Comptroller Mendoza Announces Mayoral Run, Chicago’s Amazon ‘Loss’ Might Not Be All Bad, Charter School Teachers Set Strike Date – TODAY 11-14-18

Comptroller Mendoza Formally Announces Mayoral Bid

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza finally formally declared her candidacy for mayor of Chicago Wednesday morning, releasing the full version of her first campaign video on YouTube.

“Chicago is so many things: gritty, hardworking, welcoming,” Mendoza says as the video opens with b-roll of a fire station, the skyline, Chinatown, and construction workers. “It’s time to make this city work for everyone. This election is about the future of Chicago and I believe in that future.”

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza speaks at a victory celebration for gubernatorial elect JB Pritzker. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Just a few days before she won an easy victory over challenger Republican Darlene Senger in the State Comptroller’s race, a snippet of the campaign video leaked to the press. At the time, Mendoza didn’t deny she was going to run for mayor, but instead lightly dodged the question and said she was focused on her run for Comptroller.

“I’m considering a run for another office and have taken steps to prepare for that should I choose to move forward but I have not made any formal decisions,” Mendoza said at the time.

Now it appears she’s moving full steam ahead with her candidacy for mayor.

Both in the video and in a statement posted alongside it, Mendoza, 46, touts her roots in Chicago, her experience in the Illinois House of Representatives, as State Comptroller, and talks about her personal connection to gun violence in the city.

“What happens in any neighborhood, what happens anywhere, affects all of us everywhere,” Mendoza said. “Every parent in Chicago should be able to expect that when they send their child to a neighborhood school, they will get a good education and, most importantly, they’ll come home safely.”

Mendoza joins an exceedingly crowded field of candidates seeking to occupy the fifth floor of City Hall. So far at least 15 others have declared their candidacy and have been in various stages of putting together a campaign. The field includes Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, community organizer and policy consultant Amara Enyia, former CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy, former Obama Chief of Staff Bill Daley, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, and a host of others. Earlier this week State Rep. Lashawn Ford had his first event of his recently announced campaign, and former CPS principal Troy Laraviere bowed out, citing challenges with campaign fundraising and obtaining the necessary amount of petition signatures to be on the ballot. Candidates have until November 26th to collect 12,500 if they want to appear on the Feb. 26, 2019 ballot. 

Chicago’s Amazon “Loss” Might Not Be All Bad

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel played coy with his thoughts as to why online retail behemoth Amazon passed over Chicago to house its second headquarters, instead choosing to split facilities between New York City and northern Virginia.

“I’m not saying,” Emanuel said citing “confidential discussions” with company officials while at an unrelated press event on the West Side on Tuesday, according to Crain’s. “Companies are not going to share information if they think you’re going to give it away.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. File photo by Aaron Cynic.

Chicago was a semifinalist to house Amazon’s second North American headquarters, with the city and state of Illinois offering more than $2 billion in subsidies to attract the company, despite its market capitalization being worth $1 trillion and its CEO Jeff Bezos’ status as the world’s richest man.

When asked directly if problems in state government could’ve contributed to the company’s decision to look elsewhere, Emanuel instead talked up what he sees as recent victories in wooing businesses to Chicago.

“Let me put it this way: I know what Chicago has to offer, and we put our best foot forward…We’ve won more than we’ve lost in recent years,” Emanuel told reporters.

But while some called the company’s decision a “loss” for Chicago, Chicagoans may have gained in the long run. While Amazon’s HQ2 will take time to complete in northern Virginia and Queens, both areas have already seen housing prices skyrocket within days of the announcement, according to CNN.

Furthermore, the proposed $2.5 billion giveaway to the company – which again is one of the world’s largest and most profitable – could’ve come at the expense of already struggling communities in Chicago. Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey explained to Jacobin Magazine after Emanuel’s 2017 budget address:

“During his budget address, the mayor emphasized that he was raising taxes to cover the true costs of city services, but Amazon doesn’t have to pay for the true costs of their new building. The proposed multi-billion-dollar giveaway reminds us that Emanuel cares about the rich and their downtown showcase at the expense of everyone else.”

Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative, a network of Chicago based community groups, put it more bluntly in the same piece.

“Instead of money being invested where it is needed, Mayor Emanuel is choosing to divert resources to wealthy corporations,” she said. “What could our communities do with $2.25 billion?”

Chicago Charter School Teachers Set Strike Date

Educators at 15 UNO/Acero charter schools in Chicago are set to strike in early December. The Chicago Teachers Union, which represents the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, or ChiACTS, announced the strike Wednesday morning, citing what they called “another fruitless bargaining session” with management.

“More than 500 unionized UNO/Acero teachers and paraprofessionals work longer days and school years than educators in schools directly run by CPS,” the CTU said in a statement emailed to press Wednesday morning. “Yet these public workers earn less than their district peers, even though charter operators collect 8% more per student in funding than district schools.”

Educators represented by the Chicago Teachers Union rally in the Loop in 2015. Photo by Aaron Cynic.

Teachers in the network voted to authorize the strike last month, with some 96 percent turning out for the vote and 98 percent voting in favor, according to WTTW.

The union says its demanding smaller class sizes, increased special education funding, more autonomy over curriculum and grading, equal pay for equal work, additional resources for classrooms and students, and better compensation and treatment of paraprofessionals for UNO/Acero teachers.

“Our question for Acero is this,” special education apprentice Andy Crooks told CLTV. “Do we have students or do we have customers? Is this about education? Is this about educational justice? Is this about giving our students, and our families, an opportunity to succeed or is this about your bottom dollar?”

Andrew Broy, Director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools Director, a nonprofit organization that advocates for charter schools, said that the CTU’s proposal was not the way to move forward. “The solution is by getting charters access to additional resources, not CTU’s proposed solution, which is more collective bargaining contracts and forcing the hand of charters,” Broy told WTTW at the time of the strike authorization vote.

Should the strike – which is scheduled to begin on December 4th – move forward, it would be the first for charter school teachers in America.

Aaron Cynic
Aaron Cynic