their union bosses and keep more of their own paycheck, they are evidently doing so in droves. Today, just one in eight American workers is a union member compared with more than one in three in the mid-1950s.

If that’s the case, then as I stated in the beginning, we must now ask ourselves two questions: Have unions outlasted their necessity? And have union bosses become greedy? I believe the events we are witnessing in Illinois and Wisconsin answer those questions loud and clear.

Utter hypocrisy – 'fair and balanced' abets misleading America

Editor’s Note – This election season is being called the most hate filled, divisive, and negative campaign – EVER! We still have almost 90 more days to go and the trend seems primed for even worse tactics and discourse – if you can call it that. Two things emerge above all the foam on the surface of this septic tank of rancor – “they all do it”, and “hypocrisy”.

The left accuse the right, and the right accuses the left – but on close inspection, “they all do it” fails under close scrutiny of scope, depth, and quantity, or as puts it, “Fair and Balanced” reporting. If you watch any segment on the so-called fair and balanced network, where someone from each camp emerges with their talking points – its unfair, and totally disingehuous to say they do things “equally.”

Segment after segment, the commentator treats both equally – as to say they’re arguments are equally valid – utterly straining credulity. Just once, it would be nice for someone like John Scott to say: “sir or madam, that is totally untrue, and you know it.” Then to allow the constant changing of the subject and/or bringing in some ancillary issue must stop, or they are guilty of aiding and abetting the propaganda and intentionally mis-leading the public. We dare anyone to prove that wrong – and guess which side we refer to?

Victor Davis Hanson once again nails part of the other cesspool denizen – hypocrisy:

Who gets a pass?

By Victor Davis Hanson – Town Hall

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently said of the Chick-fil-A fast-food franchise that “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago’s values.” Why? Because Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy is on record as being opposed to gay marriage — as is close to half the U.S. population, according to polls. The mayors of Boston and San Francisco also suggested that the company isn’t welcome in their cities.

Oddly, none of these public officials have lectured President Obama to keep clear of their cities. Yet until recently, Obama was likewise on record as opposing gay marriage. Why the exemption?

Nor have the mayors in question disinvited any black churches from their cities. Yet some pastors in churches with black congregations have been quite loud in their denunciations of gay marriage. Fundamentalist Islamic mosques routinely disparage homosexuals, often publicly so in their literature. Is there something about white Christian males that makes their opposition to gay marriage different from that of their black or Muslim counterparts?

Louis Farrakhan speaks in Chicago - he is welcome with his vile rhetoric yet Rahm Emmanuel does not thing Dan Cathy represents Chicago values.

Even as Emanuel warned Cathy that his company did not reflect “Chicago values,” his own city remains among the most murderous in the world. This year, Chicago youth have killed more Americans than have the Taliban in Afghanistan. Unable to stop the carnage, a desperate Emanuel welcomed in Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan to help quell the mostly black-on-black violence, even though the latter has a long record of racist and anti-Semitic tirades. Is the Chick-fil-A CEO a greater danger to Chicago than gun-toting gangs, or more illiberal than the racist Farrakhan?

Politics — not just race or religion — is also a key to the paradoxical double standard. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) just slandered Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Bill Magwood, an African-American, as “one of the most unethical, prevaricating, incompetent people I’ve dealt with.” Reid, furious with Magwood because of his support for the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Reid’s state, also called Magwood a “treacherous, miserable liar,” “a first-class rat” and a “sh-t stirrer.”

In 2008, Reid condescendingly attributed presidential candidate Barack Obama’s success to the fact that he was “light-skinned” and spoke “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

More recently, the crude Reid, in McCarthyesque fashion, claimed that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had not paid income taxes for 10 years — based on a rumor that an anonymous source supposedly had passed on to him. “His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son,” Reid said of the late George Romney, Mitt’s father.

Reid has demonstrated that he is both vulgar and illiberal, but there are no calls for him to vacate his post. That exemption was not extended to an earlier counterpart, Sen. Trent Lott (D-Miss.). Lott, in similarly illiberal and crass fashion, said at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party in 2002 that America would have avoided “all these problems over all these years” if Thurmond had been elected president in 1948. Lott was pressured by both the Republican Party and the media to step down, and he did so in shame.

There is a common theme here. Our self-appointed priests of fairness from time to time freely commit sins of intolerance. But don’t dare hold them to the same sort of accountability to which they hold other, less progressive Americans, whose similarly dumb remarks are not gaffes but rather windows into their prejudicial souls.

We must make allowances for the supposed Biblical conservatism of some black pastors in a way we cannot for the white, Christian CEO of Chick-fil-A. Farrakhan’s hatred cannot possibly earn him ostracism. We cannot extend the anger at evangelical Christians for their incorrect attitudes toward feminism and homosexuality to the Muslims who often share similar views.

Such selectivity is untenable. Classical Western liberalism was predicated on judging people as individuals — and on their merit and performance — rather than collectively as identity groups identified by gender, race and religion. Using illiberal means to advance supposedly liberal ends results not just in hypocrisy and cynicism, but in the current disaster of “Chicago values.”

Politically correct exemption is doomed, because who can sort out the conflicting agendas of various identity groups? Who certifies who’s really black, brown or white in a multiracial, intermarried America — Barack Obama or Elizabeth Warren? Who deserves how much compensation for which particular past oppression?

Can black pastors who oppose gay marriage be judged prejudicial? Is the Asian-American who opposes illegal immigration subject to the same charge of nativism leveled at so-called whites? Can Harry Reid be judged a bigot and McCarthyite if he claims he’s liberal?

A simple antidote to multiculturalism and political correctness is to evaluate all Americans on their actual behavior, regardless of their politics, race, gender or religion — in other words, a return to the ancient liberal idea that one common culture treats all sorts of different people absolutely the same.

Can America handle the Axelrod 'truth'?

SUA Staff – Why should we take a long, hard look again at David Axelrod? Because few paid attention before, when Obama and his associations were not properly vetted prior to 2008 and yesterday when he publicly told Republican attendees at a rally in Boston, that they “cant handle to the truth”. Tough line; one that sounded good when Jack Nicholson used it in the movie “A Few Good Men“, but can Axelrod stand the scrutiny himself?

Axelrod took a bold step standing in Romney territory spouting pro-Obama double-speak and Romney bashing. The Tea Party faithfuls would have none of that. The chants were so loud from Republicans, that Axelrod actually had to stop and address his opposition.

Just why is there such hard line opposition to Axelrod and his mission to re-elect Obama? Lets take that deeper look. Just recently, the American Spectator took a thorough historical sweep of Axelrod and his friends. One that today gives new insight into Chicago thuggery, and a new understanding of their beliefs in Communism and Marxism. Its a long story, but well worth the time to soak up who David Axelrod is and what motivates him and his crew.

Here is a powerful excerpt from that article:

…And these figures reveal that Axelrod—just like Barack Obama—is the product of some far-left influences, from the progressive left to the communist left. Like Obama, who was impacted by Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, and others, these figures unquestionably had an impact and surely help explain why Axelrod is on the left—and not the moderate left. Moreover, it is telling, but not surprising, that the mainstream media has dared not touch these influences, surely fearful of the danger of exposing them and their possible impact on today’s Oval Office.

It also shows how manufactured Obama is, how his message is not really his, rather its the message of a leftist king-maker. Axelrod, the perennial king-maker, has used the same theme for years.

The Boston speech and heckling, along with Axelrod’s words prompted Jennifer Rubin in her column “Axelrod Adrift”, where she shows us briefly the stark similarity in each of Axelrod’s political ventures as a king-maker:

If David Axelrod seems befuddled these days, even inadvertently making the case for “change” from the status quo (i.e., the Obama administration), it might be because all he has ever done is run races on “hope and change.” Over and over and over again.

Here are the similarities she mentions. In the case of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in October 2006 proclaimed:

“This election is a race between hope and fear, between division and community, between responsibility and blame, between whether we have the courage to change, to stay young forever, or whether we stay with the comfort of the status quo.”

…2004, when Axelrod teamed up with John Edwards. Edwards may have coined the insipid “two Americas,”

Going back to 2002, David Axelrod was touting Carl McCall for New York governor. And don’t you know it? Axelrod was telling voters that his candidate was “making the case for change.”

You can find the identical Axelrod message going back to the 1994 midterms, and before that to Richard M. Daley’s race for Chicago mayor in the late 1980s. There Axelrod was again, telling voters: “Chicago needs a change.”

Back to his formative times as an adult in politics and some critical excerpts from that American Spectator article by Paul Kengor:

When it comes to influence, a common bond among these fellow travelers, from the mentors to the mentored, is political work for African-American Democrats. David Canter and Don Rose seem to have had an influence not only on Axelrod’s politics but on his work in politics.

…After several busy years at the Tribune, he left his spot as one of the paper’s youngest political writers for the lure of political campaigns. His big break came not with his work on Harold Washington’s 1987 reelection campaign but with Illinois Senator Paul Simon. He first worked for Simon in 1984, before being hired to run Simon’s 1988 presidential bid.

He also gained quite the negative reputation and an affinity for African-American Democratic candidates:

Early on, Axelrod likewise gained a reputation for going negative. AChicago Magazine profile from December 1987, titled, “Hatchet Man: The Rise of David Axelrod,” stated: “Axelrod’s holier-than-a-hack image is also soiled by a penchant for airing negative television commercials.” Here, too, Axelrod was described as “creative” but “mercurial,” “tense,” filled with “anxiety” and impatience, “by nature nervous” and ever-ready to “blast the dickens” out of an opponent.

…Democrat office-seekers apparently admired the tactics, or the results. The clients came running, with the Ax honing a sharp affinity for African-American candidates, particularly mayoral prospects: Harold Washington in Chicago, Michael White in Cleveland, John Street in Philadelphia, Anthony Williams in Washington, Lee Brown in Houston. Like David Canter, he encouraged and helped black candidates appeal to white voters.

Soon he moved on to Mayor Daley in Chicago and became very close to Rahm Emmanuel. He became associated with larger and larger campaigns, and therefore the fees rose. He also made enemies in his own party like Pat Caddell, now a familiar face on news programs as a Democrat. Soon, his firm, AKP&D in partnership with John Kupper, David Plouffe, and John Del Cecato. He was also working with ASK Strategies with the addition of Eric Sedler.

In one way shape or form, he was performing well:

…four presidential campaigns and numerous senatorial, congressional, gubernatorial, and mayoral campaigns, with names ranging from Barack Obama to John Edwards, from Rod Blagojevich to Eliot Spitzer, from Patrick Kennedy to Rahm Emanuel.

Meeting Obama:

 Though it seems very likely they would have met in Chicago in the 1980s, liberal lore maintains that Axelrod and Obama were introduced in 1992 by Bettylu Saltzman, who the New York Timescalls “a Democratic doyenne from Chicago’s lakefront liberal crowd.” Saltzman met Obama at a 1992 black voter registration drive. She was blown away, telling friends she had met a man who would become the first black president. She immediately began introducing Obama to wealthy liberal donors-and to David Axelrod.

The old ties and the new meet, and the separation between Axelrod, Obama, and their ‘terrorist friends’ was something they constantly tried to widen in vain:

…Marilyn Katz, an old SDSer and Vietnam War protester who once threw nails in the Chicago streets to slow the police. Marilyn is pals with Don Rose and Carl Davidson, old SDS cronies. Davidson, one of SDS’s national leaders, and a dear friend of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, would become webmaster for the 2008 group, Progressives for Obama.

On to the Presidential run:

Axelrod saw in Obama a triumph of personality and image—not policy. Ax would be the shaper and keeper of the message—of hope and change. Says Donna Brazile, Democrat strategist, every Obama “let us” phrase in 2008 was Axelrod’s doing. “Yes, we can!” was as much Axelrod as Obama.

Even Karl Rove and his own mother were impressed at Axelrod’s abilities:

“What Mr. Obama and his team achieved was impressive,” said Rove, in an understatement.

Myril Axelrod. Still alive and still somewhere on the left, the aged ex-writer for PM danced in pleasure at her nursing home in Newton, Massachusetts. She also attended the inaugural ball. “Never in my lifetime have I seen something like this,” she thrilled. “It’s an extraordinary experience.”

With Axelrod, it all started with his mother:

Axelrod’s mother, Myril Bennett Axelrod, worked for the left-wing New York newspaper, PM. Although it lasted less than a decade (1940-48), PM became notorious because of its penetration by Stalinists and others who promoted the Communist Party line on issues both foreign and domestic. Kengor points out that PM‘s famed Washington correspondent, I.F. Stone, was subsequently identified as a Soviet agent both in the so-called “Venona” documents and also by a former top KGB official, Oleg Kalugin.

The hypochrisy:

While Axelrod decried these alleged diabolical GOP special interests and their obscene money-grubbing, his firms had raked in more than their “fair share” of obscene profits.

Bloomberg reported that Axelrod’s AKP&D and a Washington-based firm called GMMB profited handsomely from Obama’s health care reform. “Two firms that received $343.3 million to handle advertising for Barack Obama’s White House run last year have profited from his top priority as president by taking on his push for healthcare overhaul,” reported Bloomberg in August 2009. ”

One is AKPD Message and Media, the Chicago-based firm headed by David Axelrod until he left last Dec. 31 to serve as senior adviser to the president. Axelrod was Obama’s top campaign strategist and is now helping sell the healthcare plan.” (There is more here as well, read the rest here.)

The split that was not a split. He did not get replaced by Plouffe as much as it was time to see family, rejoin Rahm Emmanuel, and get back to what he does best, get his leftist friends elected or re-elected, and now we see him in places like Boston, with the same old tried and true negative politics and those hollow words of “hope and change.”