CN April 12, 2012

The largest municipal election in the country is coming down to its final week, and voting begins next Thursday – right here in Chicago. You didn’t know?  Well, it’s the 11th Local School Council election, in which thousands of seats are up for grabs on the councils that govern more than 400 Chicago Public schools. The problem is that this election, the first under our new Mayor and schools CEO, just doesn’t seem to be a priority for them. In fact, panelist Don Moore, who, along with his organization Designs for Change was one of the activists who fought for the LSCs back in 1989, tells us that “there have been a whole series of obstructions” by CPS of the effort to recruit LSC candidates.

Lorraine Forte,  (Catalyst-Chicago) Editor and Thom Clark (Community Media Workshop Prez) add that a combination of a slow financial retreat by the philanthropic community and a complete blackout of coverage from the media (with the exception of a Sun-Times editorial and some gallant coverage by Center Square Journal), along with a lack of interest from the central office, has cast a pall of “benign neglect” over the whole process.  And, adds  Forte, “It’s always easier from the District’s perspective to go in and say OK, we’re gonna get a new principal and fire all the teachers, because that’s more easily controlled as opposed to’ OK, we’re gonna support this grassroots effort”

The Center Square Journal saga, by the way, is especially interesting.  CSJ’s efforts to get from CPS a list of candidates running for LSCs in its area elicited a response that they’d have to FOIA the info from CPS. A FOIA to find out who the candidates are?

There’s plenty of discussion about the recent “compromise” on the length of the school day, and the uncanny similarity to Mayor Emanuel’s “compromise” on the fine for getting caught in one of his SpeedCams. Now it’ll only cost you $35.

Mayor Daley will be deposed in the Burge trial. We talk briefly about what the delay has cost in taxpayer dollars.

And a hand-wringing discussion about the recent changes at the Sun-Times. Everyone at the table proclaims admiration for the paper, and for the excellent record its reporting staff has earned over the years. But the attempts give the paper a more down-market appeal is baffling.  (Shortly after we finished taping, we learned that editor Don Hayner has retired.)

And Thom was given almost fifteen seconds to plug chicagostories.org ,a very worthwhile CMW project. It’ll help the thousands of reporters coming to Chicago for the NATO summit to “discover the real Chicago”.

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About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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