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Est. April 5, 2002
December 17, 2015 - Issue 634

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Connecting the Dots
Cartel Public Education
Privatization Surrogate
Rahm Emanuel Will Go
Part V

"Emanuel’s departure from office will be a model
for the removal of other high profile Cartel surrogates
who are decimating public education across the nation.
It will also give them pause as they give further
thought to carrying water for the Cartel."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is at a crossroads of survival in the political arena. He has rigidly adhered to the Cartel agenda of privatization of city services that has trapped him in a web of lies and deceit. Despite the tens of millions of dollars it invested in him and the political cover that has been provided him by his close political ally, President Barack Obama, Rahm is about to do the “Richard Nixon”—resign his office after a successful reelection as a result of a criminal crisis, Watergate. Due to a multiracial, multi-class coalition of concerned Chicagoans committed to social and racial justice, jumpstarted by Black Lives Matter, evidence is emerging that Emanuel has abused his political office (like Nixon) and has run roughshod over the city’s African American and Hispanic communities. His major misstep is that he lacks a comprehensive understanding of the black political context, the impact of Chicago black community’s continuing social and educational oppression, and the consequences of a political double-cross.

Black Political Context

Black Chicagoans are in their third century of substantive political involvement in Illinois and Chicago politics. Harold Cruse, the late African American history professor at the University of Michigan, in three essays in the now defunct Black World in 1971, labelled Harlem, New York, the cultural capital; Detroit, Michigan, the labor capital; and Chicago, Illinois, the political capital of black America, respectively. Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the nationally known anti-lynching and civil rights advocate, was actively involved in Illinois and Chicago politics in the 19th century. Her husband, Ferdinand, was named Cook County’s first black assistant state’s attorney in 1896. In 1929, Oscar De Priest (a Republican), who had become wealthy from real estate investments and the stock market, was the first African American elected to the U.S. Congress in the 20th century. Since that time, Chicago has produced more than a dozen U.S. Congressmen and Congresswomen, three of the six U.S. Senators since Reconstruction, and the first African American U.S. President. Although blacks have served as reliable cogs in Chicago political machines, they have also broken away from time to time when political and social oppression became unbearable and when the black aldermen and precinct captains could no longer control the rank and file masses.

In 1983, after Mayor Jane Byrne disrespected Chicago’s African American community, a coalition of black political operatives came together, notwithstanding political differences, along with liberal whites, to elect Congressman Harold Washington as Chicago’s first African American mayor. Nine years later, it would spearhead the victory of Illinois,’ and the nation’s, first black female U.S. Senator, Carol Moseley Braun, and elect a second black U.S. Senator, Barack Obama, in 2004, who would go on to be elected U.S. President in 2008. What this political progression reveals is that black Chicagoans have skills in the political arts and that they cannot be taken for granted for long periods of time.

Black Social and Educational Oppression

The declining social fortunes of Chicago’s African Americans coincided with the Cartel’s collaboration with Mayor Richard M. Daley to turn over the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to the private sector, beginning in 1995, through systematic school closings and reopening them as corporate-owned and/or managed charter schools. This pattern of public school privatization persisted until 2011 when Daley handed the reins to his successor, Rahm Emanuel. Toward the end of Daley’s last term, the moribund Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), which had largely capitulated to corporate interests gained new leadership. Karen Lewis, running as the candidate for the CTU Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE), as a fierce opponent of public school privatization, gained control of the CTU, becoming president in 2010. She immediately began to forcefully defend public education.

One year later, Emanuel was inaugurated as mayor, winning fifty-five percent of the vote in a multi-candidate primary, which included the former African American U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, whom he bested in every black precinct, avoiding a run-off. With that triumph, he felt invincible and believed he could do anything to Chicago’s African American community. Emanuel had the black alderpersons backing his every play and remaining largely silent as he allowed the police to ramp up shootings and mistreatment of their constituents and the Cartel to decimate K-12 education. Working hand-in-hand with the Cartel, Emanuel brought in two Broad Superintendent Academy-developed superintendents in succession, Dr. Jean Claude Brizzard, who was destroying the Rochester, New York Public Schools before he was forced out, followed by Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who stole millions of dollars from Chicago’s school children. He was all in for the Cartel agenda believing that he would ascend to Governor of Illinois and, perhaps, become the first U.S. President of Jewish heritage. He has close connections with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, current President Barack Obama, and likely future President Hillary Clinton, having worked in the White House for both.

Karen Lewis, the new CTU president, was bound to lock horns with Emanuel as he escalated his attack on the Chicago Public Schools. He authorized the closing of 100 schools and their transition to corporate charters in the African American and Hispanic sections of the city, forced mediocre professional development on principals and teachers in spite of their complaints about its uselessness, and unilaterally demanded that forty percent of teachers’ evaluation be based on students’ standardized tests. In 2012, in heated discussions during negotiations for a new teachers’ contract, Emanuel referred to Karen Lewis with a sexist and profane term, used to demean women, to intimidate her. She never blinked and organized a teachers strike, with the full support of parents and community leaders, although national and local print and broadcast media heaped heavy criticism on this work stoppage. Organized two months before the 2012 presidential election, the decision threw the Obama campaign brain trust into a tailspin.

The end of the strike, which lasted seven-days, was facilitated by union leaders in the battleground states (Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Iowa, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, etc.) making plans to send their members to Chicago to march in solidarity with their brothers and sisters. The Obama campaign relied heavily on teachers in these states to run phone banks, distribute literature, and knock on doors to turn out the vote. When these strategies became apparent, President Obama called Mayor Emanuel and directed him to make the necessary concessions to end the teachers’ walkout as his reelection was in peril. A chastened Emanuel met with the CTU President, without calling her any names, and reached a settlement agreement. Had teachers from the swing states left their posts to come to Chicago, Obama’s eventual victory would have been in serious jeopardy as he won these state by less than four percentage points.

Meanwhile, as Emanuel was held temporarily to a stalemate by Karen Lewis, and the Chicago police continued to wantonly shoot and beat African American and Hispanic citizens while the Mayor ignored their actions. Then a pushback arose within the black community in the aftermath of the questionable shootings of Rekia Boyd (whose police killer was acquitted of manslaughter) and Laquan McDonald (whose police killer was charged with first degree murder and is awaiting trial). In both cases, the City of Chicago has paid out $5 million. Since 2004, the city has paid out more than $521 million, averaging a payout of more than $47 million a year. Black Lives Matter; the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression; CTU; law firms, Loevy & Loevy and the Peoples Law Firm; a host of grassroots, civic, and community organizations; and a representative group of Chicago clergy have weighed in and are calling for the mayor’s resignation, and his expected political supporters are abandoning a sinking ship.

Consequences of Emanuel’s Political Double-Cross

A major reason Rahm Emanuel will go is that he has double-crossed his fellow Democrats. During the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial election, he worked underneath to support the election of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner against the incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quin. Gov. Rauner, also supported by the Cartel, has launched a sustained attack on public-sector unions, focusing on state workers and teachers, major voting blocs of the Democratic Party. Rauner issued an executive order permitting state workers not to pay agency fees to a union who bargained on their behalf for salary and benefits that they did not wish to join. Currently, he is refusing to negotiate with the Democratic-controlled Illinois legislature on teacher benefits and salary while enjoying the quiet support of Emanuel. These actions have invoked the ire of Mike Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, who is trying to broker a deal.

Last week, an Illinois State Representative, La Shawn Ford, introduced a bill that would allow Chicago citizens to recall Mayor Emanuel, stating that voters had lost "trust and confidence" in the mayor. In addition, Speaker Madigan’s daughter, Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting a civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department over the initially strenuous objections of Emanuel. After it became clear that there was little public support for his position and that President Obama would not block the request, he relented and endorsed it. Emanuel then gave an emotional apology for the police shootings to no avail. The community accepted it but still asked for his resignation. Black alderpersons have begun to distance themselves from the mayor as they are concerned about their own political futures. Emanuel’s next big test is the negotiation of a new teachers’ contract as the teachers have already authorized a strike if their demands are not met. He has betrayed so many Democrats and political allies that he is becoming a man alone.

Like the late President Richard Nixon, who was in office for a year and a half after his landslide reelection drubbing of Sen. George McGovern in 1972, Emanuel is caught up in his own Watergate-type crisis. He has deceived the community and has likely committed grave federal-and state-level criminal acts at worst or has obstructed justice at best. His opening of a refurbished school in Chicago’s south side African American community last week, where he has closed dozens of schools during his tenure as mayor, is not enough to quell the calls for him to leave office. Moreover, his obvious cover-up of the Laquan McDonald murder by police, and what is widely believed to be numerous others, are probably the final nails in his political coffin. Emanuel’s departure from office will be a model for the removal of other high profile Cartel surrogates who are decimating public education across the nation. It will also give them pause as they give further thought to carrying water for the Cartel. And it will be instructive to see him fall while one of his best friends, the President of the United States, Barack Obama refuses to help him.

It is time for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to leave office, and he will go. Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has appeared on the Today Show with Matt Lauer and National Public Radio’s The Connection to discuss public school privatization, and he has lectured to parent, teacher, and union groups throughout the nation. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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