The [Friday] Papers
"Faith-based groups that have become the face of community support for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's controversial plans to lengthen the school day and close failing schools also receive millions of dollars in grants from his administration," the Tribune reports.
"City Hall has long enjoyed the support of church leaders who receive grants to run after-school programs and other social services, but that relationship is coming under new scrutiny in response to complaints that some groups paid people to testify in support of Emanuel reforms at recent public hearings."
Back to the Tribune:
"One of the key players touting grass-roots support for Emanuel's agenda is the Rev. Roosevelt Watkins, a minister and longtime ally of former Mayor Richard Daley who has seen an uninterrupted flow of contracts to provide services to Chicago Public Schools students. Watkins acknowledged his group pays small stipends to people who receive training as community activists and attend public meetings."
Pro-City Hall "activists," that is.
"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said school officials 'cannot control or dictate who may or may not attend' a public meeting."
I mean, if homeless people and churchgoers with no personal stake in any particular school issue want to show up at a public meeting and voice support for our side even though they don't know what they're voicing support for in exchange for a small fee, who are we to control that? I mean, outside of encouraging it through our explicit or implicit blessing of conducting politics as usual by delivering millions of dollars in city contracts to those doing the organizing?
"A roughly one-month, $1 million contract was awarded for this spring to three groups, including HOPE, for a program designed to keep children off the street during school breaks. In June, Emanuel's then-newly appointed schools CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, lauded the Safe Haven, Safe Summer program, which the district said involved about 100 churches.
"In July, Watkins' group was among 10 community organizations that collectively received a one-year, $6.3 million Safe Passage contract to watch over children going to and from school and to defuse potential conflict, according to public records.
"And on the cusp of the new school year in August, Emanuel attended a breakfast at U.S. Cellular Field with hundreds of pastors and encouraged them to sermonize about the benefits of a longer school day and year. Watkins sat at the head table next to the mayor and Brizard. Many pastors signed a pledge to support a longer school day."
For a dollar more, they would have pledged to support a shorter school day. For two dollars more, they would have pledged to support no school day!
They are men of God.
"In his statement, Watkins defended the practice of paying community members to participate.
"'Like every other neighborhood, members of the faith community engage residents, parishioners and activists on how to (effect) change, including participating in community meetings on issues of significant importance - like education,' Watkins said. 'Often, for their time and involvement in training programs and activities, we provide a small stipend to help offset expenses such as transportation, food and child care.'"
"Watkins invited CPS to review his group's accounting and said 'none of these activities were funded by CPS Safe Haven and Safe Passage grants to the HOPE Organization.'
"Carroll, the CPS spokeswoman, said 'every CPS dollar invested in these programs supported the safety and security of our students and was not used to serve any other purpose.'"
Because money isn't fungible!
Also, if Carroll conducted an audit that quickly she should run for comptroller.
I wonder why City Hall didn't have their activists arrested for disturbing the peace, obstructing justice and, let's see, jaywalking would be a good one too. We'll think of more when we get to the station.
Unused line: Activists must be back by midnight or additional fees will apply!
A Mother's Lament
"Calvette Mixon and her son Robert sued Chicago, its Board of Education and six of its members, Hubbard High School principal Andrew Manno and police Cmdr. C.J. Kupczeyk, in Federal Court.
"Robert Mixon was shot on Jan. 26, 2010. Robert is black; Hubbard has a predominantly Latino student body. It is an inner-city school on Chicago's South Side.
"The Mixons' attorney, Sean Mulroney, told Courthouse News in an interview:
"'The real problem is the mother tried to do everything she could to prevent the situation. She knew that her son and some of his friends had been targeted. She went to the principal, the Board of Education and the head of the district. She told them this was going to be a problem and got no help from anybody. Had they done anything, as simple as walking the kids to the bus, this could have been avoided.'"
Maybe she should have hired some churchgoers.
The Week in Chicago Rock
Signed, Epstein's Mother
The Beachwood Tip Line: Astrological.
Posted on January 27, 2012
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