CN March 27, 2014


After all this week’s punditry about the primary election, activist/musician/attorney Matt Farmer may have summed it up most succinctly:

“Ultimately we will find it to be a peaceful and seamless transition from Mike Madigan’s old supermajority to Mike Madigan’s new supermajority.”

As we know, Governor Quinn called for making permanent the so-called temporary income tax increase. So it’s technically not an increase, it’s a continuation.  But the Reader’s Ben Joravsky says it will be played by Quinn’s opponents as an increase, and proposing it right before an election took some courage.

“If you view it as an act that is potentially self destructive, it is courageous, if you think of that as courage – doing something that is not in your best interest but is in the best interest of the State.”

But, asks Farmer, if Quinn felt it was critical to make the tax permanent, what were his alternatives?

“It’s to let it die and do what Mayor Daley did – (bring it back) after he’s successfully re-elected.”

“So what does he say in  his budget address?” Farmer asks.

“You get the same speech writers Mayor Daley got. This is how we do it in Chicago. Just steal Mayor Rahm’s stuff, OK? I’ve balanced the budget. I’ve saved the schools. The trains are running beautifully. I the star in a TV show…that’s why I said, I’m so used to people lying, distorting, manipulating, that’s our budget process. So I’m surprised that somebody would be vaguely honest.”

The Reader’s Mick Dumke has a quasi-prediction.

“I still think the Governor is gonna be tough to beat,” he says. “He is the incumbent, there’s enough questions about Bruce Rauner, and I think it’s a bad time to be running as a billionaire for office, especially when your whole campaign is funded essentially by yourself and your other very, very wealthy friends.”

Farmer points out that, whether the voters opt for Quinn or Rauner’s message of cutting taxes and growing the economy, the electorate wants it both ways. “60% or so are against the continuation of this tax increase. But the flip side, though, when the question is asked about having their services cut it’s the same relative majority.”

The Tribune ran an editorial essentially congratulating CPS for the smoothness of the Safe Passage program and for what CPS claims is a modest increase in attendance and reading/math scores for students who were moved from their closed schools. But Matt Farmer isn’t buying it.

“In fact,” he says, ” Sarah Karp over at Catalyst had a piece this morning talking about the lack of meat on that bone in terms of performance data. And when Ms. Byrd-Bennett made that presentation yesterday on those claims to the Board, the Board didn’t ask any questions to drill down and find out what these numbers were, they just congratulated her. Sarah looked at some of these numbers and said, at best, these are incremental changes that, given the short time-frame, you really wonder what they tell us.”

And we began our conversation with the potential unionization of the Northwestern football team. Farmer asks, now that they (almost) have a union, how much money they’ll be giving to the Governor’s race.

But Dumke has his doubts. “I personally am skeptical that we’ll ever see unionization at Northwestern or any other school, but I think the fact that we’re talking about players’ rights and the governance of the NCAA, which is kind of a messed-up operation, That’s significant, and as a fan, I’m encouraged by it. It’s a conversation that’s overdue.”

Will this mean that, henceforth, the players will be defined as Northwestern employees? “Yea,” scoffs Joravsky. “They’re just bad employees. C’mon, one in seven? Couldn’t get that first down against Ohio State?”

And for the record, Ben sidesteps a response to the rumor we’ve started that he might be moving to the press office at Chicago Public Schools. “The only thing that matters is the Children. CPS works tirelessly to make this the best educational opportunity in the Nation,” he responded. No, actually, he didn’t say that.


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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