Thursday, November 21, 2013

“Too little too late”: Now we have no candidate to support in the 2014 gubernatorial race by Todd Mertz


Friends and Colleagues:

It is time we have an Illinois governor stand up for public education, students, teachers, employee unions, and collective bargaining rights. If not, we are likely to fall victim like our colleagues did recently in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Ohio.

The 2014 gubernatorial race is looking bleak, to say the least. I don't understand why the IEA or the We Are One Coalition, the organization representing teachers' unions and state employee unions, could not find and support a candidate for the 2014 gubernatorial race.

With the current candidates, and being a public school teacher, I would say this qualifies as a political emergency. I believe this year would have been a great opportunity and strategic move for the unions to select and support a candidate. Why?

Quinn is the ONLY Democrat, and nobody likes Quinn, especially since he recently chose Paul Vallas as a running mate.  Vallas, Chicago Public School's first CEO in the mid-90s, has earned a reputation in Connecticut for being pro-privatization and pro-charters.

Could Quinn work any harder to not get a single vote from an Illinois teacher?  Some newspapers are calling Quinn's move to select Paul Vallas political suicide... People want to vote for a Democrat, but they want an alternative to Quinn.

Well, teachers don't like Quinn since his relentless attacks on pensions. No loss there. But who is left? Four Republicans: Kirk Dillard, Bill Brady, Bruce Rauner, and Dan Rutherford? All four candidates are in support of major "pension reform."

In addition, Rauner and Brady are anti-teacher and anti-union, and they intend to crush our collective bargaining rights. Rauner cries in this
video that none of the pension reform bills to date go far enough.  He also attacks unions.  It is clear from his rants in the media that one of his first priorities is to go after teachers and their unions, just like Scott Walker did in Wisconsin.

I have sent IEA President Cinda Klickna and the IEA executive team nine emails since the beginning of September regarding the urgency for the unions to select and support a real Democrat who will rally behind our state's students, teachers, and public employees.

You may remember, I sent out an email about the candidates for the 2014 race back on Sept. 5th. No other candidates were coming forward, with or without union-backing. Out of frustration, on September 16th, I contacted Ralph Martire, the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, and I asked him if he would run for Governor.

He said he would.  He'd be excited to run, but he also said he would need financial and tactical help from the unions. Martire is the Illinois budget expert who insists that changing pension benefits is not going to solve the state’s pension debt and revenue problems. The benefits themselves, he says, are not the problem, contrary to what every current gubernatorial candidate believes.  It is the state's lack of contributions over the years and the state's lack of ambition to seek revenue solutions right now that are the problems. (Check out his article in the State Journal Register titled: "
Cutting Benefits Won't Fix the State's Pension Issue").


I don't know everything about Martire, but I do know two things about him:

1.) He is on our side regarding our pensions. He believes they are constitutionally-protected. More importantly, he believes that changing benefits is not going to eliminate the $100 billion unfunded liability.  That, he argues, needs to be addressed with revenue solutions. 2.) He believes in changing Illinois' income tax to a progressive tax, thereby addressing the state's revenue problems...

At the same time I contacted Martire, I also contacted IEA President Cinda Klickna and the IEA executive team.  (Ralph, of course, would need support from the unions).

On September 8th, I wrote:
Cinda,
What about Ralph Martire? Could all the unions band together and support Ralph? We know he would be on our side, at least regarding the issue of pension reform. He is a smart person and knows how to get this state back on the right fiscal track without cutting constitutionally-protected benefits. I think he would have many of us on his side--democrats, state workers, teachers, and the public.

On Sept. 9th, Cinda replied: 
"The coalition is open to considering all options.  I have not heard that Ralph has contacted anyone with an interest in this."

My email from Martire on September 19th: 
"I am in discussions with the IEA Executive Team."
Excellent, I thought.  I was excited.  I was hoping something would happen.  Martire told me to keep quiet about his candidacy until he had the needed support, and it was official. Unfortunately, this never came to fruition.

On Oct. 5th, I received the following email from Martire (shortened for this email):

"...Although I am willing to do this, there really isn't adequate time--Quinn does have at least one of the major unions sewed up, and I see no way to get at least 50,000 petition signatures (what would be needed to survive the inevitable challenge) and $2-4 million raised (what I would need to drive up name recognition and do polling, put together a solid campaign and field staff) in the next 4 - 6 weeks. So I believe the right thing to do is meet with potential supporters like you and work on a strategy for the next cycle. I am honored by your suggestion and have done my due diligence quite seriously. I just wish this was January of 2013 rather than now."

Too little, too late.

It could have happened.  Perhaps if the unions were ready earlier? One thing I am sure of: the unions are going to spend more time, money, and resources putting out fires after the election than if they had supported a candidate to challenge Quinn.

Twelve days away from the petition deadline.  No candidate to support.

—Todd Mertz

1 comment:

  1. I hate this defeatist attitude. I don't know why we would take the IEA Leadership seriously about running a candidate. They did, after all, agree to an unconstitutional pension "reform" with Senate Majority Leader, John Cullerton. Thank goodness it didn't pass.

    There are 130,000 active teachers in Illinois. Each of these teachers pay $40 for IPACE. If each teacher were to ask for (and receive) IPACE refunds - we would have over $500,000!

    The problem is that everyone knows the problem we are having in Illinois. Everyone knows what needs to be done about it - but no one - except our beloved bloggers, DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! Where is the IEA Leadership in this? They know that Quinn - who has been referred to as 1T Quinn - was not on our side. They know that Republicans will do everything they can AGAINST public employees. Have they not been watching the news in recent weeks???? Lord help us if we get a Republican Governor! Voting rights, women's reproductive rights? Everything will be on the table!

    What is wrong with us??? For too long I've been saying that we talk about what needs to be done, we write about it, we complain about it, and my inbox has been flooded with ideas. Now it is twelve days away from petition deadline and we have nothing!

    I say it's time we kick it into high gear and get petitions prepared for Ralph Matire. We won't have money on our side but we have the people. Sure, I sound like "Pollyanna" but I think it can be done and for once, we'll show Springfield who is in charge! Not Quinn, not the Republicans, certainly not Madigan! The PEOPLE of Illinois will run this state!

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