The [Wednesday] Papers
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel has denied requests for public records that might shed light on his decisions to raise vehicle fees and water rates and to legalize speeding camera tickets that could hit drivers with $100 fines," the Tribune reports.
"It's the latest in a pattern of records denials from the mayor, who proclaimed a new commitment to transparency at City Hall under his leadership."
A chip off the ol' boss.
"After Emanuel announced his budget plans, the Tribune reported that there is little evidence to back up his claims that minivans and sport utility vehicles - singled out for big increases under the original proposal - cause more damage to roads. His revised fee plan passed by the City Council lowered the increases but broadened them to cover more vehicles"
(I put in that link, by the way. If you buy me lunch, Tribune, I'll show you how!)
"The newspaper also reported that the water and sewer rate hikes that would double many Chicago homeowners' bills by 2015 would also be passed along to the suburbs. Some suburban officials have questioned how the city plans to use the money."
"Separately, the mayor announced and gained quick state legislative approval for his plan to install speed cameras at 79 intersections near schools and parks, arguing that the first-ever use of such cameras in Illinois is needed to protect children. Tribune reports have questioned the statistics cited by the administration and disclosed that the legislation, awaiting action from Gov. Pat Quinn, would give Emanuel authority to expand the potentially lucrative program to nearly half the city."
Is anything true that this guy says?
See also: Reading Rahm: The Master Media Manipulator.
"[T]he trends show that despite their celebrated autonomy, discipline and longer school days, charter schools are struggling to overcome the poverty that so often hampers underperforming neighborhood schools.
"Charters with the highest numbers of students from low-income families or those with recognized learning disabilities almost universally scored the lowest last year on state exams, a trend common throughout CPS."
"A report to be released Wednesday by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution ranks CPS second among large urban districts in providing choices for parents aside from traditional neighborhood schools. Expanding those options is a major point of emphasis for Emanuel and CPS chief Jean-Claude Brizard.
"But the majority of charter schools in Chicago and around the U.S. rely on nonunion teachers, who are frequently paid lower wages and asked to work longer hours."
"In short, most regular high schools in Chicago - with their unionized teachers - are beating the charters, at least when it comes to ACT scores," Ben Joravsky reported earlier this month for the Reader upon Senator Mark Kirk's claim that nine of the top 10 high schools in Chicago were charters. Kirk's critics should be aware that he was only making a claim that Emanuel himself made during his mayoral campaign.
"Rahm Emanuel asserted that besides Northside and Walter Payton, two public magnet schools, 'the seven best-performing high schools are all charters,'" Joravsky recalls.
"That's not any more true than what Kirk said. If anything, it's a more egregious falsehood than Kirk's. After all, Kirk's connection to Chicago is largely limited to using it as a place to raise money when he's not using it as a whipping boy to win over Chicago-hating voters from downstate and the suburbs.
"Emanuel, on the other hand, was running for mayor. So you'd think he'd at least know a few of the basics about the schools he was promising to reform."
So Rahm is either just plain wrong or simply lying about his budget and his education reform plan; arguably the two early pillars of his administration. Responding - as he is required by law - to the Tribune's records requests could shed light on whether he's misinformed, which seems highly unlikely given his highly touted smarts, or he's purposely not telling the truth, which he's spent much of his career doing.
Either way, the media-hyped political "win" of his unanimously passed budget says as little about the realities at-hand as they did during the reign of Richard M. Daley, whose legacy as a management miracle worker has disintegrated faster than Lance Louis chasing down an opposing linebacker.
The facts are the facts, and Rahm Emanuel is either not familiar with them or doesn't care. Do you?
"It is not a conflict to give kids a good education," he said at a news conference touting AUSL. "It's the responsibility I have as mayor. The conflict would be if I knew it was here and I was scared to do it because of politics."
A) Is it a conflict to give kids a bad education?
"A growing body of research indicates Chicago's Renaissance 2020 plan to close, phase out, consolidate or turn around schools and turn them over to private charter school operators or selective enrollment schools does not benefit low-income students of color."
Which accounts for 86% of CPS students.
B) Rahm has never been scared of politics.
"Even though PURE sent Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to all 85 Renaissance 2010 schools earlier this year, only 18 schools responded," Substance reported in 2008.
"Despite follow up letters from Arne Duncan and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, two-thirds of Renaissance 2010 schools never responded, even though they are legally obligated to do so."
Yeah, Rahm was gonna change all that.
When AUSL takes over, kids disappear.
"Blocks Together youth organizer Ana Mercado said she thinks administrators are trimming the rolls to increase the school's attendance figures," PURE reported last March. "CPS refuses to hold AUSL accountable for these lost children.
"We've blogged and testified about this issue before the Board of Education to no avail. No one knows if these students have gone on to create hugely successful internet businesses, landed on some faraway island where Wendy reads to them and Peter teaches them to fly, or what's happened."
Back to the Tribune:
"The principal of AUSL's Bethune School of Excellence was a co-chair of Emanuel's mayoral campaign. The former chairman of AUSL's board is now president of the city's Board of Education. CPS's new chief operating officer also comes from AUSL."
It's not a conflict, though, if Rahm is doing it for the kids and not at all acting all political and stuff. Like commissioning a poll to measure how his attacks on teachers are being received.
That's just his responsibility as mayor.
UPDATE 10:35 A.M.: I forgot to include this from the Trib earlier this month:
"The mayor refused Tribune requests for his emails, government cellphone bills and his interoffice communications with top aides, arguing it would be too much work to cross out information the government is allowed to keep private. After lengthy negotiations to narrow its request for two months of these records, the newspaper was told that almost all of the emails had been deleted.
"Emanuel's response is in keeping with that of his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, who repeatedly denied similar requests under the state's Freedom of Information Act. But it's not the practice in major cities across the nation.
"A Tribune survey found such records are routinely available - in many cases with a phone call or an email request - in Atlanta, Boston, Hartford, Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Seattle. In Illinois, it only took a phone call to Gov. Pat Quinn's office to get the August bill for his taxpayer-funded cellphone."
And this from a Springfield State Journal-Register editorial:
"So you're a public official and you need to get some messages out but you don't want nosy people - the ones for whom you work and who pay your salary - checking your official phone or email to know what you're up to.
"What to do?
"Why, just use your personal cell phone and perhaps a private Gmail account you created specifically for this particular transaction. Voila! Instant exemption from the state Freedom of Information Act!
"Amazingly, that's pretty much how it worked until this month.
"And plenty of officials took advantage of that loophole. Their reasoning was simple: Because the communication happened on a private cell phone or computer, it's not in the government's possession and thus can't be considered a public record.
"An opinion issued by the Illinois Attorney General's Office on Nov. 15 changes that. The opinion stemmed from the city of Champaign's denial of a reporter's request for documents pertaining to public business, even if those documents were in private cell phone, Twitter or email accounts.
"The city partially denied the request by saying the documents were not in its possession.
Good. Now let's see if Madigan has the guts to truly take on Chicago City Hall as aggressively as the chumps in Champaign.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Neither conflicted nor political.
Posted on November 30, 2011
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