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The [Friday] Papers

Ben Joravsky appeared on Chicago Tonight last night with Diana Ferguson, the chief financial officer of Chicago Public Schools, to discuss Joravsky's Reader article about CPS CEO Ron Huberman and other higher-ups taking pay raises while screaming bloody budget murder. Phil Ponce moderated. Let's take a look. Excerpts edited for clarity.

Ferguson: It's really important to set the record straight. Ron Huberman has not received a salary increase since he walked in the door. The only change has been a decrease, through furloughs, unpaid days . . . the only change will be a decrease of approximately six percent.

Joravsky: It's a fine point which I've now heard many times in the last 24 hours as Diane and I have become best friends. The reality is that in August 2008, the Chicago Board of Education approved $204,000 for their chief executive, who was Arne Duncan at the time. When Ron Huberman took office in January 2009, he was immediately given a salary of $230,000. It's not technically a raise for Ron Huberman, just a raise over the previous CEO.

*

Ferguson: Certain budgeted positions do show a change in individual salaries . . . We welcome their scrutiny and input . . . a small number of individuals were budgeted for an increase.

Ponce: Why?

Ferguson: The breadth and complexity of Chicago Public Schools merits the salaries that are being offered to the professionals who need to come in and lead the district. It's important not to focus on an individual's salary. The point here is that even in aggregate the total sum of those increases pale in comparison to the $6 billion operating deficit we're facing.

*

Ferguson: Since Ron Huberman has come in, there is not a single non-union person who has received a merit increase.

Joravsky: I don't buy that. I think these are fine distinctions that go over most people's heads. The facts of the matter are that the Chicago Board of Education allocated more money to these positions over the past year. And there is a difference between how much they get paid and what they are budgeted to be paid; in some cases, more. Duncan was getting more money than he was budgeted to receive - an additional $8,000.

Ferguson: Several people are being paid less than budgeted salaries.

Joravsky: There's a great deal of confusion and misinformation; the budget states one thing, the payroll states something else.

*

Ferguson: We invited Ben in for an hour.

Joravsky: There was a lot of love in that room. It was the first time I've ever been invited to the Board of Education. There was a remarkable difference [in cooperation] from before the article was written to after the article was written.

*

So, to recap and comment:

A) Ron Huberman was awarded an annual salary $26,000 higher than Arne Duncan was getting.

B) Because it's a complicated job and generous salaries are needed to lure just the right candidates to the job.

C) Huberman wasn't lured to the job; he was sent there by his paymaster, Richard M. Daley.

D) That argument is always employed to justify the salaries executive set for themselves, but never for front-line workers. For example, one might argue that higher salaries would lure better teachers.

E) Individual salaries are a drop in the bucket compared to the huge problem confronting us. True, but this is an argument employed to justify those who set budgets protecting their take. Single line items always pale compared to the big picture; a million-dollar earmarks is nothing compared to the whole of the federal budget. But it's a start. And who gets that million dollars? Each line item that management slashes is also tiny when set against the whole. And finally, management protecting their own undermines public - and employee - confidence in the integrity of the system and those guiding it.

F) Joravsky suggested that CPS put not only its budget online but its payroll so the public could see how money is actually spent. Yes. Budgets are highly fungible. Payrolls document money actually spent.

G) Why is CPS so secretive? Ferguson didn't have an hour to sit down with Joravsky before it became a PR imperative?

H) Would Huberman actually quit if his salary was reduced to Duncan's level? And in tough times like this, shouldn't he make less than Duncan? Management doesn't appear to have sacrificed at all; taking furlough days doesn't impress me.

*

"However much taking out all that pent up wrath on the working men and women of the CPS may satisfy the blood lust of teacher-bashing ideologues and politicians, beating the schools with the Huberman Hammer isn't going to make them any better," driftglass writes. Click through for the Photoshop magic, if nothing else.

Deja Chicago
"One month after O'Hare Airport's ousted security chief called O'Hare the 'least secure airport in the country,' City Hall has chosen a 28-year veteran Chicago firefighter to take his place," the Sun-Times reports.

"Richard Edgeworth, director of training for the Chicago Fire Department, replaces career police officer Jim Maurer, who was forced out last fall.

"Edgeworth will be paid $161,000-a-year, a nine percent increase from his current salary and 23 percent more than Maurer was paid. "

Daley's diet not going so well. Maybe the city needs to hire a personal trainer with budgeting skills. Is that Tae Bo guy still around?

The Daley Show
"Mayor Daley's nephew refused to explain today why he tried to help the daughters of a Bridgeport neighbor win backdoor admission to an elite Chicago public high school," the Sun-Times reports.

*

"According to the city's list of registered lobbyists, Thompson's clients currently include: 24/7 Outdoor, Centrum Properties, the John Buck Co., McHugh Construction, MB Financial Bank, Alexian Brothers and LaQuinta Hotels."

Assignment Desk
John Kass to Salerno's!

Forrest Gump
So, not only did Forrest Claypool not contribute money to Ray Figueroa nor speak out on his behalf (see the item Claypool of Mud), he didn't even pull a ballot in the primary, according to a trusted source who checked the records. That's right, reformer Claypool didn't vote in February, though he's asking you to vote (for him) next fall. Nice.

Obama's Ambassadors
Meet the new boss . . .

Things He Loves About Being Married
Three hots and a cot, having a date on national holidays, and having a wife who is hot. In Drew Adamek's latest list.

Facebook Feed
Matt Farmer thinks Tiger Woods would have a better chance this week if the old white guys in green coats had renamed their event the Masters and Johnson Tournament.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Masterful.



Permalink

Posted on April 9, 2010


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