Author Archive

Two January Events Focus on Charter Proliferation/Privatization

by John Laesch, posted on Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 at 3:16 pm

dont-privatize In Chicago Rahm Emanuel has closed 50 “underutilized” public schools and is rapidly replacing them with charter schools.  The unelected board of education (CPS) will consider 21 total charter applications on January 22nd.

Additionally, a stacked, special “charter school funding task force” put together by Springfield lawmakers and led by State Rep., Dan Burke, will come out with their “findings” prior to the general assembly returning to session (Jan 28th).  We expect that Dan Burke will be recommending more money for charter schools - big surprise (possibly at a Jan 13th task force meeting).  And, what a waste considering that the “too broke to pay the bills and pensioners” general assembly gave UNO (in Dan Burke’s district) $98 million dollars that was wasted on scandal-riddled construction projects.

The hedge fund managers and their politicians (Rahm, Rauner, Madigan, etc.) are not going to stop their privatization assault on public schools so we need to push back. You can help by attending and bringing a friend to either the Jan 14th event in Chicago, or the second event in the suburbs scheduled on Jan 23rd.

Event details and flyers are below the fold. (more…)

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Thanksgiving Walmart Solidarity Action at Aurora Walmart - Pay a Living Wage

by John Laesch, posted on Friday, November 29th, 2013 at 8:20 am

Low Wages = food stamps About 35-40 activists braved the cold on Thanksgiving evening at the Walmart on the corner of Butterfield Rd. and Kirk Rd. in Aurora, IL.   Thanks to the Northern Illinois Light Brigade (NILB), we had beautiful, lighted signs that shoppers and ongoing traffic could see.  The signs read, “Living Wage Now!” and “Fight for $15″  You can check out some of the photos that will eventually be loaded to the NILB Facebook page.

The action was peaceful and our really cool lighted signs earned a number of honks from holiday travelers.  There was a bit of controversy when we approached the Walmart store.  A number of security guards attempted to stop us from taking up a spot in front of the store and told us that “we had to leave now or they would call the police.”  We stayed for 3-5 minutes and chanted, “Low Pay is not OK” and “hey-hey, ho-ho, the poverty wages have to go!” living-wage-5

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Chris Lauzen at Odds with the Pope Francis on Economic Issues

by John Laesch, posted on Thursday, November 28th, 2013 at 7:16 pm

It is Thanksgiving and I can’t get over the conversation I had with Chris Lauzen last week over the topic of a living wage ordinance. Even though I was born and raised on the mission field in West Africa, I don’t think that a politician’s faith should matter, unless that politician makes it part of his or her campaign. Chris Lauzen has put his faith front and center in most of his political endeavors – his political views as one who professes very publicly to be Roman Catholic are fair game. And, if you read the press release linked above you will notice that Lauzen doesn’t mind criticizing the Pope when the Pope admonishes Republicans. Maybe Chris is more in tune with God than the Pope is? living-wage-now

This morning I read a recent speech by Pope Francis who condemned the idolatry of cash in capitalism and called for a society with people, not money, at its heart. “It is the consequence of a global choice, an economic system which leads to this tragedy; an economic system which has at its center an idol called money.”

It made me think that the phone conversation Chris and I had should be made public and I should let readers decide if they think Lauzen is a man of faith or another hypocrite.

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Quinn Picks Republican Running Mate

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, November 9th, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Who will you vote for on Nov. 5, 2014 if you are given the choice between voting for a Republican (pick one) and a Republican (Paul Vallas)?  Yep, Pat Quinn picked a Republican as his running mate, further alienating working people, minorities and women from the Democratic Party.

quinn_vallas

Four years ago, Vallas told host Jeff Berkowitz on the Public Affairs cable TV show that he’s now a Republican.

VALLAS: “I would take a Republican primary ballot.”
BERKOWITZ: “Do you think of yourself as a Republican?”
VALLAS: “I’m more of a Republican than a Democrat.”
BERKOWITZ: “If you run again for office you’d be running as a Republican?”
VALLAS: “I would, yes, yes.”

It gets better

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When did it become acceptable to take money from old people?

by John Laesch, posted on Monday, April 8th, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Pat Herrmann I first heard Pat Herrmann, a retired art teacher from Wheaton, Illinois, ask the question, “when did it become acceptable to take money from old people?” during a public pension discussion hosted by the DuPage Coffeehouse.  Herrmann is a deep-thinking activist.  The multiple messages on her signs reflect her ability to conduct careful research and see the bigger picture.  Her question about taking money from old people reflects her ability to see the human impact; something lawmakers don’t see.

As the Illinois General Assembly debates how much money they will strip from Illinois teachers’ pensions and President Obama puts deep cuts to Social Security on the table, I was reminded of Hermman’s important question.  If you have not signed the petition to tell President Obama to take Social Security cuts off of the table, now would be a good time to do it by following this link.

Of course those reaching into the pockets of old people don’t want to talk about how this will impact living, breathing human beings.  They want to talk about numbers, budgets and other inhuman things.  Consider Tom Cross’s recent letter to the Chicago Tribune that makes this all sound like a tragic math problem.  Cross, after 20 years in Springfield, takes no responsibility for the state’s past 40+ years of delinquency.  I am not giving Democrats a free pass on this either.  The primary drivers of pension reform in Springfield are Mike Madigan, Pat Quinn, Elaine Nekritz and Dan Biss (all Democrats).  All of them, Democrats and Republicans, are singing from the same sheet of music.  Watch the video of Bernie Sanders below the fold.

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When will the 18 school districts vote for or against K12 Inc.?

by John Laesch, posted on Sunday, April 7th, 2013 at 8:03 am

Pam Verner took the time to contact all 18 school districts and ask when the school board planned on voting for or against the K12 Inc. application for a charter school.  Thanks to Heather Steans, Stand for Children, and wealthy charter school backers, the law (SB79) requires school districts to vote 30 days after the public hearing. stop-k12-450

While the public comments section is officially closed, we are still encouraging people to attend these hearings, add your comments of opposition at the beginning of the meeting and have your voice heard.  Here are the dates that school districts said they anticipated a vote:

April 8, Monday

Naperville District 204 @ 7:00 p.m.
Crouse Education Center
780 Shoreline Drive
Aurora, IL 60504
630-375-3000

West Aurora District 129  @ 6:00 P.M.
West Aurora High School
1201 West New York Street
Aurora, IL 60506
- Meeting will be held in the Library.
Closed session first, then “may” vote on K12.

Geneva District 304 @ 7:00 P.M.
Williamsburg Elementary School
1812 Williamsburg Avenue
Geneva, IL 60134
630-463-3010

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K12 Inc., “The Dog Ate My Data” in Valley View Too

by John Laesch, posted on Monday, April 1st, 2013 at 10:55 am

After making 16 similar presentations at public hearings over the course of 10 days in the Fox Valley, and receiving hundreds of tough questions, K12 Inc. finally showed up with a panel of executives.  I counted seven K12 Inc. executives, one attorney, and three board members from Virtual Learning Solutions.  They were all nicely dressed in business attire, their PowerPoint had new graphics, and their data was still non existent. K12 Inc. had 10 days to do their homework and once again failed to produce any substance.

Photo from D356U K12 Inc. Public Hearing - March 27, 2013

For almost three hours the D365U School Board kept pushing for data, substance and explanations about K12’s questionable history of grade doctoring, cover-ups, lawsuits, scandals and investor settlements.  The board was phenomenal, and Dr. Vince Gaddis (NIJwJ Steering Committee member) drove it home in a “worth the watch 12 speech” below the fold.

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A Poor Kid Deserves Opportunity Too (Poem)

by John Laesch, posted on Sunday, March 31st, 2013 at 7:29 pm

Reflections from Newark Community High School, March 31st 2013

nchs-sign-out-front

Driving by I stopped to stare and remember…

The squeak of gym shoes on polished hardwood floors
Rolled jeans and clanking metal locker doors

My older brother and friends thinking they were cool
Sneaking a smoke behind the brick school

The first Apple IIe with green letters blinking
Learning code, tabbing, no clicking

My first psych paper questioned corporate advertising in school
Sociology, I learned I was part of a class - bottom of the economic pool

A solitary study hall in the librarians’ backroom, studying or sleeping
The Librarian knew no 17-year old should be full-time working

I know she was proud when I got my ACT scores and acceptance letter
Teachers dug deep, earning their scholarship - a shot at something better…

Now I know why I spend so much time fighting for this beautiful relic
Opportunities, our schools - keep them strong, keep them public

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Money Grab: Heather Steans, Chicago School Closings and K12 Inc.

by John Laesch, posted on Friday, March 29th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

State Senator Heather Steans and Stand for Children are ultimately responsible for Chicago school closings and the recent increase of charter school applications like the 18-district virtual charter initiated by K12 Inc. in the Chicago suburbs.

Rahm Emanuel, Barb Byrd-Bennett, Heather Steans, Jonah Edelman

Rahm Emanuel, Barb Byrd-Bennett, Heather Steans, Jonah Edelman

I started researching SB79 and HB 5825, the legislation that created and gave the Illinois Charter Commission super “override powers” and autonomy from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).  If SB7 gave education activists concern, SB79 and HB 5825 should have started a five-alarm fire.

Because of SB79, K12 Inc., a for-profit, Wall Street-traded company applied for a virtual charter scam in 18 suburban school districts.  Why are they doing this?  K12 Inc. anticipates that the state charter commission will override local rejections of their taxpayer rip-off scheme and approve the charter despite overwhelming local opposition.

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K12 Inc. – Last Hearing March 27, First Vote April 1st

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 at 5:52 pm

K12 Inc., a for-profit virtual learning company is pitching their services to 18 Illinois school districts, attempting to exploit Illinois’ weak charter laws. K12 Inc. executives have handled presentations at 16 of the 18 schools in which they have submitted an application for a virtual charter. Geneva’s school district 304 held a hearing on March 11th and the applicant did not show. The final hearing is in District 365U (Romeoville and Bolingbrook).

stop-k12-web_1

Please join Northern Illinois Jobs with Justice (RSVP via this link) at the final public hearing to express your opposition to K12 Inc’s taxpayer rip-off scheme. This Wall Street company is trying to rip-off taxpayers in the amount of $8,000 per customer (students that they sign up).

When: Wednesday, March 27th @ 6:30 p.m.

Where: Valley View D365U School Service Center (755 Dalhart Ave., Romeoville, IL 60446)

The first vote for or against K12’s virtual charter scam is going to be held in East Aurora, District 131. Please join NIJwJ (RSVP via this link) and encourage the board to vote “no.”

When: April 1st @ 7:00 p.m.

Where: School Services Center (417 Fifth St., Aurora, IL 60505)

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“Defend Your Profit Model.” March 18th K12 Inc. Hearings

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 at 7:33 am

When the K12 Inc. executive stammered, Dean Fisher, a Yorkville School Board member repeated his question, “defend your profit model.”  The questions came after the K12 Inc. corporate executive had made a 20-minute presentation to the board and administrators of Yorkville District 115.

K12 Yorkville Hearing

The real world questions kept coming like a series of body blows to K12 Inc., the for-profit virtual education provider that has come under fire nationally for low test scores, scandals, lawsuits and cover-ups.

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Progress: Chance for Moratorium on K12 Virtual Charter

by John Laesch, posted on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 8:26 am

We will have some exciting news at the informational meeting on K12 Inc. that is scheduled for Sunday, March 17th from 2-5 p.m. at the Geneva First Congregational Church (321 Hamilton St.) in Geneva, IL!

In addition to hearing from Tennessee State Representative, Gloria Johnson about how k12 Inc. has hurt students and taxpayers in her home state of Tennessee, we will have a charter school expert by the name of Sharon Teefey to share knowledge on Illinois’ Charter Commission.

Teefey will be reporting that State Rep. Chapa LaVia (IL 83rd District) intends to initiate an amendment to address virtual charter schools. According to an e-mail from Rep. Chapa Lavia, she intends to file the following amendment in the house when they return to session.

(l) From April 1, 2013 through April 1, 2016 there shall be a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools with virtual schooling components which includes but is not limited to full-time online virtual schools and virtual blended schools. For the purposes of this subsection (l) virtual blended schools means a virtual school with in-person components.

This moratorium will give Illinois parents and lawmakers more time to study K12 Inc. and their questionable track record of performance.

An amendment is progress, and it shows that organizing works and we need to keep doing more of it!

If you want to support the fight against K12 Inc. and want to see this fight continue, please consider supporting NIJwJ financially.

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K12 Inc., A Wall-Street Traded Charter Corporation Out To Strip Illinois Taxpayers of Money

by John Laesch, posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 at 9:03 pm

K12 Incorporated, a for-profit charter business has a track record of poor academic performance, misleading investors, and deliberately telling teachers to “delete bad grades.” Now, as many Illinois school districts are struggling with shrinking budgets, K12 Inc wants to milk our schools of $8,000 – $11,000 per pupil with a new, “virtual charter school.” In my first piece on this subject, I listed the public hearings for all 18 schools that K12 Virtual Learning Solutions is targeting in the Chicago Suburbs.

K12 Inc. has a Record of Poor Academic Performance and Deletes Grades to Boost Scores.

When I learned that K12 Inc was trying to get their hand in the pocket books of Aurora taxpayers, I started researching the company. One story by investigative reporter, Phil Williams, with Tennessee Channel 5 News exposes an e-mail from the Tennessee Virtual Academy’s vice principal to middle school teachers titled, “important.” The e-mail reads:

“After … looking at so many failing grades, we need to make some changes before the holidays,” the email begins.

Among the changes: Each teacher “needs to take out the October and September progress [reports]; delete it so that all that is showing is November progress.”

“Does it talk about we need to make changes in curriculum? Does it talk about we need to make changes in our teaching strategy? No,” Rep. Johnson observed. “Those changes we need to make are deleting grades from the computer system.”

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K12 Inc. Attempting to Establish Virtual Charter Scam in Fox Valley

by John Laesch, posted on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 at 7:26 am

New rules allow an Illinois charter school to apply for a charter from a local school district and appeal any rejections to the Illinois Charter Commission.

As of this blog post writing, I am aware that K12 Inc. has applied for charter schools in 18 school districts in the Chicago Suburbs.  Please plan on attending these hearings (listed below) to ask the board to reject this scandalous business.

In addressing local school boards we need to let them know that K12 Inc. is a business that pays their CEO $3.9 million dollars per year and offers returns to investors. It is not a school. Our tax money is being diverted from the classroom to the pockets of the wealthy. K12 Inc. may perform well on Wall Street, but they don’t perform well in the virtual learning environment. And, according to Channel 5 News in Tennessee, when K12 Inc. fails to perform, they instruct teachers to “delete grades.”

These are the public hearings that we know about:

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Aurora TIFs – A New Vision for Our City

by John Laesch, posted on Monday, February 11th, 2013 at 8:00 am

I hope that readers take the time to attend the Aurora City Council meeting on Feb. 12th at 6:00 p.m. in the city council chambers, 2nd floor of city hall, 44 E. Downer Place, Aurora, IL. If you want to address the City Council should notify the City Clerk’s Office at (630) 256-3070

Being discussed and voted on at this meeting is the appropriations of $750,000 of taxpayer money to fund a development project in downtown Aurora. The project was written about by Stephanie Lulay of the Aurora Beacon News. For reading with much more inflammatory political rhetoric you may wish to consult the Aurora Openline blog.

To read the details of the resolution, you can read the downloadable agreement that was already approved by the Aurora Finance Committee.

This latest TIF deal has me asking lots of questions about our city’s TIF policy. This one certainly has “politically connected insiders” written all over it, but other developers and “businessmen” have taken the city for a ride in the past.

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Jakobsson and Chapa LaVia Sponsor Graduated Income Tax

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, January 26th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Updated Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

On Jan 9th, State Representative Naomi Jakobsson filed a bill that would give Illinois voters an opportunity to amend Illinois’ tax code and pave the way for a graduated income tax. House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment HC0002 On Jan 23rd, State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia added her name as a co-sponsor to the bill.

The bill, HJRCA 0002 would amend the Illinois Constitution and allow for a graduated income tax. Please take a minute to sign our petition to Representatives Jakobsson and Chapa LaVia.

The language of the bill reads:

Proposes to amend the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution. Provides that individual income taxes may be at a graduated or a non-graduated rate. Provides that any such tax imposed on corporations shall be at a non-graduated rate, not to exceed the average of the lowest and highest individual rates by more than a ratio of 8 to 5. Effective upon being declared adopted.

If the bill passes the general assembly, Illinois voters would have to approve of the measure by voting “yes” on the November 2014 ballot before it went into law.

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Aurora Pension Discussion - Videos and Bios

by John Laesch, posted on Monday, January 7th, 2013 at 4:15 pm

A special thanks to our distinguished panelists (list and video links below), State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia, East Aurora High School and all of the volunteers who helped make one of the first “democratic pension discussions” a success.

Other blog and press coverage of the event can be found at FredKlonsky.com, Tim Furman’s blog, The Daily Herald, and The Aurora Beacon News (Suntimes affiliate).

Below the fold are all of the videos from the event.  We are also asking people to sign a petition that pushes for new funding proposals to fund pensions, create jobs and restore Illinois’ fiscal health.  These proposals are outlined by economists in the videos below.

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1996 Labor Party Convention - Video from Labor Beat

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, January 5th, 2013 at 10:40 pm

As the Democratic Party is back to pushing anti-union austerity proposals in Springfield this veto session, I find this video to be relevant. It also provides some important lessons.

The text below the fold was written by Larry Duncan (Labor Beat). Their work is important and deserves your financial support.

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Teacher Pensions: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

by John Laesch, posted on Sunday, December 30th, 2012 at 2:07 pm

While many are following the manufactured cliff debate in Washington, in Illinois, a Democratic House, Senate and Governor are attempting to wash their hands of their financial mismanagement of teachers’ pensions once again.
Teachers rally in Naperville, IL
Illinois’ veto session is our “lame duck” session and, hard to move legislation like public employee pension rip-offs is back on the table. In Springfield there is no progressive voice in the room proposing that the general assembly rescind the $85 million/per year tax break to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). There have been no proposals to implement a tax on contracts at the CME (our Wall Street) and, there have been no proposals to modernize Illinois’ tax code with a graduated income tax.

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Walking Through the Halls of Power

by John Laesch, posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 at 8:05 pm

Reflections from the Workers United Hall at 333 S. Ashland Ave., Chicago IL on July 30, 2012 - Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign meeting.

Present, past and future merge -            strolling through the halls of power
Walking in their footsteps - gaining strength hour by hour

Their voices echo off cold brick walls - shattering doubt and despair.
Only resolve lives here!

Great women and men sat on this very chair - plotting justice.
Alive and well - justice lives here!

Their rough hands pounded on this table - a solidarity drum - Here! Here!
Only solidarity lives here!

From the stage, the people’s voices gave democracy birth - the birth pains of revolution -
America, Democracy lives here!

It is here that anguish and anger             chiseled change - challenging pragmatism’s powerful, “no.”
Si, Se Puede is all we know - hope lives here!

Ours is not the first nor the last - today’s struggles strengthened by the past
Worn steps, worn bodies - warm welcome comrades!
Power through unity - our future lives here!

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Bain, Romney and Obama Support Offshoring/Outsourcing of U.S. Jobs

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, June 30th, 2012 at 5:55 pm

In an attempt to differentiate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign is working hard to draw attention to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital’s agenda to offshore and outsource jobs.

While not necessarily connected to the Obama campaign, there is a new push inside labor circles to draw attention to a small company based in Freeport, IL named Sensata. The company is owned by Bain Capital and is preparing to move 170 Illinois jobs to China. Factory workers are calling on Mitt Romney to step in and stop the plant closure.

I support the move to target Romney on this issue and I hope that national pressure causes Bain Capital to keep those jobs in Illinois and sign a union contract with the workers.

At the same time, I can’t help but call out the hypocrisy of the Obama Administration for blasting Romney in public while secretly (and I mean very secretly) holding closed-door meetings with 600 corporate advisors to write another free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that will result in more off shoring and outsourcing of U.S. jobs. TPP is expected to be the largest and worst free trade agreement in global history.

In a recent RT article titled, “TPP secrets: Obama covertly granting more power to multinational corporations,” a doctor chastizes the president.

“Bush was better than Obama on this,” Judit Rius of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign tells HuffPo. “It’s pathetic, but it is what it is. The world’s upside-down.”

So, who do we blame?

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Voice Newspaper coverage of Elgin Pension Funding Rally 5.4.12

by John Laesch, posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 at 8:55 am
voice-newspaper-may-10-2012
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Rep. Biss Holds Town Hall Meeting on Pensions

by John Laesch, posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 7:59 am

State Rep. Daniel Biss had the courage to hold a town hall meeting to discuss “pension reform” in Glenview on April 30th. I estimate that 200-225 people attended the overcrowded room that was set up to accommodate 75 people.

Biss Town Hall

The standing room only crowd was a mirror image of other pension discussions happening around the state. The general mood of the cramped, “slightly too warm for comfort” room was polite and respectful. Biss set the tone by taking questions and respecting diverse opinions while facilitating the conversation artfully.

I attended the event because I felt that if Representative Biss had the courage to hold a controversial town hall meeting that he might also have the courage to lead a fight to actually fund pensions and uphold the state’s end of the deal.

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TRS Townhall in Naperville

by John Laesch, posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Teachers and retired teachers filled a school cafeteria in Naperville, IL to hear a presentation from Dick Ingram, the Executive Director of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) on Thursday, April 26th.                              The staff at the high school had to set up extra seats to accommodate an estimated 300-400 people.

The presentation itself was very “matter of fact” and seemed to be a part of a PR effort to let teachers know that Governor Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly were about to deliver a hard-hitting punch. Most of the information presented was not new, but the use of multiple events and participation by the news media re-enforced the message, “the sky is falling and teachers have to make concessions.” Before delivering the bad news, Ingram did talk about how great it was that teachers had lived up to their responsibility by paying into the retirement system all of these years. He also acknowledged that teachers are not eligible for Social Security (a point that is often missed by the public and seems to be ignored by lawmakers).

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Progress for ATMI Workers

by John Laesch, posted on Sunday, April 1st, 2012 at 10:29 am

Last Saturday Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice (NIJWJ) meeting had good news for workers at ATMI.

Tim Bell with the Chicago Workers Collaborative reported that the workers had voted to join Laborers Local 681 by a vote of 78 to 9. The near-unanimous vote is a reflection of the strength and solidarity among the workers.                            Bell also reported that the vote had been ratified by the Department of Labor and that ATMI was willing to sit down at the negotiating table with workers from the newly formed union.

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Temperatures Dropping, Occupiers Still Occupying

by John Laesch, posted on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 at 3:50 pm

The last time we got hit with 8″ of snow was Jan 21, 2012 and we had our biggest turnout for Occupy Aurora yet.

The VOICE Newspaper (available hardcopy only) covered the story and the Beacon News covered the story here.

Illinois Media Progressives covered the story on YouTube .  Please send this video on to your friends and let them know why we are doing this!

With a snow storm predicted for the Fox Valley this weekend, I thought I would let people know that for Saturday, Feb 25th, occupiers will be gathering in at least three Fox Valley locations and there is interest in an “Occupy Kendall” initiative.

Occupy Elgin
When: Saturday @ 1:00 p.m. with a GA to follow in the lobby of Hemmings Auditorium
Where: The corner of Kimball St. and Grove Ave. in Elgin, IL (Parking is available and convenient)

Occupy Aurora
When: Saturday @ 10 a.m. with GA to follow at Arby’s
Where: Bank of America at the corner of Indian Trail and Orchard Rd. in Aurora

Occupy Naperville
When: 10 a.m. in front of the Bank of America, located at the corner of Van Buren & Washington in Naperville. 
At 11:00 AM, Occupy Napervill will march to the First Congregational United Church of Christ, located at 25 E. Benton Ave and conduct an indoor General Assembly until 1:00 PM.

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Has the Economic Crisis and Broken Political System Created Room for Justice?

by John Laesch, posted on Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

As corporate ideologues continue to dominate Republican Party primaries and Democrats continue to ignore or brow-beat their base while pushing policies that benefit the wealthy and powerful, many activists and voters are wondering how to restore democracy for the 99%.

Some favor street activism like the Occupy Movement, while others turn to on-line activism like petition signing and blogging.  These efforts are worthwhile and represent the birth pains of democracy, but elections matter.  Until politicians fear losing their seats, or lose their seats, the 1% will continue to write the laws that the majority of us will dutifully obey those laws.  Politically, I have always tried to use my time to work within the Democratic Party to get “better Democrats,” but, as clearly illustrated by the 2010 shellacking, many working people rewarded mediocrity with apathy; choosing not to vote for the lesser of two evils.  How would these people respond to something new?

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Kendall Republicans Welcome Racial Profiling as New Family Value

by John Laesch, posted on Monday, August 29th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

The Kendall County Republican Central Committee invited one of the most divisive people in America to be the keynote speaker at their annual family picnic. I guess the six or seven Republican presidential hopefuls are skipping Kendall County, and Sarah Palin was not available, so they turned to the other media hound, Joe Arpaio.

What is scary is that Joe Arpaio, who put Arizona taxpayers on the hook for his illegal racial profiling, and is also being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, drew several hundred Republicans to a fundraiser. 

I read this Beacon News article and decided Sunday afternoon was an appropriate time to pen my response.  On this Sunday, I am certain that many Republicans who pledge to the Christian faith were in church pews, but where were they on Saturday when Joe Arpaio was in town?  Were they at the protest outside or did they venture inside the GOP fundraiser?

Being raised on the mission field in West Africa I learned a Sunday School song that has this verse, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.  Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight.”

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Keep the Focus on the Unemployment Crisis!

by John Laesch, posted on Sunday, August 21st, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Last week I attended a town hall meeting (THM) with freshman Repesentative Randy Hultgren in Sandwich, and a second in Geneva.  The third THM is in Yorkville on Aug. 29.  See details at the end of this post.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

Question after question, the crowd pushed for Jobs-Jobs-Jobs!  Many also called for a fair, progressive tax on the wealthiest of our society, the card-carrying members of the millionaire and billionaire clubs.  Others pushed more spcifically for H.R. 870, the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act, a bill that imposes a speculation tax of .25% on Wall Street trading.  The revenue would be used to create 2.5 to 10 million jobs.

Keep reading for press coverage, video of the THM’s, and details for the next THM. 

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What About the Real Crisis - Unemployment?

by John Laesch, posted on Monday, August 15th, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice (NIJWJ) has been holding monthly events and rallies on the first Friday of every month when unemployment numbers are released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The last rally was covered by The Voice  (Not an on-line article, but their website tells where you can pick up a copy), and The Beacon News.

August unemploymet numbers (9.1% unemployed) showed little improvement in the economic crisis facing millions of American families.  The Chicago Political Economy Group (CPEG) points out that adding the 13.9 million unemployed together with the 6.5 million discouraged workers means that over 20 million American families are still suffering even though the Great Recession was declared “over” more than two years ago.

The question is, what are we going to do about it?

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