STUMP » Articles » Chicago Day of Action Round Up, and Where's the Money? » 2 April 2016, 16:47

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Chicago Day of Action Round Up, and Where's the Money?  


2 April 2016, 16:47

Yeah, I wasn’t feeling up to fooling yesterday. Here’s last year’s fun, if you missed it.

First off, thanks to my recent referrers:

Also thanks to my emailing & tweeting sources. Y’all give me lots of good things to digest.

I can’t always use materials given to me directly, but I do read it, and sometimes it takes me a few years to work through something before I’m ready to write about it. (Not joking – I recently posted something that had been in draft form for over a year.)

If you want to send me something you think I could use surrounding my blog themes (mainly public pensions, but also other pensions, public finance, and even numbers.dataviz stuff), feel free to message me in one of these channels:

  • email:
  • twitter: @meepbobeep

I get a lot of my leads via email, but also things that flash by on twitter. I try to throw the net wide and organize what’s useful.


Many of these comes from Chicago local Mark Glennon and his site Wirepoints.

Chicago teachers’ April 1 protest shows public-school crisis is no joke:

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — It’s the second Friday in a row that hallways throughout the Chicago Public Schools system are empty of children.

Last week, buildings went dark for the first of three district-demanded furlough days — what critics argue is a single drop of cost savings for a school system (and a city, and state) treading water in the budgetary deep end. CPS faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

This Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union has shut down the schools again with a one-day “Day of Action” walkout and the ambition of inciting a city-wide general strike à la the labor movements of Europe or Latin America. That’s a lofty goal, perhaps, but the CTU may well snarl Chicago’s Loop enough to make their point. CTU members, sympathetic unions and thousands of parents in the 392,285-student district all hope that a nation — one that’s already debating the merits of charter schools, high-stakes standardized testing, teacher pension liabilities and other related issues — takes notice.
Illinois and select other states, including California, lean entirely or largely on property-tax-based formulas to fund public education, and those states’ taxing ability, meaning the likelihood of raising taxes to meet changing education demands, is often limited by caps — typically enacted to lighten the burden on older property owners. Other states might lean on sales tax, income tax (including a progressive income tax) and other revenue sources for their public education funding.

“We did not see CPS lobbyists in Springfield when we were lobbying for a progressive income tax two years ago, or for a bill for improved funding six years ago. We cannot solve this massive problem without new revenue,” she said. Her group has urged the mayor to free up tax-increment financing, or TIF, funds as a short-term budget-hole filler. Instead, CPS issued high-yielding (meaning high interest cost) bonds to pay its bills.

There’s a lot more in the article, and I think it does a pretty good job at giving different sides a chance at their strongest arguments.

It’s about trade-offs, ultimately. And that’s what all politics is about – wrangling over trade-offs regarding public goods and services.

I’ll return to that “new revenue” line later.

Teachers hit picket lines, Board of Ed asks state for sanctions:

At the end of a long day of citywide protests and picketing, the Chicago Teachers Union and a range of other labor groups rallied outside the governor’s downtown office to pressure him into funding education across Illinois.

The second teacher strike in four years began with the CTU — angry about budget cuts, unpaid furlough days and insufficient funding for schools. But it morphed into a larger labor demonstration.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools, which sheltered about 7,000 of the 340,000 students affected by a strike it considered illegal, asked a state board to make the CTU pay for all damages, including legal costs the district incurred during the “Fight for Funding.”

I doubt the CPS admins will get any money from the CTU, but eh. It’s all bargaining positions.

When there’s no money to be had.


Some video from the Chicago Sun-Times:

A much longer raw video from Vice News:

More from Vice News: The Battle Over What to Pay Teachers in the US May Come Down to One Painful Decision:

A strike is not likely to accomplish the union’s long-term goal of instituting new taxes to raise revenue and bolster teachers’ pensions. But in general, parents are wise to trust their children’s teachers more than they trust policymakers who propose budget cuts. Research shows that higher school funding and better teacher compensation can drive student-learning gains.

That said, teacher compensation systems do need to be improved — both in Chicago and across the country. Today, American workers move more often than they did in the past, but teachers in Chicago have to work in the district for five years before their pension contributions vest — meaning that if they leave before then, they lose retirement income. Some reformers have argued that teachers, like most private sector workers, should have 401(k) investment accounts instead of pensions that guarantee an annual income during retirement. But that would be a disservice to the people who do one of society’s most important and difficult jobs; the shift away from pensions has decimated Americans’ retirement security, and we shouldn’t punish teachers just because the rest of us have been denied this benefit.

Lockstep pay ladders based on seniority, which unions have traditionally defended, are part of the problem. In other professions that require college and graduate degrees, skilled workers can see their pay double or triple over the first 10 to 15 years of their careers. Teachers, on the other hand, make a competitive starting salary, but typically have to wait close to 20 years — or longer — to earn the upper middle class incomes that comport with our high expectations of educators as knowledge workers.

A grand bargain on teacher compensation might entail modernizing pensions while paying early and mid-career teachers more. But as the Chicago teacher strike demonstrates, such a plan can’t be considered in an environment of financial scarcity in which unions and policymakers don’t trust one another. Adequate funding is the first step toward labor peace and better outcomes for kids, but in Chicago — as well as in cities and towns all over the United States — that may require something that is far easier said than done: raising taxes.

Some interesting ideas. The piece was written by the author of The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession. I can see some worth in this argument, having many teachers in my extended family.

And You & Me This Morning had 5 videos of coverage. I’ll just post one of them — you can go to their YouTube channel to check out the 4 other vids.

FWIW, I didn’t find anything at the Chicago Teachers Union channel, but maybe it will go up next week.


April Fools’ Day for the Chicago teachers’ union:

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union are walking off their jobs today (Friday, April 1), leaving more than 350,000 students in the lurch.

The union has been engaged in contract talks for the better part of a year, but negotiations are not going its way. CTU executives coaxed teachers into the one-day strike because they know shutting down the schools system inflicts real pain on real people. It’s also proven an effective strategy in dealings with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; a seven-day walkout in 2012 resulted in 13 percent raises for teachers and Emanuel backing down from almost all his contract demands.

This time, however, the union strategy is unlikely to play out the way CTU officials hope. Sure, they might succeed in embarrassing Emanuel again, but Chicago’s fiscal reality has set in. The city is broke. The schools system alone has a $1 billion deficit this school year. The mayor already enacted a historic city property increase last fall, and lenders are charging a pretty penny for the city to borrow more. It doesn’t matter how strong the union bargaining position is when the cupboards are well and truly bare.

And here’s somebody who might could throw down some of her own cash to help the struggling system:

There’s a lot to criticize about Karen Lewis’ call for a Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, strike on April 1.

But that’s not all. Lewis is forcing Chicago teachers to give up a day of pay. Meanwhile, Lewis’ compensation and assets put her “in the [top] 5 percent,” according to her own words.

According to media reports, Lewis and her husband, a retired teacher, own a Hawaiian condo, which they bought several years ago for $240,000, in addition to their home in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood, purchased in 2007 for $405,000. She and her sister share ownership of a vacation property in Union Pier, Mich., priced at $305,000.

When asked about her six-figure salary Karen Lewis said, “I’m not going to apologize for it.”

It’s extraordinary that Karen Lewis, whose pay comes from teachers’ union dues, expects rank-and-file teachers to forgo part of their salaries for participating in the strike.

And teachers can expect to lose even more if the union continues to oppose the spending and pension reforms desperately needed to avoid a CPS bankruptcy. The last strike, which took place even though CPS already faced massive operating deficits and an $8 billion pension shortfall, pushed CPS even further to the brink of insolvency.

Yes, we know this wrangling is all about the money.

But the people they’re yelling at, even Gov. Rauner, can’t fill their cash-hungry bellies.


I heard from someone who actually saw some of the crowd what sillinesses they were indulging in.

I hear tell that there were a bunch of people thinking it would be easy to grab other people’s money to fulfill their appetites.

1. Those targets won’t sit still for it.
2. They don’t have enough money to fill those appetites.

Let’s take 1. first — the targets are not going to sit still for more tax grabs.

Via Wirepoints, we see that they already aren’t.

A recent report by New World Wealth identifies which cities and countries had the largest net inflow and outflow of millionaires in 2015. Chicago had the third largest net outflow based on the raw numbers — 3,000, and fourth by percentage — 2%. The full report is linked here.The other top cities for outflows, according to the report are in the chart below.

Here is the report. Only 8 pages.

The study is more focused on movement between countries — they note in the study pretty much all the millionaire migration for Chicago was to other parts of the U.S.

I noticed a few interesting things in the report.

  • There’s a lot of millionaires in the U.S. 4.18 millionaires according to the report estimates.
  • While Chicago losing 2% of its millionaires in one year is not good, it’s nowhere near as bad as Paris, Rome, and Athens.

But that’s not much of a selling point, is it?

Chicago: we don’t suck as much as those places where there are loads of refugees and terrorists are attacking public places.

I don’t think that really sings.

As for the potential new revenue sources… I’ll leave that for another time. I have some number-crunching to do.

Compilation of Chicago posts.

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