Lightfoot’s teacher problem

Lightfoot’s teacher problem

Good Thursday morning, Illinois. It’s hard not to get emotional thinking about the bravery of Eugene Goodman and the Capitol Police officers who protected so many lives a year ago.

Chicago Public Schools canceled classes again today, and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reiterated last night that salaries would be docked if teachers don’t return to the classroom Friday. It’s the latest chapter in a contentious relationship between the mayor and the Chicago Teachers Union, we explain in a POLITICO homepage story.

“There are so many things we could partner on, but instead [the CTU] chose an illegal unilateral action that throws the whole system into chaos and makes us a laughing stock all across the country,” Lightfoot said in a one-on-one with Playbook Wednesday before her evening presser. Here’s what else we talked about:

How much of this school shutdown is about Covid, and how much is a product of the sour relationship between you and CTU? “Anybody sitting in this seat, given who the CTU is, would be in the same place that I am. This isn’t about personality. This is about ego. This is about their decision to take the choice of how and under what circumstances kids are educated away from the employer and away from parents and their families.”

To what extent is this a political fight? “Anybody who believes this teachers union is merely a union hasn’t been paying attention. They believe themselves to be a political movement or political party and that is the lens through which we have to view every one of their actions.”

Could you have handled your relationship with CTU differently? “The new CEO of CPS [Pedro Martinez] made a valiant effort to establish a good, productive working relationship with the CTU leadership. And that’s the primary place that relationships should lie. Not with me. We’ve been at the bargaining table with CTU every week since June of 2021. Every week with rare exceptions. Every week. And throughout those six-plus months? Constant moving of the goal post. So how do you build trust?”

What’s a sticking point? “One of the areas of contention is the so-called opt-in/opt-out form of testing. Opt-in means parents have to say, ‘Yes, I want my child tested at the school on a regular basis.’ Opt-out says ‘Unless you tell us parents affirmatively, your child will get tested.’ Our view is we don’t have the right — morally or legally — to force children to get tested if we don’t have the parent’s prior written consent. CTU is saying, ‘Hey parents, unless you tell us appropriately if you don’t want us testing your kid, we’re testing them when we decide and under what circumstances.’ I think that’s absurd as a mayor and as a lawyer because of potential liability. And as a parent, if the school was doing a quasi-medical procedure on my child without my prior written consent, I would be furious.”

Did any of this seem inevitable? “It shouldn’t be inevitable but with them, like clockwork, it’s déjà vu all over again. We went through the same kinds of struggles as before the strike. There was no reason for the strike. We went through the same struggles last year to bring kids back.”

Is there a scenario where you think schools should ever close? “I don’t think there’s any good reason to close down the entire system. There may be times to close a classroom or a school and go to remote. But we’ve got to do it surgically and strategically — not the entire system.”


Schools encounter ‘Hunger Games’ scramble for Covid tests, by POLITICO’s Juan Perez Jr., Susannah Luthi and Shannon Young.

CPS CEO says district needs to develop a plan to return to school as the city see a surge in Covid-19 cases, by Sun-Times’ Nader Issa, Sophie Sherry, and Mitch Dudek

Pandemic-weary parents brace for another round of uncertainty in Chicago Public Schools, by Madeline Buckley, Alice Yin and Tracy Swartz. “I was a lot more patient at the beginning of COVID,” said one parent. “I think we’ve had a lot of time to plan for contingencies. I know we can’t predict what the variants will do with certainty, but there are things the school district could do to lessen the disruption to families.”

REMEMBERING JAN. 6, 2021: Sen. Tammy Duckworth made a split-second decision that day to barricade herself in her office along with two staffers rather than try to maneuver her wheelchair through the Capitol, not knowing what she would face.

Fear of the insurrection has faded, but now she has new worries about colleagues who believe in the Big Lie, future elections, and voting rights at stake.

“What bothers me the most is that we are moving from the actual insurrection to now having a nationwide movement to promote the Big Lie and to change rules so it will be easier for Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn the next election,” she told Playbook in a phone interview from her Capitol Hill office, which is just two feet away from the window that rioters fractured trying to get into the building.

She said Senate Democrats spent two hours Tuesday and an hour and a half meeting Wednesday to talk about voting rights restrictions across the country.

“The best thing we can do is to restore people’s voting rights,” she said. “Democracy fails when you disenfranchise voters.”


FROM NATIONAL PLAYBOOK: “For those who always despised him, feel betrayed by him, or fear his return to power, today is about remembering — never forgetting — his lowest point as president: the day he incited a mob to attack Congress while it affirmed Joe Biden’s clear victory, the final desperate move in a plot to overthrow an American presidential election.”

— ‘I was just looking for a weapon’: Illinois members of Congress recall attack on Capitol, by Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau and Marni Pyke

The hard right in Illinois, one year after the Jan. 6 attack, by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet, Tom Schuba, and Jon Seidel

— ‘This is part of mainstream America’: Ordinariness of Illinois’ alleged Jan. 6 Capitol rioters shows growing threat of political violence, by Tribune’s John Keilman

A year after controversy, Mary and Chris Miller look to hang on, by Lee Enterprises’ Brenden Moore

They stormed the Capitol. Now they’re running for office, by POLITICO’s Brittany Gibson

Have a tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? Get in touch: [email protected]

No official public events.

At House of Hope at 10:45 a.m. to attend the funeral of Chicago Fire Department Firefighter/EMT MaShawn Plummer.

No official public events.

— Preparing for the worst: Cook County deploys trailers to hospitals to handle looming surge in Covid-19 deaths: “More than 250 Cook County residents died of Covid-19 last week, the worst weekly toll seen in the Chicago area since vaccines were introduced. Over the past seven days, the entire state has averaged more than 25,000 COVID-19 infections. That’s roughly like the population of suburban Melrose Park testing positive each day,” by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.

Fewer than 10 percent of suburban ICU hospital beds are available, by Daily Herald’s Jake Griffin

Legislators gather, slowly, in Springfield for third session marked by Covid-19 pandemic: “House and Senate chambers were far from filled as things got underway and when the House took roll to start the day, only 62 of 73 Democrats — and no Republicans — answered the call, just barely meeting the minimum 60 members needed to convene. GOP lawmakers came to the floor later Wednesday when the House reconvened after a recess,” by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner and Dan Petrella.

Democratic lawmakers move forward with plans for new ‘subcircuits’ in 7th Judicial Circuit: “Over the vocal objections of Republicans, Democrats who control the General Assembly prepared Wednesday to approve a bill that would create seven new judicial “subcircuits” in Sangamon and five nearby counties,” by State Journal-Register’s Andrew Adams and Dean Olsen.

Pritzker working remotely after more than 15 minutes near state worker who tested positive, by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout

— OPINION: Class struggle in family’s hometown of Marseilles, writes Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello: “The town was once solidly union, voted Democrat and gave birth to America’s most militant leftist grandma, Mary Morello. Now Confederate flags dot some of the lawns. There’s a lot of good, hard-working people doing their best, but there’s a palpable feeling that they’ve been abandoned by Democratic and Republican administrations.”

CPD leaders told to pump up arrests, solve more murders — or face demotion, sources say: “After Chicago’s deadliest year in a quarter-century, Lori Lightfoot and Supt. David Brown pressed police brass in a closed-door meeting to increase flagging arrest numbers and get officers to engage more with city residents,” by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba.

New program offers City Colleges of Chicago students free Divvy bike rides: “Students at any City Colleges of Chicago location can get a free one-year membership in the city’s “Divvy for Everyone” program,” by Sun-Times’ Cheyanne M. Daniels.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Chicago CEO and Illinois political donor Ken Griffin wants to set the record straight. He hasn’t backed, endorsed or funded any candidate for statewide office yet, according to a source close to him. “Ken is watching and waiting to see how things unfold.” The only thing Griffin stands by right now is wanting to see Gov. JB Pritzker defeated, the source said.

Call it misplaced speculation. Griffin has been linked to some potential and current GOP candidates for statewide offices because of their connection to GOP campaign consultant Mike Zolnierowicz, known as Mike Z. (He’s the former chief of staff to Gov. Bruce Rauner.) Griffin’s name has become connected to Mike Z in recent weeks in part because the Citadel CEO largely funded the opposition campaign that Mike Z led to defeat the graduated income tax measure in 2020. Griffin philosophically supports Mike Z’s work to identify potential candidates for various races, but that’s it — for now.

Kinzinger to focus on fighting right-wing extremism, won’t run for governor or Senate: The Illinois Republican is a member of the Jan. 6 panel probing the Capitol attack. He earlier announced he will not seek another term in the House,” by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.

— MAKING IT OFFICIAL: Ald. Pat Dowell announces run for Rush’s IL-01 seat, leaving behind secretary of state bid: “She is the first candidate to throw in her hat since Rush announced he will not seek a 16th term representing Chicago’s South Side and south suburbs,” by Daily Line’s Alex Nitkin and nd Erin Hegarty.

— Rep. Marie Newman has been endorsed by seven congressional colleagues in her bid to win reelection in the new 6th District: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Rep. Kai Khele (D-Hawaii), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

Rep. Mary Miller has been endorsed by FreedomWorks for America, a conservative advocacy group. Miller is running in the 15th Congressional District.

— Nikki Budzinski has been endorsed by the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council in her bid for the 13th Congressional District.

DCFS worker fatally stabbed during visit in Sangamon County: “This tragedy is a stark reminder that frontline DCFS employees like Deidre do demanding, dangerous and essential jobs every day, often despite inadequate resources and tremendous stress,” AFSCME’s executive director, Roberts Lynch, said in a statement. Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner reports.

Illinois Appellate Court reverses lower court, upholds police board’s decision to fire cop over illegal stop, by Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner

Covid-19 surge delays sentencing for former Ald. Ricardo Muñoz, by WTTW’s

We asked for your snow day memories, and the storm of February 1979 was topic de jure: Sharon Rosenblum remembers her boyfriend at the time taking part in a wilderness survival class at Southern Illinois University. He left Friday morning, and it took until Sunday for the National Guard to find the group. Joe De remembers walking by Dawes grade school, which was used as a dumping spot for snow that February. “I climbed as high as two stories on compressed snow and was determined to slide down. When out of nowhere, a street and sanitation employee started yelling to get off and out of there. Will never forget the large city worker with a cigar in hand swearing at me.”

If you’re lucky enough to work from home, what’s the biggest challenge when your kids are there too? Email to [email protected]

John Katko, the GOP ‘traitor’ Trump hasn’t managed to bully, by POLITICO’s Michael Kruse

GOP election reviews face battleground state legal tests, by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s phone records, by POLITICO’s Nicholas Wu

Hundreds of firefighters — from near and far — honor MaShawn Plummer: ‘He gave everything’: “MaShawn Plummer, who died Dec. 21 after being critically wounded in a fire, will be remembered for his heroic actions and for being the epitome of a brave firefighter, his colleagues said,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.

Jenné Myers, the former CEO of the nonprofit Chicago Cares, has joined Transwestern’s tenant advisory group as senior vice president of strategic solutions. She brings 20 years of nonprofit experience to Transwestern, where she will provide tenant advisory services for real estate occupiers, with an emphasis on nonprofits, government organizations and corporations.

Tonight at 6 p.m.: Congressman Danny Davis leads a “Democracy ‘Inaction’” town hall addressing last year’s insurrection on the Capitol. Community, political scholars, and other stakeholders will discuss ramifications for democracy and how the insurrection impacts voter suppression.

WEDNESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Freeport City Manager Randy Bukas and labor leader Clem Balanoff for correctly answering that Charles Mound in Scales has the highest elevation in Illinois at 1,235 feet and that five states have peak elevations lower than that: Florida (345 feet is highest point), Delaware (447), Louisiana (535), Mississippi (807), Rhode Island (811).

TODAY’s QUESTION: What Illinois gang was once described as “America’s bloodiest gang” and what was its specialty? Email to [email protected]

State Rep. Marty Moylan, gun-violence prevention advocate Kathleen Sances, abortion rights advocate Terry Cosgrove, Kivvit managing director Eric Herman, political adviser Al Kindle, Golin comms executive Claire Koeneman, University of Chicago professor emeritus Stuart A. Rice, and David Sterrett, senior research specialist at University of Chicago’s NORC.



via Illinois Playbook

January 6, 2022 at 07:30AM

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