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Reposted from pdanoki by JeffW

Why are so many of Chicago Financial elite so interested in public education?

Like sleek predator birds circling a large wounded animal, Chicago's economic royalist are eyeing the Chicagol Public Schools billion dollar money pot. This comes to light with the revelation that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's picked CEO of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Barbara Byrd-Bennett is under federal investigation for granting a no-bid $20MM contract to a former employer.

The company, SUPES provided management training services that would have been available from local universities at a much lower cost. The deal was approved unanimously by Rahm's appointed school board.

There's a bunch of compelling aspects to this situation, but the one that fascinates me is how it exposes the real basis of the City's business/financial elite interest in education reform, namely investment opportunity.

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Reposted from shaunking by JeffW Editor's Note: Republished without comment. -- JeffW
Rekia Boyd
Rekia Boyd, shot and killed by Chicago Officer Dante Servin
With 49 elementary schools closing this summer, with pensions being slashed, and with public services being cut all over Chicago, the city now admits it has paid out over $521 million in settlements and legal fees due to police violence, misconduct ,and abuse over the past 10 years alone—with a whopping 500 cases still pending.
What's more, criminal justice experts say new lawsuits will surely keep filling the pipeline until the city addresses a so-called "code of silence" – where officers refuse to tell on each other for misbehavior – and a flawed disciplinary system that together allow misconduct to prosper.

In all, the BGA found a total of $521.3 million has been spent to handle police misconduct-related lawsuits from 2004 to present day.

The true cost, though, is even higher, as the BGA counted settlements and judgments, legal bills and other fees – but not less tangible expenses related to, say, insurance premiums, in-house lawyers and investigators, and the cost of incarcerating innocents.

In the government-sponsored study to track the outrageous costs of police brutality in Chicago, the following examples of what could have and should have been done with half a billion dollars in the city were given:
Could build five high schools like the state-of-the-art building the city recently developed in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. The 212,000-square-foot school has space for 1,200 students and includes five computer labs, six science labs, a gymnasium and an indoor swimming pool.

Could pay for the repaving of 500 miles of arterial streets, based on a city spokesman's estimate of it costing $1 million per road mile.

Could cover the cost of building 33 libraries like the one scheduled to open this summer in the Albany Park neighborhood. The 16,300-square-foot building includes a landscaped reading garden and 38 public computer terminals.

Yet, instead of any of those of wonderful things, the Chicago Police Department and the city's broken criminal justice system leaves an ugly trail of ruined lives and paid settlements instead.

Maybe, just maybe, if America understood the true cost of police brutality it would take this issue more seriously.

Reposted from Community Fundraisers by broths

Many of you know Chitown Kev, a Kossack who is (among other distinctions) an administrator of Black Kos and Milk Men and Women. He is an astute observer, an effective analyst, and a fine writer whose impact here at Daily Kos is much greater than his relatively limited diary output to date would suggest. If you're not already aware of his work, I'd recommend you take a look at any of his diaries. Two of his most recent are representative of his thoughtfulness and breadth of knowledge, including this one, under the auspices of Black Kos, with a Note on Black Mental Health, or this one, on the continuing relevance of Frederick Douglass. As a black, gay, working-class man with a deep interest in and knowledge of American history in general and African-American culture in particular, Chitown Kev brings an important and valuable perspective to our community. I believe we would all benefit from his expertise and passion if he had the tools to enable more regular diaries and other contributions.

Thus, I am honored to have the opportunity to make this request of our sister and brother Kossacks on behalf of Chitown Kev: namely, enough funds for him to obtain a reliable laptop with basic software and connectivity, sufficient for him to research, compose, and write diaries from anywhere. We estimate that about $500 should do.

Your rec, tip, tweet, and share would help! And so would a donation. If you can, please send funds in any amount to this PayPal account: (Note that it is NOT an account for Chitown Kev, but for his friend, a well-known Kossack who is known to me personally.)
Here he is, in his own words, explaining the request:
I love being a part of the community here at The Great Orange Satan.  I consider the Daily Kos community thingie we have here vital to my always ongoing intellectual, emotional, mental, and spiritual development.

Simply put, I consider Daily Kos to be a home.

As a rule, I read and comment on computers at the public library. I recently purchased a cheap smartphone, so I am able to read and occasionally comment here at all hours of the day.  The posting of diaries (which usually require some research) and more involved commentary, though, must be done at the library during open hours.

I love being a contributor to this community and I want to contribute and to learn so much more from y’all.

A Kossack asked me, a couple of weeks ago, would I be willing to allow a fundraiser to be held in order for me to get a computer.

I agreed but only under the understanding that I will consider this computer to be an investment of the Daily Kos community in myself; an investment on which Daily Kos will receive a return. I will insist on that and will not chafe if called out on it.

We know that this community is caring and resourceful. We also trust that people will respond as they can to this request: whether it's with reccs, tips, shares, or tweets; whether it's with donations; whether it's with an offer of a used but still reliable laptop. Any and all possibilities are seriously welcome and appreciated.

Thank you all so much for your support!

Your rec, tip, tweet, and share would help! And so would a donation. If you can, please send funds in any amount to this PayPal account: (Note that it is NOT an account for Chitown Kev, but for his friend, a well-known Kossack who is known to me personally.)
Reposted from shaunking by JeffW
Rekia Boyd
Rekia Boyd
On Monday, Judge Dennis Porter made a decision that shocked lovers of justice across the nation. Presiding over the case against Chicago Police Officer Dante Servin, who shot and killed Rekia Boyd three years ago, Judge Porter dismissed all of the charges against Officer Servin, because:
... prosecutors failed to prove that Dante Servin acted recklessly, saying that Illinois courts have consistently held that anytime an individual points a gun at an intended victim and shoots, it is an intentional act, not a reckless one. He all but said prosecutors should have charged Servin with murder, not involuntary manslaughter.

Servin cannot be retried on a murder charge because of double-jeopardy protections, according to his attorney, Darren O'Brien.

In other words, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez undercharged Dante Servin with a lesser crime that could not be proven whereas evidence and multiple eyewitnesses could show first or second degree murder. Come below the fold for more evidence that Alvarez deliberately undercharged Servin.
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Reposted from shaunking by JeffW Editor's Note: Republished without comment. -- JeffW
Cook County DA Anita Alvarez
Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez
This is the type of blog post that really won't make much sense unless you watch the video below the fold. It's the most important video I've shared in months and masterfully illustrates just why Chicago prosecutor Anita Alvarez is not to be trusted when it comes to prosecuting police officers. It's a recent segment from 60 Minutes.

Please watch it, then join me below the video for a discussion on why it's absolutely possible that she deliberately tanked the case against Chicago Police Department Officer Dante Servin in the shooting death of Rekia Boyd.

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Reposted from BobboSphere by BobboSphere

It was one helluva an election season on the shores of Lake Michigan. Last summer I was brimming with optimism. The Chicago Teachers Union(CTU) had people out canvassing the neighborhoods. CTU President Karen Lewis was polling well in a possible mayoral bid and it looked like Mayor Rahm Emanuel  was on the run.

I foresaw an electoral revolution in the works. As a veteran of the Harold Washington days, I imagined the charismatic Karen Lewis recruiting a working class army of supporters,  including the  working poor and the unemployed. Energetic reform candidates for City Council would emerge. Many of the largely Black and Brown non-voters would finally have something worth voting for---for a change. photo Karen.jpg

Karen Lewis at the New Era Windows workers co-op

A multi-racial rainbow coalition would sweep into power on election day and the day after election day, face the combined wrath of the LaSalle Street bankers and hedge fund bunco artists. But we would not only have people in office, we'd have a powerful movement for social and economic justice to back them up.

It didn't happen. Karen announced that she was seriously ill with a brain tumor and could not run. She is now undergoing treatment. (BTW Chicagoans love to call their politicians by their first names).

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Reposted from Grateful Deadicated Marxist by JeffW Editor's Note: Republished without comment. -- JeffW
22 year-old, Rekia Boyd, RIP
Another cop kills and walks....

Here's the back story

In March 2012, 22-year-old Rekia Boyd was walking to a store with three friends near Douglas Park. Prosecutors said that Servin, who was off-duty, was upset over the noise and told the group to quiet down. After exchanging words, Servin fired five shots over his shoulder while sitting in his car. Boyd was hit in the head from behind and killed, her boyfriend, Antonio Cross, was hit in the thumb. The group of four had their backs turned to Servin in an alley.
In 2013, the city of Chicago awarded the Rekia Boyd's family 4.5 million to settle a civil suit (Because Dante Servin is a cop).

Anita Alvarez, the State's attorney of Cook County filed charges against the off duty officer. Inexplicably though, Dante Servin was only charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge, but not murder.  

Today, the trial judge on the case granted a Directed Verdict for the defense. However, in the Judge's opinion granting a Direct Verdict, he suggested that a murder case was proven, just not charged.  

Judge Porter continued,

“In this case, the evidence is virtually un-controverted, and the State has proven the above elements [of murder]. It is not contested that the defendant fired the shots, which killed Rekia Boyd.  Likewise, it is beyond question that the defendant fired shots intending to kill....  He fired five times and the last three, he “had him in his sights.”
Dante Servin, still on the force.  Still with a badge.  Still with a gun.
Chicago State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, the reason why.
Reposted from Hyde Park Johnny by Hyde Park Johnny
Mayor Rahm Emanuel names Barbara Byrd-Bennett as the new CEO of Chicago Public Schools at a news conference in October 2012.

In a page out of "Bizarro World", where everything is opposite of what it seems, Substance News research into Chicago Public Schools vendor spending has uncovered 1.4 billion dollars of increased spending. During the recent corporate media dust up over an FBI investigation of Chicago Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett’s no-bid $20 million contract to SUPES, a company she has direct ties to, it became apparent that there needed to be a history check on CPS spending and public statements of the need for austerity.

suntimes headlines 04152015(2)

In light of the assertions that the Board of Education of Chicago is claiming a billion dollar (plus) "deficit" and the newly elected reactionary Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is declaring that Chicago schools should declare "bankruptcy", it was curious to see how Chicago schools was actually spending money on outside vendors. Vendors means everything extra outside of paying staff to teach kids. And a closer look at the vendor situation shows that during the past four years, spending on vendors has exploded, while spending on teachers and other staff has actually gone down!


With the long history of corruption and prison sentences for Chicago politicians over the years there have been many laws passed to make public spending "transparent" to the taxpayers, not that it seems to be slowing down any sticky fingers or golden gooses. Or is this latest $20 million FBI corrption investigation just a slight of hand to deflect attention from the neo-liberal agenda to divert public assets to private hands?


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Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by JeffW
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois speaks to supporters after beating Democratic nominee Alexi Giannoulias for the Senate seat formally held by U.S. President Barack Obama, at an election night rally in Wheeling, Illinois November 2, 2
Sen. Mark Kirk
At a time when race relations in America are a rapidly growing element of our public conversation, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is not having a very good week. Last week, the freshman senator really stepped in it when, while hailing his commitment to spurring African-American entrepreneurship in a wide-ranging interview with the Peoria Journal-Star, he offered an exceptionally horrible coda to his answer (emphasis mine):
I want to make sure we have elected people constantly looking at helping the African-American community. With this state and all of its resources, we could sponsor a whole new class of potential innovators like George Washington Carver and eventually have a class of African-American billionaires. That would really adjust income differentials and make the diversity and outcome of the state much better so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through.
Kirk took, unsurprisingly, no shortage for grief for those fateful thirteen words. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has made the defeat of Kirk in 2016 one of their highest priorities, jumped on the statement, which was one of several recent Kirk verbal soilings of the bed.

On Wednesday, Kirk offered a follow-up to the Chicago Sun-Times. He probably shouldn't have:

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., up for re-election, told the Chicago Sun-Times he won’t be talking about race or ethnicity in the future.

“I would say that whenever a targeted member talks about race or ethnicity, it is impossible for him to get it right. So I’ll leave it at that,” Kirk said.

On first blush, it reads like Kirk is arguing that, as a 50-something powerful white dude, he is a "targeted member" of society. It's not hard to think of it in this context, given that the patron saint of right-wing television basically insisted as much earlier this week. Therefore, it is not hard to think that Kirk probably watched the O'Reilly Factor this week.

Head below the fold for more on this story.

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Reposted from weinenkel by JeffW
Jonathan Jackson (center left) stands with Atty. G. Flynt Taylor (center right )during a press conference on torture and wrongful convictions outside the Chicago federal courthouse where former Chicago Police Department Lt. Cmdr. Jon Burge was indicted in 2008. Burge was later convicted of lying about the torturing of suspects in his custody.
2008 indictment of ex-police Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge
From 1972 to 1991 Chicago Police, under Commander Jon Burge, tortured an unknown number of citizens—almost entirely African American. In 2014, Jon Burge was released from federal prison—where he had spent less than four years on a perjury conviction connected to the torture he perpetrated.
Burge has cost the city and Cook County nearly $100 million in legal fees and settlements. The city last year alone approved a $12.3 million settlement to a pair of Burge’s victims who are among the 120 known black victims of Burge’s ring. So far, according to various reports, the city has paid about $67 million in settlements to 18 victims and more than $20 million in lawyers to defend Burge, former mayor Richard Daley and the city.

While Emanuel has described Burge as a “stain on the city’s reputation,” the 66-year-old ex-cop is still receiving a $4,000-a-month pension from the city. The state attorney general recently challenged the city’s pension board after it refused to take away Burge’s pension. But the Illinois Supreme Court this summer ruled that the attorney general’s office didn’t have the legal authority to strip Burge of his pension.

Today, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city alderman are proposing a reparations package for the victims of Burge and his Henchmen. The package would include $5.5 million to be put into a fund for the victims and the city would officially apologize to the victims.
The package will also include the creation of a permanent memorial to the victims and an addition to the curriculum in eighth- and 10th-grade Chicago Public Schools history classes, to teach students about the issue. The city will offer services to victims and their families such as free tuition and psychological counseling.
Jon Burge and the "detectives" who worked under him are monsters. The methods of torture included electric shock, suffocation, shotguns in mouths. The results have been unequivocally destructive.
“For those of us who have been fighting and struggling to set a landmark, this is a landmark,” torture victim Darrell Cannon said. “This is the moment. What we do here will not be undone. People across the country will talk about Chicago.”

Cannon was freed after 24 years in prison when a review board determined that evidence used to convict him was tainted. He said police pretended to load a shotgun, put it in his mouth and pulled the trigger to terrify him into confessing to a murder that he didn't commit.

Now take that history in and wonder to yourself, is it all just in the African American community's minds?
Reposted from shaunking by JeffW
Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago Police
Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police
On October 20, 2014, something so egregious, so awful, so unjust took place on the streets of Chicago that the city, already in a deep deficit, is paying a family $5 million for us to never see evidence of. On that night, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, surrounded by officers who were waiting for a Taser, was shot 16 times.

It was filmed on a dash cam, but for the past six months, Chicago has done everything in its power to keep that video private. Speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times, the family attorney, Michael Robbins, said:

“I certainly expect that the officer will be indicted, and not just the officer, but any officer, supervisor or lieutenant who took part in covering this up and justifying what cannot be justified. This was an execution of a young man that should have been— and could have been—avoided."
After the shooting, a spokesman for the police stated that Laquan lunged at the officers and caused them to fear for their lives, but the family and everyone who has seen the video insists Laquan was doing quite the opposite, and was slowly walking away when one single officer hit him with 16 different shots all over his body. Otherwise, if the video showed a brave officer in imminent danger, it's highly unlikely a grieving family would be about to receive one of the largest settlements in the history of Chicago.

The FBI is now investigating the case as well.

Here's the thing: the family deserves a settlement. However, they don't own that dash cam video—it belongs to the public and should be released in the interest of public safety. These videos cannot and should not be used as some form of a bargaining chip with victims and their families. They are public property, filmed with equipment funded by taxpayers.

The video needs to be released immediately and the officer involved must face real disciplinary action.

Reposted from pdc by JeffW
Received this e-mail today from Rep. Tammy Duckworth's (D. IL) U.S. Senate campaign on behalf of herself and California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D. CA) and Rep. Donna Edwards' (D. MD) U.S. Senate campaigns:
During my Army service, I always earned equal pay for equal work. The military's policy of fairness has not only created opportunities for women, but also contributes to making our military the best in the world.

Every woman in America deserves the same treatment. But we're not there yet. Today is Equal Pay Day, the date that marks how far into the year women must work, on average, to earn what their male counterparts earned the previous year.

So today, I'm joining Kamala Harris and Donna Edwards - fellow Democratic women running for Senate - to demand that Congress take action on equal pay. Add your name too:

Illinois women can earn an average of nearly $12,000 less than men annually. This isn't just a matter of equality - it's an economic problem that's making it hard for women in our state to support themselves and their families.

Today is an important opportunity to remind Congress that women everywhere are calling for an end to the wage gap, once and for all.

Thank you for adding your voice,


Click here to add your name:

And click here to donate and/or get involved with Duckworth, Harris and Edwards' campaigns:
7/8/14 2:18:05 PM -- Washington, DC, U.S.A  -- Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., is interviewed by USA TODAY Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page for a Capital Download segment. --    Photo by Jack Gruber, USA TODAY staff ORG XMIT:  JG 131093 CAPDOWN EDWARDS 7/8/2014 [Via MerlinFTP Drop]
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