Friday, October 29, 2010

Where is the “change?” » peoplesworld

Where is the “change?” » peoplesworld

Whittier Parent Committee Declaration of Victory

From Whittier Elementary School parents who sat in for a library at their school.

We are here today, to announce that on our 43rd day, we are ending the sit-in here at the Whittier School Fieldhouse.

However, the letter delivered by CPS today and signed by Ron Huberman does not reflect all the agreements and concerns raised by the Whittier Parent Committee.

Some of the points of contention include:

1) The location of the library has NOT been determined or agreed upon by the Whittier Parent Committee. The parents DID NOT agree to the library being built inside of the Whittier school as the letter from CPS states.

2) We also want to note that the Whittier Parent Committee DID NOT agree to be responsible for all the repairs or other maintenance issues mentioned in the letter. During this meeting we made it clear that as the leasing agent, it is CPS's responsibility to ensure that the building is up to fire codes and safe for the children.

3) We want to make it clear that we are ONLY ending the sit-in portion of the struggle.

The Whittier Parent Committee remains in control of the fieldhouse and the programming that is currently taking place in the fieldhouse. We ARE NOT abandoning the fieldhouse nor are we ending our fight for the library. The negotiations will continue!

We want to ensure that CPS and our elected officials give us, the community, the student body, and the parents, what we deserve!! The fight continues so that we can ensure that we have a quality education for all children!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Voting “NO” on recall is vote in defense of democracy

By John Bachtell

It’s been nearly two years since then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was impeached by the state senate on accusations of corruption and abuse of power, including allegations of trying to sell President Barack Obama’s US Senate seat.

During the impeachment proceedings none of the allegations had been proven in a court of law, although in the recently concluded trial Blagojevich was convicted on one charge, perjury to an FBI official.

Blagojevich will be the 3rd Illinois governor to go to jail for corruption.

But while the hullabaloo around removing Blagojevich has died down, one of the byproducts of the uproar is a measure on November’s ballot to amend the state constitution to allow for recall of a governor by voters.

Proponents say it’s an added check and balance. Sounds democratic, but is it really?

The proposed amendment to Section 7 of Article III sets up the following procedure: The first step would be an affidavit filed with the State Board of Elections announcing intent to seek a recall. That affidavit needs endorsements from 20 state representatives and 10 state senators — no more than half from the same political party in each group.

After the affidavit is in, there are 150 days to circulate the petition. The number of signatures must equal 15 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election — close to 520,000 signatures, based on the 2006 race — and must have names from at least 25 counties.

The recall special election would happen within 100 days of certification of the petition. If the governor is recalled, another special election would be held to elect a new governor.

Aside from the cost of recall, which according to the Secretary of State would run at least $100 million, the bigger question is the ability of powerful interests to overturn the will of the majority and depose elected officials who may come in conflict with corporate and right wing interests. They could embroil state politics in internal wrangling for years.

The best example of this is the experience in California. Remember that Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was reelected in 2002 with the broad support of labor, and the Mexican American and African American communities and women. A lot of progressive legislation was passed by the Democratic controlled California General Assembly during his tenure.

But with the state in the throws of an economic crisis, with Enron manufacturing an energy crisis after Republican Gov. Pete Wilson led the way with deregulation, Gray’s popularity flagged. Right wing and corporate interests used the crisis and resulting widespread anger to undo the progressive changes.

The Republican right wing and corporate interests launched a massively funded recall campaign in 2003, hiring signature gatherers, including from out of state. Backed by a corporate media chorus, they succeeded in what amounted to a coup and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor in a special election.

Whatever one thinks about Blagojevich’s fate, he was impeached by the state legislature because a procedure for his removal is written into the state constitution.

Voters in fact have the right of recall and they can exercise it during a regularly scheduled election every four years. That’s the proper place to settle these matters.

Under normal circumstances, recall might not be a bad idea. But these are anything but normal times. The danger to democracy, of subverting and bypassing the electoral system, despite its many flaws, has increased because of the unrestrained and unaccounted for corporate money flooding the 2010 elections as a result of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.

A no vote on the proposed constitutional amendment will be a vote in defense of democracy at this moment.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Poll: victory in Illinois hinges on voter turnout

A new poll by Public Policy Polling proves that voter turnout will determine the outcome of the US Senate race between Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias.

At this point the race is a toss up and the report says, "The final outcome in Illinois, perhaps more so than any other state in the country, is going to be determined by the ability of Democrats to mobilize their base in these final two weeks."

Read the article here and then get out and phone bank:

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Harold Washington: The People’s Mayor

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Turnout is key to victory in targeted House races

By John Bachtell
CHICAGO-For Republicans to win a majority in the House of Representatives, they need to sweep hotly contested swing district races in several states including Illinois. There are four such races here and according to polls, all are in flux and turnout will be key to victory.

Three of the districts have incumbent Democrats running. The 11th and 14th CDs have been traditionally Republican, but with changing demographics elected Democrats in 2008. A third, the 17th CD which includes the Quad Cities area has elected Democrats for several election cycles. Democrat Rep. Phil Hare strongly backed by the labor movement.

A fourth, the 10th CD covering the suburbs north of Chicago, has been represented by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) who has vacated the seat to run for US Senate. Democrat Dan Seals is currently leading against Tea Party endorsed Republican Bob Dold.

The GOP and reactionary groups are targeting Illinois swing districts and flooding it with cash. The 10th, 11th and 14th CDs are top priorities of Americans for Prosperity (AFP); the extremist group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. Illinois ranks number four in total outside money coming in.

The 11th CD is a far flung district that stretches from the exurbs of Chicago west to Joliet and south to Bloomington. It has one of the highest densities of union households, but is also characterized by high unemployment and deep anxiety among voters.

Incumbent Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL) is a being ganged up on by the right wing nationally. She is a top target of the Republicans, AFP, Karl Rove’s sleazy American Crossroads and the anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List. This kind of opposition means she has a tough challenge in her race against ex-McLean County Commissioner and Tea Party and Sarah Palin endorsed candidate Adam Kinzinger.

Among other things, Kinzinger supports extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, calls for capping Social Security benefits, raising the retirement age and ending cost of living adjustments. He’s also against a woman’s right to choose.
“I talk to seniors every day who are struggling to make ends meet, and cutting their benefits or raising the retirement age would simply be devastating,” Halvorson said. “The petition we launched today gives those seniors a voice and lets them tell their story of why these important benefits can’t be taken away.”
Kinzinger has attacked Halvorson for her support of the stimulus bill, the health care reform and cap and trade legislation. She has called for eliminating tax breaks that encourage corporations to move facilities overseas, citing local manufacturer Caterpillar as a case in point.

“They’re getting a tax break,” she said. “They’ll be able to write off all those expenses. This is taxpayer giveaways for moving jobs off shore.”

Kinzinger claims corporate taxes are already too high and calls for cutting them further to keep jobs here.

Observers note a definite shift in momentum in the target races. The Illinois AFL-CIO has been cranking up phone banks and canvassing across the state. Communications Director Beth Spencer says the federation has operations in 10 zones statewide including in the battleground races.

Similarly, pro-choice, environmental and consumer groups are hitting the streets.

“We have a bunch of races that if won can go a long way in determining the national outcome,” says John Gaudette, Organizing Director for Citizen Action Illinois. “People are making decisions. They are saying – here’s what I expect, here’s what I got, now how do I get more? The ideas of the extremist (Republican) candidates are pushing them away.”