Wednesday, January 20, 2016

EXTRA: It’s all about partisan politics

I can’t say I’m shocked by the rhetoric being spewed by Republican politicians about a state takeover of the Chicago Public Schools system, but I am pretty much appalled by it.

No matter how predictable it is, it still comes off as quite offensive. As though those suburban pols of the Republican persuasion, along with those of the rural Illinois bearings, are going to save us poor, ignorant Chicagoans from our stupidity and incompetence.

AT LEAST THAT’S my read of the fact that the General Assembly’s Republican leadership are working with Gov. Bruce Rauner to come up with a bill to create an oversight board for the Chicago Public Schools.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, made a point of saying Wednesday that this measure will allow the public schools to declare bankruptcy as a way of legally rebuilding its finances.

As if they’re offering up a life preserver to prevent the schools from drowning financially.

Personally, it’s more of a political power play – trying to gain some influence over an entity that is very much a part of the Democratic Party power structure in this city of Chicago and state of Illinois.

JUST AS I recall the mid-1990s effort to permit local school councils in Chicago as a move approved by Republican politicians in Springfield because they were convinced incompetent Chicagoans would screw everything up to the point where the state could then justify a takeover of the Chicago Public Schools.

Back then, state government had significant Republican influence. For one two-year period, it was GOP-dominated.

But that was then. Now, it is a Democratic-controlled government. Although not Dem-dominant as it was back before the days of Bruce Rauner as governor.

Which is why this measure – which officials said could be introduced before the Legislature within a week – is destined to failure.

IT WOULDN’T TAKE a supermajority vote of Democratic unanimity to kill this off. A simple 60 votes in the Illinois House and 30 votes in the state Senate would be enough to do the job.

That is, unless Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and state Senate President John Cullerton, both D-Chicago, decide to use their legislative control to prevent the measure from ever coming up for a vote.

Actually, that tactic would be the way that Republican partisans would handle the issue – not even giving a chance to something they oppose. I don’t doubt that Cullerton and Madigan, especially Madigan, will want this to come up for a vote.

Because then, the Democratic, Chicago-leaning majorities can come out and vote against the measure. It will fail. It technically will appear to have been democratically debated.

EVEN THOUGH THE outcome was preordained. And Madigan, in particular, will come across as smug if he says that the issue was considered, and the people rejected it.

It’s pure politicking. I realize that. Politicking by both sides, and part of the continued efforts to strong-arm one’s own views down the throat of the opposition. Actually, I find myself agreeing with the Chicago Teachers Union.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, union officials said it was ridiculous to have state government get involved in school finances when they can’t even approve a budget for state government’s own nearly 8-month-old fiscal year. It is a bit more truthful than the Madigan statement that accuses Rauner of trying to attack the middle class and make even more money for his wealthy friends.

Although the honest-to-goodness truth about all this is that it is all more about partisan rhetoric and seeing who can one-up the other in the ongoing fight over who really runs things – and who comes across as the whiny brat!


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