Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chicago Teachers Union to be asked to Endorse Pat Quinn by George N. Schmidt/ We Need a Fighting Opposition by Fred Klonsky

Chicago Teachers Union to be asked to Endorse Pat Quinn by George N. Schmidt 
“At Wednesday's House of Delegates meeting, the Chicago Teachers Union will be asked to once again endorse Pat Quinn for governor. In 2010, I gave the speech that helped us get the votes in the House of Delegates for the Quinn endorsement. This time I will oppose it for reasons just about everyone knows. 

“It's time for all of us to end these abusive political relationships with sleazy Democrats just because someone once again is playing Big Bad Wolf with the Republican candidate. Everyone should remember the civics and constitutional law lessons we teach our kids. 

“There are three branches of government, and if our 'friends' are supposedly running the Illinois House and Senate, then having a reactionary Governor Bruce Rauner will not destroy either our interests or Illinois. Big Bad Wolf stories have got to end, just as Lesser Evilism needs to be challenged. Otherwise, we continue to get frauds like 'Vallas/Quinn'" (George N. Schmidt, Editor of Substance News). 

We Need a Fighting Opposition” by Fred Klonsky

“I believe that the state union's leaders have created an anti-Rauner panic-machine. That panic-machine has made us quiet servants of the Madigan and Quinn anti-labor Party. Falling for the panic-machine is not only a waste of time. It is counter-productive.

“In spite of Pat Quinn running a lousy campaign, even if it were run better, our leadership wants uncritical support for an anti-labor governor. Quinn has the worst labor record of any governor in 50 years. Yet this record goes un-criticized because any criticism of Quinn helps Rauner. And Rauner is Satan. This line of illogical reasoning is nonsense.

“The problem, as I see it, is that when there is a crisis, we go missing. There is a crisis in the state, and rather than see it as an opportunity to build a fighting opposition, we argue what those who have created the crisis argue: ‘Vote Quinn.’ Stick with those who screwed us? That's the leadership's vision. How can that possibly be ours?

“I am asked by people, ‘What are we to do on Election Day?’ That's the wrong question to ask. Voting takes a few minutes. The real issue is what we are going to do before and after the election. I believe something new must be built. We must create a new political landscape, as Karen Lewis says, both electorally and in our union. 

“Did you know that 300 IEA RA delegate seats go unfilled every year? It will take time and we may not convince everybody right away, but we need to fill those seats with people who believe in a fighting union. And win a few hundred more. This can be done.

“I talked to the newly-elected president of the Massachusetts Education Association this summer at the NEA RA, and that is exactly what they did and won. Progressive, active IEA members need to help fill those empty delegate slots and work with other actives in other locals to do the same. If we believe that Klickna and that bunch are misleaders (and I do), than what I tell members is that we need to replace them” (Fred Klonsky, Blogger and Activist).

Friday, August 29, 2014

Patrick Quinn and Bruce Rauner: just a few quotations and commentary from the IEA forum held on April 14, 2014

For your perusal:   here are a few interesting excerpts from the IEA debate on April 14, 2014 and my [bracketed] informal thoughts:

Quinn: “My mom worked for 33 years at a middle school [as a para-professional], a public school in Illinois. Our family believes in public education.” [However, I (Governor Quinn) also believe in stealing money public employees have earned for retirement so I can continue to give exorbitant tax breaks to wealthy, extortionate corporations that support me, and so I can also continue to ignore the state’s seriously-flawed revenue structure and pension debt problems]. 

Quinn: “I believe in investing in public schools… With the help of the IEA, I was elected in 2010.” [Despite the fact that I have severely cut the budget for public education while serving as governor, the IEA and other unions will support me unconditionally in 2014 since Dillard lost!].   

Quinn: “I believe in making sure that our teachers have a properly-funded pension as governor. I’m the first governor in a very long time to pay every year the proper amount of money into the pension fund.” [Though I have borrowed money to fund the system, I have also shorted TRS (its actuarial requirement) over $3 billion; thus, the state’s debt service continues to grow. Moreover, even though I did not uphold Article XIII, Section 5 (Pension and Retirement Rights) of the Illinois Constitution (after all, why should I?), ‘I didn’t create the (pension) problem. But I’m here to solve it. I know that I was put on earth to get this done,’ and I got it done! Of course, if I have to do it again, I will despite union funding. You can bet on it!].

Quinn: “I made a decision [to sign Senate Bill 1], and we’ll let the courts decide whether it was the right decision or not… We’ll accept whatever decision [the Illinois Supreme Court] makes. If that particular law is not upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court, we’ll go back and work with you [the IEA and other union leadership] on a law that will be upheld.” 

[Though it did not matter to me in December last year whether I upheld my oath of office and challenged Article XIII, Section 5 of the Illinois Constitution, I am looking forward to signing another bill (perhaps just like Senate Bill 2404) into law with the approval of the Illinois General Assembly and the IEA and other unions of the coalition, so I, the General Assembly and the unions can legally diminish and impair both the retirees’ and current teachers’ constitutional rights and benefits, via another faulty attempt at consideration].

For a more developed and formal response than the short commentary I provided here, please review: Constitutional Issues Concerning Senate Bill 2404; please also review: Beware of the Trojan Horse that [Was] SB 2404 and the Concept of “Consideration”in Illinois Senate Bill 1.
Rauner: “You [teachers] are the most important profession in our society.” [And that is why I want to put all of you in a 401(K) so my vulture capitalist friends and I can make even more money off of your pension earnings (like I did in the past). Who cares if you are not eligible for Social Security benefits, or that a defined-contribution savings plan shifts all of the responsibilities and all of the risk from the State to you and; thus, your benefits are not guaranteed for life? After all, you should have control of your insignificant investments even though you’ll run out of money in a few years after your retirement; that’s if you’re lucky]!

For a more developed and formal response than the short commentary I provided here, please review: Defined-Benefit Pension Plan v. Defined-Contribution Savings Plan. 

Rauner: “After my parents and grandparents, the number one person in my life… was my third-grade teacher… I think about her all the time, [especially when I am making a disproportionate amount of money as a billionaire, private equity businessman and venture capitalist]. 

Rauner: “Quinn has broken his promise to you [public employees]… Years ago he said he would not change your pension, and he did! Years ago he said, ‘I will treat education funding as the top priority.’ What did he do? He cut education funding when he did not have to… We are a wealthy state. We’re 49th of 50 states in support for education… I am the one political candidate… who does not want to change the deal [a cavalier expression for constitutional contract?] for existing retirees or the existing accrued benefits in the pensions… I want to create a second pension plan in addition to (‘on top of’) the existing pension plan.” 

For a more developed and formal response, please review: The Hybrid Pension Plan as an Alternative to HB 5754 and Four Important Issues.

A Question Klickna had asked Quinn and Rauner: “Do you support shifting the employer’s contributions to our retirement accounts from the State to the local districts?”

Quinn: “No, not right now, [but if I am re-elected, then I mean, yes].” 
Rauner: “No.”
For a more developed and formal response, please review: Pension Cost Shift.

To quote a dear insightful friend and indefatigable activist: 

“I will not join the over-the-top Rauner panic instigated by union leaders who spent four million dollars on ALEC's chairman [Kirk Dillard]…  Not one word of criticism of Quinn, the most anti-labor governor in 50 years? Tons of speculation about Rauner, but not a word about what the next four years of Quinn might look like? 

“…If you feel compelled to vote for that pension thief, go to it. But [do not] suggest it is an obvious political act, as if those of us who view it differently are just too blind or stupid to get it is to put it bluntly: total bullshit… 

“[Indeed], voting takes a few minutes. Vote or don't vote as you wish. The differences are small and each is worse depending on the issue. What matters is what we build before and after… (Fred Klonsky).

I hope you have clicked on the links that I have provided for you. They offer a more developed and appropriate response than the short commentary I provided here.

Finally, Fred is right. We should start now and “build” a progressive base for a candidate that truly represents the working class. It is unfortunate our unions did not support such a candidate several months ago. As the author and brilliant activist Chris Hedges once stated: “Unions, organizations formerly steeped in the doctrine of class struggle and filled with those who sought broad social and political rights for the working class, have been transformed into domesticated partners of the capitalist class. They have been reduced to simple bartering tools.”

All Quotations are from the following link:    
Bruce Rauner and Gov. Quinn Face Off in First Debate 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Chicago crime rate declines as CCW applications rise, says report by Dave Workman

“The Washington Times yesterday reported that the crime rate has dropped in Chicago since Illinois adopted a concealed carry licensing system, a change in stature that was forced on the legislature by a pair of lawsuits that included the Second Amendment Foundation’s Moore v. Madigan.[*]

“The other lawsuit, Shepherd v. Madigan, was filed by the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling applied to both cases. It is doubtful that either SAF or the NRA will be credited with forcing the state to adopt a law that appears to be contributing to a decline in Windy City crime.

“According to the Washington Times report, ‘the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.’

Politico is quoting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this morning [August 25], asserting that the Windy City is not the nation’s ‘murder capital.’ That story also cites a lower homicide count this year than reported in 2013. The story also points to Chicago Police Department statistics showing homicides down seven percent from last year at this time and 20 percent from the same period in 2010. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says the city is the safest it has been in a half-century.

“The Washington Times report quotes Richard Pearson, executive director of the 30,000-member Illinois State Rifle Association. ISRA partnered with SAF on the landmark McDonald v. City of Chicago case that incorporated the Second Amendment to the states, and with the NRA on the Shepard case.

“Pearson told Examiner Monday morning that the decline in crime actually started when lawmakers began seriously discussing concealed carry. In the Washington Times piece, he said, ‘It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect.’ He stands by that statement...

“While it is unlikely Mayor Emanuel or Supt. McCarthy, or any anti-gun-rights organization will give even token credit to the notion that concealed carry laws are a crime deterrent, the revelation is not lost on gun rights activists who will gather in Chicago next month. It is less likely that either the mayor or his top cop will attend GRPC, but it might make for a lively discussion if they did.”

This article is from the Examiner.

* [Plaintiffs challenged an Illinois law that forbid carrying a gun ready to use (loaded, immediately accessible, uncased), with exceptions for police, security personnel, hunters, members of target shooting clubs, a person on his own property, in his home, in his fixed place of business, or on the property of someone who has permitted him to be there with a ready-to-use gun, 720 ILCS 5/24-2. Carrying an unloaded gun in public, uncased and immediately accessible, is prohibited, other than excepted persons, unless carried openly outside a vehicle in an unincorporated area and ammunition is not immediately accessible. The district court dismissed, holding that the Second Amendment does not create a right of self-defense outside the home. The Seventh Circuit reversed, but stayed its mandate for 180 days to allow the legislature to draft new restrictions. The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside. Evidence, although inconclusive, is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense. Illinois failed to provide more than merely a rational basis for believing that its sweeping ban was justified by increased public safety (Moore v. Madigan)]. 

Commentary: Cause and Effect/ Gun Control Laws 

“…Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low…

“A July study by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that 11.1 million Americans have permits to carry concealed weapons, a 147 percent increase from 4.5 million seven years ago. Meanwhile, homicide and other violent crime rates have dropped by 22 percent…” (The Washington Times).

It is difficult to establish a causal relationship between two events. In this case, we have a conceal carry licensing program (cause?) and a reduction of crime (effect?). Though it is easy to mistake correlation for cause, to establish a causal association, there must be a correlation and temporal connection in their occurrence. Though there appears to be one, at most, this connection between cause and effect is not necessary but probabilistic. My assumption is there is not one probable cause, but perhaps a few causes that are responsible for the decline in the Chicago crime rate.  

At issue here (and more importantly) is the fact that there are an estimated 270 - 300 million firearms already in circulation in the U.S. This makes it impossible for gun control laws to have any effect on reducing violent crimes. Instead of legislating more gun control laws, shouldn’t we focus upon and address the evident causes of violent crimes: mental illness, racism, economic injustice, poverty, unemployment, gang activity, drug trafficking, and inefficient law enforcement in high-crime areas?

Until that happens, “The best policy goal to pursue may be to [continue to shift] the distribution of gun possession as far as possible in the direction of likely aggressors being disarmed, with as few prospective victims as possible being disarmed. To disarm non-criminals [through more gun control laws] in the hope that this might indirectly help reduce access to guns among criminals is a very high-stakes gamble, and the risks will not be reduced by pretending that crime victims rarely use guns for self-defense” (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control). 

Gun control laws do not reduce crimes. Instead, they deprive law-abiding citizens of a means for contingent crucial protection until the police arrive too late.